A recovering alcoholic, Hausen has been on administrative leave since October. Church officials won’t explain the move, but Hausen believes it was based partly on his struggles with alcohol and partly on his opposition to Catholic dogma calling for priests to remain celibate and prohibiting the ordination of women.
He expects a full house for his first service in the Sewickley Country Inn’s 400-seat banquet room. Although membership numbers still are unknown, the parish council includes 13 people, Hausen said. As members of the church, all would face excommunication.
Both Hausen and Lengwin acknowledge that people who join the church won’t be tracked, and those who change their minds would be free to return to the Catholic fold.
“No one is going to be taking license plate numbers,” Hausen said. “The (Catholic) church is big enough to take people back.”
Lengwin said worshipers who go to Hausen’s service out of curiosity won’t be excommunicated, but “we strongly believe that’s not a reason to attend. Attendance implies support of Father Hausen’s beliefs.”