Three women were ordained in Boston as priests Sunday, and the Vatican has promised to excommunicate them. The church has already excommunicated other women for participating in a woman’s ordination, and the Boston’s Archdiocese condemned the ceremony, claiming the women are “by their own actions separating themselves from the church.” Pedophile priests, on the other hand, have not been excommunicated, and for years their crimes were kept secret by the church. Apparently raping little boys does not constitute separating oneself from the church. Nor does condoning it and keeping it secret.
Excommunication has historically been used by the Catholic Church when its power was threatened. In the Middle Ages, millions of midwives and female herbalists were excommunicated and burned at the stake because the Church believed they got too much respect. The church wanted the honor shown them to go to male priests, so it branded the women witches and burned them.
In the 16th century, when the Pope had given India and its lucrative spice trade to Portugal, a decree was issued by which any non-Portuguese ship that sailed into India’s seas was stopped and all its sailors excommunicated and burned at the stake. At sea or on land, anyone who possessed a map showing the way to India was also excommunicated and burned at the stake. The reason was simple: a large percentage of the hugely profitable spice trade from India went directly to the Vatican, and the church feared losing that wealth.
Today the greatest threat to the church seems to be uppity women who believe themselves to be as valuable to God as men. It therefore excommunicates women who take part in ordaining female priests. From the way the church carries on about it, you’d think we were back in the middle ages. But we have made progress: no ordained woman priest has been burned at the stake. So far.