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Vatican 'to crack down on women priests'

Ordination of women will join three top 'crimes' - sources

08 July, 18:37
Vatican 'to crack down on women priests' (ANSA) - Vatican, July 8 - The Vatican is set to crack down harder on the ordination of women priests, making it one of the most serious crimes under its canon law, unofficial Catholic sources said Thursday.

According to the sources, a new version of the 2001 document Delicta Graviora ("major crimes") will add the ordination of women to the three gravest offences punishable by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, heir to the Inquisition.

Those three are "attacks against the Eucharist", "attacks against the sanctity of Confession" and sexual abuse of minors.

Ordaining women has been punishable by automatic excommunication since 2008 but inclusion among the Delicta Graviora would be seen as an extra deterrent, religious experts said. The updated list is due for publication next week and will also include heresy and apostasy as formal crimes for the first time, the sources said.

"More restrictive procedures" on paedophilia will also feature in the update, they said.

The Vatican has staunchly opposed women priests under the late pope John Paul II and the current pontiff, Benedict XVI, while many Anglicans have 'returned to Rome' after the Anglican Communion OK'd the ordination of women in 2008.

Despite the Vatican ban, a number of organisations of Catholic women have named 'women priests' in recent years, with the United States and northern European countries like Germany and Switzerland leading the way.

These associations argue that Vatican dogma about Jesus not wanting women to be priests or deacons is wrong.

They also say women played a much more prominent role in the early Church than is acknowledged by Rome.

This view has been supported by several religious historians, including some Catholic ones.

photo: Swiss Catholic women awaiting ordination in 2006

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