The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Report: attempted ordination of women a “serious crime”

posted by jmcgee

DSC_5320-800.jpg While much attention has been focused on the Vatican’s new norms to cover clerical sex abuse — norms that are due out any day now — Catholic News Service reports that another item may also be covered:

The Vatican is preparing to update the 2001 norms that deal with priestly sex abuse of minors, in effect codifying practices that have been in place for several years.

At the same time, it will include the “attempted ordination of women” among the list of most serious crimes against church law, or “delicta graviora,” sources said.

Sexual abuse of a minor by a priest was added to the classification of “delicta graviora” in 2001. At that time the Vatican established norms to govern the handling of such cases.

The revisions of those norms have been in the pipeline for some time and were expected to be published in mid-July, Vatican sources said. While the changes are not “earthshaking,” they will ultimately strengthen the church’s efforts to identify and discipline priests who abuse minors, the sources said.

[snip]

The sources said the Vatican was not preparing to publish other documents on priestly sex abuse. Although some have argued that some of the strict sex abuse norms adopted by U.S. bishops in 2002 should be universalized, the sources said there was no imminent plan to do that.

Pope John Paul’s 2001 document distinguished between two types of “most grave crimes,” those committed in the celebration of the sacraments and those committed against morals. Among the sacramental crimes were such things as desecration of the Eucharist and violation of the seal of confession.

Under the new revisions, the “attempted ordination of women” will be listed among those crimes, as a serious violation of the sacrament of holy orders, informed sources said. As such, it will be handled under the procedures set up for investigating “delicta graviora” under the control of the doctrinal congregation.

In 2008, the doctrinal congregation formally decreed that a woman who attempts to be ordained a Catholic priest and the person attempting to ordain her are automatically excommunicated. In 1994, Pope John Paul said the church’s ban on women priests is definitive and not open to debate among Catholics.

As always, check the link for more. And stay tuned. Meantime, the blog over at U.S. Catholic has some sharp words on all this.



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Elle

posted July 10, 2010 at 11:51 am


Really, asking the Holy Spirit to descend upon a woman is as bad as sexual abuse of minors? And nothing about the abuse of priestly position/power among adults. I get that I disagree with the Roman Catholic church on many items, but these actions reflect some seriously jacked up priorities.



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cathyf

posted July 10, 2010 at 1:13 pm


I think that this sends a seriously mixed message. The basic truth that the Church teaches is that when the prayers of ordination are said over a woman nothing happens. It’s kind of a subtle difference — usually excommunication is about some (incredibly serious) action, whereas this is inaction. This is not like the crime of ordaining outside of the authority of Rome — where when it is done the bishop(s) and ordinand(s) are excommunicated, but they are all validly ordained when it is over, too.



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Fiergenholt

posted July 10, 2010 at 2:07 pm


It runs in my mind that sometime into the 1980’s — just after John Paul II was elected and consecrated Pope — that the written oath that final candidates for episcopal consecration had to take before their formal ceremony was changed and a completely distinct statement was inserted where the episcopal candidate swore he would not ordain a woman to the priesthood.
At that time I wondered — and still do — why that unambiguous statement was even necessary? If such an ordination is so clearly against Divine Law, why, then, was there such a prohibition clause? Would it not already be theologically obvious to everyone that — as “cathyf” stated — “nothing happens”?
If, in fact, “nothing happens,” why worry about it at all ? Much less, prohibit it?
On the other hand, if something does happen — can happen — then prohibiting it by a sworn oath makes perfect sense. And this latest admonition only compounds the problem by adding another layer of punishment. It does not solve the underlying problem.
I also wonder why this topic of women’s ordination is not an issue in other cultures of the world outside of North America? AND, even within North America, why is it only a tiny minority who advocate it?
Someone else — far wiser on theological issues than me — noted that the only way this will ever happen is through a world-wide “sensum fidei — a universal consensus of the faithful.”
Pragmatically speaking, there is no way such a “sensum fidei” within the Universal Church can be generated on this topic at this moment in history. It MIGHT happen at some vague future point in time, but not during our lifetimes and maybe not in the lifetimes of our great-grandchildren.



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Conservative

posted July 10, 2010 at 2:22 pm


“If, in fact, “nothing happens,” why worry about it at all ? Much less, prohibit it?”
I think by saying “nothing happens” it was meant to convey the fact that the attempted act of ordaining a woman does not in fact ordain her.
Plenty happens by way of the scandal and confusion that arises on the part of those who become aware of it.



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Gerard Nadal

posted July 10, 2010 at 7:14 pm


Pope John Paul II wrote on this, invoking both the Ordinary Magisterium and the Extraordinary Magisterium of the Church:
“4. Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.
“Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”
Read the rest here:
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_22051994_ordinatio-sacerdotalis_en.html
So this is now definitive teaching. It’s case closed forever.
These ‘ordinations’ are nothing more than simulating a sacrament, which is a mortal sin and an offense that incurs excommunication.



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cathyf

posted July 10, 2010 at 8:55 pm


The problem is that when something is not open to debate, if you keep talking about it, then people (quite understandably) see that and think that it must really be open to debate because you keep debating it!
(Sort of like that supreme court case where yes, you have a right to remain silent, but if you want to exercise it then you have to shut up!)



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useyourbrain

posted July 11, 2010 at 10:41 am


Why would a fair/just god of any religion allow such blatent sexism never mind have a law that demands it? Man’s own laws say that men and women must have equal opportunity and that it is wrong to deny someone a position simply because they are female, certainly God’s law would. Somone is twisting what God actually taught. We condemn the Islamic faith because of its treatment of women. How is this any different?



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Conservative

posted July 11, 2010 at 11:57 am


Useyourbrain, you might want to ask Jesus why he didn’t choose any females as part of the group of twelve apostles (the first priests) or ordain his mother Mary a priest. Was he being sexist too?



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agnostatholic

posted July 11, 2010 at 5:18 pm


Conservative, you might want to ask yourself if Jesus was actually around when documentation of his lessons were collected, and a room full of men decided what would stay and what would go? Anyone who thinks a supreme source has a genitalia bias (or even has genitalia for that matter) might want to step out of their scriptual comfort zone and consider the lessons of the master, and not the rules of the construct built by men.
Might I remind you that in the oldest pre-Rome catholic traditions that women did celebrate mass and priests were married, and that the church amassed vast amounts of wealth by “marrying” priests into the church so that their inheritances were not passed to anyone else.
I’m comfortable with my belief that Jesus did not teach in order for people to worship him, or that he even wished to be worshipped. He doen’t exactly present as that egotistical. If you believe in the concept of an Antichrist (which this male correspondent does not), surely you can consider that an evil of that magnitude would manifest in a way that believers would expect their second coming to look like, in order to gain their trust. Your Savior didn’t operate the way that established religion wanted him to, so he was killed. I expect that the next time around wouldn’t be much different. People seem to need the club membership more than the lesson. :-)



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Conservative

posted July 11, 2010 at 6:18 pm


Agnosto, whatever flavor of Kool Aid you are drinking, hope you enjoy it. I accept the canonicity of scripture. If you don’t, so be it.



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agnostatholic

posted July 11, 2010 at 6:40 pm


Respectful translation of Conservative’s response:
“I like my Kool-Aid and don’t question its origin.”
Truly, good sir – to accuse someone of blindly subscribing to a particular thought (the genesis of the whole kool-aid put-down), when the point was completely the opposite, is kind of silly. I’ll drop by on occasion to see if you’d like to talk here about the history behind and prior to these laws, because I find it interesting.
Accepting the canonicity of scripture is a convenient thing to say (and much appreciated by the establishment of your choosing), but one can only strengthen their convictions by leaving them open to growth. Unless growth is not your cup of tea. Oh, sorry – Kool-Aid. Didn’t want to switch drinks on you in mid-metaphor. :-)
Sincerest of blessings to you.



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Conservative

posted July 11, 2010 at 7:31 pm


I prefer my Kool Aid plain and not tainted with anything stronger.
If you have secret words of Jesus ordaining women to the priesthood, please share them at once. Otherwise, I will take the Gospels and their canonicity as they are written. If you choose otherwise, that is entirely up to you, but please don’t even try to tell me otherwise. Whether Jesus desired to be worshipped is a pretty speculative suggestion. I worship Him as Son of God and second person of the Trinity.



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agnostatholic

posted July 11, 2010 at 8:23 pm


Well, at least you’re present enough in the conversation to acknowledge the potential existence of something stronger. :-)
I don’t think it’s speculative at all to think that Jesus wasn’t out to get worshipped. His mission statement wasn’t exactly about himself.
No, I harbor no secrets, friend. The information is out there. It’s already been researched that women were active participants in the priesthood before Greco-Roman social influences, and to think that women were not just as crucial to Jesus’ original core group as men is almost misogynistic, but understandable considering the centuries of people like yourself who merely accept the flavor of drink in the chalice that was passed to them.
To Jesus, everyone was equal, sir. That’s one of his core teachings – that all are welcome. His participation was across every demographic, every strata of human experience. For the first two hundred years the catholic tradition was not one of a public nature; it was practiced in the home, by men and by women, and was family-centric in nature, not poiitical. As the church began to organize more publicly and prominently, the patriarchal societies it was growing in created stronger demands that women be subjugated within the church in the same manner as they were subjugated in public society. These are not secrets known only to me, I assure you. Ask a woman over fifty or sixty if they were treated as a man’s equal when they were in the first half of their life — and compared to women back then, the modern woman is light-years ahead.
When you posit that every action and writing of the church is divine in nature, you ignore the profound impact of the social structure that those writings were created in. If you do that, then you run the risk of being much less like a follower of Jesus and more like the ones who would cast him out of the temple. Women back then were literally considered to be of a subservient class to men. Back when the Old and New Testaments were developed, even slavery was considered to be perfectly acceptable.
At the end of the day, the church will continue to evolve along with the hearts and minds of the people who focus their attention on the core values and teachings of Jesus. Rejoice in this growth, even if you choose not to participate until someone tells you it’s the new rule – otherwise you’d still be going to Latin services. Change is nothing new for the church; it’s just a reeaalllyy slow process. :-)
What Would Jesus Do if he was in attendance when a heartfelt, compassionate and intelligent woman offered a wonderfully insightful homily and served mass? Would he invalidate it, or would he embrace everyone in the celebration?
I can’t give you the answer to that, but I’ve got a hunch . . .
Again – peace to you, and although I’m sensing some frustration from you my goal is mere dialogue.



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Deacon Norb

posted July 12, 2010 at 5:08 am


To both “Conservative” and “Agnostacatholic”:
–Try the story of Martha and Mary. What is really revolutionary here is not that Mary sat at the Master’s feet while he was teaching his disciples but that the disciples themselves did not object to this obvious violation of social mores of the time. Women were not supposed to be disciples of any Rabbi and really could not study in the Yeshiva (can they even do that today?). The real reason why the disciples dared not challenge Mary was that the setting was her own home — not out in public. Women in the Middle East during that era were the absolute authority within the confines of their own homes and that is true today even in homes of Middle Eastern cultural traditions but located anywhere in the world.
–Then try the story of the walk to Emmaus. We know the name of only one participant — Cleopas — but we also know that one of the three women at the foot of the cross was “Mary, the wife of Cl(e)opas.” It makes perfect sense that a husband and wife are traveling together; it makes perfect sense that since both of them are followers of Jesus that they are intently discussing the events of the immediate days before; and it makes perfect sense that Jesus walked with them — as a married couple.



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Conservative

posted July 12, 2010 at 11:43 am


Deacon Norb, I don’t get the point of your references. I think it has always been presumed the two on the road to Emmaus were men.
As for agnosto, I have no idea where you get your info but to think that Jesus ordained women as priests is just not in the Gospels nor the supposition that women functioned as priests. As for change on the issue, JPII spoke definitively on it—case is closed.



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wineinthewater

posted July 12, 2010 at 12:05 pm


agnostatholic,
You cannot make this claim:
“Conservative, you might want to ask yourself if Jesus was actually around when documentation of his lessons were collected, and a room full of men decided what would stay and what would go?”
and this claim:
“To Jesus, everyone was equal, sir. That’s one of his core teachings – that all are welcome.”
Either the witness of scripture is reliable or it is not. If Jesus’ actions in establishing the priesthood cannot be known with certainty because of the bias, sexism, self-interest, etc. of the chroniclers, compilers and editors of scripture, then we can know nothing about Jesus with certainty. All other extant gospels post-date the canonical 4 by at least a century .. and if the canonical 4 can’t be trusted, then these certainly can’t be.
So, you must decide: scripture witnesses to the truth about Jesus, or we know almost nothing about Jesus.
And as to this:
“The information is out there. It’s already been researched that women were active participants in the priesthood before Greco-Roman social influences”
If it is out there, then please share. I’ve spent a lot of time studying this subject, both within and without academia and have never come across any credible research that supports this. So yours is a monumentus claim, you should be willing to support it.



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agnostatholic

posted July 13, 2010 at 4:28 pm


Wineinthewater,
Respectfully, I disagree with your notion that “either the witness of scripture is reliable, or it is not.” That’s just not it for me, although I completely agree that we simply cannot know the real Jesus in any way beyond what has lasted for this long, and that history has been very carefully crafted. I’m confident in my belief that Jesus, through his actions and words, calls all of us to challenge the established interpretations of things and return to the roots of compassion and connectedness to all people. Now, granted – I don’t subscribe to the concept of infallibility, so if you do, please put down your stones. :-)
Look, the issue I have is not something that I’m actively courting a revolution around (I follow Jesus but no longer in a Roman tradition), because frankly a change of this magnitude would only come about when more and more people like myself have left the church; not just because it is inconsistent in the way it deals with the structure of tradition, but also because that structure takes precedence over the actual teachings of Jesus as we have been exposed to them (that last caveat in deference to your valid point that we don’t actually have anything that he actually authored). Actually, your black/white statement points to one of the issues I have with the way the traditions were created.
The supposition is that Jesus could have appointed women, but did not; therefore it was conveniently concluded that he was stating through his actions that women cannot be priests. Now, that makes perfect sense in a society where men enjoyed a higher status than women, but on other levels it makes sense because once the catholic tradition expanded out of the home and into society, a woman of religious power likely would have been seen as a challenge to patriarchal norms. I found this article to be pretty well written, and seems to be well researched. It’s at least worth a read, and speaks to the inconsistencies as to how the church has structured itself in matters like this:
http://www.womenpriests.org/classic/schneide.asp
And, although I have not read this book, this page has some interesting excerpts worth a view if you’re so inclined:
http://www.pinn.net/~sunshine/book-sum/wmnprst.html
I completely respect that you’ve likely studied this subject much more than I, for I am not passionate enough about theology or religious mysticism to be a scholar. I’m just a guy with an opinion. I’m not offering anything as proof of anything, and I don’t have the luxury of putting something into the public conscious and stamping it with a seal of infallibility.
At the end of the day, questions like this speak to one’s core concepts of their Source, and whether or not any culture or practice of mankind would really be the only pathway. I don’t see it as just a faith question, but also a philosophical and intellectual one, and I remain steadfast that an intelligent creator would celebrate a search for understanding and evolution, especially where original teachings are comingled with human perception, a changing society, and then distorted through the lens of history.
In this forum I am most certainly out of my element, and I apologize if my comments are unwelcome and will disengage if requested. I still humbly direct you to ponder my question posted above as well:
What (do YOU think) Would Jesus Do if he was in attendance when a heartfelt, compassionate and intelligent woman offered a wonderfully insightful homily and served mass? Would he invalidate it, or would he embrace everyone in the celebration?



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