Saturday, January 11, 2014

Same Sex Marriage in Washington Causes Stir in Catholic School

Comment:  I cannot tell you how proud I am of the students protesting the hierarchy's firing of the vice principle because he married the love of his life.  While this is a very confusing time in their lives, the world is awakening to the wrong-sided views of a Catholic Church that teaches we are to live lives of love.

In an unbelievable move, the principal said that if he divorced his spouse he could have his job back and then they would have a civil ceremony and all would be OK inn the eyes of the hierarchy.

What I have come to know is that Bishops have two arms-one calls us forth and the other pounds us down if we get out of their hands.  Now if the Bishop thinks he can pound down this next generation, I think he will have to come up with some amazing tricks.  We taught Catholic teaching and gave these kids an education that made them able to "think!"  

On Jan 31 I will be wearing orange....wonder if the kids will be sent home if they wear that color:)



Same Sex Marriage in Washington
Faithful America
Protesters will be disciplined

Student interviews former vice principal and partner

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

THIRTY YEARS: WHAT WE’VE LEARNED AND WHAT I’VE LEARNED by Tom Doyle





THIRTY YEARS: WHAT WE’VE LEARNED AND WHAT I’VE LEARNED
 
Thomas Doyle, J.C.D., C.A.D.C.
July 27, 2013
_____________________________________________________________
 
This year marks the end of the third decade of the contemporary chapter in the Catholic Church’s age-old reality of sexual violation of clerics. In 1983 Jeff Anderson filed the historic case in Minnesota that would launch him on his life-long vocation of bringing not only civil but human rights to the Church’s countless victims. That summer, the bizarre saga of Gilbert Gauthe was exposed to the light in Lafayette, Louisiana. 
This nightmare did not begin in Boston in January 2002, as many erroneously believe. It did not begin in 1983 either. It has been a toxic virus in the Body of Christ since the very beginning. The Didache, a handbook for the earliest followers of Christ, written before the end of the first century, explicitly condemns men who sexually abuse boys. There were no “clerics” as such then so the “men” included the leaders or elders of the infant Church.
The Louisiana spectacle generally gets the credit for being the beginning of public awareness of the so-called “crisis.” I daresay though that had Jason Berry lived in Minneapolis and not New Orleans, things might have been different. Either way you look at it, Jeff in Minnesota and Ray Mouton in Louisiana opened a new era for the Catholic Church and in doing so, changed the course of its history.
 
When I first became involved with the Gauthe case in 1984 I still believed in the Church. I thought the institutional structure I was part of, and the People of God described by the Second Vatican Council, were one and the same. In spite of already having served three years on the inside at the Vatican Embassy I still had some confidence in bishops and shared the hope with my colleagues at the time, Mike Peterson and Ray Mouton, that once the bishops became aware of how terrible sexual abuse of a child could be and the potential for scandal of epic proportions, they would quickly step up to the plate and do the right thing, especially by the victims.
I was dead wrong. Any lingering hopes I may have had were demolished by my experiences in the years that followed. I had no idea back then of the extent of the problem but more important, and worse, I had no idea just how duplicitous and destructive the bishops could be.
Back in 1985 the transformation of the Catholic Church back to a medieval monarchy was underway but not yet in high gear. There were still some good men holding down the office of bishop, most of them remnants from the Vatican II era of hope. John Paul II, soon to be canonized, set about changing the Church by appointing men as bishops who had replaced pastoral compassion with unthinking obsession with orthodoxy that was for most, a thin cover for soaring ambition and lust for power. The unified game-plan for confronting the “nuisance of pedophilia” as one bishop (A.J. Quinn, Cleveland) referred to it, was not so obvious in the first years of this era, but it certainly is now.
The Church’s response is actually the response of the governing elite, the hierarchy, not the community of the faithful. It has been and continues to be shaped by a small number of celibate males, most of them bishops and above, none of whom have ever had any experience of parenthood and all who live in a monarchy significantly isolated from the real world.
 
I don’t think any of us who were around thirty years ago had any idea where this odyssey would take us. Above all, we had no idea that the stubbornness, shock, conviction, anger, compassion, desolation, fatigue, disappointment and courage that we have all felt at one time or another, would propel the disparate and sometimes unlikely allies in this hellish drama to bring about profound changes in the Catholic Church and in our society.
We have discovered things that have shocked and stunned us that thirty years ago were well outside most people’s imagination.
 
1. We have learned that it's not “over” simply because the bishops say it is, and it won’t be over as long as the culture and institution that enabled the systemic sexual violation remains as it is.
 
2. We have learned that the presenting issue is the sexual violation of children, adolescents and vulnerable adults by clerics of all ranks, from deacons to Cardinals, but that the most outrageous aspect of the scandal has been and continues to be the toxic response by the hierarchy.
 
3. We have learned that both the Church and secular society had to be forced to look at child sexual abuse straight on and reluctantly accept the reality that it is a profound and lasting violation of a person’s body, mind and soul and to accept the harsh truth that violated children and adults have regularly been ignored.
 
4. We have learned that the toxic and even vicious response of the hierarchy and clergy is deeply embedded in the clerical culture.
 
5. We have learned that the root cause of the scandal has been the cover up by the hierarchy and not forces extrinsic to the institutional church such as an anti-Catholic media, a sexualized culture or a materialistic society.
 
6. We have learned that there is a monstrous chasm between the authentic Christian response expected of the institutional Church and the actual experience of victims and their families.
 
7. We have learned that the exposure of widespread sexual abuse by clerics has brought irreversible changes to the relationship between the Church and secular society.
8. We have learned that John Paul II cared little or nothing for the victims of his priests and bishops but was instead concerned with protecting bishops, preserving the image of the priesthood and finding a focus for blame anywhere but in the institutional Church.
 
9. We have learned that the clerical elite that runs the institutional Church is abysmally ignorant of the complex nature of human sexuality and therefore of the devastating effects of sexual violation on all levels of personhood.
 
10. We have learned that the exposure of widespread sexual abuse at all levels of the institutional Church has triggered the exposure of corruption in other areas such as finance and a demand for accountability.
 
11. We have learned that today’s bishops have a severely limited and deficient understanding of pastoral care.
12. We have learned that the last two popes and the hierarchy have a seriously twisted notion of right and wrong whereby they protect or excuse clerics who violate children but persecute and punish sincere, faith-filled men and women who seek new and more effective ways to bring the Christian message to people in our twenty-first century culture.
 
13. We have learned that victims who present themselves to Church authorities in a docile, deferential and non-demanding manner……who play nice…… will be tolerated but those who stand on an even level with the bishops and demand true justice will be treated as the enemy.
14. We have learned that the Church’s leaders from the papacy on down have grossly underestimated the impact their action and inaction would have and the mortal blow this would deal their credibility.
 
15. We have learned that some of the most morally compromised people in our society are lawyers who represent Church entities in sex abuse litigation.
 
16. We have learned that the clerical subculture than runs the institutional Church is fed by a highly malignant, narcissistic spirituality that requires a docile, controlled and compliant laity to survive.
 
17. We have learned that the passive-dependent relationship of the laity to the clergy, centered on sacramental rituals, has in general prevented little more than a passive, muted response from far too many “devoted” Catholics.
 
18. We have learned that the strident defense of the institutional Church is grounded in either an ignorance of the authentic meaning of “Church” as the People of God or worse yet, an arrogant rejection of it.
 
19. We have learned that blind orthodoxy has replaced courageous charity as the main focus of the papacy and hierarchy in our era. Those who profess their staunch but limited orthodoxy and total loyalty to the pope and magisterium are concerned for their emotional security at the expense of charity towards victims.
20. We have learned that the Church has in fact, responded to the victims with charity and support in their demand for justice, but it is not the hierarchy but rather the fundamental Church, the People of God.
 
___________________________________________________________

The sex abuse phenomenon has affected peoples' lives in a variety of ways. It has had a profound impact on my own life on several levels. Most of the impact has been from what I have learned about the institution and its leaders and from my experiences trying to help and support survivors.
 
1. I have learned that the sage advice I was given in 1972 by a distinguished priest who had been a peritus at Vatican II, who said “with bishops yes and no are interchangeable terms,” is true.
 
2. I have learned that it is dangerous and naïve to place complete, unquestioning trust in the words and actions of the hierarchy.
 
3. I have learned that the Vatican bureaucracy and the hierarchy are, for the most part, driven by fear.
4. I have learned that the ontological change that supposedly happens at ordination to the priesthood is a myth that is sustained only to try to support and enhance clerical power.
 
5. I have learned that constant, obsessive and unchecked anger towards the institutional church, the bishops and the papacy is not only debilitating but also self-destructive.
 
6. I have learned that as long as I allowed my anger to dominate my emotions, the toxic and dark side of the Church still controlled me.
 
7. I have learned that I needed to challenge and question every aspect of the institutional Church that I took for granted or believed without reservation, and that to gain a healthy spirituality I needed the freedom to embrace a higher power of my understanding and to reject that which was grounded in fear or made no sense to me.
 
8. I have learned that the institutional Church, its bishops, priests and unquestioning followers are not the enemy. The enemy is a destructive, heretical and anti-Christian virus called clericalism.

9. I have learned that bottomless pits of money unjustly expropriated from the faithful, legions of lawyers, volumes of empty excuses and seemingly endless public relations verbiage are, in the end, no match for truth.
AN EPIC SHIFT
The contemporary history of sexual violation by Catholic clergy has not had a straight-line trajectory from 1983 to the present. It has been a zig-zag pattern influenced by various factors including the quality of the victims’ interactions with Church officials, the evolution of the response of the secular legal system, developments in the understanding of the range of effects of sexual violation and on the reasons why people abuse. These factors also include the quality of coverage by the secular media and the general recognition of the validity of the victims’ stories.

A crucial factor has been the fact that much of the evolution has been carried out in the arena of the civil law. In the beginning victims and their families approached Church officials for assistance and for support. They were almost universally disappointed and in their frustration they turned to the civil courts for validation and accountability. The basic demand made by victims and their families was recognition and belief and that the cleric-perpetrator be dealt with by the Church so that he could never harm another child. In the civil courts the Church was confronted with a power greater than itself.
 
Prior to 1983 the secular press gave no priority to the few cases of sexual molestation by priests that became known. For example, the story of the trial and conviction of a priest for rape in a southwestern diocese was limited to a short paragraph, buried in the back pages of the local newspaper. That all changed with the revelations of abuse and systemic cover-up in Lafayette LA in 1983. Since then the media has slowly but surely shaken its deference to the institutional Church and has reported cases with increasing detail and with editorial support of the victims.
 
Once it became clear to the hierarchy in the U.S. that they could no longer avoid publicity and control the victims, the relationship with victims and their supporters became adversarial. In the early years of this era if the victims acquiesced to the bishops and remained silent and graciously accepted whatever small monetary settlements were offered as well as the assurances that “father will be taken care of” the relationship remained uneven with the victims clearly in a subordinate and controlled position.
That quickly changed when victims realized, after presuming complete sincerity, that they were being lied to by the very men they were taught to believe would be the source of help. Once the victims challenged the bishops and religious superiors both in private and openly, things began to change. When the victims approached the civil legal system in rapidly increasing numbers, the sides were hardened.
 
From the late eighties to the present the relationship in general between victims and the institutional Church has been highly adversarial. Part of this is due to the understandable negative reaction of victims and survivors to the institutional Church and to all of its symbolism and control. Most of this is due to lived experience. They have learned that as long as they play by the bishops’ rules without question of confrontation, the illusion of pastoral caring will remain.
Over the decades popes and bishops have made countless public expressions of regret for the abuse issue and have offered apologies to the victims. The apologies generally take the form of “I’m so sorry for the pain you have felt” or something along those lines. While the individual bishops, bishops’ conferences and the popes are expressing their regret and their commitment to helping victims, they are at the same time viciously attacking them in the civil courts, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to defend themselves and to destroy victims’ credibility. They profess they have committed themselves to making the Church safe for all children and vulnerable adults but only on their terms. All changes made by Church institutions such as background checks, training, review boards and victims’ assistance coordinators have been forced on the bishops. The attempts to change civil laws to make them more favorable to victims have been vigorously opposed, generally by one group only, the Roman Catholic Church.
 
Their lack of credibility is hardened when some bishops, in spite of their zero tolerance policy, continue to put credibly accused clergy in ministry or cover for suspected clergy doing all they can to thwart any type of effective investigation.
Pope John Paul II ignored victims and openly sympathized with bishops and priests. In the years that intervened between his first known direct awareness of the serious nature of the problem in 1984 and his death in 2005, he never acknowledged much less responded to even one of the thousands of letters and pleas made by victims of sexual abuse. Requests for audiences were simply ignored with no response. At the regular world youth gatherings, the pope met with representatives of all manner of youth groups, but never the victims of his own priests.
So, it is not difficult to understand why the lines are hardened and why trust simply does not exist even in minimal form. When the bishops created the National Review Board in 2002 they populated it with what they believed to be “safe” people. The first board had a victim as a member for one term but there have been none since. They also seriously underestimated the integrity of several of the initial members. Since then they guaranteed the NRB’s irrelevance by selecting members who would not rock the boat or venture to far into the minefield in search of truth. They sponsored the John Jay College’s second study, Causes and Context, but by controlling the focus of the study and the areas of research they made sure it would contribute nothing to the search for the real reasons why this epidemic has flourished.
 
In the first years after the Boston revelations in 2002, when the landscape dramatically shifted, I made several attempts to engage two bishops who were members of their sexual abuse committee. I wanted to open up lines of real communication and pave the way so that bishops could begin to know victims and thereby gain a true understanding of just how horrific a problem lay before them. I had several polite conversations but every planned meeting was cancelled due to “unforeseen circumstances”. I knew of course that bishops are very busy men and I should have known that understanding sex abuse victims was not part of their agenda.
 
As the lawsuits continued to expose the systemic nature of the cover-up and deception, and as they prompted more and more victims to come forward, it became obvious that the bishops’ overall strategy had nothing to do with pastoral care or getting to the systemic reasons for the abuse epidemic. Rather, their focus was defeating the victims in court and defeating any attempts at legislative change that would mean more to accountability. The rank hypocrisy was too obvious to miss.
There is no reason to think the landscape will change in the near future. There are stories of bishops who have shown compassion for victims but these are exceptions and certainly not the norm. On the other hand the only bishop in the United States, Tom Gumbleton of Detroit, to stand publicly with the victims was removed from his post by the Vatican only weeks after his first public witness. The excuse given in the letter from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Bishops said that he had “broken communio with his brother bishops.” That short phrase explains the strategy of the institutional Church. Protect the bishops at all cost even at the expense of the innocent boys and girls whose souls were demolished by the clergy.
Tom Gumbleton’s alignment with the victims was remarkable in that he was and remains the only bishop in the United States to publicly choose victims over the protection of the governing structure. His witness is both profoundly important because of what it symbolizes, and at the same time powerfully disappointing because he was not publicly supported by or joined by even one of the other 450 bishops in the United States.
 
The real beginning of what hopefully will be an epic shift came in 2003 when Bishop Geoff Robinson (Sydney, Australia) publicly criticized Pope John Paul II’s lack of leadership in the abuse crisis. In 2004 he retired from his position as auxiliary bishop of Sydney “for reasons of health,” an obvious euphemism. Like Tom Gumbleton, he was fired because he “broke communion” with the bishops but he, like Tom, did something that was far more important and far more in keeping with the mandate given them by Christ: he joined “in communio” with the men and women whom the Church’s priests and bishops had violated and whose trust they had mocked and betrayed.
 
Geoff published a remarkable book in 2007. Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church (Garrett, 2007) looked deeply into the two key areas that have driven the sex abuse phenomenon from being an isolated crisis to a part of a toxic culture. His witness is remarkable because he publicly challenged the two main supports for the toxic clerical culture. He has continued his public witness through speaking tours, especially here in the U.S. In coming here he refused to be intimidated by the Vatican or by the bishops of every diocese where he spoke, all of whom told him to abandon the tour and prevented him from speaking in any Catholic venue.
Most recently he has been joined by two other bishops, Pat Power, auxiliary bishop of Canberra and William Morris who was removed as bishop of Toowoomba for suggesting the Church think about ordaining women. Together they have circulated a petition worldwide asking for a new general council to try and bring about the deep structural and ideological changes needs to truly confront the evil of sexual abuse. In conjunction with the petition, Geoff has published another incredible book, For Christ’s Sake: End Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church for Good (Garrett, 2013).
Catholics have asked why the priests have not spoken up. The common answer is fear. But that fear has been broken by the creation of a “Whistleblowers Forum” of priests and religious women, active and retired, who have banded together to speak out, support one another and openly challenge the ecclesiastical system.
 
What I believe is a unique and revolutionary step has been the decision by the Capuchin Franciscan Friars of the St. Joseph Province (Detroit) to conduct a complete audit of their files and a review of the way their province has responded to reports of sexual abuse by its members. The bishops have patted themselves on the back for their annual “Audits” every year but these are no more than self-evaluations with the same degree of integrity and credibility one would find in the Wall street financial institutions if they conducted their own in-house financial audits and volunteered to the IRS how much they thought they should pay in taxes.
The provincial, Fr. John Celichowski, took a major risk in starting the process because he knew it would open the province to complete exposure. He took another major risk…when he asked me to be part of the audit-review team.
 
We worked together for over a year and produced the most complete report of its kind anywhere. Furthermore this was the only ecclesiastical entity, diocese or religious order, in the world to open itself up to an outside study of how each and every report of sexual abuse had been handled and then to make results available to the public.
 
The Capuchin venture is historic and a fundamental move in a positive direction because it is not the enterprise of an individual standing independent of the ecclesiastical world, outside the gates of the monarchy, but that of an official body that is an integral part of the institutional Church. Where will this epic shift lead? We hope it will prompt other religious communities to give serious consideration to opening themselves to a similar, completely independent review. My personal hope is that this momentous move may somehow prompt bishops to begin to see that there is only one truly authentic Christian response for the institutional Church and that is to honestly acknowledge the unchristian way victims have been treated and to reach out to those who have been harmed and offer honest compassion. Nothing short of this will help the institutional Church find its way back to the community of Christ, the People of God.
July 27, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mobilizing Faith for Women

Here is the link from the Carter Center for a great Webcast seminar.....
Mobilizing Faith for Women: Engaging the Power of Religion and Belief

Jimmy Carter Says Catholic church should ordain women

http://www.inquisitr.com/812592/jimmy-carter-catholic-church-should-ordain-women-priests/
Jimmy Carter says the Catholic Church should ordain women priests.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, lately American politicians apparently feel they can tell the Catholic church how they should function.
President Obama made some upset with his comments on Catholic schools. In response, President Obama was called a “war criminal.”
Now Jimmy Carter’s Catholic church comments over the weekend are being bandied about. Jimmy Carter was asked by Time whether ”religion can be a force for women’s rights instead of a source of women’s oppression.” Jimmy Carter’s response:
“I think there’s a slow, very slow, move around the world to give women equal rights in the eyes of God. … And I think the great religions have set the example for that, by ordaining, in effect, that women are not equal to men in the eyes of God. This has been done and still is done by the Catholic Church ever since the third century, when the Catholic Church ordained that a woman cannot be a priest for instance but a man can. A woman can be a nurse or a teacher but she can’t be a priest. This is wrong, I think…”
Jimmy Carter goes on to equate the Catholic Church’s all-male priesthood to a “human rights abuse.” It’s estimated there approximately 600 million Catholic women in the world, but none may apply for the priesthood. In 2008, the Vatican formally declared its policy of excommunication of women priests who completed ordination.
Yet, at the same time, many liturgical type churches, including the Church of England, have begun ordaining women priests. While some churches, like the Catholic Church, try to make a distinction between the clergy and laity, others say that the New Testament calls Jesus Himself the High Priest and that all are equal ministers underneath Jesus.
Do you agree with Jimmy Carter that the Catholic Church should ordain women priests?

Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/812592/jimmy-carter-catholic-church-should-ordain-women-priests/#1hXGLBwUKtQhx58K.99

Friday, June 14, 2013

Five Catholic Women will be ordained in Virginia

Five Roman Catholic Women to Be Ordained in Falls Church, Virginia on June 22, 2013: Women Priests Invite Pope Francis to Model Gospel Partnership Like Clare and Francis

Release date: May 30, 2013, Feast Day of St. Joan of Arc
Contact: Janice Sevre-Duszynska, D.Min, (Media) rhythmsofthedance@gmail.com, 859-684-4247
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, sofiabmm@aol.com, 703-505-0004
See: arcwp.org, bridgetmarys.blogspot.org

Celebration of Priestly Ordination for:
Barbara Anne Duff of Macon, GA, Barbara.Duff@cox.net, 478-718-0613
Joleane Presley of Manassas, VA, joprsly@gmail.com, 410-900-3998

Celebration of Ordination to the Diaconate for:
Mary Collingwood of Cleveland, Ohio, mecreg6@yahoo.com, 216-408-4657
Marianne Smyth of Silver Springs, MD, mtsmyth@comcast.net, 240-444-0781
Mary Theresa Streck of Menands, NY, mtstreck@gmail.com, 518-434-2277
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests calls on Pope Francis to embrace the full equality of women in the church and world. Just as Clare and Francis were partners in living out the Gospel with the poor and marginalized, we pray and invite Pope Francis to do the same with women priests.

Today, women priests continue to follow the tradition of women disciples living and preaching the Gospel taught to them by Jesus. We are leading the Roman Catholic Church into a new era of justice and equality for women.

On Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. Barbara Anne Duff (Macon, GA) and Joleane Presley (Manassas, VA) will be ordained priests in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP). Mary Collingwood (Cleveland, Ohio), Marianne Smyth (Silver Springs, MD) and Mary Theresa Streck (Menands, NY) will be ordained deacons in ARCWP.The presiding bishop will be Bridget Mary Meehan of Falls Church, VA and Sarasota, FL. The ceremony will take place at First Christian Church, 6165 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22044 www.fccfc.org (please consult for directions) All are welcome.
 
Media are invited to interview these women by email or phone.Respectful photo taking/videos during the ceremony is acceptable.

The candidates are theologically prepared and have many years of experience in ministry.

Barbara Anne Duff is a former Maryknoll sister, educator, Air Force Nurse and VA Hospital Nursing Home administrator. “I am fulfilling my original call to minister to those who are on the margins of society. We women priests are working toward a renewed priestly ministry, supporting nonviolence and social justice in our church and in the world.”

Joleane Presley works full time as a Senior Chaplain at a rehabilitation hospital in Maryland. She has her Masters of Divinity degree from Duke University and is trained as a chaplain. “Working with people with disabilities and meeting their spiritual needs has been a dream come true. Being ordained as a woman priest brings all of these dreams full circle. God has called me from age seven to be a priest and serve those who are hurting and ill. I believe that women who are called are making a difference in this hurting world.”

Mary Collingwood, wife, mother, grandmother, educator and outreach minister, has served the church her entire adult life in diocesan offices, on parish staffs and in Catholic schools and as a board member to various non-profit agencies.

Marianne T. Smyth has a Masters Degree in Counseling and four certificates from Global Ministries in Theology and Scripture. A secular Carmelite for seven years, Marianne was a caretaker for her elderly mother and worked with students with learning disabilities and who were drug/alcohol dependent. She now ministers to those facing sickness, dying and death.

A former Sister of St. Joseph, Mary Theresa Streck earned an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. She is an artist and peace activist who is co-founder and director of the Ark Community Charter School in Troy, New York, a school primarily serving low-income families.

Women priests are answering the call and our movement is growing since it began in 2002 with the ordination of seven women on the Danube. There are now 150 women in our Roman Catholic Women Priests’ Movement in the world, including 100 in 30 states in the U.S. living and serving over 60 inclusive Catholic communities and welcoming all to receive the sacraments.

According to a recent CBS Gallup Poll, over 70% of Catholic in the U.S. support women priests. There is no shortage of vocations as women are now saying “Yes” to this call and are being ordained. In 2013, ARCWP will have ordained 13 women priests and deacons. We have more than a dozen candidates who will soon begin preparation for ordination.

Rebel Priests


This article is WELL written and describes the sacrifice women are making to change the church we love from within....Donna Rougeux is a member of our Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and lives in Lexington, KY.

http://t.meredith.ly/YKVoXam


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Batavia Woman Fighting tochange Catholic Church


BATAVIA — A Batavia woman is fighting for change in the Catholic Church by becoming a priest.
Debra Meyers May 25 was the first woman in Cincinnati to be ordained as a priest in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. Bridget Mary Meehan of Falls Church, Virginia, and Sarasota, Florida, was the presiding bishop.
Despite the ordination, which took place at St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church, 320 Resor Ave., in Cincinnati, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati does not recognize Meyers as a priest.
“From our point of view as Roman Catholics, it (ordination) didn’t really take place,” said Dan Andriacco, communications director for the archdiocese.
Ordination can only be conferred by the proper authority, he said. The proper authority in this case would be a bishop.
Because the archdiocese does not recognize women as bishops, Meyers’ ordination is illegal and invalid, Andriacco said.
“The clear and consistent teaching of the Catholic Church is that the Catholic Church cannot ordain a woman as a priest,” he said.
Meyers said she does not care “one way or another about what other people think.”
Every individual baptized Roman Catholic is called on by the Vatican II documents to be a prophet, priest and shepherd, she said.
“That’s the new covenant,” she said.
Meyers, who is a professor at Northern Kentucky University, holds a master’s degree in religious studies and a Ph.D in history and women’s studies.
She knew when she was a small child that she wanted to be a priest, she said. While many people told her she could not be, she found their words to be disturbing, not discouraging.
“I have always been a minister,” she said.
Before her ordination, Meyers provided pastoral care as a mother, a volunteer at St. Vincent de Paul, pregnancy crisis centers and a professor, she said.
While she knows many women who sought other religious affiliations to be ordained, Meyers said she feels a duty to fulfill her role as a Roman Catholic.
“I feel called to help the church move forward into the 21st century with an inclusive society,” she said.
She wants to help marginalized followers inside and outside the church, including women, gays, lesbians and individuals who are divorced and wish to remarry.
“It’s hard to believe in the New Testament and see how many people are excluded in the church today,” Meyers said.
As a priest, she hopes to perform weddings and serve Mass for alienated Catholics and may offer pastoral care through in-house churches, she said. She also plans to continue teaching at NKU.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rev. Debra Meyers, Breaking the Holy Ceiling

http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/article-27770-breaking_the_holy_ce.html

Breaking the Holy Ceiling

Group to ordain the first female Catholic priest in Cincinnati

By German Lopez · May 22nd, 2013 · News
debra meyersDebra Meyers - Photo: Jesse Fox
Despite strong Vatican opposition, one group is preparing to ordain Cincinnati’s first Roman Catholic woman priest on May 25.
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) already ordained a woman priest in Louisville, Ky., and it’s hoping to carry the movement around the country, including Cincinnati.
The Vatican and local Catholic leaders oppose the movement, and the ordination isn’t technically legal under the Catholic Church’s rules. But ARCWP says its ordinations put pressure on the Vatican to pull back rules that are keeping it in the past.
Locally, Debra Meyers will be ordained as the first Catholic woman priest. Meyers holds a Ph.D. in history and women’s studies and a master’s in religious studies. She is currently a professor of history and women’s studies at Northern Kentucky University, and she also serves the Resurrection Community in Cincinnati where she promotes equality and social justice. For Meyers, this is a chance to break the glass ceiling and prove women can take up the highest roles in Catholic organizations, which she says is a necessary next step for the Church to keep up with the times.
CityBeat interviewed Meyers about her ordination. The full interview, edited here for clarity and brevity, is available below.
CityBeat: What led to this ordination?
Debra Meyers: I have been a minister for a very long time. My primary focus is single moms with children. One of the reasons is that single mothers and their children make up a vast majority of the impoverished people in the United States today. Without an education — an associate or bachelor’s degree at the very minimum — a woman can’t find a job for a living wage, as opposed to some men who take jobs in construction that don’t require as much of an education.
One of my jobs as an adviser was to make sure that single moms have an opportunity to get an education and break out of this cycle of poverty. My dedication to this particular group has extended to my many volunteer activities. So I’ve been a minister for a long time, and ARCWP offers me an opportunity to solidify what I’m doing.
CB: What is ARCWP’s main goal?
DM: I think that ARCWP is really interested in fulfilling what Jesus Christ promised us, what Paul and the New Testament promised us and certainly what the Vatican II promised us, which is that we were all made in the likes of God and we are all qualified to be prophets, priests and shepherds in this world.
In that view, women are created with equal ability and should be allowed to answer God’s call with equal relevance as men do.
That’s really what we’re all about: We’re just looking for equality for women so that they’re not just second-class citizens that are just washing dishes. We are in fact called by God to do some of the things men are doing. We have the right to fulfill that calling.
CB: Why do you think Vatican officials have been resistant to this movement?
DM: Certainly, the Vatican as an entity has a lot to preserve. It’s been a male-dominated organization from the start. By allowing women in with equal footing, that really disrupts a lot of the male domination that’s been going on.
It also would really press the Vatican to fulfill the promise of Vatican II. That is to be inclusive and welcoming of everyone, which the Church hasn’t done a very good job of in the past 60 years.
CB: Of what other groups do you think the Vatican could be more inclusive, besides women?
DM: The Church should take the message forward — that Jesus didn’t exclude anyone. He welcomed everyone to the table. He welcomed everyone to be part of the faithful group. He welcomed everyone into the New Covenant.
What was promised by God, and all He was asking from all of us, was to love one another. That means everyone, whether you’re gay, lesbian, white or black. It’s an inclusive idea that welcomes every single person that wants to partake.
That’s really another thing that ARCWP is very interested in: helping the Church [understand] that it’s heading down the wrong path by excluding people.
CB: So this group could help cover more than women, and it could help other groups that feel left out, such as LGBT individuals?
DM: Absolutely. For the most part, there’s been a real feeling of alienation for a lot of Roman Catholics because most of us have gay relatives, gay friends and women who have been called by God and been excluded from ordination. We all know people like that. We know nuns that are doing fabulous work, and they’re being pressured to conform to certain things from the Vatican as well.
We’re all beginning to question the exclusiveness of the traditional Roman Catholic Church. All we’re saying is we’re Catholic, we want the Church to really embrace the idea that the congregants are the Church and we really believe in Jesus’ message of the inclusion of everyone.
CB: Recently, a Catholic school teacher was fired for getting pregnant out of wedlock. How do you feel about that kind of situation?
DM: We ought not to be judgmental. There needs to be room for healing above all else. When people are in an environment where they find themselves in difficult positions, they need help; they don’t need judgment.
CB: What do you feel personally qualifies you for this ordination and movement?
DM: As I mentioned before, I’ve been ministering to a variety of people for a very long time as a professor, adviser and social worker at volunteer organizations. But I’ve also had, in addition to my other degrees, a religious studies degree with an emphasis in pastoral care. That certainly qualifies me for this position.
But I got all this experience prior to even knowing about ARCWP. I got it on my own because it was the right thing to do. I was called by God to work for God’s people.
CB: What will your ordination change about your personal position?
DM: I don’t think it’s going to change me all that much. I think it is good for me to be a visual example particularly for women about the promise of a more inclusive Church. It helps women know that they really do have the quality, and they don’t have to suppress it. When they’re called by God, here are examples of how they can fulfill God’s love.
It may open up new doors and possibilities to reach people, and that’s my real hope. This isn’t some kind of stunt or anything. I really do believe in this.
CB: Anything else you’d like to add?
DM: People that are really critical of this movement: I would ask them to really think about how important it is to love our neighbors and love the diversity of our neighbors. Allow people when they are called by God to fulfill that calling. They’re being called to fulfill the greater good, not themselves. For people try to quash that progressive movement forward is really shameful. ©