|Christina Moreira, ARCWP holding sign "Women Priests are here" in Spanish|
Yesterday afternoon, here at the Casa internazionale delle donne, Christina and I joined other WOW members, European media, and the public for the opening event of “A Jubilee for Women Priests,” a roundtable conversation and Q & A with four speakers.
Dr. Marinella Perroni, a distinguished professor New Testament studies at the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm, told us that after John Paul II’s Apostolic letter, Ordinatio sacerdotalis (Pentecost 1994), just speaking about this topic was prohibited and students were invited to denounce professors who spoke on the topic. (I have heard of at least one such occurrence in the US with Fr. John Shea in Boston and in Cincinnati, with Sr. Louise Akers). Some professors were denounced to the CDF and removed. Her characterization of what has happened is similar to ours:
“This has created a sort of paralysis. Progressively, however, the ordination of women became an object of debate in the media and that prohibition – although it frightened because it was never annulled. The recent reaction to Pope Francis’ declaration on the possibility of studying the chance of women deacons has demonstrated that in the last decade the question of female ministry has become familiar to public opinion and enjoys a broad consensus fidelium.”
The Rev. Dana English, a former American Presbyterian minister is now an Anglican minister and the Assistant Curate at All Saints’ Anglican Church in Rome. She shared her journey with us, including some struggles she has endured with sexism. She expressed gratitude for her Cambridge studies of English Literature to provide a storytelling backdrop of human behavior. Both Rev. English and Jamie Manson from the National Catholic Reporter earned their Master of Divinity at Yale Divinity School.
Jamie was right on in her take on gender justice for women priests and LGBTIQ communities in our church. Just as we name, she made the connection between lack of women priests in the church in decision-making roles and violence toward women in the world. I found myself nodding and affirming her wisdom. I may be more hopeful than her, however, in my faith that Papa Francesco can be moved by the Spirit and dialogue with us.
|Janice Sevre Duszynska with Tony Flannery at WOW Conference|
photo by Christina Moreira ARCWP
Irish Redemptorist priest, Fr. Tony Flannery is a delightful man who has suffered for obeying his conscience, support of women’s ordination and for his work with the Irish Association of Catholic Priests. Suspended from ministry by the Vatican in 2012, he was told he would only be allowed to return if he agreed to publish a statement that women cannot be ordained as priests. I thanked him for his courage, stood up and named my male priest peace activist friends who are his counterparts, including Maryknoll priest of 40 years Roy Bourgeois, Franciscan Jerry Zawada, and deceased Jesuits Frs. Bill Brennan of Milwaukee and Bill Bischel of Tacoma, Washington. As Christina and I held out our banners in Spanish and English which read: Women Priests are Here,” I said Christina and I were here to represent the 225 members of our international women priests community, which now includes 150 priests serving the people of God in 81 communities. Fr. Flannery added John Shea’s name to this list.
During the reception, canapés and two complimentary signature cocktails were served: “Strawberries on the Cake” and “Feminine Genius.”
When we returned, Giulia Bianchi gave a multimedia presentation featuring her public art exhibit in the streets of Rome on her women priests project.
We thank Giulia, the women of WOW (and WOC) for their work in behalf of women called to priesthood.
Today, Thursday, June 2, a holiday in Rome, and it is raining. Christina and I intend to visit the Catacomb of St. Priscilla and the Church of St. Praxedus at Termini.