Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Ten Religion Stories of 2012 Include Women's Roles/Ordination/Priests

Best of 2012: Contraception, women's roles among top religion stories

From Staff Reports

"Challenges to the role of women in the Catholic Church, a federal regulation regarding contraception and the non-issue of Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith all touched on the lives of Cowetans – and made it into the top 10 religion stories of the year.

Religion Newswriters Association members vote on stories each year to select the top 10. This year, a December event was too late for voting but had wide impact.

“The No. 1 U.S. religion story in December 2012 was, without a doubt, the school attack and the mournful search for meaning that follows,” said Debra Mason of RNA. “However, before the shooting, professional journalists who cover religion voted on the year’s other significant religious events.”

The U.S. Catholic bishops’ opposition to national health care legislation mandating contraception coverage was ranked the No. 1 Religion Story of 2012 by members of the Religion Newswriters Association.

Related to the top story, the top religion newsmaker was Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who became the point man for Catholic objections to required coverage of contraception, sterilization and morning after drugs in Obamacare.

The Top 10 Religion Stories of the Year are below:

— 1. U.S. Catholic bishops led opposition to Obamacare requirement that insurance coverage for contraception be provided for employees. The government backed down a bit, but not enough to satisfy the opposition.

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory addressed the issue briefly during a meeting on immigration in College Park in early December. “Religious liberty is not threatened only by the actions of one government agency or one area of law,” he said.

— 2. A Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey showed that “nones” is the fastest-growing religious group in the United States, rising to 19.6 percent of the population.

— 3. The circulation of an anti-Islam film trailer, “Innocence of Muslims,” caused unrest in several countries, leading to claims that it inspired the fatal attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya. President Obama, at the U.N., called for toleration tolerance of blasphemy, and respect as a two-way street.

— 4. Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith turned out to be a virtual non-issue for white evangelical voters, who support him more strongly than they did John McCain, in the U.S. presidential race.

The Republican presidential contender’s religion certainly appeared to have little impact on election results in Coweta County, which has a high concentration of evangelicals. Romney received 39,633 votes on Nov. 6 – 71.4 percent of the votes cast in Coweta.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is growing in number and visibility in Coweta. Just a few days after the election, a short program, “The Mormons Next Door,” was presented at the local LDS building on Old Atlanta Highway.

— 5. Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia became the first senior Catholic official in the U.S. to be found guilty of covering up priestly child abuse. Later, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Mo., became the first bishop to be found guilty of covering up abuse.
— 6. The Vatican criticized the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella group of U.S. nuns, alleging they have not supported church teaching on abortion, sexuality or women’s ordination.

In Coweta County, the line was more sharply drawn as local resident Diane Dougherty took vows of ordination as a Roman Catholic woman priest on Oct. 20. Dougherty, a nun for 23 years, knew she was facing automatic excommunication.
She was ordained a priest in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.

— 7. Voters approved same-sex marriage in Maine, Maryland and Washington, bringing the total approving to nine states and the District of Columbia. Also, Minnesota defeated a ban on same-sex marriage after North Carolina approved one.

— 8. The Episcopal Church overwhelmingly adopted a trial ritual for blessing same-sex couples. Earlier, the United Methodists failed to vote on approving gay clergy, and the Presbyterians (USA) voted to study, rather than sanction same-sex marriage ceremonies.

— 9. Six people were killed and three wounded at worship in a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee. The shooter, an Army veteran killed by police, was described as a neo-Nazi.

— 10. Southern Baptist Convention elected without opposition its first black president, Fred Luter, a pastor from New Orleans. "

Saturday, December 29, 2012

What are the Contributions and Challenges of an Inclusive Model of Priesthood Renewing Eucharistic Theology and Eucharistic Spirituality? by Josie Petermeier

An inclusive model of priesthood offers several contribution and challenges in renewing Eucharistic theology and spirituality. An inclusive model of priesthood means that all are welcome and included, all are invited to the table. This includes women, whether single or married, straight or gay. This inclusive priesthood reflects the communities they serve, which includes LGBT and divorced/remarried people.

This model stands in contrast with the Catholic Church as a whole, where many are excluded. Only males, and single ones at that, are allowed to be priests. The communities they serve also exclude women who want to be priests, people who are LGBT and divorced-remarried people. Many of these people still feel themselves to be faithful Catholics, but for reasons, often not their own choice, they are excluded from the sacraments. Being a woman is not a choice, being gay is not a choice. It's who we are, and who we understand ourselves to be. Being divorced is not always one's own choice. And it's not right to stay in a relationship that is abusive and unhealthy. Why must these people pay a price for the choices of others. They should be allowed to remarry and build a healthy life. And they should be welcome to the eucharistic table as full members of the body of Christ.

Having an inclusive model of priesthood offers several contributions to renewing Eucharistic communities. First of all by having women as priests, we recognize the whole body of Christ and acknowledge the contributions and insights that women bring to all the roles of service in Priesthood. It offers insights into God as having female qualities, as one who brings to birth something new, and as one who nurtures.

Priests who are married or have partners, can bring to their ministry insights into relationships and better understand people who are in relationships. These relationships give new understandings of our relationship with God. How do we understand God's love if we have never fallen in love? How do our human relationships enlighten our relationship with God? How does our relationship with God enrich our relationships with others?

Many women priests have had children and this experience stretches us in many ways. (No pun intended). The whole experience of pregnancy with all the health challenges that can present, really makes you realize that you have given of yourself, even your own body so that another might live. It gives new insight into the words of consecration “This is my body and blood, given for you.” As children grow, they struggle to understand their own independence. These struggles stretch parents in their patience, their compassion, their understanding, and their ability to love even when their child is pushing them away. This helps us understand what it means to love like God loves us. To love no matter what, without limits, and never give up. Parent love goes longer than the terrible twos and beyond teenage rebellion. It never ends. God's love for us never ends either. Even if we think we don't need God, God is always there, always calling us back, always loving. Like the wine skins of the gospel, we are shaped by what we bear.

By having a more inclusive model of priesthood, helps us to understand God in a wider more inclusive way, as Mother as well as Father, as birthing and nurturing, It changes our image of God. That doesn't mean that we are changing God. Rather we are recognizing all the aspects of God.

An inclusive model of priesthood seems to be more authentic to Christ's message. Jesus welcomed everyone. He chose women and men as disciples. He chose Mary Magdalen as the apostle to the apostles. Jesus called sinners and saints. He forgave sinners. The inclusive model of church doesn't have a hierarchical structure. It doesn't value symbols of power and wealth.

An inclusive model of priesthood is committed to following conscience and obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

An inclusive model of priesthood has it's challenges though, how to reconcile these differences with the wider Church, should the Church ever accept women as priests. It makes it harder, yet how could women priests exclude these other groups if they themselves want to be included?

The Church in Inter Insigniores, 1976, says that women with their female bodies can not image Christ and therefore they can not be priests. But after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, Cardinal Timothy Dolan eulogized one of the teachers, Anne Marie Murphy, and described how Christ-like she was to give her life to protect her students. So women can image Christ. I think that imaging Christ means living and loving and serving like Christ did, not something so superficial as what body parts you happened to be born with.

The Catholic church does not accept LGBT people. But they are all God's children. Their love and commitment to each other is a sign and witness of God's love for each other and to the christian community. So by including LGBT people, it makes it harder for the Church to accept an inclusive priesthood.

Accepting divorced and remarried people is another challenge. The Church upholds marriage no matter what, abusive or not. So anyone who divorces and remarries is considered as living in sin and is not allowed to receive communion. Because an inclusive priesthood allows them to receive communion, this would be a challenge to be reconciled..

There are some things that an inclusive priesthood sees as challenges in the Church.. These are differences between the church and and inclusive priesthood. An inclusive priesthood is not hierarchical, is not necessarily celibate, does not vow obedience to a Bishop, but to the Holy Spirit and their conscience. Inclusive priesthood practices simplicity and does not look for signs of power and wealth. It is hard to justify expensive gold altar appointments and brocade vestments when they are serving the poor and marginalized people.

And then there is inclusive language which offers contributions as well as challenges. The inclusive priesthood uses very inclusive language, Where God is acknowledged as Father and Mother, and words of power like King and Lord and rewritten to more equal terms. The advantage of this is to be more open and inclusive of women and all people. The Catholic Church has been working on inclusive language since the 1970s, but moving rather slowly. And recently, some of the advances have been rescinded. The Church struggles with changing language and still being doctrinally correct. Regardless, some of the translations are just awkward. There is no easy gender-neutral Mother-Father word in English. Something like “Our Progenitor, who art in heaven...” just doesn't sound right.

I look at the Catholic Church and inclusive model of priesthood, and wonder if Jesus showed up today, where would he feel the most comfortable? I would like to think that he'd feel more at home with the inclusive priesthood model of church because it is more open and welcoming to everyone. It portrays the church more as it was in the first centuries, before the church made rules about excluding women and celibate priesthood, before the church amassed power and wealth.

Sacraments and Sacramentality by Bernard Cooke, 23rd Publications, 1999.

Cardinal Dolan: Anne Marie Murphy Was Like Jesus.

Communion of Divorced and Remarried, Colin B. Donovan, STL,

Extravagant Affections: A Feminist Sacramental Theology , by Susan Ross, Continuum, 1998

Inclusive Language: Is It Necessary? Kenneth D. Whitehead,

by Josie Petermeier
December 26, 2012
TH565 Feminist Sacramental Theology

Friday, December 28, 2012

Catholic Priest Blames Italy’s Stiletto Murders on Women by Barbie Latza Nadeau

Dec 28, 2012 4:45 AM EST  "Father Piero Corsi sparked outrage in Italy with his Christmas Eve comments about the growing number of women killed in domestic disputes. It's no surprise that misogyny appears to be alive and well in certain corners of Catholic Italy, where women are hardly viewed as men’s equals. But in the town of Lerici, near Turin, parish priest Father Piero Corsi sparked unprecedented outrage this Christmas, when he chose the delicate issue of femicide, or the killing of women in domestic disputes, as his Christmas bulletin theme."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pontfical Biblical Commission in 1976 Concluded That There Is No Evidence in New Testament to Prohibit Women Priests/ Why does Magisterium Insist it is Jesus' Will When Evidence Does Not Support Teaching?

"In April 1976, the Pontifical Biblical Commission released a study examining the exclusion of women from the ministerial priesthood from a biblical perspective... In the conclusion of the document, they write:
"It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate.

However, some think that in the scriptures there are sufficient indications to exclude this possibility, considering that the sacraments of eucharist and reconciliation have a special link with the person of Christ and therefore with the male hierarchy, as borne out by the New Testament.

Others, on the contrary, wonder if the church hierarchy, entrusted with the sacramental economy, would be able to entrust the ministries of eucharist and reconciliation to women in light of circumstances, without going against Christ's original intentions."[6]

So let us be clear the Vatican scholars in the Pontifical Biblical Commission of 1976 is open to the possibility of women priests. The Catechism and the current papal teaching contradict its own scholarship.
The church must always follow Jesus' example.

First, Jesus did not ordain anyone at the last supper.

Second, according to all four Gospels, the Risen Christ appeared first to Mary of Magdala, and chose her to the apostle to the apostles to proclaim the central message of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Third: In the Gospels, Jesus treated women and men as disciples and equals.Read Luke 8:1-3. Many women were disciples of Jesus and they supported him by bankrolling his ministry!

Fourth: According to scholars such as Gary Macy, in The Hidden History of Women's Ordination, women were ordained for the first thousand years of church history.  Archaeologist Dorothy Irvin has found many examples of women deacons, priests and bishops in the ancient world in mosaics, frescoes, and tombstones in Rome and the Near East and Northern Africa. Pope Gelasius in 494 chastised the bishops of southern Italy for allowing women to preside at Eucharist. Bishop Atto in the tenth century referred to the presence of women priests in the history of the church.

Fifth: It is time for the Catholic Church to follow the example of Jesus and the early church, and affirm women priests. The quote from the Catholic Church's Catechism that claims a male priesthood is Jesus' will contradicts the evidence in the bible and the archaeological evidence of women deacons, priests and bishops found in the early Christianity. Women are equal images of God and sexism is a sin that denies women the opportunity to serve as equals in the sacramental ministry of our church.

Roman Catholic Women Priests are offering the gift of a renewed priestly ministry in an inclusive church where all are welcome to receive sacraments. The full equality of women is the voice of God in our time.

Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Why God?" by Maureen Dowd/New York Times

"When my friend Robin was dying, she asked me if I knew a priest she could talk to who would not be, as she put it, “too judgmental.” I knew the perfect man, a friend of our family, a priest conjured up out of an old black-and-white movie, the type who seemed not to exist anymore in a Catholic Church roiled by scandal. Like Father Chuck O’Malley, the New York inner-city priest played by Bing Crosby, Father Kevin O’Neil sings like an angel and plays the piano; he’s handsome, kind and funny. Most important, he has a gift. He can lighten the darkness around the dying and those close to them. When he held my unconscious brother’s hand in the hospital, the doctors were amazed that Michael’s blood pressure would noticeably drop. The only problem was Father Kevin’s reluctance to minister to the dying. It tears at him too much. He did it, though, and he and Robin became quite close. Years later, he still keeps a picture of her in his office. As we’ve seen during this tear-soaked Christmas, death takes no holiday. I asked Father Kevin, who feels the subject so deeply, if he could offer a meditation. This is what he wrote:

How does one celebrate Christmas with the fresh memory of 20 children and 7 adults ruthlessly murdered in Newtown; with the searing image from Webster of firemen rushing to save lives ensnared in a burning house by a maniac who wrote that his favorite activity was “killing people”? How can we celebrate the love of a God become flesh when God doesn’t seem to do the loving thing? If we believe, as we do, that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, why doesn’t He use this knowledge and power for good in the face of the evils that touch our lives?

The killings on the cusp of Christmas in quiet, little East Coast towns stirred a 30-year-old memory from my first months as a priest in parish ministry in Boston. I was awakened during the night and called to Brigham and Women’s Hospital because a girl of 3 had died. The family was from Peru. My Spanish was passable at best. When I arrived, the little girl’s mother was holding her lifeless body and family members encircled her.

They looked to me as I entered. Truth be told, it was the last place I wanted to be. To parents who had just lost their child, I didn’t have any words, in English or Spanish, that wouldn’t seem cheap, empty. But I stayed. I prayed. I sat with them until after sunrise, sometimes in silence, sometimes speaking, to let them know that they were not alone in their suffering and grief. The question in their hearts then, as it is in so many hearts these days, is “Why?”

The truest answer is: I don’t know. I have theological training to help me to offer some way to account for the unexplainable. But the questions linger. I remember visiting a dear friend hours before her death and reminding her that death is not the end, that we believe in the Resurrection. I asked her, “Are you there yet?” She replied, “I go back and forth.”

There was nothing I wanted more than to bring out a bag of proof and say, “See? You can be absolutely confident now.” But there is no absolute bag of proof. I just stayed with her.

A life of faith is often lived “back and forth” by believers and those who minister to them.

Implicit here is the question of how we look to God to act and to enter our lives. For whatever reason, certainly foreign to most of us, God has chosen to enter the world today through others, through us. We have stories of miraculous interventions, lightning-bolt moments, but far more often the God of unconditional love comes to us in human form, just as God did over 2,000 years ago.

I believe differently now than 30 years ago. First, I do not expect to have all the answers, nor do I believe that people are really looking for them. Second, I don’t look for the hand of God to stop evil. I don’t expect comfort to come from afar. I really do believe that God enters the world through us. And even though I still have the “Why?” questions, they are not so much “Why, God?” questions. We are human and mortal. We will suffer and die. But how we are with one another in that suffering and dying makes all the difference as to whether God’s presence is felt or not and whether we are comforted or not.

One true thing is this: Faith is lived in family and community, and God is experienced in family and community. We need one another to be God’s presence. When my younger brother, Brian, died suddenly at 44 years old, I was asking “Why?” and I experienced family and friends as unconditional love in the flesh. They couldn’t explain why he died. Even if they could, it wouldn’t have brought him back. Yet the many ways that people reached out to me let me know that I was not alone. They really were the presence of God to me. They held me up to preach at Brian’s funeral. They consoled me as I tried to comfort others. Suffering isolates us. Loving presence brings us back, makes us belong.

A contemporary theologian has described mercy as “entering into the chaos of another.” Christmas is really a celebration of the mercy of God who entered the chaos of our world in the person of Jesus, mercy incarnate. I have never found it easy to be with people who suffer, to enter into the chaos of others. Yet, every time I have done so, it has been a gift to me, better than the wrapped and ribboned packages. I am pulled out of myself to be love’s presence to someone else, even as they are love’s presence to me.

I will never satisfactorily answer the question “Why?” because no matter what response I give, it will always fall short. What I do know is that an unconditionally loving presence soothes broken hearts, binds up wounds, and renews us in life. This is a gift that we can all give, particularly to the suffering. When this gift is given, God’s love is present and Christmas happens daily.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on December 26, 2012, on page A25 of the New York edition with the headline: Why, God?.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Pope Benedict Pardons Former Butler Paolo Gabriele /Is Vatileaks Over or Not?

by Dr. Robert Moynihan

"Pope Benedict XVI yesterday, just three days before Christmas, pardoned his former butler, Paolo Gabriele, who was serving an 18-month jail sentence for stealing confidential Vatican documents and handing them over to a journalist for publication, resulting in the "Vatileaks" scandal.

The Pope yesterday morning visited Gabriele personally in his Vatican cell to  inform him of the decision, the Vatican said in a statement. (Photo: This  photo from the Osservatore Romano, is the only photo of the meeting the Vatican will be releasing.) The Vatican's spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said the two had a "very intense" conversation for about 15 minutes, privately and alone.

On October 6, a Vatican tribunal, after a brief trial, found Gabriele guilty of removing and/or photocopying dozens of the Pope's private documents and leaking them to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, who published them in May.

Gabriele said in his testimony that he acted out of love for the Church. He said he had taken the documents in order to "jar" the Vatican in some way, in order to force top officials -- and eventually the Pope himself -- to face more directly a number of cases where special agendas seemed to be placing private or partial interests ahead of the interests of the Universal Church. In this sense, Gabriele saw himself as a "whistleblower," not as the agent of any group, in or out of the Church, seeking to harm the Church. The Vatican tribunal judges said in their sentence that they believed Gabriele's description of his motivation, and for this reason reduced his sentence from 3 years to a year and a half.

Now Gabriele is free.

"This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI visited Paolo Gabriele in prison in order to confirm his forgiveness and to inform him personally of his acceptance of Mr Gabriele's request for pardon," the Vatican statement said.

In November the court convicted a computer expert, Claudio Sciarpelletti, of helping Gabriele leak the papal documents. Sciarpelletti, who pleaded innocent, was found guilty and given a suspended sentence of two months. He is already back at work in his old job, and a full pardon is also expected soon for him, Father Lombardi said.

What has not been made clear is whether the "Vatileaks" case is now completely closed, or not.

A few days ago, Pope Benedict, unexpectedly, received in audience three cardinals -- the Spaniard Julian Herranz, the Slovak Josef Tomko and the Italian Salvatore De Giorgi -- who comprise the special "cardinals' commission" the Pope himself set up to investigate the "Vatileaks" case, alongside the investigation of the Vatican court and the Vatican police department.

It is said in Rome that the three cardinals continued to gather testimony and evidence about the case even after Gabriele's trial and sentencing in October. This suggests that perhaps there is still an ongoing investigation. But what this investigation (if it is continuing) consists of, why it might be continuing, and what it might lead to (if anything), is not clear."

"Edgewood College Employees' Statement Backs Pair Banned by Diocese"/ Bishop Morlino , Remember, that all people belong to God's family and God is not Catholic!

..."The two women, along with two others, Beth O'Brien and Sister Lynn Lisbeth, are connected to Wisdom's Well, an interfaith spirituality center in Madison. All four women ran afoul of Morlino for allegedly straying too far from Catholic doctrine.
In a Nov. 27 memo to priests leaked to the State Journal, Morlino told priests the four women are not to be allowed to preach, lead prayers, hold workshops or provide spiritual guidance of any kind on parish property in the 11-county Madison Diocese.

The memo does not cite any examples of things the women may have said that contradict Catholic doctrine. Rather, it says "grave concern exists" with regard to the "teachings and animating spirit of the center." Namely, that its members "may espouse certain views flowing" from movements such as "New Ageism" and "indifferentism."

Indifferentism is defined in an addendum to the memo as "the belief that no one religion or philosophy is superior to another." In the Catholic Church, indifferentism is heresy, first condemned by Pope Gregory XVI in the 1800s.

The memo says the grave concerns "are evidenced mainly from (Wisdom's Well's) website." It quotes numerous passages on the website that concern the diocese, including an invitation to women "who wish to create a community for exploring and practicing the wisdom and compassion of the divine feminine."

Morlino's memo posted online

The diocese initially declined to comment on the issue, saying the confidential memo was intended to remain that way "to respectfully protect the reputations of all those involved."

After the State Journal published an article on the memo two weeks ago, the diocese posted the memo and the addendum on its website so parishioners and others could read them in their entirety. The documents can be found at"

Read more:   Bridget Mary's Reflection Let us remember that we all belong to God's family and that God is not Catholic!

A Reflection on Mary and Elizabeth: The Visitation/ Mary Mother of Jesus Catholic Community/Fourth Sunday of Advent 2012

(Let us take several minutes to reflect on today's Gospel: (instrumental Christmas music is played in background as we contemplate this Gospel.)

Long ago, Mary, young, single, pregnant, sets out to the hill country to visit her cousin, Elizabeth , who after many years of patient waiting, is also expecting her first child...

In this visitation, Elizabeth warmly embraces Mary

and proclaims her “the Mother of my Savior” (Luke 1:43)...

In her prophetic greeting to Mary, Theotokos,  the God bearer,

Elizabeth reminds us that God’s promises to us are being fulfilled....

Emmanuel, God, our lover, is with us in times of joy and sorrow....

Each of us is the beloved of God ...

Like Mary, we are called to be God-Bearers today....

Like Mary and Elizabeth, we are called to speak words of encouragement in our “visitations” with all those we meet...

Like Mary and Elizabeth, in our solidarity, God’s promises are being fulfilled in our work for justice, peace and equality...

Like Mary and Elizabeth, we will face disbelief, rejection and many challenges...

Like Mary and Elizabeth, our response is help, thanks, wow...! (Read Anne Lamott's book, Help, Thanks and Wow)

Homily Reflection Sharing of Community: Which of God’s promises most inspires you with confidence?

Reflection by Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp.,

Friday, December 21, 2012

"Remember All the Children, Mr. President" by Bill Quigley

Remember the 20 children who died in Newtown, Connecticut.
Remember the 35 children who died in Gaza this month from Israeli bombardments.
Remember the 168 children who have been killed by US drone attacks in Pakistan since 2006.Remember the 231 children killed in Afghanistan in the first 6 months of this year.
Remember the 400 other children in the US under the age of 15 who die from gunshot wounds each year.
Remember the 921 children killed by US air strikes against insurgents in Iraq.
Remember the 1,770 US children who die each year from child abuse and maltreatment.
Remember the 16,000 children who die each day around the world from hunger.
These tragedies must end.

Prayer to Holy Wisdom/ Sophia by Laura Grimes

7           Show us your mercy, O Sophia, *
   and grant us your salvation.

8           I will listen to what Sophia, our God, is saying, *
   for She is speaking peace to Her faithful people
   and to those who turn their hearts to Her.

9          Truly, Her salvation is very near to those who fear Her, *
   that Her glory may dwell in our land.

10       Mercy and truth have met together; *
   righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11       Truth shall spring up from the earth, *
   and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12       Sophia will indeed grant prosperity, *
   and our land will yield its increase.

13       Righteousness shall go before Her, *
   and peace shall be a pathway for Her feet.

 And an excerpt from Laura Grimes' Advent Meditations book 
(daily divine feminine scripture readings for the season) is

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God. 
For you didn’t receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received 
the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Amma! Mother!”
The Spirit Herself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God; 
and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; 
if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him.  
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time 
are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed 
toward us.

For the creation waits with eager expectation for the children of God 
to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to vanity, not 
of its own will, but because of Her who subjected it, in hope 
that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of decay 
into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.  
For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together 
until now.  Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits 
of the Spirit, even we groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, 
the redemption of our body.

For we were saved in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. 
For who hopes for that which they see?  
But if we hope for that which we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.  
In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t
 know how to pray as we ought.  
But the Spirit Herself makes intercession for us with groanings 
which can’t be uttered.  She who searches hearts knows what is in the 
Spirit’s mind, because She makes intercession for the
 saints according to God.
Romans 8:14-27

Both books, as well as Sophia’s Book of Hours and Sophia’s Rosary, 
are available at her book website

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Support Women Priests With Prayers and Financial Support
Dear Family, Friends and Supporters of ARCWP:
As we draw near to Christmas and the close of 2012, we look back on this year with great joy
and extreme gratitude. We give thanks for you, our supporters.  Together we are moving
toward a renewed inclusive Christ-centered, justice seeking Catholic Church emerging in
more and more places led by ordained women.  In 2012 five women were ordained as priests
and another six women as deacons.  We anticipate the ordination of as many as nine women
as priests in 2013.  In spite of the Vatican-imposed punishment of excommunication our
movement for Gospel equality continues to grow.
ARCWP is a new vision rising up: one of inclusion, nonviolence and justice in our church and
world community.  We are active in ministries with those who are living on the margins due
to homelessness, racism, poverty and difference.  We serve as pastors for house churches
and inclusive Catholic communities.  We are educators and authors, retreat leaders and
peace activists.  We provide pastoral care in a variety of medical settings. We work with
youth, families, the elderly and the disaffected to heal and build community often in
ecumenical settings.  
Our vision rose on November 17 when Jesuit Father Bill Brennan co-presided with our Janice
Sevre-Duszynska at the Progressive Catholic Coalition liturgy at the School of the Americas
(SOA) protest in Georgia.  In just a few days our joy was tempered by the news that the
Vatican dismissed Fr. Roy Bourgeois from the Maryknoll order and the priesthood. But he
will always be our courageous priest.  We have collaborated with Women's Ordination
Conference and Call to Action in support of Fr. Roy who said. “ is my conscience that
compels me to say publicly that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is a grave
injustice against women, against our Church and against our Loving God who calls both men
and women to the priesthood.”
As we look ahead to 2013 we know that we will need increased financial support.  Our largest
expense is for our ordinations and all the ways we spread the good news of the women priest
movement: speaking to groups in colleges and universities and at showings of the
documentary “Pink Smoke”, through our website, and by visiting and collaborating with our
priests in South America.
That’s what ARCWP is about.  We work tirelessly to bring about the Kin-dom in local
communities by the giving of ourselves in ministry and by challenging the powers that be.
We know that we can count on you to support our efforts. Please make your tax-deductible
donation to: ARCWP at the address above.
We invite you to visit our website ( and Bridget Mary’s blog (bridgetmarys. for the latest in our movement for a renewed inclusive church.
We offer you our blessings as we move forward together,
The Women of ARCWP

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Bishops Investigating US Nuns Have Poor Records on Sex Abuse Cases" by Jason Berry
Vatican Selections Include Bishops and Cardinals who Protected Pedophile Priests
Cardinals and bishops involved in the LCWR investigation have suffered no discipline for their blunders in their handling of clergy pedophiles, according to news reports and legal documents.
Cardinal Bernard Law was the prime mover behind the “apostolic visitation” of all American nun communities, other than monastic ones, and the subsequent CDF investigation of the LCWR, according to sources in Rome, including Cardinal Franc Rodé, the retired prefect of the congregation that oversees religious orders.
Law, who refused to comment for this article, has not spoken to the press in 10 years. He resigned as Boston archbishop in December 2002 and spent 18 months living at a convent of nuns in Maryland, with periodic trips to Rome. In 2004, the Vatican rewarded him with a position as prefect of Santa Maria Maggiore, a historic basilica; he took an active role in several Roman Curia boards, and became a fixture on the social circuit of embassies in Rome. Boston was a staggering mess.
Abuse settlements there have cost $175 million. Mass attendance since 2002 has dropped from 45 percent to 16 percent. Declining financial support has caused a storm of church closings, from 400 parishes in 2002 to 135 today.
Six years after Law found redemption in Rome, clergy abuse cases exploded in Europe.
“You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry,” Pope Benedict XVI wrote to Catholics of Ireland in a letter on March 19, 2010, as the Irish reeled from a government report on a history of bishops concealing clergy predators. “Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated,” the pope continued. “You find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel. At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope.”
Despite the uncommon tone of contrition, the pope’s letter offered no procedures to remove complicit bishops or genuine institutional reform.
On April 4, 2010, as cases of clergy abuse in other countries shook the European heartland, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel criticized Benedict for “reluctance to take a firm stance ... [on] a crisis for the entire Catholic Church, a crisis that is now descending upon the Vatican with a vengeance and hitting its spiritual leader hard.”
Two years later, the drumbeat of criticism has subsided; but the core problem is unchanged. Under the logic of apostolic succession, in which each bishops stands as a descendant of Jesus’s apostles, the power structure gives de facto immunity to cardinals and bishops for gross violations of moral trust, much less the law.
Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Missouri, remains in his office despite his conviction in civil court, which did not draw a prison sentence, for concealing a perpetrator. Pope Benedict has not punished any of the hierarchs who recycled so many sex offenders by sending them to other parishes.
The double standard in church governance — men of the hierarchy immune from church justice — has become a glaring issue to leaders of missionary orders in Rome as the CDF probes the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in America.
In 2005, shortly after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger emerged from the conclave as Pope Benedict XVI, he appointed San Francisco Archbishop William Levada to succeed him as prefect of the CDF. Levada became a cardinal soon thereafter.
Levada was caught in a swamp in 2002 amidst news reports on abuse cases under his watch. He formed an Independent Review Board of primarily lay people to advise him and review personnel files on questionable priests. Psychologist James Jenkins chaired the board. Father Greg Ingels, a canon lawyer, helped set it up. Jenkins grew suspicious when Levada would not release the names of priests under scrutiny. 
In May of 2003, board members were stunned on reading news reports that Ingels had been indicted for allegedly having oral sex with a 15-year-old boy at a local high school in the 1970s. Levada, the board learned, had known about the allegations since 1996, yet kept Ingels in ministry and as an adviser. Ingels helped fashion the church's 2002 zero-tolerance policy and wrote a bishops’ guidebook on how to handle abuse cases. Ingels stepped down.
Jenkins quit his post, denouncing Levada for “an elaborate public relations scheme.” 
Robert Mickens reported in The Tablet in May that Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, a protege of Law’s, asked the CDF to investigate LCWR.
Lori established several communities of traditionalist nuns as bishop of Bridgeport, Conn. between 2001 and 2012.
As a canon lawyer, Lori helped write the US bishops’ 2002 youth protection charter. It has no oversight over bishops. In 2003, Lori approved a $21 million abuse victims’ settlement involving several priests. Voice of the Faithful criticized him for allowing an accused monsignor to stay in his parish. In 2011 the priest resigned after a female church worker made sexual harassment allegations.
In a Jan. 12, 2011 Connecticut Post op-ed piece, VOTF leader John Marshall Lee cited a priest who had been suspended for sex abuse yet appeared in clerical attire at public gatherings. 
“Does this behavior contradict Bishop Lori's assumed supervisory orders suspending priestly public activities?” Lee asked. “How does a bishop enforce his instructions in this regard? Where does a whistleblower report this behavior, or determine if the priest in question was suspended in the first place?”
Lee cited another cleric who had been removed after “credible allegations of sexual abuse” but with no indication that he was defrocked. 
“There is no current address for this man who might have been labeled ‘sex offender’ (had the church acted responsibly when leaders first heard of adult criminal behavior perpetrated on Catholic children) and who may continue to be a potential threat to children," Lee continued. "Is the church saying that such men are no longer a public threat to children?”
Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, who wrote the secret report on LCWR for Levada, has said he got most of his information from LCWR literature. Writing in his diocesan paper, Blair made the accurate point that several speakers at LCWR conferences have taken positions, like ordaining women, that are contrary to church teaching.
Does this mean that the ordination of women is a new form of heresy? Can religious conferences function with academic freedom? If the truth of the church is defined by men who have violated basic moral standards of Christian life in disregarding the rights of children and their families, how does their behavior meet the sensus fidelium, or mind of the faithful, extolled by Vatican II?
Blair’s own background spotlights a double standard that rewards bishops who scandalize lay people.
In 2004, the priest in charge of Toledo’s $60 million capital campaign was accused by two men of having abused them as boys many years before. Blair kept Father Robert Yaeger in his fundraising job while an attorney negotiated settlements for the victims. The bishop removed Yaeger after eighteen months, as the fundraising campaign drew to a close, but before the settlements made news.
“A priest who was publicly critical of Blair's handling of the sexual abuse crisis has been silenced from speaking to the media,” says David Yonke, an author and former Toledo Blade reporter who covered religion for years. ”Father Stephen Stanbery used to call me regularly but stopped about two years ago. He could not acknowledge that he was silenced by the bishop but it is clear that’s what happened,” says Yonke, now with Religion News Service.
Blair forcibly retired a veteran pastor who criticized the bishop’s parish closures as “high-handed decisions with almost no collaboration with anyone.” In one parish he installed a priest who had had a long relationship with a woman. When the parishioners found out, Blair reassigned the priest. A spokesperson said the bishop had to keep quiet as the priest told him in confession. 
In 2005, parishioners in the farm belt town of Kansas, Ohio, filed a Vatican appeal when Blair closed St. James parish. It failed. They filed suit to save the parish in county court, arguing that the bishop was only one trustee but parishioners owned the property. The state sided with the bishop. “We spent $100,000 in legal fees,” said parishioner Virginia Hull. “Bishop Blair paid his lawyers with $77,957 from our parish account.” Blair had the church demolished.
Blair, Lori and Levada became bishops with help from Law, whose influence at the Vatican as a member of Congregation for Bishops was pivotal in selecting new American priests for the hierarchy.
The second member of the three-man committee now supervising LCWR is Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Ill. In a 2007 homily in Grand Rapids for the Red Mass, an annual liturgy for lawyers and judges, Paprocki, who has degrees in civil and canon law, declared that “the law is being used as an instrument of attack on the Church. This was true from the earliest times when the earliest Christians were, in effect, outlaws in the Roman empire for refusing to worship the official state gods.”
He saw clergy abuse lawsuits were undermining the church’s religious freedom. “This attack is particularly directed against bishops and priests, since the most effective way to scatter the flock is to attack the shepherd,” he insisted. “The principal force behind these attacks is none other than the devil.”
Equating the devil with lawyers seeking financial compensation for victims of child sexual abuse drew heavy criticism for Paprocki.
In a 2011 homily the bishop took a rhetorical backstep, saying, "Apparently I did not make myself clear that it is the sins of priests and bishops who succumbed to the temptations of the devil that have put their victims and the Catholic community in this horrible situation in the first place.”
In a column for his diocesan newspaper before the November election, Paprocki attacked the Democrats’ party platform supporting abortion.
Without endorsing Mitt Romney outright, he wrote that “a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your soul in serious jeopardy.”
Did bishops who sent child molesters from parish to parish, on to fresh victims, without warning parishioners, promote “actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil?” Does apostolic succession absolve them of all wrongdoing?
Bishops gain stature in the estimation of cardinals and popes by proving their loyalty. A chief way to do that is by serving as an investigator of priests or nuns who run afoul of the hierarchy as threats to the moral teaching upheld by bishops, regardless of what the bishops have done.
Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle is delegated by the CDF to ensure that the nuns’ leadership group conforms to changes the Vatican wants.
Sartain was previously the bishop of Joliet, Ill., a diocese that was wracked with abuse cover-ups and lawsuits under his predecessor.
In spring of 2009, a Joliet seminarian, Alejandro Flores, was caught with pornographic pictures of youths, some of which appeared to be of underage boys. No criminal charges were filed.
Bishop Sartain ordained Flores a priest six months later, in June 2009. Then in January 2010, Flores was arrested for molesting a boy. He pled guilty in September 2010, the same month that Pope Benedict promoted Sartain to archbishop of Seattle."

Research for this series has been funded by a Knight Grant for Reporting on Religion and American Public Life, sponsored by the Knight Program at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism; the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting; and the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

Link to Slideshow Homily at Call to Action Produced by Roman Catholic Women Priests USA and the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests/"Standing on the Shoulders"/Dedicated to Fr. Roy Bourgeois for his support of women priests/Enjoy!

Canadian Media Interview with Roy Bourgeois on Ordination of Women

"For years Roy Bourgeois mixed activism with his religion as a Roman Catholic priest. He was a vocal proponent of human rights in Latin America. Then he took up the struggle for the ordination of women. For the Vatican that was one struggle too many. Roy Bourgeois has been excommunicated and today as part of our project Line in The Sand,the Dilemmas that Define Us, we hear from Roy Bourgeois about where he drew his line. "

Women Priests Celebrate Prophets As Spiritual Revolution Continues /Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Press Release: December 19, 2012
From: The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Contact: Janice Sevre-Duszynska, D.Min., 859-684-4247
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan,; 703-505-0004

The spiritual revolution of Roman Catholic Women Priests is shaking the Catholic Church to its foundation.

We now have the second official statement in a month from the National Catholic Reporter challenging the Vatican over the issue of women priests. It is a call to male priests for solidarity with those who have been reprimanded for publicly supporting women priests:  Maryknoll Roy Bourgeois, Jesuit Bill Brennan and Franciscan Jerry Zawada.

Moreover, 4,000 Sisters of Mercy, the largest group of women religious leaders, have signed a statement in support of Fr. Roy and for justice and equality for women in the church.

They were joined by the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland.

Meanwhile, Monsignor Helmut Schuller of Austria who heads the 400-Austrian Priests’ Initiative was stripped of his title by the Vatican.

Swiss Abbots Speak Out for Church Reform including women's ordination.

No punishment against male priest supporters of women’s ordination will stop the Spirit from rising up for justice for women in the church.

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas – Christ with us -- we celebrate and affirm all modern-day prophets who speak out publicly, challenging sexism, the elephant in the church’s living room.  This is Good News! Thanks be to God!