|Ex-bishop William Morris of Toowoomba|
More than 150 Roman Catholic priests in the United States have signed a statement in support of a fellow cleric who faces dismissal for participating in a ceremony that purported to ordain a woman as a priest, in defiance of church teaching.Well, not surprising in the States, perhaps. But the article also cites 300 priests and deacons in Austria signing a 'Call to disobedience' and, in Australia, the bishop of Toowoomba, Willaim Morris, has been forced to resign after saying he would be prepared to ordain women and married men.
According the the GENERAL DECREE regarding the delict of attempted sacred ordination of a woman (2007), any one who
attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive a sacred order, incur an excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Apostolic See.
But it is not enough to punish actions. The Vatican seeks to expunge even discussion of the idea from the church.
In large part the proposals for ordination reflect an increasing shortage of celibate men training for the priesthood. The 'Call to disobedience' is a call to more extensive reform:
The initiative ... suggested saying a public prayer at every Mass for church reform; giving Communion to everyone who approaches the altar in good faith, including divorced Catholics who have remarried without an annulment; allowing women to preach at Mass; and supporting the ordination of women and married men.The response, predictably, has been to seek to expel or silence those calling for reform. The lineal descendent of the Inquisition, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, works in secret. Those accused are not allowed to see the evidence against them and may not know they are accused until they are condemned. Attempts to seek a just procedure have been ignored.
There are effectively two possible sentences (and some more minor penalties derived from these). There are expulsion and silencing. The former is the more severe temporal penalty, the latter the more spiritually abusive.
To seek to control the words a person may or may not use, to immure them in silence, to bar them from discussing certain issues are actions which are destructive of the soul, of the person's interior relationship with their own integrity and with God. Power, authority, dictate: and the Spirit is silenced.
I don't suppose the Vatican is too worried, though even they may catch the straws in the wind. One day, another Pope will simply change direction. Then the church will always have believed in the ordination of women and married man - only it had not been fully discerned by the start of the twenty-first century. Along the way no-one will have been burned to death, thank God, but they will have been badly hurt and will carry the scars for the rest of their lives.