Friday, 16 July 2010

The ordination of women.

I have spent some time avoiding certain topics on this blog; some, because I do not have enough knowledge to speak with even the smallest amount of authority, and others because they are hot potatoes that can all too easily cause offence and hurt.

For the latter reason, I have avoided commenting on the myriad of problems that have beset the Catholic church recently. Yet I have finally had enough. What has so exercised my anger? Was it yet more evidence of cover-ups of sexual abuse within the church? No, that is, sadly, all too common. Another ruling on abortion? Again, that would hardly be surprising.

No, it is this article on the BBC news website.

Unbelievably, the Vatican has classified the ordination of women as being a 'grave crime' - the same category as sex abuse, schism and heresy. Whilst they say that this does not equate the 'crimes', putting ordination of women into the same category as sex abuse is a sickening act, and one that shows that they are totally detached from reality.

The Vatican's move is timed to put as much pressure as possible onto those Anglicans who are angry at the ordination of women and homosexuals. The pope has already offered a personal prelature to members of the Traditional Anglican Communion (a group of Anglican churches that are independent from Canterbury). They will be allowed to join the Catholic church, in a similar manner to Opus Dei. The Catholic church hopes that other churches and individual members will also leave the Anglican Communion.

I must admit to having had serious concerns about the ordaining of women bishops in the Anglican Communion. Not because I have any philosophical argument with it - indeed, I firmly believe that a church should reflect its full membership - male or female, black or white, straight or gay.

Rather, my concern lies with the risk of a schism in the Anglican Communion, and the effect that will have on churches in other countries. Deeply traditional churches that do not join the new Catholic prelature (for instance, the Church of Uganda) may choose to split from the Anglican Communion completely, and many of the reforms that those churches have undertaken may be lost. Put simply, the Anglican church will lose the ability to persuade the churches to reform, and they may even regress. That would be a social disaster in those countries.

It is almost impossible to weigh up the two issues: the undoubted benefits and moral righteousness of removing such traditional bars to ordination, and the harm that might be caused to societies in other countries if there is a schism. Is it better not to ordain women and homosexuals, and instead try to persuade the traditional churches into the 21st Century? Or should the progressive Anglican churches just plough their own furrow and hope that the traditional churches will follow?

The Anglican Communion moves slowly, but it is a positive rocket compared to the Catholic church, which is finding it increasingly hard to adjust to the modern world. Here are some examples:
  1. The refusal to allow couples to use condoms in areas with high prevalence of Aids. Indeed the Catholic church even claimed that condoms contained little holes that allowed Aids through.
  2. The Catholic church have still not banned the concept of Limbo, a theological kludge that will have caused anguish to millions of couples who have lost babies.
  3. In 1992 the Catholic church finally admitted that the Earth went around the Sun, as opposed to the biblical interpretation that the Heavens revolved around the Earth. This was 382 years after Galileo Galilei published his book advocating the heliocentric theory, and 23 years after man first walked on the moon!
I find it amazing that anyone could consider moving from the Anglican church to the backwards and repressive Catholic church. Anyone so considering should look at this announcement and ask themselves - really ask themselves - if they want to be associated with the Catholic church. A church that is against abortion even in awful cases of incest; a church that is sentencing millions in Africa to death; a church that chose to ignore paedophilia amongst its priests, and allowed those priests to abuse youngsters repeatedly.

They prefer all that over having women and homosexuals within their church?

If they do, then shame on them.

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