This is a brief addendum to what I published yesterday about the document released by the Vatican this week, which couples clerical abuse of minors with women’s ordination. I’d like to note, as a postscript to what I published yesterday, that today’s New York Times has an editorial addressing the document. The Times critique of the Vatican document runs along channels similar to my critique.
The editorial notes,
There was not much to like in the Vatican’s news conference this week about its pedophilia scandal, but among all the defensive posturing and inept statements, there was one real stunner: The citing of the movement for the ordination of women as a “grave crime” that Rome deems as offensive as the scandal of priests who sexually assault children.
Calls for ending the ban on women priests are only a blip on the ecclesiastical radar screen. Yet Vatican officials gratuitously raised them at the news conference, while they offered limited antidotes to the crimes of sexual abuse and the long history of bishops dithering and covering up these crimes.
And then it concludes, “Red herrings about female priests only display the tone-deafness of the Vatican’s dominant male hierarchy.”
Sadly, because this critique is appearing in a secular newspaper that defensive apologists for the status quo want (ludicrously) to dismiss as an anti-Catholic publication, we will now hear the usual hue and cry from those apologists, who seem as tone-deaf as is the Vatican itself to the serious challenges facing the church they claim to love. As theologian Mary Hunt notes in her recent essay to which my posting yesterday links, the leaders of our church look ever more out of touch with what rank-and-file Catholics think and believe about these matters.
And with people of good will outside the church, as well. We must move beyond the defensive, reality-denying posture if we sincerely want the church to live through the crisis in which it now finds itself. As public opinion, both inside and outside the church, increasingly rejects the red-herring excuses by which the hierarchy tries to distance itself from responsibility for this crisis, those who love the church–who really love the church–need to stop assisting our pastoral leaders in avoiding responsibility, and call them to responsibility.
And to the servant leadership to which they’ve been called.