Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Collisions with Clericalism Put Woman on Path to Ordination" by Jason Berry in the National Catholic Reporter

The forces that drove Dougherty to profess priestly vows are a parable of today's church, as divided in America as in Europe, where 144 theologians in Germany, Austria and Switzerland signed a 2011 declaration defying Pope Benedict XVI in support of women's ordination. Dougherty, who spent 23 years as a nun earlier in her life, followed a pull of conscience to "the same basic calling" in violation of church law.
Five other women, well along the road of middle life, were ordained as deacons in the same Mass held at First Metropolitan Community Church, which historically serves gays and lesbians. Bridget Mary Meehan, a bishop affiliated with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, came from her home in Virginia to preside. About 300 people attended, among them relatives of the newly ordained, a few scampering grandchildren; groups from Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky and Louisiana; 15 other women priests in the movement; and two women in black robes of the Episcopal clergy.
The ceremony was the latest held by the association. Since 2004 when a male bishop, who has remained anonymous, ordained seven women on a ship in the middle of the Danube River, about 100 women have joined the movement in America and about 150 worldwide. Unlike the male hierarchy, the association is decentralized. The women hold liturgies in homes, on college campuses and in non-Catholic sacred spaces; they have small teaching and outreach ministries.
The official church has not accepted them. "I can say I'm the queen of England and it doesn't make it so," Mercy Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have banned even the discussion of women priests. Benedict has said John Paul's prohibition on women priests is infallible teaching, though some church scholars dispute it.
In 2007, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared: "One who attempts to confer sacred ordination on a woman, and she who attempts to receive sacred ordination, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See."
"It means that excommunication takes place immediately," New Jersey canon lawyer Fr. Kenneth Lasch told NCR.
"There is a hitch, though," said canonist Dominican Fr. Tom Doyle. "Automatic excommunication basically means that it is not publicized. Only the excommunicated one knows it for sure and is obliged in conscience to observe the penalty. … Most of the women priests I have helped were concerned [about the excommunication] and then got to the point -- a healthy one, I think -- where it did not matter."
Legion battles
The same Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith document singles out clerics who molest children "to be punished according to the gravity of his crime, not excluding dismissal" from the priesthood. In 2006 the Vatican ordered the Legion of Christ founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, a notorious pedophile who fathered children with two women, to "a reserved life of prayer and penitence." Maciel, who died in 2008, was never excommunicated.
The Legion, which now functions under a unique Vatican receivership, faces a lawsuit in Connecticut over alleged incest by Maciel. Another lawsuit in Rhode Island, accusing the order of defrauding a widow of $60 million, was recently dismissed; the complainant is considering an appeal.
With the Legion selling real estate in the Northeast, Atlanta has become its most important geographic center in the U.S. Fr. Luis Garza, who was formerly the vicar general and second in command in Rome, is listed on the Atlanta roster as "territorial director" for North America. Legion priests run the archdiocesan retreat center, a school and a parish. Regnum Christi is active in many Atlanta parishes. Under Archbishop John Donoghue's 1993-2004 tenure, Regnum Christi members staffed key archdiocesan offices.
In 1997, the Atlanta archdiocese hired Dougherty as director of early childhood/elementary catechesis. She soon recoiled from Regnum Christi's tactics of psychological coercion and its enormous focus on fundraising and the luring of wealthy supporters.
She sought help from Atlanta priests, to no avail. In summer courses at Boston College for a master's in theology, she wrote papers detailing the steamroller tactics. She wrote memos to Atlanta priests raising alarm bells.
She lost her job in 2001 under a restructuring by the senior administrator, a Regnum Christi deacon who has since retired. Documents Dougherty provided NCR confirm that she negotiated a 14-week severance check and letters of recommendation.
The archdiocese's director of human resources, Zoe A. Johnson, was sacked not long after Dougherty. She wrote Dougherty in 2003: "So many have suffered because of this tyrannical administration." The letter from Johnson, who has since died, continues:
Fear dictates actions and decisions. The pleas of help I received regarding dismissals subsequent to my [departure] are astonishing. My sincere sympathy goes out to those wonderful people whose futures and faith have been shattered. I pray the blood-bath is over. … The administration and fundraisers have brazenly deceived the Catholic community.
Donoghue retired in 2004 and died last year. Wilton Gregory succeeded him as Atlanta archbishop.
With a master's degree in education and years of experience as a teaching nun, Dougherty landed a job as a Georgia public school teacher in 2001. Last year, she retired on Social Security and a modest pension from the Georgia schools. After the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests correspondence courses and personal sessions with leaders of the movement, she moved toward ordination.
Dougherty grew up in a large family in Painesville, Ohio. "Dad quit school in eighth grade. He worked on a railroad and in his brother's bar," she recalled. "Mother graduated high school. They pounded into our heads: Get an education. I sang the Latin Mass in choir. My two sisters and I had scholarships for high school at Villa Angela Academy in Cleveland -- 60 miles, three buses each day. I had Ursulines there, but when I graduated I joined the Sisters of Humility, who taught me in elementary school. They were happy, they laughed." When she was laid out with a back injury at age 14, making up lessons at home, those were the nuns who visited her.
She entered the Sisters of Humility convent in Villa Maria, Pa., in the fall of 1963, a year after the opening of the Second Vatican Council. "I'd never experienced an atmosphere so bright and intellectually stimulating," she continued. "The process of change had begun before I got there. The nuns wanted a renewed community. There was lots of conversation with sisters who did not want to change. We studied, prayed and voted, reaching a consensus" for greater social outreach.
She attended St. John's College in Cleveland, and in 1967 she began teaching at a largely white, blue-collar parish, Blessed Sacrament, with 48 students in a class. "They were very tough children. Two years later I went to a parish in Bay Village [Ohio], which was middle to upper class, with only 37 children in the class. The contrast was amazing."
The sisters at Blessed Sacrament, she recalled, "were my mentors. I was the youngest nun at 23, the oldest was 37. We visited the homes of children if needs arose."
Of the 25 women with whom she made final vows, five are left. Several died; most, like Dougherty, became disenchanted and left.
In summers off from teaching she earned a master's degree in education with extra courses in counseling, dyslexia and family education. After five years of parish work in Pittsburgh, in 1980 she went back to her hometown and her old parish grade school, St. Mary's. One night a teacher showed up at the door of the four nuns, asking for a meal. "Her salary didn't cover enough at the end of the month to eat," Dougherty said. "The pastor hired two teachers with far less experience but was paying them more than other teachers in the school with more experience. ... He said if we didn't like his decision, we could leave."
The sisters' superior appealed to Cleveland Bishop Anthony Pilla, arguing that the pastor failed to follow the diocesan salary scale, to no avail. After a 107-year history at the parish, the sisters left. "Parishioners were upset with us for leaving but we could not tell them why -- a devastating lesson about power," Dougherty said.
She went back to Blessed Sacrament in Cleveland, which had become a magnet for Mexican and Salvadoran immigrants, in a community of 11 socially conscious nuns. The sister doing Hispanic ministry ran afoul the pastor. "It was a collision of class and culture, clerics and sisters," Dougherty said. "People who donated to the parish did not want the ministry." The pastor ordered the nun in Hispanic ministry to leave. All 11 left in solidarity.
In 1983, Dougherty took a job as a family life minister in Lithia Springs, Ga., organizing religious education. Then the priest who hired her was transferred; the new pastor resisted the idea of lay leadership. As people resigned, he offered Dougherty a contract, but she refused. "His actions were simply too harsh toward dedicated laypeople," she said.
The impact of three trampling pastors caused her to leave religious life in 1987. "My superior and I wept," she recalled. "I told her that my first 12 years as a sister were happy, working for institutions the nuns operated. Then I had to work for priests and had no voice: The parish belonged to the pastor. Sisters of Humility of Mary revised their constitution under Vatican II and Rome approved. We were a Gospel voice to people we served."
In 1987 she moved to Marietta, Ga., working in a progressive parish as a teacher and family life minister. She flourished. In 1997, the Atlanta archdiocese hired her to oversee catechism and early childhood classes.
In 1999, the archdiocese sold a private Catholic school, Donnellan, to the Legionaries for $8 million. Gerald Renner reported about the Legion's takeover of the Atlanta school for NCR in 2000. Four Donnellan staffers were fired for resisting the Legion methodology. Police marched them from their offices during school hours. The guidance counselor had refused Legion Fr. John Hopkins' order "to report on confidential conversations she had with students" and "to provide Hopkins with weekly lists of meetings with students and tell him what they said," Renner wrote.
The ex-employees sued, eventually settling out of court. As many parents withdrew their children, the renamed Holy Spirit Academy nevertheless enjoyed resurgent attendance, thanks to Regnum Christi fundraising.
As Donoghue gave the Legion and Regnum Christi greater authority in his archdiocese, Dougherty saw people around her getting fired or leaving under duress.
It was that "series of collisions with clericalism, a culture I didn't know existed," that put Dougherty on the path to the priesthood, she told NCR. "I have priest friends, very good men, passionate about the church, who would never mistreat people. But if you take someone's son, and put him in that clerical culture, he becomes less human.
"When I was put in my role as a young nun, I was put back into humanity. We were expected to grow with humanity as people of God; God is part of all of us. Clericalism is a spreading virus, an internal illness in the body of the church that affects the well-meaning clerics who are forced against their consciences to go along with what they know is wrong. Women's ordination is a prime example. Many priests will not even enter into a discussion because the pope says no. Their underlying fear is loss of pension, their good name, no place to go in clerical society. They are loaded with fears."
On Oct. 20, the women who gathered in Atlanta professed their vows and family members and members of the community laid hands upon them.
"Fifty years ago I walked with Pope John XXIII," said the new priest to the people gathered. "I am Diane Dougherty and the doors of our church and clergy are open for all."
This story appeared in the Nov 9-22, 2012 print issue under the headline: A women's journey toward ordination .

ARCWP:Newly ordained deacons: Barbara Duff, Debra Myers, Rosemarie Smead, Jolean Presley, Irene Scaramazza, with Mary Ellen Sheehan (Ordained previously)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Vatican Considering Women Deacons/Not Women Priests/ Full Equality Still Elusive/ Permanent Diaconate=Second Class Citizenship for Women in the Church

"This idea was reinforced in 2009 when Pope Benedict XVI altered the Code of Canon Law, specifically Canon 1009, to make an important distinction between the priesthood and the diaconate. The canon reads, "Those who are ordained in the episcopate or presbyterate [priesthood] receive the mission and faculty of acting in the person of Christ the Head. Deacons, however, receive the power of serving the People of God in the ministries [diakonia] of the liturgy, the word, and charity."With this fairly new understanding, Wcela stated, that "iconic maleness is not a requirement for [deacons]," only bishops and priests represent "Christ the Head."
This theology contradicts our baptismal equality and is sexist at its core! Women will not be equals until they are ordained priests in the institutional Catholic Church. Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp,

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bishop Regina Nicolosi, RCWP Challenges Archbishop Nienstedt from Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St. Paul on the Marriage Amendment and "Obamacare"

Dear Archbishop Nienstedt,

You are misleading the faithful.  I am referring to your statements that 1) Catholics should vote “yes” on the Marriage Amendment and  2)They should oppose parts of “Obamacare”, especially the stipulation that a woman’s birth control pills would be covered through her employer’s insurance. 

What is most misleading about these two positions is your insistence that a “yes” on the Amendment and a “no” to the coverage of birth control are central to our Catholic faith. Not only do you believe that it is your duty as bishop to instruct the faithful about this faith but in addition, you declare that your struggle is necessary to preserve the “religious liberty” of the Catholic Church.  And there is more. You believe that you are entitled to force your own moral understandings not only on your Catholic “faithful”, but on others who do not share your convictions and beliefs.

I am presently reading a book by a Catholic moral theologian, Margaret Farley.  The title of the book is “Just Love.”  Let me share with you the four sources she expects a moral theologian to use before making a decision.  They are: scripture, tradition, secular disciplines and contemporary experience.

Very little is written in scripture about homosexuality and nothing about birth control.  The tradition of the Catholic Church offers a variety of opinions and practices on both subjects.  Most of these opinions and practices have been shown to grow out of the negative understanding of both sexuality and of women in the long history of our church.  Most scholars in the secular disciplines of psychology, sociology, medicine and education offer a view of homosexuality, women and marriage that differ very much from yours and your brothers in the hierarchy. 

In regard to contemporary experience, let me share with you that my husband and I have a daughter, Claudia.  Claudia is married to Lisa.  Together they adopted four children.

In no way does our daughter’s marriage threaten my husband’s and my marriage of  almost 44 years.  These four grandchildren are nurtured and loved and  are thriving just as much our other grandchildren.

Please stop using the resources of the Archdiocese, especially the financial resources, to advocate the restriction of basic human rights and choices.  The message of our brother Jesus has little to do with controlling others’ sexuality and much more with justice and love.


Regina Nicolosi

Roman Catholic Bishop, Retired Chaplain

250 Overlook Lane

Red Wing, MN 55066

651 388 6059


Monday, November 5, 2012

Link to Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests/ARCWP Ordination of Six Women in Atlanta/ Picasa Album

Live Streaming of Call to Action Conference in Louisville, Kentucky-Nov. 9-11/ Patricia Fresen/ "More Jesus, Less Pope"

Nov. 9th Friday
Diane Nash- 7:45PM

Nov.10th, Sat:
10:15 AM  Leadership award to Sister Pat Farrell, LCWR
10:55 AM  Matthew Fox
6:30PM Imam Mohamad Abdul-Azeez
8:30AM Patricia Fresen "Less Pope, More Jesus"

Live Streaming - Nov 9th; Nov 10th; Nov 11th
Call To Action will offer live streaming video
of all four plenary speakers for those unable to
be with us this weekend. Online viewers should
connect to the above link at 6:45 pm Friday, 10:15 am
and 6:30 pm Saturday, and 8:30 am Sunday. All times Eastern Standard Time. (EST)

"Theologian Makes Catholic Case for Supporting Obama" by Thomas Groome

"Both friends and strangers have challenged why a Catholic theologian like me would publicly support the re-election of President Barack Obama. The implication always is that my Catholic faith should dictate otherwise.Of course, I cite Catholic social doctrine (note the weighty term) and the mandate of my faith to care for "the least" among us (Matthew 25:34). Social programs for the common good and especially for the most vulnerable are central to Catholic social teaching.By contrast, Ayn Rand's proposal of a "virtue of selfishness," besides being an oxymoron, is the antithesis of Catholic faith. If implemented as social policy -- a la the Romney/Ryan budget -- the neediest among us will suffer by far the most. Some 64 percent of its alleged "savings" come from cutting programs that aid poor families and individuals.The comeback is invariably around abortion, whereupon I explain that my opposition to abortion is precisely the tipping point that prompts my unqualified support of President Obama.As a loyal Catholic, I accept the teaching of my Church that "every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred" and that abortion is "gravely contrary to the moral law" (Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 2319, 2271).

Though the U.S. Catholic Bishops caution, "As Catholics we are not single issue voters" (Faithful Citizenship, November 2007), yet with some 1.3 million annually in the U.S., abortion presents our country with a grave moral crisis.
The dilemma for citizens like me is that the great majority of our fellow Americans favor some possibility of abortion and do not want to criminalize it again.
As Thomas Aquinas taught wisely, laws must reflect "the consensus of the governed" and there is no agreement in this country to ban all abortions. Even Gov. Mitt Romney is now making "exceptions."
When faced with a strategic dilemma in applying a general moral principle, the same Aquinas argued that Christians should choose whatever appears to be the lesser evil and the greater good.
In this light, the most feasible moral choice is to reduce the number of abortions. So, Catholics like me and citizens of like mind should support the candidate who has the best abortion reducing policies.
There is ample evidence that good social programs can dramatically reduce the number of abortions -- and that the lack of them increase it. The Dutch and the Germans have an abortion rate approximately one-third of the U.S. because they have universal health care, including prenatal and postnatal care, and programs to encourage adoption.
All the statistics show a deep correlation between abortion and economic need. More than three out of four women give economic reasons for choosing abortion, and the abortion rate is 300 percent higher among people below the poverty level than those above it.
A fine instance of good social services reducing abortion is the Massachusetts health-care plan that Gov. Romney signed into law before his flip-flop on health care.
It has lowered the number significantly, with a 21 percent decrease among teenagers.
If Gov. Romney makes good on his commitment to rescind the Affordable Health Care Act, coupled with the Romney/Ryan budget proposal that slashes services to poor people, then under a Romney administration, the rate of abortions in the U.S. will skyrocket.
If elected, Gov. Romney would join a line of Republican presidents who campaigned as pro-life but whose social policies increased the number of abortions. The cuts in social services during the Ronald Reagan administration caused the abortion rate to rise dramatically.
President Bill Clinton, by contrast, having campaigned on a pro-choice position, improved social services and the abortion rate declined nearly 30 percent under his administration -- a decline that then stagnated under President George W. Bush.
By way of being truly pro-life, it would seem that presidential Republican candidates are no more than "wolves in sheep's clothing."
Meanwhile, President Obama has made good on the commitment that he personally had inserted into the 2008 Democratic platform (reiterated in 2012), namely to "strongly support a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and postnatal health care, parenting skills, income support and caring adoption programs."
The current Republican Platform, and certainly candidate Romney, has no such abortion-reducing commitment.
President Obama has signed into law the Pregnancy Assistance Fund -- a $250 million program that helps local organizations support vulnerable pregnant women who wish to have their babies.
He has extended and tripled the Adoption Tax Credit and proposes making it permanent.
He supports the Child Tax Credit, which the Romney/Ryan budget would cut. Going forward, his overall social policies and affordable health care will insure that the U.S. rate of abortions will decline significantly.
No one could reasonably assert that my Catholic faith requires me to vote for one or another candidate in this election. However, my Catholic conscience prompts me to support President Obama as a practical strategy to reduce abortion in America."
THOMAS GROOME is a professor of Theology and Religious Education at Boston College and a National co-chairman of Catholics for Obama.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests/ARCWP Video Links to Atlanta Ordination

Welcome by Pastor/Processional

Presentation of Barbara Duff

Presentation of Rosemarie Smead

Presentation of Debra Meyers

Presentation of Diane Doughterty


Vesting of New Deacons

Presentation of Gospel Book to New Deacons

Ordination of Diane Dougherty as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest

Vesting of New Priest/Diane Dougherty

Deacons Set Table

"My Tribute" by Denis Gazaly

Presentation of Chalice and Paten


Prayer of Jesus

Eucharistic Prayer


Liturgical Dance/Communion Meditation

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) Celebrate Home Church Liturgy in VA.


On Sunday Nov. 4th, a gathering of the ARCWP community and friends in Falls Church.
We celebrated a liturgy, followed by a viewing of Pink Smoke and a luncheon at the City Diner in Falls Church, VA.