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The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


“Oh, for crying out loud!”

posted by jmcgee

That’s how Elizabeth Scalia begins this desk-thumping screed against the Vatican PR team — and I couldn’t agree more. What were they thinking? Hello?

As she notes:

Honestly, do I have to go to Rome and storm the press office of the Holy See, and sit the curia down and pull their hats off to smack them upside the head? Must I bang on their desks and say:

“Stupido! Stupido! PR IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE! On the rare occasion where you’ve done something that will bring you a cautious measure of good will, or at least less-hostile reportage, you don’t tie it in with a controversial issue and allow nonsense equivalences to be drawn by people who do not move beyond headlines and soundbites! You create a two-part report and you release the primo, the most important story on its own! You follow up with the second half of the document and discuss the rest of it-the Eucharistic, Reconciliatory and Sacramental stuff-next week or the next week, or the week after! Stupido! Where did you study communications? You don’t make it easy to be attacked! You don’t hand the culture fodder for a thousand cheap jokes and unending distortion! You don’t take norms addressing and correcting the biggest, most egregious failure of the church, and allow the world to portray you as wholly equating it with women becoming non-Catholic priests while drifting down the river on boats! Trying to counter the narratives that develop from boneheaded decisions like this-trying to explain the fullness of the norms or the degrees of seriousness addressed here-against the tide of negative publicity and cynical assumptions is like spitting into the wind! FAIL, Curia! This is a FAIL! EPIC fail!”

Read it all for the full effect.



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Hoosier Deacon

posted July 16, 2010 at 12:51 pm


It truly is beyond belief.



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Gerard Nadal

posted July 16, 2010 at 1:14 pm


I say we send Elizabeth to Rome!! They need to hear her.
Like it or not, we are now left to parse this document, not so much for our critics who are never satisfied, but for the laity who may not grasp the practical and applied realities of the document. By way of explaining the document, I wrote the following in a comment on a post below this one:
The sexual abuse of minors is a mortal sin that damns the offender to hell for all eternity if they die unrepentant, just as all mortal sin does. The abuser incurs the added penalty of being removed from the clergy and returned to the lay state, which is a devastating punishment for a priest or deacon. The Church applies no comparable punishment, or punishment at all for lay people who abuse children.
Pretty remarkable when one considers that over 99% of child sexual abuse is committed by laypersons.
On ordination day priests and deacons undergo a radical change in their very human nature, and are priests and deacons for all eternity, whether active or laicized. They may never again celebrate the sacraments, which they still retain the power to celebrate by virtue of the ontological change to their very nature. This is the terrible anguish of the clerical abuser. So, when juxtaposed with the excommunication of those participating in farcical women’s ordinations, I hardly think their punishment a slap on the wrist.
The offending woman may confess and return to full participation in the life of the Church as a layperson. Thus, excommunication is for her a medicinal remedy that brings her to her senses and back to a life of sanctity.
The clerical abuser may come to his senses and never abuse a young person again (quite possible for those with a one-time incident with an older teen, as opposed to molesters of pre-pubescent children), but he still incurs a devastating penalty for the rest of his life. So in reality, it is the cleric in this document who suffers the greater punishment, not the excommunicated woman who attempts ordination.



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Klaire

posted July 16, 2010 at 1:45 pm


Gerald I’m not so sure I agree with you on this one.
To whom much is given, much is expected, so I suspect it takes a lot more for a non lay person to fall than a lay person.
More importantly, deady sin is deady sin, and unrepentant, by anyone, hell is hell, and that, as we both know, is as bad as it gets, for any of us, ordained or not.



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Gerard Nadal

posted July 16, 2010 at 1:59 pm


Klaire,
“deady sin is deady sin, and unrepentant, by anyone, hell is hell, and that, as we both know, is as bad as it gets, for any of us, ordained or not.”
My stated point exactly. However, if the criticism is that the excommunicated woman who attempted ordination incurs the greater penalty, I disagree. She may confess her sin, do penance and be restored to the full participation in the life of the Church, such as is open to a layperson.
The cleric can confess, but his penance is a lifetime separation from full participation in the life of the Church allowed him by virtue of his ordination. Yes he may be forgiven just as the woman is forgiven, but he incurs a lifetime penalty.
You bring up an excellent point in highlighting the fact that the cleric has been given more, so more is expected. In this light, the more burdensome penance of being a priest or deacon forced to live in the lay state for the remainder of one’s life seems to be proportional to the magnitude of the crime.
In that case, it can be rightly argued that the prescriptions in the document represent justice and proportionality for the offenders. I don’t see where a valid case can be made that the women attempting ordination incur a greater penalty.
On another note:
Deacons: was this issue of spelling out the excommunications re: women attempting ordination even necessary. Wasn’t it already covered in Canon Law under the simulation of a sacrament-which is an excommunicatable offense?



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A108

posted July 16, 2010 at 2:03 pm


Goodness, I now find myself once again in agreement with E. Scalia.
The inevitable conclusion for many, not just those with an animus against the Catholic church, is that by elevating the ordination of women to the status of latae sententiae the Curia really do consider both to be of equal rank.
When Argentina can discriminate between abortion (which is opposed except in life and death situations, rape and incest) and full civil rights for gays, it is indeed puzzling that the PR department of the Church can’t do a better job of recognizing the inevitable concatenation of the two, in the eyes of the Church, grave sins.
recaptcha: gremlins rights
quod erat demonstrandum?



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romancrusader

posted July 16, 2010 at 3:02 pm


I don’t understand this! Can someone please write in plain english what’s going on here!



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romancrusader

posted July 16, 2010 at 3:04 pm

richard kuebbing

posted July 16, 2010 at 3:48 pm


aw c’mon Liz, don’t hold back, tell us how you really feel! :-)
On a serious note, I doubt anyone in the Vatican communications office uderstands communications.
For their penance, they should write a 1000 word paper on Marshall’s McLuhan’s comment “The medium is the message.”



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AWashingtonDCCatholic

posted July 16, 2010 at 5:01 pm


Personally, I believe they did the smart thing.
1. They issued it towards the end of the week.
2. They got everything out at one time. In this manner, everyone criticizes it at one time. By next week, the media will move on to something else and this will be forgotten. If they had issued one part today, then another next week, it would be a long drawn out, bash the Church fest giving each of these groups the chance to bash the Church over and over, each from their particular angle.



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cathyf

posted July 16, 2010 at 6:29 pm


Klaire and Gerard, I think a point that you are both losing sight of is that Jesus left us with some pretty strong rules about judging others as a spectator sport. The purpose of canon law is to protect the Church’s ability to carry out its function of bringing people to salvation, and exercising judgments over people is only allowed to the extent that it serves that purpose. We take actions not based upon some highly attenuated scoring of the seriousness of the sins, but upon actual practical questions. Those practical questions are all about protecting victims and potential victims, and about telling the truth about what sin is. Beyond that, punishment for things which are crimes belongs to the government’s justice system, and otherwise judgment belongs to God.



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Klaire

posted July 16, 2010 at 10:08 pm


Cathyf I’m pretty sure you and I are on the same page on this one. Sin is sin, period.
As for the lumping together, I dunno, think the reaction is a bit over the top to be honest. For the secular world, it’s NEVER enough, so why even try. Sad to say, it never seems to be enough for many of the abused victims either, especially with SNAP always ready to ponce and distort, so why not keep it simple?
Sometimes I think the more the curia tries to please, the more it comes under attack. If anything, it forces the “quick to point fingers” to actually have to read, which, IMO, is a good thing.
I read this earlier and had no problem making the distinction; never gave it a second thought.



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Joe Cleary

posted July 16, 2010 at 11:12 pm


Ms. Scalia is spot – on. The MSM, as our dear friend the Deacon knows better then most from his days on West 52ed Street , is the prism through which most Catholics and non Catholics will understand this new pronouncement.
Statements here that expect the average person to parse the announcement like a cannon lawyer and not connect the obvious dots miss the point.
The assumption in the general media is not the Vatican is tone deaf as it relates to public relations. Rather the general assumption is that they knew exactly what they were doing today and intentionally tried to equate the attempt to ordain woman with the rape of boys and girls by priests and other religious to minimize the serious of the debacle of chancery coverups and the like.
Page A1 of today’s Philadelphia Inquirer is I believe typical of the headlines globally:
“VATICAN REVISES SEX_ABUSE LAWS
It adds: Ordaining women as bad as pedophilia.”



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cathyf

posted July 17, 2010 at 12:16 am


One dead horse we haven’t beaten yet is seeing this as an EPIC FAIL of journalism. The point is that the truly accurate headline for this story is:
CATHOLIC CHURCH REPRINTS ALL OF DECADE’S CANON LAW CHANGES IN ONE BOOK
All Have the Same Fonts And Margins Now
It used to be that reporting consisted of something better than reprinting press releases without introducing any new spelling or grammatical errors. It now seems that in reporting about the Catholic Church even that is a standard far out of reach of most journalists…



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Goodguyex

posted July 17, 2010 at 12:46 am


You have a point Deacon. But there is another, broader issue here. The Vatican is about the only major thing in the world that does not explictily dance to the media’s song. And the media and its minions either consciously or un-consciously do not like it.
At the start of the last Conclave, when Cardinal Ratzinger ordered the active world-wide broadcasting TV cameras out of the Sistene Chapel and the doors were closed, I though to myself “who else of any significance in the entire world has the strength,audacity, foolishness, or uniqueness to do that in such a public way”?!!
It was expected, but the talking heads were then implying they should be in the Sistene Chapel reporting and interpreting all the preceedings.
No I am not saying the Conclave method is necessarily the best method. All I am saying is that the strength to taunt the media in its face in the modern world is an amazing unique thing.



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Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher

posted July 17, 2010 at 1:10 am


I like how she gets those little bubbles of spit in the corners of her mouth! Seriously, though, she’s completely right.



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A108

posted July 17, 2010 at 9:57 am


Joe Cleary,
That was very well said.
Of course all sins are of equal weight in that they separate us from God. That is not, however, the issue between conservative Christians and liberal Christians.
The issue is how we use individual interpretations of what is sinful to wage our culture wars.
Deacon Kandra recently posted an excellent commentary on trade unions. As a non-Catholic Christian who supports workers’ rights, I was pleased to see that the Catholic church does, too.
The reaction of most conservative Christians (most of whom are very adamant in their being Catholic Christians) was not quite as, shall we say, welcoming.
The Catholic church is rather emphatic on the ‘thou shall not kill’, indeed, the names of Priests and Sisters who marched to oppose the death penalty in many dictatorships (and who were persecuted for it) are legion.
Except in the US, where I have seen conservative Catholic Christians explain to Panthera and Cathyf right here, in explicit detail, why the death penalty is a good thing, supported by the Church.
Sanctity of heterosexual marriage is so terribly important that…well…OK, there’s no millions to be invested in fighting against 48 hour marriages a la Brittany or “I’m bored, he’s got a cute rear-end, we are so through” divorce…but 80+ million to keep two men or two women who love each other and are willing to accept all the legal responsibilities for each other, for life, is easily found. Not exactly quite what the Vatican said about the matter, but, then, why listen to B16 when the culture wars demand a slightly more nuanced position? Besides, who needs a parish in an inner city (all those old people are devout Catholics, they’ll take a bus 20 miles if need be, why worry about them?) when NOM reaches out their claw, er-, hand for monies they don’t intend to legally report.
So, yes, the media, especially in those countries where the abuse of children was not exposed and fought against quite as quickly as were other Catholic interests are going to have a field day with this.
Understandably so.



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Seven Star Hand

posted July 17, 2010 at 11:08 am


Hello all,
What will it take for people to finally grasp that the Vatican is a dinosaur on the verge of extinction. They simply can not change fast enough for it to matter since their accumulated crimes are simply too great.
The Vatican is being set up for a much bigger fall than most are expecting. Here’s an early peek for parties like yourself, who are more likely to make good use of the information.
Finishing the Mysteries of Gods and Symbols
Peace and Wisdom,
Seven



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Conservative

posted July 17, 2010 at 12:29 pm


“The Vatican is being set up for a much bigger fall than most are expecting”
Seven, please don’t hold your breath till it happens.



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Holly Hansen

posted July 17, 2010 at 12:37 pm


BRAVO Elizabeth !



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Basil

posted July 17, 2010 at 12:42 pm


Arthur C. Clarke said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
I propose a corollary. Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from subversion.



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Antoinette

posted July 17, 2010 at 12:50 pm


You are so right. Sometimes I feel like applying for the job. I think someone should who is knowledgeable. B16 is selecting men who are theologians, not diplomats like JPII, and hence we are seeing a fallout, yes some are holdovers, but they should be replaced with Catholic layperson who knows how to do PR.



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cathyf

posted July 17, 2010 at 2:54 pm


I suppose it’s time to quote H.L. Mencken:

The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology.



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Jackie

posted July 18, 2010 at 7:47 pm


St Pio has a large need in my life! If I have a hard time with the issues that are waying me down or even if I’m having a good day, I say thank you to him and all the mentors and saints of Heaven. The angels & Saints always guide me. Thank You Miraclulis Mother of God also for everything. I love you all. Amen! Jackie



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Klaire

posted July 19, 2010 at 9:30 am


Well, as predicted, I see Maureen Dowd of the NYT’s didn’t waste any time using articles like this for fodder for her continuous bashing of the Catholic Church.
I’m a big fan of Elizabeth’s, most often blown away by her inspired writings, but I truly loathed this piece (sorry Elizabeth). Not only do I not agree with it in principle, but I KNEW it would create the obvious backlash and “here we go again, why women should be priests”, all from the minds of 3rd grade educated Catholics at best.
Does anyone really think MoDo is smart enough (in a Catholic sense) to even FIND such a document let alone make sense of it?
Not only do I feel like well enough should have been left alone, as in “let the trashy MSM find their own docuemnts”, but I’m not even convinced it WAS a bad decision to lump pedophilia in the same document as the ordination of women priests.
Without question, pedophila is a horrible, scaring tragedy, on both the victims and the church, but I would also argue the same or more for the perils of women priests. Not only would Catholic women priests be a form of “spiritual lesbianism”, but even worse, it would cease the Real Presence, as only a validly ordained Priest can bring Jesus down to our alters.
And what, even pedophilia by Catholic Priests, can be worse than the loss of the Eucharist?



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Sandra

posted July 19, 2010 at 10:15 am


AMEN!!! What has one to subject to do with another? I beg the Holy Father to PLEASE, please, please, get someone on his staff who understand PR or just common sense. Perhaps a woman? Or a good nun from one of the congregations currently undergoing visitation. Someone with sense and sensibility.



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romancrusader

posted July 19, 2010 at 5:21 pm


“Incidentally, not a single Nazi leader was ever excommunicated.”
THAT’S FLAT OUT LIE! In 1933, (I think it was 1933, but I could be mistaken), the German Bishops excommunicated anyone involved in the Nazi regime and were also barred from the receiving the Blessed Sacrament. Take your anti-catholic hatred someplace else please.



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Conservative

posted July 19, 2010 at 5:31 pm


“St. Paul said, “There is neither male or female.” Somebody should remind Pope Ratzinger of this.”
I doubt if Pope Benedict needs to be reminded of anything. I am sure he has forgotten more than you will ever know.
I hardly think Paul was speaking of women’s ordination in your above convenient quote. He also said wives should be submissive to their husbands. Do you buy that too, bigot?



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romancrusader

posted July 19, 2010 at 5:41 pm


Conservative, DNFTT.



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Awashingtondccatholic

posted July 19, 2010 at 5:48 pm


Catholic Church excommunicates Nazi’s
http://www.zenit.org/article-28937?l=english



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Conservative

posted July 19, 2010 at 6:22 pm


All PR people are nothing but spin doctors anyway. If you’ve spent your life as a PR you have pretty much wasted much of it.



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Bob

posted July 31, 2010 at 2:37 pm


Your disrespect (and anti-Catholic bigotry) towards Pope Benedict XVI robbs your argument of any credibility – you should not call yourself ‘Conservative’, ‘Classless’, or maybe just ‘Confused’ would be better and certainly more appropriate.



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Conservative

posted July 31, 2010 at 5:25 pm


Bob, if you have read my posts on here regularly you would know that I uphold the teachings of the Church and the Holy Father. I don’t think you have read them properly.



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