Saturday, September 1, 2012

Testimony about Bishop ‘Misspoken’ in Priest Sex Abuse Case


"Band of Sisters" New Documentary on the Story of Catholic Nuns in the United States/Enjoy!
*Band of Sisters* is a documentary film that tells the unforgettable story
of Catholic nuns in the United States: how they responded wholeheartedly to
the call of Vatican II, risked everything in their unwavering commitment to
social justice, and made a remarkable transformation from "daughters of the
church" into citizens of the world. Watch for it as it goes on the road.

Cardinal Carlo Martini Who Said Church '200 years behind' Died'/BBC Report/ Cardinal Had Progressive Views on Birth Control, Divorce and Role of Women etc.

The cardinal died on Friday, aged 85.

"Our culture has grown old, our churches are big and empty and the church bureacracy rises up, our religious rites and the vestments we wear are pompous."

"Catholics lacked confidence in the Church, he said. "Our culture has grown old, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our religious rites and the vestments we wear are pompous."
Unless the Church adopted a more generous attitude towards divorced persons, it will lose the allegiance of future generations, the cardinal added. The question, he said, is not whether divorced couples can receive holy communion, but how the Church can help complex family situations.
He was not afraid, our correspondent adds, to speak his mind on matters that the Vatican sometimes considered taboo, including the use of condoms to fight Aids and the role of women in the Church.
In 2008, for example, he criticised the Church's prohibition of birth control, saying the stance had likely driven many faithful away, and publicly stated in 2006 that condoms could "in some situations, be a lesser evil".
And the advice he leaves behind to conquer the tiredness of the Church was a "radical transformation, beginning with the Pope and his bishops".

Franciscan Order Apologizes for Fr. Benedict Groeschel's Comments Blaming Victim for Child Sexual Abuse

"The Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal sincerely apologizes for the comments made by Fr. Benedict Groeschel in an interview released yesterday by the National Catholic Register, online edition.In that interview, Fr. Benedict made comments that were inappropriate and untrue. A child is never responsible for abuse. Any abuser of a child is always responsible, especially a priest. Sexual abuse of a minor is a terrible crime and should always be treated as such. We are sorry for any pain his comments may have caused. Fr. Benedict has dedicated his life to helping others and these comments were completely out of character. He never intended to excuse abuse or implicate the victims. We hope that these unfortunate statements will not overshadow the great good Fr. Benedict has done in housing countless homeless people, feeding innumerable poor families, and bringing healing, peace and encouragement to so many..."

Friday, August 31, 2012

Father Benedict Groeschel, American Friar, Claims Teens Seduce Priests In Some Sex Abuse Cases
"In a recent interview with the National Catholic Register, Father Benedict Groeschel, of the conservative Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, said that teens act as seducers in some sexual abuse cases involving priests.
It's been close to a decade since an investigation into clergy sex abuse cases by The Boston Globe unearthed a shocking scandal and cover-up that rocked the foundations of the Catholic Church in the U.S. and around the world.
Ten years may have passed, but the wounds have yet to fully heal in America, especially in light of the recent Penn State allegations, as well as the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, former secretary for the clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
In light of this, the recent comments by Groeschel seem both puzzling and jarringly out of step with current sentiments.
In an interview with the National Catholic Register posted this week, Groeschel was asked about his work with the very conservative Friars of the Renewal, a breakaway order he founded 25 years ago. The conversation took an interesting turn, however, when the editor asked about the 78-year-old's work with sexual abuse perpetrators.
"People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath," Groeschel said. "But that’s not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer."
Pressed for clarification, the New York State-based religious leader explained that kids looking for father figures might be drawn to priests to fill an emotional hole in their lives."
"Furthermore, Groeschel expressed a belief that most of these "relationships" are heterosexual in nature, and that historically sexual relationships between men and boys have not been thought of as crimes.
"If you go back 10 or 15 years ago with different sexual difficulties — except for rape or violence — it was very rarely brought as a civil crime. Nobody thought of it that way... And I’m inclined to think, on [a priest's] first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime..."

Clarification: Information has been added to the article to indicate that the Legion of Christ is no longer an owner of the publication.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

George Mason University Dept. of Women and Gender Studies and WOC Invite You to Virginia Premiere of "Pink Smoke Over the Vatican"

GMU Department of Women and Gender Studies and
WOC invite you to the Virginia premiere of
Pink Smoke Over the Vatican
with special guest Fr. Roy Bourgeois!
Monday, September 17, 2012
7- 9 PM
Film * Discussion * Reception
Free and open to students and the public!
Johnson Center Cinema
George Mason University See Map
Closest parking: Mason Pond Parking Garage
This award-winning documentary tells the passionate stories of women seeking priestly
 ordination in the Roman Catholic Church, despite controversy and threats of
excommunication. Running time: 58 minutes.
View the Trailer
Following the film, join women's ordination activists in discussion:

Fr. Roy Bourgeois, M.M., Nobel Peace Prize Nominee
Rev. Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, Roman Catholic Woman Bishop
Jeannette Mulherin, Women's Ordination Conference Board Member
Kate Conmy, Women's Ordination Conference Membership Director
RSVP on Facebook
For more information, contact the Women's Ordination Conference
Show WOC some love!

Like us on FacebookView our profile on LinkedInFollow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube

Founded in 1975, the Women's Ordination Conference is the oldest and largest organization that works to ordain women as priests, deacons and bishops into an inclusive and accountable Catholic church. WOC represents the 63 percent of US Catholics, and millions of Catholics worldwide, that support women's ordination. WOC also promotes new perspectives on ordination that call for more accountability and less separation between the clergy and laity.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Does the USCCB allow for the use of abortifacients in cases of rape? by Jamie L Manson on Aug. 28, 2012, National Catholic Reporter/ Critics Including Paul Ryan Should Check Out Catholic Bishops Guidelines


"...At its convention this week, the Republican National Committee will put forward a platform calling for a constitutional ban on abortion that makes no exceptions for rape or incest. And vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan said recently in a television interview that abortion is immoral and should be illegal "regardless of the method of conception."
Ryan's statement came in the same interview where he grudgingly agrees that "rape is rape," effectively recanting his previously held position that one can distinguish "forcible rape" from other kinds of rape. If you watch the video, you may note his tone is as callous as the language he used to describe sexualized violence as just another "method of conception."
As much as Missouri Rep. Todd Akin has been vilified for expressing his now-infamous lesson in "legitimate rape," at some level we must be grateful for his lack of an internal filter. If not for his candor, the convictions held both by the RNC platform and Ryan might never have come to light quite so clearly.
Several dark truths about the conservative views of rape, women's bodies and abortion were revealed by Akin's weird science. But perhaps the grimmest of all is Akin's belief that he had found a litmus test by which we can decide whether a rape truly happened or whether it was a false claim. By Akin's reasoning, if a woman didn't get pregnant from the assault, she truly was forcibly raped. However, if she did conceive, then we have reason to believe she is either making a false claim or deep down, truly wanted the sex act.
While Akin may trace his beliefs back to his ultraconservative Presbyterian Church in America roots (a church that is distinct from the mainline Presbyterian Church U.S.A), Paul Ryan grounds his belief in the Roman Catholic tradition. Unfortunately, for Ryan, the church's position on abortion in cases of rape and incest might not be as clear-cut as he would like.
Ryan and other Catholics who like to profess their ideas about abortion in the case of rape would do well to consult with Catholics who actually deal, often on a daily basis, with women (and undoubtedly men) who are victims of rape. A great starting point would be those who work in trauma units in Catholic hospitals.
In their invaluable "Special Report: Emergency Contraception," the Catholic Health Association takes on the topic of emergency contraception for victims of sexual assault. The issue does an excellent job of debunking the myth that the emergency contraception medication like Plan B is an abortifacient. The report was published in January 2010, two years before the battle over the Health and Human Services mandate ignited a firestorm of debate over whether, among other issues, President Barack Obama would be forcing Catholic institutions to pay for so-called abortifacients like Plan B.
Many bishops, Catholic commentators and other conservative voices continue to argue that the HHS mandate's provision of Plan B would force church institutions to violate their consciences because it can potentially cause an abortion. But a closer look at the USCCB's "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services" suggests that even the U.S. bishops support the use of "medications" on victims of rape that seem to work in precisely the same way that Plan B does:
"Compassionate and understanding care should be given to a person who is the victim of sexual assault. Health care providers should cooperate with law enforcement officials and offer the person psychological and spiritual support as well as accurate medical information. A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If, after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization."
Although the bishops never name specific medications, it is Plan B that can "prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization." As I have written previously in NCR, Plan B releases a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone called progestin, which thickens cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to enter the uterus. The drug can also stop the ovaries from releasing an egg. If an egg has already been released, Plan B can slow down the movement of the egg. By slowing down both the egg and the sperm, it prevents fertilization. (Both IUDs and the controversial emergency contraception drug ella work in a similar way)..."

[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.]

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cardinal Dolan Should Challenge Ryan Budget and Pray for the Poor at Republican Convention

The media is now describing Cardinal Timothy Dolan's plans to give the closing benediction at the Republican National Convention as "a huge coup for Mitt Romney."
If Dolan appears in Tampa on Thursday and remains silent about the bishops' opposition to Paul Ryan's draconian budget plan, voters and reporters alike will be left with the impression that the church hierarchy is outright endorsing the GOP ticket.
But it's not too late for Dolan to show that the Catholic Church will never be captive to a political party. Already over 16,000 of us have signed a petition urging him to use his appearance to pray for for the millions of vulnerable Americans who'd be harmed by the Ryan budget.

 Michael, Nick, and the whole Faithful America team

Monday, August 27, 2012

St. Clare and St. Francis of Assisi Memorial Chapel: Home to Roman Catholic Women Priests in Mayne Island, Canada

A small private Chapel on beautiful Mayne Island has, since 2005, been the spiritual
home of Roman Catholic Womenpriests in the area. On August 19th, 2012, the newly
ordained priest Victoria Marie of East Vancouver together with Priests Michele Birch-
Conery of Nanaimo and Rose Mewhort of Galiano Island con-celebrated the Eucharist
in the St Clare and St Francis of Assisi Memorial Chapel. Present to lay hands on Vikki
were Archdeacon Ellen Willingham; Andrew Loveridge of Galiano; Terry Engel of
Victoria; Pat Rupper and Pat McSherry of Vancouver; Yvette Buziak and Patricia
Fitzgerald of Mayne Island. Victoria Marie will write in a future Journal about her
ordination and the formation of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community in
East Vancouver.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community
The Chapel has a long and interesting history. It was built in the early 80's by Tom
Fitzgerald on his own property as place for Catholics to worship, and as happens in
small communities, many folk helped with the construction who belonged to other faith
traditions or none. It has always been an ecumenical Chapel. The Diocese refused
ownership though offered a loan at 5% interest which was declined in favour of
donations and volunteer labour.
Many Catholic families visiting Mayne Island worshipped in the Chapel of St Francis in
the Woods over nearly 30 years until Tom passed away on Jan 1st 2003. At this time, Church
authorities announced that the Chapel was closed and the Catholics started meeting at
the Anglican Church of St Mary Magdalene on Mayne Island. The pews and altar were
removed from the Chapel - even the wood stove was removed. However, knowing
Tom's desire for his Chapel to carry on serving after his death, his wife Patricia asked
the authorities: "How can you close a private Chapel?" Patricia also knew that Tom
privately favoured a married clergy and believed that women should be treated as equals
in the Church. She opened the Chapel to all who wished to use it and received many
donations, including another wood stove, chairs and cushions, and sacred objects from
various religious traditions that adorn the Chapel walls and altars today.
In 2004 the Chapel's sponsorship was taken over by The Victoria Human Exchange
Society a grassroots group that houses homeless people by sharing life's gifts much as
the early Christians did. VHES uses the chapel as a sacred space where members can go
for days of Retreat away from the city . On these days the marginalized persons who are
used to living at survival level in isolation and hopelessness, spend time learning about
tools for living with others, sharing gifts, and supporting one another towards a healthier
community in justice, peace and compassion. Comments from participants include: “We
live in an age of anxiety, but being with like-minded people can bring comfort and
peace”; “A ray of hope!”; “This is the human spirit at it's peak”; “Very productive - I feel
I have a safe place to say what I need without being judged”; " VHES has a life to it.
The Creator Spirit - a life force -- promotes it and propels it to make choices.” - Services--Mayne Island Branch
In 2005, Patricia heard of the prophetic obedience of women who felt called to the
priesthood and read of Priest Michele Birch-Conery's presence on Vancouver Island. She
sent Michele a ferry ticket and invited her to come and make the Chapel the home of the
RCWP for the area. Patricia knew that this meant implicit excommunication but saw
obedience to the Spirit as far more important than keeping man-made rules. Since then,
many beautiful liturgies and retreats have been held at what was renamed, the St Clare
and St Francis of Assisi Memorial Chapel. RCWP Bishop, Patricia Fresen, led a Retreat
here as early as 2006, when Monica Kilburn Smith and Jim Lauder were still on the path
to the diaconate and 3 other women were considering RCWP ordination. Jim Lauder
celebrated his First Eucharist at the chapel in 2007 and went on to form the St Iris Faith
Community in Victoria. The St Iris members look forward to a retreat day on Mayne
Island on October 28th, 2012.
In the Fall of 2008, Rose Mewhort, from Galiano Island came on the path to ordination
soon after attending an RCWP gathering at the chapel and not long afterwards, Kim
Sylvester, a long-time friend of Jim’s followed Rose. For a year, our gatherings
consisted of an equal number of priests, ordinands and persons from Mayne and
Vancouver Islands. In the summer of 2008, Bishop Patricia Fresen ordained Rose and
Kim to the diaconate and in 2009, to the priesthood. Kim began gathering a worship
community in Duncan and Rose became the priest for Mayne Island. Then we had a
year of retreat as it were, a time of various kinds of development until Victoria Marie
came on the path to ordination too after experiencing a concelebrated Eucharist with
Rose and me. She soon visited Rose on Galiano for retreat and quiet times as she
progressed towards her ordination. At those times, she also came to liturgy at the chapel
and it was only fitting that she should come again soon after her ordination to the
priesthood. All of us, once again recognized the chapel and the presence of the Spirit in
the chapel as one of our powerful heart-homes and Vikki, now with us, expands our
range of welcome to embrace another new beginning in the reality of her community,
Our Lady of Guadaloupe Tontanzin in Vancouver.
I always experience the chapel space as somewhere where I re-ground myself in the
foundational time we are still in, but without Patricia Fitzgerald’s personal prophetic
strength together with Rose’s deeply contemplative spirituality with the community,
none of this would have been possible. We continue with an unexplained vitality and
appreciation for everyone's personal gifts and the gift of the chapel space when we
come again to the Mayne Island community.
But many other groups began to use the sacred space and its peaceful surroundings
including Peter Renner, Buddhist lay monk, who regularly holds day long silent
retreats. Local persons and groups hold healing sessions, meditation workshops and
meetings to share insights and build community. The Chapel has become an interfaith
and inter spiritual sacred space. So the decision was made to gain charitable status for
the Chapel by incorporating the Mayne Island Awakening to Spirit Foundation, with
the purpose of promoting Gatherings, maintaining the building, paying travel costs and
fees for service. Charitable status was gained for MIASF in June of 2012, making it
possible to give charitable receipts for donations. On Sunday September 16th, the
Foundation will hold the third Annual General Meeting followed by an RCWP liturgy.
All are welcome! Should you wish to support this worthy cause, please send cheques to
MIASF at 313 Mariners Way, Mayne Island, V0N 2J2
Co-authored by Patricia Fitzgerald and Michele Birch-Conery
Photos from Victoria Marie's ordination to the priesthood, JULY 29, 2012
and from her concelebration with Rose and me on August 19, 2012.

"First Confirmation in U.S. by a Woman Priest" News Coverage

CORALVILLE (KWWL) - "The order of the Mass is similar. Some hymns you may recognize. But the language of the prayers is more gender neutral, and in the Roman Catholic Women Priests, women can preside over Mass. Sunday, Iowa's only ordained woman priest, Mary Kay Kusner, helped a female bishop confirm two teenage girls into their faith. "It's an affirmation that they, too, resonate with the truth of the gospel which is for inclusion," said Kusner, Pastor of Full Circle Catholic Faith Community. Roman Catholic Women Priests began in 2002 when a priest ordained seven women on the Danube River. Since then, those women have helped ordain more women. Now there's female priests across the world. "Our hope, of course, has been that this movement would grow and so today is very much evidence that the call is growing," said Kusner. In the traditional Roman Catholic Church, women can't be priests. In fact, any ordained woman, or any man who performed the ceremony, is ex-communicated." "We believe that we follow the laws of Jesus and Jesus himself broke some of the laws," said Regina Nicolosi, Roman Catholic Women Priests Bishop. Other key differences include: Roman Catholic Women Priests accept the LGBTQ community, and welcome anyone to take communion. In the traditional church, only those who profess the faith can take communion..." For the church's newest adult members, it's the differences that make Roman Catholic Women Priests the church for them. "It is a very inclusive church and I like actually being able to have my input in the church," said Abigail Grothe, church member. "I feel like it's a lot warmer to everybody," said Cora Bern-King, church member. Leaders in the Roman Catholic Women Priests call it a hopeful movement. They believe one day the Roman Catholic Church will accept them as leaders of the faith."