Friday, July 4, 2008

Bishop Robinson's Reflections on U.S. speaking Tour

A reflection on all that happened… I recently completed a five-week tour of the U.S.A. in which I spoke at fifteen different venues around that country. It was exhausting, and it has taken me some time to recover, but I am now able to reflect on all that happened.In his letter asking me to cancel the tour, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, said, "It has been brought to my attention by some Bishops in the United States who are concerned that you have been invited by some organizations that are not in communion with the Catholic Church…". This is the exact opposite of my experience. The people who came to listen were mainly older people who had spent their lives as faithful and loyal Catholics, raising their children in that faith and supporting the church in every way they could. They still practise their faith. Yes, there were also victims present, and married priests and gay people and three Catholic women ordained as priests. Some of these were angry, some disillusioned and many were struggling hard to keep faith in the church. But even these disaffected people still cared and still wanted to see a better church. To dismiss the entire audience as "not in communion with the church" is a complete failure to understand the book I have written or the response it has evoked among many thousands of Catholics of every age. My overwhelming thought was that, if the church loses these people, it has lost its very soul.I met many wonderful and inspiring people who welcomed me and invited me into their homes. Most were from the organization called Voice of the Faithful, that started in Boston in 2002 in response to the revelations of sexual abuse there and wants to see a comprehensive response to those revelations. If this makes them "not in communion" with the church, then we all have a most serious problem!!I naively thought that the American church would be similar to the Australian church, but found myself continually having to revise my ideas and adapt to a very different world. This was the single greatest difficulty I had on the tour, especially when people tried to involve me in matters that I did not really understand. I was overwhelmed with evidence of incompetence and far worse, though the canon lawyer in me kept warning that I needed to hear all sides of the story first. I am still confused about the extent of incompetence and wrongdoing by bishops, but came away with the clear conviction that the American church has some massive problems before it. It is said that ex-Catholics constitute the second largest religion in the country, and this trend may well continue.I returned to find on my desk the letters from thirteen U.S. bishops asking me not to go. I am not saying that I was not aware of their existence, but in fact I saw them only on my return. They all quote the statement of the Australian bishops and it is clear that both this statement and the letters of the U.S. bishops were orchestrated by Cardinal Re.Bishop Robinson's "difficulties" with the statement from the Australian Bishops…I have had the opportunity to study the statement of the Australian bishops more carefully. I have several difficulties with this statement.a.. Firstly, it says that I question the teaching authority of the church and quotes John's gospel concerning the promise of Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to the apostles "in order to lead them into the fullness of the truth". In this the statement appears to confuse teaching authority with infallibility. I do not deny that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit and I do not deny the teaching authority of the church, as even a cursory reading of my book would show. What I question is the teaching on infallibility and especially on "creeping infallibility", in which, even without the formal apparatus of infallibility, Catholics are told that they must believe many truths. The bishops appear to brush aside the very real problems associated with this phenomenon. b.. Secondly, it says that my questioning of authority is connected to my "uncertainty about the knowledge and authority of Christ himself." But surely the real question is not where my doubts concerning the knowledge of Jesus come from, but rather where the certainties of the bishops come from? I point out that the biblical evidence is conflicting and that "We are, after all, speaking about what went on within the mind of Jesus, an individual unlike any other who has ever walked on this earth, a person within whom the divine and the human were bound together in a singular manner." The bishops make no attempt to explain where their certainties come from. c.. Thirdly and most importantly, the statement makes no comment on my book as a response to sexual abuse, though this is its very raison d'etre. It implies, therefore, that one may not ask questions about church teachings or laws under any circumstances, not even in responding to abuse. My book starts from the opposite end, the fact of abuse, and says that, if we are to overcome it, we must seek out the deepest causes both of the abuse and of the inadequate response to abuse, and, in doing this, we must be free to follow the argument wherever it leads. If it causes us to question teaching or practice concerning creeping infallibility or sexual morality or obligatory celibacy, we must be free to do so. The bishops do not address these issues, or how we are to overcome abuse if we are not free to ask the questions that arise. I remain convinced that we have a long way to go and that, if we are ever to look to the future with a clear conscience, we must be free to ask the questions that spontaneously arise from the terrible fact of abuse and the inadequate response to it. Until that happens, we are trying to manage rather than truly confront the problem.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Update on Altar Girls Banned:Take Action

Update: Altar Girls Banned!

Thank you for taking action! In the past two days, dozens of WOC members have called and emailed St. Barnabas Parish in Mazomanie, Wisconsin. We have received excellent feedback and we know our voices are being heard.

To read the press release, "Women's Ordination Conference Decries Ban on Altar Girls in Wisconsin Diocese," scroll down this blog.

Please continue to take action!
CALL the parish and ask for Rev. John Del Priore and express your serious concerns about this decision!
His direct line is 608 370-3271. The phone number for the church is (608) 795-4321. Call today! Please also contact Erin Hanna, WOC assistant director, at (202) 675-10006 or via at and let us know how the call went. We'd love to keep track of how many calls have been made.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Wisconsin Priest Bans Altar Girls:

Altar Girls Banned!

We have been informed that St. Barnabas Parish in Mazomanie, Wisc. will no longer allow girls to serve at liturgy. y Rev. John Del Priore, who was assigned to the parish on June 1, announced this policy last Tue. See article:

The phone number for the church is (608) 795-4321.
Call as soon as possible.

This is another signal that the institutional church is treating girls and women as second-class citizen, and is out of touch with Jesus. We should ask ourselves: what would Jesus say and do?

As the Gospels reveal, Jesus had male and female disciples and shared the central message of Christianity with a woman, Mary of Magdala, the apostle to the apostles. Women served in priestly ministry for 1200 years. Roman Catholic Womenpriests are reclaiming our ancient heritage and celebrating liturgies where all are welcome including altar girls. We offer hope that a renewed church is already a reality on the ground in communties around the U.S., Canada and Europe. The people of God are enthusiastic and hopeful that a new day is dawning for the church. This represssive action is a sad testimony to an institutional church that continues to discriminate against women and is fearful of women's equality. Moving backwards to Trent will not save the church.
Bridget Mary Meehan

Monday, June 30, 2008

Support Sr. Louise Lears, a woman of integrity and courage

Women's Ordination Conference Statement on Penalties Imposed on Sister Louise Lears, SC by Archbishop Raymond Burke

Aisha Taylor, executive director of the Women's Ordination Conference, issued the following statement about the penalties imposed by Archbishop Raymond Burke on Sister Louise Lears, SC on Thursday, June 26. After six months of proceedings, the decree was issued the day before Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Burke to head the highest court in the Catholic Church, as the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome.
The penalties callously doled out to Sister Louise Lears - a woman who has dedicated her entire life to serve the Church - is a prime example of the way women are often wrongly treated by the Catholic hierarchy, where dangerous secrecy runs rampant and preserving power in the hands a few ordained men reigns supreme. The Women's Ordination Conference supports Sister Louise in her life and ministry in the Church. We oppose these penalties as a way of dealing with differences and dissent. Such misuse of Church discipline will not intimidate women into accepting marginal status within the Church. Sister Louise remains steadfast in her faith and loyalty to the Church, and she has the support of millions of Catholics who seek only the gospel promise of equality. Archbishop Burke imposed two penalties on Sister Louise, 1) the penalty of interdict, which means that she cannot participate in public worship in a ministerial capacity and cannot receive the Sacraments and 2) the penalty of prohibition from reception of a mission anywhere in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which means she can no longer serve in her positions as a member of the Pastoral Team at St. Cronan's Catholic Church and as the Coordinator of Religious Education. The decree announcing the penalties state that the reason for this action is due to Sister Louise's support of Rose Marie Hudson and Elsie McGrath, the two women who were ordained priests in a St. Louis synagogue on November 11, 2007. The Vatican's stance on ordination is based on arguments that have been refuted time and again. In 1976, the Vatican's own Pontifical Biblical Commission determined that there is no scriptural reason to prohibit women's ordination. Jesus included women as full and equal partners in his ministry, and the hierarchy would do well to follow suit. This is not the first time Archbishop Burke has used the Sacraments as weapons, stepping way beyond the line of his pastoral duties and out of sync with most of his brother bishops. In addition to these insensitive and unnecessary penalties, he has consistently worked to denigrate Catholics who use their conscience to inform their actions, as canon law requires. From the excommunications of Hudson and McGrath to his unwavering position on actions taken by Catholic politicians to his disputes with members of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in St. Louis, Archbishop Burke has done nothing more than violate every aspect of the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. It is long overdue for the Vatican to respond to the church's need for an inclusive clergy, which embraces women - all of whom are created equal and can be called by God to serve God's people as priests in an accountable and inclusive Catholic Church. ### Founded in 1975, the Women's Ordination Conference is the oldest and largest national organization that works to ordain women as priests, deacons and bishops into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic Church. WOC represents the 63-70 percent of US Catholics that support the ordination of women as priests. WOC also promotes new perspectives on ordination that call for more accountability and less separation between the clergy and laity.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

National Catholic Reporter: Womenpriests carry on despite Vatican

Women priests carry on despite Vatican National Catholic Reporter - 39k -

(Our rcwp updated figures are actually 30 priests, 12 deacons, 15 candidates and 1 bishop in U.S. with 8 ordinations from coast to coast in 2008).

Women priests carry on despite Vatican
"Despite a recent decree that reiterates the official Vatican stance that women cannot be ordained and that those who attempt it are automatically excommunicated, women continue to step forward for ordination.
Three women are to be ordained to the priesthood and one woman as a deacon July 20 in Boston. Presiding at event will be Bishop Dana Reynolds, who is the first U.S. bishop for the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement.
At a ceremony in Boston’s Church of the Covenant, Reynolds will ordain Gloria Ray Carpeneto, Judy Lee and Gabriella Velardi-Ward to the priesthood and MaryAnn McCarthy Schoettly to the deaconate."...