Sex abuse and women's ordination?
By Bryan Cones - US Catholic - 7/9/2010
By Bryan Cones - US Catholic - 7/9/2010
Great news from the Vatican, according to Catholic News Service: New norms against the sexual abuse of children will double length of time a victim has to bring charges from 10 to 20 years after the victim's 18th birthday. It will also extend the penalties for sexual abuse of children to those who abuse the mentally disabled.
Bad news: The new norms will simultaneously add to the list of grave offenses against the sacrament of holy orders the "attempted ordination of women."
Why is that bad? First, the "attempted ordination of women" already brings with it automatic excommunication, so making it one of the "delicta graviora" is redundant. Second, it conflates two completely separate issues, and in effect, or at least in the minds of many people who will read the news, seems to equate the "attempted ordination of women" with the rape and torture of children. (Now ordaining a woman will get a priest laicised and excommunicated, but bonking a three year old only gets one laicised. There's some Vatican justice for ya.)
Quite frankly, it is an outrage to pair the two, a complete injustice to connect the aspirations of some women among the baptized to ordained ministry with what are some of the worst crimes that can be committed against the least of Christ's members.
Furthermore, if I were a member or supporter of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement, I would be opening a bottle of champagne right now. The Vatican has in effect given legitimacy and momentum to what is still an incredibly tiny movement with this clumsy legal manuver, tantamount to the United States dropping a nuclear weapon on Luxembourg--only more ridiculous because this will do absolutely no damage to women's ordination movement. It is more like a gift. None of those women are afraid of excommunication any longer; indeed, it is now the Vatican that appears fearful.
This decision boggles the mind: The faithful have been justly demanding for nearly a decade clear guidelines for dealing with the sexual abuse of children, along with just punishments for both offenders and bishops who have abetted these crimes. What we have gotten is half of what we have been asking for (still no sanctions for bishops), along with a completely unconnected and unnecessary condemnation of the ordination of women. This is especially ironic given that many Catholics, and I include myself among them, see the absence of women in positions of power in the church as a contributor to the ongoing sex abuse crisis.
This move is a mistake, plain and simple, imprudent at best, at worst a serious further blow to Rome's already damaged credibility.
Another example of Vatican logic has reduced me to tears---of laughter. Only the Vatican could come up with norms which equate attempting to ordain women with actually raping their children. That too me is what is so sad/funny about equating the two. Catholic theology already states that the whole idea of ordaining a woman is a fantasy, can't happen, isn't real, doesn't work. Yet now they turn around and assign it the moral equivalence to the very real act of raping children?
Since I can't really believe the Vatican really is this delusional, I'm going to have to assume the Vatican really knows really ordained bishops really did ordain real women and that their ordinations really are real--if illicit. They have to adopt this posture because if they don't then by gosh we might start questioning the reality of really ordained male priests by really installed bishops and really wonder if anything real actually really happens. There for it is really important to really punish anyone involved in these fantastical ordinations really hard by really excommunicating them and really laicising them. Really.
And as for the reality of sexual abuse, it is all to real that the reality of this norm does not extend to real bishops and their all too real involvement in actual abuse and it's cover up. That fantasy concerning bishop accountability is still very much the official reality.
And all of this leads me to believe the whole thing is really just one circular delusion.