Tuesday, July 20, 2010

IRISH INDEPENDENT -- Why is ordination of women a 'crime against faith'?

Why is ordination of women a 'crime against faith'?

Irish Independent


The pronouncement of Pope Benedict reveals an arrogant church that is out of touch with reality, writes Celia Larkin

Sunday July 18 2010

I sincerely hope Pope Benedict XVI was having one of those 'mental reservations' when he described the ordination of women as a "crime against the faith" and the perpetrators subject to the same discipline applied to clergy guilty of child sex abuse and abuse against disabled adults. Either a mental reservation or that he was distracted at the time when he signed off on the document containing this egregious juxtaposition.

If he had a 'mental reservation' then he didn't mean what he was saying at the time. The process allows churchmen to knowingly mislead people "without being guilty of lying". How is that for a game of soldiers? The rest of us tell the truth. Or we lie. We don't have the luxury of a mental back door.

When I heard that Cardinal Desmond Connell had used the term 'mental reservation' I nearly fell off the chair. But his boss's announcement that the ordination of women is a "crime against the faith" floored me, as did the fact that the gravity of the punishment, by inference, makes the ordination of a woman to the priesthood as serious a crime as sexual abuse against children.

You would think that, after all the scandals and bad press they have come through, the Vatican would at least apply some common sense. God help the poor priests who have to face the public daily, knowing that every time they seem to be coming up for air, another weird statement will be issued that pushes them under again.

How can the Vatican justify such pronouncements? There is nothing in scripture to say that woman cannot be ordained. We know from the writings of St Peter and St Paul that deaconesses participated in leadership functions within the early church.

And down through the centuries there have always been women who gave great leadership to the church. There's Catherine of Siena -- who brought the pope back to Rome from Avignon in January 1377.

Or St Teresa of Avila -- whose writings stand among the most remarkable in the mystical literature of the Catholic Church. She is credited with returning spirituality to a church dogged by corruption and lust for power and money in the 16th Century.

When Jesus rose from the dead, the first person he appeared to was Mary Magdalene. So where's the Christian rationale for the exclusion of women?

It is only since the recruitment of bishops from the monasteries in 300AD that celibacy and the concept of male-only leadership became the norm. And boy, they haven't looked back since.

It seems that we women scare the living daylights out of the Catholic Church. There appears to be no other explanation for its continuing exclusion of women from the priesthood and insistence on celibacy among the clergy.

I came across a lovely quotation recently -- "Change is inevitable, progress is optional". That is how it seems within the church. Despite the disastrous changes and revelations, it looks like there will be no progress in the Catholic Church in the foreseeable future. It seems to be locked into a pattern of making one bad decision after another.

At a time when the church is at an all-time low in the eyes of the developed world, it is unbelievable that the Vatican would come out with such an announcement. Attendance at Mass and other religious services is declining every year. If they keep going the way they are, they will have no hope of recovering people's confidence.

Thankfully, some of the more draconian practices -- such as the 'churching' of women after giving birth -- have been abandoned. The fact that it happened for many decades tells a lot about the attitudes towards women. Note the father of the child didn't need to be 'churched' -- just the mother. So, in some way, becoming a mother made you unclean.

Whatever about their attitudes towards women (and we all have our stories to tell) it is quite unbelievable that the Vatican should fail to consider its response to the issue of sexual abuse to be of sufficient gravity as to merit a document in its own right. That is the real worrying thing for me.

These people are completely out of touch with reality or else they are so arrogant as not to care how they may hurt or insult victims of abuse. Never mind the women. Because they never do.

Sunday Independent


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