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Canon gets it wrong on church’s updated rules

CANON Stephen Neill is wrong to suggest the Vatican has equated women’s ordination with paedophilia (Letters, July 20).

The document ‘Normae de Gravioribus Delictis’ has updated the church’s response to sacramental and moral offences – in particular the way the church deals with priests guilty of paedophilia, and is a much needed reform.

Sacramental offences, which Canon Neill lists such as female ordination, are not viewed by the Vatican to be of a similar nature or gravity as the abuse of children – as Mgr Charles Scicluna, Vatican’s prosecutor for paedophilia, has stated.

To suggest that because the church excludes individuals who break canon law that it views their sins to be of equal gravity is nonsensical. All institutions have rules which, if broken, result in exclusion.

Just because different incidents are not compatible with the Catholic priesthood doesn’t mean they are viewed as being equally grave. If a business sacked one employee for lack of punctuality and another for assaulting a colleague, no one would suggest the business-owner was equating being late with being violent.

Civil authorities would respond to an assault, but clearly not to the lazy employee.

For a business, however, recurrent lateness and violence are both incompatible with being an employee, though not equivalent.

The document, which is available online in English, should be viewed as a positive reform of canon law, toughening the church’s response to priests who are guilty of the most heinous of crimes. Female ordination is a separate debate. While the church doesn’t support the ordination of women, one must not be greatly shocked that those who do break the rules of an institution end up being reprimanded.

Timothy Howard

Washington Court

Anne Street



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