Originally published September 3, 2010
Sometimes it’s hard for me to be the occasionally practicing Catholic that I am.
And it’s not because I find it hard to make my way to Mass, though I do.
It’s because after roughly 2,010 years, the church still doesn’t get it.
Over the summer, the Vatican passed down a ruling that makes ordaining a woman an excommunicable offense, which is the church’s greatest punishment.
So not only will the bishop who performs the ordination be excommunicated, the woman who attempts to become ordained would be kicked out as well.
What other actions could qualify for papal excommunication?
Sexually abusing a child.
That’s right. The church made that statement in the same document it declared abusing a developmentally disabled person over the age of 18 is considered the same as abusing a minor. Possessing pornographic images of a minor is also an excommunicable offense.
To me, it’s almost like an earmark of a bill passed in Congress. While they were updating the policy on sex abuse, they threw the ordination of women in there.
Listen, I happen to think woman probably should be ordained, but it’s not something I’ve ever really gone nuts over – I guess the church has just pissed me off in so many other ways that it hasn’t come up yet.
But it’s aggravating to have that be thrown into the same guidelines as sexually abusing a child.
Especially when you consider what the document didn’t contain.
The Vatican still hasn’t required that bishops report cases of sexual abuse.
The document doesn’t outline punishment for those who don’t, and it doesn’t contain anything about defrocking priests after they’ve been found guilty of molesting a child.
One Vatican official said the new rulings don’t mean all that much, and that a bishop, like any Christian, would be morally and ethically required to report abuse to civil authorities, even if his Earthly boss won’t require it.
“If civil law requires you report, you must obey civil law,” Monsignor Charles Scicluna said to the media. But “it’s not for canonical legislation to get itself involved with civil law.”
And that’s where the church just doesn’t get it.
So many dioceses have changed their sex abuse reporting policies in the last few years, which is a good thing, but the Vatican still doesn’t require bishops report abuse?
And it views ordaining woman an equal danger to the institution and its people?
Ask any Catholic in the United States what the biggest challenge facing the church is, and I’d be willing to bet that nine out of 10 times they’d respond by saying something about the sex abuse crisis.
The other one percent? Probably the priest shortage.
The ordination of woman is on all that many radars outside of Vatican City, not even the liberal members of the American church are fighting all that hard for it.
I grew up in an Irish-Catholic stronghold in the midst of the abuse crisis.
And as a teen, I became so discouraged by the church’s actions – declaring practicing homosexuality a sin against God while it was moving priests from parish to parish and diocese to diocese, effectively allowing them to continue to molest children, for example – that I all but left the church.
While I do consider myself a Catholic, most of the people I grew up with in the church, the friends I was confirmed with, don’t.
Sure, going away to college can have that affect on a lot of people, that wasn’t it, at least not all the time.
For the some of its people, priests included, the church needs to start facing its problems head on. Clinging desperately to the ridiculous traditions and boys club it once was will be its downfall.