Second thoughts on the new Vatican norms...

In a comment on my last post, Crystal called attention to an error I made about the penalties attached to pedophilia by priests and attempted ordinations of women.

I erred in saying that they were the same. As Crystal pointed out, though, they are not--a pedophile may face laicisation, but a woman who attempts to become ordained (or a bishop who attempts to ordain a woman) is excommunicated. There is a quite a disparity here in the severity of the punishment -- what they have in common under the new norms is that they are both now considered "grave crimes," which, as far as I can tell, doesn't mean much more than that they are now subject to the CDF.

I would still argue that, contrary to what many people are saying, the two crimes in question are not being "equated," which was the point of my previous post. But the disparity between the penalties attached to these crimes--which is unchanged under the new norms--is rather perplexing.

As far as the official theology of Rome would have it, excommunication excludes a person from the sacraments, thereby depriving them of the means of salvation -- it is sometimes described as "spiritual capital punishment," an somewhat apt description if you happen to buy into Rome's understanding of things. (Only "somewhat" because it can be reversed.)

Laicisation undoubtedly puts the offending priest in a difficult spot. After all, a priest who has been laicised for pedophilia (or some other sexual crime) is going to have a difficult time supporting himself, at least when he's not in jail. But in the context of Vatican teaching, this has to be seen as a lesser penalty than excommunication.

John L. Allen, Jr. reported a few days ago that
At a Vatican briefing...Maltese Monsignor Charles Scicluna, an official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, denied that the Vatican equates women's ordination with the sexual abuse of children. An illicit ordination, Scicluna said, is a "sacramental" crime, while abuse is a "moral" crime.
So I guess the real question is, why is a "sacramental" crime punished so much more harshly than a "moral" crime?

Rome has deeply misplaced priorities. So what else is new?



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