FutureChurch Statement on Abuse Norms and Women’s Ordination
The inclusion under the heading “delicta graviora” of both the 'moral crime' of the sexual abuse of children and the 'sacramental crime' of the attempted ordination of women is an occasion of confusion and scandal for the Church. Why equate women who desire to minister as priests to clerics who are pedophiles? It could be poor public relations; it could also reveal the patriarchal roots and misogyny running deep in clerical-bureaucratic culture.
Bishops, who are supposed to be our principal teachers, owe the people of God and the public in general a clear and well-founded explanation of their opposition to women's ordination.
It is time to set aside the archaic arguments used to support the exclusion of women from Holy Orders and replace them with genuine theology worthy of the Gospel. If such theology does not exist, then the exclusion of women from Holy Orders must end. The current state of affairs is all the more puzzling in light of the 1976 statement from the Pontifical Biblical Commission that found nothing in Scripture to prohibit women’s ordination.
FutureChurch applauds some of the recent revisions to the Vatican’s procedures for handling cases of sexual abuse by members of the Church. Opening the positions of judges and lawyers to members of the laity and extending the statute of limitations to 20 years past the victim's 18th birthday are positive steps. Subjecting “cardinals, patriarchs, legates of the Apostolic See and bishops” to the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith makes it clear that bishops and cardinals are also accountable under canon law.
But the changes do not go far enough. Sadly missing are a clear statement about the need to sanction bishops who knowingly transferred pedophile priests and a mandate to report allegations of clergy sex abuse to civil authorities. The US Bishops’ norm of zero tolerance for clergy sex abuse should also be extended throughout the whole Church.
FutureChurch renews our calls for discussion of women's ordination and for a moratorium on the penalty of excommunication on women seeking ordination in the Catholic Church and on those who support them.
We urge Church leaders to enter into dialogue with women who experience a priestly call, as well as with Catholic priests and laity who believe that call is from God.
Approved by the FutureChurch Board of Trustees on 7/21/2010
FutureChurch, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, is a U.S. coalition of 5,000 parish based Catholics striving to educate fellow Catholics about the seriousness of the priest shortage, the centrality of the Eucharist (the Mass), and the systemic inequality of women in the Catholic Church. FutureChurch makes presentations throughout the country, distributes educational and informational packets and recruits activists who call on Catholic leadership to discuss opening ordination to all baptized persons who are called to priestly ministry by God and the people of God.