Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is it a worse crime for clergy to objectify, rape, kill or ordain a woman, according to the Catholic Church?

As I mentioned in my previous blog posting, inspired by the church naming female ordination as a grave delict, I’ve read and been thinking about the Vatican’s substantive norms enumerating all the grave delicts, the gravest infractions according to Roman Catholic Canon Law.  I embarked on this process to understand through comparison what is or isn’t considered “really bad” by the church as well as to understand church leader's value of women.  I’ve learned a lot in the process.

Grave delicts fall into one of two categories:
  1. Delicts against sacraments
  2. Delicts against morals
Here’s a quick summary of the church’s list of the “worst of the worst” offenses.

Article 3 pertains to delicts against the sacrament of Eucharist.  Those offenses include sacrilegious use of the consecrated species and simulation of celebrating the Eucharist.

Article 4 pertains to delicts against the sacrament of Penance.  This includes simulating the sacrament, violating the sacramental seal and adulterous involvement by priests with penitents.

Article 5 pertains to delicts against the sacrament of Holy Orders.  The only delicts involving ordination are related to ordaining women.  

Article 6 is the only one related to moral delicts and pertains to those against the 6th commandment (adultery) committed by a member of the clergy with a minor or someone with the reasoning skills of a minor.  It also pertains to the acquisition, possession or distribution of pornographic images of youth under the age of 14 “for the purposes of sexual gratification” by a member of the clergy.  This one category awaits a sustained record of effective enforcement.

I’m dumbfounded that the list of moral delicts is so short.  A priest who murders a person doesn’t commit a grave delict?  A priest who rapes an adult doesn’t commit a grave delict?  A priest who acquires, possesses or distributes pornographic images of males or females over the age of 13 doesn’t commit a grave delict?   

Since female ordination is included on the list of grave delicts, it seems the church believes ordaining women is worse than all things not on the list.  Therefore, are church leaders then saying they think it’s better for clergy to rape a woman than ordain her?  Do they think it’s better for clergy to be sexually gratified viewing pornographic images of a woman than to ordain her?  Do they think it’s better for clergy to kill a woman than to ordain her? 

And church leaders wonder why many women are outraged?


  1. Some see it as sacrilage to only extract that which is a benefit to us at the moment, without wanting to believe that there is a higher purpose.
    The lord knows who believes and to what extent the heart is pure.
    Not by what "clubs" we are in will we be judged, but rather by our own ability to live our lives as we believe he would want us to.

  2. Yes, the Lord does know our hearts. Thus the Lord knows that I do not sense a calling to be part of the "club" of ordained clergy, even if it were open to women. However, I do sense a calling to speak out for God's people when groups, such as the clergy or other organizations, extract selectively from their demographical bias to benefit or protect their agenda. That is why I ask questions. To probe in search of truth.

    We needn't fear truth or facts. Questions do not threaten truth. The church actually teaches that questions help us deepen our relationship with God.

    The church is an ever changing body. There is a field of theological study called, "systematic theology", that studies the evolution of Catholic Catholic theology changes as new questions are asked or long standing questions are explored from a different perspective.

  3. It would seem that a theology that purports to apply to a universal god shouldn't change.

  4. Interesting thought. "Theology" derives from Greek "theo" meaning "God" and "logos" meaning "words". Thus theology is the study of the words we use to describe God and our relationship with God. God does not change. However, that does not preclude the relationship and understanding of the relationship to morph much like parent/child change the manner in which they communicate, understand each other and interact over time. Similarly, married couples, over time, continue to change and develop in the way they interact with each other and understand each other.

    If you are interested in this topic, I would be happy to direct you to some people with degrees in this such as my pastor. The priest who is pastor at my parish has his master degree in systematic theology. So do many priests and theologians.