Vatican’s own goal

19/7/10; (3 Items)

The Vatican has again excelled itself. Its declaration that paedophilia among priests and religious is a crime is at last one great positive step. But its declaration that it is a similar ”crime” for a priest to ordain a woman must rank as one of the most negative and insensitive steps the Vatican has taken. No doubt the Vatican will hide behind Latin definitions of ”crime” or trot out the usual statement that ordinary people are incapable of understanding the theological philosophy behind it. Nevertheless, for many people in the church, myself included, the attitude to, and treatment of, women in the church by many in the hierarchy is archaic, offensive, anti-social and above all, certainly not Christian. But even within Vatican rules, I would not dare suggest that it is criminal. Ken Browne, Wheelers Hill

Vatican defends revised abuse rules

Alessandro nRizo, 19/7/10

The Vatican spokesman defended on Saturday a revised set of rules on clerical sex abuse as an essential and lasting response to abuse cases, but acknowledged the church will need to show long-term commitment if it wants to eradicate the crime. The Vatican issued its revised in-house rules this week, as it confronts one of the worst scandals in its recent history. Revelations of rape or other sexual abuse of minors by priests, and of cover-ups by bishops, have been piling up for months. The new norms target not only priests who molest children, but also those who molest the mentally disabled, and double the statute of limitations for such crimes. But the norms drew criticism by abuse victims who said there were few substantive changes. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi maintained that with the new norms, “the church has taken an important step in addressing the question, with responses that will be lasting and have a profound impact.”


Catholic hierarchy is shamelessly warped

Maureen Dowd, 19/7/10; The Sydney Morning Herald; No Internet Text; Maureen Dowd is a columnist with The New York Times.

If the Vatican is trying to restore the impression its moral sense is intact, issuing a document that equates paedophilia with the ordination of women doesn’t really do that. The Catholic Church continued to heap insult upon injury when it revealed its long-awaited new rules on clergy sex abuse. The church believes in its own intrinsic holiness, despite all evidence to the contrary. It thinks it is making huge concessions on the unstoppable abuse scandal when it’s taking baby steps.

The casuistic document did not issue a zero-tolerance policy to defrock priests after they are found guilty of paedophilia; it did not order bishops to report every instance of abuse to the police; it did not set up sanctions on bishops who sweep abuse under the rectory rug; it did not eliminate the statute of limitations for abused children; it did not tell bishops to stop lobbying legislatures to prevent child-abuse laws from being toughened.

There is no moral awakening here. All the penitence of the church is grudging and reactive. Church leaders are merely as penitent as they need to be to protect the institution.

After the Belgian police bracingly conducted raids on the church hierarchy, inspired in part by the horrifying case of a boy molested for years by his uncle, the bishop of Bruges, a case the church covered up for 25 years, the Pope did not applaud the more aggressive tack.

He condemned it.

A New York Times story recently debunked the spin that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had been one of the more alert officials on the issue of sexual abuse.

“The future Pope, it is now clear, was also part of a culture of non-responsibility, denial, legalistic foot-dragging and outright obstruction. More than any top Vatican official other than John Paul, it was Cardinal Ratzinger who might have taken decisive action in the 1990s to prevent the scandal from metastasising in country after country, growing to such proportions that it now threatens to consume his own papacy.”

If Roman Polanski were a priest, he’d still be working there.

Stupefyingly, the new Vatican document also links raping children with ordaining women as priests, deeming both “graviora delicta”, or grave offences. Clerics who attempt to ordain women can now be defrocked.

After the Vatican launched two inquisitions of American nuns, it didn’t seem possible the archconservative Il Papa and his paternalistic redoubt could get more unenlightened, but they have somehow managed it.

Letting women be priests — a way to help cleanse the church and move it beyond its infantilised and defensive state — is now on the list of awful sins right next to paedophilia, heresy, apostasy and schism.

Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, the chairman of the committee on doctrine of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, asserted, “The Catholic Church, through its long and constant teaching, holds that ordination has been, from the beginning, reserved to men, a fact which cannot be changed despite changing times.”But if it was reserved to celibate men centuries ago simply as a way for the church to keep land, why can’t it be changed? If a society makes strides in not subordinating women, why can’t the church reflect that?

If men prove that all-male hierarchies can get shamefully warped, why can’t they embrace the normality of equality?

The Vatican’s insistence on male prerogative is misogynistic poppycock.