April 10, 2006

Canada priest excommunicated for breakaway church

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO (Reuters) - A Canadian priest, who fell afoul of
the Catholic church after he backed the ordination of female
clergy, was formally excommunicated on Palm Sunday after he
held services in his own breakaway church.

The service was the second held by Reverend Ed Cachia under
his new Christ the Servant Catholic Church and was attended by
about 250 people at a town hall in Cold Springs, a village
about 130 km (80 miles) northeast of Toronto.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Peterborough promptly
declared a "schismatic church" and said Cachia had "incurred
automatic excommunication by virtue of the law of the Church."

"The Christian faithful should not frequent this breakaway
church, nor support the disobedience of Fr. Cachia,"
Peterborough Bishop Nicola De Angelis said in a letter read out
in churches in the diocese.

"The bishop had to respond lest there be more confusion on
the part of the people," Reverend Tom Lynch, spokesman for the
diocese said on Monday.

The rift stems from Cachia's support for nine women
ordained on a boat on the St. Lawrence River last July in
defiance of the Church, which says women cannot be priests.

Cachia could not be reached for comment on Monday. He told
a Canadian newspaper he felt sadness after learning he had been
excommunicated. "I never in my whole lifetime ever dreamt it
would come to this," he said.

Many parishioners have followed him to the breakaway

"The reason we left was out of protest over the way the
bishop is handling this and how he is attempting to crush
Father Ed over such a simplistic thing," parishioner Mark King
said by telephone.

Lynch said the presence of a so-called "schismatic
community" in Canada is rare and this may be the first time a
community here has taken such a step.