Saturday, December 29, 2012

What are the Contributions and Challenges of an Inclusive Model of Priesthood Renewing Eucharistic Theology and Eucharistic Spirituality? by Josie Petermeier

An inclusive model of priesthood offers several contribution and challenges in renewing Eucharistic theology and spirituality. An inclusive model of priesthood means that all are welcome and included, all are invited to the table. This includes women, whether single or married, straight or gay. This inclusive priesthood reflects the communities they serve, which includes LGBT and divorced/remarried people.

This model stands in contrast with the Catholic Church as a whole, where many are excluded. Only males, and single ones at that, are allowed to be priests. The communities they serve also exclude women who want to be priests, people who are LGBT and divorced-remarried people. Many of these people still feel themselves to be faithful Catholics, but for reasons, often not their own choice, they are excluded from the sacraments. Being a woman is not a choice, being gay is not a choice. It's who we are, and who we understand ourselves to be. Being divorced is not always one's own choice. And it's not right to stay in a relationship that is abusive and unhealthy. Why must these people pay a price for the choices of others. They should be allowed to remarry and build a healthy life. And they should be welcome to the eucharistic table as full members of the body of Christ.

Having an inclusive model of priesthood offers several contributions to renewing Eucharistic communities. First of all by having women as priests, we recognize the whole body of Christ and acknowledge the contributions and insights that women bring to all the roles of service in Priesthood. It offers insights into God as having female qualities, as one who brings to birth something new, and as one who nurtures.

Priests who are married or have partners, can bring to their ministry insights into relationships and better understand people who are in relationships. These relationships give new understandings of our relationship with God. How do we understand God's love if we have never fallen in love? How do our human relationships enlighten our relationship with God? How does our relationship with God enrich our relationships with others?

Many women priests have had children and this experience stretches us in many ways. (No pun intended). The whole experience of pregnancy with all the health challenges that can present, really makes you realize that you have given of yourself, even your own body so that another might live. It gives new insight into the words of consecration “This is my body and blood, given for you.” As children grow, they struggle to understand their own independence. These struggles stretch parents in their patience, their compassion, their understanding, and their ability to love even when their child is pushing them away. This helps us understand what it means to love like God loves us. To love no matter what, without limits, and never give up. Parent love goes longer than the terrible twos and beyond teenage rebellion. It never ends. God's love for us never ends either. Even if we think we don't need God, God is always there, always calling us back, always loving. Like the wine skins of the gospel, we are shaped by what we bear.

By having a more inclusive model of priesthood, helps us to understand God in a wider more inclusive way, as Mother as well as Father, as birthing and nurturing, It changes our image of God. That doesn't mean that we are changing God. Rather we are recognizing all the aspects of God.

An inclusive model of priesthood seems to be more authentic to Christ's message. Jesus welcomed everyone. He chose women and men as disciples. He chose Mary Magdalen as the apostle to the apostles. Jesus called sinners and saints. He forgave sinners. The inclusive model of church doesn't have a hierarchical structure. It doesn't value symbols of power and wealth.

An inclusive model of priesthood is committed to following conscience and obeying the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

An inclusive model of priesthood has it's challenges though, how to reconcile these differences with the wider Church, should the Church ever accept women as priests. It makes it harder, yet how could women priests exclude these other groups if they themselves want to be included?

The Church in Inter Insigniores, 1976, says that women with their female bodies can not image Christ and therefore they can not be priests. But after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, Cardinal Timothy Dolan eulogized one of the teachers, Anne Marie Murphy, and described how Christ-like she was to give her life to protect her students. So women can image Christ. I think that imaging Christ means living and loving and serving like Christ did, not something so superficial as what body parts you happened to be born with.

The Catholic church does not accept LGBT people. But they are all God's children. Their love and commitment to each other is a sign and witness of God's love for each other and to the christian community. So by including LGBT people, it makes it harder for the Church to accept an inclusive priesthood.

Accepting divorced and remarried people is another challenge. The Church upholds marriage no matter what, abusive or not. So anyone who divorces and remarries is considered as living in sin and is not allowed to receive communion. Because an inclusive priesthood allows them to receive communion, this would be a challenge to be reconciled..

There are some things that an inclusive priesthood sees as challenges in the Church.. These are differences between the church and and inclusive priesthood. An inclusive priesthood is not hierarchical, is not necessarily celibate, does not vow obedience to a Bishop, but to the Holy Spirit and their conscience. Inclusive priesthood practices simplicity and does not look for signs of power and wealth. It is hard to justify expensive gold altar appointments and brocade vestments when they are serving the poor and marginalized people.

And then there is inclusive language which offers contributions as well as challenges. The inclusive priesthood uses very inclusive language, Where God is acknowledged as Father and Mother, and words of power like King and Lord and rewritten to more equal terms. The advantage of this is to be more open and inclusive of women and all people. The Catholic Church has been working on inclusive language since the 1970s, but moving rather slowly. And recently, some of the advances have been rescinded. The Church struggles with changing language and still being doctrinally correct. Regardless, some of the translations are just awkward. There is no easy gender-neutral Mother-Father word in English. Something like “Our Progenitor, who art in heaven...” just doesn't sound right.

I look at the Catholic Church and inclusive model of priesthood, and wonder if Jesus showed up today, where would he feel the most comfortable? I would like to think that he'd feel more at home with the inclusive priesthood model of church because it is more open and welcoming to everyone. It portrays the church more as it was in the first centuries, before the church made rules about excluding women and celibate priesthood, before the church amassed power and wealth.

Sacraments and Sacramentality by Bernard Cooke, 23rd Publications, 1999.

Cardinal Dolan: Anne Marie Murphy Was Like Jesus.

Communion of Divorced and Remarried, Colin B. Donovan, STL,

Extravagant Affections: A Feminist Sacramental Theology , by Susan Ross, Continuum, 1998

Inclusive Language: Is It Necessary? Kenneth D. Whitehead,

by Josie Petermeier
December 26, 2012
TH565 Feminist Sacramental Theology

Friday, December 28, 2012

Catholic Priest Blames Italy’s Stiletto Murders on Women by Barbie Latza Nadeau

Dec 28, 2012 4:45 AM EST  "Father Piero Corsi sparked outrage in Italy with his Christmas Eve comments about the growing number of women killed in domestic disputes. It's no surprise that misogyny appears to be alive and well in certain corners of Catholic Italy, where women are hardly viewed as men’s equals. But in the town of Lerici, near Turin, parish priest Father Piero Corsi sparked unprecedented outrage this Christmas, when he chose the delicate issue of femicide, or the killing of women in domestic disputes, as his Christmas bulletin theme."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pontfical Biblical Commission in 1976 Concluded That There Is No Evidence in New Testament to Prohibit Women Priests/ Why does Magisterium Insist it is Jesus' Will When Evidence Does Not Support Teaching?

"In April 1976, the Pontifical Biblical Commission released a study examining the exclusion of women from the ministerial priesthood from a biblical perspective... In the conclusion of the document, they write:
"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.

However, some think that in the scriptures there are sufficient indications to exclude this possibility, considering that the sacraments of eucharist and reconciliation have a special link with the person of Christ and therefore with the male hierarchy, as borne out by the New Testament.

Others, on the contrary, wonder if the church hierarchy, entrusted with the sacramental economy, would be able to entrust the ministries of eucharist and reconciliation to women in light of circumstances, without going against Christ's original intentions."[6]

So let us be clear the Vatican scholars in the Pontifical Biblical Commission of 1976 is open to the possibility of women priests. The Catechism and the current papal teaching contradict its own scholarship.
The church must always follow Jesus' example.

First, Jesus did not ordain anyone at the last supper.

Second, according to all four Gospels, the Risen Christ appeared first to Mary of Magdala, and chose her to the apostle to the apostles to proclaim the central message of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Third: In the Gospels, Jesus treated women and men as disciples and equals.Read Luke 8:1-3. Many women were disciples of Jesus and they supported him by bankrolling his ministry!

Fourth: According to scholars such as Gary Macy, in The Hidden History of Women's Ordination, women were ordained for the first thousand years of church history.  Archaeologist Dorothy Irvin has found many examples of women deacons, priests and bishops in the ancient world in mosaics, frescoes, and tombstones in Rome and the Near East and Northern Africa. Pope Gelasius in 494 chastised the bishops of southern Italy for allowing women to preside at Eucharist. Bishop Atto in the tenth century referred to the presence of women priests in the history of the church.

Fifth: It is time for the Catholic Church to follow the example of Jesus and the early church, and affirm women priests. The quote from the Catholic Church's Catechism that claims a male priesthood is Jesus' will contradicts the evidence in the bible and the archaeological evidence of women deacons, priests and bishops found in the early Christianity. Women are equal images of God and sexism is a sin that denies women the opportunity to serve as equals in the sacramental ministry of our church.

Roman Catholic Women Priests are offering the gift of a renewed priestly ministry in an inclusive church where all are welcome to receive sacraments. The full equality of women is the voice of God in our time.

Dr. Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Why God?" by Maureen Dowd/New York Times

"When my friend Robin was dying, she asked me if I knew a priest she could talk to who would not be, as she put it, “too judgmental.” I knew the perfect man, a friend of our family, a priest conjured up out of an old black-and-white movie, the type who seemed not to exist anymore in a Catholic Church roiled by scandal. Like Father Chuck O’Malley, the New York inner-city priest played by Bing Crosby, Father Kevin O’Neil sings like an angel and plays the piano; he’s handsome, kind and funny. Most important, he has a gift. He can lighten the darkness around the dying and those close to them. When he held my unconscious brother’s hand in the hospital, the doctors were amazed that Michael’s blood pressure would noticeably drop. The only problem was Father Kevin’s reluctance to minister to the dying. It tears at him too much. He did it, though, and he and Robin became quite close. Years later, he still keeps a picture of her in his office. As we’ve seen during this tear-soaked Christmas, death takes no holiday. I asked Father Kevin, who feels the subject so deeply, if he could offer a meditation. This is what he wrote:

How does one celebrate Christmas with the fresh memory of 20 children and 7 adults ruthlessly murdered in Newtown; with the searing image from Webster of firemen rushing to save lives ensnared in a burning house by a maniac who wrote that his favorite activity was “killing people”? How can we celebrate the love of a God become flesh when God doesn’t seem to do the loving thing? If we believe, as we do, that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, why doesn’t He use this knowledge and power for good in the face of the evils that touch our lives?

The killings on the cusp of Christmas in quiet, little East Coast towns stirred a 30-year-old memory from my first months as a priest in parish ministry in Boston. I was awakened during the night and called to Brigham and Women’s Hospital because a girl of 3 had died. The family was from Peru. My Spanish was passable at best. When I arrived, the little girl’s mother was holding her lifeless body and family members encircled her.

They looked to me as I entered. Truth be told, it was the last place I wanted to be. To parents who had just lost their child, I didn’t have any words, in English or Spanish, that wouldn’t seem cheap, empty. But I stayed. I prayed. I sat with them until after sunrise, sometimes in silence, sometimes speaking, to let them know that they were not alone in their suffering and grief. The question in their hearts then, as it is in so many hearts these days, is “Why?”

The truest answer is: I don’t know. I have theological training to help me to offer some way to account for the unexplainable. But the questions linger. I remember visiting a dear friend hours before her death and reminding her that death is not the end, that we believe in the Resurrection. I asked her, “Are you there yet?” She replied, “I go back and forth.”

There was nothing I wanted more than to bring out a bag of proof and say, “See? You can be absolutely confident now.” But there is no absolute bag of proof. I just stayed with her.

A life of faith is often lived “back and forth” by believers and those who minister to them.

Implicit here is the question of how we look to God to act and to enter our lives. For whatever reason, certainly foreign to most of us, God has chosen to enter the world today through others, through us. We have stories of miraculous interventions, lightning-bolt moments, but far more often the God of unconditional love comes to us in human form, just as God did over 2,000 years ago.

I believe differently now than 30 years ago. First, I do not expect to have all the answers, nor do I believe that people are really looking for them. Second, I don’t look for the hand of God to stop evil. I don’t expect comfort to come from afar. I really do believe that God enters the world through us. And even though I still have the “Why?” questions, they are not so much “Why, God?” questions. We are human and mortal. We will suffer and die. But how we are with one another in that suffering and dying makes all the difference as to whether God’s presence is felt or not and whether we are comforted or not.

One true thing is this: Faith is lived in family and community, and God is experienced in family and community. We need one another to be God’s presence. When my younger brother, Brian, died suddenly at 44 years old, I was asking “Why?” and I experienced family and friends as unconditional love in the flesh. They couldn’t explain why he died. Even if they could, it wouldn’t have brought him back. Yet the many ways that people reached out to me let me know that I was not alone. They really were the presence of God to me. They held me up to preach at Brian’s funeral. They consoled me as I tried to comfort others. Suffering isolates us. Loving presence brings us back, makes us belong.

A contemporary theologian has described mercy as “entering into the chaos of another.” Christmas is really a celebration of the mercy of God who entered the chaos of our world in the person of Jesus, mercy incarnate. I have never found it easy to be with people who suffer, to enter into the chaos of others. Yet, every time I have done so, it has been a gift to me, better than the wrapped and ribboned packages. I am pulled out of myself to be love’s presence to someone else, even as they are love’s presence to me.

I will never satisfactorily answer the question “Why?” because no matter what response I give, it will always fall short. What I do know is that an unconditionally loving presence soothes broken hearts, binds up wounds, and renews us in life. This is a gift that we can all give, particularly to the suffering. When this gift is given, God’s love is present and Christmas happens daily.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on December 26, 2012, on page A25 of the New York edition with the headline: Why, God?.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Pope Benedict Pardons Former Butler Paolo Gabriele /Is Vatileaks Over or Not?

by Dr. Robert Moynihan

"Pope Benedict XVI yesterday, just three days before Christmas, pardoned his former butler, Paolo Gabriele, who was serving an 18-month jail sentence for stealing confidential Vatican documents and handing them over to a journalist for publication, resulting in the "Vatileaks" scandal.

The Pope yesterday morning visited Gabriele personally in his Vatican cell to  inform him of the decision, the Vatican said in a statement. (Photo: This  photo from the Osservatore Romano, is the only photo of the meeting the Vatican will be releasing.) The Vatican's spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said the two had a "very intense" conversation for about 15 minutes, privately and alone.

On October 6, a Vatican tribunal, after a brief trial, found Gabriele guilty of removing and/or photocopying dozens of the Pope's private documents and leaking them to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, who published them in May.

Gabriele said in his testimony that he acted out of love for the Church. He said he had taken the documents in order to "jar" the Vatican in some way, in order to force top officials -- and eventually the Pope himself -- to face more directly a number of cases where special agendas seemed to be placing private or partial interests ahead of the interests of the Universal Church. In this sense, Gabriele saw himself as a "whistleblower," not as the agent of any group, in or out of the Church, seeking to harm the Church. The Vatican tribunal judges said in their sentence that they believed Gabriele's description of his motivation, and for this reason reduced his sentence from 3 years to a year and a half.

Now Gabriele is free.

"This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI visited Paolo Gabriele in prison in order to confirm his forgiveness and to inform him personally of his acceptance of Mr Gabriele's request for pardon," the Vatican statement said.

In November the court convicted a computer expert, Claudio Sciarpelletti, of helping Gabriele leak the papal documents. Sciarpelletti, who pleaded innocent, was found guilty and given a suspended sentence of two months. He is already back at work in his old job, and a full pardon is also expected soon for him, Father Lombardi said.

What has not been made clear is whether the "Vatileaks" case is now completely closed, or not.

A few days ago, Pope Benedict, unexpectedly, received in audience three cardinals -- the Spaniard Julian Herranz, the Slovak Josef Tomko and the Italian Salvatore De Giorgi -- who comprise the special "cardinals' commission" the Pope himself set up to investigate the "Vatileaks" case, alongside the investigation of the Vatican court and the Vatican police department.

It is said in Rome that the three cardinals continued to gather testimony and evidence about the case even after Gabriele's trial and sentencing in October. This suggests that perhaps there is still an ongoing investigation. But what this investigation (if it is continuing) consists of, why it might be continuing, and what it might lead to (if anything), is not clear."

"Edgewood College Employees' Statement Backs Pair Banned by Diocese"/ Bishop Morlino , Remember, that all people belong to God's family and God is not Catholic!

..."The two women, along with two others, Beth O'Brien and Sister Lynn Lisbeth, are connected to Wisdom's Well, an interfaith spirituality center in Madison. All four women ran afoul of Morlino for allegedly straying too far from Catholic doctrine.
In a Nov. 27 memo to priests leaked to the State Journal, Morlino told priests the four women are not to be allowed to preach, lead prayers, hold workshops or provide spiritual guidance of any kind on parish property in the 11-county Madison Diocese.

The memo does not cite any examples of things the women may have said that contradict Catholic doctrine. Rather, it says "grave concern exists" with regard to the "teachings and animating spirit of the center." Namely, that its members "may espouse certain views flowing" from movements such as "New Ageism" and "indifferentism."

Indifferentism is defined in an addendum to the memo as "the belief that no one religion or philosophy is superior to another." In the Catholic Church, indifferentism is heresy, first condemned by Pope Gregory XVI in the 1800s.

The memo says the grave concerns "are evidenced mainly from (Wisdom's Well's) website." It quotes numerous passages on the website that concern the diocese, including an invitation to women "who wish to create a community for exploring and practicing the wisdom and compassion of the divine feminine."

Morlino's memo posted online

The diocese initially declined to comment on the issue, saying the confidential memo was intended to remain that way "to respectfully protect the reputations of all those involved."

After the State Journal published an article on the memo two weeks ago, the diocese posted the memo and the addendum on its website so parishioners and others could read them in their entirety. The documents can be found at"

Read more:   Bridget Mary's Reflection Let us remember that we all belong to God's family and that God is not Catholic!

A Reflection on Mary and Elizabeth: The Visitation/ Mary Mother of Jesus Catholic Community/Fourth Sunday of Advent 2012

(Let us take several minutes to reflect on today's Gospel: (instrumental Christmas music is played in background as we contemplate this Gospel.)

Long ago, Mary, young, single, pregnant, sets out to the hill country to visit her cousin, Elizabeth , who after many years of patient waiting, is also expecting her first child...

In this visitation, Elizabeth warmly embraces Mary

and proclaims her “the Mother of my Savior” (Luke 1:43)...

In her prophetic greeting to Mary, Theotokos,  the God bearer,

Elizabeth reminds us that God’s promises to us are being fulfilled....

Emmanuel, God, our lover, is with us in times of joy and sorrow....

Each of us is the beloved of God ...

Like Mary, we are called to be God-Bearers today....

Like Mary and Elizabeth, we are called to speak words of encouragement in our “visitations” with all those we meet...

Like Mary and Elizabeth, in our solidarity, God’s promises are being fulfilled in our work for justice, peace and equality...

Like Mary and Elizabeth, we will face disbelief, rejection and many challenges...

Like Mary and Elizabeth, our response is help, thanks, wow...! (Read Anne Lamott's book, Help, Thanks and Wow)

Homily Reflection Sharing of Community: Which of God’s promises most inspires you with confidence?

Reflection by Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp.,