Saturday, June 10, 2017

ARCWP Ordination of Sydney Condray and Karen Kerrigan in Toledo, OH, June 10, 2017

Michele Birch-Conery with Sydney Condray
Congratulations to Sydney Condray who was ordained a priest and Karen Kerrigan who was ordained a deacon. Bishop Michele Birch-Conery was the ordaining bishop and the ordination took place at Sylvania United Church of Christ.
Michele Birch-Conery with Karen Kerrigan

New Play on Mary/Maryam by Roman Catholic Woman Priest Victoria Rue RCWP

Video Clips of the play “Mary/Maryam" on YOUTUBE:

NCR article:

NCR podcast:  
Also, they liked the NCR article enough that they interviewed Jamie Manson about the play for the weekly podcast. You can listen to that here:

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Feast of the Trinity June 10, 2017 Michael Rigdon and Guest presiding Music: Mindy Simmons, Russ Banner

Priest Michael Rigdon Proclaims Gospel


Opening song: 207 Holy, Holy, Holy vs. 1&4
All: In the name of God our creator, Jesus our brother, and the Holy Spirit our wisdom. Amen.
Presider: God is with you. All: And also with you.

Opening Prayer. Presider: Abba God, we celebrate your life of intimate love shared among you, the Word, and the Spirit. And we glory in our participation in your life of love. May we burn to share your love, especially with the poor and neglected in our world. ALL:  Amen.

Liturgy of the Word

A reading from the book of Exodus
Response: Glory to God, glory. O praise God, alleluia. Glory to God, glory. O praise the name of our God.
A reading from Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians
Celtic Alleluia (sung before & after Gospel)
A reading from the Gospel of Matthew
Response. ALL: Glory and praise to you, Jesus the Christ!

Dialogue Homily

Profession of Faith. ALL:  We believe in God, the creator of the universe, the fountain of life, flowing through every being. We believe in Jesus the Christ who reflects the face of God and the fullness of humanity. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of God in the cosmos, who calls us to loving service without counting the cost. We believe in our global communion with all in the circle of life. Amen to loving actions on behalf of justice, healing, compassion and equality for all in our world! We believe we are light to the world!

Prayers of the Community
Presider: As a people of faith we believe in the power of prayer. We are filled with joy as your Spirit loves through us. And so we bring the needs of people throughout the world to You. Response: God of love, hear our prayer.
Presider: Loving God, we ask you to empower us in service to our sisters & brothers. We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit our Wisdom. All: Amen

Collection and Procession of Gifts to the table
All Sing: #361 Seed Scattered and Sown, 1&3

Eucharistic Prayer. We invite all to gather around the table for our community meal.

All Sing: We are holy holy holy (x3) We are whole. You are holy… I am holy… We are holy

All: As we do in this place what you did in an upstairs room, send down your Spirit Sophia on us and on these gifts of bread and wine that they may become for us your body, healing, forgiving, and making us whole. And that we may become for you, your body, loving and caring in the world until your kindom comes. Amen.

We remember Jesus. All, with hand extended in blessing: On the night before he died, while at supper with his friends, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to them saying, “Take, and eat. This is my very self.” (Pause) Jesus then raised high the cup of blessing and offered them the wine with these words, “Take and drink of the covenant made new through my life for you and for everyone. Whenever you do this, you remember me.”
All: Remember, gracious God, your Church throughout the world. Make us open to welcome all believers. In union with all people, may we strive to create a world where suffering is diminished, and where all people can live in health and wholeness.
Thru Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in union with the Holy Spirit, all glory is yours, gracious God. Amen (sing)

Prayer of Jesus (Sing “Our Father and Mother”)

Sign of Peace. Presider: Jesus, you said to your disciples, “My peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” Look on the faith of those gathered here and…
ALL: …grant us your peace. Following the example of Jesus and with the strength of the Spirit, help us, O God, to live in peace and harmony with everyone, everywhere.
Presider: Let us offer one another a sign of Christ’s peace.

Litany for the breaking of bread.
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, God with us, loving us forever. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love.  ALL: We are the Body of Christ.
ALL (sing): Holy gifts for holy people, come you hungry and believe. Come receive Christ’s body offered, come and be what you receive. (x2)

Communion: Instrumental (Mindy)
After Communion: God Is (Mindy)

Prayer of Thanksgiving (Didache, Instruction, 100CE)
Men: For the thanksgiving, give thanks this way: First, for the cup: We thank you, Abba God, for the sacred vine of David your son, whose meaning you made clear to us through our brother Jesus, yours ever be the splendor.
Women: And for the bread fragment: We thank you, Abba God, for the life and wisdom whose meaning you made clear to us through Jesus, yours ever be the splendor.
All: As this fragment was scattered high on hills, but by gathering was united into one, so let your people from earth’s ends be united into your single reign, for yours are splendor and might through Jesus Christ down the ages.

Prayers of Thanksgiving. Introductions. Announcements.

Final Blessing. ALL (with hand extended in prayer):

Let All Around us be Peace
Peace before us, Peace behind us, Peace under our feet
Peace within us, Peace over us, Let all around us be Peace.

Love before us, Love behind us, Love under our feet
Love within us, Love over us, Let all around us be Love.

Christ before us, Christ behind us, Christ under our feet,
Christ within us, Christ over us, Let all around us be Christ!

Presider. Go in the peace of Christ. Let us share God’s peace and compassion with all those we meet!
ALL: Thanks be to God.

Final Song: 426 God Beyond All Names vs 1,2,3,&5

My Experience as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest by Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea ARCWP

"Toledo Woman to Be Ordained" in Toledo Blade, Blessings for Ordination today to Sydney Condray ARCWP and Karen! Kerrigan ARCWP

Friday, June 9, 2017

"Women Deacons, Disney and Doors, Read What Jesuit Said in his first homily, America

"In March, Pope Francis told a German interviewer that he would stop by and visit one of the meetings of the commission. When the interviewer suggested that his presence would be seen as an encouragement, Francis responded: “The task of theology is to do research to get to the bottom of things, always.… We must not be afraid! Fear closes doors. Freedom opens them. And [even] if freedom is small, it opens at least a little window.”
In the many areas of church life, where are we free—or fearful? In what places do we need greater freedom to be effective ministers of the Gospel?
In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul says, “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for some benefit.” We must take this seriously. In order to fulfill its mission, the church needs the unique gifts the Spirit has given each person. No one is excluded: man or woman or child; black, brown or white; gay or straight or bi or transgender; clergy or lay; C.E.O. or service worker; Republican or Democrat or neither. What matters is that you are baptized priest, prophet and king. And the church and the world need your unique gifts
What are your unique gifts of the Spirit for the benefit of the church and the world?
At the Ordination Mass, the church pleaded, “Come, Holy Spirit.” The prayer is for all of us. When we are weak, “Come, Holy Spirit.” When we are lost, afraid or divided, “Come, Holy Spirit.”
In a few moments, we will call upon this Spirit to transform simple gifts of bread and wine. And to transform us. Jesus will come very close, to feed us, to free us. He will unlock doors, and he sends us to do the same."

SPAIN: "Let us not invoke tradition to exclude women"

Conference "Women and the diaconate. On the ministries in the Church "

Mª José Arana: "The diaconate is a ministry that must change. Let's reinvent it together! "
Carlos Osoro sponsored the symposium "Women and diaconate" of the Association of Spanish Theologians
Association of Spanish Theologians, June 9, 2017 at 12:33

"I dream of a Church in which women and men can participate from the vocation that we have"

"We are always between the space of concession and that of exclusion," which makes it urgent that "we imagine other possible spaces"


Osoro, in the women's and diaconate days

( Association of Spanish Theologians ) .- To listen, to creative fidelity, and to share and invoke the Spirit. At the invitation of Cardinal Carlos Osoro , Archbishop of Madrid, we began the Academic Seminar "Women and the Diaconate. On the Ministries in the Church " , which we, the Association of Spanish Theologians , celebrated last weekend.

The objective of this meeting between Italian and Spanish theologians was to reflect on women, the diaconate and ministries in the Church, with all this taking on special importance in the context of the opening towards the peripheries of the ecclesial community which continues to promote the Pope Francisco.

Marinella Perroni , an extraordinary professor of the New Testament at the Pontifical Institute of San Anselmo in Rome and guest professor at the Faculty of Theology Marianum, was in charge of presenting the first intervention of the day of Saturday 3, which dedicated to launch a proposal for an understanding criticism among the ordained ministries and community organization.

"Let us not invoke the tradition to exclude women" was the idea that soon wanted to transmit Fernando Rivas , professor of the Department of Sacred Scripture and History of the Church at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas. "The question of the diaconate of women is not a problem in antiquity," said Rivas in his intervention, since such a ministry is documented in canonical and ecclesial texts that cover the period at least from the Council of Nicaea in 325 to well entered The 12th century.

All this led the professor to rethink the relationship between asceticism and power and the body and politics, since the models of earthly power that developed in the Middle Ages made use of male categories, with the corresponding marginalization of women In the spiritual plane.

Moira Scimmi , a religious of the diocese of Milan and a professor of theology at the ITT Molinari High School, later supported Rivas' thesis that there was a significant female role in the Church since the beginning of the ancient Church, but unlike the Spanish professor , He wanted to highlight the pluriformity in which it appeared and then developed.

Scimmi also emphasized in his words the important idea that, although we normally think that the exclusion of women in the Church is a consequence of a rigid and rigid ecclesiastical hierarchy, there are in fact "hierarchies prior to the diaconate, priesthood or episcopate" that Have to be dismantled before faithful women can feel emancipated. Like the one of the man and the woman , for example: hierarchy that continues doing so much damage even in all the ambits of the present society.

After the intervention of Scimmi, we had occasion in the days of "dreaming Church" with María José Arana and Serena Noceti. Arana, a religious of the Sacred Heart, a doctor of theology and member of the Women's Studies Forum, stressed that "the diaconate is a ministry that must change, but we do not want to be changed . " "Reinvent it together!" Was his passionate appeal in this regard. Noceti, for his part - professor of systematic theology at the Higher Institute of Religious Sciences "I. Galantini "in Florenci- encouraged us to rethink the diakonia in the context of a global transformation of the institutionality of ecclesial ministry.

The second day of the conference began with a roundtable discussion with Adelaide Baracco, Carmen Peña, Roser Solé and Cristina Simonelli on the conditions of possibility of changes in ecclesiality and ministries. Peña, of the Faculty of Canon Law of Comillas, spoke of the value of lay ministries.

Solé, a member of the Collective of Women in the Church and of the European Association of Women Researchers in Theology (ESWTR), insisted on the need to think of a "non-hierarchical synodality" from a feminist perspective that gets out of the daily contradictions in That women find themselves, both inside and outside the Church.

Finally Simonelli, a professor of patristic theology at Verona and the Faculty of Theology of Northern Italy in Milan, lamented that in the Church, women "are always between the space of concession and that of exclusion , Which makes it urgent that "we imagine other possible spaces" . A conclusion more than appropriate to two days of intense work in which, indeed, we have imagined the new places that women can start from now to place us, if it is the will of the Spirit and the Church.

Messages of support at the international level

We end this chronicle by sharing the messages of support at the international level that came to us as we finished the preparations of these days.

The member of the Vatican Commission in charge of the Reflection on the Diaconate of Women in the Church, Phyllis Zagano , sent us an English message whose contents we translate below:

Boy friends and girl friends,

Let me offer my best wishes and hope that your conference on women and the diaconate will be a success. I thank you for what you do.

Kristin de Troyer , president of the ESWRT, European Society of Women in Theological Research, sent us a video from Salzburg, from which we transcribe some ideas below:

I have seen that the theme of the Days is Women and Diaconate. Many of us are already deacons. We already work in the Church. Some of us already announce, we preach in the Church, we care for the sick, the children ... but the most important thing is that we are an example of the Catholic faith ... I hope you have a good day and please communicate the results ...

From Colombia, the group of Catholic presbyters, APCR América Sur , gave us these words:

From Colombia-South America, welcome our fraternal and solidarity greetings, with the best wishes at the Working Days that will be held: "Women and Diaconate. On the Ministries of the Church ". What a good date, they have chosen! Pentecost! It is the date, through Baptism, that we have been invited by women and men to raise the Founding Act of the Church, it has not been easy to establish the public and official record of our testimony, especially without our presence in It. With patience, that record will one day be made. Actions and attitudes such as the work performed in ATE, fill us with pride and hope, that the Light and Courage of Pentecost, accompany and always enlighten.

Fraternally, Marta Aida Soto Bernal, Olga Lucia Álvarez Benjumea, Maria Sofia Caro, Blanca Cecilia Santana Cortés and Lucero Arias Manco

With these support coming from different parts of the world, and with the words of Cardinal Osoro's support, we can say without reserve that we feel supported in our work and, above all, in our dream of building more inclusive spaces for everyone in the world. Church.

Http:// We want to get together

"At the Edge of Inside" by David Brooks/ Roman Catholic Women Priests Are Leading on the Edge of Inside the Catholic Church by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

"A person at the edge of inside can be the strongest reformer. This person has the loyalty of a faithful insider, but the judgment of the critical outsider. Martin Luther King Jr. had an authentic inner experience of what it meant to be American. This love allowed him to critique America from the values he learned from America. He could be utterly relentless in bringing America back closer to herself precisely because his devotion to American ideals was so fervent....The person on the edge of inside is involved in constant change. The true insiders are so deep inside they often get confused by trivia and locked into the status quo. The outsider is throwing bombs and dreaming of far-off transformational revolution. But the person at the doorway is seeing constant comings and goings. As Rohr says, she is involved in a process of perpetual transformation, not a belonging system. She is more interested in being a searcher than a settler."

Janet Blakeley, ARCWP,  Kevin Connelly, Sally Brochu ARCWP , Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, Sarasota, Fl.
Pentecost Liturgy, June 3, 2017

The international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is "at the edge of inside"  the Catholic Church. Our members do not leave the church when they are ordained. Our vision is to lead the church to become more inclusive, just and compassionate. We reject our automatic excommunication because the hierarchy cannot cancel our baptism because we are spiritual equals in Christ and members of the church. 

As the Civil Rights Movement affirmed, an unjust law must be broken in order change it.  We disobey Canon law 1024 that prohibits women's ordination in prophetic obedience to the Spirit who calls us to live the example of Jesus in our church today. According to the Gospels, Jesus called women and men to be  disciples and  treated them as equals, and the Risen Christ appeared first to Mary of Magdala whom he called to be the apostle to the apostles. 

Our international  Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is offering the gift of a renewed priestly ministry that is inclusive, liberating, empowering and egalitarian in small faith communities in the United States, Canada, South America, Europe and elsewhere. We are not replicating the clerical, hierarchical model of priestly ministry , but rather, our faith communities are circular and inclusive, diverse and empowering.   We are leading the Catholic Church now on the edge of the inside. Come and see the beginning of something new, yet rooted in our ancient tradition!
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Brief Report Concerning My Contribution to the Dialogue During the Seminar on "Women and the Diaconate," Madrid, June 3-4, 2017- by Christina Moreira ARCWP

Christina Moreira ARCWP (in white blouse) at Seminar on Women in the Diaconate in Madrid, Spain, June 3-4, 2017

Asociación de Teólogas Españolas

After several presentations that emphasized the biblical foundation, both in the New Testament and in the history of early Christianity and the early Church, I note that the general stance in the presentations and the dialogues shows:
- That the aspiration of women to accede to ordained ministries is not well founded either from the scriptural approach or from the history of our male and female founders. The central role of deaconesses was especially evident in the letters of Paul and of course in the announcement of the resurrection, on which kerygma is based.
- That, after 21 centuries of existence, women do not reach the full rank of apostle, or occupy places of responsibility, or in government or as mediators to the sacred to which their baptism should give access.

- A "wall" that is interposed between them and that legitimate aspiration is described, and we are encouraged to "look for the nooks and crannies" that will allow us to take small steps towards full equality.  
My observation:
Since the legitimacy of our demand is more than amply demonstrated, we should perhaps proceed to analyze the present: women continue to receive today Christ‘s assignment to announce the Good News and serve at the Table. Even if history did not give us arguments, even if they stole all traces of women, even if they erased entire paragraphs from Scripture, if God calls today, the call must be answered today and according to society, to the circumstances wherein people live and especially women in their respective contexts.

Christina Moreira ARCWP

On the other hand, to speak only of the diaconate is to follow the methodology of the cranny, the tiny step and the gradual progress, which many advocate and which one of the speakers recommends to us, to encourage us.

This led me to the following words that I shared in dialogue with the people present:
[They are not exact words because I do not transcribe from a recording, but I construct the text following notes that I used to support my observations and, in essence, this is what I said]

"On this evening gathering when we celebrate the gifts of the Blessed Ruah that dwells in us, I feel compelled to give testimony of what has been received and to share it. I hope no one is hurt because I have tried, as best as I can, to tell my truth.
I am Roman Catholic woman priest, ordained at the ARCWP, an association that at the same time is also my community of reference and my family.

I decided to join her forever the day I discovered, in a news report, the promulgation of Benedict XVI’s decree called "Delicta graviora" that equates the rape of minors with the imposition of the sacrament of ordination on a woman. The in-dignation[i] this provoked revealed to me my full unity with the lineage to which I belong, that of the disciples of the Master Jesus from Magdalith and many more until now, I came into contact with his suffering, mine merged into his, ours, and obeying the same Master who never tired of calling me for more than 30 years, I accepted my condition of being “in-digna” (unworthy), as a woman and disciple. I unfolded my two wings, becoming only ... human and flew. I decided not to wait for the laws to give us permission and for those who, far away from us and from reality, promulgate and apply them so lightly.

From here I can promise you that there are neither walls, nor doors, much less closed doors. There is the infinite promised to us and a flourishing communion visible in the manifold gifts that we already share with our communities.

Women priests and the free, radically inclusive and welcoming communities receiving them, teach that another Church is possible; that there is already in existence, a circular church of assembly, where dialogue, dissent and reconciliation are everyday realities. Where decisions are made with guarantees that everyone is heard ... we already know what the future looks like, because our church, the portion that we are building and that is part of the great Church, is already real and is already there to be seen.

We are making ecclesiology and theology new; we bring the spirituality of free women and men who dare to believe and to create peace. 

All this is based on Pope Francis, on his advice to "love a mess" and on his numerous messages that encourage us to stick to "the joy of the gospel" and to live it. From this we have received evidence and testimonies that encourage us to continue, to support his yearnings for change by making that change in the grassroots real already, with the people with whom he is concerned primarily.

We base it on the famine of bread and spirit that people and communities are going through, no longer receiving sacraments or advice or a minimal word from God from a consecrated person, some for many decades in parts of the world. This misery calls us powerfully to respond "we are present" and scares us rather more than excommunication.

We base it on the call that each of us has received from the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, the Son of God, whom we love. The time has come for us, each according to her modality, to say "here I am." I do not want to be an accomplice of disobedience to the Spirit, never again. That is why I do not hide anymore and I make my testimony be heard with peace and tenderness, but I am not silent."

As a postscript on returning from the seminar: I conceive that I might not have been understood, much less loved ... all of this seems to me to be of little value in order to be able to pray the Our Father in peace from its first phrases. I do not forget, that would be impossible, that I am a sinner, imperfect by nature, made up of human and feminine mass but even if I  stumble on every stone I will not cease walking, holding my head up high, remembering the Name of the one who calls me, and for the honor of my lineage, that of Magdalith, Mary of Nazareth, Thérèse de Lisieux and a long line of names until the present time, my sisters whose faces I have recorded in memory to report them if I arrive at the final day of accounting. I allow myself to name Mercedes; as Pilar said, she baptized us with her tears, with her regret that "if my time comes, I will not be able to close my eyes having seen the great day." Let all who judge us know, those who put up obstacles, build walls and close doors that I also carry their remembrance, awaiting the great day of reconciliation that we yearn for in order to build the great Church where sacraments are not scarce, where there is no division and subtraction, but where the Creator is obeyed and we "grow and multiply."  

On the subject chosen for the conferences I formulate a wish:
That, if the diaconate is offered to women, it should not be offered as an improved form of "higher sacristan" made for women and without access to the sacrament of ordination; that the diaconate in general should not be so lightened that even men see the scope of their mission undermined. Let it really be a gesture of goodwill leading to full equality.

And finally, I declare that this question of access by women to their full dignity as baptized persons, daughters of God, for me is a yardstick to measure the extent of fulfillment of the sacred commandment of love of neighbor, a love that does not separate and welcomes. With this I send you to my Master Jesus: "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who has sent me" (Matthew 10:40). If they are not gentlemen and do not do because they are women, do it for him.

Do not forget it, there is no wall, there are no doors... Everything is Presence and nothing blocks it. See you!

My most sincere thanks to the ATE and to the women and men who gave of their wisdom and good work and made possible our open and free dialogue. It was an immense gift.

[i] The author plays on the meaning of the word “indigna” and indignación” in Spanish, particularly hyphenated.  Digno/a means worthy, but in-dignation also means, in addition to being outraged, the condition of being deemed “not worthy.”
***Special thanks to Silvia Brandon Perez for translating this presentation from Spanish to English. 
ARCWP, Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests,

"God has made a universal covenant with people everywhere" by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, National Catholic Reporter

..."That’s why Jesus came — in order that we might receive the gift of God’s reign into our world where God’s love would be what dominates everything — God’s love flowing through our planet, through us, transforming our world into the reign of God. In the Gospel lesson, we’re told by John in his account of what happened on what he describes as Easter Sunday night when Jesus came. These disciples had abandoned Jesus.
They were in fear that Easter Sunday night because they were afraid that what happened to Jesus might happen to them. But they were also afraid of confronting Jesus. They had run away. Peter had denied him. Judas had betrayed him.
But what happens? Jesus shows us what his mission is: how the reign of God will happen. He enters into their midst and his first words are reassuring, loving, “Peace be with you.” Let go of your fear; there’s nothing to fear. You’re forgiven. There’s no limit to the forgiveness that God offers.
Jesus makes that clear, “Peace be with you.” I’m sure the hearts of the apostles were just filled to overflowing with thanksgiving and love and a very deep peace that Jesus had brought to them, that Jesus offers to every one of us. But then you notice that John says, “Jesus breathed on them.” That’s an unusual thing. You think of a crowd of people and somehow Jesus breathing over all of them. But why is John describing it this way? He’s going back to the story of creation.
When you look in the book of Genesis when God formed what was to be the first human, the author of the book of Genesis tells us that God breathed on him and he was filled with life. So, God’s breath brings life. Jesus breathed on the disciples. They received the new life of God, God’s spirit living in them. Then Jesus says, “As God has sent me, I send you.” To do what? To transform our world, again. How will they do it? “The sins you forgive, they’re forgiven.”
Jesus, first of all, is calling his disciples to reconciliation, to bring peace into our world by forgiveness, by reconciling, even by loving our enemies, never turning them away, never trying to hurt them or destroy them but loving them. It’s something totally new. We haven’t learned it yet, have we — how to really become the people of God who are reconciling and forgiving, giving up weapons and war and hatred and killing, and only bringing peace, forgiveness, and love — only those that are of Christ. Jesus calls us to spread that.
Jesus shows us that we must be people who reconcile by forgiveness. The sins you forgive, they’re forgiven; there’s peace. But also, Jesus says, “The evil you restrain, it can be restrained.” There are tremendous evils in our world. In fact, I think Pope Francis made a very deliberate effort when he met with President [Donald] Trump to try to highlight something that many people still do not accept: that our planet is being destroyed.
It will not be a place where humans can live three or four generations from now. The pope took great effort to write that encyclical letter based on highly qualified scientific research that shows what is happening. We could restrain that evil and it would be restrained. But we can ignore it, as we see as a nation through our president, at least at the present time, to be doing. Many people who will and can continue to restrain that evil to save our planet, this gift that God has given to us that’s not repeatable. We can save it. We can restrain evil and it will be restrained.
The feast of Pentecost is a very important feast. You and I as people of God and members of the church have entered into this covenant with God through Jesus. It’s a covenant that can transform our world into the reign of God if we follow the way of Jesus, the way of peace, forgiveness, and love, the way of overcoming evil with good, the way of restraining evil by good.
We can do it if we continue to listen carefully to what Jesus teaches us and if we follow his way as members of his body having entered into this new covenant with him that extends to the whole world. It’s a universal covenant that God has made with all people everywhere. It can bring our world to a fullness of life that God intends as God makes God’s reign happen in our midst..."
[Homily given at St. Philomena Parish in Detroit June 4. The transcripts of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton's homilies are posted weekly to Sign up here to receive an email alert when the latest homily is posted.]

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"When women become a clear and present danger at the Vatican" by Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter, My Response: Grade C, Shows Progress, Needs Improvement

Bridget Mary's Response: Jamie is right. about the vocation crisis.  The shortage of vocations is a man-made crisis in the Catholic Church that won't go away until church law and sexist attitudes change.  Jesus treated women as disciples and equals, so should church leaders. There is no shortage of women priest vocations!

The two Roman Catholic Women Priests, Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP and Christina Moreira ARCWP mentioned in this article had a cordial meeting earlier in the same week with a high-ranking Vatican Curia official who promised to deliver an online petition to Pope Francis that was signed by supporters of women's ordination. The monsignore took Janice's and Christina's contact information and said that  Pope Francis might want to meet with them. Although this did not happen, I believe Pope Francis could surprise us  and initiate a conversation with Roman Catholic Women Priests in the future.  Yes, I am an optimist and I believe prayer moves mountains!

In previous adventures at the Vatican, Janice said that when she witnessed for women priests in Rome, the police took her banners and did not return them.They also questioned her about when she was leaving the eternal city, and drove her to a convent where she was staying to check on her passport. The police told her they would not arrest her because she was dressed in alb and stole, but they would not allow her to enter St. Peter's Square in her vestments.  On some of these occasions in the past, the police have detained Women's Ordination  Worldwide leaders and advocates like Erin Hanna and Roy Bourgeois. 

In my view, the 2016 recent Women's Ordination Worldwide Witness was an improvement.  The women priests and leaders of Women's Ordination had seats at the Pope's Mass,  a permit to demonstrate close to the Vatican, and their banners were returned. Janice and Christina had a cordial conversation with a top Vatican official who was open to dialogue. This was a new experience for our women priests international movement. 

If I were giving Pope Francis' Vatican a grade, it would be a C --- shows progress, but needs improvement! 

When we treat women as the sacred Body and Blood of Christ, gender justice will become a reality in our church. This is the spiritual conversation we need to have with Pope Francis going forward! Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

  • Members of Women's Ordination Worldwide and Women's Ordination Conference witness in front of the Castel Sant'Angelo in response to the Vatican's Jubilee for Priests in June 2016. (Jamie Manson)
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 |  Grace on the Margins

This is a story that should have been told a year ago. I'm not sure why I have hesitated to tell it. But the strange alchemy of the fear and suspicion generated by recent terror attacks, combined with Pope Francis' recent comments about the "vocations crisis," compels me to recount an incident* that I was involved in one year ago this week: the day that a small group of women and I become a clear and present danger at the Vatican.
Before I tell the story, here is a quick review of Francis' words about the "vocations crisis," which he offered in a question-and-answer session with priests and religious** during a one-day visit to Genoa, Italy, last week.
According to Crux's Inés San Martín, Francis named a host of factors that are contributing to the crisis. First, he blamed lower birth rates. "When families had bigger families, there were more [vocations]," he said. Now, it's "easier to live with a cat or a dog."
He placed an even bigger blame on priests and religious who are joyless or too worldly. "A young person will see them and say, 'I don't want to live like that.' It pushes people away," Francis said.
"It's a time to ask the Lord and ourselves, what do we have to do? What do we have to change?" the pope reflected. "Addressing the problems is a necessary thing. Learning from problems is mandatory."
"I would give up almost everything else before I would let go of my NCR."

-NCR Reader
Anne Brusca

The story I am about to recount might qualify as joyless and certainly involves being pushed away. But I tell it with the hope that it might help the pope and his brother priests in their discernment about what might need to change.
Last year, Francis declared an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and many events were held at the Vatican to celebrate it. On June 1-3, 2016, the Vatican hosted a Jubilee for Priests, which concluded with a Mass led by the pope.
In response, leaders at Women's Ordination Worldwide and Women's Ordination Conference devised an action called "A Jubilee for Women Priests" to run concurrently with the Vatican's Jubilee for Priests. It involved a peaceful witness in front of Castel Sant'Angelo, just blocks away from St. Peter's Square. Organizers had also secured us tickets to the Mass with the pope.
Our message at the witness was simple: God calls men and women to the priesthood.
With the help of an Italian citizen, a permit was obtained for the protest in front of Castel Sant'Angelo, a site that, we hoped, priests would be walking past on their way to concelebrate the Mass at St. Peter's. But it was the police, rather than priests, who were there to greet us that morning.
Six members of the Roman Polizia interrogated our organizers, scrutinized our permit and tried to find a reason to end our witness before it even started. The chief negotiator for the Roman police, a female officer, patiently spoke to our organizers while five male officers encircled them.
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A Roman police official explains to Dana English, an Anglican priest, that her clerical collar will be considered provocative in St. Peter's Square. (Jamie Manson)
She told us that normally her unit is charged with protecting the Vatican from terrorist threats, but that day they had been assigned to watch us. Throughout the negotiations, she made several cellphone calls to the chief of the Corpo della Gendarmeria, the Vatican's police and security force.
Our organizers told the police that we also had tickets to the papal Mass, which was set to begin just after our witness concluded. Looking at the tickets, she said, "Oh, you are pilgrims." Suddenly the police were keen to keep us in place, and insisted on "escorting" us to St. Peter's Square. Our band of nine women witnesses would not be permitted to walk to the Vatican on our own.
The most intensive negotiation surrounded a female Anglican priest who had joined our witness in solidarity. She is one of a handful of Anglican priests who serve in Rome and she was wearing a Roman collar, as she does most days as an ordained minister.
We explained in detail why she was entitled to wear a priest's collar. "I understand who she is and why she can wear it," the officer said, motioning with her arm toward St. Peter's Basilica in the distance. "But they will not understand. It will make them uncomfortable. They've never seen it before."
Our witness was allowed to carry on. We prayed, sang and spoke to the media about our belief that women, too, have a vocation to the priesthood.
The nine of us were then marched, two by two, up the Villa della Conciliazione. Two police officers led us at the front of our line and two held up the rear. Two police cars, one marked and one unmarked, tailed us on either side. The officers inside glared at us as they cruised along.
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Members of the special unit of the Roman police lead the women witnesses to St. Peter's Square. A silver unmarked police car tails them on the left. (Jamie Manson)
When we at last arrived at the Vatican's barricades, we were met with a dozen new security officials, some from the Roman police, others from the Vatican's Gendarmeria, and still others who were unidentified men in black suits. We were outnumbered two-to-one by officers from various security agencies, some of whom spoke to us from behind a barrier that separated us from St. Peter's Square.
While other pilgrims were herded onto the square with the most cursory glance at their belongings, we were held as a group and subjected to a thorough search of our bags.
I was carrying a small satchel with a fresh blouse inside. The security officer whipped the shirt out, shook it violently in the air, and then threw it back into my arms. It took me a moment to realize that he wasn't looking for a weapon; he was looking for a clerical collar.
They confiscated our banners, flyers and buttons. They were adamant about searching our bags for priests' stoles.
"Whatever you do, you cannot wear a stole on St. Peter's Square," the policewoman warned us. "It will be considered a provocation."
, had their stoles seized like contraband.
All of our confiscated items were taken to the police station on the square. We were told that we could pick them up after the Mass had concluded.
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Roman Catholic womanpriest Janice Sevre-Duszynska has her bag searched for priest stoles. (Jamie Manson)
When the police were at last satisfied that our threatening materials had been neutralized, we were led through metal detectors and shown to our seats. Francis was visible in the distance, surrounded by thousands of men in albs and stoles.
A member of the Vatican security force was posted in front of us, and another on the aisle. Their eyes were trained particularly on our Anglican priest supporter and her collar. About 30 minutes into the liturgy, the Anglican priest left the Mass to attend to her own church. The security guards, who perhaps had gotten bored of watching us watch the liturgy, hadn't noticed her departure. When they realized she was missing from our row, a minor panic broke out.
One of the guards approached us demanding to know where she was. When we assured them she had left to return to work, they searched for her among the crowd. Their worry, it became clear, was that she was going to try to slip in among the male priests and create a disturbance. Or worse, try to concelebrate. They never found her.
When the time for Communion came, dozens of priests were dispatched to give out the Eucharist. When one of our organizers put out her hands to receive, the priest rebuffed her. "I have to put it in your mouth and I need to see you to swallow it," he said.
When she refused, he walked away, denying her Communion. A brief heated exchange ensued between her and the priest. Another priest, hearing the commotion, quietly placed a wafer in her hands.
It was an undignified conclusion to a remarkably demeaning day. Though it is unlikely that those priests knew who we were, the symbolism of a woman stretching out her hand in a desire for Communion, only to be degraded, dictated to, and sent away empty seemed like an apt ritualization of our experience.
A year after this incident, my hope is that as Francis contemplates what can be learned from the supposed vocations crisis, he might somehow hear this account and other women's stories like it.
Perhaps he will recognize what we learned that day in Rome: There is a radical lack of hospitality or goodwill shown toward any person who dares to say that God calls women to ordained ministry in the church.
Standing so close the pope as he spoke in St. Peter's Square, I wondered how this man, who washes the feet of female prisoners, would have felt if he'd known that, just a hundred yards away, we were being treated like credible threats on a watch list.
How would he have felt if he knew that, in his declared Year of Mercy, as thousands of priests were being feted and forgiven, we were shown no compassion? Instead, we were regarded with suspicion and derision.
What would he have thought if he knew that, in the midst of the culture of encounter that he was trying to cultivate, we were being handled like a clear and present danger?
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After being searched and interrogated, the women witnesses were escorted to their seats on St. Peter's Square by high-ranking members of the Gendarmeria and monitored for the duration of the Mass. (Jamie Manson)
Hearing our stories, perhaps the pope would have begun to realize that there is, in fact, no vocations crisis at all. There is, however, a crisis of sacramental imagination on the part of the church's hierarchy.
Francis has won legions of followers precisely because he sees the presence of God in the bodies of the sick, the suffering, the homeless and the destitute. Yet he still cannot see God's presence in the women who long to serve and lead the church and celebrate its sacraments with God's people.
Francis is right. The institutional church has contributed to the vocations crisis. But it isn't worldliness or joylessness that pushes people away from vocations. It is the institutional church's rigid refusal to hear the voices of women called to be priests and the voice of God who calls them.
Until the pope and his brother priests can listen to women, rather than silencing them, and see God working sacramentally through women, rather than treating women as a threat to be controlled, they will have little hope of learning from a problem they themselves have created or addressing a crisis that they alone can fix.
*This account of these events is purely my own and does not necessary reflect the experience of any of the other women with whom I witnessed that day.
[Jamie L. Manson is NCR books editor. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her email address is]