Roman Catholic

From the Vatican:

1° With due regard for can. 1378 of the Code of Canon Law, both the one who attempts to confer sacred ordination on a woman, and she who attempts to receive sacred ordination, incurs a  latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.


§ 1. The more grave delicts against morals which are reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are:

1° the delict against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue committed by a cleric with a minor below the age of eighteen years; in this case, a person who habitually lacks the use of reason is to be considered equivalent to a minor.

2° the acquisition, possession, or distribution by a cleric of pornographic images of minors under the age of fourteen, for purposes of sexual gratification, by whatever means or using whatever technology;

§ 2. A cleric who commits the delicts mentioned above in § 1 is to be punished according to the gravity of his crime, not excluding dismissal or deposition.

On first glance, it would seem as though the Vatican is reserving the more severe punishment for ordaining women, rather than child rape.

I think I see it a little bit differently.  With this wording, Rome has the opportunity to deal with both of these issues in a right way...whether that happens remains to be seen, since they don't exactly have the greatest track record of dealing with pedophiles.

The first (ordaining of women) is punishable with excommunication.  "We're done, you're gone, it's over."  The people involved are no longer under the authority of Rome and Rome has no hold over them, spiritually or earthly.

The second (sex with a minor) may be punishable with defrocking and being turned over to the secular authorities.  This means that there will be earthly consequences (prison, perhaps) and they may no longer be in a leadership position within the church.

This also means that (unlike excommunication) they are still under the authority of Rome, which means that the Vatican can have some direction and it leaves the door open for repentance...penance...forgiveness...restoration.

To me, keeping these offenders under the authority of Rome keeps them accountable...and keeps Rome accountable.

"Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit" by Gary Wills.

This author is a (liberal) Roman Catholic and many Roman Catholics will disagree with him and detest the book.

Many of the points that he makes (and conclusions he comes to) I disagree with. The main use that I would have for this book would be as a source for outside information (footnotes and citation lists, encyclicals, books and history).

AsI said, the author comes to conclusions that I would not come to, even after reading his book and finding the history accurate. Even in disagreement, I found the history fascinating.
I have a few books in my library that are very good resources - not for theology, but for the history. This may become one of them.

The first section of the book deals with the holocaust. The history is good, but it is history. Even if Rome had been more outspoken about what was happening, who can know how much of a difference it would have made? There is an interesting story of Ste. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, canonized in 1998. Born Edith Stein, this Roman Catholic saint was a Jew who converted to Roman Catholicism and became a nun. She was killed (along with her sister Rosa and many other ethic Jews) at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942. Whether or not she died because the Nazis were killing Jews, or whether she died because she was preaching the Gospel is debatable. But she is now a Roman Catholic saint.

As a result of Wills' book, I've read about Stein and - wow. I'd urge you all to google and read, this was an incredible woman.

The second section is called "DOCTRINAL DISHONESTIES" - here is the list of chapter titles:

  • The Tragedy of Paul VI: Prelude
  • The Tragedy of Paul VI: Encyclical
  • Excluded Women
  • The Pope's Eunuchs
  • Priestly caste
  • Shrinking the Body of Christ
  • Hydraulics of Grace
  • Conspiracy of Silence
  • A Gay Priesthood
  • Marian Politics
  • The Gift of Life

Topics include contraception, the history of unmarried clergy, the various sexual scandals. On "excluded women", I believe that male clergy and leadership is right and Biblical, I do think that the way Wills describes Rome's way of getting there is convoluted and based on the magesterium, not the Bible.
The last third of the book looks at honesty and truth. A lot of time is spent on Augustine; I like the history.


  1. If you trust in the infallibility of Rome, you will not like this book.
  2. If you are interested in the history of theology, you may like this book
  3. If you want the side of the Roman Catholic coin, from a man who does believe that Rome holds the truth but has erred in some places, this will be an informative book.

The next time I go through it, it will be with a highlighter and sticky tabs.

1 Comment

I got the original story here: Beggars All: Reformation and Apologetics: Pope Making Friends With 75 Million Reformed Christians

First, I think it's important to note that the partnership with Rome involves social justice, not doctrine.

And that when Bishop of Rome talks about ecumenicalism, he means that he wants to bring all protestants back under the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.

We are "separated brethren". Referring to the Roman Catholic faithful, Vatican II says, "Their ecumenical action must be fully and sincerely Catholic"

Also in Vatican II, "Though the ecclesial Communities which are separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us flowing from Baptism..." (my take on this - ok...we're saved, but we're not that saved)

Vatican II says that "The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect." (Again, we're saved, but Christ's finished work on the cross isn't finished unless we're under the leadership of Rome)

Bishop of Rome, Benedict XVI said, in his first messages as Bishop of Rome, "But what is most urgently needed is that "purification of memory", so often recalled by John Paul II, which alone can dispose souls to accept the full truth of Christ." (Who has the "full truth of Christ"? According to Rome, the Roman Church is the church that has the full truth)

My questions are: Whose memory needs to be purified? What do they need to forget in order to "accept [Rome's] full truth of Christ"?