Catholic church says ordination of women a grave crime

According to the Catholic News Service, which I take to be authoritative on this issue, the Vatican is about to declare the attempted ordination of women as priests as one of the gravest crimes against the church:

Pope John Paul’s 2001 document distinguished between two types of “most grave crimes,” [“delicta graviora”] those committed in the celebration of the sacraments and those committed against morals. Among the sacramental crimes were such things as desecration of the Eucharist and violation of the seal of confession.

Under the new revisions, the “attempted ordination of women” will be listed among those crimes, as a serious violation of the sacrament of holy orders, informed sources said. As such, it will be handled under the procedures set up for investigating “delicta graviora” under the control of the doctrinal congregation.

In 2008, the doctrinal congregation formally decreed that a woman who attempts to be ordained a Catholic priest and the person attempting to ordain her are automatically excommunicated. In 1994, Pope John Paul said the church’s ban on women priests is definitive and not open to debate among Catholics.

Another crime within the the “delicta graviora” is sexual abuse of a minor by a priest.

Can the Catholic Church look more ridiculous than this? And are we still supposed to respect it?


  1. Hal
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    To answer your last questions:

  2. Steve
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps PZ could try get Trophy Wife ordained. Or Ophelia Benson could give it a try. 🙂

  3. Filippo
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    In its magnanimity, and in the spirit of Christian charity, will the church consider lesser degrees of condemnation and excommunication in cases where the miscreants’ cells are characterized by variants of intersex conditions, such as Kleinfelter’s Syndrome? How about a male-to-female transgendered person – will the church require a DNA sample?

    • steve
      Posted July 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      The church is pretty busy right now giving out DNA samples (haploid cells only) so I don’t know if they would have the time to accept donations.

  4. Darrell E
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Cool! The Catholic Hierarchy, the gift that keeps on giving.

    I think it is funny as shit how that since this new pope put on the hat everything coming out of the Vatican is so clearly self destructive. And yet, Ratzinger just can’t seem to get a clue.

    Ratzinger may end up being the greatest pope ever.

  5. Posted July 15, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    As crazy and disgusting as Christianity is, some Christian sects do get that if Jesus Christ’s teaching are so wonderful, than it is those teachings themselves that render respect and joy, regardless of the gender of the person who is preaching the ‘good news.’ There is consistency with that approach.

    Mega fail for the transparently women-hating Catholics yet again who seem hellbent (teehee) are demonstrating how superficial their grasp of anything worthwhile is.

    • Posted July 15, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      meant: AT demonstrating…, but you knew that.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted July 15, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      “As creepy and disgusting as Christianity is”

      There, fixed the characterization of those pedophiles for you.

      (Sure, crazy; _all_ religions are crazy. 😦 )

  6. Scote
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    “Another crime within the the “delicta graviora” is sexual abuse of a minor by a priest.”

    Yes, but as far as I know, no priest has ever been excommunicated for sexual abuse of a minor. Helping a 9-year old rape and incest victim pregnant with twins get a life saving abortion? Automatic excommunication, of course, with no excommunication for the father/rapist.

    The Catholic Church has some really, really twisted priorities.

  7. Insightful Ape
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Oooh. Desecration of the Eucharist is among the gravest crimes?
    PZ is in trouble now…big time.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted July 15, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Technically only if you celebrate “the sacrament”. … oh yes, PZ _is_ in trouble!

  8. NewEnglandBob
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Who cares that a deeply criminal organization declares certain things as crimes. The Catholic Church is an immoral organization from the top downwards.

  9. Brian
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    The church is ridiculous. Minor question on Latin. Wouldn’t graviora be ‘more grave’ and gravissima be ‘most grave’?

  10. Juha Savolainen
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    From the viewpoint of some sort of rational and coherent philosophical ethical inquiry, say, some halfway decent elaboration of rights & justice based ethics, utilitarian ethics or virtue & community based ethics etc. the position of the Catholic Church does not make any sense, of course.

    To make any sense, the position must be anchored to metaphysics, epistemology and ethics that the Catholic Church wove around Christian faith and Platonic cum Aristotelian ideas it inherited from Antiquity.

    Given the incompatibility of these tenets and ideas with the substance and spirit of modern scientific inquiry and free philosophical reflection, any defense of the Church position can only take the shape of apology, i.e. the ideas that are to be defended have in fact been assumed as the very condition of this “inquiry”.

    But there is more, of course. The moral psychology that is appealed in all this is based on such attitudes as
    sense of “sacred”, respect for authority and in-group loyalty. All these attitudes have roots in our long evolution, they are problematic outgrowths both of our biological and cultural history.

    The leaders of the Church are the ones who benefit from this variety of folk morality but there is no doubt that they could not get away with this all without the millions of faithful who share to various extent this “ethics”.

    Needless to say, what psychologists often call “the dark triad” of machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy survives and flourishes under such conditions.

    Fortunately, our biological and cultural history has provided us also the weapons to dismantle this complex of reactionary and dangerous ideas. It just will take some time and effort, in fact, a lot of time and effort.

    Hence we need to give the same answer as Kant when he pondered, back in 1784, whether the age they lived was an “enlightened age: “No, but we do live the age of enlightenment”. How very true, even today.

  11. Andrew B.
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Glad they mentioned this:

    “In 1994, Pope John Paul said the church’s ban on women priests is definitive and not open to debate among Catholics.”

    That’s a perfect example of a dogma. The next time some smarmy idiot accuses atheists of dogmatism, thrown this example in their face and then ask them to find an equivalent atheist claim.

  12. Eric MacDonald
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    But you do have to love it when they describe the crime as “attempted ordination”!

    “You have been charged with the grave crime of attempted ordination. How do you plead?”

    It has that ring of authenticity to it, does it not?

    I think probably the reason for this addition to the penal code of the Roman catholic church is the debate now underway in the Church of England regarding the ordination of women as bishops. It is a polite warning shot across the bows of that ‘ecclesial body’ not to take their life of crime to any lower depths of humanity than it has already taken them.

    It would be completely laughable if it were not for the implications for the further increase of misogyny amongst Roman catholics. A cityfull of men in skirts, where women are chiefly menials, legislating about the future of women in their pathetic little boys club. What a ridiculous bunch of perverts.

    (Of course, surely Brian is right about Latin comparatives and superlatives. How can a most serious crime be called ‘graviora’? And ‘delicta’, also, seems to refer, not to a most serious offence, but to a lesser offence. But ecclesiastical Latin probably does not measure up to the terse precision of Tacitus or Horace.)

    • Screechy Monkey
      Posted July 15, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      “You have been charged with the grave crime of attempted ordination. How do you plead?”

      Fetch… the COMFY CHAIR!

      • Brian
        Posted July 15, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        Sideshow Bob: Attempted murder. I mean what is that. Do they give Nobel prizes for attempted chemistry?

    • Posted July 16, 2010 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      What about 3rd degree ordination with a deadly weapon?

  13. Posted July 15, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink


    The crime of consacration of a woman is the 5th most severe, while abusing of a minor is the 6th…

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted July 15, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      … and covering up crimes and helping criminals continue elsewhere is only a secular crime, I take it.

      Aren’t they the least bothered by others now rightfully characterizing them as a criminal organization? Don’t they have any sense of social morality _at all_?

      • Darrell E
        Posted July 16, 2010 at 7:02 am | Permalink

        Of course they have a sense of social morality. A very keen one from their point of view. It just happens to be disgusting from the point of view of any decent human being.

        Probably has something to do with basing their morality on 2000 year old myths, and even older philosophies that while interesting to study have long since been shown to be too incompatable with reality to be useful. And then of course there is the demented secluded little culture that they have been stewing in for centuries. It should be no surprise that a product of all that would be completely mindfucked.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted July 16, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I expressed that poorly.

          And of course their notion of “social” is somewhat disgusting as well (misogynistic pedophile communities).

  14. Tim Harris
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Having glanced at the thing (thank you, Ilcensore), I see that so long as those portrayed are older than 14, there is nothing wrong with priests having vast stashes of pornography. Well, that’s nice and generous, isn’t it?

    • justsearching
      Posted July 16, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      The rules are trying to satisfy a wide range of conflicting interests. On the one hand are the priests that are against porn of any kind whatsoever. On the other hand are those priests who have a special need for porn depicting children. They tried to strike a middle ground.

  15. Neil
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Ordination of women is a crime, but subordination of women is divine.

    • Brian
      Posted July 15, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink


    • Jolo
      Posted July 16, 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      Brilliant, I am getting that put on a shirt for all my RC friends.

    • Lily
      Posted July 17, 2010 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      Very catchy…”ordination of a woman is a crime, but subordination of a woman is divine.” You should have
      t-shirts made and given to daughters… Oh honey, you can be anything you want to be in life, but don’t grow up to want to be a priest!

  16. Urmensch
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Obviously the testicles are the seat of the magical power to turn bread and wine into godflesh and blood.

  17. Erp
    Posted July 15, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard it suggested that the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church (US) led to more investigation and better dealing with child rape, child abuse, and sexual abuse in general (e.g., of an adult who turns to a minister for advice or whose boss is a minister). If this is so, perhaps the Catholic church should ordain women and hope it leads to less abuse.

    Though the Episcopal Church is not immune. See

  18. Gunga Lagunga
    Posted July 16, 2010 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    *Ordained female priest raises the Holy Cracker during Mass*

    Take this all of you and eat it, this is my body, which will be given up for you…

    Erm… I mean HIS body… er, I mean…

    * * * * *

    Don’t know about you foks, but I see an obvious problem here.


    • Posted July 17, 2010 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      I see no problem with the female priest that would not similarly exist with a male priest. The male priest is not God, but is considered to be able to represent God in the rituals. Surely the difference between man and God is pretty much the same as between woman and God, so if God can transcend one, presumably there is no problem transcending the other. (After all, wheat and wine are able to cross kingdoms and go through who knows what other transformations in order to become God’s body and blood.

  19. Peter Kemp
    Posted July 17, 2010 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    The church’s involvement in paedophila and the ordination of women by catholic priests have this in common I suppose:

    “Wrong fornicating holy orders.”

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