Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pope Benedict Cites St. Joan of Arc as Model for Political Leaders/ Admits Hierarchy Mistaken in Condemnation of Prophetic Witness of Conscience

Pope cites St. Joan of Arc as model for political leaders
January 26, 2011
At his weekly public audience on January 26, Pope Benedict spoke about “one of those strong women who brought the light of the Gospel in history at the end of the Middle Ages”—St. Joan of Arc.
Speaking to about 3,000 people in the Paul VI auditorium, the Pope recounted the story of St. Joan’s short life: her mystical visions, her military career, her trial and martyrdom. The entirety of her life, he said, forms “a beautiful example of holiness for lay people involved in politics.”
The trial of St. Joan for heresy was “a shocking page in the history of the saints and also an illuminating page on the mystery of Church—which, in the words of Vatican II is at once holy and always in need of purification,” the Pope said. Her judges, he observed, were "theologians who lacked the charity and humility to see the action of God in this young woman." Her condemnation was unjust, and was formally overturned 25 years after her death.

Bridget Mary's Reflection:
It sure does take a long time ( around 600 years in this case) for the institutional church leadership to admit that it was wrong. I applaud Pope Benedict for his humble admission that St. Joan's trial for heresy was " a shocking page" in the history of the church, both unjust and wrong. When Joan was asked if she was bound to obey church leaders. Her response was yes, but God must be obeyed first!. (See my book, Praying with Visionary Women, for story of Joan's heroic witness in the midst of church authorities persecution.) St. Joan of Arc is not only an appropriate patron for political leaders, but also for church leaders, who at the moment are in the midst of "nunquisition", a contemporary witch hunt directed by the Vatican that is aimed at U.S. women religious because, among other things, (gasp!!!) they support women priests. What nunsense!
In addition, the Vatican, in July of 2010, placed women priests in the same despicable category of serious crimes against the church as pedophile priests!
Let us hope that Pope Benedict and the Vatican realize their error in this unjust decision. Roman Catholic Women Priests are leading the church into a new era of justice and equality for women in the church.
I pray that one day that a woman pope will apologize for the many ways the institutional church has discriminated against women in church and in society and affirm the people of God as a vibrant community of equals.
Let's keep dreaming the dream of justice and equality for women in church and society. Let us act as if the vision of partnership, equality and inclusion is a reality now in our grassroots communities now. St. Joan of Arc, courageous role model of the primacy of conscience, pray for women priests, for our supporters and for our opponents! May we follow our consciences and live with integrity Jesus' vision of Gospel equality in our time.
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Tussling Over Jesus" Nicholas Kristof/New York Times/ Many Catholics Support Excommunicated Nun and Hospital that Saved Pregnant Woman's Life

"The National Catholic Reporter newspaper put it best: “Just days before Christians celebrated Christmas, Jesus got evicted.”
"The thought that keeps nagging at me is this: If you look at Bishop Olmsted and Sister Margaret as the protagonists in this battle, one of them truly seems to me to have emulated the life of Jesus. And it’s not the bishop, who has spent much of his adult life as a Vatican bureaucrat climbing the career ladder. It’s Sister Margaret, who like so many nuns has toiled for decades on behalf of the neediest and sickest among us...."
"Then along comes Bishop Olmsted to excommunicate the Christ-like figure in our story. If Jesus were around today, he might sue the bishop for defamation."....
...."Yet in this battle, it’s fascinating how much support St. Joseph’s Hospital has had and how firmly it has pushed back — in effect,
pounding 95 theses on the bishop’s door. The hospital backed up Sister Margaret, and it rejected the bishop’s demand that it never again terminate a pregnancy to save the life of a mother.
Anne Rice, the author and a commentator on Catholicism, sees a potential turning point. “St. Joseph’s refusal to knuckle under to the bishop is huge,” she told me, adding: “Maybe rank-and-file Catholics are finally talking back to a hierarchy that long ago deserted them.”

Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Amen to Sister Margaret and St. Joseph's Hospital for their compassionate stance that saved the life of a pregnant woman. The -take away- message for Bishop Olmsted and the hierarchy is -- if your moral theology does not reflect the compassion of Jesus Christ and you persist in employing excommunication against nuns like Sr. Margaret and institutions like St. Joseph's Hospital, you will further alienate Catholics who follow their consciences in their moral decision-making . The male hierarchy are simply undermining their own authority.
The bottom line is what would Jesus do? I believe he would stand with Sr. Margaret and St. Joseph's team in opting to save the life they could save- the pregnant woman's. All of us need to ask ourselves if bishops intervene in such cases in Catholic hospitals in the future, will pregnant women feel safe? Will Catholic hospitals disobey a bishop who mandates that no life-saving procedure is allowed for pregnant women in similar situations? Will Catholics support hospitals like St. Joseph? Will they refuse to support hospitals that are under the control of a male hierarchy? This is another reason we need women priests and women bishops!
Looks like Catholics may have made up their minds with the outpouring of support that St. Joseph has received from the public including prominent Catholic commentators. I wonder if the Vatican will speak up next!
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP, Shares Good News Story: A Couple's Journey from Homelessnes to a Home in Ft. Myers, Florida

left to right:
Robert, Pastor Judy, and Beverly

Our people love to sing “This Little Light of Mine”, a simple song about letting your light shine. We sing it in our Tuesday prayer and Bible Study time before the meal, and we sing it on Sunday in church with the poor who have a hot meal and Sunday School afterward. But, it is not so easy to be the light when it means sharing your bread, and spending your very selves with the poor as Isaiah says. Often we are truly spent. It is, however, far more difficult to be homeless and to be poor and hungry. And so I begin with a story we have duplicated in some version at least thirty times this year.

It is a story of a couple who moved from homelessness, hunger and poverty to having a home and an income. Beverly and Robert Kolhoff are a married couple in their fifties who have been sporadically homeless for several years depending on Ron’s employment. They have asked me to share their story using their own names as they hope that the story may help someone they know or a stranger. Robert is a good worker who has been clean and sober for five years (since they were married) but his age (59) and the economy are powerful factors in his unemployment. Beverly, despite arthritis, held a supervisory level clerical job but she lost it as she suffers from major depression exacerbated by the tragic death of her son. When we first met them in Lion’s Park in 2008, they lived in the woods in a small tent that we gave them and her mental and physical health worsened as she tried to cope with the harsh conditions of living outside. Robert found a job in his home state of Ohio and we paid for their tickets. He worked there for several months and they lived modestly well but when the job was over they were homeless again.

They returned to Florida and sporadic employment. They shuttled from the woods to a motel as they could. Finally he worked enough to get unemployment insurance when the job stopped. They were then able to afford a small room in a very crowded and run down house. This was a step up and was minimally acceptable until unemployment benefits were cut in July of 2010.

Now they faced living outside again and Beverly fell apart. They turned to us in desperation. We gave them enough money to hold their room for a while and had Robert work for us on occasion to make ends barely meet. We helped Beverly to receive mental health treatment and apply for Social Security Disability Insurance. They also applied for public housing for the disabled over 55. All resources were now gone and Beverly, terrified of returning to the woods, had new profound mental health symptoms. She was voluntarily hospitalized. She was barely coping and Robert was distraught at seeing this happen and her difficult adjustment to the medications. He accompanied her weekly to see me. She began to feel better and wrote two poems and did art work reflecting her thankfulness to God for a return of hope. She is phobic of crowds but came one Tuesday to our worship to ask for prayer, give us her poetry and tell the group gathered that the ministry was saving her life.

This opened the door for several others to say the same thing in a moment of pure light and grace. We were so moved by this, especially as it was a major effort on her part. The core group was wonderful in reaching out to her and offering prayer and support. But, had there not been a few miracles they may have had to return to the woods as they waited for a reinstatement of unemployment insurance and what is usually a long wait for housing. Miracle number one was receiving news from the housing supervisor that they had several unexpected openings and Robert and Beverly were in the next cohort of those called for an interview. If they had all of their papers ready they could probably get in soon. Beverly then realized that she had lost her Birth Certificate. We immediately applied for it from Ohio and, miracle two, got it quickly. They were ready and within three weeks got their own little apartment with an awesome river view, their first real home. They had no furniture and, lo and behold, someone called up and offered a queen size bed and delivered it! The Lamb of God Thrift store then cut prices to a bare minimum and the apartment was thereby furnished.

Beverly was so happy that she returned to her crafting and took a bed sheet with a dolphin print on it and made curtains, lamp shades, covered shelves and a wall covering. She then fashioned jigsaw puzzles of sea and land creatures into three dimension masterpieces in an old fish tank, and their home was truly beautiful for our first visit and home blessing.

When we visited again with a Christmas dinner, they had already invited Mario, another formerly homeless man who lived by himself upstairs to share dinner with them, saying that they were now “family” through the Ministry. The final miracle happened about three weeks later. Beverly was approved for SSI and the first check arrived to her utter amazement. Now the family has a home and an income, but most of all, says Beverly, she has her mental health back as she lives with some basic security and diligently follows up on her treatment plan.

As we begin our fourth year of service as Good Shepherd Ministries of SWFL, Inc., and look back on 2010, there is so much to be thankful for that it is difficult to pull it all together so the light can shine. We are especially glad for the thirty plus volunteers (Roman Catholic and Lutheran-Episcopal and other backgrounds) that help us with cooking and regularly donating other items. An additional six people ( five are Roman Catholic from this diocese ) have become regular members of our Good Shepherd church, worshipping with us regularly and sharing the work of the church. We are glad for many stories like Beverly and Robert's, though not all have such wonderful “endings”.

It often takes years to get housing or benefits. Many cannot access health services without incomes, and many are sick and too afraid of physical or mental health services to use them, and alcohol and drug addiction and troubled relationships may cause setbacks and bumpy and painful rolls down hill. But with tiny steps each one can and does move forward toward the light. In 2010 we helped 30 people to move from homelessness into housing making our total 48 individuals, including two families with five children, housed. For all of these miracles we join our people in saying "Thanks be to God!"The attached are pictures of Robert and Beverly who are very happy to share their success story here.

Pastor Judy Lee is a Roman Catholic Women Priest
who ministers to and with the homeless in Ft. Myers, Florida

Sister Theresa Kane, RSM: A Vision for the Catholic Community in the 21st Century

"I want to identify what I listed as four qualities. There are many more; and I encourage you to think about qualities that will bring about this Church as community in the 21st century. "

"The ones that I listed were:
A passion for social justice;
A gospel mandate for solidarity with economically poor people;
A discipleship of equals; and
A zeal, and I say a passion, and a thirst, for peace and non-violence."

"I think we also have a Gospel mandate for solidarity with the economically poor people. The essence of the Gospel is a challenge of justice; and it’s also the works of mercy. I mean, we know what Jesus did. He went around. He fed the poor people. He raised the dead. He comforted people. He was doing the works of mercy all the time. He did justice. He did social justice. "

,,, "We need to be extremely conscious to say, “Are we indeed a discipleship of equals?” We have to look at our habits and our customs. And many of our customs have been institutionalized into mindsets, structures and systems. So when I again refer to sexist language people will say, “Well, it’s really not a problem for me, because I know it doesn’t mean men. I know it means women as well as men,” you see. But it’s part of our customs. In a sense we’ve been propagandized to think that that’s all right. We even hear it very often on our television programs, where we use the male language, and we don’t do the inclusive language, we don’t use the female. So we won’t have a discipleship of equals if we don’t become conscious that we are women and men forming this community. I believe a discipleship of equals means the absence of chauvinism, machoism, imperialism, subjugation, inferiority and superiority. ..".

sr. theresa kane, rsm
a vision for the catholic community
in the 21st century
mercy center
farmington hills, mi
january 6, 2011

Equally Blessed Coalition Accuse Diocese of Colorado Springs of "Bad Theology"/Need Equally Blessed InclusiveTheology Worthy of God and our Church

contact: Jim Naughton, 202-288-5125,

"Coalition urges Catholics to recognize fruits of lifelong, committed relationships"

January 20, 2011—
Equally Blessed, a coalition of four Roman Catholic organizations that support full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families both in the church and in civil society, today called upon the Diocese of Colorado Springs to reconsider its decision to offer a 12-step program for LGBT Catholics in which participants are asked to state that they are “defective.”
“We are all sinners, but in this instance, the sin lies not in gay and lesbian Catholics, but in those who describe children of God in such demeaning language,” said Frank DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, an Equally Blessed partner.

“The notion that homosexuality is an illness similar to alcoholism or addiction to narcotics finds no support in psychological literature,” DeBernardo added. “But you don’t need an advanced degree to understand that the fruits of lifelong, committed, monogamous relationships are quite different than the damage and heartache done by chemical dependencies.”
Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan has said that the diocesan program is different than the widely discredited “reparative therapy” programs favored by organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council, and seeks only to support participants in living a chaste life.
“We appreciate the bishop’s pastoral intentions and his rejection of reparative therapy, but this 12-step initiative points out a contradiction at the core of church teaching,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, an Equally Blessed partner.

“Catholics are taught that heterosexual celibacy is an act of heroic sacrifice accomplished through special grace, while homosexual celibacy is simply mandatory—part of the hand thatGod dealt you. Perhaps unwittingly, the church has made God the author of human prejudice. And that’s not very good theology.

“There are many community programs and churches in Colorado Springs that can provide support for LGBT people and families seeking to live with integrity and joy,” said Duddy-Burke.“We encourage people who are interested to find places that will offer affirmation and positive guidance.”

Equally Blessed suggests that Catholics who support equality for lesbian, gay bisexual and transgendered people share their views with Bishop Sheridan by writing him at the DiocesanPastoral Center, 228 N. Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903.

Equally Blessed is a coalition of Call To Action, DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, and New Ways Ministry. We are faithful Catholics who have worked more than a combined 112 years to support full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families both in the church and in civil society.

Casey Lopata, Fortunate Families, Inc. PO Box 18082 Rochester, NY 14618-0082585-698-6100

Bridget Mary's Reflection: "Reject Defective Theology, Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered are Equally Blessed/ Need Inclusive Theology Worthy of God and our Church"

How long, O God, how long will it take for the institutional Roman Catholic Church to affirm gays, lesbians and the transgendered as beloved sisters and brothers, equally blessed and not "defective." It is ironic that the hierarchy continue to push the "bad theology" that LGBT Catholics are "defective ", when according to experts, like Father Donald Cozzens, 50% of Roman Catholic clergy are gay!

"Father Donald Cozzens, an author, psychologist, and Catholic seminary president says that there is such a high percentage of gay priests in the church that he is concerned that 'the priesthood is or is becoming a gay profession.' In his book, "The Changing Face of the Priesthood," -- published in the year 2000 -- he estimates that 50% of Roman Catholic priests have a homosexual orientation."

"Richard Sipe, a psychotherapist and former priest, has studied celibacy, chastity, and sexuality in the priesthood for four decades. He has authored three books on the topic. He is quoted as estimating that between 25% and 45% of American priests are homosexual in orientation. Dr. Richard Sipe told the Boston Globe: "If they were to eliminate all those who were homosexually oriented, the number would be so staggering that it would be like an atomic bomb; it would do the same damage to the church's operation...It would mean the resignation of at least a third of the bishops of the world. And it's very much against the tradition of the church; many saints had a gay orientation, and many popes had gay orientations. Discriminating against orientation is not going to solve the problem." See article for more statistics and analysis by church experts:

It is time for the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church to step out of the closet of fear and denial and acknowledge the reality that no one, including priests and bishops with a homosexual orientation are defective. Imagine what a change that would bring in the Catholic Church! Imagine Pope Benedict affirming an "equally blessed" theology in a new pastoral letter!
We believe God does not make junk, and all persons are created in God's image. Therefore, all are equals in God's family. Our gay, lesbian and transgendered sisters and brothers have suffered too long in our homophobic institutional Roman Catholic Church. Let us profess and live the acceptance, gratitude and love that is in the heart of God for all. Now, this is an inclusive "equally blessed"theology that is worthy of our God, our LGBT sisters and brothers and the Roman Catholic Church.
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP

Monday, January 24, 2011

Courageous Priest Robert Marrone Threatened by Bishop for Celebrating Masses with Congregation after Cleveland Diocese Closed Parish>

by Michael O Malley, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- "Bishop Richard Lennon of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese has threatened the Rev. Robert Marrone with punishment through church law for celebrating unauthorized Masses in a breakaway church. "
"Marrone and his congregation set up worship space in a commercial building in August, four months after Lennon closed their parish, St. Peter's near downtown Cleveland. "
"On Wednesday, Lennon handed Marrone a letter saying the priest was engaged in "scandal" and "corruption" by saying Masses in a space not sanctioned by the diocese. "
"Today, 48 hours past the deadline, Marrone read to his congregation a letter he had sent to the bishop in response to the threat: "It is my decision to remain in my present position with the Community of St. Peter."
The congregation of about 300 people jumped to its feet in applause and shouts of "Bravo!"
..."In his sermon, before he announced the bishop's threat, he talked about visiting Ireland and seeing myriad shades of green across the landscape. He compared the shades to different groups of Christianity, yet they are all of the same color. "
"The church of Jesus Christ is wide and open," he said. "The church is like the Irish landscape. Differences are not unhealthy. The wonder of our faith is our ability to embrace them."

Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Bravo, Fr. Robert Marrone and the Community of St. Peter, for your courage and prophetic obedience to the Spirit of God as you witness your fidelity to the Gospel and love for your beloved faith community! Indeed, the church is " "like the Irish landscape, wide and open" and able to embrace differences with respect and loving acceptance. Do not be afraid of excommunication or any other ecclesial punishment. Pope Benedict canonized two excommunicated nuns so far! So , like Roman Catholic Women Priests and others who have been condemned by the hierarchy, you too could be on the fast track to canonization, role models for a future generation of Catholics!
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP

"Women in the Sacramental Priesthood" by Bernard Cooke and Pauline Turner/ Roman Catholic Women Priests Renewing Eucharistic Celebrations

"Women In the Sacramental Priesthood"
by Bernard Cooke and Pauline Turner
from Women Priests, Arlene Swidler & Leonard Swidler (eds.), Paulist Press 1977, pp. 249-250.
Early Christianity avoids applying to any individual in the Church the term “priest.” Only Jesus himself is designated this way, and the term is extended to the community (1Pet 2:4-6) because it is the body of the risen Christ. Christian priesthood is, therefore, a power and a function that Christians bear corporately, which they exercise corporately in the sacramental liturgies, and to which they give expression in the intrinsic sacramentality of their entire life as a community of faith (Vatican II, “Church,” 31, 34)... "
"Given the fact that the entire Christian community does the eucharistic action, that the entire community professes its faith prophetically in the eucharistic proclamation, that the entire community shares the eucharistic sacrifcial meal, there is a special role played by the celebrant (Vatican II, “Liturgy,” 7, 10, 14). Obviously, this is a complex role, a highly specialized instance of leadership; but the heart of this role—as the Declaration accurately indicates—consists in the celebrant’s being a sacrament within a sacrament..."

Bridget Mary's Reflection:
According to Cooke in The Future of Eucharist, while individuals may have specific functions within the gathered assembly, the entire community performs the Eucharistic action. (p. 32.) Therefore the gathered assembly is the celebrant of Eucharist. It is the community that "does" the Eucharist, not the Presider alone.
Historical scholarship supports this conclusion and goes even further. Dr. Gary Macy concludes that from his research that in the Middle Ages manuscripts, regardless of who spoke the words of consecration, man or woman, ordained or community, the Christ Presence became a reality among the assembly.
This is the reason in our liturgies that the entire community recites the words of consecration. At our Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Communty liturgies, we invite members of the assembly to recite sections of the Eucharistic Prayer as they gather around the altar. Roman Catholic Women Priests are reclaiming the early Christian tradition that the community is the celebrant of liturgy. We are offering the gift of a renewed priestly ministry in partnership with the people we serve in a community of equals. This gift, although not appreciated by the Vatican at the moment, is a genuine gift to the Catholic community that is bringing new life, inclusiveness and creativity to the church and beyond.
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP

Sunday, January 23, 2011

"God is not 3 guys: Martin Luther King and Catholics"

"Another center is Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP), and a third is the Catholic press, publications such as National Catholic Reporter and America. ""Here are quotations from King’s Letter and their relevance to the conflict in the Catholic Church. "
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

"Church rulings with unjust effects for some threaten unjust effects for everyone. The whole institution is undermined by these:• excluding women from ordination and governance, • punishing persons who demonstrate exceptional moral courage (Roy Bourgeois and others for supporting women priests),• punishing Catholic health care institutions for disobeying bishops whose decisions ethicists disagree with"•...