Friday, November 2, 2012

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests Responds to Ecclesiastical Bullying by Officials from Diocese of St. Augustine for Threat to Deny Sacraments to Catholic Couple Who Attended Woman Priest-Led Liturgy

Dear Rev. Timothy Lindenfelser, Bishop Felipe J. Estevez and Rev. John Phillips:

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) is saddened by your recent letter threatening to deny sacraments to Tom and Gwen Umlauf, faithful Catholics, who attended a liturgy at which one of our priests, Dena O'Callaghan, presided. Your threat to use denial of the sacraments to Tom, Gwen and anyone who attends women-priest led liturgies is an example of ecclesiastical bullying that Catholics everywhere are challenging.
We note that your letter condemns Dena O’Callaghan but fails to mention her husband, John , a Roman Catholic priest who presides alternately with her at Catholic Masses in their local communities in Ocala and elsewhere.
Even, if you oppose the ordination of women as priests, it is unconscionable that you would single out a dedicated Catholic couple like Tom and Gwen Umlauf, and threaten to deny
access to the sacramental life of the Church for attending a liturgy celebrated by a woman priest.

Roman Catholic Women Priests are living prophetic obedience to God who calls us to lead
our church into a new era of gender justice rooted in Jesus’ example of Gospel equality and partnership. Even Vatican biblical scholars support our position. In 1976, the Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded that there is no evidence in Scripture that would prohibit women’s ordination in the Catholic Church. Sexism is a sin. The institutional church
cannot continue to discriminate against women and blame God for it.
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests ( is walking in the
footsteps of women like Saints Mother Theodore Guerin and Mary McKillop, both of whom were excommunicated by their bishops and canonized by Pope Benedict.
Primacy of Conscience takes priority over all laws. Therefore, Catholics, in all situations
must follow their consciences. We affirm Gwen and Tom for their love of the church and courageous act of prophetic obedience to the Spirit.

Like the prophets who spoke truth to power, we challenge this example of ecclesiastical
bullying as anti-Jesus and anti-Catholic.Your attempt to sever members of the
body of Christ, buth they know that nothing can separate us from the love of God in
Christ Jesus (Romans 3:35-39).

We call you, Rev. Timothy Lindenfelser, Bishop Felipe J. Estevez and Rev. John Phillips,
to walk in the footsteps of Jesus as our brothers and partners in ministry in a
renewed priestly ministry.

From: The  Leadership Circle of ARCWP:
Dena O'Callaghan, Dorothy Shugrue, Judy Lee, Bridget Mary Meehan

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bishop Emil Wcela Urged "Public Consideration" of Women Deacons?/But Will Women Deacons Be a Step Forward? by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Dear Friends,
In a recent article in America magazine, Bishop Emil Wcela urged "public consideration" of women deacons on the part of bishops, bishop conferences, theologians, historians and all concerned Catholics.
Cardinal George promised to raise the issue of women deacons in Rome after a Chicago parish asked him to support the candidacy of a woman leader to the permanent diaconate. At this writing, we know groups have met or are meeting with bishops in three other U.S. dioceses.
FutureChurch has developed a brand new resource: Women Deacons: Why Not Now? to help Catholics learn the rich history of female deacons, discover why the Church should restore the female diaconate, and implement a discernment process to surface women candidates to present to the bishop of their diocese.
In the past year, FutureChurch's Save Our Parish Community project catalyzed a landmark change in Vatican policy. We discovered it IS possible to influence Rome once a critical mass decides to do something.
Please help us create a new critical mass on behalf of women, especially women preachers, in our church. The packet contains everything you need to educate and advocate for women deacons in the Catholic Church.
We hope to create local networks of people willing to work on this issue. Email us if you are interested in becoming a local educator and/or activist in your diocese
Thanks so much.
Liz England Chris Schenk
Bridget Mary's Response: Will Catholic Women Deacons Be a Step Forward?
I am not sure women deacons will be a step forward if they are subordinate. Will the Vatican do it as positive "PR" effort to placate millions of Catholics, including priests and bishops pushing for women's ordination?
Perhaps it is closer than we think.

 Pope Benedict has paved the way with a recent statement indicating the difference between priest and deacon in the church's theology.
However, in this view, women deacons would still be subordinate. The institutional church's view states that the priest must bear a physical resemblance to Christ, and thus, must be male to represent Christ at the altar!  Ladies, need not apply to this all-male boys club! 

In Galations 3;28, St. Paul reminds us that our baptism makes us equal images of Christ.   

Perhaps, our initiative, the  international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement has propelled the Vatican to move forward with the ordination of women as permanent deacons. 
Sister Chris Schenk of Future Church and Call to Action and dedicated scholars, like Phyllis Zagano  and John Wijngaaards, have been promoting the ordination of women to the diaconate for years.

In my view, women should not settle for second-class citizenship in our church.  Yes, of course, women deacons will be a first step in the direction of  women's ordination to the priesthood. However, what is needed is a renewed priestly ministry in a community of equals. This is the reason that RCWP is a major challenge. Our Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is a renewed model  of priestly ministry that is open, egalitarian and represents an end to the clericalism that is at the heart of Vatican patriarchy. We need women deacons and priests who are united with the people with whom they serve as equals and partners! Adding a collar and stirring is not enough and could be a step backward!

As we know,  thousands of women deacons were around for the first 1000+ years of the church's history, so it is nothing new and this is what the Vatican will say when they announce it!
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

Etymology and History of the Stole/Liturgical Vestment/ Symbol of Service/Linked to Washing of Feet

"The word stole derives via the Latin stola, from the Greek στολή (stolē), "garment", originally "array" or opted by the Church of Rome about the seventh century (the stole having also been adopted in other locales prior to this), the stole became gradually narrower and so richly ornamented that it developed into a mark of dignity. Nowadays, the stole is usually wider and can be made from a wide variety of material. There are many theories as to the "ancestry" of the stole. Some say it came from the tallit(Jewish prayer mantle), because it is very similar to the present usage (as in the minister puts it on when he or she leads in prayer) but this theory is no longer regarded much today. More popular is the theory that the stole originated from a kind of liturgical napkin called an orarium(cf. orarion) very similar to the sudarium. In fact, in many places the stole is called the orarium. Therefore it is linked to the napkin used by Christ in washing the feet of his disciples, and is a fitting symbol of the yoke of Christ, the yoke of service...."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Article on Polish Rape Victim and Abortion Access"

A friend sent this article to me with the comment:
"It's pretty much the same story, revisited in 2012 Poland, as the 2009 episode of the the nine-year-old Brazilian rape victim whom the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, tried to prevent from having an abortion, regardless of the fact that she would otherwise have died.
  Both cases strip RC doctrine of any semblance of Christianity: for the sake of preserving their power, discredited and seemingly unaccountable men will crucify women's lives, not to mention rights, hence our own and those of our children."
Bridget Mary's Response:
I will never understand how the Vatican and/or hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church can continue to oppose contraceptives that reduce abortions and save lives.
Both these cases above  involve minors who have been raped.  In one or both cases, the girls would not survive a live birth and the church stepped in and mandated that they put their lives at risk.
 If it was your daughter, what would you do?  What do you think Jesus would do?

"Canada's First Female Catholic Priest Says Church Must Be More Inclusive " /The Daily News/Canada.Com
Michele Birch-Conery, Canada's first Roman Catholic Woman Priest
As the first woman in Canada to be ordained as a Roman Catholic priest, Nanaimo resident Michele Birch-Conery's perspective on the church is nothing if not unique...First becoming a deacon in a ceremony on the Danube River, Birch-Conery was then subsequently ordained as a priest on July 25, 2005 on the deck of a boat floating in international waters on the St. Lawrence River. She maintains that the way that she was ordained is valid, and represents just the beginning of the entry of women into the role of "servant leaders" within the Catholic Church...

..."At 73, Birch-Conery said her mission now, and that of the Womenpriests Movement, is to simply promote sacramental faith communities that are inclusive. They will continue to ordain women, she said, at last count there being more than 120.
There is also a vigilant desire, as priests, to not become too "clericalist" in nature.
"So using a circle model of communication, more than top-down," said Birch-Conery.
"We have to work with how we've been socialized in this church around having power," she added. "Or no power."
The vision Birch-Conery holds for the future of her faith is simple. She imagines that Catholicism, like Judaism, will eventually divide into two camps that co-exist, one Orthodox and one more inclusive, with each accepting the other." 250-729-4238
Victoria Marie and Michele are co-presiding
one of her first Eucharists after her ordination July 29, 2012.
We are in the chapel of Sts. Clare and Francis on Mayne Island.
From left to right Michele Birch-Conery, Rose Mewhort with drum,Vikki,her friend from Vancouver,
and Ellen Willingham, Anglican priest from Pender Island.