Saturday, December 8, 2012

"Reception of the Immaculate" a Homily by Donna Rougeux, ARCWP/Feast of Immaculate Conception

Reception of the Immaculate
Donna Rougeux in pulpit at ordination, Janice Sevre Duszysnka on right
By Donna Rougeux
First Reading: Genesis 3:9-15,20
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

On this special day that the church has set aside as the Immaculate Conception of Mary we need to talk about the "s" word...Sin. The evolution of defining sin and the concept of  original sin led to the belief that Mary was unstained by sin from birth. Original sin is a concept that comes from an interpretation of the story in Genesis that we read in the first reading tonight. I would like to suggest that the 'original sin' interpretation is a misunderstanding of what the story is actually teaching. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is based on this misunderstanding of the Genesis story. Therefore there is a problem with the Immaculate conception doctrine if in fact it is based on a misinterpretation of scripture. The misinterpretation involves seeing the Genesis story as a telling of an actual event in history. It views Adam and Eve as the original people created by God.

Here are some problems with looking at the story as a retelling of an actual event: 1)Who was there recording this actual event?  2)Can snakes actually talk? 3)If the original people would have not eaten the forbidden fruit then sin would have never come into the world. I'm sure you can think of other problems. The doctrine of the Immaculate conception carries these misunderstandings further because it says Mary is the new Eve who was conceived in the sinless garden of her mother's womb and was untainted by original sin. This immaculate conception of Mary allows her to be the perfect candidate to become the mother of Jesus. There is a theological desire to clean up the sinful world so that the Son of God can enter. This is sort of like cleaning your house before entertaining guests.This points to the problem that has plagued the church over the centuries..too much emphasis on the human ability to make things perfect for God. When we do this there is no room in the equation for allowing God to actually be with us the way we need God with us. But this is what happened with the immaculate conception doctrine. The house needed to be immaculate before the most special guest, Jesus entered the world. Mary needed to be free from original sin.

But guess what? Jesus doesn't mind dirt, clutter or sin. In fact it says in the scriptures that Jesus came to be with the sinners not the saints. It is less about us trying to get things in perfect condition before God can enter the world and more about receiving God openly and willingly the way Mary did. I think there is heavy theological baggage connected to thinking we have the ability to make things immaculate for God.

I would like to offer another understanding of the story in genesis that will help us be released from this theological baggage so that the doctrine of the immaculate conception can be reframed and even renamed. This alternate interpretation of the story in Genesis comes from the book Discovering Old Testament Origins by Margie Ralph. She teaches that this story in Genesis is written in the literary form called myth. The definition of myth is an imaginative and symbolic story about a reality which is beyond comprehension. The reality beyond comprehension in this story is the common experience of suffering.

So the writer of the story after wrestling with the common reality of suffering came up with this imaginative symbol filled story that points to a connection between sin and suffering. The plot of the story is:   there is a place where there is no sin (a beautiful heavenly garden) then there is sin (people going against the spiritual order by eating the forbidden fruit) and then there is suffering (pain in child birth, struggle to have food and shelter, physical death) So the theme of the story is sin causes suffering. And it is important to note that the story ends here. Let's unpack the symbols in the story.

Give people this list:
Adam = each person
Eve = the other person whom we need to love and by whom we need to be loved
Garden= a place of no suffering
God's instructions= Moral and spiritual order
Tree of knowledge of good and evil= the possibility of acting contrary to the spiritual order
Tree of life= Avoid physical death-one kind of suffering
Naked but unashamed= self-acceptance
Serpent= temptation
Eating= sin
Naked but ashamed= self-alienation
Hiding= loss of capacity to respond to God's love
Punishments= suffering, known from experience, which is seen as the natural consequence of disobeying the spiritual order
Expelled from garden and unable to return= people are powerless to undue the effects of sin

PLOT: No suffering ~sin~suffering

THEME: Sin causes suffering

If we view the message of this story in this way there was no original sin that we need to  free Mary from. The question of this story is not where did sin come from? The question is why do we suffer? This interpretation of the story shows sin as a given. We as humans all have the capacity to go against the moral and spiritual order. Because we have this capacity and because we have all acted upon this capacity, there is suffering. The consequence of the choice of sin is suffering.

 Applying this different interpretation of the story to Mary, means that for her along with all people, sin is a given. When we understand the genesis story in this way we no longer need an immaculate conception. What we need and what I think is more relevant, is an understanding that Mary had a reception of the immaculate. Mary received Jesus who was unstained by sin and who changed the paradigm. Now the story does not end with sin then suffering. Mary's reception of Jesus gives the story a new ending but doesn't forget where the story left off. Jesus enters the world with this sad ending of sin leads to suffering. Jesus who is God dwelling with us came into a sin filled world and endured horrific suffering so that sin and death no longer have the final say. Jesus suffered, died and overcame death in his resurrection.

So what does that mean for us? I think we like Mary need to work on being receivers of the the immaculate. We need to receive this gift of Jesus so that we can face our capacity to choose against the spiritual order. We need to receive Jesus who can dwell  with us when we face suffering and who can empower us to make choices that are life giving  instead of life destroying. We do not have to carry the theological baggage of making things immaculate before entertaining the idea of receiving Jesus as the special guest or of receiving Jesus into our imperfect sin filled world. What we have to do is to receive this immaculate gift of Jesus so that we can be transformed from one who has the capacity to choose against the spiritual order into one who accepts and is empowered by the spiritual order so that suffering and death no longer are the end of the story but are now the part of the story that can be faced with the promise of new hope and new life. So I suggest  a renaming of this feast day. Not the feast of the Immaculate Conception but the feast of the Reception of the Immaculate.

"Priest Stripped of Duties for Celebrating Mass with Woman Priest"/NBC News Story about Jesuit Bill Brennan and Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ARCWP/Photo Albums Online

Photos of liturgy- Bill Brennan and Janice Sevre-Duszysnska and SOA Watch Vigil 

Check out the 60th photo of Mike Hasky's shots at the SOAW procession and others. -- 

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests' Ordination of Laura Grimes as Deacon on Dec. 8,2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

Irish Priests' Association Statement of Support for Fr. Roy Bourgeois

The church reform group that represents about a quarter of Ireland’s Catholic priests issued a statement of support Friday for Roy Bourgeois, the U.S. Maryknoll priest that the Vatican laicization and dismissed from his order because of his support of women’s ordination.
The Association of Catholic Priests (Ireland) called on the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “to cease this type of abuse, to restore Fr. Bourgeois to the full exercise of his ministry and to allow for open and honest discussion on issues that are of crucial importance for the future of the Church.”
“We believe that this type of action, ordered by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and implemented by the Maryknoll Order, is unjust, and ultimately counter-productive,” reads the statement from the association.
“Dismissing people because they have sincerely held views that are contrary to those of the Vatican, but which are widely shared by the Catholic faithful, will not end discussion and debate on these topics,” it says.
The Association of Catholic Priests, which was founded by eight priests two years ago, has grown to represent about 1,000 of Ireland’s some 4,000 priests. The association aims at the “full implementation of the vision and teaching of the Second Vatican Council” and a “re-structuring of the governing system of the Church,” according to the group’s constitution.
The association has also called for an end to mandatory celibacy and for the ordination of women.
As an example of the widespread support for women priests among the Catholic Faithful, the statement from the association cited a year-long “listening process” in the diocese of Killaloe, a mainly rural diocese in Ireland, in which participants “expressed the opinion that the ordination of women should be openly discussed, particularly in view of the projected shortage of priests in the next few years.”
The leadership team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, one of the largest groups of Catholic sisters in the western hemisphere, issued a similar statement of support for Bourgeois on Nov. 28.
One of the Irish priests’ association’s cofounders, Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery , a popular author and retreat director, is himself under Vatican scrutiny according to press reports from earlier this year.
Flannery was ordered to stop writing and speaking and to go to a monastery for a period where he would “pray and reflect” on his situation.
Following is the complete statement from Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests.
Statement of Support for Fr. Roy Bourgeois
The Association of Catholic Priests (Ireland) is saddened and disappointed by the dismissal of Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois from the priesthood and from his religious congregation, and his excommunication from the Church that he has served for almost half a century.
We believe that this type of action, ordered by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and implemented by the Maryknoll Order, is unjust, and ultimately counter-productive. Dismissing people because they have sincerely held views that are contrary to those of the Vatican, but which are widely shared by the Catholic faithful, will not end discussion and debate on these topics.
In fact it will only serve to highlight the urgent need to face the problems around ministry in the Church. Participants in a year long ‘listening process’ in the diocese of Killaloe, a mainly rural diocese in Ireland, expressed the opinion that the ordination of women should be openly discussed, particularly in view of the projected shortage of priests in the next few years.
Surely this is yet another of many examples of the sensus fidelium calling for change so that, in future, the Eucharist can be available to the Church community.
We call on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to cease this type of abuse, to restore Fr. Bourgeois to the full exercise of his ministry and to allow for open and honest discussion on issues that are of crucial importance for the future of the Church.
On behalf of the Leadership of the ACP:
Fr. P.J. Madden; Fr. Sean McDonagh; Fr. Brendan Hoban; Fr. Tony Flannery
[Dennis Coday is NCR editor.]

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Inclusive Catholic Eucharist Sponsored by Progressive Catholic Coalition by Janice Sevre Duszynska, ARCWP

Janice Sevre-Duszynska,ARCWP and Jesuit Bill Brennan co-preside at liturgy
Photos coutesy Bob Watkins. Bill has been banned from celebrating public liturgies after co-presiding at this liturgy with Janice.
 Since 2004, the Progressive Catholic Coalition* has sponsored an inclusive
Catholic Eucharist as peacemakers gather at the gates of Ft. Benning for the
annual School of the Americas (SOA) Watch Vigil. This year as before lots of
folks gave of themselves and their gifts to celebrate the Body of Christ. In
doing so, our spirits are renewed to continue to work for a nonviolent world
where Gospel justice flows. In God’s Loving Presence we are restored as the
Beloved Community to challenge the Powers, to face the consequences of our
witness, whether jail, prison or exclusion. My heartfelt thanks to:
 --Support Memeber Peg Bowen offered artistic and practical suggestions of
flow, color and symbols while Bridget Mary suggested possible Old Testament
 I selected the Exodus reading about Miriam, first person called prophet in the
Hebrew Bible. In her Song of the Sea she praised God in song and dance with her
tambourine for saving her people from oppression.
 -- Jack Wentland coordinated logistics and communication
 -- Charlie King led us in song as he played nourishing music for our souls
 -- The Dominican sister from Tacoma, WA who read the Old Testament reading:
Exodus: 15: 1-3, 20-21
 -- Paki Weiland, back from the CodePink delegation to Pakistan, danced with
the Book of Gospels and read Luke 18: 1-8
 -- Sr. Megan Rice wrote the homily that I read: a message from her, Greg
Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli of Transform Now Plowshares
 -- Newly-ordained priest Diane Dougherty prepared the table and the

tambourines and gathered folks for the entrance procession and more
 -- WOC’s Kate Conmy and CTA’s Jen Gutermann gave out the worship aides and
steadfastly greeted peacemakers at the PCC table on Ft. Benning Rd.
 -- Support Member Kay Akers made herself available at the liturgy and table
for whatever needed doing: from taking photos to educating folks about ARCWP
 -- Priest Katy Zatsick shook hands with peacemakers at the table, spoke about
our community and carried the ARCWP banner on Ft. Benning Rd. and more
 -- Bob Watkins, in his gentle way, photographed as he has for us for many
 -- the Eucharistic ministers, all who gathered to renew each other in the Body
of Christ and those who I have forgotten to name
-- Our ARCWP community for its support and ad in the SOA Watch Vigil Program
 -- the SOA Watch community of peacemakers, especially Bob Graf and Joe
Radoszewski of Milwaukee 
> -- Jesuit Bill Brennan, 92, courageous and prophetic, who led the liturgy with
 -- Holy Ones Franciscan Jerry Zawada and Maryknoll Roy Bourgoeis for their
continued support of women priests
 *PCC member organizations are the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests,
Call to Action, CITI Ministries, Inc., CORPUS-usa, Federation of Christian
Ministries, Roll Away the Stone and Women’s Ordination Conference.
The Coalition also sponsors an information table on Ft. Benning Rd.

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests


Former Bishops' Staffer Banned Over Women Deacons

"Prominent Catholic Newspaper Calls For Vatican to Approve Women Priests"/Huffington Post/Links to Stories in NCR and Reuters on Punishment of Jesuit Bill Brennan for Co-Presiding with Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ARCWP at Catholic Mass

Prominent Catholic Newspaper Calls For Vatican To Approve Women Priests
In an editorial published Monday morning, a prominent Catholic newspaper endorsed the controversial movement to ordain women priests.
Continue reading...

National Catholic Reporter Calls for Women Priests

Story of Punishment of Jesuit Priest who co-presided at
Mass with Woman Priest-
Janice Sevre Duszynska, ARCWP,

(See photo)

(See photos of Liturgy of Janice and Jesuit Bill Brennan)

"Wisconsin Priest, 92, Punished for Mass with Woman Priest" Reuters
CHICAGO (Reuters) - "A 92-year-old Wisconsin Jesuit has become the latest Catholic priest to be punished by church authorities for celebrating Mass with a woman priest in violation of church rules, a Jesuit spokesman said on Wednesday.Father Bill Brennan, a Milwaukee-area peace activist who has done missionary work in Central America, celebrated Mass last month in Georgia with Janice Sevre-Duszynska of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.
Though Brennan remains a Jesuit and can still celebrate Mass and hear confessions with other Jesuits, he can no longer celebrate Mass or other sacraments publicly, according to Jeremy Langford, spokesman for the Society of Jesus, known as the Jesuits.
Women are forbidden by the church to become priests, but some have been ordained and celebrate Mass outside of the official church. Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed the church's ban on women priests this year.
Catholic clergy who support the women can face sanctions. The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dismissed Roy Bourgeois, 74, from the priesthood in October, citing his participation in the 2008 "invalid" ordination of Sevre-Duszynska and in a "simulated Mass," according to the Catholic News Service.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Province of the Jesuits mutually agreed on the sanctions against Brennan, Langford said.
"The Province did not approve or sanction the event, and regrets Father Brennan's participation in it," the Province said in a statement.
Langford said that the Wisconsin Province had no plans to take any further action against Brennan, who is retired from active ministry and living in a Wisconsin retirement home and was not available for comment.
"Sometimes in our lives we have to trust our conscience and bring about the consequences," Brennan told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "I wasn't trying to show off for the ladies."
Sevre-Duszynska told Reuters that Brennan exemplifies the best of the Jesuit tradition, including that he "is able to understand the suffering of women who are called to the priesthood and are denied the priesthood by the church and by the hierarchy."
"I think this is a bullying tactic. And I think it's shameful. It certainly is not what Jesus would do," she said of the sanctions against Brennan.
Brennan worked as a missionary in Belize and Honduras for 16 years and then returned to the United States as a teacher at Jesuit-run Marquette University High School and as pastor at St. Patrick Church in Milwaukee, according to a 2007 Catholic News Service article.
Five years ago, at 87, Brennan traveled to Cuba as an act of civil disobedience against the U.S. economic blockade, delivering humanitarian and medical supplies to the Cuban people, the article said."
(Reporting By Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Philip Barbara)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Milwaukee priest, 92, Sanctioned for Mass with Woman" Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ARCWP By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

Janice Sevre-Duszysnska, ARCWP and Fr. Bill Brennan -Photo courtesy of Bob Watkins

"A 92-year-old Milwaukee Jesuit is the latest American priest to be sanctioned for celebrating the Catholic Mass with a woman priest in violation of church teaching.
Father Bill Brennan, a longtime peace activist, has been ordered not to celebrate the Eucharist or other sacraments publicly, or to present himself publicly as a priest by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and his religious order, the Society of Jesus.
It comes three weeks after Brennan celebrated Mass with Milwaukee native the Rev. Janice Sevre-Duszynska during an annual protest at what was historically known as the School of the Americas at Fort Benning near Columbus, Ga.
And it follows the excommunication and defrocking of School of the Americas Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest who participated in Sevre-Duszynska's 2008 ordination in Lexington, Ky. (The former School of the Americas is now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.)
Brennan, who remains a priest and lives with other retired Jesuits in a Wauwatosa retirement home, said he knew he risked censure when he celebrated the sacrament with a woman priest.
"Sometimes in our lives we have to trust our conscience and bring about the consequences," said Brennan, a Wauwatosa native who taught at Marquette University High School beginning in 1968 and spent 17 years working in Latin America.
"I wasn't trying to show off for the ladies," he said.
Fellow peace and social justice advocates voiced disappointment in the censure. And Sevre-Duszynska called it "outrageous" and Brennan "prophetic."
"Bill has exemplified with his life the fruits of the spirit," she said. "He has worked for justice with the oppressed and marginalized, and for the liberation that Jesus teaches in the Gospel."
In the Catholic Church, the local bishop - in this case Archbishop Jerome Listecki - confers the "faculties" priests require to serve publicly in a geographic area. Jesuit spokesman Jeremy Langford and Listecki's chief of staff, Jerry Topczewski, said it was a joint decision to withdraw Brennan's faculties for public ministry.
Unlike Bourgeois' sanction, the move does not appear to have prompted a Vatican review, at least for now. Both the Jesuits and the archdiocese said they planned to take no further actions against the elderly priest.
Brennan, who was arrested during a protest at Fort Benning in 2011, is one of two Milwaukee-area priests who have been sanctioned, at least in part for their actions there.

Past cases

A 75-year-old Franciscan priest and peace activist, Father Jerry Zawada, was suspended by the Franklin-based Franciscan Friars Assumption BVM province after celebrating Mass at Fort Benning with Sevre-Duszynska in 2010 and 2011. His case is pending before the Vatican, said the Franciscan provincial, Father John Puodziunas. Zawada, who served previously in the Tucson diocese, said he's had no assignment since his suspension.
The Catholic Church prohibits the ordination of women.
Sevre-Duszynska, of Lexington, is ordained in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, which represents about 124 priests and 10 bishops around the world. The group claims legitimacy, saying the bishop who ordained its first women bishops stood in apostolic succession - the line of Catholic bishops who stretch back to Jesus' apostles. The Vatican rejects that argument.
The ordination of women in the Catholic Church is highly controversial, though a majority of Catholics appear it to support it - 59%, according to a 2010 New York Times and CBS News poll.
Theologians have long debated the legitimacy of the ban, and advocates for women priests often are dealt with harshly.
In 2008, the Vatican decreed that women who seek ordination and those who ordain them face automatic excommunication from the church. And in 2010 it listed the attempted ordination of women as a grave sin on par with pedophilia and heresy.
Brennan said his decision to celebrate Mass with Sevre-Duszynska grew not out of some "wild-eyed liberal" protest or heady theological research, but from his deep admiration for his own mother.
He recalled as a child of 9 hearing his older brother tease her, suggesting that "for a woman she was pretty intelligent."
"I'll never forget the look on my mother's face," said Brennan. "She knew we were teasing, but it wasn't funny.
"We never did that again."

Monday, December 3, 2012

"Jesuit Penalized After Eucharistic Liturgy with Woman Priest"/ Fr. Bill Brennan and Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ARCWP/ National Catholic Reporter
Janice Sevre-Duszynska, arcwp and Bill Brennan, a Jesuit co-preside at liturgy in GA.

"A Catholic priest who participated in a eucharistic liturgy with a woman priest last month has been ordered to no longer celebrate the Mass or perform any other priestly duties.
Jesuit Fr. Bill Brennan, a 92-year-old Milwaukee-area priest, said the superior of his religious community told him of the restrictions Nov. 29, saying they came at the request of Archbishop Jerome Listecki.
Brennan, a retired parish priest and former missionary to Belize, participated in a liturgy Nov. 17 with Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a woman ordained in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests movement.
Brennan said he was hesitant to confirm the news regarding his loss of faculties because he was also ordered not to talk to the press.
"I'm risking my existence in the Jesuit order by talking to you," Brennan told NCR. "But if I've committed a serious sin, [the archbishop] is supposed to be responsible for condemning me ... he's supposed to stand up and be responsible for that."
Brennan said the restrictions include:
  • Suspension of priestly faculties, prohibiting him from performing any priestly duties in public;
  • Refraining from contact with media, "through phone, email, or any other means";
  • Not appearing as a Jesuit at any "public gatherings, protests or rallies";
  • Not leaving the Milwaukee area "for any reason" without his superior's permission.
Brennan said he hasn't had any formal communication with Listecki.
Jeremy Langford, the director of communications for the Jesuits' Chicago-Detroit province, which is merging with the Wisconsin province, said in a statement Monday the order removed Brennan's priestly faculties "after conversation with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee."
The Jesuits "did not approve or sanction" the November eucharistic liturgy and "regrets Fr. Brennan's participation in it," read the statement.
"The Wisconsin province has no plans to take any further action," Langford said in an interview, calling Brennan a "wonderful Jesuit" who has "fought for great causes his whole life."
Julie Wolf, communications director for the Milwaukee archdiocese, said the restrictions on Brennan were a "mutually agreed upon decision" between Listecki and Brennan's Jesuit provincial, Fr. Tom Lawler.
Brennan likened his support for women's ordination to support for women's suffrage: He remembers that at one time, his mother was not able to vote.
"I was born in 1920," Brennan said. "All the while my mother was carrying me and six months after, she could not vote. That's the real initiative in my attitude toward women's ordination."
Brennan said he understands arguments that women do not have a right to ordination and said ordination is a "privilege that is granted to men."
"Why isn't it granted to both?" the priest asked. "And the fundamental approach that I have is that, after all, women have an eminent role to play in the work of creation of children with men. What about the sanctification process? Don't they have any share in the preaching of the Gospel?"
The Vatican labels the ordination of women in the Catholic church as a grave offense and says participants are excommunicated latae sententiae, or automatically. Pope John Paul II's 1994 letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis effectively forbade discussion of the issue, saying the church's teaching on the matter was to be "definitively held by all the Church's faithful."
Before deciding to participate in the November liturgy, Brennan said he discussed the matter with Lawler. The invitation to join Sevre-Duszynska at the liturgy was causing him a "real, genuine conscience problem," Brennan said he told Lawler.
"I'm not trying to defy the church," Brennan said he told Lawler, adding that he sees women's ordination as a legitimate question. "Why is it that this privilege of celebrating the Mass and preaching, why is that exclusively a male privilege? Where do we get that? Isn't that worth discussing?"
Lawler told him not to assist at the liturgy, Brennan said.
"At the time, I was still struggling to try to decide what I wanted to do, because obviously I knew I might end up outside the Jesuit order," Brennan said. "But I just felt this was an earthy issue, and you can't cover it over with spiritual or authoritarian dictates."
Roy Bourgeois, another longtime priest who supports women's ordination, was notified of his dismissal from his religious order, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, over the same issue Nov. 19.
Bourgeois, who served with Maryknoll for 45 years, first came into controversy with his order after he participated in Sevre-Duszynska's ordination in the Womenpriests group in 2008.
Roman Catholic Women Priests is an international initiative that ordains both men and women. It counts among its members more than 150 women who have been ordained priests and bishops by the organization since it began in 2002.
Brennan co-presided at a liturgy with Sevre-Duszynska during the annual gathering of SOA Watch, a group founded by Bourgeois in 1990 to protest a U.S. Army training school at Fort Benning, Ga., formerly known as the School of the Americas.
The SOA Watch gathering, which takes place in Columbus, Ga., each November, calls for the closure of the Army school, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. The school in the past has been implicated in human rights abuses in Latin America.
Sevre-Duszynska said the idea to ask Brennan to participate in the liturgy initially came at last year's SOA Watch gathering, where she had celebrated a similar liturgy with Franciscan Fr. Jerry Zawada.
Sevre-Duszynska had remembered meeting Brennan at the 2010 SOA Watch gathering, she said, when the two were part of a group of 29 people who were arrested outside the gates of Fort Benning for stepping out of a designated protest area.
The liturgy at this year's event was dedicated to people who risk arrest for issues of conscience, "who have devoted their lives to bringing the Kin-dom here on Earth," Sevre-Duszynska said.
A Milwaukee-area native, Brennan served for 17 years in Belize when it was still a British colony, known as British Honduras. Following that, he served in Milwaukee-area parishes, primarily with Latino communities.
Asked whether he was worried about further restrictions being place on him for his support of women's ordination, Brennan said: "When you have a conscience problem, you have to follow your conscience and then take the consequences. I have to take the consequences."
[Joshua J. McElwee is an NCR staff writer. His email address is]

Bridget Mary's Reflection:
Mayknoll  Fr. Roy Bourgeois,Franciscan Fr. Jerry Zawada,  and Jesuit Fr. Bill Brennan are standing up for justice  for women in the Catholic Church. Let's hope that these priests inspire a "holy disobedience" movement, like the ones taking place in Austria, Ireland, Germany and elsewhere among the Catholic Clergy! The full equality of women in the church is the voice of God in our times. Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp,

National Catholic Reporter Endorses Women's Ordination- Correct an injustice: Ordain women."

"The call to the priesthood is a gift from God. It is rooted in baptism and is called forth and affirmed by the community because it is authentic and evident in the person as a charism. Catholic women who have discerned a call to the priesthood and have had that call affirmed by the community should be ordained in the Roman Catholic church. Barring women from ordination to the priesthood is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand.

The most egregious statement in the Nov. 19 press release announcing Roy Bourgeois' "excommunication, dismissal and laicization" is the
assertion that Bourgeois' "disobedience" and "campaign against the teachings of the Catholic church" was "ignoring the sensitivities of the faithful." Nothing could be further from the truth. Bourgeois, attuned by a lifetime of listening to the marginalized, has heard the voice of the faithful and he has responded to that voice.

Bourgeois brings this issue to the real heart of the matter. He has said that no one can say who God can and cannot call to the priesthood, and to say that anatomy is somehow a barrier to God's ability to call one of God's own children forward places absurd limits on God's power. The majority of the faithful believe this.

Let's review the history of Rome's response to the call of the faithful to ordain women:

In April 1976 the Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded unanimously: "It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate." In further deliberation, the commission voted 12-5 in favor of the view that Scripture alone does not exclude the ordination of women, and 12-5 in favor of the view that the church could ordain women to the priesthood without going against Christ's original intentions.

In Inter Insigniores (dated Oct. 15, 1976, but released the following January), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said: "The Church, in fidelity to the example of the Lord, does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination." That declaration, published with the approval of Pope Paul VI, was a relatively modest "does not consider herself authorized."

Pope John Paul II upped the ante considerably in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (May 22, 1994): "We declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful." John Paul had wanted to describe the ban as "irreformable," a much stronger stance than "definitively held." This met substantial resistance from high-ranking bishops who gathered at a special Vatican meeting in March 1995 to discuss the document, NCR reported at the time. Even then, bishops attuned to the pastoral needs of the church had won a concession to the possibility of changing the teaching.

But that tiny victory was fleeting.

In October 1995, the doctrinal congregation acted further, releasing a responsum ad propositum dubium concerning the nature of the teaching in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: "This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium." The ban on women's ordination belongs "to the deposit of the faith," the responsum said.

The aim of the responsum was to stop all discussion.

In a cover letter to the responsum, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then head of the congregation, asked presidents of bishops' conferences to "do everything possible to ensure its distribution and favorable reception, taking particular care that, above all on the part of theologians, pastors of souls and religious, ambiguous and contrary positions will not again be proposed."

Despite the certainty with which Ordinatio Sacerdotalis and the responsum were issued they did not answer all the questions on the issue.

Many have pointed out that to say that the teaching is "founded on the written Word of God" completely ignored the 1976 findings of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

Others have noted that the doctrinal congregation did not make a claim of papal infallibility -- it said what the pope taught in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was that which "has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium." This too, however, has been called into question because at the time there were many bishops around the world who had serious reservations about the teaching, though few voiced them in public.

Writing in The Tablet in December 1995, Jesuit Fr. Francis A. Sullivan, a theological authority on the magisterium, cited Canon 749, that no doctrine is understood to have been defined infallibly unless this fact is clearly established. "The question that remains in my mind is whether it is a clearly established fact that the bishops of the Catholic Church are as convinced by [the teaching] as Pope John Paul evidently is," Sullivan wrote.

The responsum caught nearly all bishops off-guard. Though dated October, it was not made public until Nov. 18. Archbishop William Keeler of Baltimore, then the outgoing president of the U.S. bishops' conference, received the document with no warning three hours after the bishops had adjourned their annual fall meeting. One bishop told NCR that he learned about the document from reading The New York Times. He said many bishops were deeply troubled by the statement. He, like other bishops, spoke anonymously.

The Vatican had already begun to stack the deck against questioning. As Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese reported in his 1989 book, Archbishop: Inside the Power Structure of the American Catholic Church, under John Paul a potential episcopal candidate's view on the teaching against women's ordination had become a litmus test for whether a priest could be promoted to bishop.

Less than a year after Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was issued, Mercy Sr. Carmel McEnroy was removed from her tenured position teaching theology at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana for her public dissent from church teaching; she had signed an open letter to the pope calling for women's ordination. McEnroy very likely was the first victim of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, but there have been many more, most recently Roy Bourgeois.

Blessed John Henry Newman said that there are three magisteria in the church: the bishops, the theologians and the people. On the issue of women's ordination, two of the three voices have been silenced, which is why the third voice must now make itself heard. We must speak up in every forum available to us: in parish council meetings, faith-sharing groups, diocesan convocations and academic seminars. We should write letters to our bishops, to the editors of our local papers and television news channels.

Our message is that we believe the sensus fidelium is that the exclusion of women from the priesthood has no strong basis in Scripture or any other compelling rationale; therefore, women should be ordained. We have heard the faithful assent to this in countless conversations in parish halls, lecture halls and family gatherings. It has been studied and prayed over individually and in groups. The brave witness of the Women's Ordination Conference, as one example, gives us assurance that the faithful have come to this conclusion after prayerful consideration and study -- yes, even study of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

NCR joins its voice with Roy Bourgeois and calls for the Catholic church to correct this unjust teaching.

This story appeared in the Dec 7-20, 2012 print issue under the headline: Correct an injustice: Ordain women."

Eulogy for Jack Meehan by Katie Meehan

When thinking of the numerous stories to share, I realized that my grandfather, lovingly nicknamed G-man by my brother, Danny, and I, would have undoubtedly and inevitably told a story about Ireland. Most of his tales took place in old Ireland, in Rathdowney or Coolkerry. They usually involved a few staple characters- Jimmy, who curtly barked and demanded favors of everyone. Little Johnny who whined to his “mam” in the most annoying nasal voice. And Mrs. McCarthy, who still lives just down the road, who wore a shawl and participated in good-natured but silly gossip with a shrill cackle, her words drawn-out and carried a particularly strong Irish accent. I’ll never know if they actually existed in real life…these characters. I never asked because that would have stifled the magic. His elaborations and additions were the best part of every story he told.

Charles Haughey Taoiseach once said, “Ireland is where strange tales begin and happy endings are possible.” My grandfather certainly thought so. My childhood revolved around chronicles of temperamental fairies, begrudging leprechauns, mischievous badgers and haunting banshees. Interestingly enough, in his versions, the banshee resembled a ghost with a playful side. I did not learn until years later that banshees possess no such fun streak. Every time Danny and I went to visit, Grandpa would turn off all the lights and don a creased white sheet. For the next half hour, he would chase us around his ranch style home wailing and moaning as Danny, Aunt Mary and I would furiously race and bump through furniture in a fit of giggles, clutching bulky flashlights and turning back time and again to witness the banshee doggedly hovering several lengths behind us. When punishment for capture was exacted, the unlucky child would realize that the menacing banshee was little more than a glorified tickle monster.

My grandfather possessed such a passion for life and his vivaciousness lives on in each of our memories. At his grandniece’s wedding in Ireland four years ago, my grandfather was reunited with his younger sister, Tess, and spent the entire service gossiping and giggling with her like a little kid. My aunt Mary, his daughter, shot him her intimidating IHM glare. Not missing a beat, Grandpa tilted his head, smiled sweetly at her and elbowed me in the ribs gently. Unabashed, he then proceeded to make a show of hushing my friend, Ellen, and me, as we were obediently and quietly sitting through the mass, minding our own business. Later in the service, he turned to Ellen and me and inquired rather stridently, “Who is this? I can’t understand a damn word he’s saying? Are you listening? What did he say?” The man in question was his grandnephew who was raised in England and thus, had an English country accent. The man also happened to be the officiating priest at the wedding. Aunt Mary stared at him incredulously, open mouthed, as Ellen and I burst into a fit of laughter and my Great aunt Tess shared a conspiratorial smile. Who wouldn’t have fallen in love with him at that moment? He was the pure embodiment of life, love and good old Irish humor.

But what story about Jack Meehan would be complete without a mention of music? His storytelling prowess was matched and exceeded only by his musical abilities. Even as young children, we sat on a mountain of pillows for hours, transfixed by the majesty of a wrinkled, old man swaying to the notes from a brassy, old trumpet. When I hosted pool parties for my middle school friends, I paraded him around like a celebrity, suggesting and even demanding old tunes and classics for him to play on command. I remember Danny and I showing him off to our classes on Saint Patrick’s Day at school, “Notice the Irish accent, it’s real” “Say something, Grandpa!” “Play When Irish eyes are smiling!” The chatting and playing would stop as soon as the music began; the world came to a standstill every time he gingerly lifted that trumpet or sax to his dry, pursed lips. He really came to life playing his music. His cloudy gray eyes began to twinkle and glitter as his knobby fingers glided effortlessly up and down the horn with two or three efficient flicks of the wrist. The passion, respect and love he shared with the world every waking moment of his life emanated from his horns. You can still hear it on old recordings if you listen closely enough… it’s still there. 

He played for the best of them but still remained humble. During a visit to Ireland, G-man spent an hour or so teaching Danny and me how to stack the turf in the bog and didn’t pause for a second in his stories about life in the country- he whispered tales of how he’d painted his face with shoe polish one All Saint’s Day and couldn’t remove the black for weeks, when he and the Ballyroan band had been on the road and the piano had caught fire (which surprisingly happened on two separate occasions), how he’d sneak in and listen to his father’s violin lessons from the window outside their three-room cottage, how he’d met and fell instantly in love with his adoring wife of 50 odd years one day while riding to work on his creaky red bicycle. I could really go on for hours…

He was an amazingly gifted man. My grandfather had an uncanny knack for storytelling, a gripping and powerful control over music and a compassionate heart. Each and every one of his numerous gifts shared one common bond: the ability to brighten someone’s day and spread joy to all those around him.

Today, I shared a few stories about my grandfather with you because above all, he taught me of the importance of a well-timed pause, an arsenal of adjectives and a strong hint of humor.

A long, long, long, long, long time ago my grandfather told me a story. A story that has been engrained in me- has become a part of my very existence since he first uttered those oft-repeated words. This story was not of one particular, singular experience, but rather was the history of my family, the heritage of his dreams and a testament to enduring love.

I’ll cling to his stories because they are and always will be my favorite part of him. I can’t promise to pass them ALL along or retell them with such vivacity and flavor but just knowing and appreciating them should be enough to honor him and those who passed on before him.

I wish I had more time to share these stories with you. I wish he could say a few of his wonderful words. But his memory is served well by your love and support. I don’t know how you all will remember him but I’ll never forget that lilting Irish accent, those smiling Irish eyes and these wonderful stories- his present, past and future- which I now must call my own.

Thank you.
(Eulogy by Katie Meehan, Granddaughter)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Nun Uses Music to Convey Spirited Message Against the Vatican’s Rebuke"/New York Times article by Laurie Goodstein
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
What if Catholics worldwide would rise up for justice and equality for all God's holy people, including women in the church? What if we would stand as a beloved community for love and inclusion-for all belong in God's loving, healing, transforming, empowering embrace? Kudos to Sister Kathy Sherman and to all the Sisters whose lives have been devoted to love and compassion. You are our beloved Sisters! Thank you. Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp,

"Love Cannot Be Silenced: The Peoples' Response to the Vatican's Investigation of U.S. Sisters" - A Video/Musical Reflection by Sister Kathy Sherman, CSJ