Saturday, March 20, 2010

Eraser Duty for Bart? by Maureen Dowd in New York Times

"Angry nuns have been calling Congressman Bart Stupak’s office to complain about his dismissive comments on their bravura decision to make a literal Hail Mary pass, break with Catholic bishops and endorse the health care bill."...
...We might have to bang Bart’s head into a blackboard a few times before he realizes that in a moral tug-of-war between the sisters and the bishops, you have to go with the gals."

Psychiatrist Says Church Was Warned About Priest/Sex Abuse Case in Germany

March 18, 2010
Psychiatrist Says Church Was Warned About Priest

Changing the Vatican's Response to Abuse/New York Times Editorial

"The pope himself has been embroiled in the case of Peter Hullermann, a German priest who was convicted of molesting children but had been allowed to work in Munich for more than 30 years until his suspension on Monday. The pope, the former Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, had served as head of the archdiocese where the priest worked and was later the cardinal in charge of reviewing sexual abuse cases for the Vatican.
What lessons should have been learned from the church’s handling of the American sexual abuse cases? What questions should be asked of the Vatican and what should it do?"
John L. Allen Jr., The National Catholic Reporter
Nicholas P. Cafardi, law professor, Duquesne University
Jim FitzGerald and Nicole Sotelo, Call to Action
David Clohessy, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
David Gibson, author, “The Rule of Benedict”

Vatican Condemned at UN for Child Abuse
Vatican Condemned at UN for Child Abuse
Geneva, March 16, 2010 -- The Vatican’s record on child abuse was criticized today at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Highlighting the Vatican’s repeated and ongoing efforts to cover up evidence of child abuse by priests, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) accused the Vatican of violating its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Keith Porteous Wood, who presented IHEU’s statement to the Human Rights Council, said: “Billions of dollars and euros have already been paid out in respect of thousands of victims in the USA and Ireland. News of further abuse has since appeared in Austria, the Netherlands and now Germany – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. How much more evidence of children’s suffering is needed before the UN fulfills its responsibility to hold the Vatican to account? "

“The Vatican is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), but has contravened several of its articles, and is over a decade behind in its reporting. It has facilitated repeat offending by shielding child abusers from prosecuting authorities and shifting them to new communities. Major investigations in the USA and Ireland have been obstructed by the Church. All this has led to abusers being allowed to continue offending and escaping justice, while their victims despair -- some even committing suicide.” ...

Jesus challenged religious leaders, so must Catholics call for resignations and reforms in sex abuse crisis

Pope Offers Apology, Not Penalty, for Sex Abuse Scandal
Jesus Challenged Religious Leaders, So Must Catholics Call For Resignations and Reforms in Global Sex Abuse Crisis in Catholic Church
by Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP
In Isaiah tonight, we read: “See I am doing something new.” Abraham Heschel prominent Jewish Rabbi, said that Second Isaiah offers comfort when a sick world cries. We live in a world and a church that is beautiful and sick, and it cries out in pain.

This week there were many stories about the cover up of sexual abuse by the Pope and Cardinal Brady, primate of Ireland. Pope Benedict apologized (see link to article above), but does not make structural changes to change the way the church handles abuse cases, nor does he deal with root causes such as mandatory celibacy and the failure of the church to incorporate women as leaders in decision-making in the Vatican. According to Canon Law, this function is linked to Holy Orders.

On Tuesday, a producer from CNN called to ask if I could do an interview, and address the question, what difference would women priests have made if we had been at the table at the Vatican during this crisis. The Roman Catholic Womenpriests Movement offers a renewed model of priestly ministry that is non- hierarchical, and focuses on partnership and mutual accountability. In our structures, our bishops are pastors and spiritual leaders. A leadership circle is responsible for administration. Our goal is to build inclusive communities united with the people we serve. Therefore, I firmly believe the protection of victims would trump protection of the institution.

In the Gospel of Jesus’ encounter with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus didn’t let the Law get between him and the unnamed woman. Jesus knew that the religious leaders were conspiring to ambush him. They put him in a no-win situation. If he sides with Moses, they would stone her, and would have violated Rome’s law, if Jesus forgives her, he will be accused of being a lawbreaker. So Jesus’ answer “the one who is without sin, cast the first stone,” challenges the religious leaders to confront their own sinfulness . So, that is always our challenge, to reflect on our sinfulness and brokenness and ask ourselves, who are we to condemn. Our call is to be compassionate, but at the same time to confront injustice towards others, and unjust laws always.

A couple committed adultery. Where was the man? How come it was the woman alone who was brought to Jesus. Here we see patriarchy ‘s ugly façade. Yet today, patriarchy is still an ugly reality. Religion is used to justify violence and discrimination against women. In too many places in our world, women are paid less than men for the same jobs and it is women and children who bear the burden of poverty. Violence against women is rooted in patriarchy’s beliefs and practices that women are less than equal images of our God, and therefore , it is God’s will to treat women as inferior to men. Jesus revolutionized the world with his radical inclusion of women as beloved sisters and disciples.

As Jesus set the woman caught in adultery free, so Jesus liberates us from patriarchy today. Just as Jesus challenged the religious leaders to confront their own sinfulness, so Jesus calls us to confront our church leaders to be truth tellers and justice doers in order to bring reform, healing and renewal to our church and world. In some cases, this may mean calling for resignations of top leaders in order to issue in a new beginning for the Catholic community. How can Catholics tolerate an investigation of nuns when it is the Vatican, including the Pope and some of the bishops who ,according to allegations, were involved in the cover up of sex abuse by keeping it under pontifical secrecy. How could keeping pedophiles in ministry and shuffling them around from parish to parish, from state to state and from country to country be a pastoral response that protected children? We need to fnd out what the Pope knew, when did he know it and how did he respond to these cases? Were the victims present at these secret trials, were the accused present at these Vatican secret trials? If not, how could justice be done? There are so many questions that need answers.

We, the people of God, are called to be prophetic, to open ourselves to God acting within us, and working through us. As we gather in inclusive Catholic communities to live and love as Jesus did, we need to stand up in solidarity for victims of abuse. All Catholics have a responsibility to be the face of Christ's compassion in our church and world. God is indeed doing something new in our people-empowered communities as we face such painful issues with courage and faith.
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Celebrated General Absoluton at Eucharist/Mass on March 20th, 2010

Gathering Rite of Assembly

Left to right: Lee Breyer,Carol Ann Breyer,
Bridget Mary Meehan, Mike

Left to right: Carol Ann Breyer, Lee Breyer,
Bridget Mary Meehan, Mike Rigdon, Imogene Rigdon
Community gathers around altar to recite
Prayers of Consecration/Institution
in Eucharistic Prayer

Before liturgy, Jack Duffy (standing) converses with
Drew Hudson, (right seated) our liturgist and
Jack Meehan with saxophone

Before Liturgy, Priest Lee Breyer shares with
Bridget Mary Meehan and priest Mike Rigdon.

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community celebrated General Absoluton on Fifth Sunday of Lent/March 20, 2010 at the Pentential Rite of our Eucharistic Liturgy. (Mass)
Several people expressed thanks for the beautiful meditation on the woman caught in adultery. (below)
In the early church there was no private confession. The Irish monks devised this practice and the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) made the practice of private confession mandatory. Vatican ll emphasized the community’s role in this sacrament and in recent years, communal reconciliation services have become popular. General absolution is one of the church’s rites in which we receive God’s lavish forgiveness in a communal setting. Church law allows general absolution in cases of grave necessity and the bishop is the one charged with making this decision. So it is with great joy that we announce that our leadership team (which includes a woman bishop) will be offering General Absolution at the Penitential Rite of our Eucharistic liturgy
Our sins/negative choices/failures remind us that we are human and sometimes fall short of our divine potential of living in the fullness of God’s love. We are broken vessels and need forgiveness and healing. During this time of Lent, we come together as community to acknowledge our need for God’s mercy and healing love to transform our lives.

In preparation during the Penitential Rite, we will lead you in a guided meditation on the woman caught in adultery.
Liturgy begins with gathering song and sign of cross…

Penitential Rite:
Soft music in the background…
Invite the assembly to get comfortable in their seats… close their eyes if that is comfortable for them… take a few deep breaths…
In this evening’s Gospel, we encounter Jesus with the woman caught in adultery…
Picture Jesus in a quiet spot, alone… perhaps listening to the music of the birds and insects around him… The wind is blowing..
Hear, in the distance, and then getting gradually louder the noise of the mob, pushing and pulling someone and and yelling about that person being a sinner… As they get closer to Jesus, you see it is a woman, who is made to stand before him in silence, all dishevelved and in disgrace, and hear the accusations…
Listen.. watch…hear Jesus’ words… who can cast the first stone? I don’t condemn you, go and sin no more…
Now in your imagination, switch places with the woman. Now you are standing before Jesus… Be still and listen within…what would you say to Jesus about your own sinfulness…listen to his response to you…look in his eyes …hear his voice.
Speak your desire for forgiveness… hear him speak: go now and sin no more…
Be still in the embrace of Jesus loving you just as you are …
Then, O God, we open our hands and hearts to receive your forgiveness…
General Absolution:
“God, the Father/Mother of mercies, through the death and resurrection of Jesus has reconciled the world and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins, through the ministry of the Church may God give us pardon and peace, and we absolve you from your sins in the name of God, the Father and Mother, and of Jesus, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”

Brief History: (Handout given to assembly)

The Sacrament of Reconciliation/General Absolution In the early Church there was no private confession. The primary sacrament of forgiveness was Baptism. In the early church, the Sacrament of Penance could be received only once in a lifetime. There were only three sins that needed to be confessed to the Church as a whole. One was abandoning one's faith in God, the second was murder and the third was adultery. Penances were long and severe. The Order of Penitents had to wear special clothes, left after the homily like catechumens do today. For centuries, penitents did their penance and then returned for absolution.
It was not until 1100’s that we began to have the individual confessing of sins to a priest and asking for forgiveness from him rather than the community. This practice was begun by the Irish monks who devised a list of all the possible sins one could commit and suitable penances. Sins were kept secret. The Order of Penitents and only one penance in a lifetime were abandoned. The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) made the practice of individual confession mandatory for Catholics to do at least once a year. Thus, we can see the evolution of the current practice of confession, absolution, and then doing the penance.
Then in the 20th century, Vatican II restored a communal understanding to this sacrament. The theology is that God always forgives, and forgives us directly. Reconciliation with the church community was emphasized as a sacramental sign of reconciliation with God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the church is a sign and instrument of forgiveness and reconciliation (ccc1442). “The priest is not the master of God’s forgiveness but its servant.” (ccc1446). The priest is, therefore, a representative of the community.
After Vatican 11, with this emphasis on the community’s role in this sacrament, communal reconciliation services grew in popularity, including a form known as General Absolution, which in recent times has been restricted by the institutional church to emergency situations. We believe that Lent is an ideal time to celebrate our ongoing conversion and spiritual renewal within our liturgy of the Eucharist in preparation for the great feast of Easter. So, our leadership team has decided to celebrate God’s abundant mercy, which is open always to all, with General Absolution during the Penitential Rite on the fifth Sunday of Lent, March 20th.
Prayer: General Absolution:
“God, the Father/Mother of mercies, through the death and resurrection of Jesus has reconciled the world and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins, through the ministry of the Church may God give us pardon and peace, and we absolve you from your sins in the name of God, the Father and Mother, and of Jesus, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”

Southwest Florida Catholic Assembly Meets in Sarasota/ Speaker Theologian Dr. Anthony Padavona / "Keeping Hope Alive in a Church in Crisis""

From left to right:
William J. Schuch, Bridget Mary Meehan
Dr. Anthony Padavano at St.
Andrew Church at Catholic Assembly

Southwest Florida Catholic Assembly Meets in Sarasota, Florida: Speaker Theologian Anthony Padavona
(Summary from my notes)
On March 20, 2010, about 200 people attended the Southwest Florida Catholic Assembly at St. Andrew United Church of Christ in Sarasota, Florida. Theologian Anthony Padavano spoke on “Keeping Hope Alive in a Church in Crisis.
Dr. Padavano gave an overview of the impact of Vatican 11. He noted that in the first millennium, the Councils of the Church focused on Christ, the second millennium shifted its focus to the development of the church as institution, climaxing with the teaching on papal infallibility in Vatican 1. Vatican 11 focused on listening to the Spirit.
Dr. Padavona made the point that the young people today view the institutional church as they would the Queen of England, a Victorian Aunt or a beloved Grandmother. Beloved, but quaint! Why would you hurt them? Why would you hear them? In other words, they are part of our heritage, but have no influence on how one lives life in the world today.

In addition, Dr. Padavano pointed out that the Decree on the Liturgy had lasting impact on the church’s worship. The language moved from Latin to the vernacular. The priest faced the people, not the altar. People became active participants. Now in our contemporary church, there is a conflict about a change in the words used in the Eucharistic Prayers. This has caused a major controversy that would not have happened if this had occurred before Vatican 11. it shows how much the spirit of Vatican 11 has influenced the people of God, who see themselves as the church.
Another major decree that has changed the way Catholics interact with the world and others religons is the the Decree on Ecumenism. Ths document affirmed the sacred in other religions and opened the church to dialogue with other Christian traditions as well as non-Christian communities. This led to popes visiting synagogues and mosques in our time.

Vatican 11, did not produce dogmas, or infallible statements. All documents were approved by a significant majority and the Pope was not present when the decisions were made that changed the direction of the church.
Dr. Padavano reminded the audience that the teaching of the magisterium is official and true on occasion until tested by the sensus fidelium. The two infallible pronouncements of the Assumption and the Immaculate Conception did not send people out of the church, but the ban on artificial birth control certainly destroyed the church’s credibility with Catholics in the pew. 90% of Catholics who divorce and remarry do not follow the teaching on divorce and remarriage. They do not get an annulment. The Vatican has no control over people’s lives. They follow their consciences.

The four things that foster hope in a church in crisis:
Conscience is one of the most significant teachings of Vatican 11. The law of conscience is God’s voice that speaks within us. Pope Benedict, when he was Joseph Ratzinger, a Vatican 11 theologian taught that “over the pope, there stands one’s own conscience which must be obeyed even against ecclesiastical authority. “
1. Companionship. Friendship with someone whom we can share our struggles. Dr. Padavano quoted Newman. “the worst of all demons is the element of perfection that keeps us from accepting myself. “
2. Vision. What we want of the institutional church is a partner and contributor. We don’t need the institutional church to validate us, but to let go of me and get out of the way of reform.
3. Witness. Our witness is not about pope or hierarchy, but about what gives meaning to our lives. It is about loyalty to Christ and living in a compassionate community which spurs us to be steadfast and strong.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Global Scope of Sex Abuse Crisis in Catholic Church Makes Case for Reform by Tom Roberts/ Joan Chittister, Natonal Catholic Reporter

My Reflecton on news articles below;
If women, including women priests and bishops, had been at the decision-making table in the Vatican, the veil of secrecy would have been ripped wide open and church leaders would have put victims before protecting its institutional reputation.

Our first moral imperative as Catholics is to follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be the compassionate face of God, not to practice blind obedience to church authorities under the cloak of secrecy in order to avoid scandal. Pope Benedict and the bishops have betrayed the church in the coverup of the sex abuse scandal.

Now it is time for a people empowered open, transparent, accountable Catholic Church. It is time for the magisterium to adopt a renewed, healthy theology of sexuality that reflects the lived experience of the people (one example, contraception). The hierarchy of the church should follow the wisdom of the faithful: abandon mandatory celibacy, welcome married priests and womenpriests, rid itself of a top down management model of clericalism. We need to build together a more inclusive church where all are welcome to receive sacraments, and utilize our mutual responsibility as members of the Body of Christ.
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP
See these and other excellent articles in the National Catholic Reporter:
Global scope of abuse crisis makes case for reform
Church’s system of governance needs a fundamental overhaulMar. 19, 2010
Tom Roberts
"The clergy sex abuse crisis, once dismissed by some church officials as a product of U.S. anti-Catholicism and media hostile to the church, has begun sweeping through Europe, with damning government reports in Ireland and widespread allegations in recent weeks of abuse of youngsters in Germany and the Netherlands.
"Only now, an insistent new question is being posed by in the international media and by many church observers: What did Pope Benedict XVI know and when did he know it?"
Amid all the investigations and continuing revelations, the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, ran a column written by Lucetta Scaraffia, an Italian journalist and history professor, asserting that if more women had been present in decision-making roles in the church, the cover-up may not have occurred. “We can hypothesize that a greater female presence, not at a subordinate level, would have been able to rip the veil of masculine secrecy that in the past often covered the denunciation of these misdeeds with silence,” she wrote.
"Cleaning up the church, however, might be easier said than done, according to U.S. Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer and one of the earliest advocates of church transparency and of victims’ rights in the sex abuse crisis...
[Tom Roberts is NCR editor at large. His e-mail address is Religion News Service and Catholic News Service contributed to this report.]=======================================================================================

Divided loyalties: an incredible situation
Joan Chittister on Mar. 17, 2010

"The dilemma that really threatens the future of the church is a distorted notion of the vow of obedience and the tension it creates between loyalty to the Gospel and loyalty to the institution -- translate: "system."
In this case, the problem swirls around Ireland's Primate, Cardinal Sean Brady, a good man with a good heart and a good reputation. Until now. In 1975, then Fr. Sean Brady, a newly certified canon lawyer and secretary to then Bishop Francis McKiernan, now deceased, in the diocese of Kilmore, took testimony from two young boys abused by the serial rapist Fr. Brendan Smyth. At the end of those interviews, Brady exacted a vow of silence from the boys which effectively protected Smyth from public censure and enabled him to go on abusing children -- including in the United States -- for another 18 years. Brady, too, said nothing to any one about the case, other than to his bishop, ever again. Not to the gardai, not to the courts, not even to the bishops to whose dioceses Smyth
had then been sent... "
"Challenged now to resign because of that failure to give evidence of a crime, Brady's answer is the Nuremberg defense: He was only following orders; he did not have the responsibility to make any reports other than to his bishop; he was only a note-taker. Blind obedience is itself an abuse of human morality. It is a misuse of the human soul in the name of religious commitment. It is a sin against individual conscience..."

Natonal Catholic Reporter

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sex Abuse Requires Rethinking of Mandatory Celibacy, by Hans Kung in Natonal Catholic Reporter


Sex abuse requires rethinking of mandatory celibacy
Hans Kung
"Compulsory celibacy is the principal reason for today’s catastrophic shortage of priests, for the fatal neglect of eucharistic celebration, and for the tragic breakdown of personal pastoral ministry in many places. ..What would be the best solution to the problem of recruiting future priests? Quite simply: abolition of the celibacy rule, the root of all these evils, and the admission of women to ordination. The bishops know this, but they do not have the courage to say it in public. "....
*Nevertheless, one must ask, do not the bishops themselves bear responsibility for the decades-long practice of covering up cases of abuse, often taking no more serious measures than relocating the perpetrator under the veil of secrecy? Have the cover-up specialists of the past suddenly become credible un-coverers? Must not independent commissions be established to deal with such cases? "
"On grounds of discretion, the secretive Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has in the past claimed exclusive jurisdiction for all significant cases of sexual offenses by clerics, and thus, in the years 1981-2005, all of these cases landed on the desk of its prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. As recently as May 18, 2001, Ratzinger sent to all the bishops around the world a solemn epistle concerning serious crimes (Epistula de delictis gravioribus), in which cases of abuse were put under “papal secrecy” (secretum Pontificium), the violation of which entails severe ecclesiastical penalties. "
[Fr. Hans Küng is a theologian and author of many books, including Does God Exist: An Answer for Today and Infallible?:An Inquiry.]

Toxic Atmosphere of Secrecy Must be Abolished in Catholic Church:

Toxic Atmosphere of Secrecy Must Be Abolished in Catholic Church
The atmosphere of secrecy created by Pope Benedict and the bishops have resulted in the current toxic environment. There is something radically wrong with a scandal-ridden, priest-short church that demands "pontifical secrecy" in handling sex abuse charges against clergy to protect the church's reputation, but excommunicates womenpriests and our followers for breaking a man-made law by serving the people in inclusive communities.

How can the Vatican claim that justice was done for victims or priests under "pontifical secrecy"-- if neither were present at secret trials?

Why do church workers have to swear a loyalty oath of blind obedience to the church including teachings not yet formulated?

Catholics worldwide should take action to resist these unjust demands by the hierarchy.
We need to ask ourselves, what would Jesus do in this situation and do it now.

Sex Abuse cases should be handled openly and justice must be done in all countries in the world. Child molestors should not be shuffled from one country to another, or one state to another as has happened in the past. Criminals should go to jail and those who obstruct justice should be punished. The process should be open and transparent.

The Pope and bishops must be accountable to the people of God. There should be no more domination tatics, no more "pontifical secrecy", no more loyalty pledges as condtion for employment. Open the windows and let the fresh air of reform renew the church.

It is time for systemic change. Women must have a seat at the table as equals in all areas of church life, including Holy Orders.

Roman Catholic Womenpriests are leading the way now toward a more just, open and accountable church in grassroots communities in partnership with our sisters and brothers who are ready for change now.
Bridget Mary Meehan

Cry Out as if you had a Million Voices.
It is Silence that Kills the World. - Catherine of Siena

Occasional words of wisdom become staples for rational living. One example is from Lord Acton: Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Another is from Edmund Burke, whom we can paraphrase slightly: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.The time has come for us to declare that we have lost confidence in the hierarchical leadership of the Roman Catholic Church. This is a result of our recognition of the tsunami of corrupt behavior and secrecy that has resulted in systemic sexual abuse of young people by many clergy and religious.
The perpetrators include the religious superiors, mainly bishops, who have enabled this to continue by covering up the criminal actions. It is obvious that the primary motivation of the leadership is to protect the presumed unsullied reputation of the institutional church, regardless of the consequences to mere human beings.
Therefore, we call for all clergy and religious, without exception, who have had personal knowledge of sexual abuse by others, and who did not take decisive action to stop it, to resign forthwith.
In addition, we call for the immediate abolition of the requirement for an oath of unquestioning obedience and a vow of secrecy by clergy and religious to their superiors. Such an oath of blind obedience has no place in a collegial organization. A vow of secrecy is antithetical to a true Christian community. Such practices are at the heart of the corruption of the present institutional church.
Send comments to or 1-877-700-ARCC (2722). ARCC-

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pope Will Struggle to Survive Abuse Scandal, Article by John Cooney in Irish Independent

Pope will struggle to survive abuse scandal
By John Cooney
Saturday March 13 2010
"A depressing week for
Pope Benedict dramatically escalated last night into an unprecedented papal crisis when he was directly implicated in a cover-up of a German paedophile priest when he was Cardinal Archbishop of Munich 30 years ago...
The latest revelations are so potentially damaging to the reputation of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger that speculation was mounting last night that they could severely, perhaps even irreparably, damage his moral authority as Pope Benedict XVI...
Benedict is now in the eye of the biggest sex abuse crisis to hit the Vatican. Whether he can survive is doubtful -- if the Catholic Church he rules is also to survive."
- John Cooney
Irish Independent

Sandra Schneiders: Vatican Investigation of Nuns: Power Struggle by Richard McBrien

Sandra Schneiders on religious life
Richard McBrien on Mar. 16, 2010
"Sandra Schneiders is a Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (known to many as the "IHMs") and professor of New Testament Studies and Christian Spirituality at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, in Berkeley, California.

The current struggle between some in the Vatican and the overwhelming majority of religious communities of women is really a power struggle between those who favor the renewal and reforms promoted by the Second Vatican Council and those who do not. Women's Religious Life is "being used as a symbolic scapegoat" in this confrontation. "....
"Sisters are a particularly important target because of their sheer numbers and influence. They are also "the largest, best organized, most geographically ubiquitous, most ministerially diversified, and therefore probably most effective promoters of the vision of Vatican II."

Nuns support Health Care Bill, Reject Stand of Bishops.

... in a rare public disagreement that will reverberate among the nation's 70 million Catholics, leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 nuns sent lawmakers a letter urging lawmakers to pass the Senate health care bill. Expected to come before the House by this weekend, the measure contains abortion funding restrictions that the bishops say don't go far enough.
"Despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions," said the letter signed by 60 leaders of women's religious orders. "It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments ... in support of pregnant women. This is the real pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it."

Bridget Mary's Comment.
Right on, Sisters! Stand up for health care for the people especially those who are most in need!

"Church in Ireland Sinking as Rot Goes Right to the Top" Article in Irish Times/ Questions for Pope

http://www.irishtim /opinion/ 2010/0316/ 1224266350973. html
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Church in Ireland sinking as rot goes right to the top

" It matters little if Cardinal Brady resigns for he and the church he leads is damaged beyond repair", writes PATSY McGARRY

"IT DID not seem possibile that it could get any worse. It has. The clerical child sex abuse scandal has now spread to the very top in Ireland and in Rome.
We heard at the weekend, through the German press, that in January 1980 the then Archbishop of Munich Joseph Ratzinger approved the transfer of Father “H”, a suspected paedophile, to Munich to undergo therapy."....
Patsy McGarry is Religious Affairs Correspondent

Bridget Mary's Reflection:

The institutional church has failed to protect children and families, and "gutted" its own moral credibility in the sexual abuse debacle that has spread like a fast growing cancer destroying life and causing unimaginable suffering for its victims. By imposing silence on victims and trying cases of clergy sexual abuse in the Vatican under "pontfical secrecy", the hierarchy has betrayed the Catholic Church, the people of God . This a systemic failure and a catastrophe for the church.

In these secret Vatican trials, neither the victims nor accused were present. How could this process be fair? Pope Benedict has many questions to answer. The question is who is the Pope accountable to? God? the people? the Catholic Church?

I pray that this tragedy will be a tipping point for a renewed Catholic Church, where the human dignity and equality of every person will be upheld, where will women will be equals at the table of decision-making, where victims of abuse wll receive compassionate pastoral care and justice, and where all our children and youth will be safe and secure in the sacred spaces where we gather.
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP

Monday, March 15, 2010

Vatican's Chief Exorcist blames Devil for Sex Abuse Scandals in Catholic Church

Like Vatican, journalists can blame the devil
Dianne Williamson

"As a journalist, I'm delighted that the Vatican's chief exorcist recently announced that the devil is at work inside the Vatican and the culprit behind the still-ongoing sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. ...The Exorcist... Father Amorth claims he's dealt with a whopping 70,000 cases of demonic possession (can the archfiend multi-task?) and said the sex abuse scandals were proof that the anti-Christ was waging a war against the Holy See... he added that Pope Benedict believes wholeheartedly in the practice of exorcism and has encouraged and praised his work. When one speaks of the smoke of Satan' in the holy rooms, it is all true, including these latest stories of violence and pedophilia, Father Amorth said.
So after blaming conspiracies and homosexuals, they've now settled on the devil... "

Call to Action Statement on European Catholic Church Sexual Abuse

March 15, 2010
Media Contact:
Jim FitzGerald, Executive Director, O: 773.404.0004 x262
Nicole Sotelo, Call To Action, O: 773.404.0004 x285

Call To Action Statement on European Catholic Church Sexual Abuse

This weekend, reports in Germany alleged that Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, harbored a pedophile priest in the Archdiocese of Munich, Germany. From Ireland to Switzerland, survivors are coming forward with allegations against church officials and dioceses are being forced to make public statements about their knowledge of the abuse that has been kept secret for decades. Call To Action joins SNAP, the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests, in calling on European governments to initiate investigations into the allegations in order to uncover the abuse that has remained hushed for decades and may have been known by the highest level of officials in the Roman Catholic Church.
Call To Action stands in solidarity with survivors of sexual abuse in Europe who have suffered at the hands of Roman Catholic clergy, women religious and other ministerial leaders. Our prayers go out to them, their families and friends. May those who remain silent know that they are not alone and have the courage to come forward with their stories.
In this season of Lent and renewal, we recommit ourselves to ensuring Roman Catholicism is just and accountable so that our churches may become true sanctuaries for all God's people.
Call To Action (CTA) is a Catholic movement working for equality and justice in the Church and society. An independent national organization of over 25,000 people and 53 local chapters, CTA believes that the Spirit of God is at work in the whole church, not just its appointed leaders. Visit our website at

"The Catholic Church Should Free Its Priests From Celibacy" Article in Guardian/Vatican links cover-up with lack of women in hierarchy/Need for Reform
Editorial: The Observer:

"The arch-traditionalist cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna is calling for an urgent examination of the celibate priesthood. The issue of women priests should also get an airing. As we report today, the Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, has published an analysis that links systemic cover-up of scandal to the dearth of women in the hierarchy. Allowing women priests, as the Church of England has done for over 15 years, would blow open the doors to an establishment can that, in its homogeneity, has become dangerously impenetrable and detached."
Bridget Mary's Response:
Is it possible that the Vatican is connecting the link between systemic cover-up of sandal and the lack of women in the hierarchy? I hope so.
If so, when will the Vatican change its policies and power structures so that women are equals in decision making in our church?
Right now, some of the bishops in the U.S. are making it known that they do not want women on the altar, and in the restructuring of their dioceses are letting go of women from professional ministry positions. See article on Diocese of Venice below as one example. There seems to be a trend developing around the country where women who volunteer and/or work for the church, are being once again treated as second class citizens. I wonder if some women will make the connection and stop contributing financially in a diocese that does not deem them worthy to serve on the altar when the bishop presides at liturgy.
Sexism is a sin, and should have no place in a church that follows Jesus, who had both female and male disciples. Discrimination based on gender was condemned by Vatican 11.
Why are some of our bishops moving backwards now? Women are at least half of the membership of our church. In the U.S. they did about 80% of parish ministry. Why are women, who love the church, work for the church as volunteers and ministers, being treated with such disdain by some bishops?
Meanwhile, Roman Catholic Womenpriests are growing in numbers and support from our communities. We are blazing a trail for equality for women in the Roman Catholic Church. Like Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat in front of the bus, Roman Catholic Womenpriests will not sit in the back of the Catholic bus. We are walking the prophetic path toward justice and equality for all. Women are welcomed and treated as equals in our communities.
My prayer is that more and more qualified women will come forward to join us as they say "yes" to their priestly vocations. What are you waiting for? The door to ordination is open.
I also pray that Pope Benedict will reveal the Vatican's role and responsibility in the clergy sexual abuse crisis. It is time to sweep the Catholic house clean, reform and renew the church. I pray that Pope Benedict will share his role and explain the letter to the bishops that demanded cases be reported to the CDF under "pontifical secrecy". Only the truth will lead to justice, healing and systemic change.
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP

Recent History of Diocese of Venice in Florida or How to Destroy a Diocese/Good News is that Roman Catholic Womenpriests are serving here too!
Recent History of Diocese of Venice in Florida or How to Destroy a Diocese
"Bishop Dewane immediately went about stamping his philosophy of church on the diocese. He dropped in (unannounced) at parish liturgies and criticized his pastors for liturgical deviations. He replaced many Vatican II pastors with his new guys, many from abroad and outside the diocese, some new seminary grads. This took about two years and multiple changes. Recently he abolished the permanent diaconate program in the diocese and “accepted” resignation of many active deacons as of March 31, 2010. He has demanded rigid conformity with the GIRM—and relies upon an informal “reporting” system which results in calls to pastors on Monday if there has been any deviation. His office has instructed pastors that no women are to be Eucharistic ministers, lectors, or acolytes when the Bishop is a presider at a parish liturgy. He attempted to re-establish several Latin prayers in the general liturgy (i.e., the Creed), but relented when the chancery was stormed with protests. "....
But the good news is that there is hope here too! Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community celebrates liturgies on Saturday evenings at 6:00 PM at St. Andrew Church in Sarasota. We invite Catholics who are disturbed by the direction that Bishop Dewane is taking the Venice Diocese to join us in living our Catholic faith in a renewed, enthusiastic community of equals where all are welcome and all are equal. Two partner priests, Michael Rigdon and Lee Breyer, co-preside with me, Bridget Mary Meehan, a Roman Catholic Womanpriest. Judy Lee, also a Roman Catholic Womanpriest, serves the poor and homeless in Good Shepherd Community in the Fort Myers area which is also located in the Diocese of Venice. So, the good news is that there are two inclusive Catholic communities in the Diocese of Venice where all can receive sacraments, where all who believe that the praying church, the believing church is always a reforming church. Come and see!
Contact Judy Lee at
Contact Bridget Mary Meehan at

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Celebrates Fourth Sunday of Lent with Liturgical Dance

After a group reading of the Gospel story of the Loving Father/Prodigal Son
Sheila Carey and Helen Duffy performed an inspiring liturgical dance to
"Lay your hands gently upon me" by Carey Laundry
Many were deeply moved. After the dance, the community shared their insights on the Gospel in a dialogue homily. At he Eucharistic Prayer, the community came around the altar and recited the prayers of consecration with their arms extended. Our circle was so large that it went down the center aisle.
There were about 15 new people visiting, many from Wisconsin, one from Ireland and a couple from Pennsylvania. I believe there were between 60 and 70 present. Each week more people come through our doors and are warmly welcomed by our ministry team. Sarasota is a tourist area in the winter and spring, so we get lots of new people who then share the good news with their friends and associates and so we thank God for the growth.
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP

Important Links on Pope Benedict/Vatican/Sex Abuse

Links to Stories on Pope Benedict/Vatican/Sex Abuse
Survivior says it’s no surprise about the pope’s involvement and knowledge
New York Times: Vatican Sees Campaign Against the Pope
What did the pope know about abuse in Germany, when did he knew it, and what did he do about it?
Pope’s former diocese admits error over priest; sex abuse victims respond

Link to Cleveland priest's letter to Cleveland Bishop Lennon on parish closings
Cleveland priest’s open letter to Cleveland Bishop Lennon on parish closings Cleveland priest challenges his bishop on church closings