Saturday, June 1, 2024

Meditations on The Visitation- the visitations by Andrea Grace

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Friday, May 31, 2024

Women feel like they do not count by Virginia Saldanha

Women religious leaders around the world call for action in response to Pope Francis’s “no” to women deacons and priests. They are calling for an inclusive ordained ministry now. This has been the mission of Roman Catholic Women Priests for 20+ years. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

To be Christ we have to follow His Way, not have his male body
Supporters of the Women's Ordination Conference demonstrate to advocate and pray for the ordination of women as deacons, priests, and bishops into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic Church, near the Vatican in Rome on Oct. 6, 2023.

Supporters of the Women's Ordination Conference demonstrate to advocate and pray for the ordination of women as deacons, priests, and bishops into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic Church, near the Vatican in Rome on Oct. 6, 2023. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 30, 2024 03:09 AM GMT
Updated: May 30, 2024 04:12 AM GMT

The publication of Pope Francis' interview with CBS Television anchor Norah O’Donnell has sent shock waves through reform-minded women and men throughout the world.

When asked specifically about women deacons in the Church, Francis said, “If it is deacons with Holy Orders, No. But women have always had, I would say, the function of deaconesses without being deacons, right? Women are of great service as women, not as ministers… within the Holy Orders.”

The pope’s response is reminiscent of the caste mindset in India. Dalits or former untouchable people cannot enter temples because they are Dalits! Women doing ministry cannot be ordained ministers because they are women.

Women are shocked firstly, because the synodal process which Pope Francis himself initiated to gather voices from every person in the Church, has not yet concluded, and yet he gives a definitive answer to the question of ordination of women deacons in the Church.

“What is the point of synodality if the pope shuts down a major question in an interview talk show? How banal. Why waste our time with a process that gets settled in a sound bite?” asks noted Jesuit moral theologian, James Kennan.

The US-based Women’s Ordination Conference expressed “great disappointment at Pope Francis’ failure to recognize the depth of women’s vocations and the urgency of affirming their full equality in the Church. For centuries, women have served in the tradition of Phoebe [Rm 16:1]. Women of every generation have experienced and expressed their vocation from God to serve the Church in ordained ministry.”

"Women do all the work but are denied the recognition and authority that is their due"

Astrid Lobo-Gajiwala of Bombay archdiocesesaid, “What angers me is how the pope continues to trivialize the vocation of women to the priesthood. A vocation is a call from God. By denying women ordained ministry the pope is asserting that God can never issue such a call to women. And the reason? They do not have male body parts.”

“His remarks about women's ministry are humiliating and typical of a patriarchal mindset. Women do all the work but are denied the recognition and authority that is their due. How can we reconcile his closed mind on this issue with his call to synodality? Women's role in the Church has been one of the key issues across the world. Why bother with creating a commission to study the issue of women deacons when the outcome is already fixed?” she asked.

Raynah Braganza Passanha of Pune dioceseasks, “Why we are waiting for the Church to throw crumbs our way? Expectations always bring disappointment.” 

She suggests, “It is time to challenge ourselves to make real what we have been asking for since no one is listening. If we are serious about what we believe is our right, we need to make it happen. Maybe we need to think of moving out of this limited mindset and evolve a model that is inclusive, a Christ-like, Jesus-inspired community.”

Jesus proclaimed his Mission in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and set free the oppressed.”  His ministry involved working with the least, the lost and the oppressed.

Women have been anointed in Baptism and Confirmation with the Spirit of the Lord. Women, as Pope Francis admits render valuable service in the Church, yet the grace of the sacrament of Ordination is withheld from women because we are deemed second class to men. Is subservience our lot in the Church, because Pope Francis feels that women are not worthy of representing Christ?!

“Women with vocations to ministry deserve to be treated on the same basis as their brothers"

It is disheartening that in the 21st century, the Church has failed to recognize women’s equality with men. Something that Jesus had already given to women in his time. This equality was exercised in the early Church.

Women responded with dedication and love following Jesus through the streets of Palestine, ministering to him, mourning at his crucifixion, and the first to meet him at his Resurrection. Yet, the leadership in the Catholic Church in recent centuries has kept women from any leadership and decision-making, claiming that Jesus did not ordain women!

“Women with vocations to ministry deserve to be treated on the same basis as their brothers, and that includes sacramental ordination. If the Church is supposed to be a sacrament of God's love to the world, the persistence of misogyny in its structures and practices is a scandal and undermines the Church's witness to the Gospel,” points out Irish theologian Ursula Halligan.

Francis’ response begs the question, what really is ordained priesthood? Theologically men become ‘other Christs,’ but do they really? The sex abuse scandal and its handling have debunked that idea for many across the world, making the institution lose a lot of its credibility.

To be Christ we have to follow His Way, not have his male body!

Ultimately, ordination seems to be all about power. A power that is used over people. Women entering into that space would disrupt that power and even expose its misuse. Is this the real fear?

Thursday, May 30, 2024

St. Joan of Arc is one of the patron saints of Roman Catholic Women Priests, Vatican Issued Decree of Excommunication on Eve of Her Feast Day

On May 29, 2008, the eve of St. Joan of Arc's feast day, I received a phone call from a New York Times Reporter asking what was our response to the Vatican announcement of our excommunication! Since I thought their unjust punishment would have come closer to our first U.S. Ordination on July 31, 2006, I had been prepared .  

When I realized that this announcement came on the eve of St. Joan of Arc's feast, I wondered what message they were really sending. St. Joan of Arc is the patron saint of all who put primacy of conscience above obedience to ecclesiastical authority. She was burned at the stake for following her vision. Women priests were excommunicated for disobeying an unjust law and following our vision of inclusive ordained ministry.

 St. Joan of Arc, patron saint of women who don't know their place, but do know how to follow their consciences, we give thanks that you accompany us on our journey toward the full equality of women and all genders in ordained ministries in the Roman Catholic Church!

 Our RCWP Response Regarding Excommunication Decree

Roman Catholic Womenpriests reject the penalty of excommunication issued by the
Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith on May 29, 2008 stating
that the “women priests and the bishops who ordain them would be excommunicated
latae sententiae.”
Roman Catholic Womenpriests are loyal members of the church who stand in the
prophetic tradition of holy obedience to the Spirit’s call to change an unjust law
that discriminates against women. Our movement is receiving enthusiastic
responses on the local, national and international level.
We will continue to serve our beloved church in a renewed priestly ministry that
all to celebrate
the sacraments in inclusive, Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered communities wherever we are called.

Female Priest Excommunicated

May 30, 2008

A local woman was just kicked out of the Catholic Church because she broke what's become a strict rule.

She wanted to become a priest. But the Pope says that position is for men only.

For two years, Sister Bridget Mary Meehan has been saying mass at her Falls Church home as, she claims, a Roman Catholic priest.

On Friday, the Vatican decreed that women priests and those who ordain them incur in lah-tay senten-see-yay or automatic excommunication.

"I was wondering what took them so long," said Meehan.

Meehan was ordained on a boat in Pittsburgh by women bishops from Europe, part of a small but growing global movement.

She says the excommunication is in a way good news.

"Because we're really being recognized now as a movement within the church, even though they do not want to accept us quite yet," said Meehan.

The church holds that only men can be priests, citing the 12 male Apostles of Jesus. But meehan, who celebrates mass in her living room these days, argues women were priests in the early church--and says such drastic action isn't fair.

"Women are excommunicated. Priests, who are pedophiles, and bishops who covered it up, were not excommunicated. Now, does that really make sense?" She said.

But the church sees it differently.

"The excommunication will not stop us! In fact, it just encourages us to go forward, to continue to provide hope and to be good news to God's people," said Meehan.

Should Women Leave the Catholic Church? by Isabelle de Gaulmyn, La Croiz, My response: Join Women Priests Bringing Change on the Margins in Inclusive Sacramental Ministry

On May 30th, the feast day of St. Joan of Arc, I too say: " I am not afraid. I was born to do this." 

Close to 300 Catholic Women are serving God's people as deacons, priests and bishops in the international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement. We are not leaving the Church. We are committed to leading the Church into a renewed, inclusive priestly ministry rooted in our baptism equality in Christ in vibrants communities and ecumenical ministries all over the world.  

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

(Women's Ordination Conference)


Should women leave the Catholic Church?


Should women leave the Catholic Church?

Pope Francis closed the door on the ordination of female deacons, even though the issue has been debated in the Catholic Church for over half a century. But does that mean women should leave the Catholic Church?
May 30th, 2024 at 09:57 am (Europe\Rome). Updated May 30th, 2024 at 10:45 am (Europe\Rome)
Isabelle de Gaulmyn (Photo by BRUNO LEVY)

A reader on the La Croix website raised the question, clearly angry after Pope Francis' decision to definitively renounce the ordination of women as deacons. Leave? Really? One can understand a feeling of being misunderstood, even exasperation. It’s a rather messy decision, especially since the same pope had appointed two consecutive commissions to study the possibility of female deacons. As a pope who tirelessly invited us to adopt a synodal attitude, that is, one of consultation, Pope Francis showed a completely top-down approach in this matter.
This decision, which could also be seen as a counter-move following controversies over the text allowing blessings for homosexual couples in a relationship (Fiducia supplicans), is surprising. Yet, there’s always a kind of naivety on the “progressive” side, believing that the pope will necessarily move “with the times” and reform to keep up with societal changes. This is a misunderstanding, since the Church is not a political entity where change occurs through institutional means.
Historically, major shifts rarely come from the top. Although St. John XXIII convened Vatican II, the council articulated and documented a series of theological, sociological, and liturgical advancements that had been developing for about fifty years.
If the Catholic Church changes, it will happen primarily through its margins. It was at the margins where Saint Vincent de Paul renewed the Catholic approach to the poor. In the 19th century, religious congregations ensured a presence in hospitals along the periphery. Workers and employers had experimented with the “Social Doctrine of the Church” before Pope Leo XIII. Women have not been left out: in the 19th century, which French bishop could claim to have had as much influence as the young Bernadette of Lourdes, a woman, and a shepherdess?
Two bishops speak with a group advocating for womens' ordination near St. Peter's Basilica during the 2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People (Photo by Junno Arocho Esteves)
Pope Francis himself, a disciple of Michel de Certeau, has always defended this vision of a religion where boundaries set the tone. One must stand at the periphery of the church, with those farthest away, and learn to dialogue with them. “This passion for others… it's a vulnerability that strips away our certainties and introduces into our necessary strengths the weakness of belief,” Michel de Certeau wrote.
Therefore, women do not need to leave the Church, since, by definition, they are on the margins and, thus, at the center. Being in the periphery is the best place. However, should they remain silent? No, but they should push for change from the margins in at least two directions. First, the word of God – to comment on it because, in the 21st century, silencing women is unacceptable, and a feminine perspective on the Word opens many new avenues. We need to multiply places, occasions, and prayers in this regard.
Another challenge for them is to dismantle the power system because there lies the crux of resistance to the ordination of women. As long as there is confusion between the sacrament (the priesthood) and hierarchical authority (the leader), the masculinity of the order will not be questioned. When we manage to untangle priests from this perilous interpretation, which can almost be considered a form of slavery, and to de-clericalize the church, then the question of lay women and men and the diaconate for all will be posed differently.
---------- Original Message ----------
From: La Croix International <>
Daily briefing:  

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Pope Francis Disappoints Progressives- He will do so again- Tom Reese SJ, NCR, My Response

My Response: While Pope Francis is not ready for women deacons and women priests, the  international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement stands on the periphery- the inside edge- of the Church providing  an inclusive priestly ministry that fosters a Church for everyone in which all are welcome to receive and celebrate sacraments. 

We conduct weekly inclusive liturgies on 5 continents and on Zoom in a Church without walls. 

Tom Reese SJ Article

"Francis never saw the Synod on Synodality as a place for resolving divisive issues. The church is not ready."

"Though he referred to women as apostles, he gave a definite "no" to women as priests or ordained deacons, saying women in the past functioned as deacons but were not ordained. Historians and theologians such as Phyllis Zagano would disagree."

"The Gospel is for everyone," he repeated. "If the church places a customs officer at the door, that is no longer the church of Christ. Everyone."

"My column last week, in which I gave a positive assessment of Pope Francis' interview on CBS News, got some blowback. There were the usual haters who don't like anything that Francis does or says. Others complained that the interviewer should have asked tougher questions or pressed the pope on the treatment of abusive priests such as former Jesuit Marko Rupnik.

But there was also kickback from progressives who normally like Francis, expressing surprise and disappointment at Francis' saying "no" not only to women priests but to ordained women deacons.

This crowd was further exasperated by this week's news about Francis' comments on gay seminarians in an exchange with Italian bishops.

The pope's "no" to women deacons was unexpected because the topic was discussed last October at the Synod on Synodality and previously was examined by two committees appointed by the pope. (Yet another committee is supposed to report back in 2025.)

The progressive response reminds me of Roberto Tucci's comment about Americans' attitude toward Pope John Paul II: "They like the singer but not the song."

Too many progressives believe that Francis reflects their views on the church. In truth, he is pastoral in his encounters with people but unwilling to change church teaching in any radical way. Norah O'Donnell aptly quoted an unnamed Vatican observer as saying that Francis has changed the tune but not the words of the song.

Progressive Catholics have always hoped for significant changes in the church. Yes, the reforms of the Second Vatican Council were great, but they were seen as the beginning, not the end of reform. They hoped for married priests, women priests and changes in the church's teaching on LGBTQ people, birth control and divorce.

Francis has raised their hopes. While not changing the church's teaching on divorce, he made it easier for divorced and remarried Catholics to go to Communion. He has promoted women to higher and higher places in the church, but ordination is a bridge too far for him.

In regard to married priests, Francis gave a temporary no to the Synod on the Amazon, arguing that it had to be discussed by the wider church.

The Synod on Synodality was the perfect place to have this wider consultation, but the possibility of married priests was barely mentioned at last October's meeting of the synod. Here I fault the members of the synod more than Francis: Neither the bishops nor the laity at the synod made married priests a priority.

Too many progressives believe that Francis reflects their views on the church. In truth, he is pastoral in his encounters with people but unwilling to change church teaching in any radical way.


Then, Francis further shocked progressives with his language on gays in seminaries, telling Italian bishops, according to Italian media reports, "there is already enough faggotry" in Catholic seminaries. The Argentine pope used the Italian term "frociaggine," a rarely used slur to describe flamboyant gay attitudes. Francis allegedly also used other disparaging words to describe gay men at the May 20 meeting.

The pope quickly apologized for his wording and the Vatican issued a statement saying, "The pope never meant to offend or express himself with homophobic terms, and he issues his most sincere apologies to all those who felt offended by the use of a term reported by others."

But negative words seem to contradict his 2013 comment, when asked about gay priests, "Who am I to judge?" When it comes to gays in seminaries, progressives had hoped that the pope would simply apply to homosexuals the same requirement as heterosexuals: celibacy. Now there is confusion as to whether gays will be welcomed at all, which needs to be clarified by the Vatican.

The Second Vatican Council had a revolutionary impact on the church. The church today is involved in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue pre-Vatican Catholics might never have imagined. It no longer believes that Catholics should make Catholicism their states' religion. The role of the laity in the world and in the church was bolstered, so that the laity are no longer second-class members of the church; they are much more involved in ministry than in the past.

The liturgy is in the vernacular. Care for the poor and working for social justice and peace are seen as integral to the church's mission.

None of this would have happened without Pope John XXIII "opening the windows" of the church, calling a council and allowing free discussion. The council involved all the bishops of the world over four sessions in four successive autumns in Rome, from 1962 to 1965, each lasting eight to 12 weeks.

Pope Francis gives his blessing during an audience with members of the International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education at the Vatican May 24, 2024. (CNS/Vatican Media)

Pope Francis gives his blessing during an audience with members of the International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education at the Vatican May 24, 2024. (CNS/Vatican Media)

During the council, eminent theologians brought the prelates up to date in theology so they could write the documents they did, like a continuing education program for bishops. Divisions persisted, and some of the texts included ambiguous language each side could interpret as it willed, setting the stage for postconciliar debates. But reform was set irrevocably in motion.

A synod is not a council. Two monthlong sessions cannot resolve issues on which the church is divided, as can be seen by the continuing controversies over gay blessings and women deacons. The conciliar experience should encourage patience.

Francis never saw the Synod on Synodality as a place for resolving divisive issues. The church is not ready. First, the synod must foster listening and dialogue in the church. His hoped-for fruits of the synod are increased Communion, greater participation and renewed commitment to the mission of Christ.

I think of Francis as a grandmother presiding over Thanksgiving dinner that she hopes will bring the family together and heal wounds. She does not want any fights. "Don't shout; listen to one another! This is not the time to decide what to do with the family business. We can't do that until you are willing to respectfully listen to one another."

Sadly, the pope also sometimes sounds like a grandfather who says things that make his grandchildren cringe. Whether the grandchildren will forgive him or stomp out of the house remains to be seen."

Francis never saw the Synod on Synodality as a place for resolving divisive issues. The church is not ready.