Grafting Thin Skin on Thick Skin

The Vatican's document lumping child sex abuse with the ordination of women as "grave crimes" strikes me as preposterous on its face and I understand the outrage it's triggered.

On the other hand, I can imagine how it makes gut-level sense to the command post in Rome. Both of these activities pose enormous threats to the church's efforts to preserve its corporate identity.

We've already seen how devastating the sex abuse scandals has been on the church, and it's not over by a long shot. The new "norms" won't end that. The thick-skinned forces absorb the hits and march on without major adjustments.

But the ordination of women reveal the thin-skinned side and constitutes a backhanded compliment. The pope's entourage is entirely justified in viewing this movement as a threat of even bigger proportions in the long run. Women in the priesthood could cause untold havoc with the established order.

Faced with the enormous, if somewhat subliminal dimensions of that disruption , it does indeed represent at least a "grave threat" no matter how wrongheaded the analysis may be. And as I've argued before, the treatment of women is an expression of sexual abuse more widely considered.

In an instinctive way, they're on to something and that in an odd way is a testimony to the power of the conviction that women are called to be priests.

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