Saturday, April 28, 2012

"After Vatican’s Rebuke of Nuns, Time to Hear Mary’s Voice in Catholicism" by Lisa Miller/Washington Post

"Imagine the fury of the men of Galilee when a young, unmarried girl showed up in their village pregnant. They must have talked about punishments. Stoning — a legitimate penalty, condoned by Deuteronomy — would have been appropriate, although the more compassionate among them might have suggested something gentler: ostracism or banishment.
If the girl had been allowed to speak for herself, which she probably wasn’t, she might have tried to explain. The Gospels testify that something supernatural happened while she was out of doors; she had an encounter with an angel. In that case, who would have believed her? Historians put forth other theories: a rape, a lover. Those explanations would have assured her guilt.
In Luke’s Gospel, the girl with the commonest name of the time — Mary — spends the first several months of her pregnancy out of town with a cousin. The Gospel of Matthew suggests that Mary’s condition made her “a public disgrace.” Joseph agrees to marry her anyway.
When I see that a department of the Vatican, in Rome, has rebuked a group of American nuns for “radical feminism” and for speaking out of turn and has called in a man — a superior — to set things right, I think about Mary. When I see American bishops wanting to make rules about sexuality and contraception for ordinary people, I think about Mary.A woman is at the very center of the Christian story, yet that story has been told and controlled for millennia by men...."

Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Mary's Prayer, the Magnificat, reflects the liberating activity of God who is always acting on behalf of the poor and the oppressed in our world. Her hymn of praise found in chapter 1 of Luke is a critique of the dominator, patriarchal model used by political and religious leaders to subdue and oppress God's people. Now in this latest deplorable action by the Vatican, the take-over of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, we see the "Fathers know best" approach in action. The smart money is on the triumph of the nuns over the hierarchy!
 I believe that Mary, first disciple and loving mother, is supporting the nuns and all women, including women priests, on our journey to live justice and equality in the church and world. She taught her son well. For centuries, the church practiced a devotion to Mary, as the first priest- She was the first one who could say "this is my body, this is my blood!" In our struggle for human rights for all, especially the poor and marginalized, Mary is our role model, guide and cheer-leader. Our inclusive Catholic community, in Sarasota, Florida, bears her name: Mary Mother of Jesus Catholic Community.

Gerald T. Slevin, "Philly Predator Priests & Papal Politics"

 Posted by William Lindsey 
Makes the connections between Roman Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal and papal politics.
"As this work week ends, another outstanding piece from Jerry Slevin, commenting on the ongoing trial in the archdiocese of Philadelphia, the current political strategy of the Vatican and U.S. Catholic bishops, and the mandate to “reform” American religious women–and how these pieces fit together.  This is a rich and detailed posting, and I’m grateful to Jerry for providing this information to all of us who are trying to understand how these various pieces interlock.  What follows is Jerry’s posting:
The nauseating selected stories oozing out of the  Philadelphia Archdiocese sexual swamp  are being issued almost daily from a courtroom near Constitution Hall.  The stories, only a fraction of those many uncovered so far, just keep coming, as reported regularly in detail at the website.
An aerial view of the swamp is available at my previous posting at the Bilgrimage site, and in this Wikipedia article tracking the abuse story in the Philadelphia archdiocese and in the related links cited there.
The Vatican has faced similar deluges  of negative publicity before, for example, in Ireland, Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Chile, and even Boston and Los Angeles.  But never before has a case apparently carried such implications for the papacy.  The steady stream of clerical filth exposed at the current Philly trial has flowed through the leadership periods of three important Cardinals, with extensive papal connections, especially the last one, Cardinal Justin Rigali.
Rigali’s ties to the Vatican are and continue to be extensive.  He served several popes closely in Rome and continues on major papal curial committees.  Yesterday, a new and important special committee was set up in Rome under the powerful Cardinal Herranz to investigate the unprecedented recent leaks of embarrassing Vatican documents, so-called “Vatileaks,” as reported by Reuters.  Cardinal Rigali, along with Pope John Paul II, in 1991 was one of the three co-consecrators of Herranz as bishop and still serves with him on a major Vatican committee.  Herranz is one of two Opus Dei Cardinals and has recently served on the committee that just directed the unexpected investigation of American nuns discussed below.
So far the only direct links to the pope disclosed at the trial apparently was the 2005 decision of the committee headed by then Cardinal Ratzinger to accept the defrocking of one of Philly’s predator priest with a long history of allegations of abusing children.  Of course, Rigali and the pope communicated periodically over several decades and likely discussed the pervasive Philly pedophile problems, as may yet be revealed in the many weeks remaining in this criminal trial of Rigali’s former top aide.
The Rigali papal connection raises at least three other critical issues as the pope tries to replace Obama with Mitt Romney, a more pliable Republican.  Rigali still hasn’t explained many major questions about his eight year leadership, until a few months ago, of the Philly Archdiocese.  These include (1) his possible role in covering up for over two dozen priests he suspended only after his former top aide was indicted last year, (2) his possible role with respect to the elusive shredding memorandum listing over 30 suspected priests, and (3) his relationship over several years with his general counsel who was recently suspended by Archbishop Chaput
Rigali also appears to be a central figure, along with his St. Louis protégé, Cardinal Dolan of New York, in the pope’s current political alliance with some fundamentalist evangelicals and right-wing Republicans, so important to the pope’s effort to replace Obama, as evidenced in the Manhattan Declaration.  It is unclear how negative Rigali publicity will impact that alliance or the pope’s US presidential re-election efforts generally.
Finally, Rigali has longstanding ties to Bishop Bransfield, the current treasurer at Dolan’s US bishops’ group and President of the Papal Foundation.  The Foundation’s wealthy US donors each contribute at least $1 million for the pope’s causes  and get a private audience with the pope as just occurred on April 21 and is shown in the video referred to below.  The donors, who appear to be very sincere in their efforts, seem a bit subdued in the video, possibly as a result of the recent Philly trial sworn testimony concerning Bransfield’s alleged sexual improprieties with minors, which Bransfeld has denied.  Bransfield has yet to explain fully why he loaned his NJ beach house to a known sexual predator priest.  Future Bransfield revelations could prove embarrassing for Rigali and the pope as well.  It is unclear whether the pope discussed the allegations with Bransfield at their recent Vatican meeting.  The pope certainly should have.
< /DIV>
It is unclear what actions, if any, the elite donors will take with respect to Bransfield or whether any of the donors sought a fuller explanation from Bransfield last week in Rome.
These US large donors appear to be sincere Catholics, many with children and even grandchildren.  While the US elite donor groups do not appear to have really pressed the bishops to clean up their predator priest problem, there is no evidence they supported or condoned it either.  Of course, the donations often provide the bishops with fungible funds that presumably often enable US bishops to continue with their extravagant and ineffective “take no prisoners” legal strategy that has wasted much of the more than  $3 billion spent so far by US bishops on resisting at all costs abuse victims claims.
It is fair to note that it would appear that many of these donors would likely benefit significantly if the pope’s efforts to help replace Obama are successful, since it would likely result in a further extension of the Bush tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the top 1% of US taxpayers, which appears to include many of these donors.
It is evident that the open-ended nature of the Philly criminal trial and its anticipated aftermath, especially the ambiguous role of Cardinal Rigali, present a ticking time-bomb for the pope, as he marshals all the pope’s US hierarchical forces to help replace President Barak Obama in November.
Of course, the pope’s unexpected new assault on American nuns appears to have diverted some US media attention from the Philly trial.  It is not clear yet what is really behind the pope’s efforts to try to gain control of the US nuns.  Some of the nuns appear to control considerable assets that could help to prop up some desperate US bishops as they continue almost indiscriminately to spend on lawyers and others trying to avoid having to turn over their secret priest abuse files and/or having to testify, as the Stockton CA bishop apparently just did with an large $3.75 million payment to a single priest sexual abuse plaintiff.  The Stockton payment helped Cardinal Mahony avoid having to testify  under oath.
The nuns’ assets, if controlled instead by some bishops, could likely help alleviate some bishops’ decidedly negative cash flow resulting from abuse payouts like this.  Neither American Catholics nor American courts will let the pope and US  bishops cherry pick the nuns’ assets, if that were to be the papal plan.  Cardinal Dolan has already with his Milwaukee cemetary funds’ transfer showed the nuns  how to protect assets, ruthlessly if necessary.  As was just well said by a prominent woman theologian Mary Hunt, with ample support: “We are all nuns today” when it comes to the pope’s new crackdown.  Few are fooled by the papal attempt to bully the nuns, as Garry Wills notes recently in New York Review of Books.
Some in the current circumstances  have even described the “nun attack” as an “earthquake.”  Metaphors like earthquakes and other “Acts of God” are misplaced and misleading here.  It is pretty simple.  The pope’s back is to the wall.  This tough and determined pope is pulling out all stops to save his US election year strategy, and leaning on the nuns is just the latest stop.  Attacking nuns also diverts US media attention from the horrendous revelations almost daily from the Philly criminal trial of the former top aide to the pope’s longtime colleague in Rome, Cardinal Rigali.
The pope’s US election year goals and strategy at this point seem clear, and include the following:
(1) Help elect a pliable Republican to replace Obama. A friendly Mormon will do just fine;
(2) Make sure that the new US President (A) will go easy on Federally prosecuting US bishops for covering up for priest sexual predators, and (B) will shun new Federal legislation, such as mandatory prompt national reporting of abuse claims to the police, that targets child abusers and those who facilitate abusers;
(3) Get the new US President to lean diplomatically on the new female prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to forgo filing criminal charges for an alleged worldwide cover-up of priest child abusers against the pope, and Cardinals Bertone, Levada and Sodano;
(4) Get a majority of Opus Dei-leaning Justices appointed to the US Supreme Court, as aging justices retire during the next four year presidential term; and
(5) Get this newly “stacked” US Supreme Court to permit states again to criminalize contraception (and abortion) and to expand nationwide the “religious liberty” shield to all US bishops from civil law liability for failure to manage predator priests that was recently extended by the US Supreme Court only to Missouri and to the St. Louis Archdiocese.
The price for the pope and US bishops in electing a Republican this year will be acceptance by the US bishops of an extension of the Bush taxs cuts favoring the top 1%, slashes in social programs for seniors and the needy and defeat of Obama’s health insurance program that covers millions of presently uninsured, including many with pre-existing conditions.
If the pope cannot deliver enough Catholic votes in key states to elect Romney, the coalition forged first under Reagan of the US bishops, fundamentalist evangelicals and right-wing ideologues, is likely finished.  And the pope and bishops will likely then have to face increased prosecution by Obama’s Justice Department and others for covering-up for priest sexual predators.
The pope’s US 2012 election strategy was planned long ago, but ran into some unanticipated obstacles. These include:
(1) Georgetown Joan of Arc, Sandra Fluke, who defeated uber-cultural warrior, Rush Limbaugh, in the anti-contraception crusade;
(2) Some US nuns who publicly supported Obama’s health insurance proposals in opposition to the US bishops (and the pope);
(3) SNAP, which filed a powerful criminal complaint with the ICC against the pope,
(4) Bishop Finn, who was indicted for failing to report an alleged priest child pornographer;
(5) Cardinals Krol, Bevilacqua and Rigali, who are almost daily being draggged through the priest child abuse mud in Philly, and
(6) Bishop Bransfield, treasurer of the US bishops’ group and President of the elite donor group, the Papal Foundation, who was accused last week of three different sexual misdeeds with minors, while he and the donors were in Rome to meet with the pope.
Against the foregoing, the pope’s help seems so far to be hurting Republicans more than helping, especially among American women voters.
The pope has already had US pastors read political speeches from their pulpits.  A bishop has recently shamelessly linked Obama to Hitler and Stalin, with silent acquiesence of other bishops to these unprecedented slurs.  Some nuns have nodded in support of Obama’s health care policies and, as a result the pope has lowered the boom on American nuns generally.  The pope has also called for civil disobedience demonstrations by American Catholics in June and July, presumably hoping to get media coverage of Catholics being arrested for “defending the faith” ( the pope’s faith, that is).
The pope appears desparate. As an experienced lawyer, I think he has a losing legal strategy.  As a citizen, I think he has a losing political strategy.  As a Catholic, I think the pope’s attack on nuns was a major mistake.  It may also be, in my view, a blessing in disguise that could be the beginning of the end for the male papal monarchy.  The bishops are outmatched by the nuns and I expect the nuns will soon make that very evident.
For an example of the pope’s temper and style, please see this video showing him (as Cardinal Ratzinger and head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) slapping an ABC-TV reporter in public on camera for daring to ask how the almost 50 year old Vatican investigation of Maciel was going.  (The segment with this incident begins at the 1:54 mark in the video.)  If reporters are so treated in public, imagine how bishops (and nuns) are treated in private.
For information on the call for American Catholic civil disobedience protests in June and July, please see this article at The Hill.  For a video of last Saturday’s glum Papal Foundation meeting of “$1 million a head” US donors with the pope at the Vatican, with Bishop Bransfield front and center, please see this video uploaded to You Tube by Catholic Tube.  For information on the ongoing Philly criminal trial of Cardinal Rigali’s former top aide and its negative impact on the papal US election strategy, please see my previous commentary at the Bilgrimage blog site.
The pope may have a temper, but he apparently learned well his tactical methods and propaganda techniques at his “junior seminary” as a teenager, when he was involuntarily pressed into service wth an anti-aircraft unit of the German Army at the harrowing end of World War II. He has ruled the Vatican with iron discipline.
As a theologian he has been criticized, for example, by renowned Jesuit scriptural scholar, Daniel Harrington, in an April 4, 2011 America Magazine article and most recently by his early colleague, Hans Küng, in his new January 2012 Jesus book (in German), for some fairly basic scholarly shortcomings. This includes the pope’s (1) excessive reliance on outdated scriptural exegesis, (2) selective reliance on certain Church Fathers,  and (3) an overly deductive and speculative approach to Christology.
In the pope’s recent rejection again on Holy Thursday of women priests, the pope cited as support Holy Scripture, the Catechism and writings of “Blessed” John Paul II. The scriptural argument has been contradicted by his own Papal Biblical Commission of leading Catholic scholars he selected.  The pope mainly controlled the writing of the Catechism and greatly influenced the writings of John Paul II, who became “Blessed” in a rigged process Joseph Ratzinger also controlled.  This  pope acts not only as the judge and the jury of “dogma”; he also creates his own supporting evidence. He may be successful in intimidating many Catholic scholars, but does he really think most Catholics are that gullible?
Another example of “evidence rigging” by this pope is the recent attack on Obama apparentlly for “facilitating sinful contraception,” which the overwhelming majority of Catholics accept in good conscience.  A short history, showing how the anti-contraception 1968 Humanae Vitae encyclical was about preserving papal power, and not really about promoting God’s reign, is provided in this National Catholic Reporter article.
Robert Blair Kaiser is the author of the definitive history book on (a) the promulgation in 1968 of the encyclical, Humanae Vitae, (b) the formation and manipulation of the 1960′s Papal Birth Control Commission that recommended permitting contraception, and (c) the power politics behind the rejection of the Commission’s recommendation.  He  has just written a new and timely forword and has made the entire book available as a free e-book.  All Catholics are in his debt.
Kaiser, nearly 80 years old, and formerly an award-winning religion journalist at TimeNewsweek and the New York Times, has frequently explained clearly and truthfully from the time in the early ’60′s of his unparalleled reports from Rome on Vatican II, up to his most recent books and articles, how the Vatican and the Catholic hierarchy work.  His classic book on current contraception “dogma,” The Politics of Sex and Religion, is now available online.
One cannot read this book without coming away with a conviction that women have been punished needlessly for so long just to keep the male hierarchy in power and over-fed.  To now use this discredited and harmful “contraception dogma” to replace a US president is nothing short of disgraceful.
What is to be done?  At least two action items are essential.  American Catholics must demand in this election season that the President and Congress commit to adopt promptly necessary laws to curtail, if not eliminate, child sexual abuse.  For sure this must include a national legal requirement, with significant penalties, that all US custodians of children, including priests and bishops, report prompty to the police all reports of abuse.  Ireland’s Justice Minister just proposed this legislation nationally, after considerable study and research, as Carl O’Brien reports in the Irish Times.
The second action item is to demand that our political leaders apply fully and promptly existing and new laws vigorously to the Catholic hierarchy on a state, Federal and international level.
Are you listening President Obama, US Attorney General Eric Holder, Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Harry Reid and Leader Nancy Pelosi? What about you Mitt Romney, Senator McConnell and Speaker Boehner?
Enough “Happy Talk” about children. It is time to take action.
It is with deep disappointment to me as a cradle Catholic that the Church hierarchy have reached the current dismal state.  I care about my Church, but I also care deeply about defenseless children and innocent abuse victims that still hunger and thirst for justice, while politicians, prosecutors and judges cozy up to powerful bishops for electoral support and campaign contributions, however indirectly given and made.
Two years ago, I sent the pope a suggestion to avoid ending up where we have now ended up.  Not entirely surprisingly, I never heard anything from the pope or his staff.  That proposal could still work, if he or his successor just listened to the Spirit for a change, rather than to their lawyers and financial advisors.
Failing to get any response from the pope, I then published my proposal in the Washington Post and offer it again for your careful consideration here."

Friday, April 27, 2012

"The Good Sisters" by National Survivor Advocates Coalition

Excerpt From an EDITORIAL: April 27, 2012
 "To say that the sisters are at a critical crossroad is an understatement.
 They know, as we do, that it is their properties more likely than their policies that today are in the bulls eye of Rome. It is no coincidence that the current situation collides with the steeple grab of parishes hitting a major obstacle in Cleveland. Bishop Richard Lennon must back down and re-open the 12 parishes on which he hung closed signs with the bulldozer disregard he honed in Boston as an auxiliary of Cardinal Law's. In St. Louis the Missouri Supreme Court sided with the trusteeship organization of the parish of St. Stanislaus Parish and bluntly told the archbishop that he does not own the $9 million assets of this parish no matter how much excommunicating gets waived about or how much hold he thinks he has over the parishioners souls. 
 The religious sisters hold and manage valuable properties in the United States and a number of the congregations are involved in the lucrative business of health care both in hospitals and nursing homes. If Rome's worst way prevails and canonical status is taken from the sisters' congregations, all, some, a few, will lose their properties and the threat of that the Vatican knows is more than enough to give the sisters pause.
 Pause enough to heed and heel or pause to seize the moment in true freedom and heal the Church itself only time will tell us."
 Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), 937-272-0308

Bridget Mary's Reflection
Yes, sadly it is apparent that the Vatican's "take-over" of  the Leadership Conference of Women Religious/LCWR is all about power and control. I am sure the savvy Sisters will get smart legal advice about their properties. I hope that the religious orders will declare their independence from the Vatican, continue their prophetic ministry and service to the church, and affirm nuns called to a renewed priestly ministry. The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests stand in solidarity with our Sisters at this crossroads. It is time for all of us to work together so that justice rises up for the nuns and for all women in the Roman Catholic Church!  One of the ways we can support them is to donate money to LCWR so that they will have the resources they need at this time.
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,, 703-505-0004.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Simone Campbell from NETWORK on "Hardball with Chris Matthews" on MSNBC- topic "Paul Ryan's Budget and Catholic Social Justice Teaching

Simone Campbell's appearance on “Hardball with Chris Matthews” is scheduled to air today at 5pm EST (4pm CST/ 3pm MST/ 2pm PST). If you are unable to watch live, video clips should be available on their website ( within 24 hours after airing.

Women Priests Attend Mass at St. Peter's Bascilica in the Vatican/ Male Priests Express Solidarity

Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger and Juanita Cordero, two Catholic women priests
in collar, and Barbara Snyder arrived in Rome on April 24, 2012.  The
following morning we visited the Vatican museum and the Sistine Chapel; no
problem. The next morning we went to St. Peters Cathedral to attend an
early mass where we joined one being celebrated in French. Out of respect we
did not wear the collar and prayerfully joined the congregation and
participated as much as we could with our limited French. The meaning of
the mass was clear to us as we are familiar with the different parts. The
bishop during his homily asked the 80+ priests gathered around the altar to
renew their ordination promises.
When communion time arrived we stood up to join the others to receive. The
way was blocked on both ends of the row by two tall priests who refused to
let us join the line with the others to receive.  One priest approached
Christine, grabbed her arm and said, “Yesterday you identified yourself as a
priest; I cannot allow you to proceed.” We decided to leave our row and sit
towards the back so that we could continue our worship. At this point we put
our collars on.
During the recessional the bishop and all the priests came down the center
aisle passing right by us. Many gave us small signs of solidarity.
Following this experience we visited the underground catacombs and started
to visit the rest of St. Peters. Our visit was cut short because Vatican
guards came to us and, in a friendly manner, asked us to leave the church
and escorted us out. One told us he did not want to arrest us and would not
have to do so if we would leave peacefully and quickly. We asked why, and
they replied that it was forbidden for women to wear collars.


"Wir wollen nicht Herren sein über euren Glauben, sondern wir sind Diener
eurer Freude" (2 Kor 1,24).
Dipl. Päd. Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger
Römisch Katholische Bischöfin
Initiative Weiheämter für Frauen in der römisch katholischen Kirche
RCWP - römisch katholische Priesterinnen
- Scharnsteiner Straße 64, A-4643 Pettenbach
Tel & Fax: +43 (0)7615 7566
Mobil: +43 (0)664 15 444 26

The Vatican Crackdown on The Leadership Conference of Women Religious/ List of News Links

LCWR – Leadership Conference of Women Religious. 
 This conference is the one that the majority (95%) of catholic nuns belong to in the United States.  It has been very supportive, resourceful and helpful to religious congregations.  It is unfortunate that the Vatican is taking this approach, appointing a ‘man’ – Cardinal to oversee the Conference, get approval for speakers, etc …   The Leadership of the Conference has only issued a preliminary response which is listed below.  They are taking the time to study the Vatican’s response and then will formulate a more reflective public response.

After reading the articles below, a means of support is growing in various locations.  One is Facebook

The other is Fr. James Martin’s twitter account which is listed below.

Here is a sampling of articles and if you google LCWR and the Vatican you will get more.  These are all the articles in chronological order from the most recent to the beginning on April 18th.

American nuns stunned by Vatican accusation of ‘radical feminism,’ crackdown

American Nuns, Conscience and the Vatican

Vatican Criticizes Nuns' Stance On Social Issues

The instructive timing of the crackdown on nuns 

Rev. James Martin Twitter Drive "WhatSistersMeanToMe" Supports US Nuns

National Catholic Reporter article:  LCWR 'stunned' by Vatican's latest move

Vatican: American nuns need reform

National Catholic Reporter:  Options facing LCWR stark, canon lawyers say

Vatican seeks reforms of women's religious orders-Positions of nuns, sisters contrary to teachings, it says By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

LCWR Statement from Presidency on CDF Doctrinal Assessment Vatican [Silver Spring, Maryland] The presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was stunned by the conclusion of the doctrinal assessment of LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. We had received a letter from the CDF prefect in early March informing us that we would hear the results of the doctrinal assessment at our annual meeting; however, we were taken by surprise by the gravity of the mandate.This is a moment of great import for religious life and the wider church. We ask your prayers as we meet with the LCWR National Board within the coming month to review the mandate and prepare a response.

Vatican orders crackdown on American nuns by David Gibson|Apr 18, 2012

Citing doctrinal problems, Vatican announces reforms of US nuns' group  By Francis X. Rocca   Catholic News Service

Vatican Names Archbishop Sartain To Lead Renewal Of LCWR  April 18, 2012

Vatican orders LCWR to revise, appoints archbishop to oversee group

News comes as 'doctrinal assessment' of organization is released      Apr. 18, 2012    By Joshua J. McElwee

Vatican announces reform of US women's religious conference By Michelle Bauman   April 18th, 2012

Vatican Reprimands a Group of U.S. Nuns and Plans Changes By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Editorial "American Nuns, Conscience and the Vatican""The Vatican is reining in the leadership conference that represents 80 percent of American Catholic nuns, accusing the group of “serious doctrinal problems” and promoting “radical feminist themes.” That seems a misreading of the very fine work in schools, charities, prisons and impoverished neighborhoods being done by about 60,000 nuns across the nation." NEW YORK TIMES

Related News

·       Vatican Reprimands a Group of U.S. Nuns and Plans Changes (April 19, 2012)
"These nuns and their leaders continued to bolster the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church even as it suffered one of its greatest scandals in the sexual abuse of schoolchildren by rogue priests and the cover-ups by diocesan authorities.
The Vatican has now appointed a bishop to oversee the operations of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious — the 1,500 superiors who run the sisters’ communities — citing individual nuns at conference gatherings challenging church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood. The announcement also accused the group’s leaders of focusing too much on poverty and economic injustice while allegedly keeping “silent” on abortion and same-sex marriage.
A crucial focus in the inquiry appears to be the fact that dozens of American nuns involved in the conference and in antipoverty and hospital work provided prominent support to President Obama’s health care reform. Conference leaders said Vatican investigators had pointedly raised the issue and the fact that the conference had split with American bishops, who opposed reform.
The sisters’ leaders said they reaffirmed their opposition to abortion but also claimed the right to speak out on a “moral imperative” like health care, just as the bishops had.
The nuns clearly are caught in a classic crossfire of church doctrine, politics and hierarchical obedience. It would be a tragedy, far beyond the church, if their fine work and their courageous voices were constrained."

Enjoy this fun video of "A Nun With A Message"

"We Are All Nuns" by Mary Hunt

"Bullying Nuns" by Gary Wills

Monday, April 23, 2012

"LCWR: A Radical Obedience to the Voice of God in our Time" by Jamie L. Manson/ National Catholic Reporter

..."In his Holy Thursday sermon, Pope Benedict XVI made headlines for criticizing those who refuse to obey the church's position on the ordination of celibate men. He traced his argument back to Christ's obedience to the will of God ...the pontiff fails to point out that Jesus was obeying God while also radically disobeying the religious leaders and laws of his time. ... I suppose the pope is using some of this same logic in his treatment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. He views the sisters' unwillingness to condemn gays and lesbians or contraception or women who feel called ordained ministry as an act of "caprice."But the basis on which the sisters focus their ministries is anything but shallow and whimsical. Their devotion is founded on a radical obedience to the voice of God as it emerges from the voices of the poor, the sick, the abandoned and the broken.Most sisters spend their lives immersed in the deepest sufferings of our world. They don't just stop by the soup kitchen on Ash Wednesday for a photo op. Some actually live in shelters with homeless women, orphans or the addicted..."

"Declare an Emancipation Proclamation from Vatican Control" Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests Advise Leadership Conference of Women Religious/LCWR

 Press Release:  April 23, 2012
From: The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Contact: Janice Sevre-Duszynska:;
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan,; 703-505-0004
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests celebrates the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the nearly 60,000 women religious they represent in the United States. We reject the unjust, bullying behavior of the scandal-ridden Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who has ordered the LCWR to reform itself more closely to “the teachings and discipline of the Church.”  It is the corrupt hierarchy, who has spent billions of dollars and devastated the lives of thousands of youth in the sexual abuse crisis that needs reform, not the dedicated nuns in the United States.
Now is the time for the LCWR to speak truth to power. Declare a nuns’ emancipation proclamation from Vatican control. Challenge Vatican misogyny publicly.  Affirm primacy of conscience and gender equality including women's ordination. 
"As a Sister for Christian Community, I belong to an independent community of women religious not under Vatican control," Bridget Mary Meehan reflects, “This means that I am blessed with freedom to live my vocation as a woman priest. "

Nuns who are called by God and their communities should be able to serve as priests.
“Religious communities of women have been the backbone of the church and the heart that pumps hope through the life of the church,” said newly ordained woman priest Miriam Picconi of Palm Coast, Florida.
 In the Biblical prophetic tradition the sisters have devoted their lives to living Gospel justice and reading the signs of the times.  They have heard the cries of the poor, the exploited and the abandoned.  Lifting oppression and birthing community and right relations, women religious have been at work transforming the world. 
 We as women priests express our gratitude to the sisters, our mentors and teachers who have been inspired by the Spirit.  They have re-discovered and reaffirmed in us the Feminine Wisdom of God.  They have blessed the love and commitment of same-sex partnerships.  They have encouraged us women called to priesthood to live out our call.  They have been prophetic voices for the liberating activity of the Spirit in our church and world.  We stand in prayerful solidarity with all nuns and the LCWR in time of crisis. May women religious lead the church into a new beginning of justice and equality! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Pope’s Ire Aimed at Wrong Target" By Joan Vennoch/Boston Globe 
Pope Benedict XVI can’t wait to crack down on “radical feminist” nuns.
But will he ever really crack down on protectors of pedophile priests?

"A Vatican-led investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious cites the nuns’ silence on abortion and same-sex marriage. How bad is that up against the silence of church officials, from parish priests to the Vatican, who ignored and concealed child sex crimes?
By ironic coincidence, news about the Vatican’s effort to rein in the conference — the largest and most influential group of Catholic nuns in the United States — broke the same day the Rev. Bradley M. Schaeffer resigned from the Boston College Board of Trustees after growing public criticism over the role he played in supervising a former Jesuit priest who allegedly molested dozens of children over a span of 40 years.
The juxtaposition of the two events exposes a familiar church mindset.
The Vatican launched an investigation of the nuns in 2008, concerned by what it views as the group’s increasingly liberal tilt. An American bishop is now charged with reeling them in, after the investigation revealed “serious doctrinal problems” relating to “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” The nuns were also reprimanded for public statements that put them at odds with Catholic bishops during the 2010 debate over health care reform.Perceived threats to his authority swiftly grab the pope’s attention. Accountability for long-ago threats to children is still something to dodge.
This follows Benedict’s recent condemnation of dissident priests. During a Holy Thursday Mass, the pope publicly rebuked a group of Austrian priests who challenged the church on priestly celibacy and the ban on female priests; disobedience would not be tolerated, he said.
What he does tolerate is a worldwide network of priests who enabled sexual abusers.  Unlike dissidents, they are not called out in St. Peter’s Square and no one is put in charge of reeling them in. They are free, like Schaeffer, to end up on the boards of prominent Jesuit institutions — until public pressure forces them out...."

"Sisters of Mercy, Devotion — and Dismay"/Los Angeles Times

By Steve Lopez

"In Philadelphia last week, a child sex-abuse trial involving Catholic clergy led to a bombshell — a bishop from West Virginia was accused of abuse.

In Kansas City, a Catholic bishop goes on trial in September, accused of failing to report suspected child abuse.
Last year church officials paid $144 million to settle abuse allegations and cover legal bills, and although many of the cases went back decades, church auditors have warned of "growing complacency" about protecting children today.

So who's in trouble with the


You know, the thousands of women who took vows of poverty to work with the poor, the sick and disabled.


They're just not toeing the line, says the Holy See. Instead of frittering away so much time on "issues of social justice," they should be speaking out against
contraception and homosexuality. They should also muzzle themselves on the ordination of women and other "radical feminist themes."

When I first heard about this "doctrinal assessment" of the nuns, I thought it might be someone's idea of satire. You know, a parody of the out-of-touch Vatican patriarchy.

But holy jumping Jehoshaphat, they're dead serious, which would be funny except for the effect it's having on American nuns. The ones I spoke to were shaken. They felt insulted and demoralized, too, even though the Vatican briefly acknowledged their good works before rapping them hard on the knuckles with a ruler"

"This is the same church that ignored people who were being pedophiles," said Sister Jo'Ann De Quattro, who, as a Los Angeles nun for more than 50 years, has worked as a teacher and advocate for peace and justice. Cracking down on nuns, said De Quattro, was a convenient way of shifting the focus away from the church's ongoing abuse scandal. "We really know why they're focusing on the women. It's all about control. It's all about exercising authority..."

"After Emmaus"- a Prayerful, Poetic Reflection by Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ARCWP

Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ARCWP, Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests presides at liturgies in Lexington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio.
Jesus was changed.  His friends didn’t recognize him at first.
He didn’t smell like death.
What did they know of a resurrected body?
What do we know?

They ate what food was around.
Only in the breaking of the bread…
the mystery of sharing with community…
did they recognize the Nonviolent One –Who offers us friendship.

 In this space – they all ate and we all eat together. 
A WOW moment—a recognition takes place:
We witness the Christ and She appears in everyone.
We rise up again and again as he taught us, as we need to.  Resurrection’s not a one-time deal.
When we’re in that space, the peace of Christ,
 we never want to leave it…

Yes, Jesus suffered like we do.
We recognize him as we touch his wounds…
and relate to our own.
Sometimes we can even help each other heal when we break bread, when we share in his rising from the dead.

Isn’t it something how death loses its sting
Through his rising from the dead
If we’d only believe
That eternity’s already underfoot
We’re already there
So what can we fear?
Except encountering the freedom to be ourselves.
to hear the Spirit moving through us, calling us to new life. Inspiring us, gracing us to mold and shape and bring forth the Kin-dom.

Imagine, how the friends of Jesus must have felt after he died. How lonely and confused and distraught beyond belief they were. Truly,
they were numb with fear.
Until Easter morning transformed the world
And birthed the non-finality of death.    

The Vatican, the bishops, nuns and the people: Whither the church?

"The Vatican, this week, released a report that excoriates nuns for “serious doctrinal problems” or, in Vatican-speak, for following “radical feminist themes,” associating with the sick, the pregnant, the victims of abuse--if they are gay, say, or in same-sex relationships, or in need of particular health-care services--and caring for them, meeting with them, praying with them. The American bishops, meanwhile, castigate GOP members of Congress, their erstwhile, Obama-bashing side-kicks, for their embrace of savage social service spending cuts that will hurt some of the very same people the Vatican was blasting the nuns for caring about and for: the poor, the vulnerable, the old, the sick, the jobless, the needy, again, the very people that are frequent recipients of the services and tender mercies of American nuns-- and have been for centuries. So, here we have the Republicans in Congress (including Rep. Ryan, chief architect, acting against the Catholic social justice tenets he has been taught) being accused, correctly, by the bishops of undercutting efforts to combat the ills that many nuns devote their lives to ameliorating, and the Vatican comes down on? The nuns! "

"Catholic nuns, specifically the Leadership Conference of Women Religious —1500 or so superiors who run the various communities of sisters—are being placed in virtual receivership, their operations to be “overseen” by a bishop with the assistance of two additional bishops. The purpose? To quiet the voices of nuns heard at conferences, say, where church teaching on homosexuality, the primacy of the RC Church as the path to salvation, and the male-only priesthood seem to be acceptable subjects of conversation and debate. And, oh yes, to right this wrong: being too focused on poverty and economic injustice while allegedly keeping silent on abortion and same-sex marriage!... "