Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ordaining Women and Sex Abuse

          The new revisions to the Catholic Church's canon law have appeared. The guidelines identify new procedures for handling sex abuse cases by clergy. For example, they extend the statute of limitations from 10 to 20 years and make it easier to remove priests from the priesthood. 
          The new law also creates two new grave crimes. One is the acquisition, possession or distribution of child pornography by clergy. The second is the attempted ordination of women
          The penalty for both the person who tries to ordain a woman and the woman is automatic excommunication from the church. Both persons are excommunicated without any church hearing or proceeding because the excommunication happens automatically at the moment of the attempted ordination. In contrast,  a cleric who commits sexual abuse or uses child pornography is to be punished according to the gravity of his crime after a church trial conducted according to new procedures outlined in the document. 
         Church officials in Rome may still believe that the priesthood is more threatened by women than by abusive priests. That is the mindset that kept the church from prosecuting abusive priests over the last 50 years. The new rules give us no reason to believe that anything has changed. The church is still protecting the priesthood rather than the people. 

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