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Conservative Catholic group to ordain 13 priests in Minnesota

A conservative Catholic group called illegitimate by the Vatican and with a Crookston branch, plans to ordain 13 men as priests in Winona, Minn., Friday, including a North Dakota man.

A conservative Catholic group called illegitimate by the Vatican and with a Crookston branch, plans to ordain 13 men as priests in Winona, Minn., Friday, including a North Dakota man.

The St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona is the North American seminary for the Society of St. Pius X,which follows the late Archbishop Marcel LeFebvre. One of the group's parishes is in Crookston.

The Vatican says ordinations by the ultraconservative group aren't legitimate, even though Pope Benedict XVI this year lifted the excommunications of its leaders. The Vatican statement this week was a response to planned ordinations in Germany.

The 13 men being ordained this morning in Winona include Daniel Muscha of Manning, a small town in western North Dakota, according to the seminary's Web site.

The Society has a seminary in Winona, and several congregations across the state, including St. Cloud and Duluth and Our Lady of Sorrows parish on Robert Street in Crookston. Its priest is the Rev. Paul Kimball, who lives in Long Prairie, Minn.

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Retired Bishop Victor Balke of the Crookston diocese, warned his parishioners not to attend Our Lady of Sorrows, which uses the Tridentine Latin Mass and rejects the changes of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

Because LeFebvre was excommunicated for his insistence on rejecting many of the reforms of Vatican II, his group's ordinations of priests are considered illicit, although valid. In the same way, the Roman Catholic church views the Latin Masses celebrated by the Society's priests, as valid but not licit and not fulfilling the weekly obligation to attend Mass for Catholics.

The Society of St. Pius X is led by Bishop Bernard Fellay, who says the Winona ordinations aren't intended as a challenge to Rome, according to news reports.

Pope Benedict XVI has taken steps to bring the Society of St. Piux X back into the Roman fold, including encouraging the use of Latin Masses as alternatives in parishes.

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