Woman in KC plans to defy church, become a priest - KCTV5

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Woman in KC plans to defy church, become a priest

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Georgia Walker, pictured, will be the first female ordained priest in Kansas City. It is expected that she'll be excommunicated from the church shortly after. Georgia Walker, pictured, will be the first female ordained priest in Kansas City. It is expected that she'll be excommunicated from the church shortly after.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV/AP) -

A woman is planning to defy the Roman Catholic Church and become a priest - the first to do so in Kansas City, MO.

Deacon Georgia Walker will be the first female ordained priest in Kansas City. It's taken her a year and a half to finish all the requirements to become a priest, except for one thing she can't easily change - her sex.

The 67-year-old has worked as a sociology professor at multiple universities and converted to Catholicism about 20 years ago. Now, she's going to defy the Catholic Church.

Walker has spent her life helping people less fortunate and, in her eyes, marginalized from society. She works with former prisoners, reintegrating them back into society using religion as common ground. Her background and experience as a peace activist and a sociology professor led her to Catholicism.

“I found them to be most in concert with my life experiences. I felt really called to be a member of that church,” Walker said.

For years Walker has been a deacon, still visiting prisons, but also accepting ‘Ex-Catholics' who left for their own reasons. Over time she found her willingness to accept marginalized Catholics was not being mirrored by the Catholic Church.

“I began thinking, this isn't the church,” she said. “Inside it's not the church I had hoped to find to be a part of.”

Walker wants the church to include everyone, including gays, lesbians, transgenders, remarried couples and others, including the acceptance of women into Catholic priesthood.

“It wasn't that I wanted to leave the church, I love the church,” said Walker. “I want it to be more inclusive. I want it to welcome everybody to the table.”

So she joined the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a group within the Catholic Church. Instead of leaving the church, they hope to change it from within. From there she started her journey to become Kansas City's first female Catholic priest.

“I decided I needed to go forward and I would stand with the marginalized. I would be one of the marginalized,” Walker said.

Over a decade ago, Pope John Paul II affirmed that only baptized men can become priests. According to Canon Law, the Catholic Church's law, only baptized men may be ordained as priests, based on Jesus calling only men to be his disciples. Pope Francis has also echoed his predecessor.

Now Walker's a week away from being ordained by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, only to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church shortly after.

“The people that are doing the excommunication, they're simply following church law,” she said. “That's just the way it is, and I would like to see the law changed.”

When contemplating the decision to become a priest, Walker wrote a petition paper describing why she is making the choice. That letter was delivered to a friend living in Rome and has since been delivered to the Vatican for Pope Francis' review.

“I asked a friend to just drop it in the mailbox for the Pope, so he would just hear from a woman who's making the decision to stand up. I don't think he will answer me,” said Walker with a smile.

Walker's ceremony will be held at the Saint Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church, 3800 Troost Avenue, at 2 p.m. Jan. 3. In some cases, ordained women priests have been handed formal excommunication paperwork immediately following the ceremony.

There are nearly 200 women priests, all but about 50 of them in the U.S.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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