Saturday, February 5, 2011

Irish Priests Say "No" to New Vatican Translation of Mass/ Time To Try RCWP Inclusive Liturgies?

Irish priests ask bishops to postpone implementation of new liturgical texts
Feb. 04, 2011
Thomas C. Fox
"The Association of Catholic Priests of Ireland today asked the Irish Bishops to postpone the implementation of the new liturgical texts."

The following is the substance of their statement:
"The ACP understands that the Irish Conference of Bishops has decided that the new translation of the Missal will be introduced in Ireland on the First Sunday of Advent 2011. While a new and improved version of the current missal would be welcome, this new translation is not what is needed. The ACP urgently calls on the bishops to defer its introduction for five years. During that period the bishops, together with the people and priests, can properly examine the suitability of these texts for the Irish Church. The celebration of the Mass is central to our work as priests and, more importantly, to the lives of the people we serve."


Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Three cheers for the Irish priests for challenging this underwhelming translation. Some biblical and liturgical scholars, priests and bishops have openly criticized these texts, but the Vatican doesn's seem to get it! Maybe, they should boycott or postpone this new Vatican translation until a more suitable English translation can be completed.

Meanwhile, Roman Catholic Women Priests use inclusive language in our liturgies. I cannot count the number of times people have shared their joy that women priests now preside at liturgy. In our liturgies at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, we invite the assembly to share their insights in a shared homily. Then, they gather around the altar and pray the Eucharistic Prayer.

In my new book, Living Gospel Equality Now- Loving in the Heart of God (, I have included several liturgies with inclusive language for different seasons. The final liturgy is entitled: "Liturgy to Celebrate Justice, Partnership and Equality for Women in Church and Society." There may be some brave priests (like the Irish priests) and even bishops who would like to "try on" inclusive liturgical texts that express Gospel equality and inclusion now. Maybe, the Vatican will catch on one day.

I will never give up hope for the renewal and reform of our beloved church. There are many spiritual treasures in our Catholic tradition including our sacramental, mystical and social justice tradition. My faith is in my Irish DNA.
Bridget Mary Meehan RCWP

"Grandmother of Women's Ordination Movement Remembered" by Thomas C. Fox/National Catholic Reporter

Iris Muller
Roman Catholic Woman Priest

Iris Müller, one of the original seven women ordained in 2002 on the Danube River, died Jan. 30.

Long time advocate of women’s equality and women’s ordination, Muller’s life story is recently captured in a book written by Gretchen Kloten Minney,
“Called: Women Hear the Voice of the Divine.”

"In a chapter entitled “Pioneers: Grandmothers of the Return of Women’s Ordination in the Roman Catholic Church,” Minney writes of Muller and her lifetime friend, Ida Raming, also ordained on the Danube. "

"Minney's book provides a brief background and history of ordination within the church and tells the stories of women feel they have been called to the priesthood. It is published by Wonder Why Publications in Broomfield, CO. 80020 "

The following is taken from the chapter with the permission of the author.
Iris Muller’ story begins in pre-WWII Germany. Muller wasborn an only child in Magdeburg, Germany. Her parents were Lutherans who occasionally attended church services..." (For more article on NCR)

Friday, February 4, 2011

144 Catholic Theologians Call for End to Compulsory Celibacy, for Women Priests and for a Democratic Church,,14816788,00.html
"Over one hundred Catholic theologians have called for radical reform of the Catholic Church, like the end to compulsory celibacy, in a bid to mend the damage caused by recent sex scandals. "

"Around a third of all Catholic theology professors at universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, on Friday called for reforms to the Catholic Church, according to a report in the German daily "Süddeutsche Zeitung".

"It looks like we struck a nerve," said Judith Könemann a professor from Münster and one of 144 signatories of the declaration.

'The professors said that they no longer wanted to stay quiet in the face of child sex abuse scandals that came to light last year and plunged the Catholic Church into an unprecedented crisis. '

'The theologians want to start an open dialogue about the future of the Catholic Church. '

'They called for an end to compulsory celibacy, and for women to be allowed into the priesthood. The theologians also called for the Catholic laity to have more say in the selection of bishops. '

"There hasn't been a comparable revolt by theologians since 1989 when more than 220 academics signed the "Cologne Declaration", which protested against the authoritarian leadership style of the late Pope, John Paul II."

Author: Natalia Dannenberg (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Rob Turner

Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Listen up, Vatican prelates! The movement for a more open, democratic, people-empowered church is now embraced by 144 European theologians and by millions of Catholics around the world. It is time to end compulsory celibacy for the priesthood and to affirm women priests who are serving the church with courage and committment. Justice for women in the church is the call of the Spirit in our times. It is time for the Roman Catholic Church to follow Jesus who called women and men as disciples and treated them as equals. Let's pray that our church will embrace the full equality of women in our lifetime.

The Pope's ‘Teaching’ on Why Women Can't Be Priests - a New Focus? by Dr. John Wijngaards

Early Church:Women celebrating Eucharist
in Catacomb of St. Priscilla in Rome<>The

based on a talk by Dr. John Wijngaards to the Cleopas Society, London

18 January 2011

"Few people will have noticed that a subtle shift has taken place in the central Catholic Teaching Authority with regard to the reasons for which women are being excluded from the ordained ministries."

"In short we may say that, according to Pope Benedict XVI, Christ established a masculine order of bishops and priests; and that the Church of all timesand places has constantly affirmed this as a norm through its practice and teaching.

So what to make of these central assertions by Pope Benedict XVI? We can do no better than briefly examine the validity of each of the three pegs onwhich he now hangs the argument.

1. Jesus appointed only men as apostles. Saying that *Jesus chose only men*, Pope Benedict is not only referring tothe fact that he chose no woman when he appointed the Twelve apostles. He also implies that women were not among the apostles at other crucial events, such as when, at the Last Supper, he commissioned them to celebrate theEucharist and, before his ascension, when he instructed them to teach andbaptise all nations.But is this true?"

"In Luke 8,1-3 we find a clear mention of women following Jesus among the group of disciples. Then there are other examples, such as the Samaritanwoman, who clearly became an apostle to the townspeople of Sychar (John4, 39-42)."

"Again, women were the first witnesses of his resurrection."

"However, most interesting is what happened at the Last Supper."

"Although women are not explicitly mentioned as having been present at the Last Supper, we can safely presume that they were present. And this is rather crucial. "

"For the Council ofTrent<> (1563)declared that "through the words *'do this in commemoration of me'*, Christ established the apostles as priests, and ordained that they and other priests should offer his body and blood."

"And medieval theologians routinely saw in this a deliberate restriction to men only: "Christ ordained only men in the Supper when he bestowed the power of consecrating" (Durandus 6,§3<>).

"But whas this the case? Were there no women at the Last Supper?"

"First of all, it's important for us to note that we know from the Gospels that women always took part in Jesus' community meals. It was one way for them to express the new reality of God's kingdom "(SuzanneTunc<>).

"Then , the Last Supper was a Paschal meal. Jesus stated: "I have longed to eat this Passover with you" (Luke 22, 7-16). And the whole family, includingwomen, had to take part in the paschal meal as we know from Old Testamentprescriptions (Exodus 12,1-14).Now if other women -- Jesus' mother and women disciples -- were present at the Last Supper, then it is clear that it was to all disciples that Jesus said: "This is my body. Eat of it all of you. Do this in commemoration of me!" And: this is my blood. Drink of it all of you. Whenever you do this, it shall be a memorial to me". (Matthew 26,26-28; 1 Corinthians 11,23-25). So Jesus words “Do this in commemoration of me!” were addressed to all the disciples, women as much as men. It is interesting to note that Holy Communion has always been given equally to men and women. In the same way, Jesus entrusted celebrating the Holy Eucharist in principle to both men and women. And this would imply that Jesus did not exclude women from the ministries. More important, however, is the question whether Jesus established a permanent norm by omitting women from the Twelve apostles... "

"Pope Benedict XVI frantically tries to hang on to the common opinion of the past. He attempts to silence those who have the courage to speak out. But he is doomed to fail. The assertion that Jesus Christ made masculinity an unchangeable feature in the ordained ministries does not stand up to scrutiny..."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Maryknoll Reinstates School of Americas Watch Funding

"A spokesperson for Maryknoll confirmed the news today. "SOA Watch has given us assurances that the funds will be used strictly for their work and that's why we restored those funds," Maryknoll's Mike Virgintino told NCR."A check for the grant, which totals $10,000, was sent to SOA Watch in December, SOA Watch organizers said. The news became public when Call to Action sent an e-mail to supporters yesterday."
..."In a May 24 statement regarding its original decision to pull its support of SOA Watch, Maryknoll wrote it could not “continue its financial support of that organization without giving the impression that it also supports the actions of its leader concerning the issue of women’s ordination.”
"Since the decision to pull funding, 19 separate church and social justice organizations signed onto a letter to Maryknoll encouraging its reinstatement, Call to Action said in their e-mail."
"Said Bourgeois: “I’ve been with the community for 42 years, a priest for 38 years with them, and Maryknoll is my family, my community. To be very honest, I really don’t understand why Maryknoll, who is so well known for its work for justice, will not address this injustice of the exclusion of women as equal members in our church. And so we were very happy. This is a real expression of solidarity and it means a lot to us.”
[Joshua J. McElwee is an NCR staff writer. His e-mail address is]

Bridget Mary's Reflection:
There is growing momentum for our Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement in many areas of the world. So, the Vatican is pushing back with all its might! In the end, justice for women in the church will prevail because sexism is always wrong and the second class citizenship of women in the church is contrary to Jesus' example in the Gospels.. The full equality of women in the church including the ordination of women in a renewed priestly ministry, will triumph because women are equal images of God, and are worthy to preside at the altar.
I believe that religious orders like Maryknoll are under pressure from the Vatican to distance themselves from any action that might imply support of women priests. Fr. Roy Bourgeois, a faithful Maryknoll priest, is a prophet for justice for all-- including women in the church. He continues to speak out and stand in solidarity with the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement. I hope that the Maryknoll Order will soon publically follow Fr. Roy's example and speak out publically in support of the full equality of women in the church. Brava, Father Roy, for your courage and vision. You are on the right side of history and have set an example for all of us.
Bridget Mary Meehan RCWP

Vatican at Center of Global Sexual Abuse Crisis: A Tsunami for the Catholic Church

"Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, 80, who once ran the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, was going to be the star celebrant at the first Latin Mass to be offered in half a century at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. But it came to light that the senior cardinal once praised a French bishop for protecting, not reporting, a pedophile priest. "
By Massimo Sambucetti, Associated Press

"Julia Duin reported in The Washington Times,
"Cardinal Hoyos was exposed ...for lauding -- in a 2001 letter -- French Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux-Lisieux for refusing to denounce" a priest that the bishop knew was a pedophile.
Duin writes that the priest was later convicted of rape and sexual assaults on 11 youngsters. ...Hoyos wrote Pican a letter that the cardinal claims was approved by the late Pope John Paul II:
"I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration ... You have acted well and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest."

Bridget Mary's Reflection:

One of the shocking revelations of the global sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is that Vatican officials played a major role in the coverup that protected priest pedophiles, not their innocent victims.

Cardinal Hoyos was also at the center of the Irish sex abuse scandal. When the Irish bishops met with him in Rome. He resisted their efforts to removed an infamous pedophile from ministry." January 17, 2011
"The Pope has blamed Irish bishops for their mishandling of "unspeakable crimes" by priests, but reporter Mick Peelo reveals how not only did the Vatican secretly block the bishop's efforts to improve child protection and bring abuser priests to justice, but were every bit as inept in their own handling of abuse. "

The Vatican, under Pope John Paul II, appointed Cardinal Law, who had kept priest pedophiles in ministry in the Boston Archdiocese, as Archpriest
in charge of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

Cardinal Ratzinger left Fr. Murphy who abused hundreds of deaf children in Wisconsin in the priesthood --in spite of the damage done to the youth and in spite of the local bishop's requests to defrock him. And the list goes on and on.

The bottom line is that the Roman Catholic Church is in the middle of a tsumani. From worldwide news reports, investigative journalism, court records and personal testimonies we now know that the Vatican is at the epic center of the worldwide sexual abuse crisis. This tsnami appears to be uneneding and indicates that the clerical, hierarchial model must be dismantled if the institutional church is to survive as a credible witness to Christ in our world.

Now there is some good news of new beginnings, rooted in a more community-empowered model of church that is chipping away at the clerical model of priestly ministry. In response to Jesus' call, women priests and married priests are bringing new life to our beloved church by founding inclusive grassroots communities where all are welcome to receive sacraments. It is a beginning and a blessing, a gift to the church we love.

Bridget Mary Meehan RCWP

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gutsy Nun Challenges Archbishop Listecki's decision to File for Bankruptcy/ Milwaukee Archdiocese/Sister Maureen Paul Turlish/ NCR ONLINE

Milwaukee bankruptcy filing masks the truth
by Maureen Paul Turlish on Jan. 10, 2011
"In a Jan. 4 letter to the members of the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki explained why he felt forced to file for bankruptcy, explaining “priest-perpetrators sexually abused minors, going against everything the church and the priesthood represents.”
..."This evil emanated not only from the sexual violations of innocent children by predatory priests, but also from the failures of enabling bishops to protect them.
Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is really about keeping the whole truth of this tragic matter from being made public. The filing has most likely delayed, if not cancelled, the previously scheduled deposition of its former auxiliary, Bishop Richard J. Sklba among others."

[Maureen Paul Turlish is a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, a member of both the Voice of the Faithful and the National Survivor Advocates Coalition. She testified in support of Delaware’s 2007 Child Victims Law and is the vice-president of the Delaware Association for Children of Alcoholics.]

St. Brigit: Reflecton of Divine Feminine, Advocate for Justice, Peace and Equality/ Like her, may we "turn back the streams of war"

Today, Feb. 1st is the feast day of St. Brigit of Kildare.

Brigit was the most prominent leader of the Celtic Church. Her symbol was perpetual fire, representing wisdom, healing, poetry, metal working and the hearth. The force of her Celtic soul is a rich lodestone of the Celtic feminine which continues to challenge each generation. The stories and legends about her are a blend of Christian beliefs and pagan elements, a mixture of the all encompassing Druidic mother goddess with the dynamic post pagan woman of compassion, generous hospitality and charity to all. She lived the spirit of Jesus who hung out with the poor and outcasts, who challenged authorities in the synagogue, and who dined with the lowly. On one occasion, Brigit gave away apples to a beggar. When challenged by her benefactor, she said: "what is mine is theirs." Even in her early days, she would give away valuable items belonging to her chieften father. Brigit's strong sense of justice was evident during her life. She is known for her advocacy for justice and protection of animals, home and hearth. (Praying with Celtic Holy Women, available at and other online retailers.)

Brigit's previous authority as a high priestess may explain why Sant Mel, bishop of Ardagh, is said to have ordained her a bishop. The Irish Life of Brigit describes it this way: "When the hour of consecration had arrived, the veil was raised by angels from the hand of Mac Caille, the minister and was placed on Sant Brigit's head. Bishop Mel who presided at the ceremony said: "Come, O holy Brigit, that a veil may be placed on your head before the other virgins." Then, being filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Bishop Mel read the form of ordaining a bishop over Brigit. While she was being consecrated, a brilliant fiery flame ascended from her head. MacCaille, Bishop Mel's assistant, complained that a bishop's rank was bestowed on a woman. Bishop Mel argued. "But I do not have any power in this matter, this dignity has been given by God to Brigit beyond every other woman. Only this virgin in the whole of Ireland will hold the episcopal ordination."

Bishop Brigit co-administered a double monastery of women and men with Bishop Conleth in Kildare, Ireland. On one occasion, when there was not enough beer for her seventeen churches during the Easter season, she changed water into beer to make sure her churches were well-supplied. Talking about abundance and hospitality! Slainte!

Another wonderful story about Brigit that speaks to our contemporary war-plagued world is recounted by Mary Condren, a prominent Irish theologian in an article in the Irish Times.

"Brigit was also a “peace weaver”, the name given to distinguished women in Old European times. Peaceweavers sometimes married into their enemy’s tribe, and their daughters carried gifts to weave peace. Such women had great negotiating skills and authority. As with such peaceweavers, St Brigit caused mists to appear between opposing sides in order to prevent bloodshed. With her nuns she accompanied protesting warriors to the battlefield, rendering them unable to fight.In historical times, the Abbesses of Kildare, who succeeded the historical 5th century Brigit, could pardon criminals encountered on their way to execution. They were revered figures of authority who were known as “Those Who Turned Back the Streams of War”.

Today, more than ever, we need the spirit of inclusion, partnership and hospitality of St. Brigit of Kildare in our world. Like her, may we work with our sisters and brothers to turn back the "streams of war" and to achieve peace, justice and equality for all.
St. Brigit, pray for us and bless us on this your feast day!
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP

A "Grandmother" of the Women Priests Movement Dies/ A Tribute by Sister Maureen Fiedler

A “Grandmother” of the Women Priests Movement Dies

By Maureen Fiedler

I met Iris Muller in Europe for the first time in the 1990’s. She was elderly and physically frail, but emotionally and theologically like steel. Even when struggling with her English, heavily accented by German, she came across as a Catholic “Susan B. Anthony” struggling for women’s rights in the church.

Born in East Germany in 1930, she ultimately studied theology with the aim of becoming a Protestant minister. In her personal search for a deeper and more spiritual path, she converted to Catholicism, but confronted the fact that she could not be ordained a priest. Still, she voiced disagreement with that policy, and hoped to convince Catholic authorities that they were wrong on the issue of women’s ordination.

She spent her life trying to do just that. She and her lifelong friend, Dr. Ida Raming, petitioned the Second Vatican Council in 1963 to call for women’s ordination. Iris worked at the University of Munster, where she developed a library on the status of women in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Together, she and Ida spearheaded many church reform efforts in Germany and Western Europe to move the issue of women priests forward.

Finally, after years and years of the Vatican’s “no,” she and Ida decided to take action. They were among seven women ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood on a boat in the Danube River on June 29, 2002. I was on the boat that day, covering the story, and I remember the joy and radiance on the faces of all the women ordained that day. The ordinations took place just before the boat made a 180-degree turn to head back toward its original dock, and someone noted that the ordination of these women had just “turned around the bark of Peter.” And in some sense, it had.

This was the birthplace of the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement, a movement that is growing today by leaps and bounds, with more than 100 ordained women and many more “in the pipeline.”

The hierarchical church dismissed these ordinations as illicit, and excommunicated the women. But the women rejected their ouster and moved forward with a variety of ministries. Iris and Ida ministered as best they could in Germany, despite their advancing years, and despite a debilitating stroke that Iris suffered.

Iris Muller, RCWP, died on January 30, 2011 in Stuttgart, Germany.

Iris Muller, Presente!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Roberta Meehan RCWP: Homily for the 4th Sunday

Homily for the 4th Sunday

– Cycle A –

30 January 2011

Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13

Micah 6:1-8

Psalm 146:6-10

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Matthew 5:1-12a

Did you ever notice that sometimes a series of Scripture readings just does not say what you want it to say? Sometimes the words seem to speak to us – to you and to me – in different and distant languages. Sometimes we know there is another message hidden beneath the words but we just don’t seem to be able to find it. That is how it is with today’s readings. Oh, most of us are quite familiar with Matthew’s beatitudes. Most of us even know the corollaries found in other parts of Scripture. Hidden behind the Christian (or human!) mandates of the gospel we also see the second reading, the reading from 1 Corinthians. This is an extremely powerful passage! This is a reading about our callings – the callings that each of us has in Christ Jesus. “Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.” The way this is worded we know that if we do happen to be wise or powerful or noble, we are not excluded. That is a good thing. But, most of us simply do not fit that description. As a matter of fact, most of us would not really fit our own description of what a follower of Christ should be. Imagine that! We would not meet our own standards! Have you ever thought about the criteria that you personally would set down if you were looking for someone to be called to follow Christ? Would you be chosen – based on your own expectations? Most of us would not! We have an idealized concept of what our call to follow Jesus is all about. But, somehow that does not matter to our God! Our foolishness, weakness, and ignobility are not important. As a matter of fact, that seems to be why so many of us are chosen. God chooses the foolish to shame the wise and the weak to shame the strong. In other words, God chooses us with all of our warts and weaknesses to do what we are called to do. That call does not depend on us. And the qualifications for the job do not have to meet our standards. They only have to meet God’s standards, those standards that do not meet our guidelines. It is not our doing that gives us this strength in our calling. As the reading tells us, “It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption….” And what is it we can do if we accept that calling? Well, for one thing, we can live out the beatitudes, as listed in the gospel. We can be poor in spirit. In other words, we will not be attached to our worldly goods. We will use our goods properly. We will not deny our goods – regardless of how many or how few we have – but we will use them for the betterment of the world. We can mourn. In other words, we can feel. We can experience the feelings of the children of God everywhere. We can be one with them in what we do and in what we say. And this goes along with hungering and thirsting for righteousness. If we feel for our neighbor, whether near or far, we will work to satisfy our hunger and thirst for righteousness. That is feeling and that is a beatitude toward our neighbor. We can be merciful to all. We do not have the right to judge the hearts of others. But, we can be clean of heart. We can be peacemakers. We may be persecuted for doing right. But that is a part of our calling. It is our calling because God has called us – despite our foolishness, despite our foibles. We have been called to do God’s will. And in doing God’s will with our neighbor in mind, we are living the beatitudes. It is interesting that the Revised Common Lectionary used by most mainline Protestant churches has, instead of the reading from Zephaniah, the reading from Malachi 6:1-8. This reading ends with the beautiful line, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Is it not true that to walk humbly with our God is following our call – whatever that call might be – and at the same time, living the beatitudes? Answering our call is not always easy! As a matter of fact, answering our call is rarely easy. Often it is difficult to determine how the beatitudes should be followed. We may not all agree on how to be peacemakers; we may not all agree on what constitutes mercy; we may not all agree on how to be poor in spirit. None of that matters. Our individual discernments become irrelevant. All that matters is that we are following the call of God and we are doing so with an open mind and an open heart. And somehow all of this comes down to the basic message of the gospel – Love! God’s love for us – despite our weaknesses and shortcomings, despite our failure to meet our own expectations – and our love for God and our love for the rest of humanity. If we only understood love, our call would be clear. And our beatitude answer would also be clear! And this message of love is that message so powerfully spoken but written in other words and other languages. The message of love permeates 1 Corinthians and ties it to the love story told in the beatitudes. It is not the message we start out looking for – but it is the eternal message hidden in the bold face type of the Good News.

-- Roberta M. Meehan RCWP

Vatican Rejects Lawsuit Service/ Vatican "Above the Law"?

SNAP Press Release
Vatican sends back Fr. Murphy lawsuit (he abused 200+ deaf kids)
Deaf victims of St. John's appealing to Listecki to intervene with Pope in Federal lawsuit
Vatican refusing to cooperate with Federal court in Milwaukee in Murphy case
Judge's summons to Pope and two top Vatican officials sent back as "unwanted and undesirable"
In a stunning move, Vatican officials are refusing to be served with a child sex abuse lawsuit, returning it with the words "unwanted and undesired."
In response, at a news conference clergy child sex abuse victims, including victims of Fr. Lawrence Murphy while at St. John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis, Wis., will blast the Catholic hierarchy for:
· rebuffing the US justice system,
· continuing to ignore the appeal for healing from 200+ deaf victims sexually molested at a Milwaukee school, and
· delaying the "long overdue disclosure" of secret church records about the cover up of clergy sex crimes by a long-time Wisconsin predator priest
In addition, they will attempt to hand deliver a letter to Milwaukee's archbishop Jerome Listecki urging him to "show courage, challenge the Vatican, and advocate for these still-suffering Wisconsin crime victims."
Monday, January 31, 1:30 p.m.
Outside the Cousins Center, which is the headquarters of the Milwaukee archdiocese, 3501 South Lake Drive
Several victims of clergy child sex crimes, including deaf victims of Fr. Lawrence Murphy, who belong to the international support group called SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,
After initially accepting a summons from the US federal court in Milwaukee concerning a civil suit involving top Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI, the Holy See returned it late Friday by FEDEX to the United States, with the marking: "Undesirable and Unwanted". The lawsuit concerns the decades long cover up of serial child molester Fr. Lawrence Murphy from the archdiocese of Milwaukee.
The federal lawsuit, which was filed last March, and was the first of its kind, directly names Cardinal Ratzinger and two Vatican secretaries of state, in covering up the child sex crimes against hundreds of deaf children by Murphy as director of St. John's School for the Deaf in Franklin, Wisconsin. Murphy died in 1998.
Previously secret church records from Milwaukee show that every Milwaukee archbishop since at least 1958 knew Murphy was sexually assaulting children at the boarding school.
By 1976, according to the records, Vatican officials became involved in the Murphy case. At that time, Murphy was transferred from Milwaukee to a parish in northern Wisconsin, where he remained for several decades, unreported and unsupervised, working with children and families, as well as with the deaf community. At least one lawsuit has been filed by a victim of Murphy in his assignments after Milwaukee.
In the mid 1990's the Vatican again became involved with Murphy, this time through the office of the powerful Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), at that time headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. In 1997, Ratzinger's office ruled that Murphy would not have to face a church trial in Milwaukee and could remain a priest in good standing until his death. He was never turned over to civil authorities.
Two recently released letters show Vatican officials instructing local bishops against providing records about pedophile priests to judicial authorities in Ireland in the 1990's and the United States in the 1980's. Last year, a letter surfaced from the Vatican secretary of state to a French bishop congratulating him on behalf of Pope John Paul II for not turning a pedophile priest over to police. John Paul, who died in 2005, is being presented for official sainthood by Pope Benedict in May.
Although Vatican officials say they now cooperate with criminal and civil laws around the globe, Friday's rejection of the summons by the Federal Court in Milwaukee demonstrates that they still consider themselves "above the law" and is reminiscent of its response to formal inquiries in 2006 from Irish government authorities that were investigating widespread child abuse by clerics in Ireland.
NB: Attorneys for the victim in the Milwaukee federal suit, along with the nation's leading constitutional expert on these cases, Professor Marcie Hamilton, will hold an 11:00 a.m. CST press conference in St. Paul, MN and streamed live at Questions can be submitted one hour in advance. Contact Atty. Jeff Anderson at 612.817.866 (mobile) 651.297.6543 (office).
John Doe 16 v. Holy See, Joseph Ratzinger, Tarcisio Bertone and Angelo Sodano is available at:
Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director, 414.429.7259
John Pilmaier, SNAP Wisconsin Director, 414.336.8575
Mike Sneesby, SNAP Milwaukee Co-Director, 414.915.4374
Bridget Mary's Reflection
Once again, the Vatican is placing the institutional church "above the law". Clearly, the Vatican's response is unacceptable, and their attitude that the church is not subject to civil law is stunning. In a top down hierarchy, accountability goes to the top. What other religious institution or church would get away with a cover-up of criminal behavior and refusal to cooperate with civil authority? The Vatican could begin by telling the truth and turning over the records so that we can begin the journey to forgiveness, reconciliation and healing.
How can the church heal, if the Vatican keeps stonewalling? It is time to tell the truth, seek forgiveness, and begin the journey toward systemic change that will truly transform our church. This will mean an end to the secretive clerical system that got us into this mess. It will mean a more open, accountable, democratic church where the people of God take their rightful place as a gifted and empowered community. It will mean married priests and women priests in an renewed priestly ministry. It will demand genuine reforms and soul-stirring renewal. We need the breath of the Holy Spirit to blow through the Roman Catholic Church so that we will be a church worthy of our children.
So what should Catholics do get the Vatican's attention? A first step -stop giving money- until the Vatican gets it! Let us never forget the survivors who have suffered so much. Speak up for justice for them. Support priests of integrity. Work for reform of the church in your local community. Join organizations like Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful. Be informed about Bishops' Accountability locally and globally. You can find out lots of information on the internet. Pray daily for reform and renewal. We are the church. Let us be the change that we desire- remembering always that we are wounded healers, God's earthen vessels. We can go forward together to a whole new day of love, justice with integrity-- walking with Jesus who promised to be with us always.
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dr. Iris Muller, RCWP, a "Grandmother" of the Women Priests Movement Died on Jan. 30, 2011

Iris Müller, A Roman Catholic Woman Priest , and Theologian, known as one of the “Grandmothers” of the Women Priests Movement died on January 30, 2011.

Long time advocate of women’s equality and women’s ordination in the Roman Catholic Church, Iris Müller died peacefully on January 30, 2011 in Stuttgart, Germany after suffering from a long illness related to a previous stroke. Her lifetime friend, Bishop Dr. Ida Raming was at her side. Both women were part of the original seven women ordained in 2002 on the Danube River and were the foremothers of the womens ordination movement in the Catholic Church. In 1963, they were the first to write a petition to the Vatican Council II calling for the ordination of women.

Iris was the first woman to speak out openly in favour of women’s ordination in the Roman Catholic Church, despite the fact that she had no existential security whatever at the time. The consequences of her courageous stance on this issue were serious: she was threatened that even the small stipend she received and so desperately needed because she was a refugee would be withdrawn and there was, of course, no possibility of any official appointment within the official church. On the other hand, she was able to influence other Catholic women who, because of their upbringing, were conformed in their thinking and also timid. Through Iris’ guidance, some of them ‘woke up’ to the reality of discrimination against women in the R.C. church and in this way, Iris Müller fulfilled a real prophetic role and became known as one of the “grandmothers” of the Roman Catholic Women Priest Movement.
Iris Müller: Her Story

Iris Müller was born in 1930 in Magdeburg (mid-eastern part of Germany). After her final high school examination in 1950 she studied Protestant theology in Naumburg/Halle. In 1955 she continued her theological studies at the Martin Luther-University in Halle/Saale and received a diploma in theology from this university in 1958. After this examination which qualified her to serve as a pastor in the Protestant church, she converted to the Roman Catholic Church – a church, which she found, expressed its "following of Christ not just in words but in full sacramental reality." The consequences of this religious decision were extremely hard for Iris and as a woman she now came under the restrictions of Catholic Canon law.

Iris said, "I had become a creature incapable of receiving Holy Orders (cf. c. 1024 CIC). As a Catholic woman I was expected to accept the status of women in the Catholic Church. A further consequence of my conversion to this Church was that there was no prospect of any employment for me as a Catholic theologian in the communist regime of the DDR (East German Republic), since I refused to become a member of the communist party SED. My situation became so critical that I had to leave the DDR illegally and found refuge in the Western part of Germany (BRD)in 1959.

After many problems I succeeded in continuing my theological studies at the faculty of Catholic theology in Münster. As in the DDR my Catholic surroundings, the professors and most of the students, expected of me that I should accept the position of women in the Catholic Church without further question. But I decided to be faithful to my conviction and to my call to priesthood. So (as a former Protestant theologian) I was the first woman in the Catholic faculty to give witness that women are discriminated against in the Catholic Church and that their inferior status had to be reformed. On my path as a pioneer for women’s equality and women’s ordination at the Catholic faculty in Münster, I found solidarity and support from Ida Raming. In 1963, during Vatican Council II, we together wrote a petition to the Council, calling for women’s ordination. In 1970 I completed my doctorate in theology.During the following years I remained a member of the faculty in Münster, as a scientific assistant. I was involved in building up a special library on the status of women in the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), entitled “Women in Religion”.After a lifelong struggle for women’s equality and women’s ordination in the Catholic Church I decided to follow my call to priesthood. Together with my friend and colleague, Ida Raming, I was ordained a priest in 2002 as one of the original seven women on the Danube River." Iris resided in Stuttgart since her ordination.”

Second Obituary:

DR IRIS MÜLLER(born 11 September 1930)„God chose those who by human standards count for nothing, to reduce to nothing all those that do count for something, so that no human being may be boastful before God”(1 Cor. 1, 28).Iris Müller has now “fought the good fight to the end, run the race to the finish …” (cf. 2 Tim 4,7)She had great ideals from an early age, which she strove to fulfil with great commitment. All her life, Iris knew struggle and effort in achieving the goals she set herself and often had to contend with setbacks, humiliation and illness.When she left school, Iris decided to study theology with the aim of becoming a Protestant minister. She began her religious studies at the Catechetical Institute in Naumburg/Saule. This was a Centre of Studies for those who were in opposition to the oppressive communist regime in the German Democratic Republic (Eastern Germany). Even as a student at school, Iris Müller dared to speak out against injustice and oppression. She completed a degree in theology in Halle/Saale in 1958.
Iris then converted to Catholicism. Her reasons included the search for a deeper, more spiritual path. But this step had serious consequences for her: there was, of course, no possibility of being ordained as a woman in the Catholic church. Even before her conversion she said clearly that she did not agree with this rule but she nevertheless hoped that it would be possible to convince those in authority in the R.C. church that the exclusion of women from Orders was based on unacceptable and unjust theological arguments. This hope was, as we know with hindsight, very much in vain. Nevertheless, Iris continued to follow her calling with great determination. On existential grounds, Iris was then forced to flee from the GDR because there was no possibility of any kind of job for a dissident Catholic theologian in that part of Germany at the time. The year was 1959, two years before the Berlin Wall was built. Having got to West-Germany - after a risky and troublesome flight, Iris was eventually able, despite the many difficulties and setbacks, she encountered as refugee, to continue her studies as a doctoral student in the theology department at the University of Münster. She completed her doctorate there.
During her doctoral studies at the university, Iris was the first woman to speak out openly in favour of women’s ordination in the R.C. church, despite the fact that she had no existential security whatever at the time. The consequences of her courageous stance on this issue were serious: she was threatened that even the small stipend she received and so desperately needed because she was a refugee would be withdrawn and there was, of course, no possibility of any official appointment within the official church.
On the other hand, she was able to influence other Catholic women who, because of their upbringing, were conformed in their thinking and also timid. Through Iris’ guidance, some of them ‘woke up’ to the reality of discrimination against women in the R.C. church and in this way, Iris Müller fulfilled a real prophetic role.
After her doctoral examination she continued the struggle for the freedom of Catholic women from unjust discrimination by means of publications, talks and correspondence and above all by building up a library on the theme of “Women in Religion, especially Judaism, Christianity and Islam” in the theological faculty of the University of Münster. The overcoming of discrimination against women in all the major religions was always close to Iris’ heart.
As the years went by and the Vatican “NO” to women’s ordination became ever stronger and louder, and as it became clear that there was no hope of achieving any change within the ecclesial system itself, Iris Müller, together with six other women, decided to take public action against the official law of the church, which excludes women from ordination (CIC can. 1024).
On June 29th 2002, Iris Müller was ordained a Catholic priest. Thus she had finally achieved her goal - though not recognized and acknowledged by the official church, but as a woman who opened up for her sisters a way of liberation.In this way, Iris Müller “fought the good fight”, so that Catholic women would, in the future, be able to rejoice in their freedom as ‘daughters of God’.
Meditation and spirituality were very necessary to Iris. It was from these that she drew the strength to overcome the challenges and difficulties that she faced in her life. Her confirmation bible text was: When Yahweh is pleased with someone’s way of life,He makes that person’s very enemies into friends”. (Prov. 16,7)She often reflected on this text: it was both mysterious and deep for her and at the same time frightening, because there is the mention of ‘enemies’.
In Iris’ prayer journal, I found the following words which she herself wrote:“So in death, what happens is the miracle of transformation. Over death, there lies the invincible promise of salvation and resurrection. This means that I surrender to God everything that I am and have - and God gives it back to me, transformed.Life triumphs over death.”This is also our faith and our hope for the deceased.A truly noble, generous person has gone before us, having been called into the peace of God.Let us keep Iris Müller in faithful remembrance!
(Ida Raming, Winter 2011 – English translation: Dr. Patricia Fresen)
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
We give thanks for Dr. Iris Muller's prophetic witness for women's equality and for women priests as an issue of gender justice in the Roman Catholic Church. She is one of the beloved "grandmothers" of our Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement whom we will miss, and whose memory will continue to inspire us in our labor for justice for women in church and society. May Iris' vision of the full equality of women in the Roman Catholic Church become a reality in our time. Let us pray for comfort for all who will miss Iris especially her dear friend, and care-giver during the last years of her life, Dr. Ida Raming, who like Iris, is a brilliant theologian and "grandmother" of the RCWP Movement. We owe these women, visionary theologians, a debt of gratitude.
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP