In recent decades, the Vatican has silenced or stifled many theologians who dared to voice new or creative theological ideas. I've long wondered if it ever occurred to the Curia that a healthy public discussion of these ideas might benefit the church. But they continue to treat Catholics as children whose minds must be "protected" from wayward thoughts.
But in recent weeks, it has become apparent that the real threat they perceive is not just new ideas; it's women! The very thought that God might consider women the equals of men in ministry, especially the priesthood, seems to send Curia officials up the wall. They just can't cope.
In recent years, they have gone after Rev. Roy Bourgeois, pressuring his Maryknoll religious order to remove him for his outspoken advocacy of women priests. And now, they have targeted a bishop, William Morris, of the Toowoomba diocese of Australia. His crime? He wrote a pastoral letter in 2006, suggesting women's ordination as one of a few potential solutions to the priest crisis. Duh? Isn't that obvious?
When some local archconservative Catholics complained, the Vatican launched a formal investigation, headed by U.S. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver. As a result, the Vatican wanted Morris to resign, but he refused, opting instead for early retirement. To make matters worse, Bishop Morris has not been permitted to see the final report that ultimately resulted in the Vatican's attempt to remove him.
I wonder if Vatican officials ever consider how appalling this looks to contemporary justice-minded Catholics. I guess I'm not surprise when they don't even seem interested in why droves of Catholics are leaving the church. But if they don't start inquiring soon, there will be no one left to ask.