Thursday, March 1, 2012

Supporters of the Blunt Amendment “are on the wrong side of history,” says Catholic leader

For Immediate Release
1 March 2012

Media Contact:
David J. Nolan
202 986 6093
By a vote of 51-48 this morning, US Senators blocked an amendment sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) that would have allowed any employer or insurance company to override an individual employee's right to access comprehensive healthcare and therefore to make healthcare decisions based on their own beliefs. 
Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, said, “This amendment was a direct attack on coverage for healthcare services, including no-copay contraceptive coverage, under the Affordable Care Act. It is likely just the first in a long line of maneuvers by conservatives who oppose access to a range of reproductive healthcare services, not just family planning, for everybody. We know that the vast majority of sexually active women, Catholic or not, use family planning. The intent of these conservative forces, with the full support of the nation’s 271 active Catholic bishops, is to deny coverage for all. 
“Bishop William Lori, chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, was one of the first to issue a statement after the vote, promising that this morning’s defeat would not deter the bishops, who ‘will build on this base of support as we pursue legislation in the House of Representatives.’
“Happily, we have seen many Catholic policymakers stand up in support of the availability of comprehensive contraceptive coverage. Legislators who oppose family planning are on the wrong side of history, and several may find this out the hard way when it comes to this year’s election cycle.”
View this press release on the Catholics for Choice website.

Catholic Hierarchy’s Views on Birth Control Misguided
I’m a practicing Catholic. I also practiced what 98 percent of other practicing Catholics practice, namely birth control. As a practicing Catholic, I know the bishops are wrong. Their view that contraceptive coverage in their health insurance plans infringes on religious freedom is deeply problematic for three reasons:
First, not all religious practices can be allowed on the basis of religious freedom. A few include: 
n Having sex with a minor (in practice, at least 109 American bishops, archbishops and cardinals have turned a blind eye to such activities within their dioceses).
n Polygamy.
n Stoning adulterers (though infrequent, such stoning is acceptable in Muslim countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia).
n Female circumcision.
There is no valid reason for a religion to be placed above the rights of women, men and children.
Second, the bishops’ views do not represent that of the majority of practicing Catholics. Numerous recent studies reveal that 98 percent of Catholics have practiced birth control. Simple observation reveals few Catholic families with 11-12 children, as was the case decades ago, because Catholics practice birth control.
Third, the intent of the bishops is not religious freedom, but maintaining power. Pope John Paul maintained that if the Church declared contraception was OK, they’d have to admit that:
n The Holy Spirit was on the side of the Protestant churches.
n Leaders of the church had condemned thousands of innocent human acts, forbidding, under pain of eternal damnation, a practice which would now be sanctioned.
n These acts would now be OK on principles cited by Protestants.
The church has mounted a big campaign against birth control because they won’t admit they made a mistake. It’s no wonder that one out of 10 Americans call themselves a former Catholic. With views so shabby, the Catholic hierarchy is destroying itself.
Diana Milesko
Anna Maria 

Read more here:

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Seeking Communion, Finding Rejection" by Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post
"Barbara Johnson and members of her family want the Archdiocese of Washington to remove a priest at a Gaithersburg church from his ministry duties. Johnson, an art-studio owner from the District, had come to St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg with her lesbian partner. The Rev. Marcel Guarnizo had learned of their relationship just before the service.
“He put his hand over the body of Christ and looked at me and said, ‘I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin,’ ” she recalled Tuesday.
She reacted with stunned silence. Her anger and outrage have now led her and members of her family to demand that Guarnizo be removed from his ministry.
Family members said the priest left the altar while Johnson, 51, was delivering a eulogy and did not attend the burial or find another priest to be there...."
Bridget Mary' Reflection:
We have a reached a new low in the institutional  Roman Catholic Church. The refusal of  Rev. Marcel Guarnizo contradicts Jesus' words and example. Jesus, who wept with Martha and Mary when Lazarus died,  would weep at the treatment of Barbara Johnson by this parish priest. Jesus invited all to come to him, he did not say except gays and lesbians!  It is disgraceful to refuse communion to anyone, anytime, period!  That is why women priests are attracting more and more justice seeking Catholics in our inclusive communities where everyone is welcome to receive sacraments at all our liturgies and sacramental celebrations.
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Excellent article by Mary Hunt:

"Eucharist is not a Political Football"

Posted on

Innisfree Village is Celebrating 40 years. The Albemarle Community Brings Together adults with Special Needs and their Volunteer Caregivers./NBC News

"Innisfree Village is celebrating 40 years.  The Albemarle community brings together adults with special needs and their volunteer caregivers.
They say, "It takes a village to raise a family" and at Innisfree that consists of more than 30 residential volunteers and 40 "co-workers" as they're called or adults with special needs.  Residents and their caregivers live as families, work, and play together in a community unlike any other.
Rhonda Miska with the Innisfree Village said, "We are different because we are not an institution, we're not a group home.  It's not a place where staff come and wear a nametag.  It's a place where we live together in family style homes and focus on what we have in common not on what sets us apart."
"Co-workers" have a daily routine of workshops, from weaving to woodworking, baking, farming and therapeutic recreation.  Their work is sold in area stores and the profit makes its way back to the village.
The nonprofit just celebrated its 40-year anniversary and it continues to grow.  It is currently looking for volunteers."  Click here for more information.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Imposing Sharia: Roman Catholic Version" by Rabbi Waskow Arthur
"During the last few weeks, we have seen an outrageous attempt to impose sharia law on the US government and the American public.NOT Muslim sharia; it is Roman Catholic "sharia" about contraception that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has been trying to impose on Americans of all faiths and beliefs who happen to work at a Catholic-sponsored hospital or university.Have Muslims been campaigning to impose sharia law on US courts? NO! Of the many faces of Islam in America, the face of the future -- open in wonder and questioning -- is the one our society could be, should be, encouraging. This one:Yet the same voices -- Fox News, various candidates for President -- that have bitterly attacked non-existent attempts by American Muslims to impose sharia on the public have not criticized this actual real-life attempt at doing so by the bishops. Indeed, many of these same voices have supported the bishops.The bishops warned about "religious oppression" even when the Catholic Hospital Association celebrated the arrangement that the Obama Administration worked out, making sure that health insurance companies will pay for free contraception without involving the Catholic-sponsored employers who might object.The only threat to religious freedom was the attempt by the bishops to deny religious freedom to the employees of those institutions -- Catholics and others -- whose religious consciences are totally at peace with the use of contraception.Nobody is preventing the bishops from preaching their version of God's will. Their problem is that they have not persuaded Catholic women. (98 percent of them use artificial contraception; the rate among non-Catholic women is 99 percent). Perhaps the "flock" are not so sheep-like as to blindly obey teachings on sexuality from an all-male, all-celibate hierarchy..."Similarly, the Philadelphia Inquirer just reported (Feb 20, p. 1) that Catholic hospitals have in the last few years tied the tubes of thousands of women who after birthing a child asked for the procedure. The operation sterilizes them. No more kids. It violates Catholic religious law. Yet thousands of Catholics wanted it, and the hospitals affirmed their conscientious decision. Are the bishops playing games here? To benefit whom?The bishops are asserting that the only "Catholic" consciences that count are those of -- surprise! -- the bishops! Not parishioners, not women, not the adults who as children were molested or raped by priests who were protected by the bishops. 
Those who brag that "The Church is not a democracy" might better ask themselves, "Why not?" Indeed, in the early centuries of the Church the people of Rome and other cities took part in electing their bishops -- in Rome, the Pope. Time to renew the tradition, and not just in Rome?...."

Rabbi recommends that you write to the editors of local news papers and on your FaceBook page, a brief letter along these lines but in your own words:
"Dear editor, I am horrified that all-male, all-celibate Roman Catholic bishops would try to manipulate governmental power in order to impose their own theology about contraception - one that 98% of Catholic women reject -- upon women of any and all faiths and beliefs who work in hospitals and universities. This is exactly the behavior that some people hysterically ascribe to Muslim sharia, though American Muslims have never even proposed or attempted doing what the bishops have just done. It would be - it is -- outrageous for any religious group to impose its theology on the public. And it is outrageous to falsely accuse Muslims or any other community of imposing its will in this way."
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Outstanding analysis by Rabbi Waskow.  It is time to speak out! The male Roman Catholic bishops agenda should not become U.S. public policy. At stake, the religious freedom of the 99%!
At the end of the day, Catholics will live out their beliefs according to their consciences. They will also vote according to their consciences  And women are the majority of the voters too!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chicago Cardinal Said to Snub Irish Prime Minister’s visit over Vatican Embassy closure/Sexual Abuse Silence "Deadly" for Church: Vatican official (Reuters)

"Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has turned down an invitation to the Irish Fellowship Club’s St. Patrick Day dinner, and speculation is rife that it is because Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is the main speaker, the Chicago Sun Times has reported.
Kenny lashed out at the Vatican in a widely reported attack last year over their refusal to cooperate in the inquiry into child sexual abuse in the diocese of Cloyne in Cork.
Then, late last year, the Irish government decided to close their Vatican Embassy in a move widely seen as related to the strong criticism of the Vatican role in the sex abuse scandals....The Sun Times asks: “Has Cardinal George now become the latest participant in the 'cold war' between Ireland and the Vatican over... the Catholic Church’s failure to tell the truth about its major sexual-abuse scandal there?"
Read more:

Sexual abuse silence "deadly" for Church: Vatican official (Reuters)
Hiding behind a culture of "omerta" -- the Italian word for the Mafia's code of silence -- would be deadly for the Catholic Church, the Vatican's top official for dealing with sexual abuse of minors by clergy said Wednesday. Monsignor Charles Scicluna made the unusually forthright comment in his speech to a landmark symposium in Rome on the sexual abuse crisis that has rocked the Church in the past decade."The teaching ... that truth is at the basis of justice explains why a deadly culture of silence, or 'omerta,' is in itself wrong and unjust," Scicluna said in his address to the four-day symposium which brings together some 200 people including bishops, leaders of religious orders, victims of abuse and psychologists. Rarely, if ever, has a Vatican official used the word "omerta" - a serious accusation in Italian -- to compare the reluctance of some in the Church to come clean on the abuse scandal with the Mafia's code of silence.

Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Finally, a Vatican official coming out with the truth on the global sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the church.
Now the question is does Vatican have the will to make the structural changes that will reform the clerical culture of cover up and silence? Is the Vatican ready for married priests and women priests and an empowered role for the people of God as decision-makers in their own church? 
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Leading priest Predicts the End of Celibacy in the Catholic Church

Three-time Nobel Prize nominee makes remarks on Irish television
"Fr Shay Cullen has earned three Nobel Peace Prize nominations for his work saving hundreds of children from a life of sexual abuse in the Philippines.
For the past 40 years he has worked with the children in a Filipino city of Olongapo.
Speaking to legendary Irish broadcaster Gay Byrne on state television station RTE, Fr Cullen predicted celibacy will soon be outdated....“All of the other Christian churches manage very well and many Anglicans who were married and had family and children and came over to the Catholics and were warmly accepted."
Read more:

Archdiocesan Official Accused of Covering Abuse Begins Trial/ Philadelphia

“The whole country is watching because it’s a key moment in the ongoing story about how the church handles child sex abuse,” said Marci Hamilton, who holds the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at the Cardozo School of Law at New York’s Yeshiva University. Lynn’s case could push the focus beyond the perpetrator and to the systemic problems in the church, she said.
“I would really be surprised if [Lynn] were found to be not guilty. The evidence is compelling,” she said.
Hamilton, a leading church/state scholar and counsel in multiple sex abuse cases, said the prosecution’s case hinges on showing a pattern in the archdiocese of putting known clergy abusers of children in contact with other children.
To that end, the prosecution won a major pretrial victory when Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina ruled they could tell jurors how the archdiocese handled 22 past cases of alleged abuse.
“Those cases will be a part of establishing that it wasn’t simply one oversight, it wasn’t an accident that the survivor that’s at the heart of the case against Msgr. Lynn was put into danger’s way,” Hamilton said. “It was actually just an ongoing practice that he was following over the years. ... It wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t an oversight. It was a system of covering up child sex abuse.”

Bridget Mary's Reflection;
The heart of the issue is that it is systemic and global. Clericalism is the major issue and it's focus is protecting priests and bishops from scandal.  Catholics in the pews must have decision-making authority in the Catholic Church in parishes, dioceses, and in the Vatican to create a more open, accountable and transparent church. And that includes equal numbers of women!  The fox cannot guard the hen house. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Attorneys: Cardinal Ordered Memo on Priests Destroyed/Sexual Abuse Scandal Goes All the Way to the Vatican/ 2001 Edict/ Time for a Renewed Catholic Church

CNN) -- A Philadelphia archdiocese official on trial for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of children has asked a court to throw out charges against him based on a 1994 memo showing Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua ordered a list of suspected abusive Catholic priests to be destroyed.
Attorneys for Monsignor William Lynn asked a Philadelphia court to dismiss charges of conspiracy and child endangerment based on documents that Lynn had informed his superiors -- including the cardinal -- that priests in the archdiocese were assaulting children.
"The recent unexpected and shocking discovery of a March, 1994 memorandum composed by Monsignor James Molloy, Monsignor Lynn's then-supervisor, on the topic of this review, clearly reveals that justice demands that all charges against Monsignor Lynn be dropped," Lynn's attorneys said in a filing.
As revealed in court papers filed on Friday, Molloy's handwritten memo dated March 22, 1994, informed Bevilacqua that the secret list of 35 priests had been shredded per his instructions.
"A BBC documentary has exposed that Pope Benedict XVI, aka Cardinal Ratzinger, played a leading role in a systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests.

In 2001, while he was a cardinal, he issued a secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world, instructing them to put the Church's interests ahead of child safety.

The document recommended that rather than reporting sexual abuse to the relevant legal authorities, bishops should encourage the victim, witnesses and perpetrator not to talk about it. And, to keep victims quiet, it threatened that if they repeat the allegations they would be excommunicated."

"Five years ago he sent out an updated version of the notorious 1962 Vatican document Crimen Sollicitationis - Latin for The Crime of Solicitation - which laid down the Vatican's strict instructions on covering up sexual scandal. It was regarded as so secret that it came with instructions that bishops had to keep it locked in a safe at all times.
Cardinal Ratzinger reinforced the strict cover-up policy by introducing a new principle: that the Vatican must have what it calls Exclusive Competence. In other words, he commanded that all child abuse allegations should be dealt with direct by Rome.
Patrick Wall, a former Vatican-approved enforcer of the Crimen Sollicitationis in America, tells the programme: "I found out I wasn't working for a holy institution, but an institution that was wholly concentrated on protecting itself."
And Father Tom Doyle, a Vatican lawyer until he was sacked for criticising the church's handling of child abuse claims, says: "What you have here is an explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse by the clergy and to punish those who would call attention to these crimes by the churchmen.
"When abusive priests are discovered, the response has been not to investigate and prosecute but to move them from one place to another. So there's total disregard for the victims and for the fact that you are going to have a whole new crop of victims in the next place. This is happening all over the world."
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Catholics in Philadelphia must be reeling from this shocking  betrayal by the hierarchy. For ten years, I was an Immaculate Heart of  Mary Sister.  I taught in grade schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and experienced the dedication of the  nuns and people up close. 
Now, the Archdiocese is closing or merging a large number of schools. What will happen to the next generation of  Catholic school children?  I feel sorry for the IHM nuns who have given everything for decades to educate the youth of Philadelphia. Now a number of their schools and convents will be closed.  How sad! Who will take care of the elderly nuns in the order who are supported by the education ministry of their Sisters?  Will the Archdiocese step up to the plate?
 Philadelphia is only the tip of the iceberg in the sexual abuse scandal. This is part of a pattern that is global in scope.   And it goes all the way to the top. Pope Benedict played a major role (as cited in the news links above) as Cardinal Ratzinger in his position as head of the Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith .
It is a disgrace that the Catholic Church has behaved like a crime family by covering up its crimes by threats and punishments. 
Catholics worldwide are demanding change. Groups like Voice of the Faithful have been established to hold the institutional church accountable.  
This is one of the reasons that  alternative faith communities are rising up. More and more Catholics are welcoming a renewed Catholic Church with women-priests-led inclusive communities where transparency and accountability are the norm in a people, empowered church. 
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests