A Vatican think tank working overtime couldn't have devised a better gift to the cause of women's equality in the Catholic church than this week's indictment of women's ordination as a "grave crime" on a par with child sex abuse.
It can only be supposed that Rome sought to stick it to women who favor entry into all ministries while it had the attention of the world focused on "new" norms for handling sex abuse that were designed to burnish its image. If that was the intent, it boomeranged.
The most obvious reason was that common sense regards equating the two actions as simply absurd.
That's a good starting point for reviving the cause of women in the church. Though the hard line against women's ordination has been consistent and should have come as no surprise, it promised to shock Catholic women and men who have been lulled into forgetfulness or complacency.
So here's new red hot evidence handed to leaders of equality on a silver platter, a no-nonsense source of motivation and perhaps mobilization.
The time is right. Nothing spoke of the threat posed by a movement for women more than the attack itself. It hinted loudly of a desperate effort by frightened men to stamp out the growing initiative before it gets bigger. Their attempt to do so likely guarantees it will get bigger.
Looking for comments?
We've suspended comments on NCRonline.org for a while. If you missed that announcement, learn more about our decision here.