Saturday, March 18, 2017

From Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea ARCWP : Urgent Concerns About the Peace Process in Colombia

"The ethnic organizations and dioceses that have jurisdiction in the state of Chocó, we want to reiterate that it continued to place our hopes on the negotiated solution in the armed and social conflicts that have historically affected our nation. Both the signing of the Peace Agreement between the National Government and the FARC guerrillas, as well as the beginning of negotiations with the ELN in Quito, are positive signs in the arduous quest to build the roads than the synthesizers.

However, we observe with great concern the phenomena that may put our faith in crisis in an eventual successful outcome of the peace processes:

Faced with the peace agreement with the FARC supposed to be concerned about the lack of logistic adaptation of the Verbal Areas and Camps; The recurrent tendency in some social and political sectors to ignore the agreements and signed; The lack of clarity in the dismantling of militia structures in both rural and urban areas; And the flaws in the use of the ethnic chapter of the agreements, especially by the ignorance of the rules of prior consultation.
The ELN is concerned about the way in which they have been occupying the territory of ethnic populations and their community spaces, putting the communities and their authorities at risk.
As in many regions of the country, in Chocó we are witnesses of a wide, open and systematic advance of illegal armed groups with the discourse and attitudes of paramilitarism that occupy territories that the Public Force can not control, causing the sense of lack of protection of the communities . In recent weeks and months documents have been released, both from sectors of the Church as well as popular organizations and other voices of civil society that express alarm about this phenomenon.
In urban centers, violence and criminality continue to be particularly prevalent among young people and marginal sectors. The population in general, shows signs of despair by the insecurity and lack of effectiveness of the authorities. Likewise, there are testimonies of the presence of groups related to paramilitarism that control the sectors of the urban centers and take on their own actions of execution, putting in question the Social State of Law.
Demands and exhortations:
To the Colombian State we demand mechanisms of protection to the inhabitants of the Chocó, recovering the exercise of the monopoly of the arms according to the norms of the State of Right. Likewise, for the longing for peace of the Chocoano people, the implementation phase of the Havana agreements and the nascent negotiation with the ELN, the society expects concrete results in the control and disarticulation of criminal and paramilitary bands. While it lost the authorization of sectors of the Armed Forces and other state agencies against the activation of these armed groups, the Peace Process loses credibility.
To the guerrillas of the FARC and ELN, the demands persevere in the will and the commitment to put an end to the armed conflicts responding to the expectations of the Civil Society.
We invite the diplomatic corps accredited in Colombia and the United Nations system to support the Peace Process and all civil society initiatives that lead to the completion of the armed conflict and the construction of peace for all the territories of Colombia. Colombian people
We urge the media, local, regional, national and international, with updated information on what happened in this context, being important allies to make visible the humanitarian crisis in Chocó.
The God of life enlightens us and strengthens us in the search for ways of conversion that bring us closer to fraternal coexistence in a reconciled country."

Quibdó, March 17, 2017

Jesus Talks to Paul Ryan The Opinion Pages | OP-ED COLUMNIST Jesus Said Unto Paul of Ryan … Nicholas Kristof ,MARCH 16, 2017

"What would Jesus tell House Speaker Paul Ryan about looking after the sick and the needy?
A woman who had been bleeding for 12 years came up behind Jesus and touched his clothes in hope of a cure. Jesus turned to her and said: “Fear not. Because of your faith, you are now healed.”
Then spoke Pious Paul of Ryan: “But teacher, is that wise? When you cure her, she learns dependency. Then the poor won’t take care of themselves, knowing that you’ll always bail them out! You must teach them personal responsibility!”
They were interrupted by 10 lepers who stood at a distance and shouted, “Jesus, have pity on us.”
“NO!” shouted Pious Paul. “Jesus! You don’t have time. We have a cocktail party fund-raiser in the temple. And don’t worry about them — they’ve already got health care access.”
Jesus turned to Pious Paul, puzzled.
“Why, they can pray for a cure,” Pious Paul explained. “I call that universal health care access.”
Jesus turned to the 10 lepers. “Rise and go,” he told them. “Your faith has made you well.” Then he turned back to Pious Paul, saying, “Let me tell you the story of the good Samaritan.
“A man was attacked by robbers who stripped him of clothes, beat him and left him half dead. A minister passed down this same road, and when he saw the injured man, he crossed to the other side and hurried on. So did a rich man who claimed to serve God. But then a despised Samaritan came by and took pity on the injured man. He bandaged his wounds and put the man on his own donkey and paid an innkeeper to nurse him to health. So which of these three should we follow?”
“Those who had mercy on him,” Pious Paul said promptly.
Jesus nodded. “So go ——”
“I mean the first two,” Pious Paul interjected. “For the Samaritan’s work is unsustainable and sends the wrong message. It teaches travelers to take dangerous roads, knowing that others will rescue them from self-destructive behaviors. This Samaritan also seems to think it right to redistribute money from those who are successful and give it to losers. That’s socialism! Meanwhile, if the rich man keeps his money, he can invest it and create jobs. So it’s an act of mercy for the rich man to hurry on and ignore the robbery victim.”
“How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven,” Jesus mused to himself. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter heaven.”
“Let me teach you about love, Jesus — tough love!” Pious Paul explained. “You need a sustainable pro-business model. And you need to give people freedom, Jesus, the freedom to suffer misery and poverty.”
“The Lord God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor,” Jesus replied, emphasizing the last two words. Then he turned to a paralyzed beggar at his feet. “Stand up!” Jesus told the man. “Pick up your mat and go home.” As the man danced about joyfully, Pious Paul rolled his eyes dismissively.
“Look, Jesus, you have rare talent, and it should be rewarded,” Pious Paul said. “I have a partner, The Donald, who would like to work with you: He’d set up a lovely hospital, and the rich would come and pay for you to heal them. You’d get a percentage, and it’d be a real money-spinner. Overhead would be minimal because every morning you could multiply some loaves and fishes. You could strike it rich!”
“Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God,” Jesus said. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received comfort.”
“Oh, come on, Jesus,” Pious Paul protested. “Don’t go socialist on me again. Please don’t encourage class warfare. The best way to help the needy is to give public money to the rich. That then inspires the poor to work harder, galvanizes the sick to become healthy, forces the lepers to solve their own problems rather than kick back and depend on others. That’s why any realistic health plan has to focus on providing less coverage for the poor, and big tax benefits for the rich. When millions of people lose health care, that’s when a country is great again!”
“From everyone who has been given much,” Jesus told him, “much will be required.”
“Well, sure, this hospital would have a foundation to do some charity work. Maybe commissioning portraits of The Donald to hang in the entrance. But let’s drop this bleeding heart nonsense about health care as a human right, and see it as a financial opportunity to reward investors. In this partnership, 62 percent of the benefits would go to the top 0.6 percent — perfect for a health care plan.”
Jesus turned to Pious Paul on his left and said: “Be gone! For I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; and I was sick, and you did not help me.”
“But, Lord,” protested Pious Paul of Ryan, “when did I see you hungry or thirsty or sick and refuse to help you? I drop your name everywhere. And I’m pro-life!”
“Truly, I say to you,” Jesus responded, “as you did not help the homeless, the sick — as you did not help the least of these, you did not help me.”
I invite you to sign up for my free, twice-weekly email newsletter. Please also join me on Facebook and Google+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter (@NickKristof).
A version of this op-ed appears in print on March 16, 2017, on Page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: And Jesus Said Unto Paul of Ryan … Today’s Paper|Subscribe

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests Celebrates Worldwide Day of Prayer with Ordination of Woman Deacon in Florida on March 25, 2017

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) joins Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) in celebrating the World Day of Prayer for Women's Ordination by ordaining Elena Garcia a deacon at St. Andrew UCC at 4 PM in Sarasota Florida. Elena will then baptize her grandson, Brohdi Lucas Courtney as her first act of loving diaconal ministry. All are welcome!

We give thanks for all in our Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement who, since 2002, are living God's call in a renewed priestly ministry that welcomes all to celebrate sacraments in inclusive faith communities. We have grown from seven brave women ordained on the Danube in 2002 to approximately 240 internationally in Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Africa.

With Mary, in the Magnificat, we pray that justice will triumph over oppression everywhere and that our institutional church will no longer discriminate against women by prohibiting ordination. 

On this World Day of Prayer for Women's Ordination, we join in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who advocate women's ordination and work for equality in the Roman Catholic Church. We rejoice that for fifteen years, women priests have been leading the way toward justice and equality in the Roman Catholic Church.

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests to Ordain Elena Garcia a deacon on 2017 World Day of Prayer for Women's Ordination

Elena Garcia ARCWP  (on the right) co-presided at 3rd Sunday of Lent with priest, Katy Zatsick ARCWP

On Saturday March 25, 2017, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests will ordain Elena Garcia  a deacon at St. Andrew UCC in Sarasota, Florida at 4:00 PM.  After her ordination, Elena will baptize her grandson, Brohdi Lucas Courtney.  All are welcome. What better way to celebrate the Worldwide Day of Prayer for Ordination than to celebrate an ordination and a baptism! Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community March 18 2017 The Third Sunday of Lent, Co-Presiders: Katy Zatsick ARCWP and Elena Garcia ARCWP, Music Minister Linda Lee Miska

Katy Zatsick, Co-Presider

“We join the Samaritan Woman and Jesus at the Well”


GATHERING SONG #384 “The Summons” Verses 1, 2, 4, 5 (replace Lord with “Love”)

Presider: In the name of God our Creator, and of Jesus our brother, and of the Holy Spirit, our Liberator. ALL: Amen

Presiders: O God, you shepherd us with tender care and you draw us to yourself in a covenant of Love. Help us to heed the words of Jesus to follow the call of your Spirit Sophia. Let this season of Lent be a turning point in our lives toward fidelity to you and the call to preach the Good news with our lives. We ask this in Jesus’ name. All: Amen.

Healing Rite

Presider: Let us pause now for reflection. Place your hand over your heart and breathe in God’s compassionate love for you…be aware that God forgives, frees and heals us…Let us let go of guilt, live justly, and love tenderly and preach the Gospel with our lives. We are the face of God in our world… (Extend hands and recite prayer of General Absolution)

All: Beloved Father-Mother of mercies through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, you have reconciled the world and sent your Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of hurtful words and actions. We come as the woman at the well to seek your Living Water. Through the ministry of the church and all its members; may Love, God of Evolution give us pardon, healing and peace. May we forgive one another for our failures to love and to witness for justice in the name of the Holy One Creator of life, and of Jesus our brother, and of your Holy Spirit Sophia our wisdom. Amen.


Presiders: God of Love, you visited the earth and slaked our thirst, offering Living Streams of water. You fed the hungry and taught of Love’s way. You watered hardened souls, filled with stones and weeds, softening them with kindness, and blessing their growth…In the desert flowers come forth, the pastures flourish with fruit and grain; Creation’s diversity is glorious!

All: Amen. (taken from Psalms for Praying, Nan C. Merrill #65)


First Reading Exodus 17:3-7

Responsorial Psalm 95 All: Sing “If you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts, harden not your hearts.”

Second Reading: Taken from Pope Francis’ talk “God’s Power to Evangelize”

The mission that awaits us is, of course, challenging, but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it becomes an exciting one. We all experience our poverty, our weakness, in taking the precious treasure of the gospel to the world, but we must constantly repeat St. Paul’s words: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.” (2 Cor 4:7) It is this that must always give us courage; knowing that the power of evangelization comes from God, that it belongs to (God). We are called to open ourselves more and more to the action of the Holy Spirit, to offer our unreserved readiness to be instruments of God’s mercy, of (God’s) tenderness, of (God’s) love for every man and every woman especially for the poor, the outcast and those who are distant.

Furthermore, for every Christian, for the whole Church, this is not an optional mission; it is not and optional mission, but essential. As St. Paul said, “If I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Cor 9-16). God’s salvation is for everyone. The Inspired Word of Pope Francis. All: Thanks be to God.

(From Address to General Directors of Pontifical Missionary Works, Clementine Hall, May 17, 2013)

Gospel Acclamation: Sing “All praise, glory and honor to you, God of Great Love”
Gospel A reading from the holy gospel according to John 4:5-42

Reader: …The good news of Jesus, the Christ!

Gospel Acclimation: Sing “All praise, glory and honor to you, God of Great Love”


How do the readings challenge you and/or affirm your belief and actions for justice and peace?

Jesus and the woman held an extensive conversation, how can I increase my time with Jesus at the well of Living Water?

When and/or how can I as an elder in my communities be Jesus’ Living Water of the Gospel for those whom I meet?

Profession of Faith: ALL: We believe in God who calls us to be the compassion of God in our world. We believe in Jesus, whose death and resurrection reveals that God’s liberating love overcomes all oppression, including death and evil. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of Wisdom Sophia, who energizes and guides us to live and to preach Gospel equality in inclusive communities. We welcome everyone from everywhere in our nation and world. We believe in the communion of saints our heavenly friends, who inspire us to live holy lives. We believe in the Love, Your Living Water, that does justice and heals our world. Amen

Community Prayers

Presider: That we may live compassion and mutuality, letting go of all patterns of domination, discrimination, bigotry and hate-may we stand in solidarity with all who are hurting, we pray. Response: All: God of unconditional Love, hear us!

Presider: For Muslims banned from the USA-may we stand in solidarity with them, we pray. Response: All: God of unconditional Love, hear us!

Presider: For all undocumented workers torn from their families and returned to Central America, we pray. Response: All: God of unconditional Love, hear us!

Presider: For all those who may lose their health care insurance, may we stand in solidarity with them, we pray. Response: All: God of unconditional Love, hear us!

Presider: For the destruction of Your oceans, water, air and land may we work to prevent this, we pray. Response: All: God of unconditional Love, hear us!

Other intentions…

Presiders: God of unconditional Love, you hear our prayers as we bring your Gospel of Life Giving water to our communities and the world. We pray as always in our Brother Jesus’ name. All: Amen.


Song: #343 I am the Bread of Life, verses 1, 4, 5 In verse 1 replace “the father” with “our Abba”

In verse 5 replace Yes Lord” with “Yes, Jesus”

Katy Zatsick ARCWP and Elena Garcia ARCWP, Co-Presiders

Presider: Blessed are you, Loving God, who gives us Living Water through the words and actions of Jesus. This bread is your MMOJ community seeking to live your Gospel and spread your healing and reconciling Good News. Through your divine providence, we have this bread to offer, it will become for us the Bread of Life. ALL: Blessed be God forever.

Presider: Blessed are you, O God, Creator of all. This wine is our asking and seeking to be justice makers for all those who suffer in our country and for the life of your planet. Through your divine providence, we have this wine to offer, it will become our spiritual drink. ALL: Blessed be God forever.

Presider: Divine Presence, we are united in this sacrament by the love of our Brother Jesus Christ in communion with all who seek your Living Water and take the Good News to your world ALL: Amen.

All: Blessed are you, God of all life, through your goodness we have this bread and this wine, the whole of creation, and our own lives to offer. Through this sacred meal may we become your Living Water for others. Amen.

(Invitation to come around the table)

Presider: God is with you, proclaiming the Gospel of liberation and healing

ALL: and also with you.

Presider: Lift up your hearts that Jesus proclaims justice, equality and peace for all people and God’s planet earth.

ALL: We lift them up to God.

Presider: Let us give thanks to our God.

ALL: It is right to give God thanks and praise.


Voice One: Lifegiving Love, You have called us to be midwives of grace, radiant reflections of your holy presence on earth. United with You, we are one with all beings in the community of creation as we celebrate the new life occurring in our expanding cosmos.

(from Living With Christ, Preface: The Samaritan Woman)

All: It is truly right and just our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Loving God, holy Father and Mother through Christ our Living Water. For when Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for water to drink, he had already created the gift of faith within her and so ardently did he thirst for her faith, that Jesus kindled in her the fire of divine Love. And so, too give you thanks and with the angels praise your mighty deeds, as we acclaim:

ALL: Sing “We are holy, holy,-we are whole. …You are holy, holy,-you are whole. …I am holy, holy-I am whole. …We are holy, holy-I am whole…

Voice Two: Gracious God, you set the banquet table and invite all to the feast that celebrates your boundless love in the universe. As mystics and prophets, we are Your hands, lifting up those who suffer, the vulnerable and excluded in our world today

Voice Three: We especially thank you, Holy One, for Jesus God’s Living Water, who came to show us a new vision of community where every person is loved and all relate with mutual respect. As midwives of grace and bearers of the Good News, we welcome all God’s family into the Circle of Life at the Banquet of Love.

Voice Four: Jesus threatened the religious and political leaders of his time and so they put him to death. Like Jesus, the holy ones throughout the ages have been executed for their prophetic witness by the oppressive systems they challenged. As God’s beloved, we speak truth to power and work for justice and equality, no matter what the cost.

(please all extend hands as we recite the consecration together)

Presider: Let your Spirit come upon these gifts and into our hearts as we pray:

All: On the night before he died, Jesus took bread into his hands and said:

This is my body, he said. Take it and eat of it. Do this in in memory of me.


All: At the end of the meal Jesus took a cup of wine, raised it in thanksgiving to you, and said: “Take and drink of the covenant made new again through my life in you. Do this in memory of me.”

Presider: Now then, let us proclaim the mystery of the Christ Presence made new again through you.

ALL: In every creature that has ever breathed, Christ has lived; in every living being that has passed on before us, Christ has died; in everything yet to be, Christ will come again!

Voice Five: We honor the holy women and men who have revealed your compassion and justice in our world. We honor those who were your Living Water through the examples of their lives, their words and actions. We thank you for ordinary people in our lives who show us how to love tenderly and have revealed the heart of our God, especially (pause to remember and name some of these holy women and men).

Voice Six: And so, liberating God Midwife of Grace, we hold our religious ministers and political leaders in the light of Christ Sophia, Holy Wisdom. We pray for our pope and bishops, especially Bridget Mary, our young and our elders, and all God’s holy people to be your Living Water for our world.

Voice Seven: We remember those who are sick and suffering. May they be healed and comforted. We remember Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary Magdala, Peter, Paul, Junia, our patron saints and all the saints and angels who surround us with loving prayer each day. We remember our loved ones and all those who have died, that they may experience the fullness of life in the embrace of our compassionate God.

ALL: Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, all praise and glory are yours, Holy God, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen: Sung


ALL: Our Father and Mother . . .


Presider: Let us pray for the peace of Christ in our country and our world as we sing and hold hands in a community prayer for peace (Peace is flowing…Love is flowing…)


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 live as Your welcoming presence in the world. We will do so.

Presiders: This is Jesus, who called women and men to be partners and equals, and who liberates, heals and transforms our world and us. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love. All are invited to be Jesus’ Living Water for others. Let us share the Body of Christ with the Body of Christ! ALL: Amen.

Music by Linda during communion

Song after Communion: #340 Ubi Caritas Verses 1, 3, 4


Presiders: Life-giving God, Jesus showed the way to overcome all oppression through his death and resurrection. At the well in Samaria Jesus showed us how to be Living Water and your Good News for others. Through the power of your liberating Spirit at work within us and our world, we will comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable by living as the Compassion of God the Gospel values of justice, peace and equality for others and communities. ALL: Amen

CONCLUDING RITE (from LWC, Prayer for the People, For the Woman at the Well)

Presider: Direct, O Loving God, we pray the hearts of your faithful, and in your kindness grant your servants this grace: that, abiding in the love of you and our neighbors, we may fulfill the whole of your commands to be and to spread the Good News. Through Jesus your Son and our brother. All: Amen.


(everyone please extend your hands in mutual blessing)

ALL: Holy One, may we drink your Living Water and carry it to all your Beloved Daughters and Sons in our country and the world. Evolutionary Love of all, we bless one another as we, like Jesus, live Your generous service to all especially the least and the last. Amen.


Presider: Go, bring forth life as co-creators, healers, and doers of justice in our world. Let the service continue! ALL: Thanks be to God.

CONCLUDING HYMN #379 City of God all verses, Please replace “the Lord,” with “Our God”

Adapted from a liturgy by Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP

Article on St. Patrick and Sheela, Sheela-na-gigs as Symbols of Feminine Divine in Ireland

Whether Patrick had a wife and her name was Sheela, I don't know. But I do know that Sheela-na-gigs are ancient symbols of the goddess that was later used by Christianity to symbolize the feminine divine. They can be seen in a number of places in Ireland.

During my travels in Ireland, I saw several Sheela-na-gigs.  There is a Sheela above the entrance of St. Gabnait's monastery in Ballyvourney, County Cork. In 2014, on a spiritual tour, our group prayed at her well, and visited this peaceful site. The Rock of Cashel has a Sheela on one of its outside walls. The church at Killnaboy and Brigit's monastery in Kildare also have Sheelas. 

Sheela-na-gigs "represented, for women in particular, a go-to person because she represented the female. The Sheela-na-Gig is a really important part of medieval folk tradition. The figure of Sheelah was perhaps much bigger than suggested by the scant mentions we find in the old newspaper accounts. She represents a folk personification, allied to, what can be termed, the female cosmic agency, and being such, would have played a major role in people’s everyday lives. It is a pity that the day has died out. But maybe we will revive it."


Friday, March 17, 2017

Irish Blessings from Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

As I sip my Barry's Irish tea today,
I am grateful for my dear family and friends.
I appreciate your thoughts, prayers and cards.
I hold each of you in my heart and pray that you
may be held in the hollow of God's hand.
I pray that all those we have loved- who have passed on -dance with the angels and saints on this St. Patrick's Day and forever!
Thankful for the gift of your presence in my life and in our world, I send you Irish blessings of love and joy.
Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Jesuit Superior General Says Women's Full Inclusion in the Church "Has Not Yet Arrived"

Bridget Mary's Response:  Truer words were never spoken than Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa's acknowledgment that the Roman Catholic Church is not where it needs to be on the issue of women's equality!

 The church's failure to treat women as equals at the altar and in decision-making marginalizes women around the globe, and contributes to abuse, poverty, war, sexual trafficking, overpopulation and the devastation of the earth. 

The Vatican took a positive step forward by hosting the Voices of Faith Event.  It appears to have been an informative and illuminating encounter, according to Fr. Sosa. I look forward to seeing the women's presentations on the Vatican web site. The photos were great!

 I liked Sosa's inspiring quote from St. Francis of Assisi because it reflects our women priests movement's journey toward a more inclusive church. “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”  

 Women priests are supported by millions of Catholics worldwide. See article that cites 80% of U.S. Catholics favor women priests.

I suggest in the spirit of "doing what is necessary leading to doing the impossible," a future topic for the Voices of Faith Event at the Vatican be living the fullness of women's participation in the church- women priests in inclusive, empowered communities of faith.

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,,

March 10, 2017 — Father Arturo Sosa, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, joined women and men from around the globe for Voices of Faith, an annual event held in Vatican City to mark International Women’s Day on March 8. He told those gathered that “if we are honest, we acknowledge that the fullness of women's participation in the church has not yet arrived.”

Fr. Sosa gave the opening address at the conference, which celebrated and encouraged the need for women's voices to be heard in the church and in the world. Organized by Voices of Faith, Jesuit Refugee Service and the Fidel Gotz Foundation, the event’s theme was “Stirring the waters: Making the impossible possible.”

Although Pope Francis has voiced his support for broader participation of women's voices in the decisions of the Catholic Church, Fr. Sosa said, “that inclusion, which would bring the gifts of resilience and collaboration even more deeply into the church, remains stymied on many fronts.”

“No one is more resilient that women building and supporting the church in the poorest parts of our world,” he said.

Fr. Sosa said the participation of women is also necessary in positions of leadership, especially in areas of conflict such as the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Colombia. While it is hard to imagine peace, “can we have the audacity to dream that women and men working together will bring peace to these countries?” he asked.

He praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling her “the most courageous and visionary leader in Europe during this time of phenomenal forced migration.”

Fr. Sosa also cited the example of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia, for bringing peace and reconciliation “to her war-torn country in a way that most men thought would be impossible.”

He concluded by quoting St. Francis of Assisi: “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Fr. Sosa said it was in that spirit that they gathered “to listen to Voices of Faith, to hear stories of resilience, collaboration and inclusion. We have more than started. We will not stop.”

The event featured several guest speakers, including Dr. Mireille Twayigira, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, and two sisters who are refugees from Homs, Syria, and work with Jesuit Refugee Service helping others forced to flee violence in their homeland.

Among the presenters at a panel discussion was Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice lobbying organization that sponsored the "Nuns on the Bus" tour in the United States.

Sister Campbell explained it was “essential for women to work for peace” and social justice, particularly for the poor and the marginalized, and she praised Pope Francis' efforts to bring their plight to the forefront of Catholic social teaching.

Sister Simone Campbell (right) speaks during the Voices of Faith gathering. (CNS photo/Massimiliano Migliorato, Catholic Press Photo)

“­­We rejoice in Laudato Si' that (says) care for the earth and care for the poor come from the same reality of exploitation of both and that until we learn to end the exploitation, we will not care for those at the margins, we will not care for our earth. And that is what moves me in such a deep way,” she said.

To read the full text of Fr. Sosa’s address, click here.

[Sources: Jesuit Curia, CNS, National Catholic Reporter]

Act for Social Justice Now, Oppose Repeal of Affordable Care Act- Support Expanded Care for All

From the Federation of Christian Ministries: 

Congressional committees are moving forward with a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  The alternative plan has now been reviewed by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  Their analysis shows a result of millions of people losing their health care coverage in the near term (14 million) and in the longer term (24 million).  This is unacceptable.
Health care in 21st century America should be seen as a right and a duty.  It should be a right that our entire population be granted health care.  On any day any one of us could be stricken by a dread disease or a terrible accident.  At that moment health insurance allows for quick and effective action to save a life, a family and a family's economic survival.
This is a duty also.  In health insurance the danger is adverse selection.  That is, those who are healthy today try to opt out of coverage in order to save premium dollars.  Those who are older and more ill do not opt out, so their coverage is paid for by a smaller population.  This causes their costs to rise, driving them out of the market due to inability to pay.  They lose their coverage.  The duty is to join the ranks of the insureds so that the risk is spread across the entire population.  This enables all to afford coverage.
The Federation of Christian Ministries urges its members to reach out to each representative who represents you:  your congressperson, your two senators.  Demand that they protect us all by providing health care to save our lives and our economic future.  Allow those at the top of the economic scale to pay a greater burden of cost, so that those with little might have the protection good insurance provides.   Disallow the tax break for the top earning 450,000 households.
For many health care becomes a matter of life and death.  Our Christ-inspired convention of churches stands for life giving insurance coverage now and into the future.
FCM Executive Committee 
Tom Cusack, President
Tom Stricker, Chairperson
Susan Ross, Treasurer
Bill Appleton, Secretary
Suggestion:  Copy and past the following statement and send it to your representatives via email or mail.
Dear (Representative), the American Care Act is unacceptable to me. It takes insurance coverage from the poor and the older by the millions.
Please support expanded care for all.  As well as continued  support to Planned Parenthood.

"Of Francis and Feminism" by Christine Schenk | Mar. 15, 2017, National Catholic Reporter

..."If you listen only to sound bites, one would think that Pope Francis has shut the door on any possibility of women's fuller participation in all the ministries of the church. Last November he reiterated that "the last word is clear," on women's priestly ordination.
Francis_Lonneman.jpgIt's been four years since Pope Francis' election. Help us continue to report about this pope and his vision for the church! Subscribe and save $10!
If you explore more deeply, however, there is much to praise. Here is my own list.
Pope Francis has a clear respect for women working among disadvantaged populations. He met with members of the Union of International Superiors General last May and agreed to establish a commission on women deacons to better serve the people of God.
Francis ended the ill-advised investigations of women religious and actively praised apostolic women's communities. This long-awaited affirmation of Vatican II interpretations of religious life by church authorities has put a stop (at least for now) to decades-long attacks from church conservatives.
For the first time a pope met with members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the body that represents 80 percent of all U.S. sisters. Women religious are no longer excluded from plenary sessions of the Vatican office that oversees them. (It is hard to believe they were excluded to begin with, but I show you our sexist history.)
A 37-member Women's Consultation Group has just been named to the formerly all-male Pontifical Council for Culture, and some progress has been made to increase the number of women in Vatican positions.
But perhaps the biggest change is a new openness to listening to the experiences of women rather than avoid or ignore them. This is very evident in the Voices of Faith events held annually inside the Vatican on March 8, International Women's Day. For each of the last four years women have discussed their concerns about justice, peace and involvement in the church. At the same time, an increasing number of consultations with and about women have been held in various venues around Rome.
Then, last June, the Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) coalition was for the first time permitted to prayerfully demonstrate outside St. Peter's Basilica before the Vatican Mass for the Jubilee of Priests began. And there are signs that WOW's simultaneous three-day June conference, "Open the Door to Dialogue," may be bearing fruit.
In February, Jesuit Fr. Giancarlo Pani published what would become a controversial article in La Civiltà Cattolicaan Italian Jesuit journal, whose editor, Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro is known to be close to Pope Francis. According Sandro Magister, a frequent Francis critic, Pani "calmly rips to shreds" the idea that Pope John Paul II uttered the last word on the possibility of women priests. Magister is predictably critical of Pani's opinion, which he quotes in part:
One cannot always resort to the past, as if only in the past are there indications of the Spirit. Today as well the Spirit is guiding the Church and suggesting the courageous assumption of new perspectives.
The point here is not that Pope Francis is on the verge of changing church practice about women priests, which is quite unlikely. The point is that discussion of both women deacons and women priests is now occurring within influential Vatican circles. (Pani's article is actually about women deacons.)
Under Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II, discussions about women's ordination to the diaconate or the priesthood were actively suppressed. In Francis's papacy, they are occurring without apparent fear of repercussions. This pope is a great believer in discernment. He does not shy away from controversial issues, even those, it seems, that are related to women's full inclusion in church decision making..."

80% of U.S. Catholics Comfortable with Female Priests or Pastors

According to a newly released survey by the Barna Group, 79 percent of Americans are comfortable with a female priest or pastor.

Bridget Mary's Response: It is good news for our movement that 80% of Catholics in the U.S. welcome women priests. We do not compete with male priests, but serve as partners and equals with all in our inclusive communities where we are already bringing the "feminine dimension" to the church! Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,,

"Interestingly, an overwhelming majority of Catholics — 80 percent — expressed being comfortable with female priests and pastors, despite the fact that in November, Pope Francis indicated that women will likely never be ordained as priests, the Guardian reported
“Saint Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this, and it stands, this stands,” Francis said, referring to a 1994 document describing the priestly ordination as for “men alone.”
When asked by a Swedish journalist if that declaration would last forever, the pope said: “If we read carefully the declaration by Saint John Paul II, it is going in that direction.”
Francis went on to say women do “many other things better than men,” emphasizing what he described as the “feminine dimension of the church.”
Sixty-two percent of those Barna called “practicing Christians” expressed openness about female pastors and priests."

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"Desperately seeking Sophia" The biblical Sophia is more than metaphor; she is an expression of the presence of God. By Joyce Rupp

Bridget Mary's Response: My experience was similar to Joyce Rupp's encounter with Sophia, Holy Wisdom. In the 1980's I worked in pastoral ministry and the priest with whom I worked had never heard of Sophia. After many spirited dialogues, I will never forget one very special occasion, my 25th jubilee liturgy, when Fr. Walt who was an army chaplain and a cowboy, preached about Sophia as if he had known her for many years! This breakthrough moment inspired me to share the good news with as many people as I could. I wrote three books on the Feminine Divine in scripture,  the Christian tradition as well as in contemporary authors. Exploring the Feminine Face of God, Delighting in the Feminine Divine and Heart Talks with Mother God.  

..."I knew that God was neither male nor female, yet I also knew God to be consistently described as male and referred to as “he” in Christian images and metaphors. Feminine pronouns and figures have rarely been used in speaking of God, even though, as I discovered, there are numerous references in the wisdom literature to Divine Wisdom as “she” and plenty of feminine qualities to describe “her.”
Many people think of wisdom as an “it” rather than a “she.” Actually, both of these approaches are accurate, because there are two types of wisdom in the Bible.
Some passages speak of wisdom as a quality or a truth to guide our lives. Here wisdom is presented as a “thing”—such as wise sayings, proverbs, and moral exhortations. There are many other passages, however, that refer to wisdom as a person. It is here that the feminine pronoun is always used and is consistently reflective of the divine presence. This wisdom is Holy Wisdom: Hagia Sophia.
Historically, the authors of the wisdom literature began this feminine reference to Sophia between 33 B.C. and 4–5 A.D. There are only four other figures who are mentioned more than Sophia in Jewish scripture (the Old Testament): Yahweh, Moses, David, and Job. Given this fact, it is quite incredible that so few know much about her. However, I do understand why she has not been recognized because I, too, had a difficult time discovering and claiming her..."