Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Worldwide Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement Sends Letter to Members of the Planning Committee for the Clerical Sex Abuse Summit Called by Pope Francis at Vatican on Feb. 21-24, 2019

25 January 2019

To Members of the Planning Committee for the Clerical Sex Abuse Conference called by Pope Francis:
Reverend Hans Zollner, Germany                  
Cardinal Blase Cupich, Chicago, U.S.A.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Mumbai, India
Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna, Malta

The ongoing worldwide scandal of clergy sexual abuse and cover-up dramatically affects all of God's people. Sexual abuse of any kind is a crime which must be reported and dealt with by civil authorities so that justice can truly be served.  Healing the spiritual wounds suffered by victims of abuse requires that Church authorities listen with the heart of Christ if the Church is to heal this wound to the Body of Christ.  Pope Francis has responded by convening a meeting of the heads of bishops' national conferences in February. You are tasked with preparing for this meeting. We hope you will consider the following observations and recommendations.

Pope Francis has stated, “To say 'no' to abuse is to say an emphatic 'no' to all forms of clericalism.” (Letter to the People of God, par. 2.4)  We agree that clericalism is a key issue because it maintains the Church's clergy/lay structure, which is seriously flawed since it reserves decision-making to a small minority of unmarried men.  Unfortunately, they are more akin to a secular pyramidal corporation rather than a college of Apostles whose mission is to teach, govern and sanctify through sacrament and example, the whole People of God.  Real change against abuse must start with essential change to the Church's clergy/lay structure.  Two changes we consider essential to restore the credibility of the teaching authority of the Church are the inclusion of women in all ministries of the Church and the end to mandatory celibacy.

We speak as women who love the Church and have accepted, in prophetic obedience to the Holy Spirit, to exercise a leadership of service within Catholic faith communities, tending the broken souls of those wounded by the Church.  We minister to victims of clergy sexual harassment, exploitation and assault, and to their families. We also journey with offending priests to help them find forgiveness and healing.

The absence of women in positions of ecclesial authority denies the Church the wisdom and insight women bring to the processes of discernment and decision making.  Patriarchal gender stereotyping silences the voice of half of humanity. Women know from experience that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is a primary carrier of the global toxic virus of misogyny and the violence it engenders. The cure for that virus is equality: the inclusion of women in all ministries of the Church so that men and women are equal partners in gathering and shepherding God's people.

Further, if the Church would recognize the dual call to priesthood as well as marriage, the insights of family life would enrich the ministry of its priests as it does with its deacons. An end to mandatory celibacy would afford priests and bishops the emotional support and stability of family life (see Gen 2:18; I Tim 3:2-5) and would provide a role model for parishioners. This is not to say that we do not honour the charism of celibacy in those who receive it.

The members (women and men) of the international Roman Catholic Women Priests movement join their voices with all who hope that your meeting in Rome will produce the real changes necessary to restructure Church governance.  A conversion from clericalism and entitlement to service is imperative in order to heal the grave wounds to the Body of Christ and move the Church into the 21st century.
We earnestly pray that the Spirit will guide your deliberations and your decision making, to bring the Church out of the darkness into Christ's light, "for the Holy Spirit Itself is a burning and shining serenity, which cannot be nullified, and which enkindles ardent virtue so as to put all darkness to light" (St. Hildegard of Bingen).


Roman Catholic Women Priests:
+Marie Evans Bouclin, (Sudbury, ON, Bishop Emerita, RCWP Canada)
+Merlene Olivia Doko, (Pismo Beach, CA, Bishop Emerita, RCWP USA)
+Patricia Fresen, (Capetown, RCWP South Africa)
+Joan M. Clark Houk, (South Bend, IN, RCWP-USA, Great Waters Region)
+Andrea Michele Johnson, (Annapolis, MD, RCWP USA, Eastern Region)
+Jane Kryzanowski, (Regina, SK, RCWP, Canada)
+Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger, (Pettenbach, RCWP Austria/ Europe)
+Nancy Louise Meyer, (Indianapolis, IN, RCWP USA, Midwest Region)
+Ida Raming, (Stuttgart, RCWP Germany)
+Sibyl Dana Reynolds, (Pebble Beach, CA, Bishop Emerita, RCWP USA)
+Suzanne Avison Thiel, (Portland, OR, RCWP USA, Western Region)
+Jane Via, (San Diego, CA, RCWP USA, Western Region)

On behalf of the members of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests:
+Olga Lucia Alvarez (Columbia, S.A., ARCWP)
+Michele Birch-Conery (Windsor, ON, ARCWP)
+Mary Eileen Collingwood (Hudson, OH, ARCWP)
+Bridget Mary Meehan (Sarasota, FL, ARCWP)

Jane Kryzanowski                                                        

Bridget Mary Meehan                                              

enclosed: A Litany For Renewal


Compassionate Holy One…

In our season of brokenness, you call us to walk a higher road:
--As we follow the Way of Jesus, guide us as a community of equals, to build a reconciled and renewed Church for today’s world.

In our season of brokenness, we seek healing for ourselves and those who cross our paths:
--As we follow the Way of Jesus, may we embody his teachings of merciful and unconditional love, forgiveness, and inclusivity.

In our season of brokenness, the fervent needs of our brothers and sisters are before us:
--As we follow the Way of Jesus, open our hearts and eyes to fully witness the depths of human suffering. Inspire our courage and fuel our spirits with the grace of acceptance to embrace diversity, use our voices for the voiceless, and speak truth to power.

In our season of brokenness, nature and all life upon this earth are in grave jeopardy:
--As we follow the Way of Jesus, we pray for your people, especially those in power, to cherish our natural resources and watch over your creatures. Help us to value and care for the vast interconnectedness and myriad threads within the fabric of your Creation.

Compassionate Holy One…

As we follow the Way of Jesus, make us hope-bringers, truth-tellers, and messengers of Peace.  Unite our hearts through our prayers, heal our brokenness, and inspire the co-creation of a vibrantly re-imagined and welcoming Church. Together, let us envision a blessed season of radiant wholeness...ablaze with Christ’s Love.

Monday, January 28, 2019

"This Nun Is Fighting To End Sexual Abuse In India’s Churches Despite Threats" By Piyasree Dasgupta Meryl Sebastian, HUFF Post , India, A Shocking and Tragic Story of the Sexual Abuse of Nuns by Roman Catholic Priests and Bishops

“Forget the Bishop being arrested, I realised more and more women were going against the nun who complained,” said Kalapura, who belongs to the Franciscan Clarist Congregation.


Bishop Franco Mulakkal (2nd R) pictured outside a crime branch office on the outskirts of Kochi on 19 September 2018. 

So first, she posted a flurry of enraged status updates on Facebook, demanding that the woman get justice. She didn’t feel like that was enough, though.
Without waiting for anyone else to join her, Kalapura landed at a protest site where some civil society organisations were demonstrating against the bishop.
On 8 September, five nuns began protesting outside the Kerala high court. Kalapura also took part in the protests, which soon gained national attention, increasing the pressure on the Kerala government to act.
Mulakkal was arrested, jailed for three weeks, released on bail and is now back at the Jalandhar diocese, the headquarters of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation.
The nuns who fought for his arrest have been heckledisolated and face the threat of actionby their superiors in the church.
In the past four months, Kalapura has received two notices from her convent, accusing her of not following the ‘principles of religious life’ and allegedly violating the rules of the congregation.The first was served around Christmas last year, but that did not deter her from rallying behind the rape survivor with social media posts and comments to the press. So on 9 January, the convent served her another notice—this one, she said, contained a thinly-veiled threat of expulsion. 

Act of courage

The powerful Catholic Church has long been accused of shielding priests who have sexually abused minors and women. An AP investigation published earlier this year uncovered a decades-long history of Indian nuns enduring sexual abuse from within the church. Nearly two dozen people AP spoke to said they had direct knowledge of such incidents.
The extent to which Kalapura and the five nuns have risked their livelihoods and personal safety is evident from the fact that several male priests are afraid to speak up against Mulakkal and the church, even if they want to support the protests.


Christian nuns and Muslim supporters protest as they demand the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal outside the High Court in Kochi, Kerala on 13 September 2018. 

One priest from Kerala shared with HuffPost India a letter he received from higher authorities in his congregation after he attended a protest organised by nuns in the state. The letter ‘warns’ the priest of disciplinary action if he participates in public demonstrations again.
“I am helpless, and like me, many are helpless as well,” he said, requesting that his name be withheld.
Despite receiving multiple such warnings, Kalapura has soldiered on.
“She is a martyr,” said Sister Jesme, a former nun who quit her convent in Kerala in 2008 and then published a controversial book called ’Amen: The Autobiography of a Nun’, accusing the church of multiple malpractices. “She is still a part of the convent and waging a war against them. That needs incredible courage. Even when I wanted to, ten years back, I couldn’t gather the courage to speak up while being a part of the system,” Jesme told HuffPost India.
Social life in Christian communities in Kerala, Jesme pointed out, is closely tied to the church. In fact, it is often difficult to separate the threads of social life from the community’s religious life, making the act of opposing the church a life-altering decision. “When a child is born you go to the church, marriages are held in the church, christening is done in the church, people bond over church fairs and sales, during holidays also you go to the church, literally everything is centred around the church. Going against the church means going against family, friends and everyone you know and care about in our case,” Jesme said.
Anto Kokkat, member of the Kerala Catholic Reformation, an organisation which has helped organise several protest meetings, told HuffPost India that the implementation of the Church Act would prevent churches from welding disproportionate amounts of power and make congregations safer for women. The Act, which most political parties have refrained from touching and several Christian civilian groups want implemented, gives the government power to regulate the land owned by churches.


A nun cries as she participates in a sit in protest demanding the arrest of a Bishop Franco Mulakkal in Kochi, Kerala on 13 September 2018.

Church vs freedom

Kalapura, one among 11 siblings, joined the Missionaries of Jesus at 17. She had just finished school and joining the church seemed like a legitimate vocation. However, as the years passed, a number of things about the church’s discipline began troubling her. She was careful, though, to never mention them to anyone.
Then in 2003, said Kalapura, something “terrible” happened— she wouldn’t reveal what this was— and she found that the only way to cope and heal was to scribble her thoughts down. She began by writing accounts of how she dealt with difficulties and moved on to composing short poems about nature and how she realised ‘god lives in nature’. Later, as the years passed and the restrictions of the convent began chafing, she also began jotting down her thoughts on love, marriage and life. All this was merely a process of catharsis until 2016, when some close friends suggested Kalapura should publish her poems in the form of a book.
“I began asking for permission in 2016 and some financial help to publish the book. But I was refused both,” she said. “These were simple poems on nature and God, but I was told that this goes against the rules of our lives as nuns.”
Kalapura spent two years trying to convince the convent to reconsider their ‘disciplines’ and allow her to publish the book of poems—they didn’t budge. So, in March 2018, she published her book despite their remonstrations.
“Soon, I started getting calls and letters from the provincial (the nun in charge of the convent). I had also bought a car and learnt driving despite them forbidding me to do so. I tried explaining I needed the car to travel for work and the writing is an act of self-expression for me. However, I don’t think the sister absorbed what I said,” she told HuffPost India.
A few months later, when Mulakkal’s case came to light, Kalapura said she could relate to the isolation faced by the survivor and the few women supporting her.
“I wear a habit (nun’s dress) too and it would be inherently dishonest of me if I did not support them,” Kalapura said.
Jesme recounted the years that she spent in her own convent trying to ask questions and wondered how “unbearable” it must be for Kalapura to carry on protesting while being a part of the convent.
“How must the other sisters treat her, with indifference and hostility. It is so difficult to be inside and rebel,” she said, adding that she hoped Kalapura’s actions gave other women courage.

Power and abuse

In Amen, published by Penguin in 2009, Jesme wrote extensively about how disillusioned she was by malpractices within the church, including sexual abuse and money laundering. Sexual abuse, she told HuffPost India, was normalised to such a degree that men and women in power often convinced survivors that keeping quiet was somehow doing service to ‘god’.
“Sometimes, the priests who are all powerful, they get ample people from the nunnery—either forcefully or with their consent. If they don’t agree, these priests will say, ‘oh, this is something holy, we should keep this secret, whatever sin happens you confess to me, I will give you absolution, I’m a priest’,” Jesme told HuffPost India.
Sometime in the mid-90s, a priest in Bengaluru approached her with a similar proposition. “He said, ‘confess to me’. I didn’t,” she said. 


Sister Jesme

Jesme suspects that Mulakkal may have emboldened other priests to pursue women in that manner. “I am sure a lot of nuns have been victimised by the same men, but they are afraid to speak up. There’s a pattern,” said Jesme. “Such things are happening everywhere. Often, even when you complain to senior sisters, they’re told that just like Jesus suffered, they must also suffer.”
The 62-year-old nun said how she would often share her questions with her seniors, but instead of being reassured, she was told that people are simply following ‘god’s will’. “I went raging with questions, came back like a lamb,” she added.
Kalapura said that the few times she had spoken to the survivor, she had come across as a woman of great strength. “I wanted to meet her but wasn’t able to. But we speak on the phone occasionally. She has a lot of difficulties, but she isn’t the kind of person to talk about it too much, and I haven’t asked her too much either,” she said.
While Jesme seems to pin the allegedly never-ending cycle of abuse in churches to the fact that many join the services because they need jobs and not because they are interested in spirituality, Kalapura believes that many people join the convent at a very young age and later realise they have different desires.
One of her several journal entries, Kalapura recounted, was about how a person should embrace this life of abstinence only once older and fully aware of what that implied.
“Times are changing. There are cultural changes as well. Since times have changed, it is time to think about marriage and priesthood as well, if there are priests and nuns who want to get married, they should.
“When they get married and have a couple of children, they’ll know what life is,” Kalapura said. She also said that the church should understand that ‘sexuality is a gift of god’ and shouldn’t deny its workers the right to love. In fact,she added, it was sexual repression that fed the culture of sexual exploitation.
“These men preach abstinence but can’t follow it, then use their power to fulfill their needs. How many women must he (Mulakkal) have oppressed?” she said.
Jesme, however, believes that the sexual predators within the confines of the church are deeply aware of their position of privilege and exploit it for sexual and material gains.
“When I started speaking up, I was immediately labelled insane. In fact, people in my convent started telling my mother to send me to a church retreat for my ‘mental issues’. My mother, though aghast by me, refused to let me go,” she said. For years, her family excommunicated her, only calling once or twice a year to ascertain where she was living.
“They are ashamed of me,” said Jesme.

Inclusive Catholic Ministries in Palm Coast, Titusville, and St. Augustine Area with Miriam Picconi ARCWP and Wanda Russell ARCWP


Saturdays, February 2 and 16 at 4:00 PM at the Church located at the Great Outdoors RV and Golf Resort.
125 Plantation Dr., Titusville, FL 32780.  All are welcome to the Table!  
If you or someone you know are traveling in the area, join the St. Christopher Community 
for Mass any Saturday.   Just tell the person at the gate that you are going to the church.

February 6, Wednesday evening, 7:15 PM at 2 Westmill Ln., Palm Coast, FL 32164.

Saturday, February 9 at 4:00 PM at 2 Westmill Ln., Palm Coast, FL 32164
Hospitality follows.  Bring your favorite appetizer or dessert if you like.

February 20, Wednesday evening at 7:00 PM at 2 Westmill Ln., Palm Coast, 32164.
Hospitality follows.  Bring your favorite appetizer or dessert.  Special guests!


Sunday, February 24 at 10:00 AM there will be an INCLUSIVE Interfaith Worship and Communion Service
at Castle Otttis located at 103 3rd Street, St. Augustine, 32084.  Due to limited parking area, please carpool.
Sorry, there are no handicap facilities.  Please dress according to weather.  No air conditioning or heating.  No windows.  (It is a castle, afterall.)
For additional information call Miriam Picconi, 386-569-7311 or e-mail at
For information about the castle and directions, go to


March 2 and 16.  See details above.

March 6 - ASH WEDNESDAY AT 7:15 AT 2 Westmill Ln, Palm Coast.
and March 20.  See details above.

March 10.  

March 17
Sunday, March 31 at 10:00 AM.  Please see details above.

Dear Faith Community and Family,

So sorry for having to cancel the castle service last Sunday.  Because of the cold rainy weather it seems we made a wise decision.  We look forward to worshiping with you in February.

I want to thank you for your healing prayers for my shoulder replacement and ask that you continue the prayers.  The surgery was postponed until April 18 which also happens to be Holy Thursday.  The postponement was due to two medical issues.  One is resolved.  The second is being worked on.  I am eager to get this done; however, I want good odds for a positive outcome when the surgery is completed.  I was able to get a pain injection which is helping reduce the intensity of pain.  YEA!!

February 20 we will receive our friend, Shelley Gilchrist, into the Catholic Church as she discerns becoming a priest with us.  We are excited to be on the journey with Shelley.  The service will have our bishop, Bridget Mary Meehan, and several priests in ARCWP join us for this first time the Rite of Acceptance will be experienced in ARCWP.  Shelley is an Episcopal who was ready to be ordained a deacon; however, her sense of justice would not let her take that step in her Episcopal Diocese.  Her justice beliefs are more in keeping with what we in ARCWP believe and after some serious prayer and discussion, Shelley is seeking to join us.  To be  a Roman Catholic Woman Priest requires we be Catholic in all the best definitions of being Catholic.  If you would like to join us that night, please call Miriam at 386-569-7311 so we will know how many people to plan for.

As I write this, the government shutdown is over for a few weeks.  Let us all pray it is not resumed.  I personally know too many people directly effected by the delay and lack of pay checks.  Did you know that contracted government workers will NOT get back pay?  What an unnecessary loss caused by politics instead of genuine christian love and caring for others.  I don't want to get into politics, but we christians need to be involved and truly love our neighbors as ourselves.  I hope you will find a way to take action as the Spirit leads you.  Too many people are going without basic necessities right here in America.  We have to get off the sidelines and stop being afraid to speak truth to power - at whatever level that power is in your life.

Other issues right now are the terrible weather reports all over.  Pray that people will drive safely so that there will be no needless deaths on the roads.  Dear God, help us all be more thoughtful and kind to one another.  Help us to slow down and be patient in the midst of the chaos all around us.  Help us to realize that you made the people around us who seem to be irritating us.  You love THEM as well as US.  Dear God, help us stop the hate.  Help us have the courage to love.

Know we continue to pray for you and your families and the desires of your hearts.  Please pray for us if you cannot join us in one of our ministries.  We seek and need the Spirit's wisdom and guidance.

Love and peace,

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy - January 27, 2019 - Presiders: Lynn Kinlan, ARCWP, and Judy Stamp

Lynn Kinlan, ARCWP, and Judy Stamp led the Upper Room Liturgy with the theme: “The Wholeness of the Spirit is Upon Us.”  Lynn’s homily reflection follows the readings.

Opening Prayer for Peace and Wholeness: 
As we settle into the sanctuary of our community, we acknowledge how we may at times, live our daily lives on the surface, buoyed and tossed about by waves and currents, always paddling. We gaze at objects on the passing shore until the next new concern comes into view.
But when a good deep breath is taken and we slow down, we raise up to see beyond the shoreline. We see a distant and eternal horizon where all is One. We know peace and we touch wholeness.

Rather than cling to the surface, we resolve to seek out peace and wholeness through the Good News of Christ, the anointed One who knows that each of us is a traveler and that we travel together, both nobly and boldly.  Amen. 

Opening Song: “One Bread One Body” by John Foley

A Reading from Corinthians:
The body is one, even though it has many parts; all the parts - many though they are - comprise a single body. And so it is with Christ.  It was by one Spirit that all of us, whether we are Jews or Greeks, slaves or citizens, were baptized into one body.  All of us have been given to drink of the one Spirit.

God has so constructed the body so that there may be no division but that all the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it. If one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

You then, are the body of Christ. Each of us is a member of that body. There is a variety of gifts, but always the same Spirit who distributes them as she wills.
This is a letter from Paul, disciple of Jesus and the community affirms it by saying, Amen.

Gospel Reading from Luke:

Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and his reputation had spread throughout the region. He was teaching in the Galilee synagogues and all were loud in their praise.

Jesus came to Nazareth where he had been brought up. Entering the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was his habit, Jesus stood to do the reading. When the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed him, he unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

The Spirit of our God is upon me:
Because the Most High has anointed me
To bring Good News to those who are poor.
God has sent me to proclaim liberty to those held captive,
Recovery of sight to those who are blind,
And to let the oppressed go free --
to proclaim the year of our God’s favor

Rolling up the scroll, Jesus gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he said to them, “Today in your hearing, this scripture passage is fulfilled”

This is from the Gospel of Luke and the community affirms it by saying, Amen.

Lynn’s Homily Reflection

Out theme is echoed in scripture across the ages beginning with a selection from Isaiah written after the Babylonian captivity around 550 BC to a letter from Paul that probably dates to 55 AD and then the Luke gospel from around 70 AD. In each, we hear about the power of the Spirit to make us unified and whole, to enable us to live out the Good News even in trying circumstances.

Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth was struggling, its people quarreling among themselves and some even leaving the church.  The letter stands as a reminder that disagreements or judgments must give way to our concern for one another, recognition of our need for a wide diversity of gifts and most of all, trust in the One Spirit that brings us together in new and unexpected ways - both inside a worship community and with everyone in our lives.

This is why we stay hopeful and joyous despite divisions within our own families, our church and our nation–because we are graced within ourselves by a faith and a power of Spirit.  We are a prayerful people of Word and Eucharist, fueled to be fully inclusive and hope filled.  We are companions on a journey and if that journey has a few speed bumps like it did for the people of Corinth, and some shocks like the Jews hearing Jesus, then we ought to be able to manage with hope and love and our wave pool of many gifts.

It is interesting that Paul’s reminder about wholeness in the Spirit is paired today with Jesus reading from Isaiah about how “The Spirit of our God is upon me“. Written 500 years before Jesus read it, these words were familiar to every Jew in synagogue; they’d heard it many times. They probably  knew that a few lines later Isaiah moves on to refer to all the Jews returning from Babylonian captivity as “trees of integrity” who will rebuild the temple and who will be called “Priests of Yahweh and ministers of our God”. 

So the words Jesus reads apply to  the Jews and to us as well as to Jesus – for we are all anointed, members of the same body on whom the Spirit of God rests, all of us called in covenant to bring Good News to a wounded world.

If there were pins at the time, everyone in synagogue might have been able to hear one drop as Jesus sat down and added that Isaiah “is fulfilled today in your hearing”.  This was shocking. Maybe that was a reference to himself as Messiah. It’s likely that Jesus was also referring to  Good News beyond himself – something head spinning– that the kindom of God is fulfilled  right here and right now, that we need not wait for the best time or the end times to live out the promise of the covenant with the help of the One Spirit.

 If Paul’s letter and the longer Isaiah verses refer to us all, then let us have confidence and know that the Spirit of God is with us and ours is always a year of favor and grace.

Focusing on these two readings, in a spiritual way above and beyond politics, we welcome you to share briefly about what you have heard.
What do these two readings mean to you?  And what will it cost you?

Communion Song: “You Have Anointed Me” by the Dameans

Closing Song: “ Send Down the Fire”  by Marty Haugen