Austrian couple excommunicated for saying Mass

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican says an Austrian woman who defied church teaching by celebrating Mass has been excommunicated.

Vatican Radio said Thursday that Martha Heizer, a founder of the progressive We Are Church movement, was notified Wednesday by Innsbruck Bishop Manfred Scheuer that she and her husband, Gert, were excommunicated.

Celebrating Mass at their apartment defied church teaching that only a priest can celebrate Mass and that only a male can become a priest. Heizer advocates ending mandatory celibacy for priests and allowing women to become priests.

The Vatican quoted Scheuer as describing the couple's refusal to renounce the practice as "not a victory for the church but rather a defeat." The radio said Martha Heizer went on TV Wednesday to say she rejected the decision.

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