Sunday, March 11, 2018

" Pope Francis: and Roman Catholic Women Priests- Five Years Later- Positive Vibes, No Official Dialogue" by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, From Where I Stand: Francis Invites Change-We are Change" by Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter

https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/where-i-stand/francis-invites-change-we-are-change

 When Pope Francis was elected I was hopeful that change would happen in the institutional church. He appeared warm and caring and his approach was down-to earth. I appreciated his focus on social justice issues. While Francis has encouraged dialogue and action on behalf of justice for the marginalized in the world, he has not made the connection of justice in the church, specifically gender equality. The full equality of women includes women priests as a justice issue.  


What has Pope Francis said or done to engage our Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement? There  have been some positive responses in conversations with his advisors but no official dialogue with Francis yet.


 Janice Sevre-Duszynska ARCWP and Christina Moreira ARCWP  met with a  Vatican Monsignor close to Francis in 2016. They had a wonderful conversation about our mission and ministries and requested that Francis lift excommunication and all penalties against us.


On other occasions,  Suzanne Thiel RCWP and Juanita Cordero RCWP met with 

Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, one of Francis' top advisors, at the Los Angeles Religious Education Conference.  He engaged in animated, friendly conversations and reported that he shared their materials about our movement with the pope.


 Roman Catholic Women Priests are moving the church toward partnership and inclusivity as we share women's experiences and claim women's power as spiritual equals. On a deep mystical level women priests are beginning a healing process of centuries old deep misogyny in which spiritual power was invested exclusively in men. We are visible reminders that women are equal images of God and therefore, as members of the baptized, can preside at sacramental liturgies. 


Whether Pope Francis restores women to the diaconate or not, it is time to engage the entire church in an open dialogue on diverse models of ministry and the full equality of women in a worldwide church. The future of the church is at stake with dwindling vocations and  the exodus of young women  in the United States  and elsewhere who will not support an institution in which they are not treated as equals. 


As we follow Spirit's call to be prophets of the future -living  full equality now.  - we are the change we have hoped for in our church-no matter what ecclesiastical penalties we have endured!


If Pope Francis lifts our excommunication, engages in dialogue, he will affirm primacy of conscience and take a step closer to a church  in which women are no longer treated as second -class citizens! There is always hope and i will continue to hopeful.

Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org


Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, www.arcwp.org

https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/where-i-stand/francis-invites-change-we-are-change

Francis invites change, but we are the change


"When Jorge Bergoglio, the newly elected Pope Francis, appeared on the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, he bowed to the people and asked for a blessing; the faithful roared their approval of a man who knew his own need for our help and direction.
When he told aristocratic bishops to "be shepherds with the smell of sheep" — to move among the people, to touch them, to serve them, to share their lives — episcopal palaces and high picket fences lost ecclesial favor. What the people wanted were bishops who would come out of their chanceries, walk with them and come to understand the difficulty of the path.
When Francis told priests to deal with abortion in confession, where all the struggles of humanity find solace and forgiveness, rather than treat it as the unforgivable sin, the church grew in understanding. When he said, "Who am I to judge" the spiritual quality of the gay community, the church became a church again. The fluidity of human nature and the great need for mercy and strength that come with life's most painful decisions became plain.
Francis, building on foundations laid by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, opened hearts and doors to Cuba, regardless of the politics of it, and with the Obama administration eased Cuba's isolation from the modern world. Francis has brought to the world's attention migrants fleeing war and oppressive economic situations; he has spoken up against slaughter in Southeast Asia and central Africa. He has said a definitive no to nuclear weapons and encouraged rethinking so-called just war.
Clearly, Francis is an invitation to change our stance in the world. We have a new model of what the church should look like to others as well as what we ourselves can hope for from it in our own lives. 
Clearly, Francis is an invitation to change our stance in the world. We have a new model of what the church should look like to others as well as what we ourselves can hope for from it in our own lives. We begin to see the church as a sign of the love of God rather than the specter of the wrath of God.
And yet, at the same time, some things that must change clearly have not changed in these last five years. Instead, there is smoke without fire, commissions promised but not created, questions acceptable to ask, yes, but answers still scarce.
The very recognition of a problem, the modern world assumes, is the beginning of its solution. There is promise and possibility galore. But, in too many instances, if nothing happens, more and more people, disappointed, drift away from a drifting ship.
And so the married couples who lived through abuse, through marriages more toxic than life-giving, wait for the understanding that even though married again, they deserve the right to have the spiritual support the church offers as they attempt to make more loving marriages. They wait, but the declaration of inclusion in the church does not come.
A commission on the restoration of the female diaconate is formed, but the church itself is not included in the conversation, no public reports are ever given, and a very important and long-lived part of Roman Catholic history goes silent again.

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Pope Francis greets the faithful before celebrating Mass at the Church of St. Gelasius in Rome Feb. 25. (CNS/Paul Haring)
The leviathan of child abuse, the most glaring problem facing the church, continues to raise its hoary head. It reaches across the world and even up to the pope's own household. Unless or until even bishops and cardinals are suspended until charges are resolved, the taint on the integrity of the Vatican itself will continue to undermine the sincerity of the church's effort to dispel the venom. Meanwhile, an abuse commission itself was formed, allowed to lapse, is now formed again we're told, but all of that with little or no evidence of palpable response to the problem itself.
The call for women in official positions at higher echelons in the church is promised — but ignored. This means, of course, that the role of women has not shifted at all yet — despite their educational readiness, their life-time records of service, let alone the discipleship offered by their baptism. The effect is clear: Women have nothing to do with the theological commissions where decisions are made that affect the spiritual lives of their half of the church. But Francis says that there is nothing more that can be said about women because his predecessors have spoken.
The question is why this papacy appears to have stalled. Whether situations like this stem from Francis' own lack of commitment to them or as a result of the interminable resistance of the Curia to papal leadership is anybody's guess. But they do mark this papacy. They make for long-term distrust.
From where I stand, this papacy has made thinking possible again. It has embraced the idea that change is part of the process of living. But it has not given some major issues significant direction. In cases like this, the promise of action and the absence of results, as the French say, "flatter only to deceive." They give false hope. As a result, in the end, the absence of action is even more disappointing than it would have been if hollow promises had never been made.
St. Paul warned the church about this kind of unclear leadership centuries ago. He writes in 1 Corinthians 14:8, "If the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?"
It is a warning to a papacy that came full of hope and is deeply respected for it. As the Talmud says, "Those who risk nothing, risk much more."
[Joan Chittister is a Benedictine sister of Erie, Pennsylvania.]

https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/ncr-today/francis-needs-listen-women-not-cardinals by Maureen Fiedler

http://bridgetmarys.blogspot.com/2018/03/fivle-e-years-of-pope-francis-lots-of.html
by Patsy McGarry, Irish Times
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/five-years-of-pope-francis-lots-of-style-little-substance-1.3419978

..."He was quickly adopted by liberals in the Catholic Church as potentially the greatest harbinger of change since John XXIII who had died in 1963. At the same time, those on the church’s right caught their breath, fearing their long run of untrammelled dominance in Rome since the late 1960s might now be slipping away.

Fading faith

But the conservatives’ worries were misplaced. Pope Francis may be an informal leader, but he is most assuredly Catholic. There have been no significant changes in church teaching or discipline since he was elected to office – and it is now hard to see any taking place under him.
What he has done is allow a certain ambiguity around the margins – for example on such issues as whether divorced and remarried Catholics may receive Communion. He has allowed more room for the complexity of human life.
The institution has begun to breathe more easily these past five years in applying church teaching to specific situations, and there has been a greater emphasis on compassion than on the letter of the law.
This has alarmed certain conservative Catholics who prefer red lines rather than fuzzy ones, but it does not nearly go far enough for those liberal Catholics. Their expectation of rapid change in an institution as old as the Catholic Church suggested a certain naivety.
The week just gone may have restored, somewhat, their fading faith in Pope Francis. The announcement last Wednesday that he had approved the canonisation of Archbishop Oscar Romero was a much needed fillip for the liberal wing.
Romero was assassinated by a death squad while saying Mass in El Salvador on March 24th, 1980 after criticising the regime in that country. (Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict had resisted calls for Romero’s beatification, lest that be interpreted as a nod towards the more radical liberation theology of South America.)

A youth holds a portrait of Archbishop Oscar Romero after the Vatican’s announcement that he will be canonised. The archbishop was assassinated in El Salvador in 1980. Photograph: Rodrigo Sura/EPA
A youth holds a portrait of Archbishop Oscar Romero after the Vatican’s announcement that he will be canonised. The archbishop was assassinated in El Salvador in 1980. Photograph: Rodrigo Sura/EPA

Last Wednesday Francis also announced that Pope Paul VI was to be canonised. Paul VI is most remembered, possibly unfairly, for his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which sustained the church’s ban on the use of artificial means of contraception. One saint to the left in the church then, and one saint to the right.
Another point of interest for the Catholic Church’s liberals this week was news from America. Survey findings published on Tuesday by the respected Pew Research Center in Washington found that 84 per cent of American Catholics retain a favourable view of Pope Francis “virtually identical to the share who expressed a positive view of the pope after the first year of his pontificate. Roughly nine-in-ten US Catholics describe Pope Francis as ‘compassionate’ and ‘humble’.”

Unchanged fundamentals

Such confidence, though, is not in response to any significant change brought about by Pope Francis. The fundamentals of the Catholic Church have not altered since that damp evening of March 13th, 2013.
Vocations are still decline in the western world and the priesthood itself is in danger of disappearing. Ireland exemplifies the shift. In the late 19th century St Patrick’s College Maynooth was the largest seminary in the world. Now it is the only one in Ireland, and has just 36 seminarians. The average age of an Irish priest is almost 70. Pope Francis hasn’t slowed this trend.
Weekly Irish Mass attendance continues to drop, towards the more typical low 20 per cents of the rest of Catholic Europe. Attendance has almost disappeared in working-class urban areas and is dominated by older people.


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