Don't equate women priests with pedophiles

At issue | July 16 article by The Washington Post, "Vatican revises sex abuse rules; female ordination labeled a grave crime"

Shame, shame on the Vatican for issuing a recent document equating the sexual abuse of children by priests with the ordination of women.

Those involved in the ordination of a woman will now suffer greater penalties than priests who abuse children.

Anyone involved in the ordination of a woman will be automatically excommunicated. A similar edict was issued in May 2008.

However, the new edict places the ordaining of women called by God to priesthood on the list of grave sins next to pedophilia, heresy, apostasy and schism.

Catholics and interfaith communities across the world have reacted with shock and anger to the Vatican's latest demonstration of moral bankruptcy.

"Quite frankly, it is an outrage to pair the two, a complete injustice to connect the aspirations of some women among the baptized to ordained ministry with what are some of the worst crimes that can be committed against the least of Christ's members," wrote U.S. Catholic editor Bryan Cones on the monthly magazine's Web site.

"This decision boggles the mind: The faithful have been justly demanding for nearly a decade clear guidelines for dealing with the sexual abuse of children, along with just punishments for both offenders and bishops who have abetted these crimes," Cones said. "What we have gotten is half of what we have been asking for (still no sanctions for bishops), along with a completely unconnected and unnecessary condemnation of the ordination of women."

Our brother priests in the Vatican are running scared. They are behaving as if women priests are their worst nightmare.

They know about Roman Catholic Womenpriests in the United States, Canada and abroad, and how our movement is growing.

The good news is that we are welcomed by grass-roots communities who are eager for a renewed priestly ministry in a more open, inclusive, accountable and transparent church modeled after gospel equality.

Despite the threat of excommunication (and sometimes because of it), the faithful come in droves wherever our ordinations are held throughout the country.

The new policy makes it easier for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to defrock a priest who participates in the ordination of a woman. The Vatican is afraid that other priests will follow their consciences and support us.

I was ordained a Roman Catholic womanpriest on Aug. 9, 2008 in Lexington. Father Roy Bourgeois, Maryknoll priest of 38 years, participated in my ordination.

He celebrated mass with us and the woman bishop who ordained me, laid hands on me in blessing with the community and gave a prophetic homily in support of women priests.

Later, he was called to Maryknoll headquarters where he was told to fill out "the dissenting priests' form" and asked to recant — which he refused to do.

On Oct. 21, 2008, he received "a notice from the Vatican's CDF, headed by Cardinal William J. Levada, an American, that gave him 30 days to recant his belief and public statements about the ordination of women or be excommunicated," reported Catholic News Service.

Father Bourgeois continues to give talks around the country advocating the ordination of women. He and the organization he founded, the School of the Americas Watch, have been nominated for the 2010 Nobel Prize for Peace.

"Who are we to reject God's call of women to the priesthood?" asks Father Bourgeois. "Who are we, as men, to say that our call from God is valid, but their call, as women, is not? I believe that our all-powerful God, creator of the universe, is certainly capable of calling women to be priests."

The Vatican's Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1976 concluded that there is nothing in the Bible to prohibit women's ordination.

The emperor has no clothes. Catholics in the pews should stop giving until the Vatican starts listening. The church is the people of God, not the hierarchy alone.

It is time for reform and renewal.