Church Bars 1st Woman Theologian

From Reuters

The Roman Catholic Church said Friday that it had withdrawn the teaching license of the world's first woman Roman Catholic theology professor for disputing the virgin birth of Jesus.

Uta Ranke-Heinemann, 59, who has held the Essen University chair of ancient church history and the New Testament for three years, believes the Virgin Mary conceived Jesus by natural means.

A spokesman for the bishopric of Essen said Bishop Franz Hengsbach had written to the North Rhine-Westphalia state Education Ministry saying Ranke-Heinemann no longer had the church's authority to teach theology.

The dispute blew up last month during Pope John Paul II's visit to West Germany when Ranke-Heinemann said Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception was "an offense to all normal mothers" and reflected the clergy's "anti-sexual and neurotic traits."

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