Again, Vatican Punishes Gender Equality More Swiftly Than Sexual Abuse

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has removed Father Jerry Zawada, a well known Franciscan peace activist, from public life as a priest for celebrating mass with a woman.

The 76-year-old Zawada has been ordered to a “life of prayer and penance” within the Wisconsin friary of his order for saying mass with Janice Sevre-Duszynska in 2011. Sevre-Duszynska was ordained a priest in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a dissent women’s ordination movement in the Catholic Church that has ordained some 180 women as priests since 2002, when seven women were ordained in a ceremony on the Danube River.

The Vatican moved aggressively to tamp down any enthusiasm for break-away women’s ordination movements after the Danube River ordination received widespread media coverage. It said that any woman who claims to be ordained is automatically excommunicated and in 2010 declared women’s ordination a grave offense on par with pedophilia.

Patricia Miller is the author of Good Catholics: The Battle over Abortion in the Catholic Church. Her work on the intersection of sex, religion, and politics has appeared in The Nation, Ms., and Huffington Post. She was the editor of Conscience magazine and the editor-in-chief of the National Journal’s health care briefings.

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