Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Women Challenge Gender Apartheid in the Catholic Church by Angela Bonavoglia

If ever there were doubt about the relationship between the Catholic Church's spectacular failure to address the clerical child sex abuse crisis and the church's glaring system of gender apartheid, the Vatican put it to rest in July. Engendering a firestorm of criticism, their new canonical guidelines for handling and punishing the most "grave crimes" in church law revealed just how enraged the hierarchy is at women who dare to challenge them. Along with the crimes of sexually molesting children and developmentally disabled adults, and of using and distributing pornography, the Vatican listed: "the attempted sacred ordination of a woman."

In other words, the two greatest problems the Catholic hierarchy faces are women and children..."

"So threatening was the Danube event that one month after, Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, publicly denounced and excommunicated all seven women. That is a sanction he has never issued— even now, in the new canonical guidelines — against a single cleric who raped or sodomized a child or a single bishop who aided and abetted such crimes..."

"Benedict's actions have not stemmed the tide. Nearly 100 women have been ordained or are in training to be ordained through the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement, vividly documented in Jules Hart's just-released film, Pink Smoke Over the Vatican. The new canonical guidelines call for excommunication of the ordained woman and the priest who ordains her, which is redundant, since the Vatican did that in 2007. But it also authorizes speedy recourse to the ultimate punishment for a priest: laicization, or the end of his priesthood."

"That laicization threat shows just how dangerous the hierarchy sees the passionate, public expressions of support from high-profile Catholic priests, like beloved peace activist Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of the School of Americas Watch. Under threat of excommunication for co-presiding at one of the ordinations, Bourgeois remains an outspoken advocate, insisting that "there will never be justice in the Catholic Church until women can be ordained."...

Without women priests, Catholics miss out on ministry/Article in NCR Online

NCR Online

For decades now I’ve watched Catholics debate whether to ordain women as priests, an issue that flared again recently when the Vatican named “attempted women’s ordination” among “grave crimes.”...

But sometimes I wonder if Catholics know what they’re missing by not having female priests. Yes, Catholics get a sense of ministry by women through the often remarkable work of women religious. But even that is different from authorizing women to engage in the full range of ministry, including administering the sacraments...

But Catherine’s real skill was being a feminine ministerial presence in the midst of pain. When my 31-year-old nephew died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a passenger on the first plane to hit the World Trade Center, she dropped whatever else was on her agenda and came to our house to mourn with us -- several times.

She didn’t come with clear and headstrong theological answers for us, though of course she was willing to struggle with our questions. Rather, she brought her presence, an absorbing warmth and understanding that I’ve never felt from a male member of the clergy. To survive in ministry as a female, she knew she needed both head and heart, and she had managed not to abandon her nurturing heart as she lived her life on a playing field dominated by men...

"I wish all Christians could experience this kind of ministry."

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Bill Tammeus, a Presbyterian elder and former award-winning faith columnist for The Kansas City Star, writes the daily "Faith Matters" blog for The Star’s website and a monthly column for The Presbyterian Outlook. His latest book, co-authored with Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn, is They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust. His e-mail address is