Friday, March 4, 2011
19 February 2011
"The global Catholic development agency Caritas Internationalis (CI) is reeling after the Vatican took the highly unusual step of officially blocking Lesley-Anne Knight from running for a second four-year term as CI secretary general. "
"An official at a national Caritas member agency who spoke on condition of anonymity opined that Dr Knight may have been rejected because she been “critical of the Vatican machine, has made no secret of it and has failed to be discreet”. But the official praised her for “professionalising” the Rome headquarters, tackling debt and reforming financial operations. Another Caritas source said there is a sense among some Vatican officials that Dr Knight has not done enough to instil a specifically Catholic identity and sense of evangelisation into the confederation’s mission and activities."
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Sounds familiar-- the Vatican has a problem with strong women. Isn't it time for a change of heart on the part of the hierarchy? We need courageous women, like Dr. Lesley-Anne Knight, leading organizations like Caritas.
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP
Thursday, March 3, 2011
"Pink Smoke Over the Vatican" -Movie about Roman Catholic Women Priests"Underground Movement Catching On"
Historic Ordinations of
women deacons and priests
on July 31, 2006-
first ordination in U.S.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
The Wilkinson Report/The Roman Catholic Church in Australia- "looming disaster/ How about Women Priests?
The looming disaster of not enough priests...
Media Release summary ofThe Wilkinson ReportClick on the image above to read the Media Release Summary of the full report.
The FULL REPORT can be downloaded or viewed online HERE.
The Report commissioned by Catholics for Ministry, funded by Women and the Australian Church, and compiled by Peter J Wilkinson and published today is one of the most comprehensive assessments of the looming not just crisis, but disaster, the Catholic Church is facing across the island continent of Australia in delivering the core sacraments and pastoral care to the continually increasing Catholic population of the nation. The harsh reality facing many Catholics alive in Australia right now is that when they die in the next 10, 20 or 30 years time, their families will simply not be able to find a priest to provide them with the last rites. There will not be enough priests available across large parts of the continent, or they will be so stretched providing the last rites or pastoral care to others, that the families will have to 'make do' with the services provided inhouse by funeral directors or they will increasingly have to rely on government licensed funeral and marriage celebrants. Regular participation in the other core sacraments, including the Eucharist, particularly in the remote and regional dioceses will become a rarer and rarer event.
The only "saving grace" to the situation is that fewer and fewer of the baptised seem to bother enough to participate. That however can scarcely be put forward by any bishop as an excuse as to why they have failed in their primary responsibility of not only maintaining participation rates but fulfiling the core mission of Jesus to "bring the Good News to all people". The "bottom line" — as many bishops already know — is that the nation is simply running out of priests. The Church is no longer recruiting enough new priests and the prospect of importing them from other countries looks dimmer and dimmer whichever way you look at the projected statistics 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years into the future.
The report is broken into fifteen sections of what basically amounts to a comprehensive statistical analysis of the State of the Catholic Church as it appears now, as it has appeared in the past, and based on population, recruiting and participation trends what the situation will be at various points in the future. These are the section headings:
The Report was commissioned by Catholics for Ministry and the publication of the Report was funded by Women and The Australian Church
The Wilkinson Report author:Peter Wilkinson, DMiss.(PUG), BEd. is a missiologist and former Columban missionary priest. He has worked as Director of the Clearing House on Migration Issues (CHOMI) at the Ecumenical Migration Centre, Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs, and Guest Lecturer in Missiology at Yarra Theological Union. He is married and now retired.
Dioceses & Bishops
Priests recruited from overseas
Lay Pastoral Associates/Pastoral Workers
Priests in parish ministry: 2010-2025
The report then concludes with three sections:
A short essay entitled "Parish Ministry Disaster?" which explores the core doctrinal and pastoral understandings the institutional Church has developed down through the centuries of the central role of the priest and his role as leader and spiritual guide to his parish community and how it is going to be increasingly difficult to meet these given the growth in population and the decreasing number of priests and pastoral associates.
A five-part section examining various "Options for Action" under the following headings: Recruiting autochthonous or local priests; Recruiting overseas priests; Doing Nothing; Rethinking parish ministry; and Rethinking the identity of priest.
The Wilkinson Report Conclusion...
The Report then finishes with the following Conclusion which we present here in full:
To the question 'Is parish ministry facing a disaster?' the evidence, at an institutional level, suggests the affirmative. It also suggests that the bishops seem unsure of how to deal with it.The rebuilding of a strong and vibrant autochthonous presbyterate in the short-term appears impossible, with new local priests insufficient to replace those retiring over the next 15 years. As if in despair, the bishops have attempted to 'hold the parish ministry fort' with a short-term strategy of recruiting overseas priests, a program of merging existing parishes, and putting a heavy brake on establishing new parishes. The result is parish ministry in retreat at the very time when the Catholic population is growing rapidly.Nevertheless, signs of hope are present. The permanent deaconate has been revived, there is an increasing presence of lay pastoral associates and community leaders in parish ministry, and Catholic schools, now overwhelmingly in the hands of laypersons, are well-placed to stimulate the faith of young people and play a significant role in inculturation. But if the disaster is to be averted, more is needed. It is not enough to treat the symptoms of the crisis; the causes must also be addressed. The vision of Vatican II must be totally unshackled, full co-responsibility implemented in every facet of ministry and church life, proper consultative processes with transparency and accountability put in place, the priestly ministry opened up to married persons, and the essential role of women in ministry properly recognized. The misuse of power must cease and the paradigm of service prevail.The on-going priest shortage cannot be solved simply by recruiting priests from overseas on short-term contracts. Only long-term and broader policies can rebuild a vibrant autochthonous presbyterate. These will have to deal courageously with the current 'priestly package' of male, celibate, life-long and full-time. In this Australia's bishops will need to show leadership and initiative, and a willingness to discuss with their people all the options, including the ordination of married men and the role of women in ministry.Vatican II stated that 'the Church seeks but a solitary goal: to carry forward the work of Christ Himself under the lead of the befriending Spirit. Christ entered this world to give witness to the truth, to rescue and not to sit in judgment, to serve and not to be served. To carry out such a task, the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel' (Gaudium et Spes, n.3-4).The times are always changing, as are human environments, and all organisms which exist in these environments must also change and adapt if they are to survive and thrive. The Church is an organism in this changing world and it too, if it is to survive and thrive, has no choice but to adapt. Guided by the Spirit and holding fast to the Gospel, it can.The purpose of Vatican II was 'aggiornamento', ensuring continual renewal of the Church, making it relevant to today's world, and adapting it to its new environment. The Church, universal and local, is always in need of boosts of renewal. Now is surely the time for one in Australian Catholicism.
Catholica editorial response...
Readers of Catholica will feel greatly indebted to Catholics for Ministry (CfM), Women and The Australian Church (WATAC) and Peter Wilkinson for the effort and expense that has gone into the compilation of this report. Much of what is presented and discussed in the report is 'common fare' for many of our conversations on Catholica. This report provides solid statistical evidence that will prove valuable over time for our discussions.
At an editorial level here at Catholica we are far more pessimistic than the sponsors and author of The Wilkinson Report that anything much is going to change in the institutional Church. The culture and experience of the past forty years suggests there will be no more positive reception to this report from the Bishops than there was to the Petition that Catholics for Ministry presented some years ago. At the highest levels of the institution the entire thrust of the institution today is geared to undoing almost everything that was discerned by the majority of Bishops who assembled at the Second Vatican Council. The forces of reaction, which were led at the Council by Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani have won. The forces in the human psyche of the element who have seized control of the institutional Church are simply too powerful to overcome. The institution today is no longer recruiting from "the best and brightest" in its elite schools and the attrition rate of men and women from religious life has been a further massive drain on the leadership ranks as it has tended to be men and women of stronger character who were able to make the difficult decision to chart a radically new course in their lives to the one they had originally felt called to make. Virtually all factors that one can think of are aligned against the sorts of radical re-thinking that would be necessary for this looming crisis to be overcome. Our honest prediction is that Pope Benedict will see his dream fulfilled of a "smaller, purer Church" although we have deep doubts that its purity will be capable of achieving "salvation" for any person.
A double tragedy...
It is disheartening, indeed a tragedy, to have to write the foregoing. It is however the harsh reality as we presently see the situation. The tragedy is compounded because as we have pointed out the Church in this country is actually in a superb condition from many other points of view. It could achieve so much. It does have the largest, most professionally qualified — and in the realms of religion, spirituality and theology, the most theologically qualified — workforce it has ever had and one that is not matched on a per capita basis by any other single national church on the entire planet. The institution is in perhaps the best condition it has ever been in from a financial point of view and in the quality and maintenance of all of its physical assets. The two principal problems it has is that the vast majority of the baptised have ceased listening and participating and the recruiting of quality priests and spiritual guides has virtually come to a standstill. (In passing it might be noted that the report makes no evaluation of the actual quality of the candidates that are presenting for seminary and ordination today. Many mature lay Catholics today who have contact with some of the young men who are presenting themselves really do have raised eyebrows about the quality of new priests coming into ministry. They are often arrogant, very often filled with zeal but also with this sense that they alone have all the answers to life's problems. Mature people find some of them very green behind the ears and hold grave fears for the future of the institution simply on the basis of the quality of priests presently being recruited. From the feedback we get through our own adult children who sometimes come into contact with these men we know they are not earning significant respect in the wider population.) Intelligent Catholics want far more than "Mass sayers" today. The sense most mature but now disenchanted Catholics we come into contact with today is that they simply do not believe the pathway to paradise is travelled by some "magic" dispensed through the sacraments. It is discerned by learning to think, feel and act in the ways modelled and taught by Jesus Christ. Our bishops, and more especially our leaders in Rome, present a theology to us that presents Jesus to us more as the magician rather than as the teacher and model for how any person can think, feel and act their way through life and into everlasting life.
We frankly see absolutely zero prospects of Rome adopting a new attitude and actually having concern for the 86% of the baptised who have drifted away and their spiritual, social and temporal welfare. The constant message coming from Rome is it's all "their fault" — those who have drifted away. If they want to be part of our private little church "they" (the ones who have drifted away) have to adopt the taliban attitudes of the remnant that we believe are the only "true Catholics" whom the Almighty directs us to serve."
The one faint hope...
"The one faint hope — and again we are particularly indebted to Catholics for Ministry and in particular Dr Paul Collins for this — is if one, or a small group of bishops, took it upon themselves to defy Rome and actually chart a new course: one that is actually directed to discerning the needs of the great majority of the baptised; who would take on and confront — or even better still, educate and catechise — the taliban element on behalf of us all rather than constantly appease them; and who would attempt to rebuild the structure — the actual "Corpus Christi" — in their local environment. As Dr Collins has pointed out, historically this is often how change has occurred in the Church — some local bishop or group of people adopt a new style or theological outlook and over time this is adopted by more and more people and then centuries later Rome finally gives its stamp of approval to whatever the innovation happened to be. The question is: is there any bishop, or group of bishops, willing to "step up to the mark" and provide real leadership to their flock? As I jokingly suggested in the Catholica Forum a couple of days ago, there's a great seat awaiting someone in heaven who bites the bullet and provides a solution to the crisis the institution is facing in this country. Their actions may well turn out to be a model for the entire nation, or even the entire Western world. To achieve such a turn-around for the institution would surely earn more plaudits both in the here and now and in the hereafter than all these other pathetic games we have had to put up with for the past forty years and more? It would be a far more worthy life and vocational goal than chasing after a cardinal's temporal power and prestige or some other place of temporal honour in this rapidly disintegrating ship. It is actually helping "build the kingdom" — not being a participant in its gradual emasculation and destruction."
"Losing faith" — not in God but in our bishops and spiritual leaders..."
"Finally, by way of caution, could we say: the fundamental problems confronting the Church, particularly in Australia today, are not actually to do with money, the lack of resources or personnel to do anything, nor the lack of physical infrastructure. The key problems are principally theological and, linked into that, our actual ecclesiology and understanding of the nature and role of priesthood. It is a rank fallacy to suggest that all of the 86% who have left regular sacramental participation have been beguiled by relativism and consumerism and the "ways of the world". That may have happened to some, even 50% of those who have left. Many, particularly amongst the more educated and thoughtful have left for reasons to do with actually believing our Holy Bishops have been leading us up the garden path and away from authentic Catholic belief and thinking. Most of the educated reflective faithful who haven't charged off in the direction of even more fundamentalist denominations and sects, have simply ceased to believe key parts of the theology that the taliban element in the Church and their bishop patrons are constantly trying to force down our necks. We have also "lost faith" in the model of priesthood and church community that is being presented to us. We have "lost faith" that the pathway that our spiritual superiors offer to us in the Church actually leads to salvation and resurrection. We have "lost faith" in our bishops and priests — that is testified to by the massive drift away from sacramental participation. We have NOT "lost faith" in Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Father, or the Trinitarian God. Those of us old enough to remember the sense of vibrancy and excitement that infected the Church in the immediate aftermath of the Second Vatican Council sincerely do believe the vast majority of bishops at that Council were "guided by the Holy Spirit" and had begun to discern at least some of the answers to these questions of deep theology, Christology, ecclesiology and the role of the priest as leader and guide of our local communities."
Bridget Mary's Reflecton:
Yes, indeed, it appears that Australia may be ready for Roman Catholic Women Priests. For more information, contact Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Richard Gaillardetz
"Those indicators would include the following: First, the church is still feeling the lingering effects of the clerical sexual abuse scandal. Some victims still feel sloughed aside by institutional indifference, and thousands of Catholics have either left the church or have remained in a state of resigned disillusionment by both the accounts of abuse and the subsequent attempts at ecclesiastical cover-up. To date, eight American Catholic dioceses have had to file for bankruptcy because of multiple clerical abuse lawsuits, and more may soon follow. Second, many are disheartened by heavy-handed exercises of church authority: excommunications, declarations that a hospital is no longer Catholic, refusing communion to politicians, protesting the conferral of an honorary degree on a newly elected American president. A particularly troubling example is found in the current Vatican investigations of American women religious communities. This investigation appears to many as a shameful instance of scapegoating women who have dedicated their lives to the church's service and it demonstrates that we still have a long way to go in purging our church of its patriarchal tendencies. Third, the clergy shortage has forced diocese after diocese to close or consolidate parishes. This reality has hit home here in Toledo as the local diocese has announced a three year reorganization plan that will affect 33 parishes. Finally, as we shall see, there is evidence that large numbers of Catholics are simply giving up on the church and going elsewhere. In short, there is much to suggest that the American Catholic church is in a state of unrest. .."
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Missing from this essay is an analysis of the alienation of women from the institutional church, the impact of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests Movement and the growing support of U.S. Catholics for women's ordination.
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Communty in Sarasota, Florida Celebrates Liturgy at St. Andrew, 6PM/Sat:Rise Up for Religious Equality
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Do you see how close to identical all the readings are for today, regardless of which lectionary is being used? Across the entire dimension of mainline Christianity, everyone is hearing these same lessons.
You may say, “Well, what about the Psalm?” Interestingly, while the Roman Catholics and the Episcopalians use Psalm 62 and those who use the Revised Common Lectionary use Psalm 131, we can see that the theme of these two psalm readings is virtually identical.
Psalm 62 says “Rest in God alone, my soul.”
Psalm 131 says “Put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.”
So, if we are going to be in the least bit esoteric, we can see that these two psalms have virtually identical messages. And so, let us use this idea – turning everything over to God – as our theme for this celebration.
If leaving everything up to God or turning everything over to God is our theme, how do our readings for today manifest this?
The first reading from Isaiah includes that well-known passage where God speaks to Zion (as Zion was in the grips of despair), “Can a mother forget her child…? Even if she should forget, I will never forget you.”
Think for a moment about how powerful that passage really is. The Israelites were in despair but God picked them up and used a comparison they were all familiar with – the love of a woman for her child. Those people understood that. So do we today. Even women who have miscarried or who have had an abortion never forget that empty place at the table. We all know that. We have all seen it – not only in humans but also in animals. It is real!
And yet our God goes one step further and says that even if a woman would forget a lost child, our God would never forget us. Do we have any doubt about resting in God? Or putting our hope in God? Our God will never forget us – no matter what.
Let us look now at the second reading which is from First Corinthians. Here we are called to be servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Does this relate to the theme as we found in the Psalm? Indeed it does! Recall that the Psalm told us that we were to rest in God and put our hope in God. The Psalm was essentially telling us that nothing else mattered. And now, here in the reading from First Corinthians, we find we are called to be servants and stewards to this very God who has invited us to rest and in Isaiah has given us the most powerful imagery of being a God who would never and could never forget us.
What we see here then is that we are called to be servants and stewards to a God who will never forget us and will never abandon us. Our God asks only that we be faithful servants and stewards.
“Servant” and “steward” are interesting words. We do not immediately know what they mean. Oh, we all have an idea of a servant cleaning the house or cooking the dinner or running errands in or out of the house. The word “steward” is not used too much today but we all have a general idea that a steward is something like a servant. How can we do that?
If we are servants and stewards, especially in the ancient tradition, we were totally dependent on our master or mistress. We weren’t like today’s cleaning lady who comes in for a few hours and then goes home or today’s yard worker who takes care of your garden and shrubs according to a pre-determined schedule and then goes home.
If we are servants and stewards in the Biblical sense, we are dependent on our master or mistress. We wouldn’t be slaves but we wouldn’t have the flexible or rotating schedule that today’s servants and stewards have. Think of a hotel worker or someone on the cleaning crew at the hospital or someone who works for a catering company. Their lives are not totally enmeshed in the owner’s schedule. Not today anyway. But, is that what Jesus was saying? Let’s look at the Gospel and see if we can figure this out.
This Gospel from Matthew is a rather famous passage and it definitely brings everything together for us. Jesus tells us not to worry about what to eat, what to drink, or what to wear. Do you worry about what to eat? Hey, I do! I even worry about what my dogs are going to eat! Do you worry about what you are going to drink? Well, I am not quite as guilty on that one because I live in the city and there is always plenty of good water available – supposedly. But sometimes I do worry about whether or not I will be able to get a good cup of coffee. Have you ever been there?
And, what about worrying about what to wear? Anyone who has never been there in this day and age is clearly living in another world! We all have numerous choices in what we wear and yet we all still worry about what to wear.
But that is what this Gospel is all about! Jesus is telling us not to worry about what to eat, what to drink, or what to wear. We do it anyway! Can you picture Jesus smiling at his friends as he tells them how foolish they are for worrying about these mortal points? I can almost see Jesus smiling and shaking his head in wonderment at his friends’ attachment to the worldly life. Is Jesus smiling at you with that same sense of wonderment or disbelief? I am certain Jesus is smiling at me! I worry about these things all the time!
Jesus says we cannot serve God and our human foibles at the same time. We all know that on the surface. The question is, do we really know that in our hearts? If we read this Gospel carefully, we realize that Jesus is very serious about our not worrying about anything.
Now, let’s go back to our previous readings. Look at the Psalm theme – “Rest in God alone.” If we truly believe that God is supreme, how can we worry about food or drink or clothing if we are resting in God alone? We have no choice! Our God is our God! And, our God IS God! That includes all that being GOD means!
Isaiah reminds us that a mother cannot forget her child but that even if she does forget, our God will be there. How can we worry about food or drink or what we will wear if our God will not forget us – no matter what. We cannot worry about food or drink or clothing if our God will take care of us – even if our friends and relatives (even our mothers) may not be able to.
Think for a moment about the passage from First Corinthians. How can we be servants and stewards (particularly in the Biblical sense) if we are worrying about our food, drink, and clothing? Remember that the servants and stewards were generally under the will of the master. The servants and stewards depended on – or relied on – the master for these things. Today we are servants and stewards. We rely on Jesus. This is the same Jesus who told us not to worry about our food or drink or clothing. We all need to spend a moment with that idea. This is the same Jesus who told us in this same gospel that we cannot serve God and our possessions at the same time.
Our duty as Christians is to follow Christ. We do that by doing the next right thing in front of us, by resting in God, by hoping in God, by remembering that God loves us more than we could ever imagine, and that God will take absolute care of us at all times and always.
Sister Karol Jackowski
"It preserves the loving sisterhood of women, generates infinitely compassionate lives and works, and last, but not least, saves us from the devastating effects of having and being had. What woman in her right mind wouldn’t want that?"
“When sleeping women wake, mountains will move.” --Chinese Proverb
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
I am blessed to be a Sister for Christian Community and a Roman Catholic Woman Priest. I believe that the sisterhood of women is a bond that links us to our sisters and brothers everywhere. We are offering the church a gift of women imaging the divine feminine in our ministry in all areas of life, including as priests at the altar.
When sleeping women and men awake, the church will be transformed!
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP/SFCC
Pope Lawsuit- Claims the Pope Maintains "a Worldwide System of Cover-Up of the Sexual Crimes Committed by Catholc Priests"/Time for Women Priests
"They claim the Pope “is responsible for the preservation and leadership of a worldwide totalitarian regime of coercion which subjugates its members with terrifying and health-endangering threats”.
They allege he is also responsible for “the adherence to a fatal forbiddance of the use of condoms, even when the danger of HIV-Aids infection exists” and for “the establishment and maintenance of a worldwide system of cover-up of the sexual crimes committed by Catholic priests and their preferential treatment, which aids and abets ever new crimes”.
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Pope Benedct XVI should be held accountable for the global sexual abuse crimes of the Roman Catholic clergy against children. What other church would get away with crimes against humanity? Let us hope that someone somewhere can hold the pope accountable. Perhaps, this will finally shake up the Vatican to deal with structural reform and begin the journey to reform and healing.
It is time for the Roman Catholic institutional church to embrace women priests. Can you imagine women priests who are mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts covering up sexual abuse? I can't!
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP
The Irish Affliction- Sexually Abused by Catholic Clergy" -"Ireland is first country to bring force of Government to bear against Church"
'The revelations have been monstrous and the reaction fierce, but is that enough to break the grip of the Catholic Church.'
By Russell Shorto
..."The global sex abuse scandal is rocking the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world. In the U.S. 11,000 abuse allegations covering 95% of dioceses. Last year the scandal swept across Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. There have been highly publicized cases in Britain, Italy, France, Malta, Switzerland, Austria, Mexico, New Zealand, Canada, Kenya, the Philippines, Australia and other countries. Last March the scandal pointed toward the pope himself when it emerged that as archbishop of Munich he was informed of a decision to return a pedophile priest to church duty and then that as Cardinal Ratzinger he failed to heed the pleas of American bishops who asked the Vatican to defrock a priest in Wisconsisn who molested 200 deaf children between the 1950's and 1970's. "
"Ireland is the first country to "bring the force of federal government to bear against the church. There have been three commissions in Ireland and all were government funded, all chared by judges. Thomas Doyle, canon lawyer and Dominican Priest observed: "In other places with a traditional Catholic presence and where there have been sexual abuse, there is intense interest in what is going on in Ireland. Quebec has now begun an investigation. There are signs of it beginning in the Netherlands, Austria, Belgiusm, Italy, Spain and Fraince. Ireland, then provides a model for investigative legal action on a host of fronts."
"..The Vatican is trying to do damage control by sending a team of bishops from other countries to investigate. "The Rev. Sean McDonagh, a leader of the Association of Irish Priests, which formed last year after reports were published, suggested that to get at the root of the problem, the team of investigators "should begin by scrutinizing Rome's own handling of sex abuse allegations... "
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
The Association of Irish Priests put it bluntly. They acknowledge that the the blame for the sexual abuse scandal goes right to the top in the Vatican. The church hierarchy are the cause of the sex abuse scandal because they shielded abusers and neglected the victims. As Marie Collins, once a victim of sexual abuse and now an advocate for victims, states: "It's so hard to reconcile what the men at the top do with what Jesus preached."
Let's admit it. We need change now in order to reform the Catholic Church. It is time for married priests, women priests and an empowered community of believers to renew the church.
Bridget Mary Meehan,