PENNSYLVANIA -- Editorial: Vatican needs to stop demonizing women
Editorial: Vatican needs to stop demonizing women
Four years ago on July 31, eight women defied Roman Catholic Church teachings and were the first in the United States to be ordained at a ceremony in Pittsburgh conducted by a group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests.
They included Joan Houk, a 66-year-old married mother of six and grandmother of five who helped run two Roman Catholic parishes that did not have priests.
The lack of priests nationally and internationally was one of the reasons Sister Jean Rupertus, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia since 1960, supported the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church.
“There are many people denied the liturgy and the sacraments because of the lack of priests and most of those people are in poor countries and live in poor areas of the United States,” said the Middletown resident after learning of the women’s ordinations in 2006.
Among the new priests was Eileen McCafferty DiFranco, a Philadelphia grandmother who celebrated Mass in the chapel of a Methodist church in Lansdowne at the invitation of an Old Catholic of the Beatitudes pastor who rented the space.
A former teacher and neonatal intensive-care nurse who was working as a registered nurse at Roxborough High School in Philadelphia when she was ordained, she was moved to join the priesthood by some of the hardship she had witnessed.
“I’ve seen things you couldn’t imagine both as a nurse and at school,” said DiFranco, who was close to completing her master of divinity degree from Lutheran Theological Seminary when she was ordained.
Instead of converting to other religions that have long allowed female clergy including Episcopal, Methodist and Jewish denominations, DiFranco was determined to hold her own Roman Catholic faith to a higher standard of inclusion, despite the Vatican’s resistance.
“Of all the things that make up who we are, only gender causes this anger and need to retaliate,” observed DiFranco.
Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, issued a statement noting that Roman Catholic Church law, based on scripture and tradition, does not permit women to be administered Holy Orders, the sacrament of ordination.
“Although I attempted to dissuade Mrs. DiFranco from participating in this invalid ritual, nevertheless, she proceeded to do so. Now I am left with no alternative than to report this matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, as I am obligated to do so,” said Rigali.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome was formerly headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, who handled clerical sexual abuse complaints among other duties. He has come under fire in recent months for reportedly allowing known abusers to stay in the priesthood long after church tribunals determined their guilt.
If she were excommunicated, DiFranco figured she would be in good company considering the Roman Catholic Church did the same to Joan of Arc, Galileo and the leaders of several early religious orders.
Noted DiFranco, “An excommunication is a decision made by fallible men who have made mistakes in the past, egregious mistakes in the present and who will make mistakes in the future.”
That fallibility seems to be resonating more than ever with a document released last week by the Vatican that relegated Roman Catholic clergy who ordained women as priests to the same punishments as those found guilty of sex abuse. Bishops who attempt to ordain women and women who attempt to be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church, will be excommunicated just as priests who sexually abuse children will be.
Both sex abuse and the ordination of women are grave crimes against the Roman Catholic Church, insisted Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s sex crimes prosecutor.
“An attempted ordination of a woman is grave, but on another level. It is a wound. It is an attempt against the Catholic faith on the sacrament of Holy Orders. So they are grave but on different levels,” said Scicluna.
Meanwhile, the supposed new and improved Vatican rules governing clerical sexual abuse fail to make any mention of turning suspected abusers over to civil authorities, unlike the guidelines issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children in 2002 when the scandal broke in America.
They also do not provide for members of the hierarchy who knowingly harbor pedophile priests.
The pope’s spokesman, the Rev. Frederico Lombardi, said the papal decree only applies to canon law and that “just civil laws must obviously be respected and put into practice by men of the church.”
Women of the church apparently aren’t considered up to the task.
Vatican officials should spend less time demonizing women and more time ensuring the prosecution of pedophiles. They are a danger to children of all faiths.
Kristine Ward wrote on Jul 21, 2010 7:44 PM:
" Congratulations to the Daily Times for succintly hitting the nail on the head in its concluding paragraph of this editorial
"Vatican officials should spend less time demonizing women and more time ensuring the prosecution of pedophiles. They are a danger to children of all faiths."
There was never a day, or a year, or a time when it was right to abuse a child. Only when Cardinal Rigali and his brother Cardinals and Bishops see themselves "obligated" to act on the "grave" matter of the rape and sodomy of children by priests and nuns will the Church truly move to reform. May that be soon for the sake of the children in their care. In the meantime anyone who suspects abuse, please report it to the police. "
barfly2802 wrote on Jul 21, 2010 7:44 PM:
" Nobody is demonizing women, sounds like a typical self centered individual. Almost sounds like you want to rewrite the rules just like every self indulged pompus American, things aren't going your way so let me make a big stink about it. Rules are in place for a reason, nobody is holding you hostage to your faith. Other faiths can accommodate your wish. From the statements though I doubt you have fully embraced Catholicism much less Christianity. Your whole purpose in life is to fulfill and align yourself with the will of God, obviously you are trying to assert your own will above that of the Fathers'. Confession appears to be in order for several women here. Actually there is a place for you in the service of the Lord it's called the convent. Or do you think that is beneath you, or do you believe that is not your calling, because it's obvious the Lord is not calling you to be a priest! "
barfly2802 wrote on Jul 21, 2010 7:51 PM:
" People please bring a better argument to the game than pedophilia, like somehow that legitimizes your argument, you have failed to convince me of your point because it your argument appears weak now, you should have written the article to stand on it's own merit. I might as well say all gay people have aids or all black people are criminals just to legitimize a point I am trying to make rather than writing a well constructed article with support statements. "