Friday, July 16, 2010
Women's groups describe Vatican's decision on female ordination as 'appalling'
Thursday 15 July 2010
Three ‘bishops’ at the ordination of a female French priest in Lyons in 2005. All four women were excommunicated. From left: South African Patricia Fresen, Austrian Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger and German Gisela Forster.
Photograph: Jean-Pierre Clatot/AFP
It was meant to be the document that put a lid on the clerical sex abuse scandals that have swept the Roman Catholic world. But instead of quelling fury from within and without the church, the Vatican stoked the anger of liberal Catholics and women's groups by including a provision in its revised decree that made the "attempted ordination" of women one of the gravest crimes in ecclesiastical law.
The change put the "offense" on a par with the sex abuse of minors.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, called the document "one of the most insulting and misogynistic pronouncements that the Vatican has made for a very long time. Why any self-respecting woman would want to remain part of an organization that regards their full and equal participation as a 'grave sin' is a mystery to me."
Vivienne Hayes, the chief executive of the Women's Resource Center, said the decision to raise women's ordination to the level of a serious crime was "appalling".
She added: "This declaration is doubly disempowering for women as it also closes the door on dialogue around women's access to power and decision making, when they are still under-represented in all areas of political, religious and civic life. We would urge the Catholic church to acknowledge that women's rights are not incompatible with religious faith."
Ceri Goddard, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: "We are sure that the vast majority of the general public will share in our abject horror at the Vatican's decision to categorize the ordination of women as an 'offense' in the same category as pedophilia – deemed to be one of the 'gravest offenses a priest can commit'.
"This statement follows a series where the Vatican, an institution which yields great influence and power not only in the Catholic community but also wider society, has pitched itself in direct opposition not only to women's rights but to our equal worth and value. We hope this is an issue that the government takes the opportunity to raise if it still feels the impending papal visit is appropriate."
The revision of a decree first issued nine years ago was intended to address the issue of clerical sex abuse. Last night it remained unclear why the Vatican had decided to invite further controversy by changing the status of women's ordination in canon law.
With their PR they should be letting any and all.