Saturday, August 11, 2012

"LCWR Response Offers New Vision For Being Church" by Tom Fox, National Catholic Reporter/Will Vatican Back Down on Hostile Take-Over of LCWR if Nuns Don't Comply on Hot Button Issues: Women Priests, Gay Marriage and Contraception

Bridget Mary's Reflection:
 I agree with Tom Fox's analysis that the LCWR has taken the high road in their response to the Vatican's mandate.  I will be surprised if the LCWR's gracious invitation to dialogue is accepted by Vatican representatives. However, the LCWR has made it clear that if the Vatican does not embrace this open dialogue, then they are prepared to take another path- hopefully toward independence from patriarchal control! Tom Fox tiptoes around the elephant in the church's living room, the injustice of sexism that excludes women from decision-making positions in the governance structures of the church. In my view, this is all about power and control and bringing the nuns into line on the hot button issues:women priests, gay marriage, contraception. 
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

..."In her outgoing address to the assembly, Farrell advised the sisters not to make too much or too little of the doctrinal assessment. Her measured tone allowed the group to see and size it up in a manageable way. This, then, represents one more challenge among many, albeit one from within the church and from the bishops. She then offered six tools “for navigating the shifts occurring in the world and church”: contemplation, use of the prophetic voice, solidarity with the marginalized, community, nonviolent responses, and the capacity to live in joyful hope.
In the world LCRW envisions, the women can discuss the mandate guided by the six tools.
If the women came to Saint Louis full of anxieties, they left buoyed by a collective sigh of a relief they had come to common grounds and that it was filled with the joy and hope of which Farrell spoke. They left believing they had modeled a way of being church that was coming out of consensus, was respectful, nonviolent, avoided demeaning characterizations. It was one that allowed plenty of room in which the bishops could maneuver without having to lose face.
The gathering, meanwhile, reinforced, in the women’s eyes, the pressing need for more feminine voices within our church while offering encouragement that for now, some of these voices had surfaced, and are being listened to throughout the church and beyond.
The LCWR statement insists from the start that the conversation with the bishops must take place “from a stance of deep prayer that values mutual respect, careful listening and open dialogue.”
And how long do the women envision these conversations will last?
As long as required, unless LCWR “is forced to compromise the integrity of its mission … as a voice for justice in the world.”
For the sake of LCWR, the church, and wider world, let’s now pray this integrity will be respected and will remain intact."
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
The LCWR has taken the high road in their response to the Vatican's attempt of a hostile take-over of their organization.  I will be surprised if the LCWR's gracious invitation to dialogue is accepted by Vatican representatives. However, the LCWR has made it clear that if the Vatican does not embrace this open dialogue, then they are prepared to take another path- hopefully toward independence from patriarchal control! Tom Fox tiptoes around the elephant in the church's living room, the injustice of sexism that excludes women from decision-making positions in the governance structures of the church. In my view, this is all about power and control and bringing the nuns into line on the hot button issues:women priests, gay marriage, contraception. 
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Call to Action/USA : Letter of Support in response to LCWR Statement

Dear Supporter,

Sr. Pat Farrell, on behalf of LCWR, has just issued a statementfrom the nun's meeting this week. You can see Call To Action's supportive response from the Nun Justice Coalition below. 
What I love about Sr. Pat's statement is that the sisters are modeling a way forward for the church that stands rooted in dialogue, not dogma. It puts people before policies. The sisters recognize that every Catholic voice--including yours and mine--is a valued part of the church.
People often ask me what a renewed church will look like. I have to say, I think we've seen a glimpse of it this week:
  • Catholics who feel empowered to speak for justice, coming together across the country in prayer vigils
  • Sisters, some of the best leaders of our church, gathering together in a model of shared leadership and accountability to the people
  • We have a palpable sense of hope because we know that in solidarity we can accomplish anything 
Check out some of the tremendous news coverage from this week [NBCNYTimesUSA Today] and be sure to visit thecoalition page for inspiring photos and videos from the vigils. 
Thanks to everyone who has written a letter, participated in a vigil, or prayed for the sisters.
We are becoming a better church, thanks to you.
Jim FitzGerald, Executive Director
(CTA is a member of the coalition)
Catholics Commend Nuns on Response to Vatican
St. Louis, MO – Over 900 Catholic nuns gathered in St. Louis for the much-anticipated annual meeting of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). After four days of discernment, Sr. Pat Farrell, current president of LCWR, announced “open and honest dialogue” would be their next step with Archbishop Sartain who has been appointed to oversee the mandate.  She went on to say that dialogue “may lead not only to increasing understanding between the church leadership and women religious, but also to creating more possibilities for the laity and, particularly for women, to have a voice in the church.”

 “Today, the sisters stood in their integrity and, once again, responded to the needs of the people,” said Erin Saiz Hanna, spokesperson for The Nun Justice Project and Executive Director of the Women’s Ordination Conference. “As a young woman of faith, I find hope in their statement for the role of women in our church, and that dialogue is possible.”

"We commend the sisters on their prayerful discernment and response to the Vatican,” stated Jim FitzGerald, spokesperson for the Nun Justice Project and Executive Director of Call To Action. “Their actions speak to their faithfulness and the reasons why Catholics across the country support them."

LCWR is an umbrella group representing 80% of the 57,000 nuns in the United States, which recently came under fire from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).  The CDF issued a statement accusing LCWR of promoting "radical feminist themes" and "corporate dissent," causing outrage among Catholics around the globe.  

Thousands of faithful Catholics have rallied in support of the nuns in more than 100 vigils nationwide. This past week, thousands of Catholics attended the latest 37 vigils held across the country. To show solidarity, the groups each sang the church hymn “We Are Called” and uploaded photos and videos of their actions at

"The Nun Who Broke Into the Nuclear Sanctum" by William Broad, NY: A Modern Day Prophet for Peace

"She has been arrested 40 or 50 times for acts of civil disobedience
and once served six months in prison. In the Nevada desert, she and
other peace activists knelt down to block a truck rumbling across the
government’s nuclear test site, prompting the authorities to take her
into custody. Sister Rice is one of three people arrested in a break-in
the Oak Ridge nuclear reservation.
She gained so much attention that the Energy Department, which
maintains the nation’s nuclear arsenal, helped pay for an oral history
in which she described her upbringing and the development of her
antinuclear views. Now, Sister Megan Rice, 82,
a Roman Catholic
nun of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, and two male accomplices
have carried out what nuclear experts call the biggest security breach
 in the history of thenation’s atomic complex, making their way to the
inner sanctum of thesite where the United States keeps crucial nuclear
 bomb parts and fuel..."
Bridget Mary's Reflection
Sister Megan Rick is a modern day prophet for peace. She walks in the
footsteps of the prophets and saints who have gone before her.
Let us pray for and do all we can to make peace and justice a reality
in our world.


Loving God, we come to you with faithful, heart-felt concern for our treasured woman priest Donna, who faces surgery this week.  We ask Your help for her to deal with the emotional, physical, and social aspects of the suffering she has experienced and will experience during her weeks of recovery. 
We pledge the support of our Christ-Sophia centered community for Donna, and send her with blessings and prayers from all of us.  She is so important to our fledgling spiritual community, and we need her to be back with us with Janice again next month.  We profess our faith witness to You, and know that You understand our concern for her whole person, body and spirit.
By this anointing with blessed oil, we thank you for Jesus showing us the value of precious care of the sick in body, mind, and spirit. We do this in memory of St. Mary of Magdala who anointed your feet with precious oils, and your broken body for your burial.  We know that only through following Your way of peace, justice, love and acceptance of every person in our world will we come to know true peace in our lives.  Holy Mother Mary, we ask you to walk beside Donna, as you walked with Jesus to Calvary, while her hips heal and she is able to walk with us once again.
We thank Our Father Mother profoundly for all your assistance as we journey through life, and appreciate our Loving God who empowers us to give voices to the sick, the poor, the disenfranchised, for your Love knows no bounds. Amen

Friday, August 10, 2012

LCWR Will Continue Dialogue With Vatican, But Not Compromise the "Integrity of its Mission"/National Catholic Reporter
(Congratulations, Sisters, for your strength and leadership! You will not give in to bullying attempts to control the LCWR by the Vatican. You are leading the way forward for women's empowerment in the Catholic Church. Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
ST. LOUIS -- The organization which represents the majority of U.S. Catholic sisters said Friday afternoon it would continue discussions with church officials regarding a Vatican-ordered takeover, but “will reconsider” if it “is forced to compromise the integrity of its mission.”
The statement by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents some 80 percent of U.S. sisters, came at the end of the group’s annual assembly, held this week in St. Louis.
The sisters were responding to an April 18 mandate by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that ordered the group to revise and place itself under the authority of three U.S. bishops.
Reading aloud from a prepared statement, which came after approval from the 900 sisters gathered at the assembly, LCWR’s president, Franciscan Sr. Pat Farrell, said LCWR membership wanted to use the occasion of the Vatican order “to explain to church leaders LCWR’s mission, values and operating principles.”
As part of the Vatican’s mandate, LCWR has been ordered to place itself under the authority of an “archbishop delegate,” Seattle’s Archbishop Peter Sartain.
LCWR national board is expected to meet with Sartain in St. Louis Sunday for about two hours. The focus of that meeting “will be on beginning to process with him and see how that unfolds,” Farrell said at a press conference.
The LCWR expect “open and honest dialogue” with Sartain that “may lead not only to increasing understanding between the church leadership and women religious, but also to creating more possibilities for the laity and, particularly for women, to have a voice in the church,” the statement said.
“Religious life, as it is lived by the women religious who comprise LCWR, is an authentic expression of this life that must not be compromised,” it said.
“The assembly instructed the LCWR officers to conduct their conversation with Archbishop Sartain from a stance of deep prayer that values mutual respect, careful listening and open dialogue,” the statement said. “The officers will proceed with these discussions as long as possible, but will reconsider if LCWR is forced to compromise the integrity of its mission.”
The statement was approved by a wide majority of the membership, two members of the group told NCR.
Over the past week, LCWR members have been meeting in closed-door “executive sessions” during the assembly to discuss the mandate. Members were asked to keep those discussions confidential.

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At the last executive session, held Friday afternoon, “99.9 percent” of the members present stood and clapped in approval when a final draft of the release was read aloud, said Sr. Nancy Corcoran, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Corondolet of St. Louis who represents her order as an LCWR member.
“People were thrilled,” said Corcoran. “You could have heard the hooting and the cheering and the yelling. It makes me proud. It was worth all the time and effort.”
In their statement, the LCWR members also reference the wide support the group has received from lay people, seen in vigils hosted in cities across the country this week.
LCWR members, the statement reads, recognize that many lay people had urged the group to help “reconcile the differences that exist within the Catholic church” and create “spaces for honest and open conversation on the critical moral and ethical questions that face the global community.”
LCWR’s members also urged their officers “not to allow the work with CDF to absorb the time, energy and resources of the conference nor to let it distract the conference from the work its mission requires,” reads the statement.
Speaking at the press conference Friday, Farrell said that while the process of approval of the statement didn’t involve “voting as such,” the statement “had a high level of approval by the members.”
In order to get a sense of how each of the some 900 gathered felt regarding parts of the statement, one member told NCR following the press conference, the assembly used different colored cards to allow members to express support or disapproval.
When the final draft was read aloud at Friday’s afternoon executive session, said Benedictine Sr. Anne Shepherd, the group gave a “lasting standing ovation” to the final draft.
Asked what she hopes to receive in dialogue with Sartain, Farrell said LCWR wants “to be recognized and be understood as equal in the church.”
“And really we do want to come to the point of having an environment … for the entire Catholic church to search for truth together, to talk about issues that are very complicated. And there is not the environment right now.”
The Vatican’s critique of LCWR said the Vatican congregation identified a "prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith" in the group's programs and "corporate dissent" in the group regarding the church's sexual teachings.
Farrell said during questioning from the press that “dialogue on doctrine is not going to be our starting point.”
“Our starting point will be about our own life and about our understanding of religious life,” Farrell continued. “And the documents, in our view, misrepresent that.”
Following the issuing of the LCWR’s statement Friday, the group is to host a Mass at which the annual transition of the group's top leaders will occur. LCWR’s leadership is composed of a president-elect, president and past president, who govern group collaboratively with the group's secretary, treasurer and executive director.
At the ceremony, Farrell will move to the position of past president, while Franciscan Sr. Florence Deacon, currently LCWR's president-elect, will become its president.
Asked if that change in leadership would affect their dialogue with Sartain, Farrell said the process of having three sisters working together in leadership allows for “continuity.”
“But there is change over and that really speaks to who we are and how we share leadership,” Farrell continued. “It really speaks to who we are...”

LCWR Pesident to Ssters: 'Be Fearless' on Vatican Mandate"/NCR

ST. LOUIS -- Hours before the U.S. Catholic sisters meeting here were expected to decide how to respond to the Vatican’s harsh rebuke of their leadership organization, its president told them to be “truthful, but gentle and absolutely fearless.”
Franciscan Sr. Pat Farrell spoke Friday morning at the annual meeting of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents some 80 percent of 57,000 Catholic sisters in the U.S.
As LCWR’s president, Farrell has been chiefly responsible for handling the Vatican’s rebuke, which came in April 18 mandate ordering the group to revise and place itself under the control of three U.S. bishops.
Taking the stage to a standing ovation, Farrell said that “some larger movement in the church … has landed on LCWR.”
A key question facing LCWR, she said, is “What would a prophetic response to the doctrinal assessment look like?”
“I think it would be humble, but not submissive,” she continued. “Rooted in a solid sense of ourselves, but not self-righteous; truthful, but gentle and absolutely fearless.
“It would ask probing questions. Are we being invited to some appropriate pruning and are we open to it? Is this doctrinal process an expression of concern or an attempt to control?
“Concern is based in love and invites unity. Control through fear and intimidation would be an abuse of power.

"Nun Leaders Believe Most Sisters Don't Want to Submit to Vatican Oversight"/ Washington Post/Will they Decide on Independence from the Vatican?/ Will the Church Soon Have Nunpriests?

..."The sisters this week are considering how to respond to a Vatican plan to “reform” the Silver Spring, Md.-based organization, which bishops say is straying too far from official doctrine on things like the possibility of women priests and not focusing enough on abortion and traditional marriage. Multiple interviews with nun leaders this summer seem to show profound differences with the Vatican on the questions of authority and orthodoxy — who can question official teachings and how?..."
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
I pray that they choose independence and keep on living their prophetic vocations on the margins with the marginalized. My hope is that one day we will rejoice that nuns who are called to priestly ministry in a renewed church will be able to answer that call publically with the full support of their orders!
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Bishops vs. Nuns: Smackdown" /See cartoon video

"Vatican Newspaper Says Melinda Gates "Off the Mark" on Family Planning/ Opposite is True/Vatican Policy Needs to be Changed

VATICAN CITY -- Under the headline "birth control and disinformation," the Vatican newspaper took to task Melinda Gates, wife of the Microsoft founder, who announced in early July that the couple's foundation would give $560 million during the next eight years to increase women's access to artificial contraception.
Written by Giulia Galeotti, a frequent contributor on abortion and other life issues, the article on the front page of the July 29 edition of L'Osservatore Romano said Gates is free to make charitable donations to whomever she wants, but not to spread incorrect information.
In an interview July 10 with The Guardian, a British newspaper, Gates identified herself as a practicing Catholic who "struggled" with the idea of publicly opposing church teaching to promote a project aimed at giving 120 million women in developing countries access to contraceptives by 2020.
Gates said she felt compelled to act to "keep women alive. I believe in not letting women die, I believe in not letting babies die."
In the Vatican newspaper piece, Galeotti wrote, "The American philanthropist is off the mark," the victim of "bad information and persistent stereotypes on this theme. To still believe that by opposing the use of condoms, the Catholic Church leaves women and children to die because of misogynist intransigence is a baseless and shoddy reading" of reality.
Gates told The Guardian that the Catholic church allows natural family planning, but "for our foundation, well, we promote modern tools because these have the most impact." At the same time the church can and should continue to teach women how to space births naturally, she said. "Let a woman choose what it is she would like to use."

Bridget Mary's Reflection:
In a perfect world, in which women are equal partners and a couple decides together to follow nfp, perhaps, natural family planning would work. It is a conscience decision as Melonda Gates points out in the article in L'Osservatore Romano.
 But, in many instances, natural family planning does not work, and if a woman has a irregular cycle, nfp is a problem. Besides, there is nothing wrong, (except in the Vatican's mindset) with using artificial birth control as a means to plan one's family.
There are many exceptions where natural family planning will not be an option.
One example is that millions of women are raped every day.
A woman's life and well-being should be the church's top priority, instead of a policy that condemns artifical birth control.  It is not Melinda Gates who is "off the mark" on family planning, but the Vatican who continues to threat women as second class citizens in the church. This is another example of why the church needs women priests in decision-making roles in the Vatican. Do you honestly believe that the cardinals or bishops would not use artificial birth control if they were bearing children and supporting them? 
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

"The Emerging Drone Culture" by Eugene Robinson/Washiington Post/ A Major Moral Issue in our Back Yards
..."There has been far too little discussion of the moral calculus involved in using flying robots as tools of assassination. At the very least, the whole thing should leave us uneasy. Collateral damage — the killing of innocents — can be minimized but not eliminated. And even if only “bad” people are killed, this isn’t war as we’ve traditionally understood it. Drone attacks are more like state-sponsored homicide....
Just because we can deploy fleets of surveillance drones doesn’t mean we should. Not every incremental gain in security is worth the attendant surrender of privacy and freedom.
I realize that security cameras and debit-card records already keep a pretty good record of my daily movements. I also realize that my computer usage is like a diary of what’s on my mind. Privacy isn’t what it used to be. But this doesn’t mean we have to surrender the little we have left.
The idea of robots acting as guardians of public order has become a staple of dystopian fantasy — “Terminator,” “Minority Report,” “The Matrix.” It is our duty to keep that stuff in the movies, where it belongs. "

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"LCWR 'Gathers Collective Wisdom' of Members to Discern Next Steps" by Joshua J. McElwee/National Catholic Reporter

ST. LOUIS -- The much-anticipated gathering of 900 U.S. Catholic sisters who make up the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) opened here Tuesday night with song, prayer, and references big, small, and in-between to the Vatican’s attempted take-over of the group.
References to the Vatican’s critique of the group, which came in an April 18 announcement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, came early in the two-hour event, with LCWR president Franciscan Sr. Pat Farrell telling the assembled that “we don’t have to remind you that our gathering this week is an historic time in the life of this organization.”
The opening of the annual assembly of LCWR, which represents some 80 percent of U.S. women religious, also included a welcome by St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson and details about how the group’s members would discern steps forward during the gathering, which continues through Friday night.
In its April critique, the Vatican congregation identified a "prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith" in the group's programs and "corporate dissent" in the group regarding the church's sexual teachings.
In a statement June 1, LCWR's national board criticized the Vatican's move, saying it was "based on unsubstantiated accusations and the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency."
According to the Vatican's mandate, LCWR is to place itself under the authority of Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, who is to serve as "archbishop delegate" for the group and is to be assisted in that role by Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio, and Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill.
During an address Tuesday night, Farrell outlined the process by which the group’s members would discuss the Vatican’s mandate in their gathering, saying they want to “gather the collective wisdom of this group to make a response that we hope can be for the good of the church, for the good of LCWR, for the good of religious life throughout the world, and ultimately for the good of the human family.”
Starting Wednesday, LCWR is to host a number of closed door “executive sessions” where members are to discuss the Vatican mandate.
Those meetings, said Farrell, will involve a process “that will be sort of like a seamless garment of discernment.”
“Each individual executive session will have something of contemplative rhythm, something of discussion together,” Farrell continued. “But all of this hopefully will continue unfold as another, and then another, step in an ongoing process...”
...Farrell also mentioned that following the closure of the LCWR assembly Saturday the group’s national board will also meet on its own Sunday morning. Part of that session she said, will include a meeting with Sartain “for the very first conversation that really he’s had with us in any official way” so that “we can communicate with him something of a direction that comes from this group.”
“I suspect that we’re in for a lot of surprises, and a lot of rich moments together,” Farrell ended her remarks..."

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II by Robert Blair Kaiser/NCR

Over the weekend, an editor on the Internet observed that many events this year commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council "seem to be wakes, lamenting and grieving over the lost opportunity."
Rather than wring our hands over what the church has become under back-to-back popes who have acted in an arrogant and authoritarian manner, we should celebrate what Vatican II has already done for us.
It has given us a new view of ourselves. It's made us more free, more human and more at the service of a world that Jesus loved.
It has given us a new view of the church. It's our church, not the pope's church, or the bishops' church, or a priest's church.
It has given us a new view of our place in it. We can think, we can speak, we can act as followers of Jesus in a world that needs us.
Rather than whine over what daddy won't let us do, we can put the Council into play ourselves.
American nuns showed us how.
In 1979, Mercy Sr. Theresa Kane, then the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, told Pope John Paul II the church ought to be ordaining women. Doing that, she implied, the church could break the stained-glass ceiling and give first-class citizenship to half of its membership, the women in the church.
The pope put her down with a scripted lesson from history that was not history. He said U.S. nuns should model themselves on the Blessed Virgin Mary, "who was never a part of the hierarchy, but made all hierarchy possible because she gave to the world the shepherd and bishop of our souls."
The pope wouldn't let Kane give him the answer he deserved -- that in Mary's time, there was no such thing as a hierarchy, and that Jesus was not a bishop. He wasn't even a priest.
Instead of turning tail, Kane and many U.S. nuns went ahead and continued to do what the Council had told them to do: "Update, renew, go back to your sources." They became more free, more human and more at the service of the world.
They were always teachers. Now they became scholars and theologians, chief executives of hospitals, legal aid lawyers, and social workers and martyrs in countries like El Salvador. They took on issues -- peace, economic injustice, racism, women's rights, interfaith relations and environmentalism -- that put them in collegial working relationships with bishops also pushing those causes.
Now Pope Benedict XVI has dissed them for doing that. Too much emphasis, he has said, on feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and finding shelter for the homeless. Why don't the sisters help the bishops speak out on core faith issues like birth control and abortion?
We shall soon see the sisters' answer to that question. They will say the pope can't force them to talk nonsense, and he can't stop them from feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and finding shelter for the homeless.

He can't stop us, either. There's no suppressing of the spirit of Vatican II. John W. O'Malley, a Jesuit historian of the Council, has epitomized it for us. The Council moved us to a new vision of the church:
... from commands to invitations, from laws to ideals, from definition to mystery, from threats to persuasion, from coercion to conscience, from monologue to dialogue, from ruling to service, from withdrawn to integrated, from vertical to horizontal, from exclusion to inclusion, from hostility to friendship, from rivalry to partnership, from suspicion to trust, from static to ongoing, from passive acceptance to active engagement, from fault finding to appreciation, from prescriptive to principled, from behavior modification to inner appropriation. We can put the spirit of the Council into play in our own little part of the universe. We don't have to seize moral leadership from our bishops. They have already lost it with 90 percent of us by covering up for their wayward priests.
With the cogency of our arguments, we can further marginalize our bishops every time they misinform the people and the press about "the Catholic position" on moral issues that are beyond their competence. (The bishops try to confuse us by telling us that moral and political questions are "faith issues." The reasonableness of family planning is a moral issue, and therefore something we come to by reason, not faith. The ordination of women -- well, if we understand politics as an answer to the question, "Who's in charge here?" then that's a political issue.)
We can continue to seek justice with our brothers and sisters across the whole religion landscape (and break bread with them, too).
We can continue to applaud our scholars and theologians and when they give us a take on the Gospel in words that we, our children and grandchildren can understand.
When we find ourselves in backward-thinking parishes, we can start up our own small-faith Eucharistic communities. When enough of us start doing that, the bishops will begin to understand. They need us more than we need them.
[Robert Blair Kaiser, who covered Vatican II for TIME magazine, is the author of five books on the Council. He will be doing an international lecture tour on the council starting in the fall.]

Witness for Peace and Justice at Drone Convention in Los Vegas, Nevada

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"What LCWR Teaches Us about Church Leadership" / Women Priests' Communities Model Non-Hierarchical and Collaborative Leadership Too!

Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Jamie L. Manson nails the real issue here! Like the LCWR, Roman Catholic Women Priests offer a new collaborative and non-hierarchical model for Catholics in grassroots communities .You can find our new directory on our website:, Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Within a generation, women religious allowed their organization to evolve from a system of rigid obedience, to a leadership structure that is non-hierarchical and collaborative. And they demonstrated that this type of community and leadership is not only rooted in the gospel values, it is deeply Catholic in spirit, mission, and belief.

Article by Jamie L. Manson, Published on National Catholic Reporter (

"As move toward the eve of what is undoubtedly the most important general assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the organization’s history, it’s remarkable to take note of how many articles, commentaries, blogs, and cartoons have been dedicated to the Vatican’s scrutiny of women religious.

Though much of this writing about LCWR affirms and supports the sisters, often the comment sections that follow are laced with a few persistent criticisms. They typically go something like this, “It doesn’t matter what happens to these women. Their average age is 70, their numbers are dying out, and no one will care a generation from now. The error of their ways has caused their decline,” and so forth.

Comments like this are mean-spirited in many ways, but for me, the real ugliness comes in how profoundly ageist these sentiments are. Yes, it is true, LCWR is an aging group and the number of women making vows has diminished significantly over the past several decades. (The same, of course, can be said of the Roman Catholic clergy in this country, but traditionalists conveniently overlook that parallel.)

However, just because the majority of women religious are over sixty, does not make them unworthy of attention. The fact that they are an aging organization does not mean that what they are doing is of no value or consequence. The fact that their numbers are shrinking does not mean that they haven’t made significant contributions to the life of the church and that their work and witness are not of crucial importance to the future of the church.

Much of the positive commentary on LCWR has focused on what the sisters have done on behalf of those facing sickness, poverty, and other forms of injustice. Less attention has been paid to the “L” in LCWR: that is, the sisters’ remarkable style of leadership.

Faith-based groups and secular organizations alike can learn volumes from the ways in which women religious have allowed their communities to evolve, and the creative impact that this evolution has had on the way in which they lead their communities.

I recently interviewed a sister for an article unrelated to the LCWR story. In the course of our conversation, she talked about entering the convent in 1959 at the age of twenty. She recounted how “tough” the formation process was in those days.

“They told us what to do. We didn’t have to think for ourselves,” she told me. In that kind of system, she said, “we didn’t have to take any responsibility.”

That was what obedience meant to the sisters back then, and if hierarchy were to have its way, it is the form of obedience to which women religious would return.

But as the sisters began to implement the changes of Vatican II, their notions of leadership and obedience expanded. As LCWR president Sister Pat Farrell told Terry Gross in an interview with NPR last month [6]: “The word obedience comes from the Latin root meaning to hear, to listen. And so as I have come to understand that vow, what it means to me is that we listen to what God is calling us to in the signs of our times.”

Within a generation, women religious allowed their organization to evolve from a system of rigid obedience, to a leadership structure that is non-hierarchical and collaborative. And they demonstrated that this type of community and leadership is not only rooted in the gospel values, it is deeply Catholic in spirit, mission, and belief.

For decades the sisters have been doing all of this transformative work while those who live outside religious communities were still caught up in the caricatures of nuns peddled by everyone from Hollywood to the makers of gag gifts like nunzilla or the boxing nun puppet.

Women religious evolved so rapidly and radically, that most of us didn’t catch up with them until earlier this year, when the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith inadvertently cast a spotlight on their extraordinary lives.

It is true that a small minority of young Roman Catholics are attracted to the counter-cultural ways of the hierarchy, which are marked by patriarchal control, absolute obedience, and the conviction that they are the keepers of unquestionable and unchangeable truths.

But there is more than one way of being counter-cultural in our society. My sense is that more young people are interested in learning from the counter-cultural model exhibited by women religious, which is marked by non-authoritarian leadership, collaborative decision-making, and missions that are driven by actively listen to the needs of the larger community.

The LCWR’s general assembly is a testimony to the nature of the sisters’ leadership style. As is the case with previous assemblies, hours have been set-aside for information-sharing, communal contemplation, and executive sessions where members will exchange ideas about next steps.

Of course, given the weight of the issues they will discern at this year’s gathering, more hours than usual will be devoted to these kinds of meetings.

Women religious have taught us how to be church not simply in the work they do with the marginalized, but in the way in which they organize and lead themselves.

They have set an important precedent, especially for new generations who are exploring ways to develop forms of leadership that are trustworthy, who want to do faith-based, social justice organizing that is free of an evangelical agenda, and who are looking for a tradition that will ground their beliefs and deepen their spiritualties.

Anyone who has seen or read about the traveling exhibit “Women & Sisters: Catholic Sisters in America,” [7] knows that for three hundred years women religious have blazed many trails in the U.S.

They taught young girls and African American children because they knew they would not get an education otherwise. They tended to wounded Confederate and Union soldiers, because, unlike the armies, they had the experience of running over a dozen hospitals. Their unyielding commitment to the poor and the sick also helped mitigate the anti-Catholic sentiment that existed in the U.S. in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

But all along, they have been laboring on another frontier as well. They have been at forming a vision of what inclusive, collaborative, engaged leadership might look like in the Catholic church.

The way in which women religious work -- from their formation process to their engagement with the modern world to their leadership style -- is decades, if not centuries, ahead of the hierarchy that is now attempting to control them.

They have created among themselves a form of church that so many restless Catholics long for: small, supportive, non-hierarchical, intimate communities that are deeply rooted in tradition, devoted to sacramental life, and grounded in outreach to the poor and marginalized.

If we look closely, we might find that they have created and continue to create a model of that church that many of us dream about. "

[Jamie L. Manson received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her columns for NCR earned her a first prize Catholic Press Association award for Best Column/Regular Commentary in 2010.]

NCR will be reporting live from the LCWR assembly all this week. Check daily for coverage. For related coverage on the gathering, see:

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Are these sisters dangerous women? Our culture and the Vatican poke fun at nuns, but only because they find them threatening" Aug. 06, 2012 By Patrick T. Reardon/National Catholic Reporter/Excellent Article
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Yes, they are a threat to the hierarchy because they follow Jesus's example of standing on the margins with the outcasts of our time. Their focus is not on obeying man-made canon laws, but on living Jesus' compassion and love for all especially those who are rejected, poor and oppressed today. The nuns are not into power over others, but service to the needy and forsaken, the broken Body of Christ among us. 
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

St. Mary of Magdala Liturgy in Falls Church, VA. on July 22, 2012/All Video Clips

Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, 
On July 22, there was a special liturgy to celebrate the Feast of Saint Mary of Magdala.

Below are links to ALL of the video clips (14) of the liturgy. (In a previous message, only the first 6 links were available.).  

Procession and Gathering Song…


Greeting, Penitential Rite and Gloria…

First Reading and Litany…


Profession of Faith…

Prayers of the Faithful…

Preparation of Gifts…

Eucharistic Prayer…

Sign of Peace and Breaking of Bread…


Communion Meditation…

Concluding Rite…
The above links lead to videos on YouTube – YouTube account is NOT needed to view them. Once a video appears on the screen, you can adjust its size, by using the buttons in the lower right corner of the video — buttons pictured below. The buttons are from left to right, small (default), medium (half-screen) and large (full screen).


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Home Church Liturgy in Falls Church on Aug. 5, 2012

Jack Meehan, Jackie, Bridget Mary, Judy Lee, Judy Beaumont
Jack Meehan, Comfort Boadu, Bridget Mary, Judy Lee, Judy Beaumont

"Losing Faith- Abuse Cover and the Catholic Church with Fr. Thomas Doyle"

Episode Breakdown

00:01 Welcome to Media Mayhem.00:34 Introducing Fr. Thomas Doyle.02:20 Is the church hierarchy set up to prevent victims from speaking out?03:30 Was it intimidating to confront the church on sexual abuse?05:29 The church dismisses the allegations as a media conspiracy and renounce Fr. Doyle’s work.08:25 On Pope John Paul: “He could have done something, and he did nothing.”10:51 Pope Benedict XVI, his complicity in the scandal, and what he should do.13:37 Continued criminal trials against church leadership for allowing abuse.16:32 Should have Archbishop Mahony been indicted?20:21 Canon law and private documents.21:27 The church defense of non-disclosure–”just following orders.”23:23 Is there any correlation between gays in the priesthood and abuse?25:47 The church’s response to his study on sexual abuse cases.27:47 Why did so many predators gravitate to the church?30:53 The Mayhem Round with Nick.31:12 The Scottish government and same-sex marriage.33:00 The Church’s response to losing parishioners and the ceremonial weight of the church.36:59 Fr. Thomas’ take on being a military chaplain, and the additional “human care work” with the military.39:52 “Do you still consider yourself Catholic?”40:46 What the church hierarchy can do to make amends.42:19 “Who should be prosecuted?”44:45 The lingering effects of abuse on people.46:11 Thank you and goodbye.