This Is Where Supporting Gay Marriage and the Ordination of Women Gets You in the Catholic Church

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses how a Catholic priest was excommunicated (with Pope Francis‘ knowledge) for supporting the ordination of women and gay marriage:

You can read more details about the story here and here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • pete084

    The Catholic Church showing that it has learned nothing over the last few years, always one step behind. Actually it’s several steps behind living, as it does, quite firmly in the past, dreaming of those days when it was a dominant force.

  • AdamF

    Nice video! Perhaps this should trigger us to highlight the flip-side to the frequently encountered “tone fallacy”. We are often confronted by people (faitheists, theists) who avoid dealing with the actual arguments of public atheists like Richard Dawkins by diverting discussion to the tone of the presenter’s delivery (“Militant”, “Aggressive”, “Offensive”). Well, it seems that the tone fallacy works both ways. In regards to Pope Francis, people all-to-often seem mesmerized by the change in delivery, and by so focused, overlook or downplay the perpetuation of underlying – and often inhumane – position. Female reproductive rights, homophobia, the protection of pedophile priests, misinformation regarding condoms and HIV; All of the Catholic church’s positions on these matters are just as destructive regardless of how nicely Pope Francis smiles, and how pleasant the platitude he delivers. His effectiveness at PR doesn’t negate the adverse impacts of the Catholic church’s policies on real people, it may even exacerbate these impacts, and I think we do humanity a disfavour every time we forget that. In short, if we get annoyed when people focus on Richard Dawkin’s tone, we should get just as annoyed when people play the same game in reverse with Pope Francis. In both cases these are red herrings, and we’d do well to see past them.

  • Rationalist1

    The Catholic Church has painted itself into a theological corner by stating, in the strongest terms, that it’s a Church doctrine that women cannot be priests and gays cannot marry. Members of that Church who think the Church might change are deluding themselves. Mind you it might change those positions in a few hundred years, as it has with other teachings, most notably Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the Church, no Salvation), but then they nuance the teaching to say they never really held that position, that you have to look at the context, we have always been at war with Eastasia, etc.

    Note : Many Catholics don’t realize it that but the pope could proclaim tomorrow that parish diocesan priests could marry. That teaching is only a discipline, like no meat on Fridays. IMO the reason that this pope or any pope will not allow it is money. Priests would have to be paid a salary that would allow the priest to support a wife and (large?) family. Salary and benefits costs would double or triple..

  • Rationalist1

    “dreaming of those days when it was a dominant force” And the rest of us have nightmares about that.

  • joey_in_NC

    Anyone who thinks this excommunication is surprising is simply ignorant about Catholicism.

  • thprop

    It is a good thing that the Catholic Church also excommunicated all those priests who sexually abused children. Oh wait, they did not do that. But they did excommunicate all the Nazis who started wars and slaughtered Jews. Did not do that either. But they did excommunicate Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels … for marrying a Protestant divorcee.

  • Rationalist1

    Especially for a priest. Under canon law, they cannot differ at all from the official teachings of the Church. This seems to be true only for sexual issues, as I never remember any priest being excommunicated for supporting the war in Iraq, a war the Catholic Church said was unjust.

  • Randy Meyer

    It’s funny to think that there was once a time when the church was ‘cutting edge’ and ahead of its time.

  • pete084

    Oh yeah, like denouncing Galileo as a heretic, the inquisition, scaring children with tales of hellfire. All very cutting edge, it’s undoubtedly what the Mafia based its modus operandi on!

  • PrimateZero

    You had me at “we have always been at war with Eastasia”. Double plus good.

  • Rationalist1

    “Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”

  • tubi11

    Well, not all sexual issues. Although you could say that, based on the response from the Vatican, buggering 10 year old boys IS consistent with official church teachings.

  • LutherW

    Like a former Democratic U.S. Representative said to me about “centrist’ Republicans “They are with you when you don’t need them”.

  • Rationalist1

    Alas, so true.

  • LutherW

    And then we had Martin Luther ‘ahead of his time’, and now Rick Warren. I’ll take Robert Ingersoll and Carl Sagan anytime.

  • Spuddie

    It was never cutting edge. During the middle ages, the Muslim world was much more advanced. European powers got lucky. The Moors didn’t have the logistical train or naval power to conquer them.

    The Renaissance would have been unnecessary if the old Roman learning was not sequestered by the church. The Enlightenment was in direct opposition to long held organized religious beliefs.

  • Verna

    So someone gets tossed out of a faith organization for having conflicting beliefs? Is this a surprise for any logical person?

  • C Peterson

    Dominant, yes. “Cutting edge”? Never.

    The Church was the primary force that kept most of Europe in the Dark Ages for 1000 years. “Trailing edge”, maybe.

  • baal

    You’re right Joey! A core tenet of the RCC faith is obeying the teachings of the church and part of that is not reading the bible for yourself.

    You’re also somewhat missing the point. The expectation is that the most severe punishments are reserved for the most heinous crimes. Being for woman’s ordination doesn’t strike non-RCC nor the RCC laity as the worst thing ever. Hence the expectancy error and surprise.

  • C Peterson

    His Assholiness most certainly doesn’t have to follow the “Catholic rules”. His job is to make those rules! Although it might put him at some risk of assassination, it is within his power to actually do something.

    Don’t see that happening.

  • baal

    Your second paragraph is something that has boggled my mind for a while. There wasn’t a technological or resource issue that prevented the renaissance from starting in year 600 instead of 1600. In other words, think about how much our tech has changed since 1913 – pre car, pre plane pre internet pre radio etc. That’s 100 years ago. Think what we’ll have in 900 years of development from this point. We could have been there now.

  • baal

    I’m working under a theory that the current pope francis is a puppet and is being controlled* like a ventriloquists dummy** by the emeritus pope.

    *on everything except public speeches.
    **via an arm up the inside.

  • Spuddie

    The thing to remember is people always credit the Crusades for kicking off the Renaissance.

    The Crusades brought Europeans 2 things. Greater exposure to the Greco-Roman learning, which was already part of the Muslim world for some time, and the Black Death which undermined the church authority on a massive scale.

  • GCBill

    Is that thumbnail a Stripes reference? =D

  • JohnH2

    So the Pope can’t change those things; That would require an entire ecumenical council to come up with some way to tie the equivalents of Quanta Cura (and the Syllabus of Errors) to the exact opposite position while still claiming that nothing has ever changed (the war with Eastasia is dead on accurate). If he wanted to change the positions then he has already done what he (currently) can.

    Women and the priesthood he could potentially do something later on (assuming he lives into his nineties).

    To get to gay marriage would require first changing the position on contraception (which I am not sure he desires to do), which would require a council but could be done fairly quickly and relatively painlessly, as in he could call a council at any time and come up with support for a change in the position in contraception within marriage. From that point it would be required to shift the theological focus of marriage and build up the theological and popular support to allow for gay marriage. Gay priests are fine, gay marriage though has the entire Jerome/Augustine issues with sex and then the purposes of marriage to get around.

  • Thai Flowers

    I always interpreted 1984 as being both against totalitarian government, and against Catholicism. Think about it, the inner party are priests, they use medieval style torture, doctrine is more important than evidence, sex for reproductive purposes only, Big Brother is always watching etc.

  • Rationalist1

    And it’s not coincidence that the Catholic Church supported so many of the totalitarian fascists governments in Europe and South America in the last century.

    And what is God but the ultimate Big Brother who, as the late Christopher Hitchens said, can condemn you even for thought crimes.

  • joey_in_NC

    Hence the expectancy error and surprise.

    And hence, the “expectancy error and surprise” result precisely out of ignorance of Catholicism and excommunication.

    Take this in context with the excommunications of the original bishops of the Society of St. Pius X.

  • baal

    No, the expectancy error arises out of a sense of fairness and compassion; decency and proportion.

    That the former pope palpatine, as head of the inquisition, excommunicated ‘schismatics’ hardly matters.

  • joey_in_NC

    But this priest is a schismatic, so it does matter.

  • baal

    More importantly, he was trying to be a better person than obeying the RCC allows for.

  • Carmelita Spats

    So true!!! The Roman Criminal Church did not excommunicate Nazis but they did excommunicate Communists in an official document by Pius XII…

    Hitler was not excommunicated but Fidel Castro was publicly and officially excommunicated on January 3, 1962 by John XXIII…

    Joe Dimaggio was excommunicated for bigamy. This was later reversed.

  • HollowGolem

    A small correction: The priests who engage in molestation by-and-large don’t get excommunicated. They get sentenced to “prayer and penitence.” Or moved to another parish.

    So this guy’s egalitarianism got him off -worse- than those horrible pieces of human detritus.

  • sunburned

    Screw the new pope. What he has said is “Let’s not focus on our unpopular views”. It has nothing to do with changing those views, it only has to do with distracting people about the church’s negative views.

    Take unpopular views out of the public eye to make the church more appealing.