(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 21 July 2010)
I have tried to stop myself several times from writing this column, if for no other reason than because I have already written twice in as many weeks on the Catholic Church. However, anyone who knows my stance on women’s issues also knows I would be compelled by conscience to write about the Vatican’s most recent misogynistic tirade.
On Thursday of last week, the Vatican tried to make a move to show it has a small grip on the reality of the paedophile priest situation. According to the Washington Post, “The new rules extend the statute of limitations for handling of priestly abuse cases from 10 years to 20 years after the victim’s 18th birthday, and the statute of limitations can be extended beyond that on a case-by-case basis. Such extensions have been routine for years but now the waivers are codified.”
In other words, nothing has really changed. Why is it so difficult for the Vatican to just tell its priests “If you rape anyone you will be defrocked, kicked out of the church and turned over to the local authorities.” There, I said it. It wasn’t difficult at all to say. Yet the Vatican cannot seem to utter those same words. Moreover, there is still no mandate for Bishops to report all cases of clerical sexual abuse to the police.
Be that as it may, the subject of paedophile priests is not my theme for today’s column.
Instead, I want to highlight the rest of what was said last Thursday, which some maintain was the Vatican’s main business. It is now a “grave offence” to ordain a woman. In other words, a priest can be defrocked for ordaining a woman. (Sigh)
As I just typed that last line, a myriad of emotions and images flowed through me. A Catholic man recently accused me of having a vendetta against the Catholic Church. What is so ironic is that it is quite apparent to anyone with an open mind that it is the Catholic Church which has a vendetta against women.
Let us just look at the evidence and make a logical assessment of the situation. For decades, maybe longer, male priests throughout the world have been raping young boys and the Church has been protecting those priests from the legal ramifications of such an atrocious act.
Yet we hear nothing of nuns raping children. On the contrary, there is a recent story of a nun in Phoenix, Arizona, Sister Margaret McBride, who spent her entire life helping sick people get well, yet she was excommunicated for allowing a procedure that saved a woman’s life.
Here is how an Associated Press article told the story, “Sister Margaret McBride was on an ethics committee that included doctors that consulted with a young woman who was 11 weeks pregnant late last year.
The woman was suffering from a life-threatening condition that likely would have caused her death if she hadn’t had the abortion at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.”
The Sister had to choose between allowing both the mother and unborn fetus to die, or to save the mother’s life by removing the fetus.
Sister Margaret chose to save the life of the woman who is a mother of four. When Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, head of the Phoenix Diocese, heard of this situation, he said Sister Margaret was “automatically excommunicated.”
In other words, a priest can savagely rape a boy for multiple years, as the recent Belgium case reveals, and he is still afforded the protection of the church. However, a nun saves the life of a young mother and she is not just removed from sisterhood, but removed from the church completely.
It has been said numerous times that Sister Margaret worked her entire career to help others. Yet she was excommunicated.
I do not have a vendetta against the Catholic Church, what I have is common sense. I ask all good people, who better represents God to the world – the good-hearted nun or the rapist priest?
I would follow someone like Sister Margaret to the ends of the earth, but I would never follow a rapist priest even if he does call himself a representative of God. Yet, the Vatican remains stubbornly sexist and last week proclaimed women to be unworthy of priesthood yet again.
If there is a gender unworthy of priesthood, I vehemently declare it is not female and history would be on my side.
It is a “grave offence” to ordain a woman? Allow me to give my own list of “grave offences.” It is a grave offence for a man to sexually abuse a little boy.
It is a grave offence to care more about the welfare of that wicked man than that of the little boy.
It is a grave offence to tell women it is a sin to take birth control and instead insist they should procreate where there is war, famine, rape, etc.
It is a grave offence to believe one gender of the human race is superior to the other and thereby subjugating the “lower” gender for millennia.
It is a grave offence to demean homosexuality while it is obviously practiced within the very walls of the Church – and with small boys not yet of the age of consent.
On second thought, maybe women should not want to be ordained in the Catholic Church.