Vatican Excommunicates Priest for Supporting Ordination of Women and Gay Marriage

You have to do something really awful to be excommunicated from the Catholic Church these days. In Melbourne, Australia, The Age notes that the only priests in the region who are no longer welcome to receive the Church’s sacraments are those who have been convicted of pedophilia.

But now we can add (former) Father Greg Reynolds to that exile list. What did he do that was so awful?

“I’ve come to this position because I’ve followed my conscience on women’s ordination and gay marriage.”

Father Greg Reynolds (Angela Wylie – The Age)

Yep, he thinks women should be ordained and that gay marriage is perfectly fine. In 2011, he voluntarily resigned as a priest but began his own group called Inclusive Catholics to “welcome all Catholics, especially the disenfranchised, the disillusioned and the excluded.” But now, he is no longer allowed to receive Communion… which, let’s face it, is about as damaging as being told you’re going to get repeatedly beaten up… in the afterlife. Sounds bad, but it’s really nothing to worry about.

But if you’re sincerely a Catholic like Reynolds, that has to hurt.

Church leaders are welcome to kick whomever they want out of their country club — they make the rules and those who want to become leaders should know well enough to only sign on the dotted line if they agree.

This act says far more about the Church than it does Reynolds. He seems to be a decent guy whose religious beliefs got in the way of his kindness.

Now, if Pope Francis really wanted to make some headlines, he would find a way to reinstate this guy. I’m not expecting that, though. The Pope, while I appreciate his tone and rhetoric, has not yet strayed from the party line. He is part of the same hierarchy that rejects women leaders and believes it’s wrong for the Church to support gay marriages. You’re not going to see him bend over backwards to help a guy who is about as devout as one could get but whose ethics are a little too good for the leaders of the Church.

Too bad for Reynolds, but it just goes to show why no decent person should want to support such a despicable institution.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • busterggi

    Yet Hitler remains listed as a member of the RCC and that’s just dandy.

    • robert chacon

      Yes, yes you figured it out! Hitler is the Catholic Church! Brilliant!

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        That said fact doesn’t matter to you is only a sign of how vile you’ve allowed your thinking to become. It’s a pity you don’t know Jesus.

        That you don’t understand how said fact is relevant to this story is only a sign of how grossly inadequate your reading skills and logic are. Try rereading everything without the bitter resentment eating up your comprehension.

        • robert chacon

          It is very UnChristian to assume I do not know Jesus Christ. Everything you just said is simply projection of your own feelings sir. Im sorry, but there is no Nazi Vatican conspiracy. That is old propaganda initiated by the Soviets. Any credible scholar today will tell you the myth of “Hitlers Pope” is just that , a myth. And everything you just said, please read it in a mirror. It may be insightful. My reading skills, IQ and logic are diagnostically proven to be in the 90% percentile. Your diatribe is simply a personal attack against someone who invokes your intolerance and bigotry and wont accept the lies perpetrated by anti Catholics. You can scream and yell all you want but if you want me to present you with the most recent scholarly research on the subject , including Jewish and non Catholic scholars I will if you would bother to investigate.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Your reading skills are documented here as being quite terrible, since you managed to miss the point TWICE, and then to go off on an actual diatribe that rather bizarrely included a “No, U are the stupidzors!” argument.

            My own reading skills consistently tested in the 99.97% range, and my I.Q. at 165*. Shuffling your collar and harrumphing while placing a phantom pipe between your teeth does not negate the lack of comprehension you displayed for all to see, nor your ignorant attempts to argue against the wrong thing. Your persecution complex is showing there.

            I.Q., really? People four standard deviations below me know how useless and biased that test is. It’s something that only blowhards go on about.

            Christ, if you’re going to blather about your reading skills, at least try to minimize your typo count while doing so.

            *Neither of which magically innoculates me against errors in comprehension. It’s likely not your intelligence that is the problem; it’s your complacent arrogance about your intelligence.

            • Emmet

              How are your reading skills going? You managed to read the request for evidence that cardinals kill popes they don’t like, in the other thread? Managed to find some yet?

          • SeekerLancer

            Nobody here said there was a “Nazi Vatican conspiracy.”

            Only a simple fact was stated, that this priest was excommunicated from the catholic church for his support of gay marriage and female priests but Hitler was not for being Hitler.

            There’s no breaching of Godwin’s law here, there’s nobody being called a Nazi, just the statement that Hitler was not excommunicated from the RCC.

          • Baby_Raptor

            I highly doubt your claims of intelligence. You fail at basic capitalization, punctuation and reading comprehension, and logic doesn’t lead to believing in invisible men in the sky.

      • busterggi

        You don’t seem dumb enough to not get my point – apparently i overrated you.

    • Stev84

      They excommunicated Joseph Goebbels though.

      For marrying a Protestant.

      • Miss_Beara

        I see the RCC has some sort of standard.

        Those evil Protestants.

    • Rain

      They wore “God Be Nimble” on their belts or something.

  • kaydenpat

    Thought Pope Francis was moving in a different direction.

    • cag

      But he is spatially challenged.

    • SeekerLancer

      Again, Pope Francis is doing a lot of talk but very little action.

  • robert chacon

    For someone who writes for a faith based blog, you could show a little more respect. How would you like it if I called you despicable? Do you really need to use such language or do you just do it for fun and gain respect among your atheist readers? You call over a billion Catholics despicable when you say such a thing. And yet I would never call say such a thing about atheists.

    But it is amazing how the bible does state that the evil would call good evil and evil good. Its ironic that you think you even have the ability to know right from wrong when you have no basis for knowing any such thing. Your sense of justice all based on your own self righteous determination. So the result is that even when you call the Church despicable, it really means nothing since you stand for nothing other than yourself. Nevertheless, common decency would suggest you try a little more respect, or you can expect this kind of response.

    That last paragraph, by the way , I really dont believe that about you or atheism. But it is the kind of nastiness that you present day after day. For what end? To get paid a little money? I read your section in Patheos to get an atheists perspective because i desire to understand others. Yet if I were to conclude that all atheists are like you, and the people who comment here, represent ALL atheists I would believe you are all angry, vengeful , and scared people who cannot tolerate anyone objecting to disbelief. You may believe the inverse characterizes all Christians, but it certainly doesnt reflect anything I was taught by the Catholic Church. And thankfully, one of my dearest friends is an atheist who is one of the best “Christians” I know. So, I know that not all atheist are “despicable”-using haters as you and your readers seem to be. What animates this animosity?

    • more compost

      Christian privilege, mostly. Also, a group of deluded people using their delusion to tell everyone what to do.

      Yes, I just called you deluded. You think an ancient myth is real.

    • blasphemous_kansan

      Yaaaaawn.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      If you can’t tell the difference between calling an institution despicable – as an aside, an institution whose last great leader had a direct hand in covering up for priests who raped children – and calling all Catholics despicable, you really are just too dim-witted to even understand how much you need to learn to read.

      • robert chacon

        Nothing but personal attacks! Its not necessary. Nevertheless, I can see what you are saying to a point , but when you accept the teachings of the Church, you ARE the Church. An attack on its beliefs is insulting to its members. Its only natural. If I attacked Lamda if you happen to be gay and called it a sick perverted organization, you be down my throat! Furthermore, show me in this article where the Author is using despicable to refer to the abuse scandal? He says nothing about it in the article except at the beginning when talking about the only people excommunicated. He then goes on to ONLY talk about gay rights and women clergy. Any reading of the story is going to lead most to infer the Churchs opposition to gay marriage and women clergy as being the reference to despicable. But instead you just like calling people names and insulting their intelligence. Calm down! Im not here to attack! Im really wanting to understand and clarify.

        • SeekerLancer

          “I can see what you are saying to a point , but when you accept the teachings of the Church, you ARE the Church. An attack on its beliefs is insulting to its members. ”

          That’s borderline cult-speak and totally silly.

          It’s like saying because I’m American if someone disagrees with something the government is doing they’re attacking me personally.

          The Catholic church’s membership isn’t a hive mind that all agrees or disagrees completely on issues of doctrine. Even your own Pope is ruffling feathers with the rest of the clergy due to his own personal opinions.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Borderline cult speak? That IS cult speak!

        • NG

          “when you accept the teachings of the Church, you ARE the Church.”

          You’re the Borg? So resistance is futile? Um, no.

        • Baby_Raptor

          The church’s opposition to women not being kitchen-bound baby making machines and gays having full civil rights IS despicable. Further, their actions in the political sphere to make these teachings law are illegal. Do you have a greater point somewhere, or are you just butthurt?

          And, please. Concern troll less. If you really were here to “understand” (because nobody here needs clarification, nor would any such clarification come from such a blatantly biased source as yourself), you wouldn’t constantly be harping on what you see as insults.

    • Miss_Beara

      An institution that has told women and gays what they cannot do with their own bodies, telling Africans that condoms cause AIDS, the Magdalene Laundries and of course the child rape, deserves zero respect.

    • Anna

      But it is amazing how the bible does state that the evil would call good evil and evil good. Its ironic that you think you even have the ability to know right from wrong when you have no basis for knowing any such thing. Your sense of justice all based on your own self righteous determination.

      Maybe this is doubly ironic because I see you as doing the exact same thing. Your church takes good things and calls them evil and pretends to have moral authority that it doesn’t actually have. I see no reason on earth to accept its own self-righteous determination as valid.

      • robert chacon

        Read again! I said I was not accepting that comment although some might. It was to make the author know how I feel from his insulting language.

        • Anna

          You don’t feel Hemant has the ability to tell right from wrong, yet you think the Catholic church does. That’s the irony.

        • LesterBallard

          I find the entire institution of the Roman Catholic Church insulting to humanity.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Your sense of justice all based on your own self righteous determination.

      Yours is based on a book of magic spells containing a “Because I SAID SO, that’s why” set of commands from a genocidal, child rape-encouraging maniac who didn’t calm down until he heard about secular Eastern and late Grecian philosophy.

      Creepy fuck.

      • robert chacon

        CL you are so angry and hateful. Did your parents leave you on a doorstep or what? I explicitly said that I do NOT believe that paragraph about what the bible says regarding non believers. I was simply asking for a little more respect. So then you resort to personal attacks. Is this what atheism does for your soul?

        • LesterBallard

          I respect your right to have the belief; that doesn’t mean I have to respect the belief.

        • baal

          Noone has a soul by any of the common definitions I’ve seen. I personally find the RCC immoral not only for the cover ups but also for teaching irrationality and stoping condom programs (which reminds me I owe a reply to another christian on that point).

        • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

          There it is again. Every single time an atheist points out how horrible the bible really is, we get called hateful. What a pathetic copout. DiscriDiscriminating against others because of their sex or sexual orientation is hateful, not pointing out pointing out the atrocities in the Bible.

        • Baby_Raptor

          What a Fucking joke. When you see Christians slandering gays, do you ask them “Is this what Christianity does for your soul?”

    • SeekerLancer

      When I find something that the Roman Catholic Church does despicable. I am going to call it despicable. I am criticizing the church’s actions, not individual Catholics, and I do not apologize if my opinion offends you.

      Your church certainly isn’t very concerned about offending me either.

    • JohnnieCanuck

      Before having read your diatribe, I wouldn’t have counted you as despicable, being an individual Catholic I didn’t know. I’d have given you the benefit of the doubt, though it would have been ignoring probability.

      Unless of course, I found out that you have failed to stand up to your priest and the individuals he reports to – on the subjects of protecting pædophile priests, preventing women and gays from entering the priesthood, etc.

      How many letters of protest have you sent condemning the despicable policies of the Catholic hierarchy, so far?

    • Hat Stealer

      Respect is overrated. There exists this idea that we should blindly accept and respect other people’s ideas, even when those ideas are terrible. If you were to call me despicable then I would at least find your honesty to be more respectful than some half-assed “there are many roads to the truth” statement that is ultimately more dismissive and condescending than just “I think you are wrong, and that your ideas are stupid.”

      Call my ideas stupid. Hell, call me stupid. We can have a discussion about it. But don’t expect me to lie and say that I respect you and your religion when I don’t. I speak out harshly against social evils, and I’m not about to buy into this idea that we should tiptoe around issues like child rape and marriage equality, just so we can avoid hurting people’s feelings. This isn’t grade school anymore.

    • busterggi

      “You call over a billion Catholics despicable when you say such a thing.”
      Delusions of grandeur much?

      • Anna

        IMO, the entire Catholic church suffers from delusions of grandeur. It seems to be one of their main traits.

    • Sven2547
    • Anathema

      For someone who writes for a faith based blog, you could show a little more respect. How would you like it if I called you despicable? Do you really need to use such language or do you just do it for fun and gain respect among your atheist readers? You call over a billion Catholics despicable when you say such a thing. And yet I would never call say such a thing about atheists.

      But Hemant never said “Robert Chacon is despicable” or “Christian are despicable” or even “Catholics are despicable.” He said that the institution of the Catholic Church despicable. There’s a difference between saying that an organization is despicable and saying that the individual members of that organization are all despicable.

      Your analogy would work better if you said, “How would you like it if I called American Atheists, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Center for Inquiry, or the Secular Student Alliance despicable?”

      For what it’s worth, I’ve seen atheists and theists alike say a lot of critical things about various atheist organizations. So I don’t think I’d care all that much if you were to start calling one of them “despicable.”

      That last paragraph, by the way , I really dont believe that about you or atheism. But it is the kind of nastiness that you present day after day.

      Seriously? Point me to a single blog entry on Friendly Atheist that has stated that moral outrage from you and your fellow Christians “really means nothing since you stand for nothing other than yourself.”

      I doubt that you can find one example of Hemant or his co-bloggers writing any such thing. They certainly don’t post that sort of nastiness “day after day.”

      I read your section in Patheos to get an atheists perspective because i desire to understand others. Yet if I were to conclude that all atheists are like you, and the people who comment here, represent ALL atheists I would believe you are all angry, vengeful , and scared people who cannot tolerate anyone objecting to disbelief. You may believe the inverse characterizes all Christians, but it certainly doesnt reflect anything I was taught by the Catholic Church. And thankfully, one of my dearest friends is an atheist who is one of the best “Christians” I know. So, I know that not all atheist are “despicable”-using haters as you and your readers seem to be. What animates this animosity?

      And if I were to conclude that all Catholics were like you, I’d be forced to conclude that all Catholics were thin-skinned, arrogant, and hateful people who struggle with reading for comprehension.

      But, luckily, we both no better than to judge an entire group of people off of a few comments made on the internet. I know plenty of Catholics who are humble, thoughtful, intelligent, and able to take criticism. So what animates your animosity?

    • ShoeUnited

      Respect is earned. The Catholic Church, its clergy, and its laws have not earned it any respect. Not everything is about you. Sometimes people follow a faith where they accept rules and laws handed down by pedophiles, pedophile enablers, and crooks. How could you do that? Don’t you have respect for yourself? I’m not asking you to turn atheist, there are better options out there than the RCC.

      If you don’t want your Church attacked, then make it stop doing evil things. You talk about seeing good as evil and evil as good. You see a multi-billion(trillion?) dollar organization that denies humans their basic human rights as good. You, sir, are enabling evil every time you defend it. Every time you give it money.

    • Baby_Raptor

      You have a lot of balls to come in here demanding respect, given how the Christian religions treat nonbelievers.

      And, really? The tired, disproven “Morality only comes from god” bullshit? Come back when you have a real argument.

      Lastly, stop projecting. You have no idea who Hemant is, what his sense of justice is, or what he stands for. You will get nowhere pinning your false ideas on others and loudly screaming “I’M RIGHT!” with your fingers in your ears.

      I’m sorry it bothers you that some people don’t worship your church like you do. Welcome to adulthood!

  • more compost

    Raping little boys is all good, but don’t you dare try to treat all people equally!

    • robert chacon

      Why dont you think about treating children with their due rights for a mother and a father? The Church’s concern about gay marriage is that it denies a child a mother and a father. Is that treating children equally? No not at all, it puts the rights of adults to marry over the rights of children to have a mother and a father. There is hardly a more inherent right than to expect that you or should have both parents. We can debate the issue , but to simply carry on in fear and worry that the Church simply wants to punish gay people and deny them their dignity is NOT the Catholic Church. It may be some other churchs but its NOT the Catholic Church. Whether you completely accept the reasoning or not, any compassionate person would agree some consideration as to the rights of children in this regard is necessary. I certainly understand the gay equality issue, and am trying to work it out in my head. But when I hear this constant intolerance or the Churchs message and the hatred projected on Her, my instinct is to say screw you! but i dont I try to understand. It would be nice if you could too.

      • SeekerLancer

        Then why doesn’t the RCC push for making it illegal to be a single parent?

        Regardless we fundamentally disagree in regards to the issue of parenting so a debate would be pointless.

        I’m also not comfortable with you equating the issue of gay marriage with child molestation cover ups.

      • somaticstrength

        “There is hardly a more inherent right than to expect that you or should have both parents.”

        How about the right not to be raped? Is that an inherent right?

        The day Christians speak with MORE vitriol against rapists, the day they fucking try and pass laws restrict rapists from marrying and having children, the day they refuse to allow them to be part of their church, the day they actual give one flying fuck about the rape of children (apart from just a comparison to homosexuality or a lumping of it as just another sin) then maybe I’ll have some fucking respect.

        But right now my fucking rapist of a brother, my brother who was in prison for raping a child is part of the Catholic Church and nobody gives a fuck that his unrepentant ass is married and has kids. Because yay! he’s in a straight marriage, so I guess his children will be okay. Even though there’s a 99.9999% chance he’s fucking them.

        So screw you.

        • Miss_Beara

          How about the right not to be raped? Is that an inherent right?

          I am just guessing, but I don’t think you are going to get an answer to this question.

        • WillBell

          You can be absolved of any sin that does not require following your heart.

          • Spuddie

            Asking for gods forgiveness is much easier, lazier and more morally bankrupt than making amends to those harmed by one’s malicious actions.

            People seek absolution for sins because they are too cowardly and immoral to answer to others in the real world.

            • WillBell

              I was joking, I was saying that you can be forgiven for anything except good things (following your conscience, love). People seem to have taken my comment the wrong way, I wasn’t even trying to be a poe…

              • Spuddie

                Don’t take it too hard. I can be a bit thick when it comes to that.

                • WillBell

                  You aren’t along, my post got 0 upvotes and 6 downvotes so I’m guessing people generally thought the same as you.

      • more compost

        Where is your outrage against raping little boys? What is wrong with you that you think that raping little boys is in any way comparable to two adults who love each other making a commitment to live their lives together, and getting all the benefits that society confers on others who do the same?

        It seems to me that the term despicable describes you very well.

      • Anna

        Why dont you think about treating children with their due rights for a mother and a father? The Church’s concern about gay marriage is that it denies a child a mother and a father. Is that treating children equally? No not at all, it puts the rights of adults to marry over the rights of children to have a mother and a father. There is hardly a more inherent right than to expect that you or should have both parents.

        It doesn’t appear as if you’ve thought this through. Children of same-sex parents are “denied” a mother and father regardless of whether their parents are married, a fact that is conveniently ignored by the Catholic church. I have two lesbian mothers. My mothers were not married when I was a child, yet it did not stop them from being my parents.

        All this talk about “due rights” (which you seem to have invented out of thin air) is offensive nonsense. I have both my parents, they are both women, and there is absolutely nothing inferior about our family. I will not stand for religious groups attempting to stigmatize and delegitimize us.

      • busterggi

        Are4 you recommending excommunication of all single parents because that’s what it sounds like. Seriously, take away the social support system from someone who has lost a spouse as if that is a good thing?

      • onamission5

        Children have an inherent right to be brought up by a person or people who can love them, care for them, teach them, and be responsible for them. Nothing about that necessarily requires two parents who fall neatly into two categories of binary gender or one category of orientation.

      • anniewhoo

        Then why does the RCC make it so very easy for men (but no
        surprise, not women) to be granted annulment, even when they have
        fathered several children in the marriage? I would think if they are so very opposed to children being raised by only one parent, this would never be allowed.

        • Anna

          And of course, if they were really concerned about “one mother and one father,” Catholics would be trying to outlaw divorce and remarriage. The double standard is overwhelming. Not only do they not attempt to deny divorced and remarried couples legal rights, they look the other way when it comes to divorced and remarried people in their own churches.

      • baal

        But all too often robert, the choice isn’t between ‘giving’ a child to a gay couple instead of a straight one. The choice is 0 or 1 parents vs 2 parents. So far as it’s been studied, the only problem the children of gay parents suffer is bullying from christians (and others) about having gay parents. The children raised by 2 gay parents are otherwise indistinguishable from kids with 2 het parents.

      • DavidMHart

        And if the church does the research, in a fair manner, with controlled trials, and is able to present good evidence that having two biological parents is so much better for a child than having one or two adoptive parents, then you will have a point. Though you will still need to show that having one or two willing adopted parents is actually worse for a child than having two natural parents however unwilling or unable to raise a child. And even then you would still need to show, in the event where one parent has died, that it would be better for that child to be raised single-handedly by their surviving parent that to be raised jointly by the surviving parent and that parent’s new spouse, whether same-sex or opposite sex.

        We can all agree that children should have a right to be raised by a person or persons willing and able to give them a good upbringing. But we should not be ready to presume in all cases that those persons are going to be the natural parents, unless you can present good evidence to show why.

      • cary_w

        Now wait a minute…. How are you making the jump between gay marriage and gay parenting? You realize, don’t you, that a gay couple cannot conceive a child through normal Catholic-approved sex? So where are these children coming from? It seems to me (and I admit to having limited knowledge of Catholic teachings) that in order for a gay couple to have children, they would have had to break some other Catholic rule, so how can there be a “good Catholic gay person” with a child? If raising children is the issue, then you should focus on where these children a coming from and what sins are committed to get them rather than gay marriage. It just seems like the “what about the children!” argument has a lot more to do with most Catholics not following all the church’s teachings than with gay marriages.

        OK, I guess there is one scenario, if one parent dies and the surviving parent re-marries someone of the same sex, but according to the “all children need a mother and a father” viewpoint, these kids are already damaged goods from having a parent die, so what’s the big deal about gaining a second mom instead of a dad?

      • indorri

        How are gay couples getting married “denying children a mother and father”? Are you trying to insinuate gay parents are stealing the children of straight couples?

        Yet by your own logic, you would steal the children of gay couples because children “deserve a father and mother”.

        Fucking deceiver.

      • Chuck Farley

        Robert, my father passed away from cancer when I was about 6 months old. I grew up without a father. Why would god interfere with my right to have a mother and a father? Why didn’t god treat me (a child) equally? Why did god put his rights to kill people with cancer over my right to have a mother and a father?

        By the way I suffered no detriment in growing up without a father.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    I like this guy. Can we keep him?

    • JohnnieCanuck

      He’s only saying Catholics are being persecuted when we criticise them for their bigotry and their messing with others’ personal affairs.

      Sort of a mini Bill Donahue. He probably doesn’t have the same cash flow that Bill gets from the Catholic League, though.

      Makes for a nice chewtoy, I agree.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Oh, I meant Father Greg Reynolds, not that pudbungler commenter.

  • Anna

    The Catholic church takes a hard stance whenever priests stray from the official party line, but completely ignores the laity. It’s very hypocritical. Ordinary people don’t get excommunicated for having unorthodox views. They don’t even get excommunicated for being divorced or remarried. The Catholic church is more than happy to take their money and look the other way when they bring their kids to the church to continue the indoctrination.

    • GCBill

      I’ve been trying to think up more charitable explanations for your noted discrepancy, but they’re all a stretch. Canon law explicitly defines excommunication as a “medicinal penalty,” which means it should be applied equally regardless of rank. In practice, it seems more like a way of maintaining homogeneity of opinion within the clergy.

      • JohnnieCanuck

        Medicinal, as in ‘for your own good’. Excommunication as I understand it, means no communion, means no confession, means no forgiveness, means eternal torture.

        To avoid this medicine, all Reynolds has to do is publicly deny his own beliefs and they’ll take him back. All he has to do is lie convincingly enough to them.

        Lot of good that’s going to do him, having lied like that, when he gets to the pearly gates.

        • Emmet

          Excommunication isn’t a statement that a person is “going to hell”.
          .
          A person who’s excommunicated can still go to confession. They’d be wise to go in fact. They’re still obligated to go to Mass, but they can’t receive communion.
          .
          If they died while excommunicated, but while repentant of mortal sin, they can still go to heaven.

          • DavidMHart

            How do you know? What tests have the Church run to arrive at those results?

            This is a large part of why people find the Church so appalling (though of course not uniquely so) – that they unapologetically make stuff up that they can have no possible way of demonstrating it is true, and expect their followers to believe it – and worse, expect even non-followers to at least respect it.

            • Emmet

              What? What test could possibly arrive at any results that would say anything to you? You’re suggesting that empirical truth is the only kind of proof.

              Have you run a test to arrive at that result?

              • DavidMHart

                Well, there are only really two possibilities. Either Heaven and Hell exist, in which case it should be possible to visit them, and interview people there and find out exactly what the entrance requirements are (or at least communicate with the gatekeepers and hear it from them directly), or Heaven and Hell are mythical, and the Bible is largely a work of fiction, and the Church has no good reason at all to suggest that its claims about mortal sins etc are true, and is simply making stuff up.

                And in the absense of data, the first is more likely. Empirical evidence is the only kind of evidence we should accept – because it’s the only kind of evidence there is – what possible other way of telling whether the claims in the Bible, or the claims made by the Church, are true, could there be, other than seeing if they match up with any detectable reality?

                Just to make this clearer for you: imagine the sort of evidence it would take to persuade you that the Quran is the holy book of the supreme being, and that people who die as devout Muslims get to meet Allah in paradise, but people who die as non-Muslims, or as insufficiently devout Muslims, burn forever in Jehannom. Take that sort of evidential requirement, and understand that that is exactly the sort of requirement that we would also require (and that you should require) for equivalent claims from any other religion. Otherwise the default presumption, which can only be overturned if good evidence comes up, is that the claims are either honestly mistaken or deliberately made up.

                [edit: fixed HTML fail]

                • Emmet

                  No. There’s a third possibility – that “empirical evidence” is useless in determining that heaven or hell exist.

                  Why “should [it] be possible to visit them, and interview people there”?

                  I’m not persuaded that the Quran is legit because as far as I can see, Islam is an old Christian heresy.

                • DavidMHart

                  Very well then. If empirical evidence is useless in determining whether heaven or hell exist, then we have no good reasons to conclude that heaven or hell exist. It’s like Carl Sagan’s dragon-in-the-garage: if every possible test you propose to determine whether the dragon is real is met by the dragon-believer not with an enthusiastic agreement to put the dragon to the test, but by an ad-hoc excuse, then at some point you have to conclude that it is more likely that the dragon-believer is making stuff up than that they actually have a dragon. Because if every means of detecting the dragon is closed to you, then it must also be closed to them – that is they have no way of detecting the dragon.

                  So if empirical evidence (which just means data from the real world, that can be checked against other aspects of the real world) is ‘useless in determining that heaven or hell exist’, then what sort of evidence is useful, and how do we know that that evidence is reliable?

                • Emmet

                  Logic. Philosophy. For starters.

                • Compuholic

                  Logic cannot prove anything until the the premises cannot be demonstrated. If you use logic alone, the best you can hope for is to show that the premises are inconsistent and you don’t even need to establish their truth value. And how are you going to demonstrate the premises? Oh that’s right: empirical evidence.

                  Philosophy relies on logic as its inference mechanism: Philosophy cannot prove anything either.

                • DavidMHart

                  Compuholic already said what needs to be said about logic; what you get out is only as good as what you get in, and if you cannot demonstrate that what you are putting in has anything to do with reality, then you can have no reason for claiming that what you get out has anything to do with reality. Once again, you’d just be making stuff up.

                  But I wanted to add this in response to your assertion that philosophy provides evidence for heaven or hell. It’s a survey from a few years ago of academic philosophers (though, as far as I can tell, non-academics were also able to respond), and among the questions it asked, one was ‘theism or atheism’. Respondents either accepted or leaned towards atheism at a far higher rate than the population average. And if you pick apart the results by academic tier (pull down the ‘population’ tab and click refresh), you’ll see that undergraduate philosophers already accept or lean towards atheism by a substantial majority, and for every step up the academic hierarchy you go, you get a further increase in the ‘atheism’ bracket.

                  This mean (assuming the survey isn’t suffering from some fatal biases) that the more accomplished you are as a philosopher, the less likely you are to believe in gods (which we can take as a reasonable proxy for also believing in heaven and hell).

                  So if you invoke the discipline of philosophy in support of theistic beliefs, you will need to explain why we should then go on to ignore the consensus of philosophers, and why we should prefer the consensus of undergrads to the consensus of faculty members.

    • robert chacon

      Nonsense. The reason the Church is more concerned about the clergy is because they are the teachers of the Church, and when they teach heresy it is a bigger concern than when the laity simple faith to accept the truth or act immorally. In any event excommunication is not for the purpose of sinful behavior except as it relates to heresy.

      As far as this supposed criticism about money and indoctrination, its complete hypocrisy to be critical of the Church for being doctrinaire all the time and then pretend to scandalized when the Church is more pastoral toward its members and not strictly disciplinarian.

      • Anna

        I understand it’s because they see clergy as role models, so of course they can’t stand for their priests and nuns getting out of line.

        As far as this supposed criticism about money and indoctrination, its complete hypocrisy to be critical of the Church for being doctrinaire all the time and then pretend to scandalized when the Church is more pastoral toward its members and not strictly disciplinarian.

        Who said I had a problem with the Catholic church being doctrinaire? I actually think your church should take a much harder line with their followers. If there were actually consequences for holding dissenting views, maybe it would spur all the moderates and progressives to leave.

    • Emmet

      It’s those Catholics who have a platform from which to influence others who are warned to retract their publicly professed heresies. Priests have that platform. So do lay theologians or other teachers. Your regular joe Catholic in the pew will very rarely get excommunicated for their heterodox views because, quite simply, no one knows about them.

      So you’re quite right that “Ordinary people don’t get excommunicated for having unorthodox views”. Not hypocritical at all.

      • Anna

        I still think it’s hypocritical. I understand why they go after priests and nuns. They don’t want dissent among their employees, which is easy enough to understand. But they don’t target ordinary people who have made their views known. There are plenty of Catholic celebrities and politicians who take a strong stand against the church’s policies. I must have missed when people like Stephen Colbert and Nancy Pelosi got excommunicated.

        • Emmet

          Fact is, very few people get excommunicated. That Colbert and Pelosi aren’t on that list is neither here nor there really.

          “they go after nuns” – what sisters have been excommunicated recently?

          (FYI, “nuns” are cloistered. Carmelites etc. All nuns are sisters, but not all sisters are nuns.)

          • Anna

            That’s my problem. People who are excommunicated tend to be members of the clergy. Or former members of the clergy. Stephen Colbert and Nancy Pelosi are massively more famous and influential than Greg Reynolds, and they have a much larger platform to disseminate their unothodox views. Yet they haven’t been excommunicated. Heck, they even let Stephen Colbert teach Sunday School.

            When I said “go after,” I didn’t mean excommunicate necessarily. But the Vatican has gone after dissenting nuns quite hard in the last few years. Surely you’re not unfamiliar with those news stories?

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22157699

            They don’t stand for dissension in their ranks. And I can understand why. I’m not criticizing them for that. I just want regular Catholics to be held to the same level of scrutiny as employees.

            • Emmet

              Colbert’s unorthodox? I had the impression he was fairly straight up. Can you point me to something he’s said that suggests otherwise? Curious.
              .
              Clergy and religious brothers and sisters are seen as figures of authority, so if they are less than faithful they can cause more damage than laymen and women.

              Someone like Pelosi, you’re right – I’d like to see her given a bit of a hurry-up too, because she is in a position of influence.

              So I’m with you on that – I don’t understand why she hasn’t been sanctioned.
              .

              • Anna

                Haven’t you ever watched Colbert’s show? He’s certainly not against gay marriage or abortion. His character is a parody of a right-wing pundit. He uses humor to criticize conservative positions. Sometimes I’m surprised at what he gets away with. If Bill Maher said the same things, Bill Donohue would jump all over him, but somehow he’s willing to overlook it when it’s a fellow (albeit dissenting) Catholic.

                And I’m glad you agree on Pelosi. Why not excommunicate all the Catholic politicians and celebrities who advocate for things the church doesn’t like? They have a lot more influence than some priest no one has ever heard of. Other religions do a much better job of keeping house than the Catholic church does. If you tried that nonsense with the JWs or Mormons, you’d find yourself out on your ear.

  • anniewhoo

    “I’ve come to this position because I’ve followed my conscience on women’s ordination and gay marriage.”

    Well, there’s his problem- following his conscience. The RCC frowns upon that type of behavior.

    • Emmet

      Incorrect. Here’s what the Church says about following your conscience:

      “A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience.”

      Para 1790 and the rest here:
      http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a6.htm

      You know, little throwaway lines get you upvotes, but being honest and truthful and rational and accurate is actually more important.

      • flyb

        Actually, anniewhoo is correct. Reynolds followed *his* conscience, not the conscience defined on that Vatican page that involves God and God’s law in every aspect of it.

        You should have read the rest of your document: 1799 “Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.”

        According to the church, conscience is reason *AND* the divine law. The problem of course is that the divine law is not always reasonable. That’s what Reynolds is discovering for himself and the church doesn’t like people doing that.

        Finally, the last line of that page: 1802 “The Word of God is a light for our path. We must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. This is how moral conscience is formed.”

        Conscience is only what God wants it to be. Nice. Reynolds is thinking for himself and the church (say it together, class) does not like people doing that.

        • Emmet

          No – the Church says that people should follow their conscience. anniewho says the Church doesn’t say that. She’s wrong. Pretty simple.

          If you want to say that Reynolds did what he thought was right, and the Church disagrees that what he did was right, that’s a whole other ball game.

          That’s the thing: you must follow your conscience, but you must make sure your conscience is well-formed.

          We’re kind of splitting hairs here – arguing two different things.

          • DavidMHart

            So, would the Church say that you should follow your conscience, even when that would conflict with the teachings of the Church? If so, good, they are admitting that they make mistakes like everyone else, and that morality is not the same thing as obedience. But if they are not saying that – if they are saying that having a well-formed conscience will inevitably lead you to agree with their position, then there’s not really much that one can do except point out the gargantuan degree of chutzpah you would need in order to seriously make such a claim.

            • Emmet

              People must follow their well-formed conscience. There’s no excuse, in this day and age, for being ignorant of what the Church teaches. If however a person sincerely follows his concscience to a position or action that is contrary to the Church, there’s no moral culpability for him in that.

              He’d want to listen to someone pointing out that where he now stands is shaky ground, though.

  • LesterBallard

    I think I’m getting mixed messages.

  • GabyYYZ

    If I could go through with the tediousness of getting an excommunication, I would frame that letter proudly…unfortunately it would involve getting in touch with the diocese of my birth, and of course cause problems in the small Lebanese village my extended family still lives in.

    • sam

      I was thinking along the same lines. It also reminds me of ex-Scientologists on Youtube who hold up their Suppressive Person declaration letters (with similar faces as the priest). Rejection can really hurt those who have been programmed to respect those who write the letters.

      If it weren’t so time consuming, there should be a secular contest to see who can genuinely earn as many ‘excommunication’, ‘disconnection’, ‘disfellowship’, etc. letters as possible. What fun that would be.

    • JohnnieCanuck

      I read something in the comments a while ago that it is no longer possible to be stricken from the list of Catholics-in-good-standing. They benefit from being able to claim an inflated number of members and you can’t make them take you off it.

      • Erp

        Actually I think it is a list of Catholics (anyone ever baptized in the Catholic church or baptized in a different denomination but officially confirmed in the Catholic faith [or been reconciled if from a recognized schismatic church such as Russian Orthodox]). Even excommunicated Catholics are still on the list; they just can’t receive communion. It use to be you could get a notation (in some or all dioceses) placed in your original parish records that you had officially renounced the church but that seems to no longer be true in many (all?) dioceses.

        However in many/all countries (e.g., Germany) where the government collects taxes from registered Catholics to be given to the Catholic church, it is still possible to leave the list of registered Catholics. The numbers in such countries are probably fairly accurate though many might keep up the registration for purely secular reasons [access to schools/hosptials/burial plot].

        He could swim the Thames and become an Australian Anglican. The Anglican church in Australia does ordains women (except in the diocese of Sydney). It hasn’t yet gotten to gay marriage though it is probably closer than the Catholic church.

        • Anna

          Even excommunicated Catholics are still on the list; they just can’t receive communion.

          Well, they’re not supposed to, but there’s nothing preventing them from doing so. It’s not like anybody is checking documents at the altar. Anyone can go up and receive communion, no matter whether they’re “qualified” or not.

          • Emmet

            Unless the person giving out communion knows they’re excommunicated.

            • Anna

              Of course, but unless someone’s in an area with only one Catholic church (or unless his face has been plastered all over the news), it’s easy enough to do. I know plenty of people engaged in “mortal sin” who receive communion.

              • Emmet

                Sure. Although none of us can say for sure that someone is actually in a state of mortal sin.

                • Anna

                  I thought the Catholic church teaches if you commit a “grave sin” and don’t go to confession that you’re in that state?

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortal_sin#Roman_Catholicism

                  Is Wikipedia not accurate on the list of things considered grave/mortal sins?

                • Emmet

                  Sin is mortal if a) the sin is grave matter and b) the person knows it is grave matter and c) the person fully consents to it. So it’s easy for someone outside looking in to see that a person has done something grave but not to know that the person fully knew the seriousness of it or fully consented. So we don’t go around saying, “That person committed a mortal sin” – only they or God would know that (and sometimes only God). You can say, “XYZ is a serious sin and a person who does that is endangering their soul” but not “That person died after doing such-and-such which is a mortal sin therefore they are in hell.”

                  No-one knows what happens between a person and Christ at the instant of death. Perhaps every person recognises Christ in that moment and realises that it’s him they’ve been looking for in the twists and turns of their own individual journey, says, “Oh, it was you I was searching for all along!”, throws themself into his arms, and enters heaven.

                  It is a legitimate thing to hope that hell is in fact empty. Who knows?

                • Anna

                  Oh, I get it. This is all about your church’s refusal to identify the damned. You don’t have a problem with the idea of damnation, though. You won’t repudiate the notion of hell itself. Instead, you simply say you can’t tell if anyone’s there. I suppose there is some interesting psychological reason for the distancing , but I think it’s a dodge. It lets Catholics completely off the hook. They don’t have to own the horrific nature of their belief system at all. I prefer the evangelicals on that score. At least they don’t attempt to get around it.

                • Emmet

                  So you’d prefer that there was a defined list of damned people? That’s a bit vindictive.

                  I’d prefer the Church’s approach: trusting in God’s infinite mercy, which goes hand-in-hand with his infinite justice.

                  If free will exists then of course there’s the possibility that people can choose themselves for eternity rather than choosing Christ and other people for eternity. Whether any or many people actually choose that isn’t known, How many people do you know who actually are completely self-centred to the exclusion of all others? I don’t know anyone like that.

                • Anna

                  No, I’d prefer that people get rid of the idea of damnation entirely. But if people are going to believe in such a wretched thing, then I want them to own it. At least I know where I stand with those people. They’re upfront about their repugnant views. I once talked with a Calvinist who told me she had no problem with babies being tortured in hell. At least she’s honest.

                  I just find the Catholic church wishy-washy in comparison. They won’t say there is anything wrong with the possibility of damnation. They won’t condemn it. They won’t repudiate it. They just “hope” no one goes to hell. I find that belief completely unacceptable. It’s just as unacceptable as what fundamentalist Protestants believe; it’s just a bit more covered up.

                • Emmet

                  I disagree. “Hell exists, and is eternal” said Pope Benedict. The Catechism talks honestly of the fires of hell. Para 1033ff http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a12.htm

                  I don’t see much wishy-washy there. (This is a bit funny – usually I’m defending the Church’s teaching on hell as milder than what atheists think it is – now I’m defending it as sterner!) Of course the Church won’t “condemn” the “possibility of damnation”. She recognises that’s always there. Hell is real, it just may be empty.

                  I’m not sure why you think that’s hypocritical, or unacceptable.

                  So, yes, I own the Catholic teachings on hell.

                • Anna

                  I don’t believe I ever said it was hypocritical, but I do think it’s evasive. Catholics don’t talk about hell unless pressured, and when they do they try to downplay what they actually believe, talking about the “hope” that everyone will be redeemed instead.

                  What you said is perfectly accurate. Your church’s leaders believe that hell is real and that people can go there. They don’t condemn the possibility of damnation. I find that just as morally unacceptable as what Calvinists believe. I’d rather deal with a Calvinist because at least they’re upfront. They’re not hiding hell under a “nice” veneer of hope.

                • Emmet

                  This is very interesting. Catholic thinking is both/and, not either/or – you might have come across that aphorism before.

                  So Calvinists say: you’re either living in a way that is going to send you to hell or your’re living in a way that will send you to heaven. Not biblical, not traditional, not really authentic Christianity.
                  Catholics say: you’re living in a way that if you keep it up it’ll lead you to hell, but you’re also living at times in a way that is loving or generous, and that will lead you to heaven if you keep it up. Both/and.

                  That you prefer Calvinism isn’t very surprising. “Scratch an atheist, find a fundamentalist”.

                  [edited for clarity]

                • Anna

                  I don’t “prefer Calvinism.” I think Calvinists are hideously immoral, bordering on psychotic. I said I’d rather deal with them because at least they’re upfront and honest. With a Calvinist, I know what I’m getting. They don’t pretend to be anything other than what they are.

                  I would prefer to see to see all forms of fundamentalism (yours included) disappear. I know most people will not give up supernaturalism, so I would be more than willing to accept less harmful supernatural beliefs in their place.

                  By the way, you have a very condescending and disdainful attitude. Is it impossible for you to converse with someone without making disparaging little digs?

                • Emmet

                  I believe you did say it was hypocritical – but it’s not there now – haven’t edited your posts have you?

                • Anna

                  No, I didn’t edit anything. I did say the way they treat laity vs. clergy is hypocritical, and I stand by that. I don’t think their treatment of the afterlife is hypocritical, just wishy-washy and evasive.

                • phantomreader42

                  The idea of damnation itself is vindictive. Your eagerness to suck up to a being that your cult teaches will burn people alive forever is monstrous, and makes you a vile piece of shit. The dogma of hell is pure evil, and any cult that believes it worships the most evil being imaginable.

                • Emmet

                  Sure. If you say so.

                  Do you often go around calling people you don’t even know “piece[s] of shit”?

                  Internet atheism: a refuge for the socially awkward?

                • phantomreader42

                  Do you often sit in a puddle of your own filth masturbating to fantasies of watching your imaginary friend burn people alive forever?
                  Oh, wait, you’re a catholic, your cult hates masturbation, but has no problem with sadism and torture. How fucked up is THAT?

                • Emmet

                  Well, do you?

    • Emmet

      You can’t “get an excommunication”. Excommunication is meant to get you bak in good standing with the Church, not leave it for good.

    • Emmet

      You can’t “get an excommunication”. An excommunication is a statement from the Church that you’ve put yourself outside the Church, and is meant to spur you to get back in good with the Church, not leave forever.

  • joey_in_NC

    …just goes to show why no decent person should want to support such a despicable institution.

    So you’re telling me that everyone that goes to Mass on Sunday is “no decent person”?

    Sorry, but I just started following this blog a few weeks ago. Exactly when did this blog cease being “Friendly”? I’m beginning to question if it ever was.

    • Spuddie

      Going to mass certainly no indication of decency. How one treats others is.

      Friendly does not mean cowardly or quiet. If you don’t like the tone of discussions, you don’t have to participate. The only person who needs to be considered friendly is Mr. Hemant. He makes no such assurances for those who come here.

      • joey_in_NC

        Going to mass certainly no indication of decency. How one treats others is.

        But that’s not what the quote says. It says “no decent person” should want to support the Catholic Church. Whoever goes to Mass supports the Catholic Church. Ergo, whoever goes to Mass is “no decent person”, according to Hemant.

        The only person who needs to be considered friendly is Mr. Hemant.

        Where do you think I got that quote from?

        • Spuddie

          Considering the behavior of its leadership, nobody of any moral fiber should support it. You are making an illogical and frankly silly link between going to mass and supporting the church’s behavior. A deliberate over interpretation of support. One does not take out anger at the management on the worker bees. A local priest is not the pope.

          • joey_in_NC

            You are making an illogical and frankly silly link between going to mass and supporting the church’s behavior.

            Lol. Are you sure I am the one making this “illogical and frankly silly link”? In other words, the bad (and evil) actions of some of the inept leaders of the Catholic Church (I’m referring to the child abuse scandals) are not a logical enough reason for Catholics to cease being Catholic and receiving the sacraments, right?

            • Spuddie

              Faith is a tricky thing. It’s usually tenacious enough to outlast scandal. Of course that is the problem with heirarchal religious structures. Where do you separate the religion from those running it?

    • Anna

      Good people can be trapped in bad religions. And many of them don’t agree with the bad parts. I’m sure that’s how they rationalize it to themselves.

    • DavidMHart

      The key is in the words “should want”. Obviously, many Catholics are decent people in every other aspect of their lives. It’s just weird and kind of appalling that so many of them have this selective blind spot that allows them to overlook bigotry, cruelty and intolerance in their own church that they’d have no problem calling out if it were being done by some other institution.

  • http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/unique-everybody-else Scott McGreal

    One correction: the article in The Age did not state that the pedophile priests in Melbourne were no longer welcome to receive the Church’s sacraments, i.e. excommunicated. It actually says:

    “Fairfax Media understands that the only other Melbourne priests laicised against their will have been notorious paedophiles.”

    “Laicised” means only that they are no longer priests. They are still welcome in the Church otherwise. Father Reynolds said that he expected to be laicised but did not expect to be excommunicated.

    So what this means is:
    Sexually abuse children – you can no longer be a priest, but you can still go to Heaven because you can still receive communion.
    Try to be inclusive of women and gays – not only get kicked out of the priesthood, you are going to Hell as well!

    The Age article also notes that the excommunication occurred under the authority of Pope Francis, although it does not state whether or not he personally approved of it or not. I would be surprised if an excommunication could occur without the knowledge of the Pope, but I could well be wrong.

    • indorri

      For reference, a priest should not be giving communion to a former priest who molested and/or raped children unless said former priest went to confession and showed remorse, since otherwise the former priest would be in unconfessed mortal sin, which automatically excludes you from receiving communion.

      Still wouldn’t excommunicate you, though, so it still shows how fucked up the RCC’s priorities are.

    • Erp

      The Vatican is a huge bureaucracy and the wheels in this case almost certainly started under the previous pope. A bureaucracy btw that apparently often goes its own way regardless of what the current pope of the time might want. BTW a bishop can excommunicate so someone went around the priest’s bishop and directly to an office in the Vatican (or else the bishop is trying to avoid responsibility and got the Vatican to do the deed).

  • QuestioningKat

    Sorry guy, it’s the RCC. What did you expect? Fair and humane treatment?? They did this guy a favor. There are other religions that accept homosexuality. He needs to do some research on his options and then get on with his life.

  • Layla13

    Yet if the guy admitted to shagging little boys, he’d still be a priest. *smh*

  • kelemi

    Pat Buchanan would be proud.

  • Robster

    That pope Frank is ploughing through his new “backdown on everything” agenda. He’ll get around to fixing this when he realises Australia is in fact a real place.

  • Anna

    Everyone’s talking about gay marriage, which I know is a bigger political issue, but I’ve never understood how any self-respecting woman could be part of a church that refuses to give her an equal role. Why isn’t female ordination a deal breaker for Catholic women? Is it because they don’t want to join the clergy, so they don’t think it matters that they’re not allowed to become priests?

    • Emmet

      The Catholic women I know see that they are as “equal” as any man in the Church. They don’t think they need to be a priest to be Catholic women.

      • DavidMHart

        Then they have drunk the kool-aid. To the rest of the world, and to quite a lot of Catholics, both male and female, the fact that the Church has positions of authority and decision-making that are systematically closed to those with more than one X-chromosome is obviously unfair.

        ‘Separate but equal’ has never actually worked in practice – the most that you can hope for is to blind the ‘unequal’ to their inequality for as long as you can, which presumably has happened to the Catholic women you know, but certainly not to these people.

        Genders are not monolithic*. Even if it were true that men are on average better at being priests, it still wouldn’t prove that there aren’t some women who are better than most men at it, and unless you can show solid, real-world evidence that women are systematically incapable of carring out the duties of preisthood, then your church is going to continue to look like a nasty, bigoted reactionary institution to anyone who cares about basic fairness and human decency.

        *And they’re not even all -inclusive. Some people don’t fit neatly in the boundaries of ‘male’ or ‘female’ . Would someone with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, who looks like a woman externally, but is wired up a bit differently internally, and who has a ‘male’ genome, be able to serve as a priest, and if not, why not?

        • islandbrewer

          Would someone with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, who looks like a woman externally, but is wired up a bit differently internally, and who has a ‘male’ genome, be able to serve as a priest, and if not, why not?

          Well, obviously not, because that would require the RCC to (1) think about biology, (2) reconsider their rationale for their traditions, and (3) give up some of their power to those “separate but equal” people.

        • Emmet

          It’s not a question of whether men are better at women than being priests. Good grief.

          It’s that priesthood can only be conferred on males. I don’t really expect you to understand that unless you’re prepared to re-think your parameters from questions of capability or profession or “jobs”.
          .
          Womenpriests – it’s like saying squaretriangles.
          .
          Someone like the person in your example couldn’t be a priest. Priests need to be biologically male. A medical exam is part of the application process, as is psychological testing.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            More misogyny from the Papist douchebag.

            *yawn*

            • Emmet

              You can keep your insults to yourself. Your yawns too. Not big, not clever, not impressing anybody. As me old Ma used to say.

          • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

            Why is the priesthood inherently male? It certainly wasn’t to begin with- Mary Magdalene was as much a disciple as any of the twelve men, and Junia was an important teacher in early Christianity. The Catholic Church decided that only men could be priests and have enforced that for over 1500 years, but what is the justification for why priests can only be men? What is it about having a penis and testicles that makes one priesthood-conferrable, but having a vagina and uterus means one isn’t? What about people who have both? Or neither? Or are, as David pointed out, androgen insensitive?

            • Emmet

              Because it images the fatherhood of God, and the sacrifice of Christ.
              Because Christ conferred priesthood only on male disciples, not female ones, as outstanding in holiness or teaching skills as they were.

              Sacraments have matter – the things that are used in the sacrament – and form – the words that effect the sacrament.

              For the Sacrament of Orders (priesthood), the matter is a man – because that’s the matter which we are told Christ, who instituted the sacraments, himself used.

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                Really? Where is that from? I didn’t think Jesus conferred priesthood on anyone at all- that was a later inference, and they carefully didn’t infer female priests. That likely has a lot to do with the horrifically patriarchal norms of the Roman Empire, by the way, so it’s not even religious but merely cultural. Where are you getting priest=penis from again?

                The Gospel of Thomas does talk about female priests- it was burned by the Council of Nicaea because they decided women sucked, but that doesn’t change the historical facts of the matter. Are women incapable of giving out wine and bread and saying words now too? And if you think about times 2,000 years ago, if I were God, I’d pick a male vessel too. A female one would be raped repeatedly on her journey and completely ignored as a crazy person (which would also contribute to the rapes- the mentally ill are at huge risk for sexual abuse even today). That doesn’t mean women aren’t capable of being priests, it means life 2,000 years ago sucked for women. Why perpetuate such misogyny in the now?

                • Emmet

                  Catholics have always understood that Christ ordained the Twelve. Here’s some info about scriptural basis for that: http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/sacraments_in_scripture.htm

                  And this is evidence from the early Church. http://www.catholic.com/tracts/bishop-priest-and-deacon

                • Emmet

                  The Gospel of Thomas has what authority? Any scriptural or historical authority? It’s just one of the oodles of texts floating about after Christ, and there’s a reason it’s not considered Scripture!
                  .
                  Again: people keep suggesting it’s a question of capability that women can’t be priests: it’s not.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Oookay … but that is not Biblical texts saying “Jesus made them priests and only them”, that’s inference piled on wishful thinking on top of scant biblical verses that don’t really say that. And it all still applies to Mary Magdalene. And none of it says penis only.

                  If that’s all you got, I’m going to go with you got zip, nada, zilch, nothing, for your stance that God loves men better. Just plain old-fashioned misogyny. And you’ve yet to address the Gospel of Thomas.

                • Emmet

                  The Gospel of Thomas – so what? It’s not scripture, so what needs to be addressed? Do I have to adddress each and every extra-canonical piece of early first-milllenium writing?

                  What justification could you, an atheist, possibly have for reading the Bible differently to the way that the Church which put it together reads it?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Do you know why the Gospel of Thomas is not scriptural? A bunch of old dudes got together in a room and decided arbitrarily to exclude it! So yes, you do need to address extra-canonical Christian early first millennium writings, because they show that Christianity had many forms and flavors, and they show that some of the nicest, most inclusive forms were deliberately stamped out as heresies, and you have to explain how your version is more correct than those versions if you want to claim some sort of divine sanction to it. After all, all the gospels were written at about the same time (that is, by people who had probably never known Jesus but were within only a few generations of his death).

                  What justification do I, a person indirectly affected through an institution that directly affects people I know and care about, have to try to drag that institution kicking and screaming into the 20th century? What justification do I, a person directly affected by the attitudes that church promulgates and the laws it keeps trying to support (in direct contravention of the First Amendment IMO), have to take on those attitudes at the source? I think those questions answers themselves. I have every justification possible- I am affected, the people around me are affected, and the RCC is just flat-out wrong.

                  What justification do you have to claim the RCC must be doing it right? There are 30,000+ sects of Christianity. I grew up Jewish and I know you guys fucked up the order of the OT in order to make it look more prophecy-ish instead of more history-ish. What justification could you, a Christian, possibly have for reading the Bible differently from the way it was originally assembled?

            • Emmet

              “What is it about having a penis and testicles that makes one priesthood-conferrable, but having a vagina and uterus means one isn’t?”

              Short answer: Because the one makes a person a man and the other makes a person a woman.

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                Not … always, actually. That’s why trans* is a thing. Gender is wonky like that. Would you allow a transwoman (that is, male genitals who is a woman) or a transman (female genitals who is a man) to be a priest? Both? Neither? Before or after hormones? Before surgery? After surgery? How much surgery?

                What inherent aspect of penises and testicles makes men priest-conferrable? Is it the length, girth, vulnerability of the genital arrangement? People are people, they just have different genital arrangements- there is no trait of personality that men or women have exclusive of the other gender, and indeed the variability between one gender is greater than any variability between. There are gentle men and aggressive men, gentle women and aggressive women. There are compassionate men and women, there are nice men and women, there are smart men and women … there is absolutely no reason why the duties and sacraments of the priesthood require a penis or preclude a vagina, and that’s the only relevant difference between men and women.

                • Anna

                  The Catholic church doesn’t believe transsexuality is real (same as homosexuality) and tags all transgender people as mentally unstable and unfit for the clergy.

                  I’m more curious if there’s a position on intersex people, and if so, is it based on the appearance of genitals or chromosomes? What about men who are XX? They have penises, but their chromosomes don’t match up. Or what about women who are XY? Their chromosomes say they are male, but they have female bodies and genitalia.

                  And if a child is born with ambiguous genitalia, does that automatically rule out a life in the priesthood? If there’s no clear way to determine a baby’s sex, does it depend on how they were raised rather than anything biological?

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Oh right. I suppose it was asking too much of the RCC to look at reality and accept it when it comes to gender :/

                  I agree, you raise fascinating questions. I wonder what the answers are too.

                • phantomreader42

                  To steal a phrase from Emmet the penis-worshipper, expecting the RCC to look at reality is like expecting a square triangle. :P

                • Emmet

                  “there is absolutely no reason why the duties and sacraments of the priesthood require a penis or preclude a vagina” and yet the Church says it cannot ordain women, so obviously there’s absolutely some reason.

                  .
                  Like I said elsewhere: a man who had some kind of gender confusion wouldn’t make it through the psychological testing, so no, he couldn’t be a priest.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  To the RCC, “because women are icky” would count as a reason not to ordain them, it’s just a terrible reason. The RCC is a clearly misogynistic institution that thinks women are inferior to men in every way except “purity”, which is then turned into a further excuse to oppress women, but I know that. I’m trying to get you to see that the RCC’s stance on female ordination is a product of nothing more than traditional and socially-constructed misogyny. It’s certainly not anything to do with women’s ability and everything to do with men’s stupidity. I’m sure there is a reason- I’m equally sure it’s a very bad one that is factually untrue.

                  Right, Anna covered that. The RCC thinks that gender dysphoria is a mental illness. Yet another black mark against them.

          • phantomreader42

            Emmet:

            Priests need to be biologically male. A medical exam is part of the application process, as is psychological testing.

            Again, WHY do priests need to be biologically male? Does the magic spell to turn shitty wine and a stale cracker into bits of your imaginary friend for the ritual cannibalism only work with a penis? Which of the duties of a priest requires that one possess a penis? I know of only one thing priests do that actually requires a penis, and it is not an activity you and your cult want to elevate to a core function of the priesthood…

            • Emmet

              What Catholic parish uses crackers? You know squat about Catholicism, it seems.

              You’re keen to have your comment read though, huh? “Hey you guys, read this, I’m so clever!”

              Phantomreader42, saving the world from religion, one clever post at a time.

      • Anna

        I’m assuming the Catholic women you know are all fundamentalists like yourself. I wasn’t talking about them. I was talking about average Catholic women, the ones I actually see in my day-to-day life. The ones who believe in full legal and social equality, who support reproductive rights, who have their own careers, who have only a few (or no) children. I don’t understand why a woman who agrees with mainstream society on everything else would identify as Catholic when the religion does not allow them to perform the same religious roles as men.

        • Emmet

          “Fundamentalist”? Ha ha ha hee. What’s your definition of “fundamentalist”?

          What’s your definition of “average Catholic”? Of “reproductive rights”? Of “full legal and social equality”? So many mealy-mouthed words. Why not say what you actually mean? I’m reading between your lines to assume that you mean women who use contraception and support legal abortion and agree with the re-definition of marriage.

          Women who identify themselves as Catholic but dissent from core Catholic beliefs and teachings – yeah, I don’t know why they still call themselves Catholic either. I like that they want some connection with the Church but I want to invite them to think with the Church rather than against it.

          • Anna

            I use “fundamentalist” to describe Catholics who believe the Catholic church is inerrant, the same way I use the word to describe Protestants who believe the Bible is inerrant. I don’t think that’s an incorrect use of the word. There are fundamentalists in all religions, not just Christianity.

            Why do you think I’m using mealy-mouthed words? I thought I was very clear. “Average Catholic” is a Catholic who does not agree with everything the Vatican says. Such Catholics constitute the vast majority in the United States. “Full legal and social equality” means those who believe that women should be able to perform the same roles as men and be able to hold the same positions. A woman who believes she should be able to hold any job she wants, for example. I don’t understand why such a woman would accept being told she’s not qualified to hold the job of a priest.

            I’m well aware that as a fundamentalist Catholic, you disagree with these women. I’m just saying that these are the Catholic women I know, the ones who are my friends, family members, and co-workers. I don’t understand why they accept religious inequality when they do not accept inequality in any other aspect of their lives.

            • Emmet

              Sure. I’d say that for some of them it’s because they don’t see it as being inequality. They realise that ithe fact that women can’t be priests is similar to the fact that a man can’t be a mother, or a triangle can’t be square.

              Again, it’s not a question of “qualifications”. If it was about that I myself would be pushing for the fantastic Catholic women I know to be priests, bishops and pope.

              • Anna

                I don’t know if you were trying to link to an article, but nothing showed up. As for the rest of it, I stand by my use of “fundamentalist.” For me, it’s a useful way to distinguish between average Catholics and the fanatically devout. Your brand of Catholicism is not the norm. Not in my country, at least.

                They realise that the fact that women can’t be priests is similar to the fact that a man can’t be a mother, or a triangle can’t be square.

                Wow. You can argue till the cows come home that your church’s inequality isn’t inequality, but no one here is going to buy it. I don’t see how non-fundamentalist Catholic women buy it, either. I don’t think they do, which is why most of them do support women being priests. It just doesn’t appear to be a deal breaker for them. They stay in the church even though they disagree with certain rules and certain tenets of the faith.

                Perhaps if your church set down rules that applied to the laity as well as the clergy, we could get most of the dissenting moderates and progressives to leave. I’d love to see that happen. If the Catholic church wants to be hardliners, I think they should go whole hog. I can’t stand the wishy-washy treatment of followers. They should make it more difficult for anyone who’s not a fundamentalist to participate in the church.

                • Emmet

                  Catholic means universal. The Church is a hospital for sinners, as the pope reminded us recently, so she’s not going to make it hard for people who struggle with her teaching to “participate in the Church”.

                  That you suggest she should proves what I’ve said on this blog and other atheist blogs: atheists are happoy to spout off all kinds of opinions about the Church, but they don’t actually understand much about Catholic beliefs or practices.

                  And so should be a bit more reticent with all the pontificating, lest they come across as a wee bit ignorant.

                • Baby_Raptor

                  Sin is a made-up concept designed to keep people walking a line. The vast majority of things that are called “sins” are actually nothing wrong. In fact, a lot of them are very good, assuming you don’t buy into a Bronze age morality.

                  And the fact that someone holds an opinion contradictory to yours does not mean that they don’t understand things, or that they’re ignorant. It just means that they have a different view on matters than you do. You should watch that whole judging thing…Jesus was pretty clear that only he has the right to do that.

                • Anna

                  The double standard is what I have a problem with. Why is it okay for an ordinary Catholic person to be an activist for LGBT or reproductive rights? Why don’t they get excommunicated like priests do? They don’t “struggle” with the teaching. They disagree with the teaching. They say the teaching is wrong and fight to change the teaching. Why are they held to a different standard?

                  There are plenty of people who disagree with Catholic doctrine and live their lives contrary to Catholic doctrine. They don’t believe they are doing anything wrong. They don’t consider themselves “sinners” because of that. And yet, the church does not punish them. Why should Stephen Colbert be allowed to teach Sunday School (a leadership position) when he’s made it clear he doesn’t agree with the moral teachings of the church? Why hasn’t he been excommunicated like Greg Reynolds?

              • phantomreader42

                Emmet:

                I’d say that for some of them it’s because they don’t see it as being inequality. They realise that ithe fact that women can’t be priests is similar to the fact that a man can’t be a mother, or a triangle can’t be square.

                Which of the duties of a priest requires that one possess a penis? I know of only one thing priests do that actually requires a penis, and it is not an activity you and your cult want to elevate to a core function of the priesthood…

                • Emmet

                  Is this comment worthy of a response? No, not really.

                  Grow up. If you want a discussion, be sensible.

                  “Sensible” means avoiding irrational statements.

                • RobMcCune

                  In other words you don’t have a good answer.

                • Emmet

                  No, in other words I’m not going to waste my time responding to him. If somebody said that to me irl I’d give them a smile and walk away. Can’t be bothered.

                • phantomreader42

                  So, you insist that priests MUST be biologically male (that is, they must have a penis*), but you can’t say WHY they need a penis to be priests. At one point you babbled some nonsense about how they have to be like jesus, who was male, but to my knowledge there’s no requirement that priests be like jesus in other ways (product of a virgin birth, brown-skinned, circumcised, trained in carpentry, fluent in Aramaic, violently opposed to usury, capable of magically conjuring food, undead) so there’s no reason to take that requirement seriously. Apparently your cult thinks only men can make the magic trick with the bread work, but there’s no actual reason in the real world to think that’s true.
                  *Unless of course you’re advocating that the catholic preisthood be composed entirely of castrati, in which case they would be biologically male but lack penises. That WOULD cut down on the child rape issue, so maybe it’s worth implementing. I’d recommend you make that suggestion the next time you see your local priest.

                • Anna

                  Do they even need to have a penis? That’s what I’m wondering. Would the Catholic church allow a man whose penis was destroyed to become a priest? How exactly are they determining “maleness?” Does it depend on genitals, chromosomes, public perception, social role, or what?

                • phantomreader42

                  Deuteronomy 23:1 frowns on men with crushed testicles, but since christians only follow the OT when they find it convenient* that may not count.

                  *They do the same with the NT, but are less willing to admit it

                • Anna

                  There seem to be contradictory verses. I’d have a hard time seeing these as anything other than pro-eunuch:

                  Matthew 19:12 ESV – For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

                  Isaiah 56:3-5 ESV – Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”; and let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.

                  http://www.openbible.info/topics/eunuchs

                  With that in mind, I wonder how Catholics would justify denying the priesthood to men who have been castrated or had their penises destroyed. Or who were born with ambiguous genitalia, since the first verse specifically mentions “those who have been so since birth.”

            • Emmet

              As for your definition of “fundamentalist”, it’s a nothing word in this discussion. A Cathollc who believes what the Church teaches is a Catholic. No other words are needed, although these days perhaps a qualifier like “practising” or “assenting” might be necessary.

            • Emmet

              Here’s an interesting article on women in leadership positions in the Church – worth a read.

              I found that while I was looking for a reference to there being more women heads of Vatican departments than women heads of US Government departments – can’t find it at the moment. If I do I’ll post it.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Separate but equal is not equal.

        Catholicism is misogynist to the core.

        • Emmet

          Women and men have different roles in the Church. They have an equal call to holiness and to service.

          • DavidMHart

            Different roles with an ‘equal call’ is not equal in reality. What is there to not understand about this? Name me the functions that a man would be allowed to carry out in the Church hierarchy, abut a woman wouldn’t. Then name me the ones that a woman would but a man wouldn’t. If they are of different length, or if one of the lists contains more decision-making and authority than the other, then no matter how hard you shout that they are ‘equal’, that doesn’t make it so.

            And here’s the thing, which has already been pointed out, but which doesn’t seem to have sunk in yet.

            Genders are not monolithic. Name me one character trait, or one body part, that is necessary to carrying out the job of a catholic priest that even the man who has least of it still has more of it than the woman who has most of it. I suspect you can’t, because there is no such quality.

            And you still haven’t provided a satisfactory answer to the question of transsexual priests. A transsexual is not ‘confused’ (at least in most cases, by the time they’re willing to out themself as such). A transsexual is someone who knows very clearly that their psychological gender identity does not match up with the physical form of their body, and is, often, clear enough about this, and about wanting to do something about it, that they are prepared to undergo a gruelling programme of hormone treatment, intolerance from bigots, and sometimes major surgery to make their body fit the appearance of the gender they feel themself to belong to. This is not ‘confusion’ by any stretch of the imagination.

            So: would a male-to-female non-confused transexual be able to carry out the job of a Catholic priest, and if not, why not?

            And would a female-to-male non-confused transexual be able to carry out the job of a Catholic priest, and if not, why not?

            You cannot have your cake and eat it on this one: whatever magical ‘biological’ maleness one allegedly requires to be a catholic priest, one of these categories of people has to have it.

            • Anna

              I think trying to pin down fundamentalist Catholics on anything related to sex or gender is an exercise in futility. I had a very long conversation with a fundamentalist Catholic on another thread, and from I was able to determine, they believe in a mysterious, supernatural “essence” that exists regardless of the way a person looks or behaves. I was unable to get him to provide concrete examples of the way this “essence” is supposed to manifest itself.

              It’s a lost cause trying to get them to consider homosexuality or transsexuality as valid, but I am very curious how they reconcile intersex people with their exremely strict gender binary. If it’s not all about genitals (as Emmet says it isn’t), then what is it about? Chromosomes? Outward appearances?

  • Avery

    If you are familiar at all with the conservative, ultra-religious Catholics, you’ll see that they actually want people like this priest to be ousted. This doesn’t surprise me, but the Church’s inconsistency is astonishing.

  • pagansister

    If you work for the RCC, you do not disagree. Against the rules of the game. I admire the (former) priest for his being willing to express his thoughts. He is/has paid the consequences for defying THE Church.


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