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Wisconsin priest punished for celebrating Mass with woman dies

By Mary Wisniewski

(Reuters) - A Wisconsin Jesuit who was punished by Catholic Church authorities for celebrating Mass with a woman priest in violation of Church rules has died at the age of 94, his nephew said on Wednesday.

Rev. Bill Brennan, a Milwaukee-area peace activist who had done missionary work in Central America, died of natural causes earlier this month, according to his nephew Timothy Brennan. A funeral was held this week.

Bill Brennan celebrated Mass in late 2012 with Janice Sevre-Duszynska of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. Though Brennan remained Jesuit and could hear confessions with other Jesuits, he was no longer able to celebrate Mass or other sacraments publicly under his Church sanction.

Women are forbidden by the Church to become priests, but some have been ordained and celebrate Mass outside of the official Church. Catholic clergy who support the women can face punishment.

Timothy Brennan said his uncle didn't complain about the restrictions imposed on him.

"He wanted there to be equal rights for women, across the board ... ," Brennan said of his uncle. "He recognized them as the backbone of the Church."

When asked about the possibility of women priests, Pope Francis has said "that door is closed."

Brennan's body has been donated for scientific research.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Eric Beech)

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