Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Priest Bends Rules of Church by Being a Woman" -The Debra Meyers Story/Ministry in N. Kentucky
{photo by Jessica Noll, WCPO )

FORT THOMAS, Ky. - The Rev. Debra Meyers doesn’t really care what the pope thinks about her.
It’s her heart that she listens to and follows.
“What the pope thinks about me and what I’m doing is really immaterial to me,” said Meyers, the first female Catholic priest to be ordained in the Tri-State. "Sometimes you have to “bring about real change in our own lives and not wait on the pope.”
Meyers is part of a small but growing group of women bucking Roman Catholic tradition across the world.
She was ordained on May 25 by Bishop Mary Meehan of Fort Meyers, Fla., at St. John’s Unitarian Church near the University of Cincinnati. The women are members of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, which started in 2002 when a rogue bishop ordained seven women on the Danube River.
“Women are doing what they are called to do to lay a foundation for a better Catholic church,” Meyers said. “We’re going to keep moving forward, making positive changes in people’s lives and hope that that translates into the church as a whole.”
There are seven female bishops to date, and nearly 200 women worldwide have joined the movement, 170 of those in the United States, said Meyers.
The movement, she said, is meant to “be God’s living passion for justice, equality and non-violence.”
The Diocese of Covington did not return repeated calls for comment on Meyers and the ordination of women, which Pope Francis said this summer is a closed issue. In 1994, Pope John Paul said the church has no authority to ordain women. 
To the naysayers, who say Meyers is ruining the church:
“I’m not taking anyone out of your pews, I’m taking people who’ve been cast aside by traditional church and bringing them back to God.”
A Calling She Answered
She knew as a small child that priesthood was in her future—but she was told she “shouldn’t think about it because it’s not for girls.”
Meyers grew up in Rochester, N.Y., which she called a “hotbed of reformed movement” activists like Susan B. Anthony, as well as the largest breakaway church Spiritus Christi Church, which is led by a female priest.
Baptized in the Corpus Christi Church, her childhood was spent among a strong Catholic presence, along with her six siblings.
But her faith wasn’t enough to stop the pain and poverty that she would encounter throughout her childhood.
When her mother divorced her father, she and her children were shunned from the eyes of the Catholic Church.
“The church turned us away, we never left [the church],” she said.
“My experience growing up influenced who I am and what I’m here to do,” said Meyers, who continued to attend church the rest of her life. “I knew that was where I would find comfort.”
'Do for those who have less'
The feeling of isolation Meyers experienced growing up in an excluding church and poverty-ridden life, is why she now reaches out to the shunned. 

She quotes the Bible's Book of Mark, Chapter 12: “Love God. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. And do for those who have less.”
“Jesus says this is the most important thing and that’s what the women priests are doing and that’s what people need,” said the mother of two and grandmother of one.
“Helping women instead of [focusing on] my victimization, always pulling up the person behind me because that was the right thing,” she said. “Always turn around, there’s always someone more impoverished.”
“If you’re not helping the people behind you, you’re not growing spiritually.” 
Meyers, married twice and divorced once herself, welcomes those who have been divorced, who are single mothers, who have had an abortion, as well as the gay, lesbian and transgendered community.
Again she turns to the Bible. This time the Book of Luke, Chapter 6: “[We’re] not supposed to pass judgment on people.”
“If we don’t allow them to be who they are, we shouldn’t be surprised at the suicide rates. We must do something,” said Meyers of the gay, lesbian and transgendered community.
“We must love them as much as God loves them and not make them feel like outsiders.”
All Priests Are Not Created Equal
While Meyers was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, she had the option of becoming an Episcopalian priest, where women are accepted in the church as a priest, but she wanted to pass along religion she grew up with and found solace.
She wanted to make the church she loved a better place of worship for all.
“If I can be a tiny part in moving the Catholic church into the 21st century then that’s what I’ll do… it’s about the people and the church,” said Meyers.
Breaking With Tradition
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, works with the marginalized and poor, especially women and children.
“We’ve been called to do different things by God. We aren’t paying attention to those saying, ‘You can’t do that because you’re a woman.’”
Meyers said that she has been preparing for the priesthood all her life, including her volunteerism with schools, libraries, local parishes, food banks and women’s crisis centers, but also through her extensive education.
A religion, history and women’s studies professor at Northern Kentucky University, Meyers has earned a PhD, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in history, a master’s degree in religious studies, graduate certificates in pastoral care, women/gender studies and an associate’s degree in mechanical technology.
Once she completed her sacraments with the church and attended the seminary in Cincinnati, she was ordained as a deacon.
After completing more graduate work, she vowed her “obedience to God.”
Her Church, Her Rules
Meyers calls her church, The Inclusive Catholic Church, where everyone is welcome.
She ministers at Our Lady of Peace Cathedral off of River Road, where on a recent evening the parishioners trickle in one by one, wearing jeans, sweatshirts and gym shoes. 
“I’m not above anyone,” said Meyers, who said that she just happens to be able to guide her parishioners to a closer bond spiritually with God. “I’m no more free of sin than anyone else.”
As she finishes up her Wednesday evening mass, she preaches to her loyal parishioners, “Find harmony between your soul and life.”
Slowly she makes the sign of the cross touching her forehead, chest, shoulder, shoulder:
“In the name of the father, the son, the Holy Spirit.'

"Bishops Take on Priorities of Pope : Look to inequality at home" by Katy Zatsick, ARCWP

"This article on the Roman Catholic bishops' meeting in Baltimore was very upsetting. These men have created a very dire situation for the church in the United States by their handling of the pedophile crisis and fight against women's health care rights. Over 30 million people have left the church in the United States. Pope Francis has called for Roman Catholics throughout the world to stand up for justice and in solidarity with those in need — "the preferential option for the poor."
The United States has more than 11 million people unemployed. We have more than 100,000 homeless veterans, 47 million people on food stamps, and 44 million without health insurance. More than 1.6 million children are homeless.
The bishops, not addressing the injustice and economic inequality in America, say they will instead "take up the cause of Christians who are persecuted and killed for their faith in other countries."
For me this is hypocrisy when children and families are homeless and are starving all across America. They are not taking on the pope's priorities "for the poor." They are running away from their spiritual responsibility as followers of Jesus and as priests and pastors in our own country."
Katy Zatsick, Sun City Center

Friday, November 15, 2013

'Shadowing The Ministry Of Healing and Presence with Pastors Lee and Beaumont'

This is Pastor Judy Lee with Joann in the Hospital on Thurs. 11/13/13-The laying on of hands
Sometimes illness hits hard and we are unprepared. How can we ever be prepared for that which is unknown and perhaps life threatening? At that times it is so good to call upon those who can pray with us and simply be with us. When I get those calls these days, after my own bout with a rare slow growing stomach cancer and thankfully successful surgery in February of this year, I respond empathically from the deepest level within me. I respond in the Spirit of our loving God. Pastor Judy B. who has gone through, and thankfully through, three cancers responds from the same place. Perhaps that was gift that God has given us as we struggled and overcame with our own illnesses,
Our first call on Thursday was from Joann, nearly 80, who has suffered with many illnesses. We have ministered to and with her and her family for almost fifteen years. We stood together in this same hospital just a few years ago when her beloved husband said good-bye to her and embraced life forever with God.  Depleted and dehydrated she was admitted to the Hospital for hydration and study. She is frightened but a woman of strong abiding faith.We visited and discussed her condition and her concerns. We anointed her with the rite of the Church and this brought her great comfort. In the profound quiet of silent prayer in the laying on of hands there is a power beyond description. The above noted picture captures but a bit of it. There is a being with that surpasses any words. Anxiety turned to peace before our eyes.
The reading from the book of James (Chapter 5: 14-15)  is shared at the beginning of the rite of anointing.  It is such a good one to guide us in this:   “Are any of you sick? Then call for the presbyters(translated elders or priests) of the church,and have them pray over those who are sick and anoint them with oil in the name of Christ.  And this prayer offered in faith will make them well,and Christ will raise them up…” It is Christ that raises up the sick and all of us.
Our second hospital call was a difficult one as a young person was involved, one we had known since she was twelve years old and I ministered in the Middle schools. She is now 22 and recently diagnosed with HIV+. She and her family are overwhelmed by this news. And while people now live with HIV+ like a chronic but treatable disease, this young woman has become very ill and is already symptomatic. The adults in the family are in mourning and some are in denial.  The young people and children are anxious and worried although the whole family shares a strong faith. We prayed and maintained presence with this brave young woman although she could hardly speak. We took the family in our arms and prayed with them.  Prayer and presence makes the difference in hope and despair. May each one feel our loving God with them every moment of the day.
Before we went on to our last visit in another hospital we stopped to visit with some of our children. Maintaining loving presence with our children is a priority with us.  ”Then small children were brought to Jesus so he could lay hands on them and pray for them.The disciples began to scold the parents but Jesus said, let the children come to me and do not hinder them, the kindom of God belongs to such as these. And after laying hands on them,Jesus left that town” ” (Matt. 19: 13-15).  Again, we see and feel the power of the laying on of hands and prayer.   The triplets have just had their fifth birthday and were excited to see us. Keion was resting after school but his smile made our day!
Our last visit was to Tania in the Psychiatric Hospital. Last Tuesday we helped her in her admission there and we now followed up with her possible discharge planning. She is now homeless and has nowhere to go and and was also struggling with accepting her medications again. After we prayed she felt happiness and peace. She took her medicine to the relief of Staff and we involved the Discharge planner in discussing her options. We are hopeful that she will accept and enjoy the housing we have found for her.
Prayer and presence, being with and raising up. Thanks be to God!
Pastor Judy Lee, ARCWP

Thursday, November 14, 2013

INCLUSIVE CATHOLIC MINISTRIES in Palm Coast Florida with Roman Catholic Women Priests Wanda Russell ARCWP and Miriam Picconi, ARCWP

What is "Inclusive Catholic Ministries?"
We want to maintain the best of our Roman Catholic heritage and traditions.  We want to invite EVERYONE to participate in God's love and our ministries and we use inclusive language.   We want to offer what you the people of God want and need. We are starting with several ministry outreaches.  Come and see if this is the faith community you are seeking.
Wednesdays, Nov. 6 & 13 from 3:30 to 5:00 PM  INTER-FAITH THEOLOGY CLUB  Place:  2 Westmill Ln., Palm Coast  (Not meeting Nov. 20 or 27.)

Saturday, Nov. 9 from 3:00 to 5:00 PM  Showing of “PINK SMOKE OVER THE VATICAN  Place:  2 Westmill Ln. Palm Coast
This is a one hour documentary DVD sharing how women were priests in the early Church and how women are making this happen again today. 

Saturday, Nov. 16, 4:00 P.M.  MONTHLY MASS in Palm Coast    Hospitality follows.  Place:  2 Westmill Ln., Palm Coast, Fl 32164
Sunday, Nov.24, 10:00 AM  Inter-Faith Worship & Communion Service at Castle Otttis in St. Augustine  See page 8.    
Wednesdays, Dec. 4, and 11 from 3:30 to 5:00 P.M.  INTER-FAITH THEOLOGY CLUB  Place:  2 Westmill Ln., Palm Coast  (Not meeting Dec. 18 or 25.)
Friday, Dec. 13, 2:00 P.M.    CUP CAKE MINISTRY OF GRATITUDE

Saturday, Dec. 21, 4:00 P.M.  MONTHLY MASS in Palm Coast    Hospitality follows.  Place:  2 Westmill Ln., Palm Coast, Fl 32164
Sunday, Dec.29, 10:00 AM  Inter-Faith Worship & Communion Service at Castle Otttis in St. Augustine  See page  8.  
Dear Family and Friends,

I am writing this on November 1, the Feast of All Saints.  We have not only the saints who have gone before us for whom we are grateful, we also have YOU.  Thank YOU, dear saints, for your living examples of love and outreach to those in need.  Thank YOU, dear saints, for your support and participation in our ministries.  Without YOU we have no need to exist.

November is also the month we are called to bring to mind all that for which we are grateful.  We encourage everyone to take a few minutes to sit down and reflect and make a list of all for which we are grateful in our lives.  We are called daily to take time to be with our loving God.  Perhaps that time might be when we make our list.  Suggest to our family and friends that we all do the same, then on Thanksgiving Day share our list, or an item or two from our list, with those with whom we celebrate the day.  Perhaps God will suggest to our spirits that we take a few minutes to call someone we have not spoken with in a while and let that person know how grateful we are that God has blessed us with their friendship.  November is a busy month, but the fact that we are still alive and able to say, “Thanks”, is our challenge to help us take the time and take some action to show our gratitude.

Perhaps we have been alienated from a family member or friend.  One suggestion to help overcome this might be to make a list indicating what it is about the other person we are angry about or otherwise distressed.  If we want to mend the broken relationship ask the Spirit what we should do to reconcile.  A start may be to take that list and offer it to God and then thank God for the person.  Maybe even burn the list of perceived faults and let the smoke go up to God as a prayer of praise for freedom from the brokenness.  God will help mend the relationship.  Just remember that we only have control over changing ourselves.  We cannot make the other person change.  We may have to love that person just the way they are. After a period of time the person may see our softened heart and even make some changes.  Scripture tells us that “Perfect love casts out all fear.”  Having our love become perfect towards that person may be just what is needed to cast out that brokenness in the relationship.  God just wants us to love.  God can lead us to the best way to love another.  Let us pray for each other as we are able to release our broken relationships and thank God for making us loving and lovable creatures.

We cannot tell you enough how grateful we are you are in our lives and you are supportive of our ministries.  You are in our prayers of gratitude daily and in a special way this month.  Those of you who cannot participate actively in our ministries are appreciated for your prayer support.  Some days we know we could not go on without that prayer.
Love and peace,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Reformation or Rhetoric?"

The Phoenix Annual 2013,
Clerical Errors, 
Dublin, Ireland.

THE arrival of Pope Francis has enthused Vatican II liberals around the world. In Ireland, persecuted clerical victims of an unbending Roman orthodoxy now believe a new dawn will lead to salvation for the Irish church. But will Francis deliver deeds to back up his words?

Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charlie Brown, emerged in 2013 as Rome’s colonial governor of the post-Murphy Catholic Church, drawing parallels from dissident clergy and laity to Paul Bremer, President George Bush's supremo in Iraq who reduced that unfortunate country to ungovernability.

New Yorker Brown was appointed two years ago in the wake of Judge Yvonne Murphy’s damning report of horrendous clerical child sex abuse in the Diocese of Dublin. He was chosen by Pope Benedict XVI as his ecclesiastical hitman to remodel a discredited Irish Hierarchy.

Just as Bremer effectively operated as head of state of the internationally recognized government of Iraq ten years ago, Brown’s oversight over existing bishops was strengthened by his remit from Pope Benny to pick a new crop of younger bishops.

Bremer's lack of diplomatic experience - indeed of any meaningful experience in government – is uncannily matched by
Brown is not a Holy See career diplomat groomed in the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in the Piazza Minerva. Instead, he laboured as a backroom theologian since 1994 under the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, CDF, the former Roman Inquisition. 

Brown’s narrow worldview as a product of Middle America, reinforced by the  unquestioning enclosed ethos of seminary life and his limited pastoral experience, aggravated by his induction into the Stasi like anti-intellectualism of the CDF. 
Likewise, Bremer’s obsession with image to the neglect of substance strongly resembles  Brown’s secretive methods in his plantation of the Irish Hierarchy and his high profile participation in the consecration ceremonies of new bishops in their diocesan cathedrals, as well as his conspicuous climbing of Croagh Patrick. Yet, Brown’s projection of himself as an all-Irish American boy is not as it seems: although his mother’s maiden name was Patricia Murphy and one great grandparent was called O’Callaghan, Brown hardly knew Ireland before his appointment. Indeed, the Brown is an anglicisation of the German Braun, another shared affinity with Pope Benny. 
Looking through Brown’s cultivated smiling image to substantive engagement with the realities of the Irish Church, and Fr Brendan Hoban questioned his effectively monopolizing the arcane process of picking new bishops and suggested he was Benedict’s man. 

Like Bremer, Brown does not appreciate, much less recognise the profundity of the issues such as loss of the authority suffered by the church for the cover-ups for so long of the abuse of children as grappled by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin. Like Martin, Brown must come to grips with the implications for church governance from a rapidly changing and secularizing Ireland if he is to bring the Church back from the brink of being a marginal voice in society. .

Brown’s Achilles heel was his enthusiastic espousal of Benedict’s policy of disciplining liberal theologians. This was prior to the dramatically unexpected resignation of Benny
in February, and the election on March 13 of the first Latin American and Jesuit, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio, as Pope Francis.  

Calling for a "poor" church in which bishops did not live like "princes", but would serve rather than dominate the People of God, Francis did not move into the Vatican's sumptuous papal apartment but opted to live on bed and board in its guest house. He defined the Church as a hospital for sinners, he branded the curial court as “the leprosy of the papacy” and he identified the grace of mercy for sinners as a key theme for his pontificate. He advocated more ecumenism and more inter-religious dialogue.

In a major interview with the Jesuit journal, La Civiltà Cattolica which was simultaneously published in the Jesuit flagship of Studies in Dublin, Francis said it was not necessary to insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods, but a new balance towards a church of mercy had to be found. “Otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards.” As a son of the church, however, he did not renounce its hardline positions.

Francis took two initiatives towards putting substance to his reformist talk: first, he established a Council of Eight Cardinals to come up with practical reform of the Curia; and two, his convening next October of an Extraordinary Synod of Bishops which will deal with unresolved issues relating to abortion, marriage and contraception.

Nonetheless, Francis’s advocacy of reform frightened Latin-cherishing Lefebvreites and conservative married clerics from Anglicanism whom Benny wooed, while not fully convincing liberals and women of the firmness of his intentions that would remove obligatory celibacy of the priesthood and allow the ordination of women as being practised by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests led by Laois-born Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan. 
"Unless the structures are changed, no real change will happen," thundered rebel Redemptorist preacher and ACP founding father, Tony Flannery, at the first international gathering last month in Bergentz, Austria, of 30 leaders of reformist priest and lay organizations from six countries, the United States, Germany, Ireland, Australia, Switzerland and Austria. The gathering applauded Flannery’s insistence that church structures, such as those at the doctrinal congregation itself and the role of nuncios, needed grave reform, and they devoured reading his detailed account of the lack of due procedure by the CDF in his case against him, as recounted in his bestseller, A Question of Conscience. The consensus was that while Francis has had a good start, priests and people around the world will soon need more than words.

Another deviant on the hit list of banned theologians, Augustinian priest, Fr Iggy O’Donovan, got his counter-strike in, confirming Charlie’s nickname as Archbishop Blunderbuss. Iggy chose his award of the Freedom of Drogheda for his 12 years voluntary sector work in the town as the occasion to lament his being “delated” to Rome for allegedly administering an invalid baptism of a child, before his transfer to the Augustinian community in Limerick.

If Pope Francis is really serious about reform, he must surround himself with Vatican Two Catholics who would replace the old guard like the new Vatican Rottweiler Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, who now heads the CDF and silenced Flannery. Foolishly, Mueller sprung to the defence of his fellow German “Bishop of Bling” – Franz-Peter Tebartz-van-Elst - who spent €31 million on his new luxury mansion in his diocese of Limburg - with  €15,000 on a bathtub. Like Benny, Mueller is a former Bishop of Regensburg in which capacity he served under then Cardinal Ratzinger at the CDF.

Egregiously ignoring Francis’s emphasis on mercy, Müller also declared that divorced and remarried Catholics could not be admitted to Holy Communion – they could not, he said, “appeal to God’s mercy”.

In Francis’s in-tray are a number of pressing cases requiring the Vatican to reviews its treatment of bishops and clerics who are regarded as out of line, whether over moral, financial or doctrinal matters. Present procedures are seriously defective, depriving bishops of due process to defend themselves, as was the case controversially in the 1970s as recorded by a Mayo ex-Columban missionary to Peru, Luke Waldron, in his memoir, A Dawn Unforeseen.

According to former PD constitutional reformer, Michael McDowell, Francis’s statement concerning the likelihood of the moral edifice of the church falling like a house of cards in the absence of "a new balance" is of huge significance. Without the new balance, the road to implosion is plainly open, pleads the Mad Mullah whose proffered advice to Il Papa Francesco in the SINDO was that “the starting point in church renewal must be a fundamental reconsideration of the disastrous course taken by the papacy in Humane Vitae which still discredits the church as a moral community.”

Such rabble-rousing is anathema to Charlie Brown and Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Eamon Martin, Brown’s specially selected rising star of a new generation of bishops. Eamonn restored the medieval threat of excommunication into Irish political discourse during the Dail’s endorsement of a limited abortion law, which passed despite the protests of Charlie and Eamon.
The Nuncio-Armagh axis is now plotting to thwart Labour leader Eamon Gilmore’s fulfillment of his promise there will be legislation in place by autumn 2014 or spring 2015 to allow the adoption of children by gay parents in advance of a referendum on gay marriage. Charlie and Eamon will seek support among some Fine Gael TDs, who may again demand a "free vote" on the grounds that it is a matter of conscience, as will the martyred Blessed Lucinda Creighton, keen to get her revenge on Enda Kenny.

As 2013 fades into history, ghosts of the past returned to disturb Archbishop Brown’s tranquil life in his luxury residence in Cabra. Cardinal Sean Brady, who is holding on in Armagh until his 75th birthday next August, is summoned to answer a civil case in the Four Gold Mines for his alleged negligence in 1975 by a victim of Norbertine paedophile  monk, Brendan Smyth. 

Meanwhile, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin stoutly defended the 98 allegations of abuse recorded against 98 priests, the statistical reality that over 500 children may have been abused by priests in Dublin. Martin of Tours statement was in response to an ACP commissioned study concluded that the practices and procedures of the Murphy commission “fell far short” of meeting the requirements of natural and constitutional justice by naming and shaming those clerics accused of wanting in child protection between 1975 and 2004.

All of this must make Charlie regret that he did not take Mary McAleese’s advice to praise rather than persecute Flannery et al, especially now that she may become a Cardinal and perhaps even replace Mueller as head of a reformed CDF.

But better late than never for Charlie, who in his sermon at the opening Mass for the Wexford Opera Festival lauded Francis’s love for Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion. If he is not kept on, Charlie might find escape under the Stars and Stripes as chaplain to Guantanomo Bay Prison.

Colombian Theologian Consuelo Velez Discusses Women in the Church- True Service Not Servitude

This is Colombian woman Priest Olga Lucia Alvarez (second from left) with Priests Judy Lee and Barbara Duff and Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan at a gathering of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests 
Acclaimed Latin American Theologian Consuelo Velez has written a very good article about women in the church related to the hopes of Pope Francis to find another level of service and not servitude for women in the church. She points out that the Pope is aware of theology of women and the efforts of women theologians. The only lack in this fine article is that she seems unaware of the existence of Roman Catholic women priests. As there are already two in her own country of Colombia, and more on the way, we would hope to dialogue with her and let her know that the hope for the ordination of women who are called and prepared has already happened, and is continually happening.And, perhaps of equal importance. ordained women are renewing the church, sharing with the priesthood of all believers and serving the poor and outcast as Jesus did. Inclusivity is what we learn from Jesus. The established Roman Catholic Church in later centuries moved away from what Jesus did and taught  toward exclusivity and our renewal is critical to church survival and evangelism. 
The article is shared by our ARCWP Priest in Colombia Olga Lucia Alvarez and from the blog of the Barefoot Church/ Iglesia Descalza
Posted: 12 Nov 2013 10:24 AM PST
by Consuelo Vélez (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Biblioteca Amerindia
November 9, 2013

Among the many “different” things Pope Francis has said are his references to women. He said that it pains him that often women’s role in the Church is “servitude” and not “service” and he has stated the need to do a “theology of women” so that the latter can hold more significant posts within the Church since “the Virgin Mary was more important than the apostles, bishops, deacons and priests, and women are more important than bishops and priests.” (interview granted on the flight back to Rome after WYD-Rio) He has also highlighted the role of women as mothers and the feminine dimension of the Church, but he has said the role of women is not reduced to their maternity, although they must not renounce it in favor of getting other roles in society.
It’s good that the Pope is talking about this because it confirms that when we women refer to the situation of women in the church, we are right and it also gives us more freedom to talk about it in the face of some of the voices in the Church who get “irritated” or think it’s unnecessary to address these issues.
How do we make it possible for women’s role in the Church to be their rightful one? For the time being, it would be very important for women’s theological work to be better known, studied, and evaluated. It’s not that there is no theology of women. There’s a lot of it and it’s very good. It’s possible that there isn’t a theology of women that is accepted by the Vatican that promotes more substantive changes and that must be what the Pope meant when he stated the need for a theology of women. In fact, when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he endorsed the holding of the First Congress of Latin American and German Women Theologians in 2008 and, undoubtedly, he knows about  many other events and publications along that line.
But what is this theology of the woman that is already being done? We should highlight the Biblical work that has reclaimed the presence of women in the Bible and their role in the constitution of the early Christian communities. But there’s also work in other fields of theology such as theological anthropology, Christology, ecclesiology, sacraments etc… In these topics, the feminine face of God –so often forgotten — and God’s saving message for men and women concretely and according to their specific reality, are reclaimed. For example, it’s not the same to speak of gift and sacrifice to women as to men. In a patriarchal society such as the one that still persists, that argument has led some women to the “servitude” that Pope Francis is criticizing, denying their dignity and suffering the tragedy of domestic violence, among others. Women’s theology works to regain the dignity of women so often denied by patriarchal society and supported in some ways by a “distorted” religious view, and it substantiates that this is not God’s will but that, on the contrary, God’s plan of salvation proposes a “community of equals” where gender differences would not be the reason for the subordination of either of the genders to the other one.
Although all this seems obvious, it’s still not a reality in Church practice. It’s enough to see the ministers of Holy Communion giving out the Eucharist. There, one notices that the faithful prefer to receive the Eucharist first from the priests, then from laymen, and often, the line for the woman [minister of Holy Communion] is empty. Thus they reproduce the clerical style that impedes a Church of communion. And though many more women than men go to Church and they lead catechism and apostolic groups, their words and initiative are often not acknowledged by the ordained ministers, and real parochial councils, where the priest recognizes the voice of the laity — and women, of course — in the journey of the ecclesial community, aren’t promoted.
It has always been said that change comes from the grassroots. But in this case it seems that the roots of the Church are very passive and that it’s the will of a leader — the Pope — that is raising awareness and making us see that things could be different. In any case, change will come from working together and that’s why we have to be responsible in the face of these challenges and ask ourselves sincerely: What is the effective participation of women in decision-making positions in our local communities? How much credibility are they granted? Are the theological works of women taught in the seminaries and schools of theology? Is there enough humility to acknowledge the difference between what ought to be and the reality of women in the Church? Will we review our praxis and correct the mistakes?
This is a task we have pending in this Church we love and that needs to be renewed according to the will of God, in this specific case, seeking to make effective that in Christ Jesus “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free person, there is not male and female.”(Gal 3: 28)
Consuelo Vélez has a PhD in Theology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with post-doctoral studies at Boston College. She is professor of Theology at the Pontificia Universidad Xaveriana in Bogota, Colombia. 
  Judy Lee, ARCWP

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"The Outsider": Father Greg Reynolds Excommunicated for his support of Women's Ordination by Thom Rigney, North Queensland Register

..."Greg Reynolds’s trouble with the Catholic Church began three years ago, when he made up his mind to support the ordination of women. But his journey began in May 1953 when he was born, the third of four children, into “a pretty average Catholic family” who lived in a mile-long middle-class street in East Bentleigh, in Melbourne’s south-east.
By 2010, Reynolds was parish priest at Western Port, on the Mornington Peninsula, and it was there that he decided to speak out in favour of the ordination of women. Friends advised him to be cautious, but he would not be persuaded. He thought, “Damn it, I’m going to say it.”
He wrote to Archbishop Denis Hart, informing him of his intention and then at three Masses across the parish said he believed it was God’s will to have women priests and that denying women the right was “obstructing the work of the Holy Spirit”.
He tells me that as “an insignificant little parish priest” he lacked the profound theological training to contradict papal teaching, “but some things you just know in your heart, in the core of your being”. At each Mass, he says, there was strong applause.
It did not extend into the Cathedral. Hart responded, by email, that he should recant or resign. Reynolds replied that he intended to do neither, but resigned nevertheless as the parish priest a year later, in August 2011.
By then, he had made up his mind to become a priest for the disaffected – those who thought of themselves as Catholic, but were at odds with the church on women’s ordination and homosexuality, as well as victims of clerical abuse and those who were divorced.
He was inspired by the outspokenness of Peter Kennedy, a priest for 40 years who was defrocked in 2009 and founded St Mary’s in Exile in south Brisbane, and had closely followed the battle of American priest Roy Bourgeois, who was laicised last year after a five-year battle over women’s ordination.
Michael Kelly, a former Franciscan seminarian and organiser of the Rainbow Sash movement -which campaigns for acceptance of homosexuals in the Catholic Church – had met Reynolds around 1998 through a network of people who were attempting to live “contemplative lives”. He regarded Reynolds as a man of “deep and simple spirituality”. When he learned Reynolds had resigned from active priesthood, he advised him to “build a community”. Reynolds established the group Inclusive Catholics.
On the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011, Reynolds celebrated the group’s first illicit Mass. He said his actions were founded on justice and compassion. Conscious of the implications, he preached, “I take comfort from the words of St Thomas Aquinas: ‘I would rather be ex-communicated than forced to act outside my conscience.’ ”
Then in August last year, the consecrated bread of the Angels, the Eucharist, was given to a dog during communion. The Age religion editor Barney Zwartz reported it this way: “A first-time visitor arrived late at the Inclusive Catholics service in South Yarra with a large and well-trained German shepherd. When the consecrated bread and wine were passed around, the visitor took some bread and fed it to his dog. Apart from one stifled gasp, those present showed admirable presence of mind – but the dog was not offered the cup!”
Reynolds says he did know the man had shared the Eucharist with his dog, and he would never have given communion to a dog, but that it was “just one of those odd things that happen” and “a bit of a non-event”. He was sorry to hear that the dog died not long afterwards.
When we first speak, soon after the excommunication, Reynolds says he feels “indifferent” to it. “I just don’t take it too seriously, really,” he says, but adds that it seems “excessively heavy-handed” and that Church reformers will be concerned that it has been done under the seal of the new pope...
At Inclusive Catholics, Irene Wilson, a “cradle Catholic” who has led the liturgy at the group’s illicit services, says that what has happened to Reynolds is “absolutely horrendous”. “He is such a good man, working for a church that we all love so much, to make it more relevant, where all are welcome and women can be ordained,” she says.
In a 500-word statement, which the Melbourne archdiocese says will be its only comment, Vicar General Monsignor Greg Bennet says the decision “by Pope Francis to dismiss Reynolds from the clerical state and to declare his automatic excommunication has been made because of his public teaching on the ordination of women contrary to the teaching of the church and the fact of his public celebration of the Eucharist when he was forbidden to do so and the manner in which the celebrations occurred”.
He says that Hart and others sought “in a spirit of pastoral and fraternal concern to encourage Greg Reynolds on repeated occasions to cease his activities contrary to the teachings of the church but without success. The possibility remains open for the excommunication to be lifted upon Reynolds manifesting through his actions and teaching a serious commitment to return to full communion with the Church.”
On a quiet Sunday afternoon, Reynolds stands at a pulpit, preaching to a congregation of Inclusive Catholics in a Protestant church hall, a green Catholic stole draped across his shoulders. There are about 150 people in the hall, more than usual. He says his excommunication is complex, but that God has a talent for turning mess into goodness.
“We are only here really because we love the Church,” he says. “It is our Church and we are not walking away from it, we are not going to abandon the Church, because we are the Church. We can’t walk away from ourselves.”

Catholic Organizations for Renewal Launch Survey to Collect Input for Vatican Synod on the Family

Linda Pinto, 570-618-2120
Marianne Duddy-Burke, 617-669-7810

Catholic Organizations Launch Survey to Collect Lay Input for
Vatican Synod on the Family 

November 11, 2013. A group of 15 progressive Catholic organizations will launch an on-line survey to enable U.S. Catholics to provide input to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and to the Vatican in preparation for an upcoming Synod on the Family. The effort will be officially kicked off at a press conference held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

The press conference, entitled "Since You Asked: Encouraging Catholics to Talk with the Vatican about Divorce, Contraception, Same-Sex Marriage and More," will be Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at Noon at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, 700 Aliceanna Street, Baltimore.

In preparation for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family to be held Oct. 5-19, 2014, the Vatican has asked national bishops' conferences around the world to seek the opinions of Catholics on a number of church teachings including contraception, same-sex marriage and divorce and remarriage. Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Vatican's Synod of Bishops, asked the bishops' conferences to commence a survey "immediately as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so that input from local sources can be received."

In the U.S., the Conference of Catholic Bishops has determined that its members will respond to the survey. In some other countries, notably the United Kingdom, a survey has been made available over the internet, allowing feedback from Catholics.

Linda Pinto, the facilitator of Catholic Organizations for Renewal, a leadership forum of US progressive Catholic organizations said, "U.S. Catholics have been happily surprised that the Vatican is seeking input on issues like divorce and remarriage, use of contraception, same-sex marriage, and what kind of pastoral practice is effective and appropriate. They have been disappointed that there was not a vehicle for them to give their input. That's why we created this on-line survey. Lay Catholics have strong feelings and a great deal of experience on these matters. Our voices, along with those of our bishops, need to be heard."

The survey, which closely follows the questions asked by the Vatican, will be available for response through December 15, 2013. Responses will be compiled and sent to Catholic officials including Archbishop Baldisseri Secretary General of the Vatican's Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Papal Nuncio to the United States, and the incoming president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who will be elected next week.

The survey can be accessed at

Organizational sponsors of the survey project from Catholic Organizations for Renewal (COR) include American Catholic Council, Call To Action, CORPUS, DignityUSA, Federation of Christian Ministries/Roman Catholic Faith Community Council, FutureChurch, New Ways Ministry, RAPPORT, Roman Catholic WomenPriests, Southeastern Pennsylvania Women's Ordination Conference, Voice of the Faithful, and Women's Ordination Conference.  Other supporting organizations include Catholic Church Reform, Fortunate Families, and Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER). Additional organizations are being invited to sponsor the project, and to encourage their members to complete it.

"We want this survey to reach as many U.S. Catholics as possible," said Pinto. "These are important issues, and our goal is that everyone who wants to have input should have that chance. How our Church ministers to people is of concern to all of us."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Review of Book by John Cooney: "A Dawn Unforeseen, Journey from the West of Ireland to the Barrios of Peru," Luke Waldron, Liffey Press,

"A cottage industry has grown up on the historiography of the Irish Catholic Church, filled with official reports and misery memoirs relating to clerical child physical and sexual abuse. Yet, it is regretfully rare for churchmen to publish truthful autobiographies. So the publication is to be welcomed of the nomadic story of a former Irish missionary priest who left the Society of St. Columban in 1971.
In his early thirties Luke Waldron left the priesthood because of his growing unease with the Catholic Church’s blanket imposition of celibacy on all priests and with the clerical institution’s apartness from Peruvian people struggling to be free from poverty and to live with dignity.
A Dawn Unforeseen is an important memoir in which Luke Waldron, who grew up in the 1940s at Ballyroe near Knock, County Mayo and trained for the priesthood at the junior seminary of St Jarlath’s in Tuam, Co Galway, and spent seven elite years at the Columban formation centre at Dalgan Park near Navan in County Meath, reflects seriously and publicly on 50 years of hopes and frustrations with Mother Church.

He is convinced that the issues which his book highlights are relevant not just for Catholics today and people of all faiths as well as for everybody who dreams of a better world.

For Waldron the reformist Second Vatican Council of 1962-65 opened a period of great hope, but that regrettably this mammoth assembly’s agreed proposals to bring some democracy into the Church’s governance and update its approach to culture and the modern world were shelved by the Vatican elite.

In this riveting book Luke Waldron puts flesh and blood to the unprecedented numbers of clerics who left the priesthood including his own of an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 clerics from the priesthood since the Council ended. He gives a credible explanation of how a changed understanding of the nature of the priesthood occurred in the second half of the twentieth century remains unresolved today by the institutional church.

Waldron’s youth coincided with the height of the authoritarian clericalist church embodied by the imperial Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid, and he insists that a window was shut after the Council as the Church retreated more and more from accountability into its own world of autocracy, control and secrecy.
Of the formidable McQuaid, Waldron writes: “One could hardly overstate the church’s power which reached far beyond the silent pews in church, to education, health and the political sphere.”

According to Waldron, one of the most blatant cases of clerical interference in politics came when the hierarchy led by McQuaid “toppled probably the finest Minister for Health the new Republic has seen” - Dr Noel Browne.
Such was the lasting impression on the deferential young Waldron of Browne’s marginalisation in the 1950-1 Mother and Child Scheme as a result of the secretive machinations by Maynooth against John A. Costello’s Government he visited his hero in his Connemara cottage years later after his return from Peru.
‘As we drove up to the neatly-kept thatched cottage, we saw a tall, slender figure in muffled coat and cap at the reek of turf,’ he writes. ‘It was indeed the great man himself! We were welcomed into their cottage by his wife Phyllis and over a glass of whiskey first, and later tea and scones, we chatted freely for a couple of hours. Driving away one couldn’t help but be refreshed and uplifted. At the evening time of his life, this frail man and his faithful partner lived tuned-in to the events in Ireland and beyond. They were content in simplicity, and surrounded by none of the trappings available to a government minister.’
This brief personal reminiscence tells volumes more than do many academic tomes of how Browne’s stature continues to rise in direct contrast to McQuaid’s fall following the Murphy Commission’s Report into abuse and cover-ups in the archdiocese of Dublin.
Waldron’s own revelation moment came when he was administering the last rites to a teenage boy with tuberculosis in a shanty town in the suburbs of Lima - the boy's fixed stare stayed with him for years. ‘It seemed to say, “Padre, look at these conditions, look at what they have done to me”’.
This spurred Waldron, who already felt uneasy about his vocation, into realising that his training at St Jarlath’s and at Dalgan Park was grounded in evangelizing the heathen and was not fit for purpose in a culture defined by oppressive poverty. His faith was to be rocked to the core.
‘Sent to convert, he was now the converted’ to the belief that the Catholic message of saving souls could do nothing to help the thousands of people living in grinding poverty.
With some like-minded colleagues, he pushed for reform. This entailed a new pastoral approach inspired by liberation theology which taught that aid was no good if it just patched over the misery. It questioned the building of big churches and the ethics of playing golf with the elite.
Five chance encounters illuminate his growing disenchantment with both clericalism and celibacy.
The lofty Dermot Ryan, McQuaid’s successor as Archbishop of Dublin, on a visit to Peru as the guest of the Columbans, was given a tour of the mission which included a mothers' club in the suburbs of Lima, where he was perturbed to find a calendar with scantily clad ladies next to a picture of the Sacred Heart. The mothers were indifferent to Ryan’s discomfort: ‘What's the problem, Padre? What planet do you live on?’

When BBC Panorama’s James Mossman, ‘a special person’ who had covered the Cuban missile crisis, came to the parish of El Menton to film a documentary on the Latin America-wide struggle between Christian reform and communist revolution, he asked Luke to say what exactly he was he trying to do. ‘Well, James, the short answer is, we are trying to empower the poor. This is a process. Firstly, we try to help them break free of a mindset that tells them they are of little worth and that cruel poverty is their lot. and allow them to think for themselves.’

The then archbishop of Lima, Juan Landazuri Rickets, was no radical but realised that the wheels of change were already in motion, and though he hated conflict, he appointed Gustavo Gutierrez, the proponent of liberation theology, as his theological adviser at meetings of the Conference of Latin American Bishops, CELAM,.

Luke also cherishes an ‘engrossing conversation’ with the American writer, poet and anti-Vietnam war protester, Daniel Berrigan S.J, on a rainy night in El Menton around 1968 when he was on the run from the FBI.
Engrossed in the empowering process, Luke contended that past generations of Catholic missionaries had underestimated their ‘flock’ as talented, intelligent people with a rich culture who needed education and facilities, not more churches and sacraments. He and his colleagues learned too late that the deep divisions had opened up in the Columban ranks as the older clerics saw the new approach as being disloyal to their sacramental mission and moved to defend the old ways.
The Columban top brass instructed a weak local superior to dismantle the team. His crack-down was ‘ruthless and dictatorial’ delivering a serious blow to the new participatory approach to pastoral action. Luke was moved to a new parish built entirely on the city's former dump on the other side of the river Rimac.
Luke left the clerical state and married Carmen, a fellow social worker of Peruvian nationality with whom he had fallen in love. His apprehension that he would be seen as a “spoiled priest'” at home proved unfounded when his parents respected his decision.
What shook him, however, was the ‘coldness and lack of humanity’ from his religious superiors who regarded him as ‘a walking source of grave scandal, whose future activity in the church had to be drastically curtailed.’

On their return to Peru, Luke and Carmen earned their living as community development workers and they diversified to make 40 film documentaries, including one about the people who were ‘disappeared’ during the political violence there in the 1980s. When the situation deteriorated at the end of the eighties, Luke and Carmen moved back to Ireland.
In line with his commitment to dialogue, Luke justifies the publication of his story with the admonition that ‘an understanding of recent church history is vital if we are to comprehend and face the burning issues of the moment.’
I second this insight from my period as Religious Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times in reporting extensively a dispute between the Columban Society and a member of its governing body, Fr Frank Purcell, an Australian. This was about the lack of recognition in canon law of human rights. Long-standing attempts at a resolution involving Archbishop Ryan ended with Rome backing the superiors in the Society. Purcell resigned from both the religious order and the priesthood. Purcell, who had served in the Philippines, returned to Melbourne. 1. ‘Challenge of legal justice within mission order’, The Irish Times, Monday March 2, 1975.

In my archive I have an Irish Times editorial from 1975 which remains worth quoting for its relevance today:
‘Father Purcell’s departure means that the rights and wrongs of his case against the Society, in which he claimed the Society had violated human rights, will not be independently assessed. It is therefore a sad moment both in the history of that illustrious Irish missionary society and in the Irish Catholic Church. A Church that preaches reconciliation and love must find it difficult – indeed painful – to realise that the necessary procedures to see that justice is done are lacking in its organisation framework.
‘However, as Fr Purcell himself remarked, “if the case serves to arouse Catholics to a realisation of ‘the urgent need for adequate procedures for settling disputes promptly and fairly”, it will have been worth the effort and pain’.
‘Whatever the hopes of future procedural development in the Catholic Church’s jurisprudence, the fact remains that in this holy Year of Reconciliation, the Church in Ireland has shown itself unable to resolve a cause celebre. It has also lost an energetic and idealistic priest.’ 2. Undated cutting of The Irish Times, ‘Father Purcell’.

The Purcell Affair is well worth a revisit in conjunction with Luke’s book. Frank wrote a detailed account of his dispute which was never published. It is not lost to posterity as a friend of Frank the late Una O’Higgins O’Malley gave a copy to the former editor of Doctrine and Life, the late Austin Flannery, who passed it on to me.

Of great interest also is the private opinion of a leading lawyer of the day saying that while Purcell had a solid human rights case, he would not win a legal challenge as canon law did not recognise human rights.

Significantly, Luke notes that divisions between traditionalists and reformers not unique to the Columbans. A search through documents in my archive testify to the truth of this observation. Issues occupying the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) today also preoccupied its predecessor, the Association of Irish Priests (AIP). For instance, in a 1972 report the AIP recommended the urgent creation of an agency to cater for priests, nuns, brothers and other religious personnel in difficulty with their vocations. 3. Priests leaving the active ministry, Report by the Association of Irish Priests, September 1972 gave statistics of departures from active ministry at home and abroad. It found that 15 diocesan priests officially left – laicized – between 1966 and 1970. But the numbers rose steeply sin 1969 and 1970. In Dublin diocese there were 19 departures from1962-1972, 13 of them after 1969 and six since January 1971. Between 1965 and 1970, 72 religious priests left the active ministry and 43 others joined the diocesan clergy. The report was presented by a sub-committee of the Association of Irish Priests, September 1972. It was prepared by Fathers Eugene Kennedy, Padraig McCarthy and Tony McNamara.
Similarly, Catholic publications were preoccupied by priestly departures just as today the concerns are priestly shortages. The Furrow of May 1965 carried an article by Sean Fagan on “The New Approach”, while the ACP debates was news in the Catholic press, as fore instance, in the article, Dissent among priests, The Catholic Standard, May 1, 1973.
In view of today’s shortages there is a lively debate about how the official Church would benefit from the services of ex-clerics, many of whom still regard themselves as priests. Luke Waldron tells of a move to reconnect with all the resigned Columbans aound the world. It traced 200 of which 40 were deceased. A questionnaire received 135 replies. Its two main findings were that the majority of respondents still held dear their bond of friendship with individual Columbans, and most had a positive relationship with the leadership of the Society (though for some it had been a conflictive one). But a major sticking point was the refusal of the leadership to accord basic pension contributions for their average 14 years of service in the Columban ranks.
I consulted the key work on the history of the Columbans but found no information about the internal conflicts involving Purcell and Waldron even tough the author had permission from the Columban Superior General to access internal records and personnel contacts. 4. Neil Collins, The Splendid Cause, Dublin, Columba Press, 2009.

When Luke Waldron completed his 250 page manuscript, he was convinced that his generation would not see any real reform of clericalism in their lifetime, though he lauded recent positive signs of reform in the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland, Bridget Mary Meehan’s Roman Catholic Women Priests, and the Priests Initiative in Austria.

Unforeseen was that this book’s publication would coincide with the election in March 2013 of the Argentine Jesuit Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio, as the first Latin American Pope. This book should be read in the light of Pope Francis’s convening of the Committee of Eight Cardinals which has the task of drawing up a new constitution for the Curia. 5. Robert Mickens, Reforms “will decentralise, without weakening primacy”, The Tablet, October 14, 2013, and Francis’s convening an Extraordinary Synod of Bishops for October 5-19, 2014, to discuss issues surrounding the family. 6. Robert Mickens and Christa Pongratz-Uippitt, Pope calls family synod as Germans act on divorced and remarried, The Tablet, October 14, 2013.
These developments may fall short of Luke’s reform agenda but he will surely agree that they represent a dawn unforeseen. "

Review written by  John Cooney, a historian and commentator on church affairs, served as religious affairs correspondent of The Irish Times throughout the 1970s.