Saturday, October 17, 2015

Bridget Mary Meehan Presentation at Episcopal Retreat Center and Parliament of World Religions: "Reclaiming the Feminine Divine"

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests is reclaiming the Divine Feminine in a renewed priestly ministry in an inclusive community of equals in the Roman Catholic Church. 

We are leading our church as Woman Spirit rising in prophetic witness for gender equality.

As women and men called to equality and mutuality and a sacred connectedness with creation, we re-imagine our divine beginning and the experience of women as vibrant reflections of Divine Presence and faithful disciples who have always been there. 

Our preparation program treats women as the important theologians they are, affirms their experiences of faith and guidance, without which generations of Catholic would not have flourished. As theologian Mary Malone writes women "have always done theology and ministry in both word and deed."  (See Mary Malone, The Elephant in the Church, p. 171) This fosters a more balanced, integrated approach to spirituality and ministry which is the vision of our  People's Catholic Seminary. 

Contemporary theologians remind us that divine love is at the heart of the evolutionary process and that this love is in a constant birthing process in which all people and creation are evolving into a deeper consciousness of unity, wholeness and being in love. 

One of my favorite feminine images is God as Midwife of Grace in Psalm 22:9-10.  We pray: “You drew me out of the womb, you entrusted me to my mother’s breasts, placed me on your lap from my birth. From my mother’s womb, you have been my God.”

As midwives of grace we, in the international women priests movement, are drawing forth a new creation as we labor to transform a patriarchal, dominator model of church into a companionship of empowerment in inclusive communities where all are equal and all are welcome.  

As midwives of grace we break open the Word from women’s experiences and preside at sacraments celebrating the embodiment of the feminine in everyday life.  We utilize inclusive language and feminine imagery of God in our liturgies.

As midwives of grace, we contemplate She Who Is , always with us and forever going before us, inspiring us, working through us as we challenge our hierarchy to make the connections between discrimination in the church and poverty, abuse and violence toward women in the world .

We are passionate, faithful and courageous. 
We are Women Spirit Rising up for Justice


Discussion and Sacred Ritual

Friday, October 16, 2015

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP , Presentation at Parliament of World Religions, "To Stay or Not to Stay"

Why do I stay? The Catholic Church is my family. For me, this means that the people are the church which includes the Pope and the hierarchy, but, the hierarchy alone is not the church!  Even though my church is patriarchal and dysfunctional, I am staying to build a bridge to move it from its present sexist oppressive structures to a new community of equals that honors women and men as spiritual equals in every area of life.  I believe in impossible dreams, and surprises by the Spirit that move mountains!
Why do I stay? I love the deep spirituality that reflects God as both immanent and transcendent. I see God as  infinite love,  always with us and before us, liberating, healing, rising up for justice in us and working through us and through all creation to care for and renew our earth community.
Why do I stay?I love the treasures in the mystical, sacramental and social justice heritage that is our birthright in Catholicism. Ultimately, we are one and Spirit is present in the beauty of our diversity.
Why do I stay? I am passionate about gender equality and delight in our international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement which began in 2002 when 7 courageous women were ordained on the Danube. Shortly after this historic ordination, an anonymous male bishop in apostolic succession ordained our first women bishops.
Why do I stay/  I am passionate about primacy of conscience, which is fundamental Catholic teaching rooted in the Gospels, affirmed by Doctors of the Church including Thomas Aquinas and Vatican 11. Many Catholics are following their consciences when they dissent from official church teaching. We, in the women priests movement, are following our consciences in prophetic obedience to the Spirit by disobeying an unjust man made canon law 1024 in ordaining women. In order to change an unjust law, sometimes, one has to break it. We believe that the will of God is the full equality of women in church and society. This means that women must have full voice and vote in every area of church decision making and it means full equality at the altar. Women priests are visible reminders that women and all the baptized are spiritual equals, therefore, ordination should be open to anyone called by God to serve in priestly ministry.
Why do I stay? Excommunication does not cancel one’s baptism. Excommunication in our case is a badge of honor.  The Vatican position is that women priests incur automatic excommunication. We are not leaving the church, but leading it to become a more just and equal church. Although it has been my experience when they excommunicate and express opposition, our movement grows in size.  In Florida, the Bishop took out an ad in the paper stating that I was not a valid priest, and my house church tripled in size and we had to rent space in a local UCC Church.  So sometimes, I joke that the bishops and the Vatican are the gift that keeps on giving! Another one of my mottos is “excommunicated today, canonized tomorrow.” Pope Benedict canonized two formerly excommunicated nuns Mother Theodore Guerin and Mother Mary MacKillop, thereby make excommunication the new fast track to sainthood!
Why do stay? The Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is a great blessing to the institutional church. We share the Gospel from our life experiences and this introduces a more balanced and holistic view of the scriptures. Our liturgies utilize inclusive language and include feminine imagery of God. In many communities, we  invite the community to share in dialogue  homilies. In my community in Florida, all gather around the table and pray the Eucharistic Prayer together. Often we have ordained and non-ordained co-presiders who plan the weekly liturgies.
The good news is that in the struggle for justice, the women priests movement is offering in grassroots communities a model of church that is inclusive, empowered and equal.  Women’s rights in the church and in society are human rights.  We make the connection between discrimination against women in the church and poverty, abuse and violence toward women in the world.  If women are viewed as subordinate to men according to our sacred texts, then this leads to their oppression and marginalization in every area of life.

There are  over 215 in our worldwide movement and over 75 faith communities. The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests’ vision is to renew the church, one inclusive community at a time as a discipleship of equals. In our grassroots communities, all are welcome, including the divorced and remarried without annulments, gays, lesbians, transgender, and women who have given up on the church.  Pope Francis has called for a more inclusive church but folks who disobey the rules are not welcome to receive sacraments, and women are not affirmed as free and responsible moral agents in decisions specifically that involve their fertility. While many believe that Pope Francis has changed the tone, the teachings that keep the church partriarchal and oppressive must be changed.   God is not a male ruler who wills male supremacy, but rather a divine mystery of love beyond all imagining who wills the genuine equality of women and men in empowered, inclusive, egalitarian, just communities. 

ABC 4 Utah: "Utah to get its first Woman Catholic Priest"

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - The Roman Catholic Women Priests Association is in Salt Lake City for The Parliament of the Worlds Religions. While here they also plan to ordain Utah's first woman Catholic priest. The only issue is the Vatican does not recognize any women priests, deacons, or bishops.
Bridget Mary Meehan is a Bishop with the organization who is in town for the events. She believes they are helping the church by going against its wishes.
"In order to change an unjust law you must break it," said Meehan.
She said they have over 200 women priests serving around the world, but it has caused those in the organization to be excommunicated.
The woman being ordained in Salt Lake City Sunday is Clare Julian Carbone, and said she is having mixed emotions about it.
"The repercussions of being part of that movement there is a lot of suffering that goes with that, but there is a lot of joy with breaking open that potential."
Women said even though they are excommunicated they still preach the religion in an effort to make changes. Some feel it's already making a difference.
"Right now in the Vatican they are contemplating ordaining women deacons because they are taking a step towards women's equality," said Meehan. "I think it's because our women priest movement has led the way."
During the first day of The Parliament of the World's Religion the organization held it's first ever Women's Assembly. The women's priest association says they were inspired to see so many strong women from religions around the globe. They hope their actions will help transform other religions to have a bigger role for women.
"It's very exciting and joyful to be part of a movement that is really trying to bring renewal to the church," said Carbone.
Once she is ordained Carbone said she plans to continue her work with the interfaith community around Utah.
We did reach out to the Catholic Diocese in Salt Lake for comment, but were not able to get ahold of them.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Parliament of World Religions in Salt Lake, City Utah: Some Photos and Highlights

Approximately  seven thousand people attended the  Parliament of World Religions in Salt Lake City on  Oct, 15, 2015.

Clare Julian Carbone, who will be ordained a priest on Sunday, Oct. 18th at First Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, Janice Sevre Duszynska, Diane Doughtery and I participated in the  Inaugural Women's Assembly, which was the first in the history of the Parliament.

I presented two workshops: "to Leave or not to Leave" and Reclaiming the Divine Feminine.

Janice and Diane share our brochures and press releases with many of the participants while I participated in the first panel discussion. Kate  Kelly, the first women excommunicated by the Mormon Church, shared her journey to lead a movement for gender equality in her denomination.
At the conclusion, I showed Women Spirit Rising and the entire assembly stood , sang and swayed to the music.

See photo of Janice and Diane holding banners in English and Spanish.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Woman's Spirit Rising in Atlanta ARCWP

Bridget Mary Meehan Janice Sevre Duszynska Diane Dougherty

Press Release: While the Vatican contemplates women deacons, SLC’s first woman priest to be ordained….

October 13, 2015

While the Vatican contemplates women deacons, Salt Lake City’s first woman priest to be ordained….

From: The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) See:

Contact: Janice Sevre-Duszynska, 859-684-4247,

Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, 703-505-0004, 

While the Vatican contemplates ordaining women deacons, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) will ordain Clare Julian Carbone the first Roman Catholic Woman Priest  in Salt Lake City, Utah. The ceremony will take place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 18, 2015 at the First United Methodist Church, 203 200 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84111.

 The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests congratulates Archbishop Durocher of Quebec, Canada who proposed a historic breakthrough for the Catholic Church by ordaining women deacons.

At the Synod on the Family that is currently taking place in Rome, he said that the Church should reflect on the possibility of allowing female deacons as it seeks ways to open up more opportunities for women in church life. "I think we should really start looking seriously at the possibility of ordaining women deacons because the diaconate in the church's tradition has been defined as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry."

Archbishop Durocher proposed that the Synod “state that you cannot justify the domination of men over women -- certainly not violence -- through biblical interpretation, particularly incorrect interpretations of St. Paul's call for women to be submissive to their husbands.”

“Finally, a higher-ranking male cleric is getting it!” said Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan.  “The discrimination of women and their second-class status in the church is directly related to the abuse, violence and poverty of women and their dependent children in our world.”

The movement for Roman Catholic Women Priests began with the ordination of seven women on the Danube in 2002. Our first women bishops were ordained by a male bishop in apostolic succession. Therefore, our Holy Orders are valid.  In prophetic obedience to the Spirit, we are disobeying an unjust man-made Canon Law (1024) that discriminates against women in the Church. We are leading the Church not leaving the Church and we stand in solidarity with women of all faith traditions, including our Mormon sisters who are struggling for gender equality. Our non-hierarchal international movement is over 215.  We serve more than 75 inclusive faith communities where all are welcome to receive sacraments.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Francis strategy for change; a synod process loosed; and Durocher's stunning proposal for women, Report from Rome by Deb Rose-Milavec, Future Church

There are days when you are sure God is having her way. Today was one such day at the synod.

The tone of the voices rising from the great marble synod hall could not have been more different from the tones heard yesterday. 

Yesterday, stern warnings fell all around and weighed heavy on hopes for a more generous, just and compassionate Church.  Today, elation and even laughter filled the air as we heard that participants talked about all that the Church could be if it dared to risk being one with the God of surprises; the God that is the living, loving source. 

A Francis stragegy for change:  Small groups will have a critical role in shaping the final document

Seven persons spoke during the daily press briefing about the activities of the morning, but it was Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher, Archbishop Claudio M Celli and Fr. Thomas Rosica who really conveyed the sense of hope heard in the synod hall.  

According to Rosica, Pope Francis had made the unusual move of intervening in the morning to stress the importance of small group input for fashioning the final document.  All would begin with the Instrumentum Laboris but, because so many participants are new, the document's final form was likely to change a great deal, a Francis signal that the process was wide open. He also stressed the synod was not a one-issue forum.  

Interventions for justice and inclusivity 

Seventy two Synod participants gave three-minute interventions today.  Rosica summarized them and below are some of the most promising from his list.
  • Exclusionary language is to be avoided. The Church should not pity gay persons, but recognize them for who they are: our sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, colleagues, friends, etc.
  • The domination of men over women must be eliminated.  For many women and children, home can be a dangerous place, but our Churches can also be dangerous places.
  • We need to welcome the huge numbers of unbaptized and ask, "Are we the masters or the servants of the Eucharistic table?"  We need a Eucharist that "is not a prize for the perfect, but nourishment for the weak."  
  • The Instrumentum Laboris is too focused on the brokenness and not the joys of the family.  We need a new anthropology where human nature is seen as good and beautiful and not fallen and broken.
  • The family should teach the Church.
  • On issues like divorce and remarriage, polygamy, and other cultural challenges, there is no universal solution.  Instead there should be discussions and solutions at the regional and continental level.
  • The Church should use form three of the general absolution as a clear signal for Catholics to "come home." 
The Synod discussions are not closed

Both Archbishop Celli and Archbishop Durocher stressed the fact that the synod was wide open to input.  Durocher shared his view of the natural tensions between bishops.

       One of the things that strikes me as I listen to the bishops, is their 
awareness of the growing gulf between the culture of marriage 
and the teaching of Jesus.  Some fear we are losing our way so they 
react by emphasizing Church teaching. Others fear we will lose 
touch with people who live in the culture and that we will no longer 
have an impact in the culture. The teaching of Jesus is a gift for the 
world.  So how on the one hand do you hold onto the truth but also 
dialogue with the world to provoke interaction?  

That is why this [synod process] is an important exercise.  We need 
to bring together those who fear losing the teaching and those who 
want to find a way to enter into dialogue with this world.  

The Big Finale:  Women

During a 90 minute press briefing no one on the seven person panel mentioned the
proposal that Archbishop Durocher made on the synod floor regarding women deacons and expanding women's roles, not even Archbishop Durocher himself. Omitting such an important story in a daily press briefing is difficult to understand. 

But thank goodness, Carol Glatz of Catholic News Service broke the story.  Here is the straight scoop.

Speaking to participants at the Synod of Bishops on the family Oct. 6, Archbishop Durocher said he dedicated his three-minute intervention to the role of women in the church -- one of the many themes highlighted in the synod's working document.

... he said the synod should reflect on the possibility of allowing for female 
deacons as it seeks ways to open up more opportunities for women in church life.

Where possible, qualified women should be given higher positions 
and decision-making authority within church structures and new 
opportunities in ministry.

Discussing a number of proposals he offered the synod fathers 
to think about, he said, "I think we should really start looking seriously 
at the possibility of ordaining women deacons because the diaconate 
in the church's tradition has been defined as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry."

He reminded the synod fathers that in the apostolic exhortation "Familiaris Consortio" in 1981, St. John Paul II basically told the church that "we 
have to make a concerted and clear effort to make sure that there is no 
more degradation of women in our world, particularly in marriage. And I 
said, '
Well, here we are 30 years later and we're still facing these kinds of numbers.'"

He said he recommended one thing they could do to address this problem was, "as a synod, clearly state that you cannot justify the domination of men over women -- certainly not violence -- through biblical interpretation," particularly incorrect interpretations of St. Paul's call for women to be submissive to their husbands.

This is a stunning event and a stunning proposal.  FutureChurch, always working to expand the roles and ministry of women, is launching a petition to support Archbishop Durocher's proposal during the synod and to make as many people aware of it as possible.  

Is this the Future of the Roman Catholic Church? OMG!
In Madrid's Chueca neighbourhood, the Baroque church of San Anton church looks like many other traditional Catholic chapels in the area.But in an effort to make the church more inclusive, San Anton opens 24 hours a day, has free wifi and even a confession app. Not everyone is happy with the changes.Video produced by Rafa Estefania and Alvaro Alvarez.

Sunday, October 11, 2015