There seems to be some confusion on this point in my comboxes. One online dictionary offers a definition:
1. In many Christian churches, a member of the second grade of clergy ranking below a bishop but above a deacon and having authority to administer the sacraments.
2. A person having the authority to perform and administer religious rites.
To my assertion they were ordained in a religious ceremony, frequent commentator John writes:
Nonsense. Of what “church” are they “priests”? They would say they are Catholic priests, wouldn’t they? They remain laywomen.
First, one doesn’t require a “church” to be a priest. The Old Testament priesthood was not designated for “church” worship, but for the Temple. Other non-Christian religions ordain priests that cover definition #2 above: people who have the authority to perform and administer religious rites.
Second, they might say they are Catholic priests. They might be, if their ordaining bishop is recognized by any of the fringe Catholic traditions. But none of those traditions is in union with Rome. So indeed, the Church would recognize them as Roman Catholic laywomen to the extent they would still see them as members. I leave it to any canonists in the audience to comment on the status of their membership in Roman Catholicism.
My take is that they have clearly left Roman Catholicism behind. They might call themselves “Roman Catholic priests,” but I think that would be as much of an inaccuracy as calling them “laywomen.”
If it makes some conservative Catholics feel better to call them “old, ugly, pretending lay women,” I’d say the locus of scandal has switched. Not to mention some folks have need of new hobbies.
Now, if John or anyone else wants to request a definition of a “Roman Catholic priest,” I’d be happy to oblige. But nobody has.