Saturday, December 3, 2016

Update on the Vatican Persecution of Irish Redemptorist Tony Flannery

Correspondence between myself and the Papal Nuncio following the Meaning of Life programme of November 20 - Tony Flannery - priest & writer

Tony Flannery (born 1947) is a member of the 
Redemptorist congregation, a native of Attymon, 
near Athenry in County Galway, Ireland. 
He is the youngest of five children,
 the eldest of whom died at three years of age. 
His mother, Maisie, who died in 1995, 
was a teacher in her early life, and 
after marriage she worked as a seamstress. 
His father, Paddy, worked in the local Bord na Mona bog, 
and they also worked a small farm. 
Tony joined the Redemptorists at the age of seventeen
 in 1964, and was ordained a priest ten years later, 
in 1974. He spent his priestly life as a 
preacher of missions, novenas and retreats, mostly 
around Ireland. He has written a number of books, and 
numerous articles in a variety of publications, both 
religious and secular. For about fourteen years he 
contributed a regular column for the Redemptorist 
Reality. Three years ago Tony was part of the group
founded the Association of Catholic Priests, and 
he continues to act as one of the Leadership Team.
In 2012 it was brought to his attention that the 
Vatican objected to some of his articles in Reality 
 He was summoned to Rome by the Superior 
General of the Redemptorists, and this began 
a long process which 
culminated in him being forbidden to minister as a
 priest, a situation that continues to this day.  
He has written a full account of his dealings with the 
Vatican in his latest book, A Question of Conscience.
He is under instruction from his religious authorities to 
remain silent, but in early 2013 he decided to ignore
 that stricture and go public.  Since then he has been
 active in the reform movement around the world, 
and is currently giving a series of talks around the
 country entitled Repairing a Damaged Church.

The New Cosmology: "Look at your life in Jesus, believe it in Jesus, and love it in Jesus"

"Jesus reveals the whole pattern of creation and 
human history in condensed form. 
Perhaps, he is best seen as a Map! 
Because of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, 
we know ahead of time that the finalchapter is always 

Though so much of life is filled with suffering, 
disappointment, disillusionment, absurdity, and dying. 
God will turn all of our crucifxions into resurrections. 
Look at it in Jesus,
believe it in Jesus,
love it in Jesus,
and let it take shape in your own soul.
This is how the Christian movement was supposed to give 
hope to all of
history. "And it still can. (Richard Rohr)

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community 2nd Sunday of Advent December 3, 2016 Co-presiders: Janet Blakeley, ARCWP and Sally Brochu, ARCWP Music Ministers: Mindy Lou Simmons and Russ

Sally Brochu ARCWP, Co-Presider Praying at Lighting of 
Advent Candles

Advent Candle Lighting Blessing Prayer
Presider: Like our ancestors, we honor the cycles and the seasons 
that remind us of the ever-changing flow of life of which 
we are a part. Ritual acts give life meaning – 
they honor and acknowledge the 
unseen web of Life that connects us all.
ALL: We light this second candle and remember our ancestors who 
feared death, evil and all the dark powers of winter. 
We, too, in our day, fear the darkness of war, discrimination, 
xenophobia and selfishness that threaten us and our planet 
to an eternal winter. And so we respond: Let us kindle the light of 
Presider: Indeed, let us welcome the light within each other.

Opening Song: “You Come, You come, Emmanuel 
(Tune of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” #38)

You come, you come, Emmanuel,
You gather all who stumbled and fell.
You share your life, you share your love;
Your dawn breaks forth in wondrous light above.
Rejoice, rejoice, O people of the earth!
In God’s great love we comprehend our worth!
You come, with grace, O Source of Light,
You teach us to find courage in the night.
Your way is justice, mercy and peace,
Your wisdom is the path to true release.
Presider: Nurturing God, you became human in Jesus and 
showed us 
how to live life fully. You know what it means to laugh and cry, 
to walk and talk, to love and be loved. We know that 
your mothering presence is always with us. May we, 
like Mary, rejoice as we give birth to God within us, and 
may we give birth to God in everything we say and do. 
ALL: Amen.

ALL: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on 

O loving God, we worship you, we give you thanks, 
we praise you for your glory. 
O Jesus Christ, holy Child of our loving God; You fill us with joy 
in your presence. You who are with our God, receive our prayer. 
For you alone are the Holy One; you alone are Messiah. 
You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ; with the 
Holy Spirit in the glory of God. Amen.


Marjorie Alaimo, Lector, first reading

First Reading: Isaiah 11: 1-10 R. Thanks be to God
Psalm Response: #56 Advent Litany “Maranatha, maranatha. 
Come, O God, and set us free”,

Karen Hylen, lector, 2nd reading

Second Reading: Romans 15: 4-9 R. Thanks be to God

Gospel Acclamation: ALLELUIA! #44 “Litany of the Word“
Gospel: Matthew 3: 1-12 R. Glory and praise to you Jesus Christ

HOMILY for the Second Sunday of Advent, Year A, 2016

Janet Blakeley ARCWP
In this season of Advent we read from Isaiah of Israel’s 
for a long-expected savior who would restore justice and 
kindness to the land.   
Even though we believe that the savior has already 
come in the person of Jesus, we still read this.   
Paul tells us why:
“Everything written before our time was written for our 
that we might derive hope from the lessons of patience 
and the words of    encouragement in the scriptures.”   
(Romans 15:4)
True enough.  Although Isaiah wrote these words nearly 
3,000 years ago, they provide what we need for the year 
2016 as we enter 
into a new era – an era which promises to be chaotic 
at best, 
deadly at worst, and unjust at the very least.   
Isaiah identifies the very things we fear, 
but assures us that the Spirit of God will come to 
rest on us:

“Not by appearance will this one judge,
Nor by hearsay will a decision be made;
But the poor will be judged with justice,
And the lands afflicted will be given their rights.

There will be no harm or destruction on all my holy 
For as waters fill the sea,
So will the land be filled with knowledge of Our God.”

Reassuring words.   But, if the Spirit of God has already 
 how will the Spirit of God “come to rest on us”?   
Granted – anything is possible with God and we have 
imaginations, so the Spirit of God may very well 
come to rest
 on us again with a transformative power.

Having moved forward in our understanding, 
we might do well to abandon thrilling 
expectations of 
God’s descending on clouds or bursting out in 
Rather, we must look within ourselves for that 
indwelling Spirit, 
and listen for prophetic voices in others.   
For if our evolving understanding tells us that 
God is 
believed to be found within creation, that is where 
we must go.   
It is from creation – including our own, individual 
small selves – 
that the Spirit of God will be seen and heard – 
not judging by 
appearance, nor making decisions by hearsay, 
but judging the 
with justice and giving afflicted lands their rights.   
The call for justice must come from within humanity.   
Even as people in one place are trampled, people in 
another place 
must speak because we are not separate people.   
We are one Body.

These days we look less for a coming Messiah and hope 
more for the ability to see and hear the already present 
 If we implore the Messiah to “come,” we must mean 
something like 
“come into my awareness.”

We are are obliged, then, to find new ways to
 “prepare the way of 
Our God” as John the Baptist said.   
How do we prepare the way for a God who is already 
within us and 
What does it even mean to prepare the way?

Profession of Faith: ALL: 

We believe in God who is creator and 
nurturer of all. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, 
who is our love, 
our hope, and our light. We believe in the Holy Spirit, 
breath of 
Wisdom Sophia, who energizes and guides us to 
build caring 
communities and to challenge injustices. 
We believe in the 
communion of saints our heavenly friends, 
who support us 
on life’s journey. 
We believe in the partnership and equality 
of women and men in our church and world.
We believe that all 
are one in the community of creation. 
We believe that God who calls us to live fully, 
love tenderly, 
and serve generously. Amen.

Presider: For a deeper coming of Christ in our world,
 let us pray.
Response: Nurturing God, hear us.
Presider: That we may experience the coming of 
God anew in 
our lives, we pray. R.
Presider: That people who suffer from destitution 
and despair, 
may experience the mothering comfort of God, we pray. R.
Presider: That the sick and suffering may receive the 
nurturing, healing love of God, we pray. R.
Presider: That those who have died may rest in God’s 
eternal embrace, we pray. R.
(Other Intentions)
Offertory Hymn: “Open Our Eyes, God, we want to 

see Jesus,
To reach out and touch him and say that we love him,
Open our eyes, God, we want to see Jesus,
Open our eyes, God, we want to see Jesus.
Open our ears, God, and help us to listen,
To reach out and touch him and say that 
we love him,
Open our ears, God, we want to hear Jesus,
Open our ears, God, we want to hear Jesus.

Preparation of the Gifts

Mary and Bob Murray
Roman and Theresa Rodriguez

Left to right: Janet Blakeley ARCWP and Sally Brochu ARCWP, 

Presider: Blessed are you, God of all life, through your goodness 
we have bread, wine, all creation, and our own lives to offer. 
Through this sacred meal may we become your new creation. 
ALL: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: God is with you. ALL: And also with you.
Presider: Let us lift up our hearts. ALL: We lift them up to God.
Presider: Let us give thanks and praise to our God.
(Please join us around the table of Life)
Voice One: Mothering God, you brought forth all creation from 
Life-Giving Womb. 
O Love of the Ages, we praise you and leap for 
joy i
n your presence.

Voice Two: Holy One of ancient Israel, you revealed yourself in 

Mary’s womb, in a shining star, in humble shepherds, in a baby 
wrapped in swaddling clothes. You embrace us with 
infinite love in every situation and relationship. 
You dwell in the depths of our hearts.

Voice Three: We invite you this day to deepen our awareness

 of your boundless love as we gather around the table of 
abundant life. With grateful hearts, we proclaim your praise:
ALL: Holy, Holy, Holy, Creator of heaven and earth. 

All beings are pregnant with your glory. 
Hosanna in the Highest. Blessed are you who dwell in all things. 
Hosanna in the Highest.

Voice Four: Praise to you, all-giving God, born of Mary. 

You are the body and blood of woman. 
We glorify you, nurturing God for the dawning of the sacred 
promise of God’s Anointed, fulfilled in Jesus, the Christ.
Voice Five: We celebrate the birth of Jesus, our newborn 

Emmanuel , who came to give us the fullness of life. 
During this holy season we share the bread of freedom 
and lift the cup of salvation.
(raise hands toward bread and wine for Invocation of the 
Holy Spirit)
All: Come Holy Spirit deepen your Presence within us and 
in these gifts of bread and wine, that they may become 
the Body of Christ.
Presider: As Jesus gave birth to the New Covenant, 
he took bread, gave thanks, broke the bread, and s
hared it with all those present saying:
ALL: Take this all of you and eat it. This is my body.
Presider: Then Jesus took a cup of wine, blessed you, 
Loving God, shared the cup with all those present saying:
ALL: Take this all of you and drink from the covenant, 
poured out for you and for everyone. Do this in memory of me.
Presider: Let us proclaim the sacred presence of our 
nurturing God:
ALL: Christ, by your life, death and rising, 
you have blessed us 
with abundance that will never end.
Second Invocation of the Holy Spirit: (

Place hands on each other’s shoulder)
All: God of all people, You call us “beloved.” 
Give us courage to accept your faith in us and to live your 
compassion in the world. You infuse us with Sophia,
 Holy Wisdom, to serve you in the last and the least.

Voice Six: As we wait with joyful hearts for the fulfillment of 

your loving presence in our lives, we remember the prophet,
martyrs and saints who have gone before us: 
Deborah, Isaiah, Mary of Magdala, Peter, Martha, 
Bishop Oscar Romero, Ita Ford, Maura Clark, Dorothy Kazel, 
Jean Donovan and all those we remember as heroes and 
heroines in our church who inspire us today. 
(Community names mentors whom they want to remember, 
living and dead.)
Voice Seven: God of our dreams, may we give birth 

to the Word Made Flesh in us everyday. 
May we give birth to the church of our dreams and hopes. 
May we give birth to a deep reverence for earth and live in 
harmony with all creatures on the earth.
ALL: Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, 

all praise and glory are yours, Holy God, 
through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
ALL: Our Father and Mother …
Presider: As we do so well, let us share a sign of peace 
with one another as an expression of our recognizing 
the Christ that lives within each of us.  
Namaste and peace.

ALL: Loving God, You call us to speak truth to power. 
We will do so. 
Loving God, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice. 
We will do so. Loving God, You call us to be Your 
presence in the world. 
We will do so.
Presider: This is Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, loving us 

All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love.
ALL: May we be who we are the Body of Christ.
Presider: Let us share the Body of Christ with the 
Body of Christ!
 ALL: Amen.

COMMUNION SONG: Instrumental

Marie shares Communion with Mary

POST COMMUNION SONG: #54 “Christ Circle Round Us“ 
verses 1,3,6

Presider: God of new beginnings, thank you for nourishing 
your sacrament. May your tender presence continue to 
open our hearts to the daily miracles of life that 
surround us each day, through Emmanuel, God-with-us.
ALL: Amen.
Presider: Our God is with you.
ALL: and also with you.
(everyone please extend your hands in mutual blessing)
ALL: May our loving God fill us with radiant joy. 
May our liberating God fill us with deep peace, and 
may our compassionate God bless us always with 
strength to serve the broken and excluded. Amen.
Presider: Let us birth Christ anew in our world today. 
Go in the peace of Christ. ALL: Thanks be to God.
CONCLUDING HYMN: #604 “Christ Be Our Light“

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, standing in front of Christmas 
tree at
St. Andrew UCC

The 'Catholic-before-all-else' Ireland is gone - and it's the Church's own fault Martina Devlin, My Response
Cottage where our family lived, Coolkerry, Rathdowney, County Laois
..."But Ireland is no longer Catholic first and last. Pope Francis will meet a radically changed nation when his plane touches down in August 2018. The intervening decades have seen Ireland grow increasingly secular.
Mass attendance is in freefall and vocations have collapsed. Referenda have led to divorce and same-sex marriage legislation, despite resistance from the bishops. Inevitably, Irish bishops will seek to instruct the electorate on matters of conscience once again when the flawed Eighth Amendment blocking abortion goes - eventually - before the people. The hierarchy is slow to accept its lost authority, thrown away not just by clerical child abuse but the sinfulness of persistent cover-up."

Bridget Mary's Response
From the perspective of an  Irish born woman, originally from Rathdowney, County Laois,  I agree with Martina Devlin's analysis. The Ireland I knew as a small child in the 1950's was Catholic before all else, the Ireland of today no longer puts the institutional church on a pedestal. The sex abuse scandals and their coverup are largely to blame as well the Vatican's failure to treat women as equal members of the church. 
I  believe that women priests in a non-clerical, inclusive community of equals  model of church will help to heal the serious wound of sexism  that has devastated the institutional church. My hope is that Pope Francis decides on women deacons as a first step toward the full equality of women. The international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement ordains women as a act of prophetic obedience to the Spirit to bring justice to the  church. We welcome all to the Eucharist in our inclusive grassroots communities. I will be in Ireland in Aug. 2018 and would love to meet with individuals and  groups interesting in pioneering this movement in Ireland. My email is, 703-505-0004
Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

"Why can’t women be priests?" By: LIBBIE MITCHELL | December 2, 2016, Excellent Article, The Good News is YES, Women Priests Are Here LEADING! Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP
Ann Harrington ARCWP (wearing red stole) with community in North Carolina

Bridget Mary's Response: Excellent article! The good news is women priests are here  now- leading the church forward in the international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement! Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,,

"A priest is a man. A nun is a woman. Why is this the case? Our culture is making massive changes in the way we view gender. Is the church ignoring these changes? Are the traditions of the Church inhibiting her to change and replacing Christ’s example? I attempt to answer this through grappling with the question, “Why Can’t Women Be Priests?”
In 2013, Pope Francis spoke about the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women being ordained priests, saying ‘that the door was ‘closed,’” according to an article written by Justin Scuiletti. Pope Francis recently was asked again about the ban. He said, “Concerning the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this, and it stands.”
The declaration Pope Francis is referring to, written in 1994, in sum, states women cannot be priests because the original Twelve Apostles were men. The Church wants to follow Christ’s example in this way, and “ ‘does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination.’”
There are three reasons I would argue against the validity of the declaration and advocate for women having the opportunity to be ordained to the priesthood. The first reason is Jesus had women apostles; the second reason is Jesus was, and is, a contradiction of masculinity; the third reason is serving God in any form should not be gender specific.
Reason #1: Jesus had women apostles.
Joan Mitchell, a Sister of St. Joseph, said women were a part of the original company of Jesus. “I think it’s been commonly accepted that there were originally 12 apostles; those were very important. But, for example, in Luke 8:1-3, there’s a list of men apostles, followed by 8:3, which is a list of the women who were part of the company.”
Not only were women a part of the original group, but they were also present at the Last Supper. Women were always part of Jesus’ community meals, so the Last Supper- a Paschal meal- was no exception. This is important because, according to a talk given by Dr. John Wijngaards, “the Council of Trent (1563) declared that ‘through the words ‘do this in commemoration of me’, Christ established the apostles as priests, and ordained that they and other priests should offer his body and blood.”
If women were also there, the words, “Do this in commemoration of me!” was meant for his male and female apostles.
“Jesus entrusted celebrating the Holy Eucharist in principle to both men and women. And this would imply that Jesus did not exclude women from the ministries” Dr. John said in his talk.
Reason #2: Jesus was, and is, a contradiction of masculinity.
In the gospels, the writers depicted Jesus as a feminine communicator and a feminist. He rejected competition, violence, aggression, and the patriarchy at the time. He promoted humility, peace, and quiet patience in the face of injustice and suffering, and openly had concern for all, especially the oppressed. If the priest’s role is to spread The Word and “do [works] in commemoration of [him]”, why is the Church making masculinity a norm for priesthood when Jesus contradicted masculinity himself?
“Jesus delegitimized the stereotypically male ‘virtues’ and the typically masculine approach to reality; he validated the stereotypically female virtues and lived a distinctly ‘feminine’ lifestyle. He challenged men to abandon both their assumption of human superiority and the grounds upon which they based that claim. And he challenged women to value the traits which they had been taught to despise in themselves because the qualities were despised by men,” said Sandra M. Schneiders in her lecture titled, Women and the Word.
Is the Church willing to take up this challenge? Today, Jesus would identify as a feminist, “that is, a person who believes in the full personhood and equality of women and who acts to bring that belief to realization in society and church” (Schneiders,62). One must ask, why is the church compelled to hold this masculine tradition in spite of Jesus’ feminism? If Jesus were alive today, what would be his response to the question of women being ordained priests?
Reason #3: Serving God in any form shouldn’t be gender specific.
Serving as a priest wasn’t always gender-specific.
“In the first thousand years of the church, women had these roles. They certainly were deacons, and a lot of scholars say they were more than that. They were often co-presiders, and co-leaders in these communities,” says Mitchell.
These women are mentioned explicitly in Scripture, such as Acts 1:12-14, 18:24-26 and Romans 16:1-16. Not only did the women have a priestly role in the church, but they were also highly significant as apostles in Jesus’ story.
“In Mark, there’s no mention of the women at all until Jesus has died on the cross. It says in 15:40 that the women had done three things: Come with him from Galilee, served him and followed him. So they’re at the cross standing at a distance. They [also saw] where he was buried, and they go to the grave that they find empty on Easter morning. So they are the witnesses to the main events which we still hold in the Creed;they are the primary witnesses,” states Mitchell.
Mary Magdalene was the first witness of and the first to announce the Resurrection of the Lord, which Christians deem the most important event in Christianity.
Two women statues sitting in front of a cross in a cemetery.
Many skeptics may say it doesn’t matter- Jesus appointed the Twelve, and that is what matters the most. In response to this idea, it’s important to note most elements in Jesus’ appointment of the Twelve do not stand today.
“The number Twelve [was] soon abandoned in the Apostolic Tradition; Jesus gave [the apostles] power to drive out demons and cure the sick (that power did not last long after Jesus’ death); Jesus told the Twelve Apostles to wear no sandals and to have no money in their belts: such instructions were soon modified to suit new situations. At his last appearance on a Mount in Galilee Jesus commissioned the Eleven to baptize all nations, but we know now that everyone can baptize validly…” (Dr. John, 2011)
If many of the elements Jesus gave to the original 12 are invalid now, why has the element of the masculinity of the group been perpetuated and prolonged? Jesus did not mention, “All my apostles must be of the male sex.” Jesus also did not “establish the hierarchical order of bishops, priests, and deacons that arose in later times” (Dr. John, 2011). He did not define what a priest is and should do, especially not as the church leaders understood it in later times. Jesus also didn’t perform all the sacraments like marriage or confirmation, and he didn’t “order the writing down of the inspired books of the New Testament” (Dr. John, 2011).
What one can conclude from all the evidence is that the Church is not relying on Jesus’ example to make the decision to ban women priests. The Church is instead relying on “massive prejudices on behalf of ecclesiastical leaders” (Dr. John, 2011). Some past prejudices against women priests have been that women are inferior to men and incapable of such power; their monthly periods would contaminate the altar and sanctuary, and they would be “a source of seduction just as Eve had been” (Dr. John, 2011). The Church may not believe these beliefs anymore, but the institution of the church is still holding on to the same tradition as the men who used these claims. Why? Mitchell has a theory:
“The priests are educated in an all-male world- many live much of their lives without adult women around them as close colleagues. It seems to be beyond what [the male leaders in the church] can imagine.”
The change would be significant, and certainly against the tradition. But didn’t Jesus fight against many traditional “values” in the Gospels? It’s interesting that the Church leaders avoid contradicting past leaders and tradition, yet Jesus lived a life of contradiction. If the Church’s goal is to follow Jesus’s example, it should embrace change, not run away from it.
Some may ask, why is this important? Does it matter what gender priests are? Yes, I believe it does. On an objective level, the church “is facing a shortage of priests” says John L Allen Jr. in a Timearticle. If the Church eliminated the masculine requirement and allowed women to serve as priests, the shortage may minimize. On a moral level, the practice of only ordaining male priests causes one to reflect on what the Church believes best represents Christ-ness. The patriarchal system in the Church gives the impression that the Church thinks only men can best exemplify Christ. What does that mean for Christian women? Are they to accept that they are less like Jesus merely because of their gender? “Christ-ness” does not imply masculinity (if it did, women wouldn’t be able to be baptized). But based on the patriarchal system, it seems like masculinity is a form of Christ-ness or at least closer representation of Christ-ness.
“How long do women have to wait to be considered equal and worthy of receiving the same welcome by the official Church as men?” asks Allen. When is the church going to stop clinging to a decision that was made more than 1,000 years ago and follow Jesus’ example? He appointed female apostles; he promoted feminine characteristics and denounced typical patriarchal behaviors. Is the Church representing Jesus as a whole or just the parts that best fit with their tradition?
To conclude with a sense of hope, Pope Francis did “approve a commission to study the role of women as deacons in the church, a move which some believed could be a move to end the Catholic Church’s long-standing practice of excluding women from the clergy” (Justin, 2016). Maybe this is the starting point. In the meantime, we must increase the awareness and keep the faith. Joan Mitchell encourages us:
“It’s not a quick change. And I don’t know that the change will come from the top. It maybe has to emerge, like evolution, from the bottom; and you have to survive along the way–whatever gives you life and strengthens your faith.”