Saturday, July 7, 2012

Religion, Equality,the Feminine Face of God and Women Priests

In her article "Living the life you want," Sally Quinn said "There is hardly any religion that does not treat women as second class citizens and, consequently, that has to have an effect on the thinking of both sexes. When religions accept us as equals it will make a huge difference in the way women view themselves and the worlds around them." (Washington Post, July 7, 2012) 
Women priests are visible reminders that women are equal images of God, and that is one of the reasons for ordaining women in the Catholic Church. 
So often, when women attend our inclusive women-led liturgies, they cry. Later many comment that it is a ground-shaking experience. It goes beyond the "holy shakeup" that Roman Catholic Women Priests bring to the church. We glimpse the Feminine Divine in a deep spiritual encounter that liberates God out of the male box and liberates women and men from the male-only symbol system that has predominated for centuries.  It is an earth-shattering experience for some, and quite affirming too. ( especially women who are presently experiencing alienation in Catholic worship with our new/old liturgy with its exclusive language repeated over and over again.)
A major problem with patriarchal religion is that it professes that God is neither male nor female, but uses images and words that are exclusively male to refer to God and teaches that only males can "represent" God in worship and in positions of authority. It is time to encounter God beyond all names and images and explore God's feminine face in our prayer and worship. The Feminine face of God is revealed in the bible and in Christian tradition.
 I have written three books on this topic: Exploring the Feminine Face of God, Delighting in the Feminine Divine, Heart Talks with Mother God (co-authored with Regina Madonna Oliver. Books are available at except for Exploring the Feminine Face of God.  Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp,,

"The Thwarting of Catholic Reform" by Paul Surlis/ Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church/ARCC News

"As we approach the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (Oct. 11, 1962), we should highlight some of the structural changes in the Catholic Church that were supported by the Council but undermined or ignored, especially by Pope John Paul II and currently by Pope Benedict XVI.

One structural change called for collegiality, which would have had profound implications for accountability and transparency, both of which are needed in the Vatican and in the Church at large. Collegiality means that all the bishops as a collective have a role in Church governance as a matter of divine law and in a way that makes them a counterpart to the centralism that has prevailed in the Church for more than a millennium.. . . 

The Vatican, with its centralized power structure, turns a deaf ear to requests from lay persons, priests and bishops for open and honest debate on optional celibacy for priests despite the fact that it obtained until 1139 when mandatory celibacy for the western (Roman) Catholic Church was introduced.

Likewise, discussion of the ordination of women is disallowed despite the fact that women presided at Eucharistic celebrations in the early Church and no valid scriptural or theological reasons exist which would prevent the ordination of women today. . . .

If the will of the Second Vatican Council, the supreme teaching authority in the Church, had not been subverted on these issues by Pope John Paul II (who worked tirelessly to undermine national conferences of bishops) and today by Benedict XVI, we would have accountability and transparency in the Church.

We also would have truly independent Episcopal councils of priests with lay persons in each diocese, we would have elected councils of lay persons in each parish and issues like ordination of married men and ordination of women would get impartial hearings and become transformative realities in a church where they are sorely needed.

Instead, Catholics are deprived of priests and full Eucharistic liturgies. Precious Catholic liberties are stolen from them not by secular governments but by the Vatican and its accomplices..."
Read more

Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Churc

" A Fortnight of Freedom: Catholic Heroes of Religious Liberty" by the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church-ARCC

"The American Catholic bishops, charging that religious liberty is under attack, have proposed that the two-week period from June 21 to July 4 be dedicated to a Fortnight of Freedom, emphasizing prayer, education and public action.

Their summons seems hypocritical, however, when it is evident that they ignore the sensus fidei or sense of the faith professed by the People of God (Lumen Gentium 35) and trample on the rights of conscience of those who disagree with them. 

When they speak of religious liberty one may well ask: Religious liberty for whom? The bishops? Or all the Catholic people?"

"In observance of the Fortnight of Freedom Catholics may wish to dedicate each day to those Catholic theologians and leaders who have been bullied, threatened, silenced, or wrongfully excommunicated by the pope, the Congregation for the Defense of the Faith (CDF), and the bishops. The following are worthy of being so honored:

1. Yves Congar, O.P., leading theologian at Vatican II. Forbidden to teach or publish in 1956 by the Holy Office (the successor of the Inquisition) for his writings on ecumenism. He explained: "What put me wrong [in their eyes] is not having said false things, but having said things they do not like to have said."

2. John Courtney Murray, S.J., principal author of Vatican II's "Declaration on Religious Liberty". Silenced by the Holy Office and forbidden to publish because of his writings.

3. Hans Kung, theological expert at Vatican II. Deprived of official status as a Catholic theologian at the University of Tubingen by Pope John Paul II, because of his book Infallible? an Inquiry.
4. Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P., another major voice at Vatican II. His books on ministry drew hostile attention from the Vatican and mistrust and suspicion from the Dutch bishops.

5. Leonardo Boff, O.F.M., proponent of liberation theology. Silenced in 1985 by the CDF because of his criticism of church leadership. Charged Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, with "religious terrorism."

6. Charles Curran, moral theologian. Ousted from Catholic University in 1967 because of his teaching on contraception. Reinstated after a strike by faculty and students. Coordinated a dissent by 600 theologians from Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae. Under pressure from John Paul II, ousted again in 1986.

7. Joan Chittister, O.S.B., spiritual writer. In 2001 the Vatican Congregation on Consecrated Life forbade her to address a conference on the Ordination of Women in Dublin. Backed by her community, she ignored that admonition.

8. Roger Haight, S.J., author of Jesus, Symbol of God. Prohibited by the CDF in 2009 from writing and teaching.

9. Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J., The Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2011, without consulting her, charged that her Quest for the Living God differs from authentic Catholic teaching on essential points." She rejected that as a misinterpretation and misrepresentation of her views.

10. Louise Lears, S.C., removed from ministry in 2008 by Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, and Louise Akers, S.C., removed from teaching in 2009 by Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati, for supporting women's ordination. Sister Akers stated that to deny women's right to ordination would violate her conscience.

11. Margaret McBride, R.S.M., excommunicated in 2009 by Bishop Thomas Olmstead of Phoenix, because she voted, as a member of the Ethics Committee at St. Joseph's Hospital, to save the life of a mother rather than that of a fetus.

12. Geoffrey Robinson, retired auxiliary bishop of Sydney. The Vatican Congregation for Bishops, prompted by American bishops, asked him to cancel his American tour in 2008 because he called for a review of Church teaching on sexuality.

13. Margaret Farley, R.S.M., author of the book Just Love, which the CDF declared is not a valid expression of Catholic teaching. She explained that it was not intended to do so, but rather to help people think through questions of human sexuality.

14. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, accused by the CDF of expressing "radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith" and daring to "challenge positions taken by the Bishops, who are the Church's authentic teachers of faith and morals."

Nearly four hundred years ago, the astronomer, Galileo, was condemned by the Inquisition because he asserted that the earth moves around the sun. In 2000 John Paul II issued an apology. Let us hope that four hundred years will not elapse before the Church acknowledges these modern heroes of religious liberty, who dared to say "things [the bishops] do not like to have said."

Joseph F. O'Callaghan is Professor Emeritus of Medieval History at Fordham University, former Chair and current Board Member of Voice of the Faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT, and author of Electing Our Bishops: How the Catholic Church Should Choose Its Leaders (2007). 

"Kansas City Priest Arrested After Breaking into Nuclear Weapons Facility" /NCRonline
Jul. 06, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- "A priest who has spent almost two decades in jail for acts of nonviolent protest against the country's nuclear weapons complex faces another possible year and a half in prison after his actions on Wednesday.
Fr. Carl Kabat, a 78-year-old member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, faces three criminal charges after cutting through a fence and entering the grounds of the Kansas City Plant, a major new nuclear weapons facility under construction, to call attention to its building.
Kabat's action represents the latest in a years-long campaign by activists to call attention to the facility's construction.
Protests at the site, which is estimated to cost $1.2 billion and scheduled to be partially operational by early 2013, have been led in part by area Catholics who have also been leading petition campaigns to remove funding from the site.
One of the petitions, focused on developing a plan for reuse of the facility should it be abandoned in light of weapons cuts, was unanimously passed by the local city council in March.
Kabat told NCR after his release Thursday that he first entered the property of the Kansas City complex Tuesday, using bolt cutters to make a hole in a perimeter fence and walking through.
Kabat said he then spent Tuesday night on the grounds of the complex until he was found and arrested Wednesday morning.
In an email Wednesday explaining Kabat's action, Chrissy Kirchhoefer, a member of the St. Louis Catholic Worker community who regularly assists the aging Kabat with travel and other needs, said the priest's intent was to celebrate "Interdependence day" by "cutting as much of the fence perimeter" of the Kansas City plant as possible to "allow all of the Holy One's deer and other animals that once used the former bean field for its habitat" to come into the area..."

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Nuns on the Bus, Bishops in Limos, ''Fortnight of Freedom Fizzles"/ Check out Theologian Mary Hunt's Analysis

Sister Simone Campbell: photo courtesy the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries, via flickr
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Feminist theologian Mary Hunt does not pull any punches in her analysis of the impact of the "Nuns on the Bus"  on the social and political agenda of our nation.

Neither do the nuns on the bus! Their message reflects Matthew 25 and clearly places protecting poor and marginalized people as an agenda of compassion that impacts people of all faiths and no faith.

Young people really "get it" as was witnessed by their presence and support of the nuns on the bus! Institutional religion is not their priority, but  justice and compassion is, which is at the heart of religious belief

The nuns agenda of justice and freedom for all, not just the bishops, is becoming an important election issue.

Well- done, Sisters! You have shone a bright light on immoral budgets like the one proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan. No wonder the  lobbyists with big money and powerful names are running for cover.

Let's hope that your prophetic witness to Catholic social justice issues will be a top priority of U.S. voters too, and that they will elect responsible public officials who will legislate for the common good, instead of giving more tax cuts to billionaires, who are unwilling in many cases, to pay their fair share. We cannot afford spiritually to balance our budget on the backs of the poor.

The nuns on the bus have left the bishops' in the dust with their fizzling 'fortnight of freedom'  out of steam! It goes to show that no multi-million dollar public relations campaign is a match for nuns' prayer power and prophetic witness! 

Well done, Sisters, and outstanding analysis, Mary Hunt in your article below!

Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

"Tourist buses are fixtures on Capitol Hill, but the arrival at the Methodist Building of “Nuns on the Bus: Nuns Drive for Faith, Family and Fairness” in noonday heat to the cheers of their colleagues had to be a first. Hustled out by handlers like rock stars, the half-dozen nuns (and one woman who was not a nun but joined the trip anyhow) made their way to a flag-backed stage to join other interfaith leaders in prayer and speeches.

Sister Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service and the Executive Director of NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby the sponsoring organization, appeared flabbergasted and delighted by the hundreds who turned out in the midst of the DC region’s massive power outage to welcome them home. Prophets in their own land—in this case, lobbyists among lobbyists—usually get a mixed reception at best.

Fourth of July tourists wondered what was happening, a good question for a broader audience. Why did screaming young Hill staffers, dozens of Muslim women in head scarves, elderly people both men and women, social justice workers, and lobbyists converge to fĂȘte a group of women who traveled 2,700 miles through nine states to visit soup kitchens? I am sure the riders will tell the story in full detail once they get their land legs back, and I know video crews accompanied them. So for now, I offer a word of explanation about what I think the trip means in the big picture of religiously influenced social change.

Bishops in Limos?
Several factors converged to spark the nuns’ creativity. A major one was the passage of House Republican Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget, cutting $36 billion from food assistance programs without trimming the military budget or increasing taxes on the wealthy. Mr. Ryan claimed that his ideology was faith-based, indeed that Catholic social teaching justified his approach to push poor people to fend for themselves. The NETWORK people simply did not see it that way, nor did a sizable group of Georgetown University faculty who called Ryan on the carpet. Even the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a tepid letter from their president, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan from New York, indicated some displeasure. (Mr. Ryan’s theological advisor is probably out of a job...

The "Fortnight" Fizzles
And then there's the notable fact that the nuns eclipsed the bishops’ “Fortnight of Freedom” without even mentioning it. Apparently official church efforts are going on all over the country as I write, but enthusiasm has been so low that even the bishops aren’t saying much about it. Even critics have ignored it. So much for a large-scale buy-in to their argument that the government insisting on having insurers offer contraception without a co-pay would eradicate religious liberty as we know and love it. Not even the Vatican’s brand new Opus Dei Fox News communication strategist Greg Burke can spin their way out of this failure. Coming on the heels of the conviction of a Philadelphia priest for enabling sexual predators to continue in ministry, what virtually every other diocese did as well, appetite for the bishops’ ideology is all but gone..."

Article by Mary E. Hunt
Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D., is a feminist theologian who is co-founder and co-director of the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. A Roman Catholic active in the women-church movement, she lectures and writes on theology and ethics with particular attention to liberation issues.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Religious Liberty for All, Not Just Bishops"/ Let's Rise Up for Justice for Women and for All

Bridget Mary's Reflection
Let's support religious liberty for women and for all, not just Bishops in the Catholic Church!
This is yet another reason we need women priests! 
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

A Call to Action From Call to Action National: 

"You may have heard that the U.S. Catholic Bishops are trying to force their views about contraception on women and calling it the "religious liberty" of Bishops to do so. 

But what about the religious liberty of women?

Stand up for women this July 4th and celebrate the fact that the United States promotes religious liberty for everyone, not just bishops.  

Go to Call To Action's Facebook page and press "share" to get this graphic on your own page. Spread the message that religiou ...

As Catholics, we have a strong history of supporting religious liberty. Let's ensure it continues to include women..." 

Jim FitzGerald, Executive Director

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Mini-Day in the Life of Two Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and Co-Pastors of the Good Shepherd Community, Ft. Myers, Florida

Pastor Judy Lee (ARCWP) and Betty 
Yesterday was an overwhelming ministry day with some of our women.

Co-Pastor Judy Beaumont (ARCWP) and Betty

We had wonderful housing for one woman and had put her in a
 motel for two weeks 
preparing for this day.  
But, her confused mind betrayed her and so she 
disappeared leaving a note full of paranoia and the opportunity
 forever as this is about the third time this has happened 
and she cannot remain on this housing 

We were very sad for her as she will be homeless again.
 Then we had a beautiful experience helping another woman, 
Betty age 60, get settled in housing. 
She was so happy as she now has housing and a 
well deserved 
Disability income and, as she is slow, to her it is a
 miracle and she kept thanking God for it! 

Sadly, later in the day as we returned to bring her a TV 
she came limping and crying to the door with her face swollen
 and knees bleeding. 
She rode her bike to her sisters' crowded home where she had
 lived on the couch for nine years, and she was beaten and robbed 
of her little money and her keys and ID 
on the way by some violent 
young men(probably on drugs). 

Her new landlord is wonderful and he 
mmediately changed the locks on her
door and, with another of our men, Louis, 
carried the big TV up the stairs
 for us. 
We calmed her down, made sure she was physically okay,
 and prayed with her, 
and she will be okay, but what a day for her!

We then met with seven or eight of our people 
for whom Judy B. is the Rep Payee 
(for their Disability checks) and with the men 
living at Joshua House. 
This was an uplifting experience as all were doing well 
and two of the men were planning 
to cook a Bar-B-Q feast for the others for the July 4th holiday. 

Also among 
these were two women whose lives are truly turned around 
and we celebrated the 
health of one and one year out of jail for the other, 
a very slow woman 
who now lives with another woman who guides
 her in positive ways.
Then, we had to move another woman to a Motel as her mental illness 
causes her 
to avoid toilets and just "go" and she was once again evicted. 
She is gentile and educated and sweet,
and our Doctor did check her out medically, 
but this is truly "all in her head" and she cannot control it.

Therefore we cannot keep her 
housed although she has her Disability check. 
We pray this Motel can put up with 
her and have taken a lot of measures with plastic sheets,etc., 
and one of our 
church members to help her clean, but the stench gets her evicted. 
We take her to the psychiatrist and to the medical doctors, 
but she simply does not follow up and 
refuses help as she believes that she is fine.

 In Florida if you refuse 
any medical or mental health service there is NONE!! 
She is the one that lived 
on the doorsteps of St. Francis RC Church for years. 
This is our hardest and 
perhaps most difficult woman to minister to, oh for a miracle!

And, finally, we visited and brought some bread to another woman 
whom we moved from a condemned trailer to good housing. 
While she too suffers from physical disability and mental illness 
and hoarding that crowds her out, she is doing 
well in her new place. 
She has resumed her activities as an activist and Board 
member for the Coalition to End Homelessness 
and as a jewelry maker. 
It was a joy to see her and hear the plans for a day of 
outreach to the homeless.
We are glad that, as this Nation celebrates its Independence,
we can help people who have fallen through the gaping hole 
the bottom of the flimsy safety net, 
to slowly regain their dignity and independence and 
enjoy housing, positive relationships and the lives
that God has given them. Our special joy is 
witnessing the many ways in which they help 
one another. 
Judy Lee, ARCWP
Judy Beaumont, ARCWP
Co-Pastors of Good Shepherd Community


Vatican Bank Scandal Threatens Catholic Church Image

"The Vatican scandal over shady bank accounts and millions in suspect transfers began shortly before sunrise on June 5 on Via Giuseppe Verdi, a picturesque street in the old part of Piacenza, a town in northeastern Italy. An elderly gentleman in a tailor-made suit had just left his house with a leather briefcase dangling from his right hand. He was on his way to his car.

It was to be an important day for Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who had recently been fired as the head of the Vatican bank -- even if it turned out differently than he'd expected. Tedeschi was planning to go to the Vatican on that morning, but he never got there. The 67-year-old banker missed the high-speed train to Rome, meaning he couldn't, as he had planned, get into a taxi at the Italian capital's central station for the short journey across the Tiber River to the Vatican. There, he had hoped to take the documents out of his briefcase and hand them over to a confidant of the pope.
Instead, Gotti Tedeschi found four men waiting for him in the street -- not a hit squad as he feared at first, but investigators with the Carabinieri, Italy's national military police force. Even before he reached his car, they presented him with a search warrant and escorted him back to his house. For several hours, they searched through his sparsely furnished, cloister-like home office. At the same time, other officers were searching through Gotti Tedeschi's office in Milan. Among the objects they confiscated were two computers, two cabinets' full of binders, a planner and his briefcase.
The investigators were pleased. While they made but little headway in their corruption investigation involving a client of a company Gotti Tedeschi had once headed, an Italian subsidiary of the Spanish banking giant Santander, they stumbled upon something else in there search which proved to be spectacular.
The documents confiscated from Gotti Tadeschi, a former confidant of the pope, provided Italian law-enforcement officials insight into the innermost workings of the Vatican bank. The secret dossier includes references to anonymous numbered accounts and questionable transactions as well as written and electronic communications reportedly showing how Church banking officials circumvented European regulations aimed at combating money-laundering.
A Possible Motive
The drama unfolding in the Vatican is now heading toward a climax. First, it was "il corvo," the raven, whose revelations about life in the court of the embattled and exhausted Pope Benedict XVI caused months of unease. Then came the arrest of Paolo Gabriele, the pope's butler, whom the Vatican has fingered as the source of the private papal correspondence that was leaked to the public. And now the scandal surrounding Gotti Tedeschi is providing a possible motive for the Catholic soap opera: money.
The pope had apparently tasked the financial executive with making the Vatican bank more transparent. But by approaching his task with perhaps an excess of zeal Gotti Tedeschi upset powerful forces within the Roman Curia, the Vatican's administrative and judicial apparatus. Several high-ranking officials within the Curia viewed the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), as something akin to a trust company for clandestine monetary transactions that is not only used by the Church, but allegedly also by the mafia as well as corrupt politicians and companies. In one of the seized Gotti Tedeschi memos, he wrote: "I've seen things in the Vatican that scare me..." ( read full story by hitting the link above)
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
This scares me and should scare everyone especially Catholics who give money to the church!
Money laundering, links to the mafia, what do we have here a crime family or a church devoted to spreading the Gospel of Jesus, which is about sharing and being God's love for all.
This story reads like the Da Vinci Code! Only it is real, and it is about the Roman Catholic Church's Vatican Bank!
The corruption and lack of accountability is mind-boggling! The The U.S. media needs to step up and cover this story as a major newsworthy event that the public needs to know about.
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Into the Future" by Nancy Sylvester, IHM published in America Magazine
The bishops are right. Women religious have changed, not only in the United States but throughout the world. We have changed in ways that invited us to let go of who we thought we were. Surrendering to the Spirit, we awakened to new understandings that touched our deepest core. Change at that level is transformation. It radically altered how we see ourselves, the Gospel, our church, our world and most importantly how we understand our God. This change in consciousness was not easy. No, it was painful, but like the pain at childbirth it dissolves in unspeakable awe at the life that emerges... (Read full article by clicking on link)
Nancy Sylvester, IHM, President
Institute for Communal Contemplation
and Dialogue
8531 W. McNichols
Detroit, MI 48221


Conspiracies Swirl as Vatican Scandal Engulfs Rome/ NPR

The scandal over leaked documents that has been engulfing the Vatican is the biggest breach of confidence and security at the Holy See in recent memory.
Known as Vatileaks, the crisis has shed light on a Vatican gripped by intrigue and power struggles like a Renaissance court.
Vatileaks erupted into a full-blown scandal with the publication two weeks ago of a book of Vatican documents alleging corruption and conspiracies among cardinals.
Within days, the Vatican bank president was abruptly dismissed and the pope's own butler was arrested on charges of stealing the pope's correspondence.
The Vatican denounced the leaking of papal letters as a brutal attack and launched a three-pronged investigation to find the moles.
This week, Pope Benedict XVI broke his silence and denounced what he called false media coverage.
"There has been increasing conjecture, amplified by the communications media, which is entirely gratuitous, goes beyond the facts and presents a completely unrealistic image of the Holy See," the pope said...

Gianluigi Nuzzi, the Italian journalist who published the leaked letters, will not reveal his sources. And he's is not at all convinced about Gabriele's guilt.
"It's the Vatican press office that announced that many documents were found in the butler's home," Nuzzi says. "Now, if he is the whistle-blower he must be really stupid to hold on to all stuff. And it's very disturbing that the trial will be held in secret."
But even if Vatican trials are closed to the public, analyst Politi says, news of the proceedings will leak out and provide further embarrassment for Benedict.
"The pope in the last six to seven months has let happen so many scandals about money and [transparency], that now the Roman Curia and Catholic public opinion is in great disarray, everybody asking, 'What's going on?' " Politi says.
Mickens, the reporter, says the Vatican is in dire need of structural reforms.
"It's a courtlike situation that is staffed and run by people who have no experience growing up in a court," says Mickens. "They're all from democratic societies; it's just not suited for the 21st century; and it is nowhere to be found in the Gospels, or Scriptures — it's a cultural anachronism"

Sunday, July 1, 2012

North America: Women Priests' Worship Communities Link

Roman Catholic Women Priests’                                                         
Worship Communities  
A Renewed Tradition in the  
United States and Canada