Another attempt to juxtapose ordination of women and clerical abuse of children

The managing editor of the liberal U.S. Catholic needs some aggiornamento.

In this editorial piece, he almost gets it right.  He does pretty well until he gets to the end where he lurches into a total failure.

Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments:

Sex abuse and women’s ordination?
Friday, July 9, 2010
By Bryan Cones

Great news from the Vatican, according to Catholic News Service: New norms against the sexual abuse of children will double length of time a victim has to bring charges from 10 to 20 years after the victim’s 18th birthday. It will also extend the penalties for sexual abuse of children to those who abuse the mentally disabled.

Bad news: The new norms will simultaneously add to the list of grave offenses against the sacrament of holy orders the "attempted ordination of women." Seriously? [Yes... seriously.  And there are reasons for this.  But does he have reasons? We'll soon find out!]

Why is that bad? First, the "attempted ordination of women" already brings with it automatic excommunication, so making it one of the "delicta graviora" is redundant. Second, it conflates two completely separate issues, and in effect, or at least in the minds of many people who will read the news, seems to equate the "attempted ordination of women" with the rape and torture of children.

Quite frankly, it is an outrage to pair the two, a complete injustice to connect the aspirations of some women among the baptized to ordained ministry with what are some of the worst crimes that can be committed against the least of Christ’s members[woah... he is going off the rails...]
 
Furthermore, if I were a member or supporter of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement, I would be opening a bottle of champagne right now. The Vatican has in effect given legitimacy and momentum to what is still an incredibly tiny movement with this clumsy legal manuver, tantamount to the United States dropping a nuclear weapon on Luxembourg–only more ridiculous because this will do absolutely no damage to women’s ordination movement. It is more like a gift. None of those women are afraid of excommunication any longer; indeed, it is now the Vatican that appears fearful. [Okay, there's a point. Nevertheless, there is need for a procedure to deal with the cases.  Furthermore, he seems to be criticizing something he has not yet seen.  I wonder if the new procedures are intended to deal with priests who support the women's ordination thingy, rather than with the wymyn themselves.]

This decision boggles the mind: The faithful have been justly demanding for nearly a decade clear guidelines for dealing with the sexual abuse of children, along with just punishments for both offenders and bishops who have abetted these crimes. What we have gotten is half of what we have been asking for (still no sanctions for bishops), [good point] along with a completely unconnected and unnecessary [?] condemnation of the ordination of women. [And here he falls apart completely...] This is especially ironic given that many Catholics, and I include myself among them, see the absence of women in positions of power in the church as a contributor to the ongoing sex abuse crisis. [FAIL!]

This move is a mistake, plain and simple, imprudent at best, at worst a serious further blow to Rome’s already damaged credibility.

Along the way he made some good points, and people may argue about them.

But, he does not seem to realize that the there is now mounting evidence of sexual abuse of children by women.  SNAP, as a matter of fact, has been after the LCWR to work with them.  The LCWR has been stone-walling SNAP.

Read THIS.

If he thinks that having women in positions of power would have curtailed the abuse of children by those in power, he is dreaming.

Keep your eye on SNAP and the LCWR.  One day we will see SNAP protesting outside meetings of the LCWR…. and for good reason.  I look forward to US Catholic covering that story, alongside the reporters of the National Catholic Fishwrap and America.

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19 Responses to Another attempt to juxtapose ordination of women and clerical abuse of children

  1. dans0622 says:

    “Lurches into a total failure.” Good line, Father. Apparently, the writer has little knowledge of canon law and the graviora delicta that were part of Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela, and how some of them also “already” had an automatic excommunication attached to them. I don’t see how that is relevant. I suspect he wouldn’t be happy that “concelebration of the Eucharist” with ministers from other ecclesial communities is also a graviora delicta (delictum, I guess).

    On the positive side, I’d also welcome something related to bishops, other than a hastily accepted resignation.

    Dan

  2. Mark01 says:

    “…the absence of women in positions of power in the church as a contributor to the ongoing sex abuse crisis.”
    No, the absence of STRONG men in positions of power in the church is a contributor to the crisis. Is he saying that a woman would stop sexual abuse but a strong man would not? Come on.

  3. seanl says:

    The liberals are really a stubborn lot. At this rate, they’ll never understand the Church isn’t a democracy, and that certain qualifications for priesthood are divinely instituted are cannot change. Many people with to just ignore this fact and do it anyway. Even if there was a majority that was pushing for it, it would never be right. A one point, a large portion of the Bishops fell to Arianism; that didn’t make them right.

  4. US Catholic talking about damaged credibility? Please. They also seem to know very little about child abuse. Women have as much chance of being enablers, either directly or indirectly, of it as men.

  5. Philangelus says:

    If I’m reading this right, they’re encouraging women to be ordained so that women can have power and authority.

    If a man walked up to a seminary and said, “I want to be a priest because I want to have power and authority,” I’m relatively sure he’d be turned away. No? What am I missing?

  6. Joe Magarac says:

    I hate to say it, but I agree 100% with the author of this piece. I have no problem with making it clear that support for women’s ordination is a canonical crime – and I’m not sure the author does, either. But why do it now, when it is not just likely but completely predictable that the press will do what the author suggests and mock the Church for equating women’s ordination with child rape?

    It would have been better to release the changes re: women’s ordination a few months from now and with little or no fanfare.

    Also, I see Fr. Z’s point that some sisters have abused children and that many of their orders have refused to do what dioceses and men’s orders have done re: accountability and disclosure. But there are some problems with it:

    1. I highly doubt that the number of sisters who have abused children is close to the number of priests and brothers who have done so. Women are sinners too, but they sin differently from men.

    2. Pointing the finger at sisters who abuse children is an attempt to escape accountability via distraction. For example, it’s true that child rape is a big problem among public school teachers and Protestant ministers. But pointing that out is trying to get the speck out of a brother’s eye before removing the log from one’s own. I expect more from priests than I do from teachers, ministers, or even sisters.

    3. I don’t see any causal connection between orders that support women’s ordination (if any do so officially) and orders that are behind the times re: abuse. Sad to say, but children have been abused in conservative and liberal parishes and orders; the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. Being a liberal women’s order that unofficially supports women’s ordination is bad, but it isn’t necessarily connected to being a women’s order that refuses to disclose abuse.

  7. Oleksander says:

    unfortunate thing is thousands of (innocent) Catholics will read this, this person in his “rage” (doing it on purpose imo) is actually using the sex abuse to further his agenda, not (as we know) the other way around

  8. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Each of the sins relevant to this discussion (the attempted ordination of women, the sexual abuse of children by clergy and coverups of clergy sexual abuse) are sins involving a sacrielege against the sacrament of Ordination. Some involve other sins as well, but the one thing they have in common is that each of these is a means whereby human sin attempts to prevent God’s grace from reaching His children. This makes them significantly different than, say, drunkenness of a layman. Were I to get drunk this evening, it wouldn’t impede anyone from receiving the sacraments licitly and validly, even though it would still be wrong.

  9. Athelstan says:

    Hello Joe,

    1. In the first place, we haven’t read the document yet. Apparently it includes a number of crimes. Until we see them all, it’s hard to determine what the common thread between them all is.

    2. I think it’s unfair to accuse Fr. Z – or any of the rest of us – of “distraction.” We’re all sickened by this abuse, and we’re all frustrated that bishops haven’t had to pay for enabling it. The point is that it’s becoming more and more rare to hear outrage about the sex abuse crisis from certain quarters (including most of the secular media) without an automatic accompaniment of claims that this wouldn’t be so likely if only we had eliminated celibacy in the priesthood, or allowed women to be priests, or, at the extreme, largely abandon most of our apparently repressive sexual teachings. In other words, it is not Fr. Z or the rest of us starting this argument. It’s already out there.

    3. I don’t see any causal connection between orders that support women’s ordination (if any do so officially) and orders that are behind the times re: abuse. Sad to say, but children have been abused in conservative and liberal parishes and orders; the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.

    Yes, even orthodox priests can fall foul of these sins. We all know of examples. But I would argue it’s far more common in precisely those areas of the Church that have most aggressively challenged Church teaching on sexual ethics. And it’s been going on since the late 60′s, when there was a very active effort under way to destigmatize pederasty on the Left. (See here: http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,702679,00.html). And what we see now unfolding in Belgium – long the bailiwick of Europe’s arguably most progressive leadership under Cardinal Daneels – is just one more case in point. The diocese has been found distributing sex ed literature along these radical lines to schoolchildren in diocesan schools and parishes.

    4. I think what really drove Cones’ essay, and what most drew Fr. Z’s attention to it, is Cones’ not so thinly disguised support for women’s ordination. Methinks he doth protest too much.

  10. Norah says:

    Did the presence of women in positions of power in the Public School system prevent sexual abuse? NO.

    Sexual abuse in public schools
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charol_Shakeshaft

  11. DT says:

    Fr Z raises an interesting point whether the updated procedures will address public clerical support for women’s ordination. Such behavior can be considered scandalous.

    “The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2284).

  12. TonyLayne says:

    “The Vatican has in effect given legitimacy and momentum to what is still an incredibly tiny movement with this clumsy legal manuver, tantamount to the United States dropping a nuclear weapon on Luxembourg—only more ridiculous because this will do absolutely no damage to women’s ordination movement.”

    Excuse me … legitimacy? I think I know what Cones is getting at, but he couldn’t have picked a more incoherent way to phrase it, save by typing random letters. If he meant that the proposed norms give women’s ordination the social cachet of “rebellion against the establishment”, I could agree with that. However, I highly doubt it will give the “wymynpriest” movement any further momentum; and in any case I don’t see how it could be avoided save by the highly ineffective tactic of ignoring the problem until it goes away. But legitimacy is the one thing the proposed norms don’t give. Or has the doublespeak of political correctness infected even this word, so that what is illicit and invalid becomes “legitimate” and what is correct and sacred “illegitimate”?

  13. SimonDodd says:

    One of those good points made along the way: “None of those women are afraid of excommunication any longer.” Which makes one wonder why they have been able to arrive at a place where they feel that they can do whatever they like free from any fear of excommunication.

  14. Jerry says:

    re: Joe Magarac – “Pointing the finger at sisters who abuse children is an attempt to escape accountability via distraction”

    The only times I have seen abuse by nuns brought up in these discussions is in response to calls for women to be ordained and given more leadership roles in the Church to prevent sexual abuse. The intention is not to distract, but to point out that the proposed solution may be no solution at all.

  15. catholicmidwest says:

    This attempt to push an agenda based on sexual abuse rates is hideous, on both sides.

    a) Someone said it well above: Even though it does happen that women abuse children, it’s very very rare. Typically men abuse children at a much higher rate. IF some nuns have abused many children, it would be because their orders had admitted atypical (read dysfunctional) women. I don’t doubt that some, maybe many, nuns were dysfunctional women; I think some still are. When a woman abuses a child, she is typically very mentally ill. In general when women sin, they don’t sin that way because they sin in other ways.

    b) As for US Catholic, which is a superficial rag, these two issues have nothing to do with one another. Just because NORMAL women don’t abuse children at the rate that men do, doesn’t mean they should be ordained. The next thing you know, they’ll be trying to ordain horses, who don’t abuse children either.

  16. catholicmidwest says:

    If Catholics want to lower abuse rates, then they should use some common sense:
    a) Don’t leave your children alone in the company of a religious or priest. They’re not babysitters AND adults who have an unusual social interest in children are not normal. Keep your eyes open and believe what you see.
    b) Don’t ordain gay men. Gay men have at each other and when they feel that having at each other is medically risky, or otherwise risky to their long-term goals, they find “safer” substitutes. For Pete’s sake wake the hell up. It’s a wonder more of these kids don’t get AIDS-HIV. That’s what you should be thankful for.
    c) Don’t allow mentally unhealthy women to enter the convent. Mentally unhealthy women don’t make good sisters. They generally make neurotic destructive sisters, of which type we’ve had too many already. (Reference the child abuse by nuns sagas in Ireland, Canada, and here that Fr. Z refers to.)
    THINK and solve the problems, rather than reacting to stimuli like a damn bug, will you??!!

  17. catholicmidwest says:

    “The next thing you know, they’ll be trying to ordain horses, who don’t abuse children either.”

    That is, if they actually believe their own argument…which I don’t think for a moment they really do. Rather, I think they’re just grasping at straws and being their usual conniving incoherent selves.

  18. Scott W. says:

    2. Pointing the finger at sisters who abuse children is an attempt to escape accountability via distraction. For example, it’s true that child rape is a big problem among public school teachers and Protestant ministers. But pointing that out is trying to get the speck out of a brother’s eye before removing the log from one’s own. I expect more from priests than I do from teachers, ministers, or even sisters.

    Respectfully, baloney. It’s not distraction because almost all these pieces either directly or implicitly have as a premise that women’s ordination or ending priestly celibacy will result in the problem being substantially reduced. The moment one does that, then looking at other places to see if that jives with reality is fair game. (Lo and behold, it doesn’t). If the media would drop the solutions based on hinky maeta-analysis, then the “distraction” charge would have some weight. But don’t count on this ever happening because, if it isn’t obvious to anyone now, the clerical abuse crisis is a mere pretext.

  19. Supertradmum says:

    Leave Luxembourg out of this–what a horrible simile. (I am half Luxembourgian). The women priest advocates have to come up with many reasons why they think this move should be simply because they cannot accept the Truth of the Incarnation. That Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity was a Man and that He purposefully chose men is abhorrent to these heretics. The many,irrational reasons given above totally ignore Christ and His “alter Christus” men.

    The abuse argument is spurious and a desperate attempt to change God’s perfect plan for the Church.