Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Modern Day Prophet Speaks: Sister Megan Rice’s allocution in Transform Now Plowshares sentencing 2/18/14
Here is the prepared statement Megan Rice read to the court on Tuesday, February 18, 2014:

            As I sat observing the facial expressions of participants present in the hearing on January 28th, I sensed a clear sense of a shared mental reaction during the arguments on this restitution evidentiary Table submitted by the Prosecution (identification…) (display my Exhibit I)

I think we felt something of a Master’s compassionate consternation with the hypocrisy at his accusers.  (Luke 6:5-11  Mark 4:20-30)

I was stunned that 8 months had elapsed with apparently no prior conversations, out of court, between the opposing sides and the court in this case, and would have imagined it had been resolved by negotiation during those delays, and relegated to where it deserved to be disposed. – unworthy of evidence in any court of law.

This very document [hold up Exhibit 1] is self-incriminating evidence for all the world to see.  It represents in microcosm an enormous cloud of deception, exaggerated expenditures in time, energy and cost under which Y-12 has hidden these 70 years since its inception.  It reveals but a sample of the extortion by unaccounted for or unaccountable profiteering and blatant miscalculation over Y-12’s entire evolution till today. – Draconian extortion of the hard-earned labor of the people in this country over the last 70 years, and perhaps before.

It provides evidence why we are in deep trouble today. – A perfect analogy to what Greg spoke of as “Emperor’s new clothes.”

Why can we not call a spade a spade?

Why can we not admit the bare truth, and just get on with what is humanly possible: transforming this humanly constructed horrific monstrosity, an entity which has, effectively un-impeded, evolved into risks of perilous portent to the very existence of this sacred Planet and life as we have known it; for whose transformation we all readily long to give our lives.

Who or what is capable of naming, and being heard to name,
this Emperor’s new clothes?
(if not already named in countless ways and forms.)
When will we be willing to listen,
and to face the truth?

Good morning!  Thank you, Judge Thapar, and each of you, in this Beloved Community.  We are so grateful this morning, in the depths of our hearts.  Grateful to each of you for gracing us from your very busy lives, to be here once again.  Your coming here from Kentucky, your honor, and up from New Orleans, Bill and Anna.  Down form Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Anabel and David, faithfully giving time, and so much zesty, passionate energy and legal expertise in popular education for tru­th and justice’s sake on current status of international and domestic law; and here, also from a crowded date book at Yale’s Schools of Divinity and of Forestry and the Environment, Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker, to witness on behalf of our entire Planet.  A Beloved Community joins us in Spirit, from the four corners of the Earth, speaking truth from people in places like Seychelles, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Denmark, Finland, France, Belgium, Qatar, Bolivia, Alaska, Africa, Scotland, Ireland, Montenegro, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Britain, and many places in between.  These messages from the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers came by post for this court. May I deliver them now?

It is indeed fitting as the issue here before us today has touched with perilous risk, for 70 years, the very existence of our sacred, lovely home, which we all share and try to treasure – our Planet Earth, which many of us revere as Mother!  So thank you.  We treasured the time all you gave in attending the trial in one way or another.

This trial has exposed, quite gratuitously, in the evidence, thanks to the prosecution’s witnesses, the truth about what is happening.  That this one facility is part, of what Kristen Iversen says, the U.S. has become: one, huge, bomb factory, of which Y-12 is but one very significant part.

We are all grateful, as Anabel Dwyer points out, with the Defense team of Lawyers, that the details of the goings-on at Y-12 were revealed by the witnesses for the government, details kept mostly secret, over nigh to 70 years – the specific warheads being “enhanced” and “modernized” – the enormous quantities of highly enriched uranium material (HEUM) produced and stored there, in the very building we were able, almost unknowingly, to reach, to touch, and to label with statements and symbols of truth.   This alerted Y-12 workers to what has been kept secret for nearly 70 years.

The secrecy began in 1943, when worker women, by thousands, could not tell fellow workers or family.  Still now, secrets are kept between workers, officials, and managers.  The secrecy prevailed to try relentlessly to turn these United States into a “super power,” an empire.  As Germany tried to be under the Third Reich.  When I was growing up, to our generation, these were very evil terms.  Has any empire, or aspiring super-power not declined, not fallen apart from exceptionalism into decadence?  So we had to come to this facility to call it to transformation.  Thank you for revealing these secrets as evidence.

Many who were here on Jan. 28th had attended plowshares trials around the country, your honor, from the most recent in Tacoma, WA – the Disarm Now Plowshares (seniors also, I allege, aged from 84-60: One Sacred Heart Sister, Anne Montgomery of happy memory, 2 Jesuits Frs. Bill Bicshel and Steve Kelly, and 2 grandmothers, Susan Crane and Lynne Greenwald.)  In many of these earlier trials, even the words, nuclear weapons, have been called “classified” and denied to be alluded to.  Despite being components for weapons of mass destruction, contrary to the Non-Proliferation and other treaties and laws, to which the U.S. is legally bound, and for which crimes we citizens bear shared responsibility by law to expose and oppose as crimes, when we know they are being committed.

And still we have more room and reasons for gratitude, you honor.  Because recent laws, by the U.S. congress, gave you distress, you felt that you had to keep these jury-convicted, conscience-bound peace-makers as “violent saboteurs,” felons accused of “seriously damaging the national defense of the U.S.” in detention while awaiting sentencing.  Detention in a privately-contracted, for profit, rendition warehouse, which punishes and tortures unsentenced people, partly because of the enormously overcrowded courts and prisons in this country.       These facilities are not effectively overseen nor accountable.  Because of our experience of the ill-equipped conditions and inadequately trained personnel in those for-profit warehouses, we now know how U.S. citizens and non-citizens are treated for nonviolent crimes of “conspiracy” and other medical, drug laws as they exist.  Crimes engendered by the failed socio-economic situation which prevails today in a national security state.  The direct fall-out from gross misspending to maintain a nuclear industrial complex – of ten trillions of dollars over these last 70 years.  An economic system devoid of any outcome other than death, poverty for the masses in a debt-ridden country, with obscene wealth for the less than 1% of the people – individuals wealthier than the GNP of entire countries and I would ask, from war-profiteering?

We thank you, Judge Thapar, for giving us this time to become inspired by truly great human beings, so patiently enduring flagrantly inhuman conditions.  We can now report to you and the general public, who are the government, of the conditions where people are experiencing punishment and torture as unsentenced, awaiting changing court dates, or places in federal prisons today.  We have seen how this far-profit detention contract system fails to accomplish any kind of restorative justice or rehabilitation.  Women and men who are the victims of a nation, impoverished by the violence and cost of an economy based on manufacturing WMDs and war-making – inhumanly separated by distance and poverty, managerial incompetence; inordinately separated from contact with loved ones and families.

I am grateful also for what Daniel Berrigan called in a letter to me in Danbury Prison in 1998, “my time under federal scholarship.”  We have tried to make the most of it.  (Have learned enough for 2 or 3 Masters degrees, and written and received letters to and from enough to do a doctoral dissertation!)  We are activated by the people who suffer under disempowering conditions of detention.  Activated to invite U.S. prison reform, which calls for transformation of minds and hearts from violence.  Violence of profiteering from the “fall out” of constant, unending war-making, by a military industrial complex.  Those engaged in the production of ever more massively powerful, death-dealing weapons, – nuclear, chemical, biological, unmanned weapons, which rob the poor and sabotage and pollute all of life and creation on this Planet.  Imagine the profit accrued by charges like mine: $15 for one 10 minute call to Washington DC from Knoxville Detention Facility.  TN instate calls can be close to $3.00 each for 10 minutes.  Or a sick call, which can cost an inmate $15 to obtain a dropped, previously sanctioned prescription for a nightly Claritin tablet for controlling an allergy condition.  Medical records denied to be passed on from facility to facility as inmates are moved along to prisons.

We are energized to call for life-enhancing alternative projects: like disarmament, depleting radioactive isotopes and toxins, and those which meet real needs – social, cultural, spiritual and environmental: restoration, healing, harmony, balance and peace in non-violence.

May I close with a prayer?  A rendition of an ancient Hebrew country song – PS 98 (according to Nan Merrill) as again we thank you, Judge Thapar, honorable jurors, our defense team, lawyers on behalf of the government (whose crimes, we as law-abiding citizens attempt to disclose, oppose, and heal), and for each of you, you in this most honorable Beloved Community, a prophetic peace-making remnant, from whom we receive hope and inspiration and encouragement to carry on as grateful participants in your noble pursuits:

Let us sing to the Beloved a new song.
For Love has done marvelous things!
By the strength of Your Indwelling Presence, (Your right hand)
We, too, are called to do great things;
We are set free through Love’s Forgiveness and Truth.
Yes, for Your steadfast Love and Faithfulness
are ever-present gifts
in our lives.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the glory of Love’s Eternal Flame.
Make a joyful noise to the Beloved,
all the Earth;
Break forth into grateful song
and sing praises! [-Sacred the Land, Sacred the Water, Sacred the Sky, holy and true!]
Yes, sing songs of praise extolling
Love’s way;
Lift up your hearts with gratitude and Joy!
Let the voices of all people blend in harmony,
in unison let the peoples magnify the Beloved!
Let the waters clap their hands!
Let the hills ring out with joy!
Before the Beloved who radiates Love to all the earth.
For Love reigns over the world
with truth and justice,
bringing order and balance, [harmony]
to all Creation!
In keeping with all that is just and Fair.
and may we go forth
as Your holy right hand, to do great things, in Love!

(MK 3: LK 7)

 Megan then asked the judge if it would be all right to sing a song. He agreed, then was taken aback as she turned to the audience and they rose to join her in singing “Sacred the Earth.”

Sr. Megan Rice, SHCJ, February 18, 2014
U S Federal Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

Christian /Muslim Dialogue Lexington, Kentucky February 22, 2014

Christian /Muslim Dialogue Lexington, Kentucky
February 22, 2014

Each month in Lexington, Kentucky the Christian/Muslim Dialogue, which has been in existence for many years, sponsors an educational program for the community. Todays program was titled Faithful Christian and Muslim Women As Agents of Change Within Faith Communities: An Exploration of Traditional and New Ground-breaking Roles of Faithful Women within Christianity and Islam. Moderators Roz Heise and Jim Smith showed the documentary Pink Smoke Over the Vatican and then hosted a panel discussion with Dr. Nadia Rasheed and Roman Catholic Women Priests, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, and Donna Rougeux. About forty people attended the program that was followed with a potluck lunch. Janice talked about witnessing to the Bishops for many years before she was ordained as a priest. She thanked Judy, Eileen, Murry, Doris Caspani and her husband Guido for their continued support of the movement. Janice talked about the sign that Guido helped get permission to hang in Rome that said "Ordain Women." Donna talked about being mentored by Janice and being significantly influenced by a founder of the Lexington Christian /Muslim Dialogue,Muhammed Nasser, before he died. She said it is an honor to be invited by this group to talk about the movement.  Nadia pointed out that Islam does not discriminate against women, men and culture do. A common theme emerged during the discussion that there is a need for education and careful contextual study of sacred texts such as the Quran and the Bible so that progress can be made in ending sexism. 

World-Renowned Author Matthew Fox in Sarasota, Fl., Addresses "A Spirituality for 21st Century "and Co-Presided at Liturgy with Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Matthew Fox, international speaker, author and theologian
 Over 200  enthusiastic people attended an all-day program  on Feb. 22nd at St. Andrew United Church of Christ sponsored by Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, Call to Action and St. Andrew UCC. Dr. Marilyn  Jenai, a member of Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Community and a friend of Matthew Fox gave a warm introduction of her  spiritual  mentor and colleague.

Dr. Marilyn Jenai introduced Matthew Fox
Matthew Fox presented a thought-provoking program on the profound need for developing a mystical heart in the 21st century. Like Nero who fiddled when Rome burned, Fox said we live in times where institutions are failing to deal with modern day challenges  confronting our Earth including governmental, financial, and religious, and political bodies.

Our planet is in crisis and we need to take action now. 

 Matthew Fox  pointed to Via Negativa and recommended practices to help us on our journey such as fasting  and meditating  which can help expand our hearts so we can rewire our species and refire our civilization. Matthew observed that the poets like Mary Oliver point out that we must:  1. Pay attention, 2. Be astonished and 3 Share astonishment. 

Matthew Fox addresses over 200 in Sarasota, Fl. 
Observing that Florida is the playground for retirees, he said that retirement should be a time to refire and rewire to help us live our passion and to help make our planet liveable again. 
He cited saints and prophets in the Christian tradition like Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart,Thomas Aquinas, and contemporary mystics like Thomas Merton, Thomas Berry, and Mary Oliver. All are spiritual guides who provide wisdom for the journey into an expanded heart where we can  experience the marriage of the divine feminine and sacred masculine in our interior lives, relationships and worldview. 
St. Andrew United Church of Christ is full of enthusiastic spiritual seekers for Matt Fox Presentation

 He quoted  a poem by Mary Oliver who said we must:  1. Pay attention, 2. Be astonished and 3 Share astonishment. 

In the afternoon session, Matthew interviewed his co-worker Skyler on his journey as a young person into the meaning of contemplation and community. There are some young adults who are finding deep meaning in living in community, sharing spiritual practices and reflections. This is not only happening in ashrams but in contemporary dwellings such as the one where Skyler and several spiritual seekers share in San Francisco.
Dialogue between Matt on right and Skyler on left

Skyler accompanies Matt on wilderness retreats and a rich diversity of communal reflective exercises that appeal to young adults today. He also organizes the Cosmic Christ Masses that incorporate reggae and other contemporary arts and music in worship.

3 Meditation Chants we "tried on" as spiritual practices:
chant ah, then the names of God.
Chant "Kingdom of God is within you, and/or the Queendom God is among us. "
Chant "do to the least, you do unto me."

We concluded our day with a beautiful liturgy  where all were invited to receive Communion at he Banquet Table and where the entire community shared the Eucharistic Prayer. Sheila Carey led liturgical dance, Linda Lee Miska and Mindy Simmons led musical chants and meditative music that celebrated our mystical oneness and call to be the compassionate face of God by living life fully.Matt and I co-presided at the Table.
Bridget Mary welcomes all to  inclusive Eucharistc Table

Congregation Prays Consecration with Extended Hands

Matthew Fox on left and Bridget Mary Meehan on right co-preside at liturgy

Sheila Carey, liturgical dancer, leads assembly in sacred dance and gestures
Sheila Carey leads community in liturgical dance and movement

Mindy Lou Simmons and Linda Lee Miska played music on guitar and piano for liturgy. 
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan joins hands with Joan Meehan as congregation dances out of church in the light of God!

Dr. Michael and Imogene Rigdon, co-pastors of Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community and leaders of Call to Action Peace River, 
Dr. Michael Rigdon

with a team of  generous volunteers, from MMOJ and CTA  spent many hours preparing and working to make this day such a major blessing for so many who attended. We are also grateful to Lee and Carol Ann Breyer, a married priest couple form MMOJ coordinated the liturgy. Thanks to Judy and Kevin Connelly for their generous contributions and coordination of the meals. Special thanks to Pastor Phil Garrison for his presence, dedicated service and photos above.  He is the pastor who gives and gives and gives! A word of appreciation to Nancy Haines who took some of the photos above.
We will never forget this day of blessed refiring and rewiring with Matthew Fox, a prophet and mystic for the 21st century! 
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Friday, February 21, 2014

International Church Reform Groups Seek Meeting with Pope Francis Groups Send Letter Urging Increase in Women’s Leadership, Access to Communion


International Church Reform Groups Seek Meeting with Pope Francis
Groups Send Letter Urging Increase in Women’s Leadership, Access to Communion

Contact:  Anthony Padovano, 973-539-8732
                 Linda Pinto, 570-296-5326

                As the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ election approaches, leaders of 52 organizations from the United States, Europe, and Asia working towards renewal and reform in the Catholic Church have sent a letter to the Pope. They are urging him to take immediate steps to appoint more women to Church leadership positions, and to stop the practice of banning people from Communion. They have also asked the pontiff to meet with them, saying they represent “millions of Catholics around the world who are deeply committed to our Church, but hope for changes on issues of governance and care.”
                They ask the Pope to appoint women to positions of policy and pastoral leadership, including as heads of offices in the Vatican Curia. They said this was “for the good of God’s people,” and that there were many Church leadership positions where “the only sacramental qualification for service is Baptism.”
                They also told the Pope, “we hope to experience an end to the use of Communion as a reward for doctrinal orthodoxy.” They said Communion, also known as Eucharist, should “offer love and healing to Catholics who experience alienation and rejection. Communion gives a place at the table to those who have been made to feel they were not worthy. This includes many who have felt alienated from our Church and its sacramental life for many years, including divorced and remarried Catholics, Catholics in same-sex relationships, and others.”
                The groups said that their proposals “are free of theological complexity and are readily able to be advanced without a break with what some might see as imperative continuity with former teachings.”
                Many of the organizations represented by the letter’s signers work on a wide variety of reform issues ( In addition, three national associations of priests are among the signatories.
                Representatives said that Pope Francis has inspired “abundant hope” with his vision of the Church, and asked him to pray for them. They said they were praying for the Pope’s health and ministry.           
                A copy of the letter was also sent to Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal-elect Pietro Parolin, Papal Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, and Member of the Team of Consulters to Pope Franics, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley.

February 14, 2014
Bishop Francis,
We share with people throughout the world the great joy of your election to the Chair of Peter and the abundant hope engendered by your vision for our Church.
Of the many issues you have addressed this first year in your new ministry, two have emerged early and often in your remarks: the status of women in the Church and the pastoral care of God’s people. As leaders of a movement of steadfast Catholics, committed to the best to and for our Church, we offer you reflections that we believe would bring a greater measure of compassion and courage to the world and to God’s People. These proposals are free of theological complexity and are readily able to be advanced without a break with what some might see as imperative continuity with former teachings.
For the good of God’s people, we feel it vital that there be increased leadership of women in roles where they would be among our Church’s most influential policy-makers, and in offices where the only sacramental qualification for service is Baptism. We urge you to appoint talented, committed women to positions that recognize the significant pastoral leadership they are already providing, and as heads of leading curial offices, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Pontifical Council for the Family, and others.

With regard to pastoral care of God’s people, we hope to experience an end to the use of Communion as a reward for doctrinal orthodoxy. Communion is a sacrament of love and peace, of mercy and forgiveness offered by Jesus to all on the night before he died.  It does not imply conformity with Church teachings in all instances and it does not endorse all aspects of moral choice made by the recipient. It does, however, offer love and healing to Catholics who experience alienation and rejection. Communion gives a place at the table to those who have been made to feel they were not worthy. This includes many who have felt alienated from our Church and its sacramental life for many years, including divorced and remarried Catholics, Catholics in same-sex relationships, and others.
Finally, we would welcome the opportunity to bring our experience as representatives of the millions of Catholics around the world who are deeply committed to our Church, but hope for changes on issues of governance and care. We invite you to personal dialogue with us, and with leaders of similar organizations in other parts of the world.
We pray, Pope Francis, for your ministry and your health, and ask you to remember us in your prayers, as well. We look forward to your gracious response, which can be made to Linda Pinto, Coordinator of Catholic Organizations for Renewal, at or 00-1-570-296-5326.
Yours in Christ,
(see separate list for endorsers of this letter)

cc: Archbishop Pietro Parolin
      Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano
      Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community/7th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Rev. Beverly Bingle, RCWP-USA

Through Moses, God tells us to be holy. Through Jesus, God tells us
to be perfect. Holy, because God is holy. Perfect, just as God is
perfect. Sounds impossible!

Three things, though, can help us in the face of this seeming
impossibility. First, there's the reality of who we are and whose we
are. Paul reminds us that we are the temple of God, the holy temple
where the Spirit of God dwells. That awesome truth has been related
in many metaphors over the centuries. Tents, tabernacles, earthen
vessels. For many of us the most recent metaphor has been Michael
Morwood's naming of Gos Divine Presence, and Jesus of Nazareth--and
us--as unique expressions of the Divine Presence.

Another thing that helps is today's first reading from Leviticus,
which gives us specific instructions for holiness: don't nurse
hatred; don't store up ill feelings; don't seek revenge; don't hold a
grudge; love your neighbor as yourself.

Finally, Matthew tells us what it means to be holy as God is holy. Go
beyond the law, he writes; do more than is asked, more than is
required. God's brightness shines in everyone--so must ours. God's
refreshing spirit falls on everyone--so must ours. So must we love
everyone, neighbors and enemies.

Matthew gives us examples of what that looks like. The passage of
time has sometimes caused these half-dozen directives to be taken as
calling for passivity in the face of evil. The true meaning, though,
calls us to oppose evil with good. Jesus' audience would have
recognized that being struck on the right cheek is the humiliating
action of a master to a servant, so when he says to turn the other
cheek, they would understand that forcing the master to strike on the
left cheek would require the him to approach the servant as an equal.
To hand over both shirt and coat would leave the debtor naked,
embarrassing the one who sued you in front of the community. When you
go the second mile for the soldier who pressed you into service, you
put him in jeopardy of being disciplined for disobeying the Roman
military rule that allowed only one mile.

Jesus is not a wimp. He is not recommending abject spinelessness in
the face of evil. He is recommending wise but non-violent means of
responding to evil with goodness. Jesus' teaching is a strategy for
winning, a win-win, not for passive resignation or indifference to
evil. His strategy requires that we love everyone. That we greet

When I was a youngster riding with my brothers in the back seat of our
'50 Ford, I often saw my Dad waving at the driver of a passing car.
I'd scootch up and ask, "Who's that?" And Dad would most times
respond, "I don't know." Bless my Dad, living the Gospel by greeting
everyone, not just folks he knew. Lately I've tried to emulate his
example by waving at passing cars, especially along the streets of the
neighborhood. I don't know if the practice has changed anyone I've
waved at, but I do know that I feel a change in my attitude and

When we turn the calendar over to February next Saturday, we'll see
that Lent is just five days away.
Engaging in Bona Opera--the traditional "good works" of Lent--means
choosing specific practices relating to the traditional penances
mentioned in Scripture--fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.

If you choose, you may take home one of these Bona Opera cards and
envelopes after Mass. Fill out the practices you plan to use to deepen
your relationships this Lent, seal them in the envelope, address it to
yourself, and bring it back on Ash Wednesday. We'll collect them here
and keep them in a basket on the altar. We'll pray for you during
Lent, that your efforts to do good works will bear fruit. No one will
open them. Then your envelope will be mailed back to you so you can
reflect on your progress during Holy Week.

The Bona Opera--the good works--aim to convert our relationships to
ourself, to God, and to neighbor. They are practices above and beyond
what we ordinarily do. Possible Bona Opera are fasting from gossip,
praying 10 minutes more each day, listening attentively to a lonely
neighbor. The Bona Opera should form habits that will last past
Easter. And we should choose them specifically to help us reflect the
love of God to others.

I've been waving at people for a couple of months now, and that
experience makes me want to find something like that to practice
during Lent as one of my Bona Opera. But whether we write down our
intentions or not, whether we decide specifically in advance or not,
we all hope to find ourselves, at the end of the coming Lenten season,
holy--that is, as complete and whole as we can be. We all hope to find
ourselves as perfect--that is, compassionate--as God is.

I have observed that you are doing really well at that already,
individually and as a community. Let's put our minds and hearts into
it, and try to get even closer.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Mass at 2086 Brookdale (Interfaith Chapel):
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 9 a.m.
Mass at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

Rev. Bev Bingle, Pastor

Stand With the Nuns in Support of Birth Control/Sign Petition

As people of faith, we stand with the Sisters as they speak out for family planning services and real religious freedom. We join them in asking the Supreme Court to protect women's access to basic health care and contraception when they hear two cases this March.

Why is this important?

These nuns need you. A few weeks ago, Sister Donna Quinn of the National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN) asked me to help spread the word that their coalition of more than 2000 Roman Catholic sisters has endorsed providing birth control through the Affordable Care Act. Because of their faith, they believe “that women should not be singled out by any organization or group through its refusal to insure a woman’s reproductive needs.”

The nuns are bravely speaking out just as those on the right want us to believe that birth control use is immoral. In just a few weeks, the Supreme Court will be hearing two cases where company owners who don’t support contraception personally are denying their employees insurance coverage for birth control as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The lawyers for these corporations (one of which is Hobby Lobby) go so far as to call birth control use sinful and immoral. To make it worse, the owners are claiming that including contraceptives in health care violates their company’s religious freedom.

Sister Donna and the nuns at NCAN know differently, and they're bravely standing up to their hierarchy. But they need us to stand with them -- to say that as people of faith we support universal access to contraception. 

We believe women should be able to make personal decisions about their families, their bodies, their sexuality, and their health – not their employers. And we want to make clear that the sin is not a person using birth control. The sin is denying women the right and the means to plan their families. Indeed, it is precisely because life is sacred that we support the intentional and moral use of contraception.

We know that religious freedom means that each person has the right to exercise their own religious beliefs; religious freedom cannot mean that an individual or a corporation gets to impose their religious beliefs on their employees. 

Please join us and take a faith-filled stand with the nuns for women, birth control, and real religious freedom.

How it will be delivered

Add your name to this petition and the Religious Institute will make sure your voice of faith will be represented at the Supreme Court and in courts around the country.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Voice of the People/Survey Results on Hot Button Issues

Homily for the Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time by Judy Lee, ARCWP St. Valentine's Day Reflection" the Hunger for the I love you with Revs. Olga Lucia Alvarez and Judy Lee, ARCWP

Rev. Judy’s Homily for the Seventh Sunday 2/23/14-Love Who? Be What?

 Be what? Love who? Be what? Are the questions that may rise to our lips as we consider the texts for Sunday.  With an air of incredulity and a sense of “you have got to be kidding” we shudder as we consider our daily lives and the struggles of our world with what is asked of us in the Law of Moses and the spirit of the Law that Jesus preached.  What does God want of us? What did Jesus ask of us after all?
In the readings for Sunday we are told, as the Israelites were, to “be holy”, not to hate or exact vengeance, and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19: 1-2, 17-18).  The Epistle reading (I Cor. 3:16-23) tells us that we are holy temples of God. And Jesus takes the Law one step farther in asking that we love not only our neighbors but our enemies. He sums it up by asking us to be perfect as our God is perfect.
Living the life that Jesus taught is hard!  Now, as then, it is counter cultural and sometimes counter intuitive. Our readings today go to the heart of the Gospel Jesus preached and once again we are challenged by them.
Let’s make it real. Last week our News-Press ran an article about sexual offenders being dropped off in the woods to live in primitive make-shift camps because of the laws which prohibit them from living so many feet from schools and children. The truth is that once convicted, employment and housing are equally major problems. Editorials were quickly written and some allowed that despite despicable acts even sexual offenders deserved to live indoors (I very much agree) others said that they deserved to live nowhere. I have worked and ministered to some of the sex offenders who live in the woods, and more often with those whose lives have been forever stunted and altered by sexual offenders and predators. Sometimes I have had to pray hard for the grace to treat the offenders with Christ’s love. It was not easy. If they do come to church on Sunday, the church leaders and I welcome them then watch like  hawks so they are nowhere near our beloved children. I only had to intervene on one occasion, but I fully understood the editorials that wanted them run out of town entirely (to someone else’s town).  Of course the Church actually did that in repeatedly passing along and not stopping priests who sexually abused children.   Only now are the victims heard and the Church is asking forgiveness and dealing with recompense. But there is no real recompense for such hurt caused by those who were trusted with the spiritual and actual lives of God’s children.
On the larger scale, as a diaspora New Yorker who viewed those Twin Towers on a daily basis at one time, and a US citizen I am still working on forgiving the suicide bombers who caused the World Trade Towers to fall on 9/11, and  forgiving is a precursor to love for those who are our enemies. Never mind how our own hatreds perpetuate enmity and how many thousands of innocents our bombs and drones have killed.  Jesus is saying if you don’t strike back the hateful actions stop-and that is a revolutionary and perhaps  practical understanding. They certainly have not stopped with our striking back.
Another example: I love animals. When a man living in a nearby town tied his little dog to the back of his pickup truck and dragged it through the streets practically skinning it alive, I said “they ought to drag him by that truck!” Miraculously the little dog survived and was adopted but the man only got a fine. I was livid-I wanted justice and maybe I wanted vengeance. There is a fine line, and anger filled my heart.  On another occasion I worked with a down and out couple where the man was abusive of the woman. We were able to help them both get incomes and housing.  She repeatedly returned to him even when she finally received her own income and housing. I found it hard not to lose patience with her, but by the Grace of God, I didn’t.  Once she was in our food pantry getting food and he appeared at the door yelling and drunk. He attempted to push past our co-Pastor Judy Beaumont to get in, grabbing her shoulder. I confess, I literally pushed him out of the doorway so that he landed on the ground. I then shut the door and the woman stayed with us until he left. Yes, I was angry and confess again, the woman got still another lecture that she probably would or could not heed.  I am in no way perfected in love! And, that is my understanding of what Jesus means by “Be perfect”.  How do we learn to love as God loves?
Jesus said “love your enemies and pray for your persecutors. This will prove that you are children of God. For God makes the sun to rise on bad and good alike; God’s rain falls on the just and unjust.
If you love those who love you what merit is there in that….Therefore be perfect as Abba God in heaven is perfect.”(Matt. 5:48- The Inclusive Bible).
It is not humanly possible to be perfect in the usual English meanings of the word-flawlessness and infallibility. But Jesus did not speak or think in English. Nor did he speak Greek to the largely peasant masses that gathered at his feet, but many scriptural interpretations relate to Greek words. Jesus spoke Aramaic and lived in the Semitic, Hebrew culture of his times.  According to Errico (“And There Was Light…” p.102) the Aramaic word gmeera means perfect in the sense of “complete”, “thorough”, “finished” “full-grown”, “mature”, “accomplished”, “comprehensive”, ”rounded out”, and “all-inclusive”. It is used in the Near East for arriving at maturity.  As the context for Jesus’ words about being perfect is loving those who are not your friends or even your countrymen and women, and those who may indeed be your enemies, Jesus is saying love like God loves-the rain falls on all-just and unjust. God’s love is all inclusive, all are God’s children, no one is left out. Wow!
One Peshitta text for Matt 5:48 reads: “therefore be all-inclusive even as your Father who is in heaven is all-inclusive”. Our very purpose in life is to be a non-violent and loving presence. We cannot will this to happen within us, but,thanks be to God, the Spirit enlivens us.  God’s presence within us shines through as we love and grow in loving, for we are never finished with this kind of essential growth. When we grow and show the face of Love, God is happening. (Errico, And There Was Light, pp 166-169).   Growing maturity in the faith of Christ is demonstrated by our growth in all- inclusive love.  I will soon reach my 71st birthday and I am not there yet. But at least I usually know when I am falling short and when it is only God’s grace that enables such love to come from me. And I know because that happens all the time.   I think that is what the Epistle (I Cor. 3:23) means when it says “…you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God”-God empowers us to be what God wants us to be-the face of love.
The Message translation is closer to the Aramaic meanings and I like it:
“In a word, what I’m saying is Grow Up….live out your God created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”(Matt 5:48)
Here is a prayer, maybe you will pray it with me: Our loving God, teach me, change me, and breathe love into me and through me. It is too hard for me to “get it” on my own.  Help me to grow up in the faith of Jesus the Christ.
Pastor Judy Lee, ARCWP

A St. Valentine’s Day Reflection-The Hunger for the I Love You with Rvdas. Olga Lucia and Judy

45b45-dscf0715This insightful blog is from our sister priest, Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea of Colombia,South America.  She wrote it in March of 2010 and shares it with us now. I have edited the English sometimes loosely but the thoughts are all hers.She is saying that all of us prodigal daughters, sons, parents, spouses, partners and friends are longing for love and affirmation from our loving God and one another. Thank you, Rvda. Olga Lucia!
As I read Olga Lucia’s beautiful words I thought about a young person who is part of my church. She rarely attends as she is fearful in crowds and was agoraphobic, remaining in her room for many years, until fairly recently when caring,love,began to thaw the iceberg that became her heart. She was abused physically and emotionally by an angry father until he finally left the home. She left school after the ninth grade. She began hearing voices in later adolescence. She hardly ever left the house. Her family attends our church and I had intermittent pastoral contact with her over the last few years. But something happened to bring us closer together. My surgery for the GIST(slow growing low level malignant tumor in my stomach) a year ago caused me to stop and reflect on many things. I reviewed my ministry and I identified that this one young adult was neglected by me in the midst of those clanging cymbals that made a lot more noise. I wanted to try harder to reach her-God laid her on my heart and I could listen to my heart because I was not very active nor running around with the ministry or life.  I also realized that I could no longer take care of my large aviary adequately.
I guess that I had reached her enough for her to come out of her room to greet me and express her pleasure that I was getting better when I visited her family. That was a big step for her. I spent some time with her and asked if she liked birds and if she thought she could get to my house and help with the birds. We were both amazed as she thought she could, and she did come to learn how to do this. She was gentle and happy with the birds and she enjoyed this job. We talked a little each time she came. She was able to accept a referral to the Mental Health Center and also to begin seeing her general practitioner. She opened herself to the possibility of other friendships very slowly but surely. We saw the iceberg melt. We saw the fear recede. We saw a whole person developing with courage and in response to caring. Recently there was a setback when a physical problem required serious medical intervention. She tried to retreat and move back into the iceberg again.  But soon she started coping with it “because you and my doctors and my friend are so persistent”. It is such a blessing to witness her growth into life. For Valentines Day we gave her a card with pictures of the kittys and birds in it. Today she brought me and Pastor Judy Beaumont a beautiful card that said “People as kind and as loving as you are God’s Valentines to the world. Happy Valentine’s Day”.  And in her own hand she wrote:” thanks for all the help and support. You both are wonderful. Happy Valentine’s to both of you and the birds and cats are great, I love them.”  Wow-unfrozen by love! How wonderful to experience it. Rvda. Olga Lucia is right!
love and blessings,
Pastor Judy Lee,ARCWP
The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida
The Hunger of the I Love You in The Parable of The Prodigal Son                                            by Rvda. Olga Lucia Alvarez
This text ,Luke 15:11-38 would call it the hunger of the “I love you”. When you have never had the warmth of a hug, a kiss, a loving detail, we become sullen, hard, frozen as icebergs.  But if you meet this friend / or that support, this companions kind hand, that solidarity , that fraternity, you realize what you’re worth when someone cares.  If you were a block of cement you’d melt like the opening of a  a dam. See it fall lovingly, soft or hard, crystalline buds cascade of love and “I love you” spontaneous, fearless, free as the wind.
Some have had the experience of being concrete blocks, others perhaps never were, but one day the love they lost or never had, for whatever reason, unfounded fears,  frozen by fears, by blockages in training, block out the experience of love. But like the prodigal son,  and others somehow recognize and realize that in the house of my Father/Mother there is affection, a party, gestures of love hugs and kisses, and large or small details in pretty paper the bonds of love are wrapped. After thinking a while, we push and we run, with an open heart willing to melt in the loving embrace that receives and welcomes us because we are their daughters and sons and to God we are alike.
There are so many heartbreaks, causes of many diseases, and family violence.  There are so many broken homes that create icebergs. Yet God’s great love is without fear and without reserve. You are melted by it and you feel violence, hatred and revenge that has brought us so many dead giving way and relenting.
It is the responsibility of all of us, of you and I of all who were born to ask for forgiveness, because this world, this life, and being distracted in our internal conflicts, we have not been able to  sweep, shake and make ourselves as new. If you are sensitive to what I am saying here, I say it is because you have encountered the love of God, sometimes in another person.
Women and men need affection,it  is the love of God that moves us to love. But, just as we know it, we are afraid.  We may need a messenger to show us the face of God.
You have to be hungry for the “I love you”, you have to give them to receive them, you have to break the ice.
Leticia, I care about you, Get well; William;! I love you, Teresa, you’re great! Laura, God gave you that smile, so beautiful!. David! I hug and kiss you, Maru, thanks for the “I love you” I love you too, Camilin, Maria; my teachers, I love them! Diego! You’re the most beautiful thing God has given me in life, your presence, your friendship! Machelina, sister and my friend, how nice to have you in this life. Camilo, Inés, Benton, were thankful for that company. Blanca, Catalina, Charo, although they are far they are closer.
My life wants to be a hymn to life, I ask forgiveness for the times I have not loved, and I’ve offended, for the times I made you suffer and grieve someone this close or this far. To my family, my ancestors, my mother Earth, Air, Water, Fire, because I have abused them  by not loving them and taking care of them as I should. I love you, I love you and I thank you.  My greatest expression of love, commitment and responsibility towards all , is to show the face of God, that you recognize and find. May we, as we are, big, small, old or young, see the face of God.  Run eagerly seeking your love and experience “I love you” like the prodigal son.
Thank God my spirit, because as they say, that when someone writes  the soul walks. Mine escaped and went to recess and enjoy this day. .
Olga Lucia Alvarez B                                                                                                                                                        Rvdas. Olga Lucia and Judy
Bogotá, March 9/10

Nuclear weapons facility protest sends nun, two activists to prison" by Patrick O'Neill, NCR Feb. 19, 2014

KNOXVILLE, TENN.Knoxville, Tenn.

Three Catholic anti-war activists, including an 84-year-old nun, were
sentenced to federal prison terms Tuesday following their convictions
of sabotage and destruction of government property in a case that
garnered international media attention after they broke into the Y-12
National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., near Knoxville...

...In her presentencing statement, Rice told Thapar: "We have to speak,
and we're happy to die for that. To remain in prison for the rest of
my life is the greatest honor that you could give to me. Please don't
be lenient with me. It would be an honor for that to happen."

Still, Thapar, citing "all the good work that Sr. Rice has
accomplished," sentenced Rice to 35 months in prison, less than the
70- to 87-month recommendation of the U.S. attorney in the case.

"I know you want a life sentence," Thapar said, adding that he would
not honor her request. "I have confidence you will be living well past
any sentence I give you."

Throughout the hearing, Thapar aired his misgivings with the long
prison terms the government requested. "Is 70 months really
necessary?" Thapar asked the prosecutor regarding Rice's guidelines.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey E. Theodore, who is Catholic, told
Thapar the defendants should be sentenced within the federal
guidelines because they were "incorrigible, habitual offenders."

Citing their long criminal records and his judicial duty to deter such
behavior, Thapar gave Boertje-Obed and Walli 62 months each, also far
below the federal guidelines, which called for 92 to 115 months for
Walli and 78 to 97 months for Boertje-Obed. The trio was also ordered
to serve three years of supervised probation following release and to
pay $53,953 in restitution charges.

In his presentencing statement, Walli said his actions at Y-12 did not
constitute a violation of law, but rather his obedience to God's law.
"I am a citizen of heaven," Walli said. "We engaged in our lawful,
missionary work at Y-12. ... I committed no crime. I have no remorse."

In his presentencing statement, Boertje-Obed read some of the words
from a speech Martin Luther King Jr. delivered April 4, 1967, at New
York's Riverside Church, when King referred to the United States as
"the greatest purveyor of violence in the world." He also said the
actions of the three were designed to "promote respect for the law"
because they were holding the U.S. accountable to international laws
that ban the use of nuclear weapons.

The Plowshares activists, who take their name from Isaiah 2:4 ("They
shall beat their swords into plowshares; their spears into pruning
hooks. One nation will not lift sword against another, nor shall they
train for war anymore"), said they were following these international
laws when they gained access to Y-12's Highly Enriched Uranium
Materials Facility, which contains a stockpile of weapons-grade
uranium. Once inside the facility, the three chipped the building's
structure with hammers and sprayed "biblical graffiti" before lighting
candles and awaiting arrest...

Facing more than five years apart from her husband, Naar-Obed told
NCR: "We will figure out how to keep our lives together. That's what
our marriage was based on, and whether we're apart physically, we'll
find a way to stay together."

Before Rice sat down at the end of her remarks, she asked Thapar, "May
I end with a song to lighten the moment?"

"You may," Thapar answered, and Rice turned to the gallery of her
supporters and conducted as they sang, "Sacred the land. Sacred the
water ... all reflect God, who is good."

[Patrick O'Neill, a freelance writer from Raleigh, N.C., is a longtime
contributor to NCR and member of Garner NC CW'er. For more info
contact: Patrick O'Neill, Garner Catholic Worker House,124 Perdue St.,
Garner, NC 27529 ph: 919 779 1912 e-mail

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Spanish Nun Calls for Reform including Ordination of Women in Catholic Church"

Even though Francis made appreciative comments about women’s pastoral work, silence still surrounds the ordination of women priests. Nearly 60 percent of U.S. Catholics and 64 percent of European Catholics believe women should have the right to become priests. Nearly half of Catholics in Latin America agree, according to a recent poll by the media network Univision.
“I don’t see any theological problem to ordain women in a church where ordination plays such an important role,” Forcades said. Criticizing the way the Vatican talks about women, she added, “Of course women are as valuable as men, but only ordained people can make decisions, and only men can be ordained. This is the trap.”

"St. Stanislaus Courts a New Future"

"Mr. Gary Chooses Baptism and says no I am full" by Judy Lee, ARCWP

"Why Catholics Around the World Want Women at the Center of the Church" Interview with Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP/Huffington Post


Huffington Post Interview on Pope Francis: Big Reform Week

t's big reform week for the Catholic Church - from finance to social issues. We talk about what's on the agenda & whether the findings of a recent Univision poll showing division amongst Catholics on abortion, gay marriage & women will be addressed.
Originally aired on February 19, 2014
Hosted by: 
  • Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani
  • Rev. Paul Raushenbush  (New York, NY) HuffPost Senior Religion Editor
  • Bridget Mary Meehan (Sarasota, FL) Bishop in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
  • John L. Allen Jr.  (CA) Associate Editor, The Boston Globe