Thursday, July 15, 2010

Women's ordination is now a "grave delict"

Here is the text of the modification with respect to women's ordination in the Normae de Gravioribus Delictis as officially promulgated today.

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.

And here is a reponse from Rev. Bridget Mary Meehan of Roman Catholic Womenpriests:

The ordination of women may soon appear on the list of most serious crimes against Roman Catholic canon law, or "delicta graviora" – putting it in the same category as sexual abuse of children by priests, according to a recent leak from unidentified priests in the Vatican.

Roman Catholic Womenpriests respond to the Vatican’s equating women’s ordination with pedophilia by priests, by demanding the Vatican affirm women's full equality in the church including priestly ministry. We demand an end to misogyny in the Catholic Church. We demand that the Vatican adopt reforms to transform church laws and practices to reflect transparency, accountability, justice and equality for all.

Roman Catholic Womenpriests believe that the forthcoming document from the Vatican is intended to specifically scare off male priests who choose to walk in solidarity with us for justice for women in our church. Priests like Roy Bourgeois, Maryknoll priest of 38 years, founder of the School of the Americas Watch and 2010 nominee for the Nobel Prize for Peace. Bourgeois participated in the ordination of Janice Sevre-Duszynska in Lexington, Kentucky, on Aug. 9, 2008.

We are welcomed with open arms and hearts by the people at the grassroots of the church. Yet, our brother priests -- the Vatican’s all-male hierarchy -- in May 2008, declared that we and the person ordaining us would be self-excommunicating ourselves. The Vatican has also said that anyone who attends ordinations would be excommunicated. That threat has not deterred the faithful who come in droves to Roman Catholic women’s ordinations all over the United States. Roman Catholic Womenpriests numbers have erupted from seven to over 100 in the last eight years since the first ordination in 2002 on the Danube in Europe. The Vatican continues to respond to women’s ordinations with condemnation of everyone who supports the movement for women priests within the Catholic Church. However, Womenpriests are being supported widely by the hundreds of Catholics attending every public ordination.

The Roman Catholic Womenpriests wonder how answering a spiritual call to serve through priesthood could possibly be in the same category of “sin” as pedophilia. Instead of the many excommunications and condemnations the Vatican issues against women priests and their supporters, it would be better to take responsibility for the damaging behaviors of patriarchy especially the abuse of spiritual power. We suggest that the Vatican begin this process of reconciliation and renewal by listening to the pain of those who suffer from clergy abuse: nuns, women priests, and lay women in the Church who have been as much victims of the church as the survivors of sexual abuse.

RCWP asks the member states of the United Nations to support us in our quest for justice for women within the Roman Catholic Church and for justice for victims of Catholic clergy sexual abuse. It is unjust and discriminatory that the males at the Vatican continue to deny us employment and decision-making within the Roman Catholic Church. This behavior is a violation of international law, our human rights, the example of Jesus and the integrity of conscience.

And from the Women's Ordination Conference:

"The Vatican's decision list women’s ordination in the same category as pedophiles and rapists is appalling, offensive, and a wake-up call for all Catholics around the world. This new canonical declaration which names women's ordination as a serious crime against the Roman Catholic Church is medieval at best. The idea that a woman seeking to spread the message of God somehow "defiles" the Eucharist reveals an antiquated, backwards Church that still views women as "unclean" and unholy.

It is clear this recent decision was made out of fear of our growing numbers. The Vatican is using this attempt to extinguish the widespread call for women's equality in the church. In a statement published on May 29, 2008 in L'Observatorio Romano, the Vatican's official newspaper, all women who "attempt ordination" and the bishops who ordain them are automatically excommunicated, known as latae sententiae. Adding delicta gravioria as a scare tactic to already "excommunicated" women and the priests who support us is ridiculous and does not make a bit of difference. Excommunication will not work, and neither will this. In the face of one closed door after another, Catholic women will continue to make a way when there is none. We will continue to speak out. And women will continue to prophetically answer their call to priestly ordination with or without the Vatican's approval.

Furthermore, we are extremely disheartened that the Vatican did not appropriately use this opportunity to meaningfully address the handling of sexual predators in its ranks. While some strides were made in this revision the 2001 sexual abuse policy, it does not go far enough. We are calling on our members to take action: express their concern and call for real accountability by demanding that the hierarchy release the names of all accused Catholic leaders; reach out to survivors and take steps to make sure children are protected now; and, discontinue all financial contributions that benefit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops."

According to Roman Catholic Womenpriests, more women's ordinations are scheduled for Santa Barbara, California in September 2010 and Quebec, Canada in October. So, as Dr. Mary Hunt, feminist theologian and co-founder and co-director of the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), concludes in her response to the Vatican's latest slap, "while the Vatican staff is busy translating its latest dictum into various languages, Catholic people, with the help of our friends, are living new models of Church. We do so in the hope that we might salvage the heart of the tradition we value, even while the institution persists in its own demise."

Photo: Rev. Bridget Mary Meehan (center, in yellow stole) presides at Mass

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