Saturday, June 5, 2010

"Catholics want women religious to speak out on policy issues", National Catholic Reporter

Survey gives U.S. nuns strong Catholic backing

Jun. 04, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Pope Names Team to Investigate Abuse in Ireland" New York Times

Pope Names Team to Investigate Abuse in Ireland

ROME — In one of his most concrete actions since a sexual abuse scandal began sweeping the Roman Catholic Church in Europe, Pope Benedict XVI on Monday appointed a high-profile team of prelates, including the archbishop of New York, to investigate Irish dioceses and seminaries.

"In its announcement, the Vatican said the investigation, called an Apostolic Visitation, would begin this fall with the examination of four dioceses: Dublin, Armagh, Cashel and Emly, and Tuam, as well as seminaries and religious orders. It will then be extended to other dioceses."

For the visitation, the pope appointed some leading Anglophone bishops. He appointed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, a former archbishop of Westminster, to investigate the Archdiocese of Armagh, which is the seat of the All-Ireland primate Cardinal Sean Brady.

"The archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, will investigate the Archdiocese of Dublin, and the archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, a former rector of the North American College in Rome, will oversee an investigation into Irish seminaries, including the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. Ireland’s seminaries, like those in many countries, have experienced a significant decrease in enrollments."...

"Some American victims groups criticized the appointments of Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Dolan because of their mixed records on handling abuse cases within their own dioceses..."

My Comment:

Yes, I agree with the victims groups critique. Is this a bit like trusting the foxes to guard the hen house?

It also strikes me as quite insensitive to the Irish people. The Ryan Report and the Murphy Report were highly acclaimed and analyzed the Irish clergy abuse in depth. The Irish are quite capable of conducting their own investigations.

In my view, if Pope Benedict involved a cross-section of Irish women and men , including sex abuse victims and non-Catholics, this commission would have far more credibility. Their mandate should include recommending firing bishops and prelates who were at fault in covering up sexual abuse. This Commission could also consult broadly with experts around the world on reforms of church structures that are root causes of the sex abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church, and recommend changes such as women priests and a married RC Clergy. Bridget Mary Meehan, rcwp

Monday, May 31, 2010

"Kusner Still Pursuing Dreams Despite Barriers", UIHC Chaplain ... will be Iowa's first Roman Catholic Womanpriest

by Stephanie Wise • Iowa City Press-Citizen • May 31, 2010

Mary Kay Kusner is breaking new ground again.

A wife and mother of four, Kusner is a devout Catholic and a chaplain in palliative care at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. But she also is a deacon in the Catholic church, soon to be a priest and a force to be reckoned with in the church.

On June 13, Kusner will be ordained a Roman Catholic Womanpriest at First Christian Church in Coralville to become the first female Catholic Womanpriest in Iowa."

"Is It Time For The Pope To Resign?" by Richard Sipe

"Should the pope resign? Nine of the 265 Roman Catholic popes have allegedly resigned their office, most for the good of the Church. The first according to the historian Epiphanius was Clement I around the year 100. The most recent was Gregory XII who abdicated at the Council of Constance in 1417 to help settle the claims of three competitors for the papacy..."

"Pope Benedict XVI is a decent man and a lifelong servant of his church. It takes nothing away from whatever good he has done to suggest that he should resign his office. However, the Roman Catholic Church is in a period of Reformation as profound (and breathtaking) as any its history has ever recorded. The voluntary resignation of Pope Benedict XVI could be a gesture that would match the epic challenge that faces Catholicism today..."

"The People of God — hierarchy included — are shackled by a secret system designed to control rather than free them. Unresolved sexual issues are at its core."

Richard Sipe

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"A New Pentecost" by Elsie Hainz McGrath, RCWP

Ree Hudson, Bishop Patricia Fresen, Elsie Hainz McGrath
(left to right on ordination day in St. Louis Elsie and Ree are co-pastors of St. Therese of Divine Peace in St. Louis, Missouri)

A New Pentecost

As we move into that time we call “Ordinary,” many of our Christian sisters and brothers begin to celebrate the season they call “Pentecost.” Truly, this is the Season of Pentecost – every year a new Pentecost, a new opportunity to birth a new church into being. And this year we have been given a new impetus, because that New Church, which birth we are witnesses to and participants in, has experienced quantum leaps of growth throughout the 2010 Season of Easter. The story is universal – interreligious and worldwide. For clarity and brevity, however, we will focus only on one piece of it: the piece we call Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP).

The women who are priests, validly ordained in the apostolic line and insistent upon being identified as Roman Catholic because our mission is renewal and reform – which can only happen from within – officially began on the Danube River on June 29 of 2002. Seven women answered the call to step out in faith and accept ordination. These “Danube Seven” garnered worldwide headlines, and the full attention of Rome. They were excommunicated, and it was thought by the hierarchy that the “woman problem” was thus resolved.

It wasn’t. The birthing of a new church had begun.

There were “tipping points,” as Ree calls them, along the way. The first, following that 2002 phenomenon, was the ordinations on the Three Rivers outside of Pittsburgh – the first RCWP ordinations to be held within the boundaries of the USA. Of epic proportions, they happened on July 31 of 2006. At the invitation of Bishop Patricia Fresen – who had welcomed us into the program of formation, continued to mentor us throughout the process, and was our ordaining bishop – Ree and I were there, witnessing history such as no one had ever before witnessed.

On November 11 of 2007, the St. Louis ordinations in the Jewish Central Reform Congregation grabbed the attention of the world and the first official excommunications since the Danube Seven. It was the second “tipping point.” Sea changes occurred within the religious communities of St. Louis as a direct result of those ordinations. The tides were turning. And on December 19 of 2007, Rome signed a declaration of universal automatic excommunication, in perpetuity, for women ordained as Roman Catholic priests. The “general decree” was made public five months later.

The third “tipping point” was an ordination in Lexington, Kentucky on August 9 of 2008. For the first time – and to date the only time – an active and in-good-standing male Roman Catholic priest openly celebrated at a Roman Catholic woman’s ordination. Rev. Roy Bourgeois preached at the services, and has been preaching ever since in support of women priests. And, like all of us, he refuses to accept the excommunication that Rome says he has automatically incurred.

Taking our cue from what we have learned as “good” Catholics, we could say that RCWP has attained, in its seventh year, the “age of reason.” And that the growing discontent among the world’s Catholics is leading to a growing age of reason, a growing age of questioning, and of demands for reasoned and reasonable answers. The tidal waves are becoming tsunamic.

And now, a little less than eight years after the Danube Seven began this birthing process, RCWP adds a new page to its history – a necrology page.

The fourth “tipping point”: the passing into new life of Rev. Mary Styne on the eve of the Ascension – May 12 – with her funeral celebration on Ascension Sunday; and the passing into new life of Rev. Janine Denomme on the day after Mary’s celebration – May 17 – with her funeral celebration on the eve of Pentecost. In the light of their resurrection, these beloved sisters shine on our churches and light our way forward.

On May 16, while we in St. Louis celebrated a bodily Jesus ascending into a space called heaven, our sister Mary was being celebrated for entering into new life at her funeral Mass in Wisconsin. Exactly nine months earlier, on August 16 of 2009, Mary was ordained. Her ordained ministry was brief; her priestly ministry encompassed the whole of her 70 years of earthly life.

Janine was ordained on April 10 of this year, less than two months after her 45th birthday. A priest forever, and wise beyond her years, when her brother asked her what she knew for sure, Janine’s response was, “I know that I am loved.” As we celebrated Janine’s holy life, witnesses attested to her holy presence in those last days. It was said that she became Light. As a Methodist church was filled to overflowing, and a Catholic funeral included the Jewish Kaddish, it was said that we were truly witnessing the birth of a new church.

We have come of age. The HOLY grace of Pentecost lives within us. We believe.

Rev. Elsie Hainz McGrath, RCWP

29 May 2010

"Future Pope(Benedict) Refused Defrocking Of Convicted Priest "/Associated Press

Future pope (Benedict) refused defrocking of convicted priest

In his 1989 letter to Ratzinger, Ryan outlined Campbell's many offenses against children and asked for his laicization. He pointed out the local notoriety of the priest's case and said his crimes and those of another abusive priest had already cost the diocese $1.5 million in damages and legal fees.

"I fear the infliction of further pain upon the victims of his criminal activity and their families," Ryan wrote. "I fear that the diocese will suffer further pastorally and in public relations, to say nothing of greater financial damage."

Ratzinger refused, citing Vatican policy, and told the bishop to proceed with a church tribunal."

It boggles the mind that Roman Catholic Womenpriests are excommunicated and refused church funeral, and religious orders of women are being investigated by the Vatican for their feminist spirit and support of women's ordination. Yet, Cardinal Ratiznger, now Pope Benedict, refused to defrock a criminal priest who had inflicted so much damage on children.What is wrong with this picture? Where is justice in the Roman Catholic Church? Bridget Mary Meehan

"Two Female Priests Buried As Church Outsiders" /

Two Female Priests Buried as Church Outsiders

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Female Catholic priests, deemed excommunicate by Rome, buried two of their own this month, neither one in a Catholic cemetery. "They threw us away," says a surviving member of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, which marked its first deaths.

Mary Styne (left) and Janine Denomme celebrating Mass.CHICAGO (WOMENSENEWS)--Two funerals this month find women ordained as Catholic priests buried outside the church they were striving to change from within.

Mary Styne, 70, of Milwaukee, died May 12. She was ordained in 2009 by Roman Catholic Womenpriests, an organization that has been ordaining women to the priesthood in contravention of church law since 2002.

Janine Denomme, 45, of Chicago, died May 17, just weeks after her ordination by the same group; her funeral was May 22.

The women, both of whom died of cancer, are the first members of Roman Catholic Womenpriests to pass away. The group now has more than 100 bishops, priests and deacons worldwide, mostly in the United States.

Women presided over both funerals.

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While Styne's death and funeral were quiet, Denomme's drew renewed media attention to the battle lines running through the Catholic Church over women's ordination.

While Styne knew the Catholic hierarchy would never allow her funeral in a church and arranged for services at a nonsectarian chapel, Denomme's survivors asked to hold her funeral at St. Gertrude, the local parish she loved.

'Sign of Repentance'

The Chicago Archdiocese refused.

"Those who willingly separate themselves from the church cannot be granted a church funeral unless they gave some sign of repentance before death," it said in a statement.

The Chicago Archdiocese said Denomme's excommunication resulted automatically from her participation in a "simulation" of ordination on April 10, five weeks before her death. The church's decision to refuse burial upset many members of the progressive North Side parish, as did the fact that many of the conservative Catholic websites and blogs covering the story dwelt on how Denomme was a lesbian. Some of the parishioners will meet Tuesday to discuss how or whether to formally respond.

"She followed her conscience," said Barbara Zeman, a Roman Catholic female priest in Chicago. "They threw her, and us, away."

Denomme expected to have her funeral at St. Gertrude, Zeman said. She went into the hospital almost immediately after her ordination, so she never had the experience of being excluded from the life of the parish that other female priests know.

Denomme was ordained to the deaconate in July 2009, a few months after being diagnosed with colon cancer. Over the next year, she chronicled her disease in a blog, which she saw as her ministry. The site attracted more than 23,000 visitors.

Bishop Joan Houk, of Roman Catholic Womenpriests' Great Lakes region, recalled that Denomme was so ill at her priestly ordination in April that she needed to lie in an upstairs chamber, rather than in the main sanctuary with the other candidate for ordination. Houk shuttled back and forth between the two rooms to administer the sacrament.

Houk said the priests in her region thought the archdiocese's refusal to bury Denomme was senseless but unsurprising.

'Constant Denial to the Women'

"I see the constant denial to the women," Houk said in an interview at the wake. "Denial of community, denial of ministries such as lecturing or Eucharistic minister. They deny us the opportunity to pray on Catholic property."

Denomme's funeral was held at First United Methodist Church in a northern Chicago suburb, or "St. Gertrude's North," as a speaker at her wake irreverently dubbed it, to cheers and applause.

Styne's funeral was held in the Chapel of the Chimes at Wisconsin Memorial Park and she was buried by the funeral home Church and Chapel.

In Denomme's case, some parishioners said the archdiocese had told Rev. Dominic Grassi, pastor at St. Gertrude, that if he celebrated the funeral Mass at the parish it would be the last he'd ever say. Grassi declined to speak publicly about his conversation with Bishop Francis Kane.

"There was no way that our pastor could just go forward with a funeral," said Valency Hastings, a parishioner at St. Gertrude for eight years. "He would have been punished."

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's watchdog committee for doctrinal matters, declared in 1976 that women could never be priests because Jesus and his apostles were all male, and canon law codifies that stricture. Pope John Paul II, predecessor to the current pope, decreed an end to the ordination debate in 1994 in an apostolic letter.

Denomme's path to the priesthood began in her hometown of Detroit, where she played Mass with her three brothers, pretending to consecrate Chex cereal.

She came to Chicago in 1987 as a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and worked with homeless women. Most recently Denomme worked as youth program director at Center on Halsted, a community center serving gays, lesbians and transgendered people.

'Ruined for Life'

"I remember her wearing a T-shirt: 'JVC – Ruined for life,'" said her friend Rosie Gianforte in the eulogy. "She would say that her life was 'ruined' because she understood in a whole new way the inequalities and injustices in the world and once her consciousness had been raised, she was never the same again."

Friends and fellow parishioners at St. Gertrude described her as "gentle," "a peacemaker" and possessing the gifts of mediating disagreements and drawing out the talents of others. She was heavily involved at St. Gertrude: singing at Mass, volunteering as a spiritual director and religious teacher and preaching in the church's lay preaching program.

"She was really well-liked in the parish," Grassi said. "Loved."

Parishioners and female priests reacted to the archdiocese's decision with a mix of anger, sadness and forgiveness.

The day Denomme's partner, Nancy Katz, broke the news about the funeral on Denomme's blog, Susan Lersch resigned from St. Gertrude.

Lersch, a parishioner for eight years, voluntarily brought communion to the sick at a local long-term care facility; as such, she was officially representing the parish to the secular world. But after the parish chose not to bury Denomme, she didn't feel she could go on as the church's representative.

"I did not feel comfortable representing that decision," she said. "It was time to go. A line had been crossed."

Other parishioners said they struggled to extend forgiveness. Ruth Giles-Ott, a parishioner for 15 years, said she attended a faith-sharing meeting on May 10 where the group members discussed the archdiocese's decision. Christians are called to "radical love," she said, and that includes Cardinal Francis George.

Hastings said the parish has moved past anger into reconciliation, which is what Denomme would have wanted. At the same time, "Cardinal George has to face these tough questions about the lack of compassion to someone who dedicated her whole life to the church and the hypocrisy we see in not carrying out the basic act of buying the dead," she said.

Claire Bushey is a freelance journalist based in Chicago.


For more information:

Roman Catholic Womenpriests:

Janine Denomme obituary in the Chicago Tribune:

Mary Styne obituary in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Chicago Archdiocese:

Note: Women's eNews is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites and the contents of site the link points to may change.

Reprinted with permission of

My Comment:
Roman Catholic Womenpriests rejoice that we now have two holy women advocates for our movement in heaven! Even though the institutional church rejects womenpriests, we rejoice that Mary and Janine are now with the holy women that led the way: Mary, Mother of Jesus, St. Mary Magdala, Deacon Phoebe, Apostle Junia, Bishop Theodora, St. Joan of Arc, who was burned at the stake for following her conscience, St. Theodore Guerin canonized by Pope Benedict who was excommunicated during her earthly life. Roman Catholic Womenpriests have lots of saintly role models who were rejected, condemned and excommunicated, even put to death by the hierarchy. Now our sisters Mary and Janine bless us and accompany us forever in our work to renew our beloved church! Bridget Mary Meehan, rcwp

Female Troubles by Lisa Miller/Newsweek

"For more than a thousand years, becoming a nun was the best—and often the only—way for a young woman to get an education and to earn a modicum of independence. In the modern West, though, women have other options. In the United States, the number of religious sisters has shrunk by two thirds since 1965, to 59,600. (Worldwide, the collapse is not as dramatic: the number of sisters has dwindled by just one third over the same period, to 750,000.) And while sisters still outnumber priests across the globe, women’s desire to become nuns is plummeting. Less than 4 percent of American Catholic women have ever “seriously” considered becoming a nun, according to 2008 data by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, compared with 9 percent in 2003. And those numbers have been in decline since Vatican II. It’s no wonder, really. When men have all the power, and they “investigate” women who seem to disrespect their authority, why not become a doctor, or a lawyer, or a stay-at-home mom, and submit to God without the authoritarian meddling?

Lisa Miller is NEWSWEEK's religion editor and the author of Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination With the Afterlife. Become a fan of Lisa on Facebook.

Excellent analysis, Lisa. Women who are called to give their lives to God and serve the people of God have many choices including becoming a Roman Catholic Womanpriest.

Bridget Mary Meehan, rcwp

"Vatican's Sex Abuse Prosecutor Says Church Must Amputate To Heal" /National Catholic Reporter

by John Allen/NCR

"When the innocence of children is “trampled upon, broken, sullied, abused, and destroyed,” then “the earth becomes arid and the whole world sad,” the Vatican’s top sexual abuse prosecutor said this morning in Rome.

Monsignor Charles J. Scicluna indirectly critiqued the clerical culture in which abuser priests were routinely given second chances."

Monsignor Scicluna's critique of the clerical culture is a small step in admitting the sex abuse scandal is rooted in the abuse of power in a system that protected the predators. However, Scicluna does not go far enough. The Roman Catholic Church must adopt structures of accountability that are transparent and managed by the People of God, not controlled by the Vatican. It is never wise to let the fox guard the hen house. The Catholic Church, which is comprised of the entire church, the people of God including the hierarchy must hold the Pope and the bishops who kept this secretive system in place accountable.
A first step is to establish an international commission with decision-making power to implement changes such as removal of bishops who kept pedophiles in ministry, and to put in place a policy for the global church to protect children from sex abuse . A second step is to reclaim our early church tradition of a married priestly ministry that is inclusive of women priests who are already functioning in our Roman Catholic Womenpriests Movement. In order to change the clerical culture, we need a renewed priestly ministry in a community of equals. Anything less is band aid solution that won't stop the bleeding of an open wound at the heart of the church! Bridget Mary Meehan