Friday, November 13, 2015

Pope Francis stresses the need for change, "change of era", Agree, time for women priests!
"The pope also spoke at length about the role of dialogue in society, saying it is not simply a negotiation but searching for the good of all people.
Ending the speech, Francis said: "You can say today we are not living an era of change but a change of era."
"The situations that we live today therefore bring new challenges that for us sometimes are difficult to understand," said the pontiff. "This, our time, requires living problems as challenges and not obstacles: the Lord is active in the work of the world.
"You, therefore, go forth to the streets and go to the crossroads: all who you find, call out to them, no one is excluded," he exhorted. "Wherever you are, never build walls or borders, but meeting squares and field hospitals."

Homily by Tish Rawles, ARCWP at First Public Mass in Assisted Living Facility in Cincinnati on Nov. 13, 2015

Tish Rawles ARCWP presides at first public liturgy at Assisted Living Facility
Sister Tish was dismissed from the Precious Blood Sisters because she was excommunicated when she was ordained a priest.
Sister Tish serves elders in an Assisted Living Facility
Homily :
The first reading today from Genesis 1: 1-27 eloquently depicts the beauty and wonder of Thanksgiving, which we will be celebrating shortly. In this reading God brings into being all of Creation. After creating light, darkness, the stars, the planets including Earth, the animals, the seas, the creatures in the seas, the vegetation and finally humans, what does God say? “It is Good!”

from left to right: Michele Birch Conery, ARCWP, Tish Rawles, ARCWP, Janice Sevre Duszynska, ARCWP

Even when things appear to be evil or bad, there’s always a blessing in them. For example, in my own situation of coming out as a Catacomb priest, there have been many blessings. Among the blessings are the support and solidarity of our women priest communities, ARCWP and RCWP as well as the support of residents here at Atria.

Behind the storms of life there are the rainbows. In my life I have come into the freedom of where I can now be public in my ministry as a priest.

As we approach the celebration of Thanksgiving, many authors have written about the subject. In AA, for example, they say it’s important to have an attitude of gratitude. Meister Eckhart states, “If the only prayer you ever say in your life is “Thank you,” it will be enough. E.E. Cummings wrote, “I thank you God for most this amazing day! For the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky, for every thing that is natural, which is infinite, which is “Yes!” John Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”

Now I’d like us to take a moment and think about something we’re grateful for and share it with one other person.

Michele said the man next to her said: “I’m grateful for Sandy, our activity coordinator.  At 9 a.m. everyday, I’m there for the physical exercise and it brings me great joy and happiness that I’m awake and I have a start for my day. “ I have terrible insomnia, I can’t sleep. But I go at 9 o’clock and I’m alive for another day.”

Sr. Tish ended with, “Let us carry these thanksgivings and blessing into our Prayers of the Faithful.”

PAPAL SYNOD ON FAMILY Without Women BY JOHN COONEY, Irish Journalist

Wine is the sacerdotal drink of liturgical worship. So assessing the quality of the International Synod on the Family’s three weeks old vin ordinaire of October 2015 and its vintage produce of 2014 depends on whether a gentleman sees his glass half full or half empty; but if a lady wishes to partake, there is no cup provided for her at the all-male table.
This gender analogy helps explain former president Mary McAleese’s complaint that the menu offered by the synodal fathers to Pope Francis in their final report on Saturday October 24 ‘produced nothing new’, a view reinforced by The Observer’s news report the following day that ‘Vatican synod holds its line on gay couples but offers new hope to Catholic divorcees. Bishops confirm Catholic teaching on the ‘intrinsic disorder’ of homosexuality’. 
Over 66 pages and 94 paragraphs of the final report secured the necessary two-thirds, 177-vote majority with voting sheets showing that the three articles dealing with the divorced and remarried were the most contentious. While St. Pope John Paul II’s teaching on marriage in the 1981 encyclical Familiaris Consortio, was reaffirmed, the final report omitted the critical sentence forbidding Communion for the divorced and remarried.
The Irish Church’s two representatives, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, tried to soften Dr McAleese’s displeasure by insisting that the cocktail did highlight the role of women in rearing children, but did not contest her charge that ‘the old boys club’ was sticking to its traditional policy of not admitting the women into the Lord’s vineyard and was still implicitly insisting that women should stay at home, preferably in subordinate silence. Archbishop Eamon Martin said that - without in any way changing the church’s teaching on homosexuality - reaching out to gay people in their families and to gay people themselves was now a pastoral imperative, not just an extra. 1. See Synod on the family produced nothing new, says McAleese, Irish Times, October 27, 2015. Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin defend Synod document, Irish Times, October 24, 2015.
Closer to McAleese than the Martins was the liberal minded lay group, We Are Church Ireland, whose spokesman Brendan Butler hoped that Pope Francis will exercise his authoritative role later this year in favour of those who remain marginalised at the peripheries of the Catholic Church, particularly ‘gay and lesbian people, the divorced and remarried and the position and the recognition of the dignity of women.’
However, English, American and continental Europe connoisseurs concurred with the two Martins. Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Bishop Peter Doyle of Northampton said that despite the many difficulties which arose during the three weeks of plenary sessions and circuli minori, Pope Francis remains positive about a new pastoral framework. Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington DC summed up a new pastoral course for Catholicism set by the Synod, in which he reportedly played a key role, as being: ‘What does the gospel really say here?’
Catholic Church Reform International, (CCRI), noted approvingly that the Synod ended in ‘a win for the progressive camp’ with the report’s emphasis on ‘the role of discernment and individual conscience in dealing with difficult family situations, especially the vexing issue of whether civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion.’  CCRI noted that the three paragraphs dealing with the question of admitting divorced couples to Communion: ‘barely reached the two-thirds majority needed to pass, but conservatives couldn't muster enough votes to shoot them down. While the document doesn't chart any specific path to receiving Communion as originally sought by the liberals, it opens the door to case-by-case exceptions. The most controversial paragraph 85 supporting a case-by-case approach when dealing with remarriage since not everyone bears the same responsibility for the preceding divorce - only cleared by a single vote.’ This became embodied in the new buzz concept of the Synod, known as ‘the internal forum’, involving diocesan priests finding pastoral ways to enable divorcees, the remarried and cohabitating couples to receive the sacraments ‘to discern the extent to which the ‘external forum’ ideal of church law applies to their subjective situations’.  Diarmuid Martin said that the Synod had ‘very clearly’ attempted to arrive at a consensus, adding: ‘It shows that doors that seem to be closed can be opened and that there is a way forward... It keeps saying that each situation has to be examined individually...but it gives the idea that there is an internal forum where individual cases can be dealt with, in discussions with the priest or the bishop, again always saying that this should be based on universal Church law as well.’
In a plumy but sober voice the BBC opined that: ‘Doctrine towards divorcees has been softened but there is no change in the church's stance on homosexuality. The final report reiterates church teaching that homosexuals should not be discriminated against but said there were ‘absolutely no grounds’ for gay marriage. Similarly, Gerard O’Connell told readers of the Jesuit Review, America, that the Synod’s approval of the final document ‘leaves the door open for the Pope to move forward on key issues.’ Also giving their support to this ‘flexibility’ interpretation were Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops conference, who described the report as ‘a real step forward’ in the pastoral care of the divorced and civilly remarried; and Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P. of Vienna, who said the report was ‘a call for careful discernment’.
Discernment, Schonborn explained, would involve:
       recognising that the amount of blame different persons bear for a broken marriage
       and the different situations which led them to remarry vary widely. Therefore, the
       consequences in terms of absolution and Communion vary as well. 2. For an illuminating  analysis of the role of discernment in the Jesuit Pope Francis’s devotional approach which is rooted in St Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises see ‘Discernment and the Synod on the Family by Gerry O’Hanlon S.J. in Doctrine and Life, September 2015.        
However, the brash twang of the de facto leader of conservative-minded prelates known as intransigents, Australian Cardinal, George Pell, warned that the report ‘did not create an opening for the divorced and civilly remarried to receive Communion’, and he stressed that discernment had to be based ‘on the full teaching of Pope John Paul II and the teaching of the church in general.’ Pell, Prefect of the Roman Curia’s Secretariat for the Economy, was the most prominent among the sizeable group of intransigents who included two other cardinals heading Curia offices, Marc Ouellet, French Canadian Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Guinean Robert Sarah, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, who reportedly scared members of the Synod by likening gender ideology and ISIS to two Apocalyptic beasts with ‘demonic origins’. In the ‘No Surrender’ media camp was journalist David Quinn, who in the Irish Catholic argued that changing the Church’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage – with its accompanying moral judgement that divorcees live in mortal sin and thus exclude themselves from Eucharist - would be anything but merciful.
However, the Pell axis proved to be out of step with Pope Francis’s response at the Synod’s closing Mass in St Peter’s on Sunday October 25 when the Pontiff, stressing that ‘today is the time of mercy’, said that the Synod had ‘laid bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the   Church's teachings or good intentions, in order to sit on the chair of Moses and judge with superiority and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families’, a clear distancing from the Pellites. He also described the Synod’s discussions as a way to ‘open up broader horizons, rising above conspiracy theories and blinkered viewpoints’, with the aim of ‘carefully studying and confronting challenges to the traditional family ‘without burying our heads in the sand.’ His invitation to the bishops to speak their minds freely has not only made Synods less uno voce but has also enabled him to identify stragglers and blockers! His carefully chosen reference to ‘conspiracy theories’ was a calculated denial of a widely-published news story which originated with an Italian publication, Il Quotidiano Nazionale. The newspaper claimed that earlier this year Francis privately met a Japanese consultant in the north Italian city of Pisa who diagnosed a small, non-malignant tumour in his brain, a report without any factual foundation, according to the Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi S.J.   
Personal stories of prelates who came out of the shadows illuminate more vividly the vaguer references to ‘challenges’ used in the collective synodal text. For example, Cardinal Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, with whom I discussed the Synod while attending the centennial Thomas Merton conference this summer in his archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky, spoke eloquently of how his late elder brother, George, born with Downs Syndrome, lived with him in two rectories and a bishop’s house ‘transforming these abodes into homes in a way never anticipated.’ 
In conversation on the Borgo Pio with Eamon Martin, the Archbishop of Armagh recalled to me how Merton was cited as one of four representatives of American culture (along with Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Dorothy Day) during his address to Congress in Washington and as a first time Synoder was enthused by listening to so many different experiences. He found particularly moving various contributions on the plight of refugee and migrant families. 
Another important player, Cardinal Oscar Gracias of Bombay, when interviewed on CNN, played down differences and claimed that ‘everybody has pulled his head from the sand’ on contentious issues which were considered closed. But I remain sceptical that ‘the ostriches’ have gone away. So too apparently is Dr McAleese who said: ‘It is, worryingly the first Synod to challenge the will of a Pope and so much more important than the Synod’s report will be the Holy Father’s written response to it. Whether that is to be a climbdown or a showdown remains to be seen.’
Brendan Butler of We Are Church has called on Pope Francis to act and exercise leadership when his post-Council Exhortation is published, probably when he opens the Jubilee Year of Mercy on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Mr Butler anticipates that the Pope will show his mettle, citing the mid-Synod discourse in which the Pontiff said that ‘the Synod journey culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome called to speak authoritatively as the Pastor and Teacher of all Christians.’
For all his encouragement of a listening Church, Francis has remained particularly deaf towards the ordination of women and acceptance of same sex relationships. In addition to provoking the ire of Dr McAleese’s stricture that it is ‘bonkers’ not to allow the participation of women at the Synod, Francis has also baffled Fr Thomas Reese, the American Jesuit commentator for the National Catholic Reporter. Fr Reese found himself at the centre of international attention when he asked at a press briefing why a religious brother, Herve Janson, the superior general of the Little Brothers of Jesus, was selected by the International Union of Superiors General to be one of their 10 voting representatives at the Synod. Pointing out that the other nine were priests, Fr Reese asked why couldn’t a religious sister speak and vote. ‘Theologically and canonically, he (Br Janson) is no different from the superior of a women's religious order, except for his gender. He is not a cleric. He is not ordained.’  His question remains unanswered! – and if I am correct, a proposal early on in the Synod from Canadian Archbishop Paul Andre Durocher for a consideration of the admission of women to the diaconate did not materialise in the final report. Urging the Synod to seek ways to open up more opportunities for women in church life, Archbishop Durocher suggested that, ‘where possible, qualified women should be given higher positions and decision-making authority within church structures and new opportunities in ministry.’
Having applauded Archbishop Durocher’s initiative, Bridget Mary Meehan, a bishop in the excommunicated Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, described the Synod’s Final Report as ‘a setback’ for Pope Francis’s agenda of inclusiveness and compassion to Catholics on the margins. ‘The sad reality is the Synod, no surprise, was a male only event, even though women make up half of humanity,’ she added. ‘Francis has spoken about expanding the roles of women in leadership in the church, but his actions have not matched his words. One immediate step that Pope Francis could take is to lift excommunications and punishments toward Catholics who follow their consciences including women priests and our supporters.’
No such clemency came from Rome for the 220-strong worldwide Roman Catholic Women Priests.  Instead, a Cincinnati nun, Sister Letitia ‘Tish’ Rawles, was excommunicated and dismissed from her religious order towards the end of the Synod after admitting she had been secretly acting as a priest since spring. Sr Tish, 67, who is terminally ill, admitted to her superiors that she has presided over religious services in secret and ministered to people who lived with her in a Cincinnati nursing care facility.
Furthermore, despite Pope Francis's professed appreciation of ‘the feminine genius’, women still have not been granted ‘a proper place in decision-making in the Church’, wrote Baroness Nuala O'Loan, the former Northern Ireland Ombudsman and member of the House of Lords. Writing in the Irish Catholic Baroness O’Loan argued that the Church would be a better place if it enabled women to play a full role in proper, structured decision making. ‘The problem seems to be the joining of the decision-making process in the Church to the fact of ordination. Only the ordained can make decisions, and women cannot be ordained, she continued. ‘What we need to do as a Church is to separate decision-making from the issue of who can be ordained. Then we could work out how to give women a proper place in decision-making in the Church. This would mean the amendment of Canon Law, and probably the removal of Canon 129, which allows lay people only to cooperate, not to participate in decision-making. This could be done. The priesthood could continue to be reserved to men, yet women could have a full role in decision-making.’  
Pope Francis and the bishops also chose to turn a deaf ear to a pre-Synod plea to accept same sex relationships by a Polish priest working in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). At a news conference 43 year old Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa introduced his long-term partner and claimed that the Catholic Church is ‘full of homosexuals’.  Just days after the Synod’s conclusion, Mgr Charamsa was dismissed from his post. In their final report the bishops also criticised international bodies which they said were pushing poor countries to introduce same-sex marriage laws with the promise of aid. 
Now that the bishops have returned to their dioceses and the Curia continues its work in Rome without their oversight Pope Francis is preparing his future magisterial document. He does so after two years and seven months of his pontificate with his authority and prestige enhanced at the two Synods; his popularity successfully tested by his pastoral visits to Cuba and the United States of America, as well as his Motu Proprio speeding up and reducing the costs of church annulments and the welcome given to his encyclical Laudato Si on the Environment and climate change. He appears to have given a great degree of respectability to synodality which he calls a process, as distinct from events. Yet, my view remains that Synods are largely talking shops among a select elite of male bishops: at best, it is a limited application of the Second Vatican Council’s call for coresponsibility in the Church; at worse its secrecy lends itself to undue influence of lobbies and cliques.   
I recall the late Archbishop Kevin McNamara, then a Maynooth moral theologian, saying to me over a coffee in the Via della Conciliazione during the 1974 Synod on Evangelisation that Synods were essentially ‘seminars’ for bishops. To which I would add, adapting Seamus Mallon’s dictum about the Hillsborough Agreement being Sunningdale for slow learners in the Northern Ireland peace process, that Synods tend to be ‘seminars for slow learning bishops. ’ More recently, the new technological age of the internet and twitter enables bishops to inform and consult their clergy and laity through questionnaires of their proceedings, and Archbishop Eamon Martin has said that the Synod report represents an ideal preparation for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018, a meeting which Pope Francis is expected to attend.
Both Archbishop Eamon Martin and Michael Kelly, the editor of the Irish Catholic, have written of two Synods, the first the Synod of Faith in which the discussions of the Bishops are concerned with better presentation of unchanged doctrine’, the second is the Synod portrayed in the secular media as a Summit power struggle between those who advocate changing teachings on birth control, homosexuality, acceptance of divorce, the abolition of clerical celibacy and the ordination of women against the defenders of orthodoxy and the status quo. Their critiques ignore the fact that among the Catholic laity a pro-change majority is paramount.
As I have previously argued, it is only by convening a Third Vatican Council that Pope Francis in communion with the world’s bishops can resolve these unquestioned questions. Interestingly, December 8th will be the fiftieth anniversary of the closure of Vatican Two. A significant statement from Pope Francis can be anticipated, but as Archbishop Diarmuid Martin suggested, the Pope is unlikely to go much further than the bishops’ final report.
Perhaps, it is timely to recall that a Belgian peritus at the Council, Canon Heylen, quipped of conservative theologians who were imposed by Cardinal Ottaviani on a sub-commission on Family Life: ‘They obey the Pope when the Pope obeys them’! 3. Quoted by Xavier Rynne, The Fourth Session, p. 313.
Pope Francis should be under no illusion that the Pellites will not have gone away. He could do worse than bring the Mary McAleeses, Nuala O’Loans and Bridget Mary Meehans into the synodal hall. 

"Excommunicated Nun to Celebrate First Public Liturgy as a Woman Priest" Elizabeth A. Elliott | Nov. 12, 2015, National Catholic Reporter

 A Cincinnati nun who was recently excommunicated after her April ordination as a woman priest will celebrate her first public liturgy Friday at Atria Northgate in Cincinnati.

Sr. Letitia “Tish” Rawles was serving as a “catacomb” priest in order to not cause trouble for her religious order. She was excommunicated automatically for being ordained a priest and was dismissed on Oct. 22 from the Sisters of the Precious Blood because she was excommunicated and “no longer has the right or privilege of wearing the ring and insignia or presenting herself as a Sister of the Precious Blood,” said Sr. Joyce Lehman, president of the Sisters of the Precious Blood, in a press release. 

Lehman noted a decree by Cardinal William Levada, former prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, in 2007, “both the one who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman or a woman who attempts to receive the sacred order incur an excommunication.”
“A catacomb priest is a priest who functions privately in service of a specific community,” said Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP). Rawles’ specific community is the Atria Northgate Assisted Living Facility in Cincinnati, where she ministers to the sick and dying. She is seriously ill with multiple sclerosis, late stage liver disease, and diabetes. She has been a nun for 47 years.
Over 5,000 people have signed an online petition to ask Pope Francis to overturn her excommunication and those of all women priests and their supporters, according to a press release from the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, of which Rawles is a member. The petition will be delivered by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA to Francis as part of the church’s Year of Mercy.
“The petition represents people of faith and good will from all over the globe, including signatories from Africa, Europe, and South America,” according to the press release. “Over 1,000 clergy and faith leaders, including Catholic priests and over 150 Catholic sisters, have signed the petition.”
Being a priest is not something new for Rawles. She said she’s always wanted to be a priest and always had a calling to help other people. Rawles believes she was able to help a lot of people as a nun, both in the Sisters of the Precious Blood for 25 years and her previous 22 years with the Sisters of the Incarnate Word. Some of her priestly ministry includes helping the sick and dying, giving last rites, funeral services, prayer services and presiding at home liturgies.
“The theme of my first liturgy will be Gratitude and New Beginnings,” said Rawles in the press release. “I enter this Eucharist grateful for all who signed the petition and the new beginnings that my public priestly ministry will offer.”
[Elizabeth A. Elliott is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Her email address is]
*This story has been updated to correct the excommunication and dismissal of Rawles.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP Presided at Liturgy, Bishop Punished Catholic Workers Not Allowed to Celebrate Mass by Kim Norvell,

"The Catholic Worker House in Des Moines remains barred from celebrating Mass after the Des Moines Diocese denied its restoration request.
Volunteers with the organization met with the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Des Moines on Tuesday to state their case. The council of priests told the Catholic Worker House in May it could no longer hold Mass after it let a woman perform sacramental services.
Despite the denial, volunteers with the organization say they’re thankful they were given a chance to sit in front of church leaders and present their opposition to certain Catholic teachings. Specifically, they said they spoke against the church’s views on the ordination of women, homosexuality, and open communion.
“We’re really, really grateful that the bishop and the priests truly listened to us and gave us true effort,” said Frank Cordaro, co-founder of the Catholic Worker House. The ministry operates four homes in the Des Moines area that provide food, clothing, and shelter to people in need.

In December, the Catholic Worker House invited the Rev. Janice Sevre-Duszynska to preside over a Eucharist service. Roman Catholic canon law dictates only men may become ordained priests and give the sacramental rite of communion or perform liturgy services. The reverend was ordained by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, an independent group not recognized by the Vatican.
Bishop Robert Pates said that the suspension of the celebration of Mass will continue, but that the council is open “to ongoing dialogue with Catholic Worker House representatives.” “The Presbyteral Council adheres to and goes forward in the spirit of Pope Francis in his commitment to fidelity to Church teaching while being open to ongoing conversation,” Pates said in a statement.
Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs, a volunteer, said the council was concerned the service was misrepresented to outsiders as a traditional Catholic Mass. It would not be recognized because a woman presided and communion was open to attendees of any faith.
“The language used to describe Janice and the spiritual practice held in our community was never intended to misrepresent or offend,” he said. “It just reflects our point of view that Janice and other women priests are legitimate Catholic priests, fully capable of celebrating Mass authentically.”
The Catholic Worker House plans to invite Sevre-Duszynska back to Des Moines for its 40th anniversary celebration in August."

New Head Bishop of Belgian Church, Appointed by Pope Francis, Says Women's Ordination is "negotiable."

Bishop Jozef De Kesel of Bruges has been named by Pope Francis to succeed Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard as Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and the effective leader of Belgium’s Catholic Church. Ordained in 1972, Dr De Kesel is regarded as a protégée of Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who resigned in 2010 shortly before it emerged that he had attempted to persuade a survivor of sexual abuse against speaking publicly or pressing charges against the survivor’s abuser and uncle, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe.
The author of a doctoral thesis on the liberal German Lutheran theologian Rudolf Bultmann, Dr De Kesel has taught at a teacher-training centre at the University of Leuven and the seminary in Ghent. Auxiliary Bishop of Mechen-Brussels from 2002, before succeeding Dr Vangheluwe in 2010, he has called for a relaxation of celibacy for priests and said that women’s ordination is “negotiable."
- See more at:

Press Release: Excommunicated Nun Celebrates First Public Liturgy: 5,000 Sign Petition in Support

left to right, Tish Rawles, Debra Meyers, Bridget Mary Meehan


Excommunicated Nun Celebrates First Public Liturgy: 5,000 Sign Petition in Support

From: The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA

Contact: Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ARCWP (media) 859-684-4247

Sr. Tish Rawles

Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, 703-505-0004,

November 12, 2015

On Friday, November 13, Sister Letetia “Tish” Rawles will celebrate her first public liturgy as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest at 3 p.m. in the chapel at Atria Northgate, 9191 Round Top Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45251. Ordained in April of this year with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, Sister Tish served her community faithfully, offering the sacraments to the sick and dying. Sister Tish served as a “catacomb priest” in order to allow herself to remain a member of the Sisters of the Precious Blood. In late October, her ordination was discovered, and she was dismissed from her Congregation.

Since her dismissal, over 5,000 people have signed an online petition in support of Sister Tish, asking Pope Francis to overturn her excommunication and the excommunications of all women priests and their supporters. The petition represents people of faith and good will from all over the globe, including signatories from Africa, Europe, and South America. Over 1,000 clergy and faith leaders, including Catholic priests and over 150 Catholic sisters, have signed the petition.

In response to the petition, Sister Tish stated: “The theme of my first liturgy will be ‘Gratitude and New Beginnings’. l enter this Eucharist grateful for all who signed the petition and the new beginnings that my public priestly ministry will offer.”

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA will deliver this petition to Pope Francis as part of the Church’s Holy Year of Mercy. It is our hope that the reform-minded pontiff, who has called for an open Church, “not a closed system,” will end gender-exclusive ordination and overturn all excommunications.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community: 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

What's all this end-of-the-world stuff about?
Our first reading gave us Daniel's vision of the end-times.
Then we heard the passage
that's referred to as Mark's “Eschatological Discourse,”
presented as if Jesus is teaching it.
It helps to know that this kind of apocalyptic writing
was a common way of talking about change and renewal
in ancient times.
The Greek word apocalypse means "uncovering.”
It's a lifting of the veil, a revelation.
As if the events haven't happened yet,
the apocalyptic writer recounts historical events
up to the moment of writing,
then vaguely writes about future cosmic events
and how God will reward the just
and condemn the unjust.
Scholars say that it's highly improbable
that Jesus ever used apocalyptic images
in the way Mark puts them together.
Mark frames Jesus' message about the reign of God
in apocalyptic language to encourage his own community
to stay alert and follow the Way,
At the start of this chapter, Mark had Jesus describe
the “tribulation” that starts today's reading,
citing events that have already happened.
Mark has Jesus say that the Temple will fall,
not one stone left on another.
The disciples think it will last forever.
It's too big to fail.
But Jesus sees it differently.
He sees the foundation cracking and the facade crumbling.
It's not God's dwelling place; it's a den of thieves.
It needs change, not repair.
Over time our institutional church has ignored the message
that Jesus was trying to communicate.
We were taught a literal interpretation
telling us that we can earn after-life in heaven
if we unquestioningly obey church rules and church rulers.
We can see the dangers of that approach
in the wrongs committed in the name of our Church
throughout history—the massacres of the Crusades,
the silencing of Galileo and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin,
to name some of the more notorious of the past,
and in recent times the expulsion of progressive priests,
the suppression of theologians,
the Vatican investigation of the U.S. religious sisters,
clergy sex abuse, and the coverup by church officials.
It seems that Pope Francis was trying to teach Jesus' real message
last Tuesday in Florence,
looking at the Temple that is our church
and saying that “Catholicism can and must change.”
Francis said that it's not useful
to look for solutions in conservatism or fundamentalism.
He said it's not useful
to try to restore “obsolete conduct”
or forms that are no longer “culturally significant.”
He said that doctrine is not a closed system;
it generates questions and doubts.
He called for open and honest dialogue.
He called for a church which is poor and is for the poor.
He said that "We are not living an era of change
but a change of era."
Whenever a new way of thinking takes over,
it overturns the established order.
For people used to the old way, it feels like the world is ending—a
cosmic collapse.
Today we're experiencing a new reality
in the global spread of communication, technology, and trade.
In Paul's letter to the Hebrews Jesus is the new reality of his time.
The old order had passed away.
In our time the old order of Roman Catholicism is passing away.
As Francis says, we're entering a new era,
a time of transition in our church and in our world
that is troubling and challenging...
and at the same time promising.
Winter is upon us,
but even now the buds are forming for next year's sprouts.
Just as the signs of nature are clear,
so are the signs of this new era.
Our scriptures, ancient wisdom that they are, show us the way:
we must watch and listen and,
as the book of Daniel tells us,
lead the way to justice.
Our local “Tree Toledo” project
to mitigate climate change by planting trees
takes another step this week and next
with the planting of 2,000 more oak seedlings
in the Metroparks.
It might seem like we're just another bunch of tree-huggers,
but a closer look shows that we're
making a more just world for future generations,
those grandchildren and great-grandchildren
who will breathe the oxygen
given off by the trees we're planting.
We're working to keep them from suffering the climate catastrophes
that are even now disrupting lives
and killing people around the world.
In the old world, the light seemed to focus
on those who worked for their own good
without thought or concern for the common good.
The old world rewarded those who profited on the backs of others.
This new world is different.
In this new world, the ones who will shine like the stars
are those who do justice.
Ohio citizens are there, shining in their vote
for an end of gerrymandering of state legislative districts.
The students and faculty and even the football team
at the University of Missouri are there,
shining in their insistence on an end to racial injustice.
The MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio is there,
shining in its work for religious tolerance
and building a more compassionate community.
We're there, too, shining, with our Tree Toledo effort
and our pleas for divestment from fossil fuels
and our parish community contributions
to programs that give the poor a hand up.
The old world is passing away.
The reign of God is at hand, here, among us and within us.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

4, 910 Signatures, Sign to reach goal of 5,000 today: POPE FRANCIS-REINSTATE FIRED NUN


Jennifer OMalley

Campaign created by
Jennifer OMalley
Pope Francis-Reinstate Fired Nun

of 5,000 signatures


Ensure Sister Tish Rawles can continue as a Sister of the Precious Blood by overturning her excommunication and all excommunications. As we enter the Year of Mercy, the People of God ask you to show Christ's mercy to Sister Tish and all who have been excommunicated .

Why is this important?

Sister Letitia "Tish" Rawles, a faithful, committed Catholic, has served as a Catholic sister for 47 years: 22 with the Sisters of the Incarnate Word, and 25 with the Sisters of the Precious Blood. She has also felt a call to the priesthood since her childhood. In April of this year, facing serious illness, she followed God's call and her conscience and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest with the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.
Since Sister Tish's ordination, she has faithfully served the sick and dying, performing prayer services and administering last rites at her nursing home. When the Sisters of the Precious Blood discovered that she was following her call to the priesthood, she was dismissed.
Pope Francis has promoted a "Church of Mercy, which he states "excludes no one". He has shown mercy to controversial priests across the political spectrum, allowing formerly dismissed priests to say Mass, and schismatic groups to grant absolution.
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and Roman Catholic Womenpriests ask Pope Francis to live the Church of Mercy by overturning all excommunications. This action will allow Sister Tish and all women called to the priesthood to serve their communities in peace.

Affirmations from the Heart of God: Introduction to Book, Part 1, by Bridget Mary Meehan and Regina Madonna Oliver

Our lives are a mystical journey accompanied by the
Beloved, who loves us totally and passionately. This is an unearned love, gratuitous and unconditional—the gracious gratis of our Divine Parent. In our being and our becoming, God seeks, guides, appreciates, and affirms us throughout life. As God reveals in Genesis, both in the first Creation story (Gen 1:28–31) and in God’s covenant with Noah (Gen 8:8–17) and confirms with the sign of the rainbow, a pledge of God’s many-splendored gifts: human beings are the peak of God’s work in Creation, called to be the glory of God in the world, but also to be responsible for its well-being.
Indeed, today’s thinkers articulate for us a growing awareness of the interconnectedness of all created things, showing the interdependence of ecology, psychology, theology, and spirituality. Thomas Berry, cultural historian, calls this “the New Story.” Like all things new, however, we find his insights a rediscovery and reiteration of more ancient awarenesses: as found in the religious sensitivity and response to nature present in Native American and Celtic cultures. For us, Berry gives word to something that is being sensed by the generation now moving into the twenty-first century: the God-given role of human beings to respect and care for the earth and all her creatures. Whether I savor Berry’s insights, or thrill to the earthy music of Celtic pipe, or vibrate to the rhythm of the drumbeat of a rain dance, this awareness arrives at the same point. We know that we are a significant part of a created whole and, therefore, integral to—not separate nor apart from—all that surrounds us, from one another, from those Jesus calls “the least of these”—nor are we even separate from the Architect of it all. Whether we use massive telescopes which can scan our galaxy and even detect other galaxies or search the skies with our limited human vision, we are bound to stand in awe in the glow of the brilliant night sky. We can’t help but ponder, just as others have done before us, the immensity and complexity of the created universe, and the awesomeness of our charge to be its caretakers.
The reality is that God may succeed in luring us to be responsible as the ones to whom Creation is entrusted, and in drawing us, through the awesomeness of nature, to God’s very self with varying success. Some will respond sooner to the challenge; some, later. Our response will depend upon the goodwill and affirmative choice to love which is our freely given answer to God, who says: “Come!”—to God who waits for each person to say: “Yes!”
While we live out our lives attempting to live up to God’s invitation, let us not be so scandalized by the failures to love that we see in and around us, nor so immobilized by the accumulated evil that amasses into the grossest of social sin, that we lose sight of the Love of God still beaming out amidst the darkness of human error like a lighthouse beacon. The Spirit of God is inventive to the utmost, and the “word that goes out [from God] shall not return to me  empty.” (That is God’s promise in Isaiah 55:11—NRSV) “It shall accomplish that which I purpose,” says God, “and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
Judaism’s awareness is that Yahweh is faithful and Yahweh will triumph! Ultimately! The resurrection message of Jesus is the same: God will triumph! But in both traditions, the meantime will have its thorniness.
The thorniness of life keeps us ever mindful that, in this interim, until God’s purpose is fully achieved, evil abounds because of choices made not to love. The choice to not love infects and impinges negatively upon our lives. To be blind to this damaging consequence would be the utmost of naivete. The Judaeo-Christian answer to the philosophers’ quest to understand the coexistence of good and evil in the world is not to propose, as some philosophies and religions have, a dualism in the Creator nor dual Creators. It is, rather, to proclaim with Saint John in his epistle, and with the psalmist, and with the insightful rabbis who first scribed in writing their Judaic understanding of God, this conviction: “Yahweh, both transcendent and immanent, is All-Good, and the source only of good!”
Evil, the rabbis suggest in Genesis, cannot be explained as the Babylonians did, as the negative side of fickle and humanesque gods. Genesis suggests that evil can only be seen in the failure of human beings to choose to live attuned to the Love that creates them as free agents. Contradicting Babylonian mythology, then, the rabbis of the Old Testament present evil as the result of humankind’s fragmented efforts to be, not the created people of a loving God, but the creators! Evil comes when humans try to dominate, control, and abuse, imagining that in doing so they are godlike! But the power of God is creative, freeing, and wholesome. Saint Paul defines the Love that is in and of God in First Corinthians 13:4–8:

Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, and it is not snobbish; it is never rude or self-seeking; it is not prone to anger, nor does it brood over injuries. Love…rejoices in the truth. There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. Love never fails.

To be independent of the caring, loving, parenting God, to try to be totally self-contained, self-sufficient, and dominating, is then, ironically, to be totally ungodlike! And so the Genesis writers relate the snowballing effect of evil in the world through story: Cain murders Abel; wars proliferate; and human beings mistakenly seek the height of heights in Babel. Finally, in the story of Jesus, the New Testament proclaims that the human venture involves the perfect balance of Providence with human freedom and responsibility.
Although Christian theologians have struggled with the mystery of evil, theologizing can only go so far in explaining what is, in fact, a mystery! One has only to look at a crucifix to come face to face with the grotesqueness of evil. One has only to visit Dachau or Auschwitz to be reminded of the almost inconceivable depth of depravity in the souls of human beings. No! One has only to read the morning paper, on most days at least, to encounter the ultimately inexplicable reality of evil in its many manifestations.
No mental gymnastics by theologian or philosopher has been able to explain to our total satisfaction the presence of evil in a world fashioned by the All-Good God. But, through and with Jesus, Christianity proclaims that God is total Goodness and Love. Jesus proclaims in his very living and dying, the goodness of Abba, and the abomination of evil. He confronts evil; and is victorious over it, because He faces it, absorbs its fury, and overcomes it—giving back only love. God’s great “Amen” to Jesus’ testimony that “God is Love,” reaches its climax in the Resurrection event! Jesus makes visible to us in himself, the Goodness that is Abba who transforms the worst evil every human person fears—death as extinction—into the graphically depicted promise of a transformed, eternal life. And, God lets us see the Promise in the Resurrected Jesus! What we can’t verbalize, we see with eyes of faith. More than that, we experience the Living, Risen Jesus as present to us, now, guiding us, safeguarding us, and communicating intimately with us! The Resurrection isn’t an event of the past that Christians read about with curiosity; it is a Real Person—a real person whom we experience in the depths of our being and in our loving relationships with others.
Ultimately, beyond all this explication of our Judaeo-Christian grappling with the mystery of why bad things sometimes (often) happen to good people, we get down to the pastoral nitty-gritty. A particular couple turns to the presider as they stand beside the casket of their dead two-year-old with the grief-stricken query: “Why did God let this happen?” or “How can God be a good God, and allow this tremendous loss?” And here we are, back to the inexplicable that can only be accepted by a faith that stubbornly clings to the conviction: “Our God is a good God. Our God will bring good out of every event, no matter how negative. And, our God will overcome!” There will be “joy in the morning.” God will “turn our sorrow into joy.” (But right now, the pastoral heart says to the grieving couple: “In this present moment, I understand that you hurt terribly. I hurt with you. I cry with you. God cries with you. I don’t understand why bad things happen; but I know and believe that God is Love and God is here, with us, in this sadness, telling us: ‘Come; cry on my shoulder.’”
One consolation Christians have is the awareness that, in Jesus’ present moment on Good Friday, Jesus hurt terribly—but continued to proclaim the Goodness of the God he called by a tender name of love and affection, Abba.
Book is available online:
Bridget Mary Meehan,

Affirmations from the Heart of God Paperback – February, 2001