Sunday, July 18, 2010

Clerical Errors: Child abuse and Women's Ordination

Good afternoon God,
I've been needing to talk to you about the fuss caused by the Roman Catholic Church's recently published


The part that has caused several of my fellow bloggers to get all excited is:
Art. 5

 The more grave delict of the attempted sacred ordination of a woman is also reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

1° With due regard for can. 1378 of the Code of Canon Law, both the one who attempts to confer sacred ordination on a woman, and she who attempts to receive sacred ordination, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

2° If the one attempting to confer sacred ordination, or the woman who attempts to receive sacred ordination, is a member of the Christian faithful subject to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, with due regard for can. 1443 of that Code, he or she is to be punished by major excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.

3° If the guilty party is a cleric he may be punished by dismissal or deposition[31].

Put in English this means that both the woman and anyone daft enough to try and ordain her is automatically and instantly excommunicated.

Now there is nothing new in this - this is NOT what has upset people - it is the fact that the next item in the document is:
Art. 6

1. The more grave delicts against morals which are reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are:
1° the delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by a cleric with a minor below the age of eighteen years; in this case, a person who habitually lacks the use of reason is to be considered equivalent to a minor.
2° the acquisition, possession, or distribution by a cleric of pornographic images of minors under the age of fourteen, for purposes of sexual gratification, by whatever means or using whatever technology;
§ 2. A cleric who commits the delicts mentioned above in § 1 is to be punished according to the gravity of his crime, not excluding dismissal or deposition.

Again - to translate this into English - a cleric who has sex with a minor (or vulnerable adult) or who acquires, produces, uses or distributes pornographic images of minors will be punished 'according to the gravity of his crime - which could mean that they get dismissed or removed from office.

People (including some newspapers) have therefore assumed that the Catholic Church is equating women's ordination with child abuse. Not so. They are simply recording in one document all the changes that have been made to the document which details delicts against the faith.

Ok.. so the Catholic Church has shot itself in the foot maybe by putting both things in the same document - but the document collects a number of changes together - including the prohibition against con-celebration, and; 'the taking or retaining for a sacrile­gious purpose or the throwing away of the consecrated species'

There ARE things that I would want to take the Roman Catholic Church to task over - but sorting out their clerical errors, their admin and documentation is not one of them.  Putting these things in the same document was bad PR maybe, but there was no intent on the part of the Catholic Church to equate the items in the document in any other way than as willful acts or crimes against the faith and its moral and sacramental standards

I'm more upset that the attempt to ordain women results in automatic excommunication for both parties whereas abusing a minor may result in dismissal - now that IS something to get upset about.

Why.. because it says that the Church is more afraid of the influence of women on faith than it is concerned about the lives of children. It says it really still hasn't got the message that abuse is NEVER acceptable in Church - that it destroys not just the individual's life of faith, but the Church itself.
I abhor the hypocrisy of a Church that can preach suffer little children to come unto me - but which will not take steps to ensure that those same Children are as safe as they can be in the Church's hands.

I really don't mind that the Catholic Church is scared of my influence on the life of the Church - it should be - that's why You call women to Holy Orders - to challenge any human attempt to limit Your action in the world - or in Your Church. I don't mind because if the Church really is of You God then your will, will be done in the end - whereas if it is not - then the Church will simply die.

When the Church sends out signals that effectively says the Church is more at risk from women than from abuse - I am afraid for us all - we really have lost the plot.

As a Methodist, I don't believe in excommunication anyway - it is a denial of your grace God - (as though WE can decide who is and who is not a part of your body!)  But I do understand that for Catholics and Orthodox, excommunication is a serious matter - a matter of life and death for all eternity as there is no salvation outside of the Church according to this way of thinking.

SO - it time to end the abuse - to work on the text

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matt 18:6)

No, I can't get excited about the Catholic Church's attitude to women - I just don't need the catholic Church to approve my ordination - and as I am not and never have been a Catholic - the threat of excommunication doesn't bother me. I have Salvation by faith, not by belonging.

I do however need their clerics to stop abusing Children and making a mockery of the good news of Jesus Christ's invitation to 'let the Children come' - and I suspect the threat of automatic excommunication might have more of an effect than the threat of deposition.

I think God, that there are some clerical errors  still in need of correction in that document.


  1. When the Church sends out signals that effectively says the Church is more at risk from women than from abuse - I am afraid for us all - we really have lost the plot.

    Which was precisely the point that I was trying to make and I've learned my lesson about posting in haste.

  2. Pam, it was your post which prompted me to look deeper - thank you

  3. I feel in retrospect that I should have been more temperate but, on the internet as with minor Roman prelates, What I have written, I have written. :-O

  4. What a thought provoking post. Thank You.