By David F. Holland (from Harvard Divinity School)
If you read Kate Kelly’s letter of excommunication from her bishop, it is rather clear that in the bishop’s mind she was not disciplined for holding the view that women should be ordained but for actively attempting to recruit others to this cause [women being ordained to the priesthood]. The Church position has long been that it can tolerate different ideas held in private but not multiple voices of aggressive advocacy, especially on issues that strike so close to its doctrinal core. To the institutional Church, that is a matter of communal integrity.
This is why the digital age poses such a challenge to a church that has traditionally tried to maintain its theological boundaries by making this public/private distinction. As the culture of the Internet rapidly redraws the lines between the private and the public, Church policy will be challenged in new ways. Lay, volunteer leaders have reason to believe that policing such a line is a matter of existential concern to the Church, but identifying where that line lies becomes an increasingly complicated matter in today’s world.