Friday, March 16, 2012

"Woman's Firing from Catholic Parish to be Topic of Documentary" by Annysa Johnson in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"A Beloit woman fired from a Catholic parish in 2009 for advocating views contrary to the church - charges she has denied - received a $10,000 grant on Thursday to fund a documentary based in part on her experiences."This is very exciting," said Ruth Kolpack, 66, who lost her job after 26 years at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church - the last 10 as pastoral associate - and now works in hospice care.Kolpack is working with an independent Chicago filmmaker on the project. The grant, from the Massachusetts-based Catholic reform group Voice of the Faithful, supports women who were fired from church positions because of injustice or discrimination...She was dismissed after a meeting with Morlino in which she refused to recant her thesis - written for her master's degree in divinity from Milwaukee's St. Francis de Sales Seminary - that challenged the church's noninclusive language in the Catholic Mass and its ban on women's ordination..."

Vatican Launches Criminal Probe into Embarrassing leaks/ BBC
Pope Benedict has faced a spate of embarrassing leaks from within the Vatican
"The Vatican has opened a rare criminal investigation into unauthorised leaks to the Italian media of confidential documents, its official paper reports. The leaks describe alleged corruption, mismanagement, and internal conflicts among top officials. The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano made the announcement together with an official admission that there have been "grave acts of disloyalty".  The "Vatileaks" scandal, as it is known, has filled Italian media.It has dominated the columns of Italian newspapers and magazines and been the subject of TV programmes, the BBC's David Willey in Rome reports.
The leak of a string of highly sensitive internal documents from inside the Vatican's Secretariat of State, including personal letters to Pope Benedict XVI, are an evident embarrassment to the pope, our correspondent says. Pope Benedict is "serene, but saddened" at the revelations according to a top church official quoted in L'Osservatore Romano. The official paper blamed unidentified members of the Roman Curia, the men who run the international headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, for the leaks...
Bridget Mary's Reflection
Can't you just see the next Dan Brown thriller,""Vatileaks" with lots of  scenes portraying intrigue, murder, fast car chases, secret meetings in the beautiful churches in Rome, and many shots of the Vatican too ?!! Oh my reality certainly trumps fiction in this mind-blowing fiasco of corruption in the Vatican.

Judge Rules Against Archdiocese in St. Stanislaus Case by Joseph Kenny/St. Louis Review
"The judge also ruled against a judgment removing the directors and officers of the board of the parish corporation and a judgment declaring that the St. Stanislaus Church property be subject to a charitable trust with the archbishop as trustee. Hettenbach ruled that all interest in the original  St. Stanislaus Church property vests with the St. Stanislaus corporation."
Bridget Mary's Reflection
Another victory for the people of God. What is to stop Catholics from forming their own faith communities, especially in areas where dioceses are shuttering parishes and closing schools? These communities could call forth their own leaders and liturgical presiders including married priests, women priests and celibate priests like  the parishoners did at St. Stanislaus.  After all we know that the apostles did not appoint parish priests in the early church.  In fact, there is no evidence in scripture of the apostles ordaining anyone or the bishops being ordained or ordaining anyone for that matter. The followers of the Way, as the first Christians were known, gathered together in the homes for a sacred meal commemorating the Christ Presence with them. 

"What America Can Learn From Ireland" by Jon O'Brien/Response by Bridget Mary Meehan
The Last Word: Birth Control is a Medical Issue, Not a Religious One
"The Irish, a fiercely independent people ruled by another country for centuries, have a unique appreciation for irony. As an advocate for reproductive rights in Ireland, I saw the travesty in a church-sanctioned anti-contraception policy that harmed women and families in the name of saving them from sin. Here, in the country that espouses religious freedom, these problems, long overcome in Ireland, are being echoed in the U.S. bishops’ battle against contraception coverage. The supreme irony is that the bishops are waging their battle under the banner of religious liberty.
The Irish are very familiar with the long, painful conflicts that ensue from the mixture of politics and religion. I’m not just speaking of Northern Ireland, but about the Catholic hierarchy’s bitter opposition to making contraception readily available to the public. From 1935, the sale of contraceptives was criminalized. I should know. In 1992 I was arrested for selling condoms at a Virgin Record store; prophylactics were illegal except for married couples with “bona fide” needs. Irish wits baptized it “the case of the Virgin condom,” but the real paradox was that anyone could see Ireland’s “bona fide” need for contraception..."Today Ireland is with JFK: “If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.” One of the conditions of a safe, just society is the ability to follow one’s conscience in accessing contraception. Mature nations and faiths can accept a diversity of responses to this freedom guaranteed on principle. I do hope that the U.S. government follows the Irish government in seeking to free itself from the shackles that the Catholic hierarchy would impose."
Jon O’Brien is the Irish-born president of Catholics for Choice. Click here for more information.

Bridget Mary's Reflection
As an Irish born woman, I agree with Jon O'Brien's analysis and conclusion. The Ireland of my parents' generation had large families. My grandmother had 8 children in a two room tiny cottage. Her neighbor, Katie Whelan had 15 children. When asked how she coped with so many children,  she said, "Ah sure it was heads and toes together, boys and girls!" But the reality was many parents suffered great hardship in raising large families in a rural society. The Irish Catholic Church was no help as many feared to approach the Parish Priest! My Dad, Jack, played in a band in the Rathdowney area. He often tells the story about the time the band had to drive miles out of their way to avoid passing the church during a Mission. It was the custom of the Parish Priest to walk up and down the town "herding" people into the church to hear a "hell and brimstone sermon." 
 Now in Ireland, contraception is legal and used widely! Ireland has let go of its fear of the hierarchy!  Indeed, when Taoiseach Enda Kenny challenged the Vatican for its role in the coverup of the sexual abuse scandal, he set the stage for other national leaders to do the same. It is time for U.S. Catholics to let their bishops know that they are no longer "sheep" who pay, pray and obey, but responsible, faithful Catholics who love their church and who will follow their consciences- no matter what the hierarchy says. In the current contraception coverage issue, women's health and lives are at stake as well as the religious freedom of conscience of all- not just the male, celibate, Catholic hierarchy. Ireland has come a long way, let's hope that the U.S. does not allow the Catholic hierarchy to drag it back to the Middle Ages when women did not have access to contraception. It seems to me that the real issue here is the bishops' attempt to control women's bodies and reproductive choices in family planning. Let's respond to the U.S. bishops by standing up for the religious freedom of conscience of all!
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"Barack Obama and Vatican II" by Theology Professor John W. O Malley S. J.

"The president's persona and the spirit of the council"
John W. O'Malley | MAY 25, 2009, 

"W e have a Vatican II president. Barack Obama, I am sure, does not think of himself in those terms, but when I heard his speech at Grant Park in Chicago the night he was elected, and more recently his commencement address at Notre Dame, that is what immediately struck me...I often hear laments that the spirit of Vatican II is dead in the church. Is it not ironic that not a bishop but the President of the United States should today be the most effective spokesperson for that spirit? To judge from the enthusiastic response he received from the graduates at Notre Dame, his message captured their minds and hearts. Maybe through young Catholics like those at Notre Dame who are responding to Obama’s message the spirit of Vatican II will, almost through the back door, reenter the church. The history of the church has, after all, taken stranger turns than that."
John W. O'Malley, S.J., is university professor, theology department, at Georgetown University and author of What Happened at Vatican II.

"Renewal for Dummies" by Brother Thomas Draney, CFC

In spite of its problematic title, the “…. For Dummies” series of books was and still is very successful. Why? I suppose it's because the reader expected to find a treatment of the subject in very straightforward, simple language, a treatment that t concentrated on essentials and did not
presume a great deal of esoteric knowledge. That is my goal now.

The church has been rocked by sex abuse scandals, by the ever-emerging financial scandals , by the exodus of many Catholics, particularly the young, who can no longer tolerate the imperial stance of the hierarchy which believes its authority comes directly from God. This is the issue that must be faced: is the church essentially a monarchy with rule by “Divine Right,” apostolic succession meaning that authority to rule was granted to the apostles and is handed down like a baton in a race? Or is the church essentially a community empowered by the Holy Spirit with apostolic succession being its connection to the original experience of the Risen One, to a time when there was little doctrine or structure, with all the vision and values that went with this experience?.

The record of history shows that the Holy Spirit came down on the whole community, not just the twelve apostles. The first community of disciples, who were all Jewish, was based on the synagogue structure, because that was what they knew. The governance of the synagogue was by elders elected or at least recognized as leaders by the community. This more democratic form of governance can be seen in the account of the Council of Jerusalem. The leader of the Jerusalem community, the most important one at the time, was James, the brother of the Lord, not Peter!

Our God is a God of change, One who is always doing something new. History does not stand still and tradition should not be the worship of the past. Development was inevitable and part of God’s plan.

The world was not ready for democracy, aside from the small communal setting. The church’s structure which developed and changed over the centuries always reflected the political society of the time: empire under Constantine, then feudalism, kingdoms, and finally national states. The sacraments also developed: from two – baptism and Eucharist – to the seven we recognize today, and the focus of these was always the good of the community, not the isolated individual. The “sensus fidelium, ” the belief that authority had to be validated by its reception in the community. This need for validation saved the church from the heresy taught by a bishop, Arius, who taught that Christ was more than human but less than divine. Most of the bishops accepted this false teaching, but the Christian community did not. (Constantine was baptized by an Arian bishop; Cardinal Newman wrote an important book about the “sensus fidelium” and it has never been lost sight of even in times of great central authority in the church.)
It is time for the church to reflect the society we live in today, to be more democratic, for its leaders to listen to the voice of the community as the first disciples did in Jerusalem. It is time, for instance, for the people to have a voice in the selection of their bishop. This is not a “new age" idea. The ancient document known as the apostolic tradition says, "Let him be ordained as bishop who has been chosen by all.” In the fifth century Pope Celestine said much the same: "Let a Bishop not be imposed upon the people whom they do not want." Pope St. Leo added "He who has to preside over all must be elected by all." After all, if popes can be elected, why not bishops? It is just a question of who is doing the electing!

There is little sense in debating the issue of authority with those in power. They usually cling to their power in a very human way, and many are convinced that they are empowered directly by God. There are, however, two very simple things that we can do to bring about renewal. They are “radical” in thje sense that they go back to the very roots of Christianity. The first has to do with the fact that we are Eucharistic people, and the second with the fact that every institution runs on money. We can reclaim the power of the priesthood of the baptized by celebrating Eucharistic meals as the first disciples did, and we can form 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporations in each parish to collect the contributions of parishioners. These are types of corporations used by most non-profit organizations.

The Gospels describe many meals Jesus had with his disciples. The Jewish discipleship meal was known as a chaburah, and it was similar to a Kiwanis breakfast or K of C luncheon: a group of men who shared a common interest coming together to talk, plan, bond, and celebrate. Like the Sabbath meal or any such ceremony, it revolved around a ritual. The group gathered at the table, the host/leader broke bread and distributed it is a symbol of their common interest, shared life, a recognition of the need for nourishment. Then prayers of blessing on the food and the people were said; then the conversation and meal took place. At the end of the meal a cup of wine was passed around and everyone took a sip from this same cup. It was something like a toast to the group, to their future, and a dedication to the interest that brought them together.
Although the Last Supper is often described as a Passover or Paschal meal, many modern scholars say it was a chaburah meal which was later described as a Paschal meal because the element of sacrifice. St. John's gospel says the Last Supper was on the night before the Pasch. Some support for this is that if it was a Paschal meal, all the activities described on the next day would have been contrary to the Jewish law regarding activities on Holy Days. Also, as a Paschal meal, the Eucharist would have been celebrated only once a year.

The setting of a meal is entirely different from that of a liturgy. The meal gives people a chance to share their thoughts, their experiences, and to bond as a community in ways that liturgy cannot. That is why we need both forms of Eucharist. For a more detailed information and background, plus some examples of possible rituals based on the historic ones, please visit

Since most Catholics will gag on the statement that a “merely” baptized Christian has the power to bring the Risen One to the community in the form of bread and wine. Let me point out a few simple facts:
In the apostolic times there was no sacrament of ordination, so the Eucharist in Corinth described by Paul was presided over by a merely baptized person.
The church teaches today that there is no difference in the priesthood of the parish priest, bishop, cardinal, or pope. What distinguishes these ranks is authority. Why should the priesthood of the baptized be different, inferior in nature, reduced to “pray, pay, and obey.” The priesthood of the baptized operates on the level of the cell; the ordained priesthood is for the larger community.

When persons are baptized they receive the whole Christ, prophet, priest and king. The baptized do not get the infant; the confirmed, the adolescent; and the ordained, the adult. There is only one Christ, the Risen Christ.

Whoever “consecrates” does not command God, for no one has such power. He or she merely asks Christ to keep his promise to feed us his life.
Let me say clearly that reclaiming the meal does NOT mean abandoning the Eucharistic liturgy, the Mass, but rather reclaiming the meal is a complement to it. The meal had to develop into a liturgical celebration for many reasons, including the destruction of the temple in 70AD, the growth of the community which included many Gentiles. Development had to happen, because Christianity was different from Judaism and the Greco-Roman religions of that time. It was not bound by culture, class, or country. The glory and strength of the church today is that it is truly Catholic, universal, and has an institutional reach which reflects that. But development, like evolution, does not stop. We need a more democratic church and we need a Eucharistic celebration for the cell group – the family, circle of friends- so that we can meet the Risen Christ in the ordinary setting of our lives, as the disciples did on the road to Emmaus. Right hand, left hand: we need both. Right brain, left brain; we need both. liturgy and meal: we need both.

The other simple thing that Catholics can do is to take more control over the money. Anyone who has worked in politics or business knows that the control of money is the source of all temporal power. Pastors, whether of a parish or a diocese, who have absolute control over the money will usually begin to rule absolutely. The other dimension of this is the on-going revelations of fraud and dishonesty that the present system affords. Millions of dollars donated to the church have been stolen, squandered, and it is not possible to recover the money. But it is easy to set up a not-for-profit corporation, write simple rules of operation, take contributions by check only, assign a code number to each person or family, publish weekly contributions on a web site, etc The parishioners get their tax deduction and yet the money is still controlled by the parishioners.
I am not such a dreamer that I think everyone will join up instantly, but if 50% did, it would make a huge impact, and the door would always be open for more to join. I do believe that many good priests would support this arrangement, because it is good for the community and good for the priest too. I have no doubt that most bishops would oppose it, because they now can tell the parish how much money they will take from the collections for diocesan support. They would be reduced to negotiating.

Another factor in renewal are IEC’s (Intentional Eucharistic Communities) . They concentrate on the reality of church as community, and usually try to function as a small parish; as such they involve more people than those who can fit around a table, and are more complicated to manage. Many started up after Vatican II and have been vibrant organizations, but presently they have a difficulty in attracting new, younger members. Most of them feel they need an ordained priest for the Eucharistic liturgy. There is no reason why one could not be involved in both an IEC and in a Eucharistic meal group.

IEC’s have sprung up around the Catholic Women Priest movement. Since they directly challenge the hierarchy on the ordination of women, the bishops say their members are no longer part of the church community. Their numbers, however, are growing. Members point to primacy of conscience and to Jesus as one who challenged institutional authority in His day. Some pay homage to the idea of apostolic succession, by tracing their lineage to an unknown male bishop; others believe they have the right as a community to elect their preside. All forms of the ICE’s are a force towards renewing the structure of the institution.

Reclaiming Eucharist as a meal and taking control of the finances are both non-violent, perfectly peaceful and possible, and quite simple in concept.
I said that these projects were simple. I did not say they were easy to do. Many Catholics will find it difficult to think of priests not having personal power apart from the community, like a magician. That was the impression the Catechism gave. History gives a different one. The fourth century Council of Chalcedon issued a canon that said no one was to be ordained unless he was attached to some kind of community; an ordination apart from community would be without effect. A free lance priest was a contradiction!. The third Lateran Council transmuted this idea into personal power, and in the Middle Ages there developed the “private” Mass said without a community present.. These ages also gave us the abuses that led to the Reformation.

Over the centuries the church had become more clericalized, with many ministries being absorbed into the clerical state as “orders” or steps to the priesthood. Thomas Aquinas had to wrestle with the problem of how one sacrament, Holy Orders, could have seven parts! Over the centuries the priesthood had become more and more divorced from the community, starting with Constantine appointing many of them as magistrates, which meant that they wore distinctive clothing; the altar in the churches was elevated over the congregation, the priest viewed as a spiritual magician who had persoal powers unrelated to the community.

Current theologians and leaders are in the process of redressing this misplaced emphases. Avery Cardinal Dulles can define ordination as "recognition of the gift of leadership, and at the same time a sacramental commissioning that empowers them to govern the communities in the name of Christ." A 1971 an unpublished report commissioned by the American bishops says the same thing: "The ordination of the priest is that solemn sacramental celebration by which a person is received into the order of presbyters, assumes public office in the church, and is enabled to act in the name of Christ and the Christian community with the promised assistance of the Holy Spirit."

The priesthood will not be diminished if it is seen as giving aa baptized person a new and blessed relationship to the community, one of leadership in spiritual matters, in educating and counseling, in ministering to the community through the sacraments. We need a professional, dedicated priesthood just as we need a liturgical celebration for the larger community. There is no reason that I know of to prevent the Catholic community, lay and clerical, from returning to the ancient practice of having a real voice in the selection of who will be selected to be the priest or the bishop.

Regarding to 501(c)3 organization, the big problem will probably be “we never did this before.” Some might see it as a slap at the priest, and most certainly the bishops generally will oppose it. (Part of the beauty of the project is that there is nothing they can do to stop it.) I think that as the stories of financial abuse keep coming out, the project will look more and more appealing to the majority of parishioners. After all, it is just making a reality of what Vatican II promoted.
Further reading:
Priest and Bishop, by Raymond Brown, S.S. Wipf and Stock, 1999 A leading NT scholar, discusses apostolic succession, who presided, etc.
A New Look at the Sacraments, by Fr. Wm. J. Bausch, Twenty-Third Publications, rev.ed. 1995 He gives a detailed description of the history, development of the sacraments. has short papers on many tangential topics such as how transubstantiation is understood differently in the Orthodox and Roman churches, history of the chaburah, promoting ecumenism through table spirituality, some prayers developed from the original Jewish ritual.
The Shape of the Liturgy, by Dom Gregory Dix, A & C Black, London, reprinted 1982 contains a great deal of information on the chaburah
Bro. Thomas Draney, CFC March 14, 2012

"Contraception Cudgel" by E. J. Dionne JR. and US Conference of Catholics Bishops Response

Published on Commonweal magazine (
"The nation's Roman Catholic bishops will make an important decision this week: Do they want to defend the church's legitimate interest in religious autonomy, or do they want to wage an election-year war against President Barack Obama? And do the most conservative bishops want to junk the Roman Catholic Church as we have known it, with its deep commitment to both life and social justice, and turn it into the Tea Party at prayer?Opposition in the church to extreme rhetoric is growing. Moderate and progressive bishops are alarmed that Catholicism's deep commitment to social justice is being shunted aside in this single-minded and exceptionally narrow focus on the health-care exemption. A wise priest of my acquaintance offered the bishops some excellent questions about the church."Is it abandoning its historical style of being a leaven in society to become a strident critic of government?" he asked. "Have the bishops given up on their conviction that there can be disagreement among Catholics on the application of principle to policy? Do they now believe that there must be unanimity even on political strategy?"

Unified, focused bishops pledge to continue religious liberty defense
March 15, 2012
WASHINGTON -- Declaring themselves "strongly unified and intensely focused," the nation's top Catholic bishops vowed to continue their multipronged defense of religious liberty in the courts, Congress and the White House.The full statement is available at

Bishops consider broader focus in birth-control fight By Stephanie Simon
Reuters - Facing small but clear signs of discontent within their own ranks, U.S. Catholic bishops may be poised to rethink their aggressive tactics for fighting a federal mandate that health insurance plans cover contraception, according to sources close to influential bishops.

There are no indications that the bishops will drop their fight against the federal mandate. But dozens of bishops, meeting this week in Washington, are likely to discuss concerns that their battle against the Obama administration over birth control risks being viewed by the public as narrow and partisan and thus diminishes the church's moral authority, the sources said...

Bridget Mary's Reflection: The U.S. Catholic bishops position on contraception is an attack on women's reproductive health care and a violation of their religious freedom of conscience. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests Will Ordain Miriam Picconi and Wanda Russell Priests in Historic Ordination on East Coast of Florida on April 14, 2012

Press Release:
Contact:  Janice Sevre-Duszynska, 859-684-4247,
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, 941-955-2313, 703-505-0004,
Miriam Picconi, 502-320-6817, 
Wanda Russell, 502-320-6814,

On Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. Miriam Picconi and Wanda Russell of Palm Coast, Florida will be ordained priests in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.  The presiding bishop will be Bridget Mary Meehan of Sarasota and Falls Church, Virginia. The ceremony will take place at the Unitarian Universalist Society, 56 North Halifax Drive, Ormond Beach, Florida 32176.  Media are invited to a pre-ordination press conference at 1:00 p.m. with the candidates and Bridget Mary Meehan. Call Janice (859-684-4247) to schedule an interview.
The ordinands are theologically prepared and have many years of experience in ministry. 
Miriam (Mary Ann) Picconi spent 25 years with the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, becoming certified in Theology and teacher training, while earning a degree in Special Studies and a Masters in Religious Studies, in addition to completing over 400 hours in Clinical Pastoral Education. She has administrated and directed a variety of parish programs.
Wanda Y. Lavinghouse Russell has one married daughter, Monica Leavitt. She has a B.S. degree in Psychology, coursework in Parish Ministry and a Masters in Education, Counseling. She has been a Social Worker for 25 years and has volunteered in a variety of parish ministries.
Both Miriam and Wanda are Associates with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Kentucky.  In Palm Coast they lead a bible study group and advocate for the homeless.
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests rejoice in a “holy shakeup” that millions of Catholics worldwide welcome. The good news now is that male priests, bishops, a cardinal as well as theologians have expressed their support of female priests. They are following in the footsteps of Maryknoll Roy Bourgeois whose prophetic call for a dialogue on women priests is being heard in more and more places today in our Church.
 “Nothing can stop the movement of the spirit toward human rights, justice and equality in our world and in our Church,” said Bridget Mary Meehan. “The full equality of women is the voice of God in our time.”
The Women Priests movement in the Roman Catholic Church advocates a new model of priestly ministry united with the people with whom we minister. We stand in prophetic obedience to Jesus who calls women and men to be disciples and equals. The movement began with the ordination of seven women on the Danube in 2002. Today there are over 124 in the movement worldwide. ARCWP is in the United States and Latin America. Our specific charism within the broader global Roman Catholic Women Priests initiative is to live Gospel equality and justice for women in the Church and in society now. We work in solidarity with the poor and marginalized for transformative justice in partnership with all believers. Our vision is to live as a community of equals in decision making both as an organization and within all our faith communities. We advocate the renewal of the vision of Jesus in the Gospel in our Church and world.


"Don't Thread On Us" by Maureen Dowd/New York Times

Hillary Clinton has fought for women’s rights around the world. But who would have dreamed that she would have to fight for them at home.
“Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me,” she told an adoring crowd at the Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center on Saturday. “But they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They want to control women. They want to control how we dress. They want to control how we act. They even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies.
“Yes,” she continued to applause, “it is hard to believe that even here at home, we have to stand up for women’s rights and reject efforts to marginalize any one of us, because America needs to set an example for the entire world....”

"An Unholy Alliance" by William J. Schuch/ Response to Editorial in local Naples Newspaper

Your editorial Assault on the First Amendment begs for some relevant historical background.

In the1960s, the 72 person Papal Birth Control Commission, comprised of 7 cardinals, 9 bishops, 16 theologians, 13 physicians and 27 laymen and women, issued a majority report with 65 members declaring that artificial birth control was not intrinsically evil. A minority of 1 cardinal, 2 bishops and 4 theologians held it to be intrinsically evil. The minority prevailed and Humane Vitae, the birth control encyclical, was issued by Pope Paul VI. It is no small wonder then that this non-infallible document has never been accepted by an overwhelming majority of Catholics in the developed world.

James McNulty, our then Bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo, dismissed close to a dozen of the more pastoral-minded priests from the faculty of our major seminary on Knox Road because they could not in conscience sign an oath to counsel the faithful in accordance with the ill-conceived encyclical. Those priests were transferred to rural parishes where they could not contaminate the thinking of the seminarians studying for the priesthood.

Fast forward to 1987: the growing HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa prompted the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to issue a statement declaring "The use of prophylactics to prevent the spread of HIV is technically unreliable and advocating this approach means in effect promoting behavior which is morally unacceptable." The respected World Health Organization, incidentally, held that good quality condoms consistently and properly used were upwards of 90 percent effective in blocking the transmission of HIV, a position essentially supported by the Catholic Theological Coalition on HIV/AIDS Prevention. But then the Hierarchy has been known to bend the truth to serve their purposes.

Since then and to their credit, 6 non-African national conferences of Catholic Bishops and several dozen individual cardinals and bishops relying on well-established principles of Catholic moral theology – double effect and the right to self-defense - have publicly stated the use of condoms to be a moral imperative if an HIV-positive person insists on having sex with an uninfected spouse or partner.

Nevertheless, since 1987 several million innocent, monogamous African women, Catholic and non-Catholic, have died of AIDS because Catholic Relief Services (CRS) which cares for the poor in Africa is forbidden by the USCCB to provide condoms to discordant couples and counsel their proper use. Thus CRS is guaranteed an inexhaustible of supply of dying women and of orphans for which to care. How perverse is that scenario?

The Vatican and its sycophants among the African Hierarchy preach abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity in marriage and rail against the use of condoms. Yet it is a fact that a married woman living in sub- Saharan Africa in all likelihood is already monogamous. It is her husband who is likely to be unfaithful and have HIV. Yet refusing a husband’s sexual overtures risks ostracism, violence, and destitution for herself and her children. Sadly, availability to the millions of at-risk women of an effective microbicide to prevent transmission of HIV during sex may still be years off and anti-retroviral medicine to prevent HIV from developing into AIDS must be taken lifelong. Then there is question as to whether there will ever a sufficient supply of those anti-retrovirals for all in need of them.

These poor women are not only the hapless victims of their male-dominated cultures but also of our male-dominated Catholic Church. This is the same male-dominated Church which declares validly-ordained Catholic women priests to be excommunicated criminals yet none of the hundreds of priest pedophiles have yet to be excommunicated.

You suggest that mandating coverage of birth control is the first step to legislating a one-Child America ala China. That sounds like something Santorum would pontificate. Then you state “it is fortunate for all of us that the Catholic Bishops didn't turn the other cheek.” I have yet to see any of our discredited wannabe monarchs in the USCCB, who covered up for the priest pedophiles, relenting in their efforts to control the lives of their serfs in the pews.

In the Philippines, as well, the powerful Catholic Hierarchy is blocking the distribution and use of condoms to slow down the explosive population growth there. This despite the fact the existing population, which is projected to double over the next 70 years, is already faced with a dangerously-depleted supply of fish in the waters surrounding their islands, food on which millions of poor large Filipino families with worn out mothers depend for sustenance. “God will provide” may not prove to be a reliable mantra for them.

But back to the current alleged assault on the the First Amendment. The unholy alliance of the USCCB with the Republicans, with or without Santorum, is no friend of women or of the poor.

Wm. J. Schuch
East Aurora &
Naples, FL

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Catholicism Today- Visit new Facebook page for lots of news about our institutional church! 



    by Paddy Agnew
    (The Irish Times)
    ... An outsider could be forgiven for thinking that an unlikely troika of John Le CarrĂ©, Dan Brown and David Yallop has been writing current Vatican news reports. In recent weeks, thanks to a series of apparently authentic leaked Holy See documents, we have moved from accusations of graft and corruption within the Vatican city-state to reports of an alleged “murder conspiracy” that would see Pope Benedict XVI dead by November of this year..."
    Bridget Mary's Reflection:
    Intrigue, corruption, scandal in the Vatican is hardly a new story for the Roman Catholic institutional church, yet this is one more argument for a holy shakeup from top to bottom! More than ever, we need a renewed, transparent, and accountable church in which women and men are true equals and partners in ministry, and included as decision markers on all levels including the Vatican.
    Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Support Workers at Catholic Institutions! Sign Petition Today
This week, Catholic Bishops are holding a closed-door meeting about their next steps in the debate over women’s access to comprehensive healthcare, including contraception. The problem is that in this debate about workers’ healthcare that affects women, only men are invited. Bishops are making decisions that affect the lives of thousands of workers and their families without consulting them.It is time workers at Catholic institutions and those who support them be heard!

Sign the petition asking that 1) the bishops accept the White House compromise that will permit workers access to comprehensive health care, including contraception, and 2) that the Bishops set up a an advisory panel of workers with a full spectrum of views for dialogue on decisions that affect them. 

Theologian John Shea - "Letter Requests Explanation on Women Priests"/National Catholic Reporter
"...In his 30 years of teaching and throughout his training and counseling experience, Shea said, he has never come across “a single credible thinker who holds that women are deficient in religious development or maturity” nor has he found anything from the perspective of practical theology that doesn’t support women’s ordination to the priesthood.
Shea began teaching at Jesuit-run Boston College in 2003. In late February, the college informed him that it would not renew his contract for the upcoming semester. Shea is in the final year of a three-year contract and, according to a Boston College spokesman, the school has long desired to create a full-time tenure-track position within his department.
Shea previously taught at the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University in New York and at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Gaithersburg Catholic Priest Placed On Leave for ‘Intimidating Behavior’

'A Gaithersburg Catholic priest  who triggered national debate late last month when he denied Communion to a lesbian at her mother’s funeral Mass has been placed on administrative leave from ministry in the Washington archdiocese...'

Women Priests Stand in Solidarity with Prophet of Justice, Fr. Roy Bourgeois

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests stands in solidarity with Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois  and supports the action of the order's General Council to retain him.
Last week three members of the Maryknoll General Council abstained from voting to dismiss Fr. Roy Bourgeois, a longtime peace activist, from the order which has been his community for 46 years.  They are Maryknoll Frs. Paul Masson, the Society's vicar general, Jose Aramburu, an assistant general, and an unnamed priest.
Two council members voted in favor of dismissal: Maryknoll Fr. Edward Dougherty, the superior general of the order, and Maryknoll Fr. Edward McGovern, an assistant general. 
Fr. Roy participated in the ordination of Janice Sevre-Duszynska on Aug. 9, 2008 in Lexington, Kentucky and has continued to speak out publicly in support of women priests. 
"In these times of increasing attacks on women's freedom in all facets of society," said Bridget Mary Meehan, bishop of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, "we celebrate Fr. Roy's freedom of conscience and courage to stand with women who are called by God to the priesthood. Our church and world community cry out for the compassion, justice-making and vision of women priests and all women. As living images of Christ, women are given freedom of conscience and must speak for themselves."
The ARCWP community walk in solidarity with our brother priest Roy Bourgeois whose life's work as a Maryknoll priest has been to challenge the "rulers, principalities and powers," that bring injustice and oppression in our world. Father Roy has consistently and prophetically challenged systems of power, whether they be governments, the military, multi-national global corporations or the church to follow the Gospel teaching of Jesus.  As founder of the School of the Americas Watch, Fr. Roy has given voice to our sisters and brothers in Latin America who have suffered because of "guns and greed," as Roy has taught us.
We call on the Maryknoll community to support  and celebrate Fr. Roy as a prophet.
 We demand an immediate end to the unjust and unhealthy atmosphere of fear and intimidation created by the Vatican and carried out through our bishops and heads of religious orders to those who openly express disagreement with Church teaching. As Roy has reminded us, "those who disagree with church teaching should not be excommunicated or lose their pensions."We challenge all religious orders and our brother priests at the Vatican to build up the community as Jesus did: by empowering and liberating.We are living within a movement of grace called forth by Wisdom Sophia,  a people-loving Spirit,  who has pitched her tent beside us. She embraces and celebrates her prophets. Let us welcome Her Spirit and rejoice for our prophetic brother, Fr. Roy Bourgeois.
From: The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Contact: Janice Sevre-Duszynska:;  859-684-4247
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan,; 941-955-2313; 703-505-0004

Roman Catholic Womenpriests
Contact: Rev. Suzanne Thiel
For more than 100 years, the Society of Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers has been at the forefront of social justices issues throughout the world. We, Roman Catholic Womenpriests  (RCWP-USA), are deeply grateful to the many priests and brothers who have dedicated their lives to working to right the wrong of injustice.
It is, therefore, with great sadness, that we decry the fact that Fr. Edward Dougherty, Superior General of the Maryknoll Order and one of his assistants, Fr. Edward McGovern, voted to oust Fr. Roy Bourgeois from the Order for following the dictates of his conscience in speaking up and acting against an injustice, perpetrated by the Vatican, that forbids women to answer God’s call to the ordained priesthood. 
We continue to pray and walk in solidarity with Fr. Roy, whose life’s work as a Maryknoll priest for more than forty years has been to challenge power structures that sustain injustice and oppression in the world.
We pray also for his Maryknoll community, that their minds and hearts may be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who empowers and liberates humanity.
Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA, Inc. (RCWP-USA) is a prophetic organization within an international progressive movement in the Roman Catholic Church.  Its mission is primarily to prepare, ordain in apostolic succession, and support women who are called by the Holy Spirit and their communities to a renewed priestly ministry rooted in justice and faithfulness to the Gospel.         Visit