Saturday, August 10, 2013

St. Clare and St. Francis of Assisi: Role Models for Pope Francis and Women in an Egalitarian Church

Feast Day of St Clare of Assisi: August 11th.
St. Clare and St. Francis were close spiritual companions whose agenda of reform gifted the church with a new form of religious life and a renewal of Gospel living.
As St. Clare resisted the Vatican definition of religious life in the 13th century and became the first woman to write an egalitarian Rule of Life approved by the Church, so feminist theologians and  women priests today are charting a new path toward Gospel equality in an inclusive church.
  Let’s hope that Pope Francis listens to the signs of the times and follows Saint Francis's and Saint Clare’s example of Gospel partnership in a reformed, egalitarian church where justice is a reality for women and men in all ecclesial ministries and church governance including women priests. Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,


Friday, August 9, 2013

Key US Sister: Vatican's LCWR Order 'Unacceptable'/Leadership Conference of Women Religious Should not Give Control over to Bishops

"A year and a half after the Vatican ordered the main representative group of U.S. Catholic sisters to place itself under the control of three U.S. bishops, many sister-leaders still consider complete compliance with the order "unacceptable," the head of the largest order of sisters in the Western Hemisphere said Thursday.

Many members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) do not think they can give complete control of their group over to the bishops, Mercy Sr. Pat McDermott told NCR Aug. 1.
"The points of direction for the future, I think are unacceptable -- that the bishops would be looking at our materials, our publications, giving direction to the assembly," said McDermott, who as president of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas leads about 4,000 sisters serving in the U.S. and 11 other countries.
"That's not a conference that most leaders want to belong to."
McDermott's comments come as LCWR, which represents about 80 percent of the 57,000 U.S. sisters, is preparing for its annual assembly, to be held this year from Aug. 13-16 in Orlando, Fla. About 900 women religious are expected to attend...."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

"Grading Pope Francis' First Four Months" Sr. Maureen Fiedler/ What Grade Would You Give Him?

When the question finally came at the end of the interview, I said simply, "On style and tone and emphasis [on social justice], an A+. But on substance and all else, an 'incomplete.' "
..."If he is indeed a reformer or a revolutionary, we have yet to see it. Coming still are his appointments to the Curia (or reform of the curial structure) and the appointments of bishops in the United States and elsewhere. He has yet to seriously tackle the fallout from the sex abuse crisis, especially with the bishops who did nothing to stop it.
And of course, Pope Francis' understanding of issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and the role of women in the church has a long way to go. (I suggested on CBS that his contention that "the church has an inadequate theology of women" is certainly a true statement for the male hierarchy, and I might assign him some "homework": Begin reading the enormous body of feminist theology that has been enriching the church for decades. "

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"On St. Clare Feast Catholics Support Sisters, Pray for Authentic Dialogue" /Time for the full equality of women in the Catholic Church

WASHINGTON D.C. - Next week, hundreds of Catholic nuns are expected to gather in Orlando, FL for the annual meeting of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

On August 11, 2013 in solidarity with U.S. women religious, thousands of Catholics will join in prayer on the Feast of St. Clare.

"The pope intentionally chose St. Francis of Assisi as his namesake, and he has shown himself to be open to dialogue" stated Erin Saiz Hanna, spokesperson for the Nun Justice Project. "St. Francis of Assisi's sacred friendship with St. Clare is well documented. St. Francis worked collaboratively alongside his sisters rather than against them. We pray Pope Francis, and Archbishop Sartain, will not only speak but listen and authentically dialogue with the sisters as St. Francis did with St. Clare."

LCWR, an umbrella group representing 80% of the 57,000 nuns in the United States, remains under scrutiny from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). In the spring of 2012 the CDF issued a statement accusing LCWR of promoting "radical feminist themes" and "corporate dissent," causing outrage among Catholics around the globe.

LCWR responded that the CDF statement was based on "unsubstantiated accusations' and the result of a "flawed process that lacked transparency." Last August, the organization's president, Sr. Pat Farrell, announced that "open and honest dialogue" would be LCWR's next step with Archbishop Sartain who had been appointed to oversee the mandate.

Last summer, nearly 70,000 Catholics signed a petition and hundreds organized vigils to rally around the sisters.

"Catholics around the country have been inspired by the faith and work of the sisters and will continue to support them; we urge Pope Francis to recognize their commitment and contributions and dismiss the mandate," said Jim FitzGerald, spokesperson for the Nun Justice Project.

Bridget Mary's Response:
 As St. Clare and St. Francis collaborated as companions and ministers of the Gospel, it is my hope that Pope Francis will open a new path for nunjustice and  for the full equality for women in the church.  The entire church owes the nuns a debt of gratitude for centuries of generous service to  those on the margins of church and society. May the hierarchy treat their Sisters as beloved companions and spiritual equals in ministry to God's people.
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

Is God laughing or crying?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"What is a Theology of Women?"/Questions from a Ewe

..."Finally, I cannot end without commenting on Frank's statement regarding women's ordination. He said the church has spoken and said no. Frank, read your catechism; the church is the people of God. They, and thus the church, overwhelmingly say they want women priests. The hierarchy has spoken and that is a small, shrinking faction of the church. At last count, the entire clergy numbered around 413,000 out of 1.2 Billion Catholics worldwide. That is less than three one hundredths of a percent.

But even though this small faction of the church monotonously repeats falsehoods and sexist statements to preserve its sexist stronghold of power, Frank's statement is comical by the sheer fact that in the same interview he offered a 180 degree different viewpoint than Pope Bennie's views on homosexual priests. Frank, you know what Mary told me when you said that. Frank's just using an old trick of flattery to try to keep women doing most of the work in the church while he and his pals take most of the credit.

So, what would the church be without women? It wouldn't be like the apostolic college without Mary. That exists and thrives. Nor would it be like a day without sunshine. The church without women would quite simply be non-existent. Men cannot bear children. So, a church without women would be extinct. How long will women continue to enable a small, male minority of the church to dictate and define who God calls them to be? "




Monday, August 5, 2013

U.S. Archbishop Sartain, Vatican Appointed Overseer of Leadership Conference of Women Religious Will Attend Assenbly

"The U.S. archbishop who was given expansive oversight by the Vatican of American sisters will attend their annual gathering in mid-August and will speak of his role as their church-mandated overseer.
Unclear, however, is whether Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain will take questions from the approximately 900 women, leaders of the various orders of sisters across the country, who are expected to attend the event.
News of Sartain's presence at the assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) comes amid continuing uncertain times for the group, an umbrella organization of U.S. sisters that the Vatican ordered to revise in April 2012 and gave the archbishop wide authority over its statutes and programs.
One former LCWR president said its members are preparing for this year's assembly with an "ominous feeling."
"We're going into this assembly knowing that there's a cloud over our head and that we are being investigated and they are going to be monitoring us," said Mercy Sr. Theresa Kane, who served as LCWR president from 1979 to 1980.
Sartain, Kane said, is "showing up, and he's staying for the entire assembly. It's monitoring. There's a cloud ... and we're living through it."
Leaders of LCWR and the individual institutes of U.S. sisters have expressed pain and confusion over the Vatican's move, made in a "doctrinal assessment" published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith..."

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Women Priests Judy Lee and Judy Beaumont: Blessing our Students on their Return to School

"Pope Francis Comments on Women Suggest Reason for Optimism"

...“It is not enough to have altar girls, women readers or women as the president of Caritas” charities, Francis said. “Women in the church are more important than bishops and priests,” just as “Mary is more important than the apostles.”New scholarship during the past two decades has turned on its head church conceptions about proper roles for women in the hierarchy. Scholars are discovering early Christian women had much more power in the church, as apostles and as leaders of home churches — the only type there were under Roman rule, which banned Christianity."Karen King is one such scholar. She is a professor of New Testament studies and the history of ancient Christianity at Harvard Divinity School.
‘’Women held offices and played significant roles in group worship,” King writes. “Paul, for example, greets a deacon named Phoebe (Romans 16:1) and assumes that women are praying and prophesying during worship (I Corinthians 11). As prophets, women’s roles would have included not only ecstatic public speech, but preaching, teaching, leading prayer, and perhaps even performing the Eucharist meal. ... Women’s prominence did not, however, go unchallenged. Every variety of ancient Christianity that advocated the legitimacy of women’s leadership was eventually declared heretical, and evidence of women’s early leadership roles was erased or suppressed.”
To this day, women’s early leadership roles are challenged and denigrated by many members of the church hierarchy.
Do I hope or believe Pope Francis will promote women to positions of real authority? Something tells me even he will not do that. But the fact he’s talking about it at all is hugely significant."
Contact columnist Bonnie Erbe of Scripps Howard News Service at
Bridget Mary Meehan's Response:
I agree that it is significant that women were apostles and leaders in the early church and presided over the Eucharistic meal in house churches. Today that role is reserved for the priest. Now if we open up sacraments to the entire community as celebrants and both women and men are called forth by the community to preside, then we are back to the early church model. This is what Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is doing in many grassroots communities, but I wonder if it is where Pope Francis wants to go! Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

"Nurturing Your Inner Mystic" by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

"Contemplative" or mystical prayer is popular today for people from different faith traditions and of no faith affliation.
This prayer focuses more on communion with God than on formulas or spontaneous prayer.
There is no right or wrong way to do it.
It is biblical.  Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."
In this prayer, we let go of words  and journey to the still point of our being where our deepest self dwells in the Presence of God.
Here we are at home in the Divine Love that embraces, heals, comforts, and empowers us.
Here we let go, open our hands and hearts to being with God.
Resting, Relaxing, Listening, Loving...
In contemplative prayer, the Spirit of God prays within us, within our relationships, within the beauty that surrounds us and within the ordinary moments of living.
It is where we are one with All in God.
As we nurture the mystic within we  become more attentive to the Wonder of Love within and around us enfolding and holding us.
Today, take a little time, even a few minutes to breathe, let go of your agenda and "to do" list. Rest and relax --- simply be with God.
( One "how to" is simply become aware of your breath, let go and let God love you. No need for words or thoughts or "prayers". A simple prayer word or phrase can help you focus on the Presence. Repeat it as needed to keep your focus on being in love with God who dwells within you and is in love with you and with all creation.)
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,