Thursday, April 28, 2011

Is this an example of hierarchical bullying?,0,6343086.story

'Family' of St. Sabina march at cardinal's home to protest Pfleger's removal

By Ryan Haggerty, Dahleen Glanton, Dawn Rhodes and Liam Ford
Tribune reporters
3:20 PM CDT, April 28, 2011

About 100 parishioners of St. Sabina marched in front of Cardinal Francis George's red brick mansion today to protest the removal of their pastor, the Rev. Michael Pfleger.

The parishioners and residents of the Auburn Gresham neighborhood gathered at St. Sabina this morning before boarding two school buses that took them to the cardinal's Gold Coast mansion, where they marched and demanded that Pfleger's suspension be lifted.

Neighborhood resident April Lawson said she's concerned about whether St. Sabina could continue to play such a crucial role in its community if Pfleger is forced to leave.

"He's the fabric of the neighborhood," said Lawson, 43, who doesn't belong to the parish but gathered with parishioners outside the church this morning. "If he's not in my neighborhood, there's going to be something missing, something different about it."

The parish leadership issued a statement questioning several points in the letter from the cardinal that was given to Pfleger on Wednesday, including the cardinal's statement that Pfleger had said in a recent radio interview that he would leave the Catholic Church if he were removed from St. Sabina.

Parish leaders said the cardinal had taken Pfleger's comments out of context, but a transcript of the radio interview provided by the parish quoted Pfleger as saying: "I want to try to stay in the Catholic Church. If they say you either take this principalship of a high school or a pastorship there or leave, then I have to look outside the church."

Parish leaders also accused the archdiocese of undermining a succession plan they claimed was put in place when St. Sabina's associate pastor, the Rev. Thulani Magwaza, came to the church from South Africa in 2009.

Magwaza arrived with the understanding that he would succeed Pfleger as pastor in three to four years, a plan that the parish leaders said was suggested by Pfleger and arranged by George.

"This is totally a shock to the faith community of St. Sabina," parish council chairman Isadore Glover Jr. said during the protest in front of the cardinal's mansion. "We feel really disrespected because there have been some things stated that are really not true."

After the protest, Glover said he would likely remain in the parish even if Pfleger leaves, as long as Pfleger is treated with respect and Magwaza is allowed to take over, but he said he would probably leave the parish and perhaps the church if Pfleger left and Magwaza was not allowed to become pastor.

"That's a whole different ballgame," Glover said of the possibility of someone other than Magwaza succeeding Pfleger. If that occurs, "I would definitely follow Father Mike wherever he went, let's put it that way."

Patricia Johnson, a parishioner for 15 years, also said her decision on whether to stay in the parish depends largely on how she feels Pfleger is treated by the archdiocese.

She said most parishioners have always assumed that Pfleger would eventually leave the parish, likely through retirement, but not against his will.

"To abruptly suspend Father Pfleger, none of us agree with that," Johnson, 69, said after the protest. "That's the No. 1 thing, to treat Father Pfleger with respect, because he is definitely respected in the community. You cannot just throw him to the side, because we care about him."

Johnson said she's not sure what she would do if Pfleger left the Church, saying she is focusing for now on trying to keep him at St. Sabina.

"We're sticking with Father Pfleger and we're sticking with St. Sabina, because we are a family," she said.

Glover said the parish's leaders have requested a meeting with the cardinal.

Vince A. Clark, an assistant to Pfleger, said the cardinal's decision to suspend the priest has left his parishioners "shocked, devastated, hurt (and) angry."

"We were totally blindsided by that," Clark said, standing in front of the cardinal's home on the Near North Side. "We did not see that decision coming."

The parishioners left after about an hour.

On Wednesday, the tension that has simmered for decades between Pfleger and the Archdiocese of Chicago came to a head when George suspended the outspoken priest from St. Sabina, the South Side parish he has led for nearly 30 years.

In a sternly written letter to Pfleger, the cardinal said the priest's public remarks that he would leave the Catholic Church if he were removed from St. Sabina had "short-circuited" efforts that have been under way for weeks to reach an agreement on his possible move to Leo Catholic High School.

"If that is your attitude, you have already left the Catholic Church and are therefore not able to pastor a Catholic parish," the cardinal wrote.

The cardinal named the Rev. Thulani Magwaza, the associate pastor at St. Sabina, as administrator during the suspension, and the Rev. Andrew Smith, a priest at St. Ailbe Parish, as his assistant.

Throughout his tenure, Pfleger's political activism and outspokenness have often placed him at odds with cardinals, even before George. But the cardinal's suggestion in March to name Pfleger president of Leo quickly escalated into a standoff that pitted his African-American congregation and other South Side supporters against the archdiocese.

Pfleger chose not to speak about the suspension publicly Wednesday but directed a staff member to address the media.

Associate minister Kimberly Lymore said Pfleger had been called to a 4:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday with the cardinal at the archdiocese's pastoral center. When he arrived, she said, Pfleger was given a letter stating that he was suspended and was told the cardinal would not discuss it further.

"That's a lack of respect," Lymore said. "He was ambushed. He's spent the last (three decades) in this archdiocese, given his life to this community, to the church. To be treated like this is unfair."

As the news spread, some parishioners were furious at the cardinal's decision.

Wendy Wade, who said she has been at the church for almost 20 years, was in tears as she discussed the possibility of Pfleger leaving.

"He has done too much for this neighborhood. Please, Cardinal George, don't do this to him!" she said. "What has he done wrong but enhance the neighborhood, enhance the community to help people?"

Parishioner Seannie Woodson said that replacing Pfleger simply wasn't possible.

"It took that man too long to get this area to trust him. How can you bring somebody else and think that they can take his place?"

Smith, an African-American priest who was ordained in 2009, said he had "mixed emotions" about going to St. Sabina under such "awkward" circumstances. He said he learned of the assignment Wednesday when he received a brief phone call from the cardinal.

He said the cardinal provided no details, including how long he would be at St. Sabina.

"It's very complicated. The situation with Father Pfleger has been brewing a long time, and I don't really know what is going on between them," Smith said in a telephone interview. "But when the cardinal tells me to go, I go.  It's part of my vow."

Priests generally remain at a parish for 12 years, but occasional exceptions are made in African-American parishes, where some parents went to the church because their children went to the parochial schools.

Smith said it is unfortunate that the African-American community views Pfleger's reassignment in a negative way. He said he is hopeful that the parish will eventually be receptive to hearing the gospel from someone else.

"I would say he's been there too long and that's why there's this situation of bickering and misunderstanding. That's why rules are in place to prevent things like that from happening," Smith said.

He tried to call Pfleger on Wednesday evening but was unable to reach him, Smith said.

"Father Pfleger has done a lot of good things, but there is a certain level of obedience that we all adhere to," Smith said.

In the letter, George said he had offered Pfleger the position at Leo, a parochial school near St. Sabina, because the archdiocese needed him there. He said it also would allow Pfleger to continue his advocacy work for gun control, education and service to the poor. The cardinal said it was not a demand, but a proposal, which he urged Pfleger to accept.

But according to Lymore, a week after that meeting, Pfleger sent a letter to the cardinal saying he was neither qualified nor experienced to be president of a high school, but that he was willing to help the school in any way he could. She said the cardinal did not respond.

This month, Pfleger appeared on a nationally broadcast radio show hosted by Tavis Smiley and scholar Cornel West and said he would look outside the Catholic Church if they offered no alternative to going to Leo. He also blamed his recent clash with the cardinal on pressure from conservative Catholics and the National Rifle Association. The archdiocese denied any outside pressure in its decision.

Robert McClory, an emeritus professor at Northwestern's Medill School who has written a biography of Pfleger, said Pfleger's recent statements about not remaining in the church if he is reassigned from St. Sabina are nothing new. McClory pointed to similar statements Pfleger made in 2002, when he and George previously came into conflict regarding his appointment at the parish.

But the issue of obedience has been at the center of the conflict between Pfleger and the church, said Dwight Hopkins, a professor of theology at the University of Chicago. At the core, he said, is the Roman Catholic belief that there is a link between the pope and Jesus Christ.

"If a priest disobeys the cardinal, the highest representative up to the pope, they disobey a direct line back to Jesus Christ," Hopkins said. "The cardinal is saying that Father Pfleger has removed himself from the Catholic Church because he refuses to obey."

The result, Hopkins said, is a showdown between the archdiocese and Pfleger, the congregation and the larger South Side community.

"The people at St. Sabina love him and there are people on the South Side of Chicago who love him as well, both church and non-church people," Hopkins said. "In the end, it's these people who will suffer most."¿

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Time for women deacons

Your Holiness, it is time for women deacons

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
00120 Vatican City State, Europe
Your Holiness:
Forgive my presumption in addressing you directly, but the matter I bring is both urgent and pressing. Women are no longer walking away from the church. They are running away. They are running toward churches that make it clear women are made in the image and likeness of God.
I am not writing to argue for woman priests. But you told me many years ago in New York women deacons were “under study.” From 1992-2002, the International Theological Commission worked on that question, producing a report essentially repeating what you said: the Magisterium must decide.
When you met with the priests of Rome in 2006, you wondered aloud: could the church open more positions of responsibility to women? Were you then signaling the recovery of the tradition of women deacons?
In 2009, you changed Canon Law to echo the Catechism. Priests are ordained to act in the person of Christ, the head of the church; deacons are ordained to serve the people of God in and through the Word, the liturgy and charity. Since doctrinal statements only forbid women priests, and deacons are not priests, it seems you removed another hurdle.
You know it is not just me asking. Thousands of people sent Cardinal William Levada, your successor at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, e-mails and postcards about women deacons in a campaign organized by the US-based group FutureChurch. Several other organizations including the Canada-based Femmes et Ministères have claimed April 29, the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, as an international day of prayer for women deacons.
It is a new-old question. The only person in scripture with the formal job title “deacon” is Phoebe, deacon of the church at Cenchrae (Acts 16:1). Some see the start of the diaconate in Jesus’ washing the apostles’ feet at the Last Supper, but most see it really beginning with the apostles calling the seven to a more formal ministry (Acts 6: 1-6). There were many women deacons in the early church.
The bishops of the world were talking about women deacons at the Second Vatican Council. They are still at it. Most recently, the Swiss Bishop of St. Gall, Markus Bűchel, said women deacons were a good idea. Others before him -- even Cardinal Carlo Martini when he was archbishop of Milan -- wanted to restore women to the diaconate. Bishops from Australia to Ireland say more women in power would have stemmed the priest sex mess. I think they are correct.
I am told your curia knows women can be ordained as deacons, but does not want women in the clerical structure of the church. That cuts both ways, Holy Father. A lot of women do not want anything to do with clericalism. Some want the whole system to collapse. More say it has collapsed already.
Where is the church without women? I know you are concerned about the fading influence of Christianity in Europe. I write from the United States. Things are pretty bad over here, too. The country is over three-quarters Christian (with 68 million Catholics) but newspapers like The New York Times had no front page Easter story this year. Their ink is used on scandal.
The Christian message is lost in the daily drama of the sex abuse crisis. I fear, Most Holy Father, that bad priests and worse bishops will be your legacy. You will be remembered as the pope who belatedly started a laboring sludge pump to clear the swamp.
I know you love what God loves and hate what God hates, but I also know how bureaucracy can stymie even (maybe especially) the most brilliant person. Is the bureaucracy keeping you from doing the right thing? That goes for the crisis as well as women deacons.
Let me come to the point. The Catholic Church in developed nations is dying out. I am convinced it is dying because of the way it relates to women. Surely you see the numbers -- declining membership and eroding donations -- but do you have any idea how angry women are? And every woman you alienate extends her influence to several others -- to her husband, her children, her friends, her neighbors -- until the last person out the parish door closes the lights.
If I may, I think it is time for you to make a decision about women deacons.
It is an opportunity for you to state the Christian message in a way that can be heard. Yes, God is love and all persons are made in the image and likeness of God. But the world will not and cannot hear that until you have a woman deacon standing beside you and proclaiming the Gospel in St. Peter’s.
Again, pardon my presumption, but perhaps no one else will tell you.
[Phyllis Zagano is senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University and author of several books in Catholic Studies. Her book Women & Catholicism will be published by Palgrave-Macmillan in 2011.]

Hold the Halo

Hold the Halo

You could fall in love with Pope John Paul II at the drop of a miter.
In 1978, when 58-year-old Karol Wojtyla slalomed onto the world stage as the first non-Italian pope since the Renaissance, everything about him captivated Catholics who felt adrift and conflicted.
The merry eyes. The sunny wit. The moral toughness honed during battles against Nazis and Communists. The former actor and factory worker was a skiing cardinal, a mountain-climbing poet, a kayaking philosopher, a singing author.
Twenty-six years later, the crowds at his funeral yelled “Santo subito!” Sainthood now!
Next Sunday, two days after the Kate and William show, another European spectacle will unfold: Pope Benedict XVI will preside over the beatification for the man he revered, the first time in a millennium that a pope has elevated his immediate predecessor and the swiftest ascension toward sainthood on record.
Hoping to get a P.R. boost by resurrecting John Paul’s magic, Benedict fast-tracked the process, waiving the usual five-year wait before starting.
But it won’t take away the indelible stain left by a global sex scandal that continues to sulfurously bubble as we celebrate Easter. The latest grotesquerie, amid a cascade of victims coming forward in Belgium, was a TV interview with the former bishop of Bruges, who serenely admitted abusing two nephews.
Sex with the first nephew, he said, started as “a game” when the boy was 5 and lasted 13 years. “I had the strong impression that my nephew didn’t mind at all,” 74-year-old Roger Vangheluwe said, smiling. “On the contrary. It was not brutal sex. I never used bodily, physical violence.” He said he abused the second boy for “merely over a year.” He did not think any of this made him a pedophile.
Certainly, John Paul was admirable in many ways. After he became pope, he was a moral force in the fight against totalitarianism, touring his homeland and giving Poles the courage to resist the Soviet Union. When Lech Walesa signed an agreement with the Communists recognizing Solidarity, he used a pen etched with the face of John Paul.
After Communism collapsed, John Paul offered a stinging critique of capitalism, presciently warning big business to stop pursuing profits “at any price.”
“The excessive hoarding of riches by some denies them to the majority,” he said, “and thus the very wealth that is accumulated generates poverty.”
As progressive as he was on those issues, he was disturbingly regressive on social issues — contraception, women’s ordination, priests’ celibacy, divorce and remarriage. And certainly, John Paul forfeited his right to beatification when he failed to establish a legal standard to remove pedophiles from the priesthood, and simply turned away for many years.
Santo non subito! How can you be a saint if you fail to protect innocent children?
For years after the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legion of Christ, was formally accused of pedophilia in a Vatican proceeding, he remained John Paul’s pet. The ultra-orthodox Legion of Christ and Opus Dei were the shock troops in John Paul’s war on Jesuits and other progressive theologians.
There was another reason, according to Jason Berry, who has written two books on the abuse crisis and is the author of the forthcoming “Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church.”
“For John Paul,” Berry told me just after returning from Good Friday services, “the priesthood had a romantic, chivalrous cast, and he could not bring himself to do a fearless investigation of the clerical culture itself.
“He was duped by Maciel, but he let himself be duped. When nine people accuse the guy of abusing them as kids, the least you can do is investigate.
“Cardinals and bishops had told him about the larger abuse crisis for years. And he was passive to an absolute fault. He failed in mountainous terms.”
Now the Vatican is like Wall Street, where companies give their most disgraced C.E.O.’s golden parachutes to make up for the stress of outside attack. Except the Vatican gives golden halos.
We are known by our heroes and those we choose to admire.
Pope Benedict has wanted to beatify John Paul, who shielded pedophiles, and Pope Pius XII, who remained silent about the Holocaust as it happened. Meanwhile, Dorothy Day hasn’t been beatified.
Not beatifying or canonizing John Paul would be hugely symbolic, a message far more powerful than the ad hoc apologies and payoffs to victims.
This pope has been better than the last on abuse, Berry said, but “he’s still surrounded by all these cardinals whose hands are dirty in this thing. There are still 16 bishops that were credibly accused who stepped down from public positions but still maintain their titles.

A long time ago, I realized I had NO affinity for celebrity.  Walking with people and trying to give them hope in the midst of their difficulties, I never looked to a "head" to solve them. I encouraged them to look toward the change they could find in themselves!  Perhaps as a woman,this is an example of enculturalization- to look forward, not upward.  Today, I realize why I never looked up...the power of headship kept me/us looking down....."contraception, women’s ordination, priests’ celibacy, divorce and remarriage" powerful we looked away from the ill deeds of the hierarch's.

Canonization for me presents this issue:  basically we are good mixed with bad, but can our ill deeds be minimized as the goodness of our lives rises.  When I see Pope John Paul's "goodness" and balance it out with the facts rising that bare witness that he had the power to prevent hundred's of thousands of children from experiencing childhood genocide as early as 1985 and chose not to.....when I read the world is slowly recognizing this choice as a Crime Against Humanity and hierarch's are being prosecuted as such...... I ask myself why the Catholic cult of personality is in such a hurry to go along with hierarch's efforts to honor him....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Speaking Out in Favor of Lydia’s Gathering

Speaking Out in Favor of Lydia’s Gathering

Bishop Patricia Fresen

Bishop Patricia Fresen
Bishop Patricia Fresen - Doctorate in Theology (D.Th) in May 1996 through the University of South Africa. Co-ordinator of the Training Program in Preparation for Priesthood for R.C. Womenpriests
“One of the greatest challenges among Catholic women who have the courage to pursue their call to priesthood is often sheer survival. Many ordained women suffer major changes in their lives such as job loss and excommunication. [And some, several excommunications] Some cannot afford the required theological education or they struggle to support themselves after ordination.
That is why I am so grateful to all those creating the ‘Lydia’s Gathering’ Project, which aims at providing sustainability for women’s ordinations and priesthood. Until the Catholic Church introduces gender justice into its structures, we need to support Catholic women called to priesthood. Women’s ordination to the priesthood remains one of the great needs in our church. I heartily endorse this generous and most necessary initiative.” -Bishop Patricia Fresen (June, 2009)

A worthy charity.....and informative website

Thursday, April 21, 2011

At Easter, Church Expels Women's Advocate, Keeps Pedophiles in the Fold

Comment: Again the article brings to light an agenda that is totally misguided. I continue to ask the question:  Why does this teaching get to be "Catholic"? 

Diane Dougherty


At Easter, Church Expels Women's Advocate, Keeps Pedophiles in the Fold

Angela Bonavoglia

Angela Bonavoglia

Posted: 04/21/11 10:27 AM ET

Joining the women who have stepped forward to be ordained as Roman Catholic Women Priests and been summarily castigated and excommunicated, the latest victim of the Church's strong-armed resistance to any effort toward women's equality in the Church is internationally beloved and regarded Father Roy Bourgeois. And while it might have looked like last year's new canonical guidelines declaring that a priest's "attempted sacred ordination of a woman" was as grave a "crime" as a priest's sexual molestation of a child, the Church hierarchy's treatment of Bourgeois shows that it considers advocacy of women's ordination to be much, much worse.
Father Roy is a Purple Heart recipient. In the 1970s, he worked with the poor in Bolivia and was arrested and forced to leave the country for speaking out against injustice. In the 1980s, he got involved in issues surrounding U.S. policy in El Salvador, this after four churchwoman -- two his dear friends -- were raped and killed by Salvadoran soldiers. He became an outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, establishing the School of the Americas Watch, which advocates for the closing the U.S. School of the Americas (aka School of Assassins). Bourgeois spent five years in U.S. federal prison for nonviolent protest, and he is a former Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
Father Roy is an extremely powerful force in the world, which meant that his unequivocal public support for women's ordination, and his participation in the ordination of his friend Janice Sevre-Duszynska, greatly disturbed the hierarchy. The Vatican promptly excommunicated him, but as recently as February, as I reported in The Huffington Post, his order of 44 years, the Maryknolls, had not banished him from their ranks. "He has been excommunicated by Rome," spokesperson Mike Virgintino told me, "but he remains part of the Maryknoll Society," specifically, the Maryknoll Priests and Brothers.
What finally put the Maryknolls over the edge? Bourgeois' speaking at a public panel at the Barnard College Athena Film Festival on Women's Leadership on Feb. 12. The panel, which I led, followed the screening of Pink Smoke Over the Vatican. I think that Jules Hart's documentary (which, as the author of Good Catholic Girls, I am in) captures in vivid detail the Roman Catholic Women Priests' movement and the increasingly hysterical response of the all-male, theoretically celibate hierarchy as it tries to discredit and defeat it.

In his letter of March 18 to Bourgeois, Maryknoll Superior General Rev. Edward Dougherty, referring to the panel and the film, committed to expelling Bourgeois from the Maryknolls if he failed to recant within 15 days and did not respond to a subsequent second warning. Dougherty also promised to submit to the Vatican a request for Bourgeois' laicization, which would thereby end his Roman Catholic priesthood forever.
This swift and unequivocal action has never been the response of these same church leaders to the rape, sodomizing, sexual torture and torment of children -- from infancy through adolescence -- by thousands of male Catholic clergy worldwide.
On April 17, the New York Times reported that Bishop Roger Vangheluwe -- not long ago one of the most powerful bishops in Belgium, until he resigned following admission of sexually molesting a child, his nephew -- admitted in a TV interview that he had also abused another child, another cousin, claiming that they were reciprocal relationships, the kids enjoyed them and he didn't "have the impression" that he himself was "a pedophile."
What has the Church done? Essentially, nothing. The Vatican sent him for "spiritual and psychological treatment." The Times reported that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pope are considering what to do next.
And neither excommuniaton nor laicization has been threatened against any of the scores of Philadelphia priests who Cardinal Justin Rigali, under public pressure, was forced to relieve of duty, following the recent release of a second damning Grand Jury report. Protected for years by the black wall of silence, those priests were kept in active ministry even after the 2002 sex abuse crisis broke in this country and even after the diocesan authorities knew of the horrific allegations against them -- that they had repeatedly raped and sodomized children, turning one child into a sexual slave who they pimped out from priest to priest.
This same Rigali in 2006 castigated Eileen McCafferty DiFranco for daring to be ordained a Roman Catholic priest, accusing her of causing "confusion and discord," charging that if she celebrated a sacrament, she would "further exacerbate the public scandal." This was at the time of the first Grand Jury report, which described one of the most astounding histories of child sex abuse of any diocese in the country. The list of crimes by more than 60 priests included a teenage girl groped by her priest while she lay immobilized in traction and a boy who awoke intoxicated in a priest's bed to find the priest "sucking his penis while three other priests watched and masturbated."
Bourgeois was incredibly engaging and moving on the Barnard panel, as he is in the film -- humble, deeply committed to women's rights in the Church, immovable in his position of support. But what struck me, what touched me most deeply was his concern, his wish and his deep disappointment that his fellow priests have refused to step forward and join him in this fight. They remain silent, despite knowing in their hearts how unjust and discriminatory is the Church's position, which flies in the face of church history, archaeological evidence and even a Pontifical Biblical Commission that found insufficient Scriptural grounds to exclude the possibility of women's ordination.
To Bourgeois, this fight, and the resistance to it, is what being a priest is all about. As he told the National Catholic Reporter: "I believe if we really take our faith seriously on these issues of justice and peace, there's going to be consequences ... I'm just seeing now ... that maybe I'm finally becoming a faithful priest. I finally really understand what this man Jesus was talking about when he said it's not going to be easy."
The face of a Church steeped in an unmistakable misogyny will be on view again, on this most sacred of holy days, Easter Sunday. Even as we recall Jesus telling Mary Magdalene, the first witness to his Resurrection, to go and tell his brothers that He is risen, no woman in a Catholic Church will be allowed to preach that Gospel or deliver a homily about it because no woman can be ordained. And all across the globe, in Roman Catholic churches, men alone will consecrate the Eucharist. Men alone will repeat the sacred words: "This is my body. This is my blood."
Yet, that body and blood began in the body and blood of a woman. Mary's gift to the world is brutally dismissed and diminished by a Church that has declared the fight for her voice, her equality and her empowerment to be a most grave crime.
In reality, it is that untenable position, unabashedly and self-servingly defended, that is the real scandal, the real crime.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Protests in Support of Fr. Roy Bourgeois and Women Priests

Monday, April 18, 2011

Local Catholics in Florida Join Protest Vigils Across the Country to Support Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois and Women Priests

On a sunny morning on April 19th, at 10 am, an enthusiastic gathering of Catholics held a Protest Vigil before the Chrism Mass in front of Epiphany Cathedral in Venice Florida in support of a well-known Maryknoll priest, Roy Bourgeois for his support of women women priests in the Catholic Church. This prayerful vigil was scheduled to concide with the Chrism Mass where the male priests gather with the bishop who blesses the oil for use during sacramental celebrations. Michael and Imogene Rigdon from the new chapter of Call to Action Peace River and Ellen McNally from Call to Action Southwest Florida organized the Vigil.Roman Catholic Women Priests, Katy Zatsick and Bridget Mary Meehan dressed in their albs and stoles, joined the assembly waving signs and banners that expressed solidarity with Fr. Roy and women priests. Protest Vigils were scheduled across the U.S. in front of Cathdrals in a dozen dioceses.
Fr. Roy Bourgeois has been threatened with dismissal from the Maryknoll Order. This vigil come in response to news last week that Fr. Roy Bourgeois, a Maryknoll priest and founder of the School of the Americas Watch, refused to recant his views on women’s equality in the church and will be removed from the priesthood.

A recent New York Times poll shows 60% of Catholics in the United States support women's ordination as priests and the Pew Forum in Religion and Public Life shows that 39% of people who leave Catholicism do so over the way the Church treats women.

The Vatican is putting pressure on Maryknoll to laicize Fr. Roy to intimidate other priests ,who support women priests, from going public. At the end of the day, this is all about power and control. And this tactic is backfiring! More and more people are supporting our movement.

Yesterday I received a letter from Kelly, a woman who has ten children. She is leaving the institutional church because of the sexual abuse scandal and the hierarchy's treatment of women. When she heard about women priests, she contacted me and asked if there are any women priests in her area. Fortunately, there is a woman priest community not far away from her.

For Catholics who are heart sick with the institutional Church's treatment of women as second class citizens, women priests offer hope. We share women's experiences and claim women's power as spiritual equals. This is helping to heal centuries of misogny. Women priests are visible reminders that women are equal images of God, and therefore worthy to preside at the altar. This is the Vatican's deepest fear, -women as equal images of God- but with God's grace, our presence in communities of faith are helping to transform our beloved church into a more open, transparent, inclusive, community of Christ's love with us.

Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP

Monday, April 18, 2011

Woman Hopes To Become 1st Female Priest From Georgia

Local Woman Defies Vatican, Becomes Priest

A Roman Catholic would recognize the sights, sounds and actions inside the Sarasota Church of Christ, but the Roman Catholic Church did not approve of what happened on a Saturday afternoon this month.Four women maintain they became deacons and eventually will become priests after a ceremony inside the central Florida church.One of them, Diane Dougherty, is a second-grade teacher from Newnan. The devout Irish Catholic said she first had the calling 44 years ago.

Television Interviews that aired on ABC News  
READ: Statement From Archbishop Wilton Gregory

“I always knew I had a calling and in my time the only way that calling could be expressed was through my sisters,” said Dougherty.Dougherty followed that call for 23 years, then left the sisterhood, but still felt there was something more so she decided to become a priest. “Aren’t you afraid of excommunication?” asked Channel 2 Action News anchor Monica Pearson. “I believe that the law that has kept me and so many wonderful and brilliant women from priesthood is unjust,” responded Dougherty.
The Association of Roman Catholic Womenpriests organized the ordination into the diaconate.Bridget Mary Meehan is a bishop with the group but she doesn’t want to be called bishop. Meehan told Pearson, “We are trying to deconstruct the clerical hierarchal church.”“This is our Church, we belong to it, we are as Catholic as the pope is,” Meehan told Pearson.The issue of women’s ordination has been the subject of fierce debate. The Vatican recently condemned the action as a grave sin, on par with the sexual abuse of children.The Archdiocese of Atlanta declined requests for an interview. Instead, Archbishop Wilton Gregory issued a statement which said in part. “The attempt to ‘ordain’ women by the group titled Roman Catholic Womenpriests brings division and fractures in the church.”Gregory also said, "The Catholic Church has consistently taught that the Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination of women since among His twelve Apostles, Jesus Christ did not include any women..."Dana Greene, a practicing Roman Catholic and dean emerita at Emory University's Oxford College told Pearson, “You’ve got groups within the Catholic Church working on this issue, but it is highly contentious.”“Women can be pastoral administrators in rural areas where there are no priests, women can be chancellors, they can be canon lawyers,” said Greene. “So those of us who are Catholic are balancing obedience and freedom.”Dougherty said she knows her ex-communication is near her feet stand in Roman Catholicism. She said she won’t follow others who left the church and become Episcopal priests."I'm not doing anything wrong, I'm doing everything right," Dougherty said.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

WSBTV Atlanta to publish a two part series on Women's Ordination

As many of you know, on April 2, I was ordained a deacon in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.  Monica Pearson of WSBTV Channel 2 came to the ordination and interviewed Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan and me, and stayed to film the ceremony.  On Monday, April 18th and Tuesday April 19th at about 5:45PM and 6:45PM each day, there will be a two part series on the ordination and the issues surrounding it.  For me, this is astounding and I am both excited and humbled. Both pieces will be airing Monday evening. One at 5:45 and the other at 645". So if you don't catch it Monday-you can catch it on Tuesday....

In contacting the bishop of Atlanta's office about the event, Monica mentioned the bishop said this choice was very divisive.   For me, what is actually divisive is the prevalence of sexism that promotes a hierarchy that feel justified in telling God not to dare call women into ministry because they, the hierarch's, do not want us.  Staying true to my original calling has been a difficult challenge, and hopefully because of our choices, it is one that the women of the future may not have to face.

At any rate-forward this to any and all who may be interested in seeing the news Monday and Tuesday.  For those out of town-it will probably show up on the internet.  If you can, please write to thank Monica and crew for promoting this valued work.  Also, if you notice I have not sent this to someone, feel free to spread the news for me!

I finally figured out how to post pictures on my blog-so if you wish-go to
Bridget Mary has more pictures.  Her site is:

These two women produced the program
"Pearson, Monica (CMG-Atlanta)" <>, and "Nadell, Suzanne (CMG-Atlanta)" <>

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Will Not Recant.....Fr.Roy Bourgeois

Why is it that Women's Ordination is such a threat to the hierarchy? Could it be they fear sharing power?  Thank you Roy for following your rightly formed conscience.

Fr. Roy Bourgeois Refuses to Recant  
Rev. Edward Dougherty, M.M., Superior General
Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers
P.O. Box 303 Maryknoll, NY 10545

April 8, 2011

Dear Father Dougherty and General Council,
Maryknoll has been my community, my family, for 44 years, so it is with great sadness that I received your letter of March 18, 2011 stating I must recant my belief and public statements that support the ordination of women, or I will be dismissed from Maryknoll.
When I was a young man in the military, I felt God was calling me to be a priest. I later entered Maryknoll and was ordained. I am grateful for finding the happiness, meaning and hope I was seeking in life.
For the past 20 years I have been speaking out and organizing against the injustice of the School of the Americas and U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. Over these years I discovered an injustice much closer to home - an injustice in my Church.
Devout women in our Church believe God is calling them to be priests, but they are rejected because the Church teaches that only baptized men can become priests. As a Catholic priest for 38 years, I believe our Church's teaching that excludes women from the priesthood defies both faith and reason and cannot stand up to scrutiny for the following reasons:
(1) As Catholics, we believe that we were created in the image and likeness of God and that men and women are equal before God. Excluding women from the priesthood implies that men are superior to women.
(2) Catholic priests say that the call to be a priest is a gift and comes from God. How can we, as men, say: "Our call from God is authentic, but your call, as women, is not"? Who are we to reject God's call of women to the priesthood? I believe our Creator who is the Source of life and called forth the sun and stars is certainly capable of calling women to be priests.
(3) We are told that women cannot be priests because Jesus chose only men as apostles. As we know, Jesus did not ordain anyone. Jesus also chose a woman, Mary Magdalene, to be the first witness to His resurrection, which is at the core of our faith. Mary Magdalene became known as "the apostle to the apostles."
(4) A 1976 report by the PontificalBiblical Commission, the Vatican's top Scripture scholars, concluded that there is no valid case to be made against the ordination of women from the Scriptures. In the Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian and other Christian churches, God's call of women to the priesthood is affirmed and women are ordained. Why not in the Catholic church?
(5) The Holy Scriptures remind us in Galatians 3:28, "There is neither male nor female. In Christ Jesus you are one." Furthermore, the Second Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution on The Church in the Modern World states: "Every type of discrimination ... based on sex. .. is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent."
After much reflection and many conversations with fellow priests and women, I believe sexism is at the root of excluding women from the priesthood. Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard we may try to justify discrimination against women, in the end, it is not the way of God. Sexism is about power. In the culture of clericalism many Catholic priests see the ordination of women as a threat to their power.
Our Church is in a crisis today because ofthe sexual abuse scandal and the closing of hundreds of churches because of a shortage of priests. When I entered Maryknoll we had over 300 seminarians. Today we have ten. For years we have been praying for more vocations to the priesthood. Our prayers have been answered. God is sending us women priests. Half the population are women. If we are to have a vibrant and healthy Church, we need the wisdom, experience and voices of women in the priesthood.
As Catholics, we believe in the primacy and sacredness of conscience. Our conscience is sacred because it gives us a sense of right and wrong and urges us to do the right thing. Conscience is what compelled Franz Jagerstatter, a humble Austrian farmer, husband and father of four young children, to refuse to join Hitler's army, which led to his execution. Conscience is what compelled Rosa Parks to say she could no longer sit in the back of the bus. Conscience is what compels women in ourChurch to say they cannot be silent and deny their call from God to the priesthood. And it is my conscience that compels me to say publicly that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is agrave injustice against women, against our Church and against our God who calls both men and women to the priesthood.
In his 1968 commentary on the Second Vatican Council's document, Gaudium et Spes, Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, said: "Over the pope ... there still stands one's own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary, even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority."
What you are requiring of me is not possible without betraying my conscience. In essence, you are telling me to lie and say I do not believe that God calls both men and women to the priesthood. This I cannot do, therefore I will not recant.
Like the abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement and the right of women to vote, the ordination of women is inevitable because it is rooted in justice. Wherever there is an injustice, silence is the voice of consent. I respectfully ask that my fellow priests, bishops, Church leaders in the Vatican and Catholics in the pews speak out and affirm God's call of women to the priesthood.
Your Brother in Christ,

Roy Bourgeois, M.M.
P.O. Box 3330
Columbus, GA 31903
Tell Fax 706-682-5369

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Roman Catholic Women Priests Statement of Support for Maryknoll Priest Roy Bourgeois

Roman Catholic Women Priests Statement of Support for Maryknoll Priest Roy Bourgeois
Media Release Roman Catholic Womenpriests USA Inc. and Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Contact: Barbara Zeman: 312-305-1053
Suzanne Theil: 503-784-3330
Janice Sevre-Duszynska: 859-689-4247
Bridget Mary Meehan: 703-505-0004,
Roman Catholic Women Priests stand in solidarity with Fr. Roy Bourgeois. We challenge Maryknoll and the Vatican to support Fr. Roy’s prophetic stance rather than dismiss him from his order.
Edward M. Dougherty, the Superior General of the Maryknoll order has given Fr. Roy fifteen days to recant his public support of women’s ordination or face dismissal from the order and laicization, labeling support of his sisters in ministry as “contumacy” and accusing him of giving “grave scandal” to the Christian faithful. The behavior of the Maryknoll order and of Fr. Dougherty stand in stark contrast to the Erie Benedictine sisters and their superior, Sr. Christine Vladimirov, who stood behind Sr. Joan Chittister in 2002 when she was directed to refrain from speaking at the first worldwide conference held in support of women’s ordination. When threatened with penalties for disobeying the directive not to speak, Benedictines wrote to the Vatican saying that whatever punishment the Vatican meted out to Sr. Joan should be applied to all of the sisters. The Vatican backed down. It is time for all to speak truth to power! Roman Catholic Women Priests urge everyone of good will to stand with Fr. Roy Bourgeois, a true champion of justice for all. Regardless of personal consequences, he refuses to be cowed by men who support an unjust law that knowingly and persistently discriminates against half of the Body of Christ. He sees the face of Jesus in his sisters.
Roman Catholic Women Priests are at the forefront of a model of service that offers Catholics a renewed priestly ministry in vibrant, grassroots communities where all are equal and welcome. As we watch the closure of parishes in a scandal-ridden Church with a shortage of priests, we remain committed to model Jesus and the inclusive Gospel message. Our ordinations are valid because we are ordained in the line of apostolic succession within the Roman Catholic Church. We recognize and claim our right to full equality as members of the church who are entitled to all seven sacraments. The time for asking permission is over! We challenge and have broken Canon Law 1024. This unjust law discriminates against women. The continued refusal to recognize women's calls to priesthood is an issue of sexism, oppression and gender discrimination. The time for renewing our beloved Church is now! The voice of the Catholic people----the sensus fidelium---has spoken. Catholic people accept us as their priests and continue to support us as we grow from the seven bold women first ordained on the Danube River in 2002 to over 100 worldwide. Ordained women now minister in over 25 states. We are here to stay. We are not going away

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Meet Our New Deacons

It is finished! Let the good work begin.

How wonderful it is to be able to experience an ordination celebration as a main participant-not an onlooker. I join my new sisters, Adele Jones, San Antonio,TX,and Wanda Russell and Miriam Picconi of Palm Coast, FL as a deacon in the Roman Catholic Women's Church Movement.

Each of us are faithful Catholics disheartened by the growing efforts to keep women from the fullness of ministry, inspite of our ability and calling.  Each of us have had full theological and ministerial training that have prepared us for this journey.  And each of us are ready to serve inour newcapacity as deacon.

Deacons are able to:

1.witness marriages,with proper registration from the state and local authorities and certification from religious organizations such as the Federationof Christian Ministries and others.

2.baptize infantsand young children, and with proper preparation from the candidate,initiate a child beyond reason or an adult into faith through baptism.

3.assist the presider at liturgy.

4.develop and enhance effective skills as a homilist.

We are pursuing state and local requirements so that we can effectively minister within our Christian and Catholic traditions.

For more information about our journey's go to:

Diane Dougherty
MiriamPicconi and Wanda Russell
Adele Jones