Matt C. Abbott
February 2, 2009
The excommunication controversy
By Matt C. Abbott

Some "WomenPriests" aren't too happy that Pope Benedict XVI hasn't lifted their excommunications like he has for the four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X.

The Boston Globe's Michael Paulson reports that a group known as "Roman Catholic WomenPriests" has released a statement asserting (in part):

    'No priest pedophiles have been excommunicated. No bishops who were responsible for their continued placement in parishes after their pedophile history was known have been excommunicated. Theologians who teach and support Vatican II teachings and who support women's ordination are silenced and/or excommunicated. Women ordained as priests are excommunicated. Priests and laity who support women priests are excommunicated. But, priests who reject Vatican II and who deny the holocaust and who openly deny the full equality of women are 'rehabilitated' after earlier excommunication?'

Not only are these women theologically-challenged click on this link for an essay on why women cannot, theologically speaking, be ordained as priests they are canonically-challenged as well.

Pete Vere, a canon lawyer and co-author of Surprised by Canon Law: 150 Questions Laypeople Ask About Canon Law and Surprised by Canon Law, Volume 2: More Questions Catholics Ask About Canon Law, had the following response to the above portion of the "WomenPriests" statement:

    'The priest-pedophile argument is a red herring, at the very least a misunderstanding of the purpose of excommunication. As a censure, excommunication is considered a medicinal penalty. That is, it's not designed to be permanent, but to bring about repentance so that another penalty can be substituted. Most of the priests guilty of pedophilia were sorry for their actions, so the proper response is to strip them of their priesthood. Of course, if they refused this punishment and continued to act as priests, the Church could excommunicate them. However, the vast majority of these priests have accepted the consequences of their actions.

    'The reason the excommunications cannot be lifted against these so-called WomenPriests is that they are still misrepresenting themselves publicly as Catholic priests. They haven't accepted that they have done something wrong and that their attempt at ordination was invalid. So long as this is the case and they refuse to repent of their actions which brought about the excommunications, the excommunications must stand. Should they repent of their actions and stop presenting themselves as priests, they too would have the right to have the excommunications against them lifted.'

Mr. Vere had a featured article published in This Rock magazine on the subject of excommunication and canon law; read it by clicking on this link.

On a related note, Catholic attorney Christopher A. Ferrara, a strong supporter of the SSPX, repudiates the opinions of Bishop Richard Williamson in regard to the Holocaust. See Mr. Ferrara's column by clicking on this link.

© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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