The Vatican issued updated rules Thursday that make it easier to punish sex-abuser Catholic priests, but also include new edicts on other particularly "grave" crimes against church law, including heresy, violating the seal of confession, and — controversially — ordaining women as priests. That last "crime" set off sparks, especially in the U.S., where a majority of Catholics favor admitting women to the priesthood. Is the Vatican really saying that ordaining women is as "grave" as pedophilia? (Watch a CNN report about the new Vatican rules)
Yes, and it will haunt them: Putting "women's ordination in the same category as pedophiles and rapists is appalling," says Erin Saiz Hanna of the Women's Ordination Conference, in The Washington Post. The only reason to claim that a female priest "defiles" the Church at the same level as the "sexual predators in its ranks" is to keep Catholic women in their place. Well, the Vatican's "scare tactics" won't work.
"Vatican's 'scare tactics' appalling"
The new rules are, for the most part, welcome: "The only common denominator" in this "odd assortment of ecclesiastical issues" is that they're all "grave crimes," says Sister Anne Flanagan in the Chicago Tribune. Whether we agree or not, the Vatican considers ordaining women sacrilegious. Is it at the same level as sexually abusing children? Of course not. This document should have been split into two, but, in terms of dealing with sex abusers, it's "truly a step forward."
"Vatican statement should be two"
"The Vatican doesn't understand PR": "I don’t have a problem with the Church taking a tougher line against those 'ordinations' of smug women in comedy rainbow stoles," says Damian Thompson in The Daily Telegraph. But I despair at the way this was handled. Tough new rules on abuser priests should have been a public relations boost, but even discussing pedophilia and lady priests "in the same breath" is a gift to "Catholic-baiters."
"Vatican issues new penalties... I'm sick of these own goals"
Could this be a diversionary tactic? Even if discount the Vatican's apparent PR incompetence, says Mary E. Hunt in Religion Dispatches, "mixing the two issues... is a profoundly perverse proposition." Either the Vatican is "ethically tone deaf" or it's proven itself "sly beyond the dreams of foxes" by coming up with a novel way to "redirect attention from the criminal behavior of clergy against children." Honestly, "neither option is terribly appealing."
"Vatican equates women’s ordination with priest pedophilia?"