Week for Excommunications

Posted by Censor Librorum on May 31, 2008 | Categories: Accountability, Dissent

All the women that have been ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church were excommunicated this week, along with the bishops who ordained them. The general decree “On the Delict of Attempted Sacred Ordination of a Woman” was published on May 30, 2008 on the front page of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. It states that the decree “comes into force immediately.”

The  Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by an American,  Cardinal William Levada, 71,  has decisively decreed the ordination of women is invalid, and affirms that “he who shall have attempted to confirm holy orders on a woman, as well as the woman who may have attempted to receive Holy Orders, incurs a ‘latae sententiae’ excommunication,’ that is, an automatic excommunication.050513_levada_hmedh2.jpg

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Angelo Amato said the reason for the text is the existence of instances of the ordination of women in some regions of the world. The decree underlines that the ordination of women to the priesthood is invalid or null, and that “only baptized men can be ordained validly.”

The Church reaffirms this exclusively for a “unique fundamental reason,” the archbishop explained. “The Church does not feel authorized to change the will of its founder, Jesus Christ.”

In 1994, Pope John Paul II issued the apostolic letter, On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone,” in which he stated that the priesthood “has in the Catholic Church from the beginning always been reserved to men alone.” He added, “I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgement is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

“I think the reason they’re doing this,” said Rev. Tom Reese of the Woodstock Theological Center of Georgetown University, “is that they’ve realized there is more and more support among Catholics for ordaining women.”

The news just depresses me.   The Church can change its stance on  slavery, the environment, Jews, the position of the earth and the sun, indigenous people, the  welfare of working people  and other issues, but won’t budge on priesthood. I’m not sure how they can argue the same rationale, and change some things but not others.  

When I hear news like that, faith has to sustain my relationship with my church since logic and emotion cannot.

The week brought more bad news on excommunications with the decision by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith confirming a December 15, 2005  declaration from the St. Louis archbishop that the board of directors of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Corporation and the priest they hired are excommunicated. The priest involved is Father Marek Bozek.

However it evolved and  ended up, the dispute began with the issues of accountability of money and property. The laity wanted a voice in  decision-making. The priest stood up for his parishioners and supported them in their concerns with the Archdiocese.

It doesn’t appear to me the Archdiocese of St. Louis made a good faith  attempt to sit down with the  parish leadership and try to work things out.   Instead, there was a leaden response, then emotions and rhetoric got out of control, the Archdiocese responded with threats, and the worst happened – a separation,   a “schism.”

I feel for all my fellow Catholics who were excommunicated this week.   I will remember them every week by receiving communion for them.

I also feel for whatever pain was in the hearts of Cardinal Levada and Archbishop Burke. I hope that pain stays with them, to eventually inspire some future reflection and compassion.   I will remember them in my prayers as well.

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