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Women and the Catholic Church

So I’m just going to vent a bit. Don’t mind me.

I read an article today at friendlyatheist that stated “Ordaining a woman is now in the same category as raping a little boy.” As I usually do, I took this with a bit of a grain of salt – perhaps the canon law doesn’t have all that many striations between degrees of crime, or some similar misunderstanding occurred. I followed through several sources, to this fine article, which appears to be from a source closely related to or at least sympathetic to the church, and would, if anything, be biased towards the church. Well, read the second paragraph of that article, I’ll wait.

Done reading? If you read the whole article, you’ll realize, as I did, that the article places more emphasis on some fine print regarding child pornography being considered child abuse, some statute of limitations rules, and adding the mentally disabled to those protected by the rule, than it does on the changes to the rules on the ordination of women. Well, to start, let me say that if a catholic source thinks that its catholic readers care more about fine print than women’s rights, then I’m now a little more afraid of the religious right than I was a few minutes ago.

But as for the actual content, well I’m sure that the crime of allowing a woman to lead a religious mass “delicta graviora”, which it states is the class of most serious crimes against the church. My latin’s a little rusty, but Google says it means “grave sin”. These crimes are split into two categories, moral crimes (which probably mostly legislates things that are actually wrong and illegal, rather than trying and failing to legislate two thousand year old morality) and sacramental crimes (which refers to things that mostly apply to priests and the church’s sacraments, as far as I can tell). The restriction against female priests is one of the latter – which still apparently carries a punishment of automatic excommunication.

Um. Really? Guys, I don’t know where you all were for the past few centuries, but those things that look like us only with bigger chests and longer hair? We decided that they’re people now, you know. Apparently they are actually sentient and they get to do things like have jobs and go to school and even vote now.

Ok, I can see that the church might be allowed to do this legally. Apart from the fact that they have their own little country, the laws in America  and probably elsewhere might allow this degree of discrimination, as long as the group doing the discriminations isn’t, say, publicly funded. The one law I can readily find only applies to employers, and excludes religious organizations.

So, in the United States, religious organizations are considered private organizations who get to discriminate. I’m pretty sure that no one else would be allowed to do that, ever. In fact, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which has been signed by every developed country except the United States, states “[f]or the purposes of the present Convention, the term “discrimination against women” shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.”

That’s a lot of words, but I think that barring women from the priesthood fits. I’d love to hear an argument why it doesn’t.

That’s all for now, or I’ll probably stab something.

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