Sunday, October 18, 2015

Homily of Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea ARCWP at Ordination of Blanca Cecilia Santana as a priest and Lucero Arias in Medellin on Oct. 18, 2015

Blanca Cecilia Santana and Lucero Arias
Good morning to all of you who have joined us to celebrate with the Church of the People of God, now wearing their best on the occasion of the historic ordination to the priesthood and the diaconate of two sisters and companions in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests: Blanca Cecilia Santana and Lucero Arias Manco.
We are a movement within the Catholic Church, and although the hierarchy does not accept us, our ordinations are valid. In 2002, on the Danube River in Germany, the first women priests were ordained by a bishop in full communion with Rome. The bishop's name is closely guarded to this day. All the documentation has been notarized and sealed, biding the proper time, in order to prove the apostolic succession that concerns us. Apostolic succession, not of power but of service.

We are in 10 countries: Austria, Germany, the US, France, Spain, South Africa, Mexico, Colombia, Canada, and country in the Pacific whose name right now escapes me. We are engaging in holy disobedience. With more than 215 women throughout the world, we are breaking an unjust law, such as Canon 1024, which bluntly says, "Only baptized men can be ordained." Is the water used on baptized males different from ours?

Paul VI in 1976 instructed the Biblical Commission to investigate the ordination of women. The Commission found no evidence in Scripture, either biblical or theological, that prevents us women from being priests. Here the millennial issue is sociological and cultural.
In this case, who is responsible for the change? Let me tell you, it does not depend on the Pope, the Curia, or the Synod. We are not separated from the society and the culture in which we live. We are in fact in this society and in this culture; corrupt, unjust, immoral, exclusive and inhuman. We are that society and culture. We are a part of it and change depends on us. You and we as the Church of the People of God, in fact, are doing it, but it will neither be as easy or as fast as we would like.
We have the examples and testimonies from the women and men who suffered for promoting change, among our own and closest, we Gerardo Valencia Cano (killed in a suspicious plane crash on January 21, 1972); we have the Blessed Monsignor Arnulfo Romero (murdered on March 24, 1980).
And in the history of women in the Church, we find two very valuable religious women, who after being excommunicated, were beatified and canonized by John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  They were Mother Théodore Guérin (1798-1856 - French) and Mother Mary Mackillop (1842-1909 - Australian). The first one was excommunicated for daring to go by herself with her nuns to open schools for the common people, small pharmacies, for poor settlers in Indiana, the second one is the first Australian saint, patron of victims of sexual abuse; she was the first to denounce such abuses within the Church.
Now, among us we have a dear and fellow countrywoman who also went through many upheavals to go by herself with her companions to open up schools, also carrying medicines and providing first aid while doing the missionary work of evangelizing among both indigenous and afro-Colombians: Saint Laura Montoya.
Another one, no less close, a Frenchwoman, to whom we owe our education and the protection of the elderly, the sick and the young people in our country: the Blessed Marie Poussepin. From whom the hierarchy for 40 years withheld the approval of the Constitutions of the Congregation, because she did not have any male hierarchical intervention.
Although the latter two were not excommunicated, we would have to say they were mistreated…
When laws and paradigms are broken, there are consequences to be paid. This is our invitation: to come to take up the Gospel in sisterhood, creating bonds of sisterhood and brotherhood, trust and support, among women and men in order to build a different society and a different world.  
The language and the gestures of Francisco are pure Gospel. Let us take up his challenge when he talks to us about inclusion.
Blanca Cecilia and Lucero from this day forward reaffirm once more their baptismal commitment through their ministries, as woman priest and deacon respectively. Both are leaders in their grassroots Ecclesial communities and in their workplaces, (Popayan and Cañasgordas). With their partners they have a small plot of land, to which they are applying agro-ecological techniques, involving neighboring peasant families in the sector by means of biblical reflection, supported by the CEDEBI (Ecumenical Collective of Bible Scholars) and Casitas Bíblicas, with the intent of creating fraternal bonds in order to raise awareness and thus to promote the betterment of all who are practicing the exchange of products with the goal of the sustainability of the people of the village.
In their pastoral work they involve the children so that they may grow happy and hopeful. Lucero encourages and teaches a group of children and adults in her sector.
All attention is fixed on the creation of mechanisms of resistance, in the light of the Word, so that farmworkers, both male and female, may have a decent life, implementing agro-ecological gardens, seeking to create economic alternatives for the peasantry of the sector to be empowered so that they may decide what they want without having to depend upon our unjust governments.
This work plan sounds great and ambitious. Well worth supporting and learning about these experiences…
Let us not delay anymore, we in our movement as members of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests are anxious to carry the message that was given to us more than 2000 years ago through our patron Mary Magdalene, as we have just heard in the Gospel (John 20: 1-8). She, after crying and drying her eyes, upon discovering the risen Master, does not return to look at the tomb, does not dawdle collecting the sheets, or taking them to be washed, ironed and folded, or smelling the aromas that permeated them. She knows that such work is necessary, but it may distract her from the message that she has to carry to the men. The sheets have been those details that the society and the culture have worn us out with for countless years, preventing us from getting to Galilee. The Galilee of the powerless, where the Master awaits us all to announce and celebrate the Good News. In them they have tangled us all our lives, “because of the rules, because of the canons,” “because of divine power,” “because Jesus chose only men,” “because the door is closed,” etc. etc.
Our mission is a matter of conscience that no one can stop; Peter reminds us: “We must obey God rather than men” Acts 5:29.
We are happy and we accept the challenge to be bearers of the Gospel, without borders, in full inclusion, serving inclusive Catholic communities, within the Church, like the first Christians who “came faithfully and intimately linked to the temple, in their homes they broke bread, ate together with gladness and sincere simplicity “Acts 2:46. AMEN.
 Information on Ordination Celebration Time and Place
We held the ceremony at the scheduled time, and we had about 65 people attending, several priests con-celebrated with us, including Bishop Rodrigo Ospina of the Vetero Catholic Church; some of these priests are marginalized clergy, other not, so their presence was discrete.  The rest were family members of the ordained, and representation of the groups Communion Without Borders, Foundation Bordado a Mano (ex-convicts), members of the Ecumenical Table for Peace (Mesa Ecuménica por la Paz), Fraternity of Foucauld (Fraternidad de Foucauld). We had several foreign persons attending, an Argentinian woman, an Ecuadorian man, and a Spaniard who lives in Ecuador.

The space was small, but it stretched to welcome us.  The place was the Primavera Corporation, an old hospitality house for our sister prostitutes, where Blanca Cecilia worked with her husband, accompanying them.

All those who attended and we ourselves have a remaining sense of joy, of hope and of fortitude to continue to announce the Gospel joyfully in equality and justice within the Church.

Hiciamos la ceremonia a la hora anunciada, nos acompañaron al rededor de 65 personas, varias sacerdotes concelebraron con nosotras, incluido el obispo Rodrigo Ospina de la Iglesia Vetero Católica, algunos de los sacerdotes, son clero marginado, otros no y su presencia fue discreta. El resto familiares de las ordenadas, representación de los grupos Comunión Sin Fronteras, Fundación Bordado a Mano (ex-convictas), miembros de la Mesa Ecuménica por la Paz, Fraternidad de Foucauld. Contamos con la presencia de varias personas extranjeras, una argentina, un ecuatoriano y un español, radicado en Ecuador.

El espacio, era pequeño, pero se estiro para acogernos. El sitio fue la Corporación Primavera, antigua casa de acogida para nuestras hermanas prostitutas, en donde Blanca Cecilia trabajó con su esposo, acompañándoles.

Para todos los asistentes y para nosotras ha quedado una sensación de de gozo, de esperanza y fortaleza para seguir anunciando el Evangelio con gozo en igual y justicia dentro de la Iglesia.

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