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Finally, action from the Vatican.
August 7, 2002 5:36 AM   Subscribe

Finally, action from the Vatican. After struggling with what to do with errant priests, several are excommunicated.... ...Whoops. Never mind. These aren't the priests one might expect...or maybe they are.
posted by fpatrick (53 comments total)

 
ananova can hardly be considered a source of real news, and google is turning up nothing else on this matter. did it really happen? any other sources? and, is it really all that surprising?
posted by quonsar at 6:06 AM on August 7, 2002


Quonsar: See here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:14 AM on August 7, 2002


Quonsar,

Add to your search string a bit.
posted by kayjay at 6:17 AM on August 7, 2002


The Catholic Church's failure to sufficiently discipline pedophile priests is not a reason to excoriate the Vatican for following otherwise legitimate (from the Church's point of view) and longstanding doctrine. The Argentine archbishop who ordained these women has been rejected by the Vatican for a long time, and I woudn't be suprised if the Vatican had excommunicated men who had been ordained by this guy.

The excommunication is, however, a sign of the growing disconnect between the Catholic laity, particularly in the U.S., and the Vatican. The Church is going to have to answer very soon a fundamental question about what kind of organization it wants to be.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:22 AM on August 7, 2002


there is not a snowballs chance in hell of women

being ordained priests in the catholic church.

and anyone who thinks they can change that has

an ego the size of everest.

anyone for changing the us into a communist state ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:11 AM on August 7, 2002


or anyone for erecting a statue of mickey mouse in

the middle of mecca?
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:12 AM on August 7, 2002


The Church doesn't excommunicate people for sinning. Everyone sins.

The Church excommunicates people for obdurately and publicly persisting in heresy in a way that undermines the faith of others. Running around claiming to be a "priest" because one was "ordained" by an illegitimate "bishop" definitely qualifies on that count. There have been plenty of male "priests" and "bishops" excommunicated for this reason (go ask the LeFevrites), and now there have been some female "priests" excommunicated.

Big hairy deal.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 7:36 AM on August 7, 2002


there is not a snowballs chance in hell of the earth

revolving around the sun in the catholic church.

and anyone who thinks they can change that has

an ego the size of everest.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:44 AM on August 7, 2002


Action from the Vatican.

When I saw that, I thought "Porn?"
posted by insomnyuk at 7:44 AM on August 7, 2002


there is not a snowballs chance in hell of women

being ordained priests in the catholic church.


Yeah! Same goes for the C of E!
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:44 AM on August 7, 2002


there is not a snowballs chance in hell of women being ordained priests in the catholic church.
Yeah! Same goes for the C of E!


Eventually, the only surviving major churches will be those which ordain women. As women move closer and closer to equal rights with men, churches that refuse to treat them as equal look more and more squarely down the barrel of social irrelevance. Any church that persists in its misogyny will end up as a fringe-dwelling cult, or die out completely..
posted by sennoma at 8:01 AM on August 7, 2002


The fact that the Catholic Church will excommunicate people for "heresy" (i.e. disagreements about dogma) but not for "sin" (e.g. anally raping pre-pubescent boys) may be consistent with Church doctrine and history, but it doesn't speak well about their priorities. It makes clear that their priority is to protect their fixed Idea of the Church, rather than to protect the sanctity of human life.
I'd seen this news story before. I'm surprised that I haven't seen any opinion pieces making the comparison that fpatrick makes here. Has anyone else seen this comparison elsewhere?
posted by alms at 8:10 AM on August 7, 2002




alms: sin is automatic self-excommunication. A catholic communicant is advised not to attempt communion until confession is completed. Those of notorious sin (sin, won't confess, won't repent) can, and often will, be excommunicated. It's just not good press.
posted by dwivian at 8:33 AM on August 7, 2002


Says the Vatican: Jesus chose men as his disciples, so only men can be priests.

Oh, so now we're in the business of following gender roles exactly as detailed in the bible? Does this mean I get to have multiple husbands?!?

I'm not bibical scholar, but I don't think Jesus could choose a woman as a disciple. Socializing with women like that surely would have gone against the morés of the time.
posted by jennak at 8:40 AM on August 7, 2002


My Catholic brother-in-law tried to explain the church's stand against women priests in long winded terms of "male and female energies" to my buddhist wife. I really wish that atheist I had been there. It would have been a great time to accuse him of believing "New Age Hippie sh‘t", a charge he occasionally throws at us.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:45 AM on August 7, 2002


jennak, a few biblical scholars actually think that Mary Magdalene was one of the disciples. Specifically, Mary could have been the disciple that Jesus loved, according to the Gospel of John. I don't really know enough about the debate to share an opinion on that subject.

However, I don't think the Vatican's point is that gender roles and relationships must be built on biblical models, rather that jeebus was the inspiration for the "body" of the church.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:49 AM on August 7, 2002


Doesn't the restriction against women priests have something to do with the Christian belief that women are guilty of Original Sin (e.g., Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge)?
posted by mrmanley at 9:03 AM on August 7, 2002


This page offers several good arguments in favor of ordaining women, including:

Jesus called both women and men to be his disciples, surely the life of Jesus should be the model for ministry in the church.
There is ample evidence in Scripture for women's leadership in the early church. Such leadership became increasingly prohibited as the church became a public institution, as it was not considered proper for women to hold leadership positions in public places


Oddly enough, I was mulling over this very topic yesterday. It seems to me that in most Christian religions women are the mainstay and yet are prohibited from holding leadership positions. I am afraid I can't provide statistics-- membership break-down by sexes seems to be a big secret-- but walk into any church and most of the faithful are women. For example, in the case of a married couple when only one person attends church, it is usually the wife who attends church with the children and the husband who stays home.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:06 AM on August 7, 2002


The only way for a woman to deal with a misogynistic institution is to leave it.
posted by Summer at 9:08 AM on August 7, 2002


The official position of the Church is as folows:

Only a baptised man validly receives sacred ordination. The Lord chose men to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of twelve an ever present and ever active reality until Christ’s return. The church recognises herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible. (Catechism #1577; Inter insignores(1977)

See also this site for the reaffirmation of this policy in 1994.

SLG: Jesus called both women and men to be his disciples, surely the life of Jesus should be the model for ministry in the church.

Except that, according to the Church, jeebus didn't call both men and women. The priesthood is modeled, apparently, on the Twelve Disciples, all of whom were men. The argument you cite makes the common mistake of conflating being called to ministry with being called to Discipleship.

On preview: Summer, I think you're right, especially in the case of the Catholic church. The Vatican is designed to be top-down, uniquely separated from the laity. What the pope says, goes. I'm not sure you can seriously advocate women as priests and still be a Catholic.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:11 AM on August 7, 2002


Secret Life of Gravy:

The Church is not a democracy and is no way constrained to do what the majority wants. They are not swayed by argumentation or threats. Remember, the pope is infallible. If he says women can't be priests, then the issue is settled once and for all (if you're Catholic, that is).
posted by mrmanley at 9:12 AM on August 7, 2002


In the Church's view (disclaimer: I'm not Catholic, so take it with a grain of salt), I don't think the issue is one of ontological equality, rather that the different genders have different duties within the Church. Men aren't priests because they are better than women, and women aren't denied the position because they are inferior, but because they have different Biblical roles. Clearly, women play a valuable role in the Church, and throughout Biblical history. In the Old Testament, for example, Esther and Ruth were influential, important people, not to mention Deborah, who led Israel to military victory. Even so, women were not allowed to be priests. While many old covenant rules and laws have held on , many were discarded with the coming of Christ (such as not eating pork and atoning for sin with animal sacrifice), but denying women the priesthood, at least when you look at the Bible, was certainly not discarded. Also, the 'get with the times or be left behind' argument doesn't work for the simple fact that the Church, at least in principle, is not driven by the whims of social opinion but by what it believes to be the truth.

Socializing with women like that surely would have gone against the morés of the time.

Actually, Christ did not follow the mores of the Jewish culture he lived in. He forgave a prostitute (even allowing her to bathe his feet in perfume, a symbolic act which was quite unthinkable at the time). He associated with the tax collectors, and many of the other people who were hated in the Israelite society. He broke social mores by claiming he was God and healing the sick. The Pharisees already hated him, I don't think he denied women discipleship on utilitarian grounds (if you're going to accept the story, remember Christ is God, chose to die, etc etc, and there's a reason for everything). I don't think your argument in this regard holds water.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:12 AM on August 7, 2002


The Church is going to have to answer very soon a fundamental question about what kind of organization it wants to be.

Yeah, like an extant organization versus a historical anomaly.

On women:

Whenever women have insisted on absolute equality with men, they have invariably wound up with the dirty end of the stick. What they are and what they can do makes them superior to men, and the proper tactic is to demand special privileges, all the traffic will bear. They should never settle merely for equality. For women, "equality" is a disaster.

- Lazarus Long

The historical deprecation of women by the church is bullshit, nothing more.

For an organization that has changed itself to suit the whims of history so often to claim that anything is absolutely rigid about its beliefs is well, shameless.

They'll do whatever is needed to preserve the power and riches of the church, nothing more.

Personally, I think a church is its People, and the power structure on top of it is usually a bunch of power-hungry vampiric thugs. Occasionally, there are exceptions, but not often enough.
posted by beth at 9:13 AM on August 7, 2002


PinkStainlessTail, who cares what the Anglicans do? After all, Pope Leo XIII declared them "absolutely null and utterly void."
posted by ahughey at 9:34 AM on August 7, 2002


That's the greatest compliment the Anglican church has ever received.
posted by Summer at 9:46 AM on August 7, 2002


damn! caught with an insufficient search string! how embarrassing!
posted by quonsar at 10:07 AM on August 7, 2002


there was shrinkage, i tell you! shrinkage! i was in the pool!
posted by quonsar at 10:09 AM on August 7, 2002


Doesn't the restriction against women priests have something to do with the Christian belief that women are guilty of Original Sin (e.g., Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge)?

Actually, some people may do this, but many theologians point out that this is particularly misguided because of the fact that Adam, created first, and tasked with taking care of the garden, was probably watching Eve to see what would happen when she ate the fruit. In other words, Adam was a willing accomplice.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:25 AM on August 7, 2002


I did a paper once on how Mary Magdalen was Jesus' favorite desciple/ apostle. If you read different versions of the bible - in some they never say paul's name; just in later translations. She also wrote a gospel that was destroyed, as did a lot of other people. I'm sure it's not really true, but the idea is interesting. That Jesus, he seemed like a good guy, it's the rest of them that we have to worry about.
posted by goneill at 10:30 AM on August 7, 2002


We get periods and aren't clean and are unfit to be on an altar.
posted by goneill at 10:31 AM on August 7, 2002


And we create life, and nourish it with our very bodies. (Ever lactated, especially for a significant length of time? It's one of the world's greatest wonders).

Plus, we can make the only meat you don't have to kill to get! Placenta! :)

The earth (mother goddess) is the altar. Without her, there'd be nothing to stand on.

I'm just sayin...

Plus, without periods, we'd have no decimal numbers, and no ends to our sentences (and no ellipses).

Adding up all that, the ability to write one's name in the snow with urine and be more aggressive and stronger for the purpose of killing stuff doesn't seem to really even compare.

But then, I'm biased.
posted by beth at 11:15 AM on August 7, 2002


God is a man therefore priests. It's a man thing.

either that or s/he is a lady with bad facial hair.
posted by gravelshoes at 11:21 AM on August 7, 2002


Were all the disciples (the ones the church recognizes, anyway) Jewish? Should we then only allow Jewish males to become Catholic priests? And what color was their hair? Were they all blondes or redheads? I think more study needs to be done to determine the exact criteria Jesus used to select his "priesthood".
posted by botono9 at 11:30 AM on August 7, 2002


Oh, come on, people.

This is not about misogyny. This is not a value judgement. This is precisely analogous to the existence of all-female schools. (My father teaches at one such institution. This allows my sister to attend tuition-free — a savings, over four years, of well over US$100,000. I, as a male, got nothing.) In both cases, we are talking about private institutions (well, unless you live in the Vatican) setting their own standards for admission.

And anyway, if you're a Catholic who puts any credence whatsoever in the [blatently anti-feminist] Bible, you've got no business whining about misogyny, and if you want to whine about misogyny, you've got no business being a Catholic. And if you're not a Catholic, why the hell do you care?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:31 AM on August 7, 2002


And we create life, and nourish it with our very bodies.

You are the yin, but I am the yang, you are the fertile ground in which I plant my seed. You can't have one without the other.

Plus, we can make the only meat you don't have to kill to get! Placenta! :)

Mmmm, polenta. Oh wait, you mean ... gross! Seriously, though, eating placenta? I know that it's not an uncommon tradition in some cultures, but I don't think I could do it. Besides, I'm not one to keep women around as a steady dietary supplement, if you know what I mean.

The earth (mother goddess) is the altar. Without her, there'd be nothing to stand on.

Ah, more anthropomorphism. Who says earth has to be a goddess? I know that's the traditional view, but it isn't much more than mysticism, you know.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:42 AM on August 7, 2002


You are the yin, but I am the yang, you are the fertile ground in which I plant my seed. You can't have one without the other.

Get a room.
posted by solistrato at 12:00 PM on August 7, 2002


I would like some clarification on Excommunication. I know this involves loss of sacraments, including Last Rites, so does this mean these female priests are eternally damned? Risking an eternity in Hell would make them braver than the early Christian Saints who only risked torture and loss of life.

Also if I remember my medieval history, the Excommunicated can be pardoned, can't they?

The bottom line is yes, I do realize the Catholic Church is not a democracy, therefore change from within is well-nigh impossible. Unfortunately if you are a True Believer there is nowhere else to go because Catholic dogma does not recognize any other religion. The Pope says, "It's my way or go to hell."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:13 PM on August 7, 2002


alms asked: I'm surprised that I haven't seen any opinion pieces making the comparison that fpatrick makes here. Has anyone else seen this comparison elsewhere?

Actually, the first I heard of this story was yesterday morning on the Robin Quivers news report segment of the widely syndicated Howard Stern radio program. In addition to Robin's straight reading of the story, the comparison which I latched onto, was first made in the inimitable style of that program.
posted by fpatrick at 12:32 PM on August 7, 2002


...hmm, as I think about that last post, I guess maybe this old altar boy is destined for fire and brinstone.
posted by fpatrick at 12:33 PM on August 7, 2002


I'm going to rely pretty heavily upon the online Catholic Encyclopedia because it's heavily annotated and I find it a usefull source.

Excommunication is "the principal and severest censure, is a medicinal, spiritual penalty that deprives the guilty Christian of all participation in the common blessings of ecclesiastical society. Being a penalty, it supposes guilt; and being the most serious penalty that the Church can inflict, it naturally supposes a very grave offence. It is also a medicinal rather than a vindictive penalty, being intended, not so much to punish the culprit, as to correct him and bring him back to the path of righteousness." An extended explanation follows those first few sentences.

Regarding women in the church. Women have been participants since the beginning even if those who wrote the various canonized books didn't directly call them apostles.

Priscilla was a woman who lead a church from her home.

Several of the Letters of Paul specifically state that Paul gives thanks for the "brothers and sisters" in the church. The Letters of Paul are Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. 1 & 2 Timothy are problematic because many claim, and I believe, they are pseudepigraphical; not written by Paul but attributed to Paul. Their admonitions to women are in conflict to his other statments praising the work of women in the church.

To pull in more info for you on the Biblically recognized role of women, I'd need to gather some info from books I don't have in the office. Sorry. I'll check again tomorrow.
posted by onhazier at 12:35 PM on August 7, 2002


it's interesting. the church is a "she" and has possibly the most widespread goddess worship nowadays (the virgin Mary), and yet none of the official representatives can be female.
posted by witchstone at 12:42 PM on August 7, 2002


The only way for a woman to deal with a misogynistic institution is to leave it.

gee, good thing nobody told that to the first female college students, teachers, doctors, lawyers, police officers, bankers, dentists, actors, construction workers, etc etc. incremental as it may be, change from within (i.e. if ya can't beat 'em, join 'em) is a worthwhile pursuit. if everyone ignores things they don't like, not a lot is going to change.

OTOH, we have the One True Church, a real paradigm of inflexibility. in their case, i make an exception: the only way for a thinking Catholic to deal with an institution like today's Church is to leave it. withdrawing our dollars from the collection box and our asses from the pews seems to be the only way to get through to these guys, at least here in Boston. we had a case recently of a beloved nun at an active urban parish getting fired and sent away because she dared to *help* perform a baptism alongside a priest --- she touched the baby's head and wore a stole, oh the horror. the parish has foundered without her leadership, but the bigwigs just don't care. how Christ-like.

and another thing: This is not about misogyny. This is not a value judgement. This is precisely analogous to the existence of all-female schools. uhhhhhh, no. most all-female schools aren't powerful global organizations ostensibly built on principles of equality and community service that make up exclusionary policies for their own benefit and push an anti-choice agenda on the third world. oops, i'm going to be excommunicated!
posted by serafinapekkala at 1:02 PM on August 7, 2002


interesting comment armitage ,

although entirely off the point.

close the soup kitchens boys , we fucked up on gallileo...
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:37 PM on August 7, 2002


I think that the assertion that the religions which are thriving these days are those which ordain woman, and hence that the Church should ordain women to maintain its numerical strength, needs to be countered. To the contrary, the denominations which regularly ordain are all on the decline.

The denominations which never ordain women (Catholics, Muslims, Orthodox Christianity, Orthodox Judiasm) are all expanding nicely; Evangelical / Fundamentalist Christians, which ordain women rarely and actually appoint them to pastoral positions with even less frequency, are growing with explosive force, as are Mormons, who exclude women from all ministerial leadership, although they don't have an ordained ministry in an exact sense (their "Priesthood" is simply the body of all faithful adult men).

Although the women-ordaining Church of England and its North American sibilings are doing poorly, the Anglican Communion is doing nicely in Africa and parts of Asia, and in those places ordains with exceptional infrequency. Lutherans, Presbyterians, Reform Jews, and others who have made the ordination of women an established part of their ministerial personnel policy are all doing poorly.

What makes a church thrive is a palpably powerful spiritual presence founded in a confident ministry utterly beyond the currents of public opinion. Although I know many mainline Protestants and believe that they are sincere in their beliefs, the bottom line is that very few people are going to be attracted to a church which seems to get its doctrine from the op-ed pages of the New York Times not from a humble submission to the word of God. Women's ordination will take its place, if at all, among the thriving religions, only when it becomes an element of that humble submission and divine tradition, rather than an assertion of reparation, entitlement, and other sentiments which simply have no place in religion.
posted by MattD at 6:52 PM on August 7, 2002


I can only hope that the Catholic Chirch files for bankruptcy. That would be delightfully ... symbolic.
posted by acridrabbit at 8:45 PM on August 7, 2002


...the denominations which regularly ordain are all on the decline. [...] What makes a church thrive is a palpably powerful spiritual presence founded in a confident ministry utterly beyond the currents of public opinion.

That's terrifying. I t hink I'm taking a longer-term view than you, MattD, although perhaps I'm indulging in some wishful thinking as well. What I meant to indicate was that, IMO, as human society matures there will be less of a role for strong leadership that draws its strength from dogma and arrogance. The more people think for themselves, the more they will demand leaders who think and who are accountable for their decisions.?
posted by sennoma at 9:05 PM on August 7, 2002


Preview lied to me! That extra space in the first "think" and the question mark at the end only showed up when I posted! Arrrrr! ?
posted by sennoma at 9:06 PM on August 7, 2002


Aw nuts.
posted by sennoma at 9:11 PM on August 7, 2002


Sennoma: religion is not about people thinking for themselves, and never has been. It is about people who are called to belief by faith, and to submission to orthodoxy and hierarchy as the guarantors of that belief.

In other words, "dogma" is not a not a bad word to the religious, it is simply a description of that which is orthodox to their faith. As for "arrogance," at the core of a religion, as religious has almost always been understood, is the necessity of beliving that it is correct and hence that all other religions are incorrect (which may mean that they need to struggle harder, or that they're condemned to hell no questions asked, or that they should be burned alive, or anything in between those points). It is meaningless to call that "arrogance" unless one wishes to condemn all religion as arrogant.

(And, in my view, your typical ACLU-card-toting Unitarian or California psuedo-Buddhist, who might talk big about many mountains to god and many paths up those mountains, but that's nonsense -- the dogma of his real religion are abortion, envelope-pushing art films, and SUV-hating, and God help you (no pun intended) if you disagree on those points.)

I guess what I'm getting at is that there is that religion is what it is and the reasons why most people who want to force the Catholic Church to ordain women want that have nothing to do with what the Catholic Church is about. I personally believe that in the fullness of history, the Catholic Church indeed will come to ordain women, but the Church will never, ever do so because women have the "right" to it. it will do so because the humble testimony of women of faith to a vocation received from God, rather than an entitlement from the accident of their chromosomes, will convince some future Pope that Christ's call to priestley ministry extended to women.

I also think that it is fair to point out that the Church has traditionally regarded the woman as the "priest" of the home, the person who was completely responsible for the transmission of zeal and faith to each generation of their children, while the father had little or nothing to do with the religious life of the family. For your typical 60-something Cardinal (or the 80-something Pope), this is his model for how the family was and should be, and to admit women priests would be in an oblique way to sanction the destruction of the (long-since in reality destroyed) European Catholic mode of family life and the lives of their own mothers.
posted by MattD at 10:04 PM on August 7, 2002


ah. so catholic women just aren't humble enough, whereas catholic men are. i see.
posted by witchstone at 8:53 AM on August 8, 2002


The only way for a woman to deal with a misogynistic institution is to leave it.

gee, good thing nobody told that to the first female college students, teachers, doctors, lawyers, police officers, bankers, dentists, actors, construction workers, etc etc


Sorry, shld have said "the only way for a woman to deal with a 2 thousand yr old misogynistic institution that has resisted all attempts at reform is to leave it".
posted by Summer at 10:26 AM on August 8, 2002


Sorry, shld have said "the only way for a woman to deal with a 2 thousand yr old misogynistic institution that has resisted all attempts at reform is to leave it".

Actually, the difference is that female college professors face(d) discrimination rooted, ultimately, in secular concerns. The Roman Catholic Church roots its argument against female priests in an appeal to divine authority. You can argue with the former, but not the latter. One can always take the Garry Wills-Andrew Sullivan approach and argue that the hierarchy is eo ipso a human construct, and therefore necessarily a flawed approximation to transcendent truth. Wills seems to be arguing that the guardians of "orthodoxy" need not be identical with the clergy, which goes along with the current call for more control by the laity. However, that argument will make you distinctly unpopular with the First Things crowd.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:13 AM on August 8, 2002


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