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Not Bad for Starters

by Christopher A. Ferrara

On July 8, 2002 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a canonical warning to the seven women who had themselves "ordained" in Austria on June 29 by a schismatic bishop, one Romulo Antonio Braschi. The warning is signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., prefect and secretary of the dicastery. It states as follows:

In order to give direction to the consciences of the Catholic faithful and dispel any doubts which may have arisen of Pope John Paul II, which states that ‘the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful’ (n. 4). For this reason, the above-mentioned 'priestly ordination' constitutes the simulation of a sacrament and is thus invalid and null, as well as constituting a grave offense to the divine constitution of the Church. Furthermore, because the ‘ordaining’ Bishop belongs to a schismatic community, it is also a serious attack on the unity of the Church. Such an action is an affront to the dignity of women, whose specific role in the Church and society is distinctive and irreplaceable.Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wishes to recall the teaching of the Apostolic Letter

The present Declaration, recalling the preceding statements of the Bishop of Linz and the Episcopal Conference of Austria and in accordance with canon 1347 § 1 of the CIC, gives formal warning to the above-mentioned women that they will incur excommunication reserved to the Holy See if, by July 22, 2002, they do not (1) acknowledge the nullity of the ‘orders’ they have received from a schismatic Bishop in contradiction to the definitive doctrine of the Church and (2) state their repentance and ask forgiveness for the scandal caused to the faithful.

It is of course a good thing that these seven errant women are threatened with excommunication for their scandalous attempt to become priests. But some rather obvious questions arise when one considers two key phrases from the warning, which give the rationale for the CDF’s action: "In order to give direction to the consciences of the Catholic faithful and dispel any doubts which may have arisen" and "state their repentance and ask forgiveness for the scandal caused to the faithful." For one thing, why has no such action been taken against the innumerable, widely published "theologians," such as Hans Küng, who have been promoting women’s ordination and innumerable other heresies for years? Is there not a need to give direction to the consciences of the faithful and dispel doubts concerning the false teaching these "theologians" have circulated for decades with impunity? Are not these heterodox theologians, whose influence is worldwide, in need of repenting and asking forgiveness for the scandal they have caused to the faithful? And what of the doubt, confusion and scandal caused by forty years of disobedience to liturgical laws and the ordination of thousands of homosexual males in defiance of the Vatican’s instruction barring such ordinations? What of the scandal and confusion caused by the episcopal cover-up of sex crimes by homosexuals in the priesthood?

In short, why, after forty years of post-conciliar heresy, scandal and chaos does the Vatican threaten only seven errant women with excommunication while legions of internal enemies in the Church are never called to account for the incalculable damage they have caused?

The CDF warning to these seven women is not bad for starters. But when will the Vatican begin the real work of restoring discipline in the Church by taking stern measures against the mass of termites that still infest the Catholic hierarchy itself?