When the CDF yesterday released the new text of the Normae de gravioribus delictis, "as revised by Pope Benedict XVI on 21 May 2010, [which] contains modifications to both the substantial and the procedural norms found in the original text of Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela" most of the attention went to the new norms for punishments of grave delicts (offenses against canon law) involving sexual sins/crimes.
But the document also contained the following:
But the document also contained the following:
The more grave delict of the attempted sacred ordination of a woman is also reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:And now the hysterics have begun, as The Guardian of Secular Group Think reports:
1° With due regard for can. 1378 of the Code of Canon Law, both the one who attempts to confer sacred ordination on a woman, and she who attempts to receive sacred ordination, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.
2° If the one attempting to confer sacred ordination, or the woman who attempts to receive sacred ordination, is a member of the Christian faithful subject to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, with due regard for can. 1443 of that Code, he or she is to be punished by major excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.
3° If the guilty party is a cleric he may be punished by dismissal or deposition.
It was meant to be the document that put a lid on the clerical sex abuse scandals that have swept the Roman Catholic world. But instead of quelling fury from within and without the church, the Vatican stoked the anger of liberal Catholics and women's groups by including a provision in its revised decree that made the "attempted ordination" of women one of the gravest crimes in ecclesiastical law. ...A key problem here, in a nutshell, is that while everyone with a working conscience knows how horrible and vile are the sexual molestation and abuse of children, not everyone takes nearly as seriously the grave spiritual harm caused by the attempted ordination of women. This is especially true when the "ordination" is done by an actual bishop; it is a betrayal of the most serious sort, a violation of his holy orders and, ultimately, of the sacred calling granted to him by God. It is, put frankly, spiritual abuse.
Ceri Goddard, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: "We are sure that the vast majority of the general public will share in our abject horror at the Vatican's decision to categorise the ordination of women as an 'offence' in the same category as paedophilia – deemed to be one of the 'gravest offences a priest can commit'.
Which is not to make light of physical or sexual abuse; the problem isn't that people take sexual abuse too seriously—it's that they don't take spiritual harm and abuse seriously at all. Especially since it requires believing that the attempted ordination of women is not a matter of ritual or "rights," but of fidelity, communion, and sacrifice. To throw away that fidelity, to break that communion, to spit on that sacrifice is to deeply wound the Body of Christ, the Church; it is a scandal that causes spiritual division—these are "ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 817); if not addressed correctly such actions can, in fact, lead to damnation. And those who scoff at such a notion show themselves the careless, irresponsible fools they are.
Some readers object from time to time to my use of the term "priestette" when referring to women pursuing "ordination" in the Catholic Church. But, notwithstanding the sarcastic element, the more serious point of that term is to highlight the lack of theological seriousness and the deprivation of humble self-examination that always goes hand-in-hand with such acts. "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul," said Jesus, "rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10:28). The bishop who "ordains" women is pursuing such destruction, despite thinking he is somehow "liberating" them; those who support "women's ordination" are doing likewise, however sincere they might be (contrary to pop psychology, ill-informed sincerity is not good). And since there has been and continues to be a movement to pursue such spiritually destructive actions, strong medicine is needed. And while excommunication is punishment, it is also medicinal, as Dr. Ed Peters explains perfectly:
Excommunication is the most serious censure the Catholic Church imposes on her members. Excommunication has roots deep in ecclesiastical history, and it is still applied, in fact increasingly applied, today. But it's more than a penalty for past actions; it's really an urgent call to reform one's conduct in the future. Excommunication is classified as a "medicinal penalty" by the Church precisely because its main purpose is to bring about reform in the individual. Having certain actions punished by excommunication demonstrates that certain actions are gravely wrong in themselves and cause deep harm both to their perpetrators and to others.Just to be clear, it's not as if until yesterday the dreaded Vatican had a ho-hum, "who cares?" attitude toward "women's ordination." On the contrary, the Code of Canon Law (1983), states:
Can. 1378 §1. A priest who acts against the prescript of ⇒ can. 977 incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See. [can. 977 states: "The absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue is invalid except in danger of death."]Finally, here is the basis for this post's headline, again from The Guardian:
§2. The following incur a latae sententiae penalty of interdict or, if a cleric, a latae sententiae penalty of suspension:
1/ a person who attempts the liturgical action of the Eucharistic sacrifice though not promoted to the sacerdotal order;
2/ apart from the case mentioned in §1, a person who, though unable to give sacramental absolution validly, attempts to impart it or who hears sacramental confession.
§3. In the cases mentioned in §2, other penalties, not excluding excommunication, can be added according to the gravity of the delict.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, called the document "one of the most insulting and misogynistic pronouncements that the Vatican has made for a very long time. Why any self-respecting woman would want to remain part of an organisation that regards their full and equal participation as a 'grave sin' is a mystery to me."While the National Secular Society is obviously opposed to the Church's teachings about ordination, Sanderson is right to point out, albeit indirectly, the hypocrisy of those who whine and complain perpetually about the woman-hating Vatican, the misogynous bishops, and the narrow-minded popes who won't "get with the times" and allow them to be priestettes. They thumb their nose at Church authority, but then demand that Church authority rubber stamps their little priestette passes. They want it both ways: Church authority is meaningless; Church authority is necessary.
Sanderson is correct. If a woman wants to be ordained, leave the Catholic Church. "For a person is not be called a heretic as soon as he errs in matters of faith," states the Catechism of the Council of Trent," then only is he to be so called, when in defiance of the authority of the Church he maintains impious opinions with unyielding pertinacity." And here is a perfect example of such defiant pertinacity. As Chesterton put it so well: "The heretic (who is also the fanatic) is not a man who loves truth too much; not man can love truth too much. The heretic is the man who loves his truth more than truth itself."
Here is Fr. Z.:
Another thing you will perhaps will see in the press, secular and Catholic, are criticisms of the list of crimes. They may complain that, for example, trying to ordain a woman is not nearly as horrible as abusing a minor and it shouldn’t simply be lumped in with other sins, as if they all did they same damage. In a sense, they are right, especially from the perspective of the victim of abuse. But they are wrong from another perspective. Critics might assert that pouring the Precious Blood down the sink or selling a Host or pretending to ordain a woman is a "victimless" crime, bad to be sure but really not that bad. They are wrong. There are still victims: the whole Church suffers because all the crimes involved attack who and what the Church is.Read his entire post. Finally, Fr. Robert Barron has some good thoughts about this topic on "The Seeker" blog of The Chicago Tribune. Also see:
The crimes do belong together when seen in the correct perspective. All of the crimes here involve sacred things. Even the crime of abusing a minor outside the context of confession involves something sacred because it involves an ordained person, a sacred person. Abuse of the Blessed Sacrament is the worst of all, because it involves God truly sacramentally present. Simulation of Mass or Ordination or any other sacraments is an abuse of the sacred. All these crimes tear at the very heart of the Church herself and they therefore merit being called graviora or "more serious". The abuse of the young can leave hideous scars. These crimes are so serious that they demand the most serious attention and measures. They also deserve serious attention not just because of the harm done to the individual victims but because, since they involve priests (and sometimes the sacrament of penance when people are at their most vulnerable) and therefore the fabric of the Church herself.