Monday, January 29, 2018

Pope Francis Issues New Education Standards for Future Priests, ARCWP and People's Catholic Seminary Offers An Innovative Model for Education in Contemporary Theology for Women Priests, Deacons and Pastoral Ministers

My Response: The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests have designed our preparation program for ordination to integrate contemporary theology, spirituality and pastoral care. Like the new education standard announced by Pope Francis, we have been finding ways to respond positively to the call of the Second Vatican Council "to overcome this divorce between theology and pastoral care, between faith and life."

We believe that the Spirit of God is speaking through the people of God. As co-creators and companions on a journey, we share the wisdom of God in our sacred texts, theologies, sacred practices, sacramental celebrations, and lived experiences.  ARCWP provides units and competency courses that will appeal to the mainstream and the margins where our liberating God of compassion dwells and works through all for systemic change. The People's Catholic Seminary provides an affordable, interactive forum online to engage both those preparing for ordination and members of our inclusive Catholic communities in dialogue about spiritual transformation, contemporary theology, our lived experiences of pastoral care in sacramental communities and action on behalf of peace,  equality and non-violence in our world. In partnership with Global Ministries University, we now offer a Masters in Pastoral Ministry Degree that is available and affordable for our candidates, communities and those interested in a  professional degree program to prepare for a renewed model of inclusive ministry in our world today. 

The ordination units and competency courses integrate the evolutionary consciousness of the new cosmology with the community of empowerment presented in feminist, liberation, mujerista, womanist, evolutionary, mystical and sacramental theologies (theologies of blessing). As a new paradigm of priestly ministry ARCWP believes that we cannot put new wine into old wineskins. Therefore, our mission is to live as co-partners with God in the cosmic community moving our world in inclusive love toward the flourishing of all creation.  

The focus in these units is to prepare candidates to minister in a community of equals that is egalitarian, empowered, inclusive, mystical and prophetic. Conscious of our vocation to live God’s loving presence in the world in vibrant faith communities, we work for justice and equality for all, especially those on the margins of our church. 

For more information about ARCWP, contact Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP -,  
People's Catholic Seminary, contact Bridget Mary Meehan -
Mary Theresa Streck,

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic university programs in philosophy, theology and canon law -- especially those designed for future priests -- must be marked by fidelity to church tradition, academic rigor and an awareness of the challenges to belief in the modern world, Pope Francis said.
In the apostolic constitution "Veritatis Gaudium" ("The Joy of Truth"), the pope issued revised norms for what are known as "ecclesiastical universities and faculties" -- those that grant Vatican-recognized degrees, which are necessary for teaching most philosophy, theology and canon law courses in seminaries and pontifical universities.
Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, presented the document to the press Jan. 29 at the Vatican, saying it "indicates the meaning and, more specifically, the basic criteria for a renewal and relaunching of the contribution of ecclesiastical studies to a missionary church that 'goes forth.'"
The constitution replaces "Sapientia Christiana" ("Christian Wisdom"), an apostolic constitution issued by St. John Paul II in 1979; the new document includes the amendments made to the norms in "Sapientia Christiana" by St. John Paul in 2002, by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011 and by Pope Francis in 2015, the cardinal said.
Pope Francis wrote in the new constitution that it was time "to promote with thoughtful and prophetic determination the renewal of ecclesiastical studies at every level, as part of the new phase of the church's mission, marked by witness to the joy born of encountering Jesus and proclaiming his Gospel."
A key motivation, he said, was to find ways to respond positively to the call of the Second Vatican Council "to overcome this divorce between theology and pastoral care, between faith and life."
The study of theology, Pope Francis wrote, "is fruitful only if it is done with an open mind and on one's knees," so it must be based both on sound academic investigation and a deep faith.

...However, he said, he hoped the new document would inspire all Catholic universities to ensure their theology departments "are not left in a corner by themselves," but are actively in dialogue and wrestling with the questions posed by other university departments, especially as regards Catholic social teaching.
The archbishop also said the new constitution, for the first time, makes provisions for those pursuing ecclesiastical degrees to complete a portion of their studies online and, recognizing the reality of the migration phenomenon, provides guidance for evaluating the studies completed previously by migrants who do not have the documentation to prove they successfully completed some of their studies.
Unlike "Sapientia Christiana," the new constitution foresees the possibility of an ecclesiastical faculty including a professor or professors from other Christian churches or other religions, he said. The document insists, though, that they not teach students in the "first cycle," the initial years of study.
The first cycle, Archbishop Zani said, is designed to provide students with a foundation in Catholic philosophy, Scripture and Catholic theology. Once that foundation is laid, he said, "it is a great gift to be able to have the expertise and knowledge" of professors who respect the Catholic Church but have studied the Christian community or religion to which they belong.
The archbishop pointed to Rome's Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies where, he said, it would make little sense not to offer students a chance to learn from and dialogue with professors who have studied Islam from the inside.
Many of the articles in the new constitution are taken directly from "Sapientia Christiana," including the regulation that from ecclesiastical faculties "honorary doctorates are not to be conferred except with the consent of the chancellor, who, having listened to the opinion of the university or faculty council, has obtained the nihil obstat of the Holy See."


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