Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bishop to Bishop: Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan Responds to Bishop Frank Dewane

Excellent Response-worth reading!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bishop to Bishop: Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan Responds to Bishop Frank Dewane About His Letter to Deacon Judy Beaumont Regarding Her Upcoming Ordination as Priest

Bishop Frank :
It has been brought to my attention that you purportedly reside in the Diocese of Venice in Florida and may attempt to be " ordained " to the ministerial priesthood here within this Diocese on January 22 , 2012 . This is a most grave and serious matter of consequence for your soul.

Bishop Bridget Mary:
Under all circumstances, the church teaches that one must follow one’s conscience. So how can serving God as a woman priest cause a problem for one’s soul? I wish our male bishops would be as concerned about the thousands of victims of sexual abuse as they appear to be about the souls of women priests!

Bishop Frank :
The Catholic Church has always taught that the Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination on women.

Bishop Bridget Mary:
Jesus set the example by calling women and men to be his disciples. Witness his relationship with Mary and Martha and Mary of Magdala for example. He did not ordain anyone. Ordination was developed much later, in the early centuries of the church. According to historians, such as Gary Macy, The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination, women were ordained for twelve hundred years before the patriarchy abandoned the practice.

Bishop Frank:
The Church shares this teaching with our Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters. The ministerial priesthood is a gift from God, not something that someone " earns, " " deserves " or has a "right " to, due to advanced education, devoted service in the Church, or simply because of one's own personal desire. The reasons for this include : the example recorded in sacred Scripture of Christ choosing His Apostles ; the constant practice of the Church, which imitated Christ in choosing only men ; and the Church's living teaching authority.

Bishop Bridget Mary:
This is a complete re-write of the Gospels! The Risen Christ appeared first to Mary of Magdala and called her to be the apostle to the apostles (John 20:17). Paul affirmed Junia as an apostle, who was his mentor and teacher in Romans 16. Note (Luke 10:42) Jesus' words to Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, as she sat at Jesus' feet listening to what he said(as disciples do)"Mary has chosen what is better,and it will not be taken away from her." Bishop Frank, neither you nor church tradition since the 12th century are powerful enough to take away what Jesus has clearly given to Mary and countless women disciples like Judith Beaumont-"it will not be taken away from her".

Bishop Frank:
In calling only men as His Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner . Throughout His earthly ministry, Our Lord also emphasized the dignity a n d the vocation of women , and in so doing , did not conform to the prevailing customs, traditions , and legislation of the time. Still , among His twelve Apostles , Jesus Christ did not include any women. This fact withstands any so-called "scholarship" to the contrary. Sacred Scripture further reveals that Jesus did include the participation of women in His public ministry in ways that shows a differentiation of roles between men and women . Together both worked to build up the unity of the Church, avoiding divisiveness . Specific to the role of women, the Church gives thanks for the feminine "genius",
appearing in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations, and for the charisms of the Holy Spirit on women's manifestations of faith, hope and love .

Bishop Bridget Mary:
Luke 8 affirms that women were not only among Jesus disciples, but that there were many of them and they were leaders in supporting his ministry. Jesus was a radical feminist in his vision of a “discipleship of equals”. He had a theological conversation with the Samaritan woman, who became the first evangelist to bring her whole village to him. Martha’s profession of faith parallel’s Peter’s and her table ministry indicated that women presided at Eucharist in house churches in early Christianity. Jesus never spoke of feminine “genius", he treated women as equals to men, a reality lost on our present hierarchy, who try to wax eloquent about women’s second class citizenship in their own church by use of lofty phrases like you, Bishop Frank, used above. Roman Catholic Women Priests are the "Rosa Parks" of the Catholic Church. We will no longer settle for sitting in the back of the Catholic bus. Sexism, like racism is a sin and always wrong.

Bishop Frank:
Through the Sacrament of Baptism, all Christians , both men and women , share equally in the " common priesthood of believers . " Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders , priests also share in the " ministerial priesthood " of Christ , the High Priest . However, no individual has the "right" to be ordained to the ministerial priesthood. Ordination to the ministerial priesthood must be conferred by a validly ordained bishop on a baptized man. A candidate must receive the authorization of the Church, which has the authority and responsibility to determine if a true call to the priesthood exists for the said candidate.

Bishop Bridget Mary :
Jesus did not see himself as a “High Priest”. He came among us to transform our lives and world so that the kindom of God would be manifest through our witness to justice, inclusion and compassion. He showed us that those who are leaders/ ministers must serve our sisters and brothers in the washing of the feet ritual at the Last Supper. Jesus challenged the religious leaders of his time for their abuse of spiritual power and hypocrisy. Judith Beaumont's Ordination will be conferred by a validly ordained bishop as we (our bishops) clearly stand in the line of apostolic succession through the male bishop in standing with the pope who ordained the first women bishops.

Bishop Frank:
Below is a 1995 responsum, issued by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger [now Pope Benedict XVI] , then Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith , in response to the to the question of ,
"whether the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women , which is presented in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith , '

Bishop Bridget Mary:
This is the ultimate cop-out. Of course, the church has authority to ordain women. It did so for twelve hundred years. There are thousands of ordained women in church history. The institutional church can no longer discriminate against women and blame God for it.

Bishop Frank:
Responsum : In the affirmative. This teaching requires definitive assent , since, founded on the written Word of God , and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of
the Church , it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf Second Vatican Council , Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25 , 2). Thus, in the present circumstances , the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf Lk 22:32) , has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always , everywhere , and by all , as belonging to the deposit of the faith .

Bishop Bridget Mary :
The Catholic faithful, including the world’s theologians, many priests, some bishops, did not affirm this teaching. Therefore, it is not infallible teaching because it does not reflect the faith of the believing community, the entire, universal church. It does not reflect the "sensus fidelium".

Bishop Frank :
Further, as you may know, on May 30, 2008 The Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith issued the general decree , "On the Delict of Attempted Sacred Ordination of
a Woman . " The decree affirms that , "he who shall have attempted to confer holy orders
on a woman , as well as the woman who may have attempted to receive Holy Orders , incurs in a latae sententiae excommunication," that is, an automatic excommunication. Further, reconciliation for this excommunication must come through the Holy See in Rome .

Bishop Bridget Mary:
We do not fear excommunication. Actually, we are walking in the footsteps of giants such as St. Joan of Arc, who was burned at the stake for following her conscience. Pope Benedict canonized two excommunicated nuns: Mother Theodore Guerin from the United States and Mother Mary MacKillop from Australia, thereby making excommunication a possible fast track to canonization! One day a future pope, perhaps, a woman, will probably say, according to the common and constant tradition of the church, taught by the apostles and lived through the history of the church for many centuries, we ordain women deacons, priests and bishops.

Bishop Frank:
As your Bishop , I urge you , to refrain from participating in what will be an invalid attempt at "ordination ." This opportunity is taken to inform you that, should you proceed with this action , you would in fact, separate yourself from the Catholic Church, by your own free choice .

Bishop Bridget Mary:
Nothing can separate us from God, nothing can cancel our baptism, nothing or no one can stop us from living the fullness of Christ’s love in a more open, just and inclusive Catholic Church. We are faithful women living Christ’s call to serve those in need and on the margins offering the church the gift of a renewed priestly ministry in a Christ-centered, inclusive Catholic Church.

Bishop Frank:
With this in mind, for the good of your immortal soul , I exhort you to choose not to participate i n this attempted " ordination . "

Bishop Bridget Mary:
Our souls are in God’s hands. We answer the call in prophetic obedience. We walk in faith and love, trusting in Christ and with Holy Wisdom, Sophia’s guidance, as we serve our beloved faith communities. Each week Catholics affirm women priests as they celebrate inclusive liturgies in Florida and in more and more places in the U.S. and abroad with our 124 ordained priests and deacons.

+ Frank Dewane
Bishop of the Diocese of
Venice in Florida

+Bridget Mary Meehan
Bishop, Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (USA and South America)

Teacher Fired From Catholic School for Using Artificial Insemination

This is a most interesting article highlighting the treatment of women within the institution that shows the disparity in judgment of perceived wrongdoing.....

It compares the consequences of women who stretch church laws -to the consequences given to male counterparts.  When both broke church laws, the woman's livelihood was taken away, whereas the man was suspended and reassigned...The woman in this case did not break any civil law-but the man mentioned may well have broken civil laws and was reinstated a short time afterward.....In this case, the church did not allow the file to be opened for review...... very interesting.  Of greater interest is that the man administrating the firing of this woman was subject to a four year suspension for sexual abuse allegations .....

This is a great opportunity for those worldwide, who promote women's rights, to actively engage in promoting conversation about just treatment for all who work in the Church.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Local woman to be ordained priest, faces excommunication

Local woman to be ordained priest, faces excommunication

Story Created: Dec 29, 2011 at 9:51 AM America/New_York

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FORT MYERS, Fla.- Judy Beaumont of Fort Myers will be ordained as a priest in the Roman Catholic Church that she has served her entire adult life. Then, she will be excommunicated from the church, because only men are allowed to be priests.
"Our mission is to bring about a new church. A church that is inclusive of all people," Beaumont told WINK News.
The 74-year-old operates the Good Shepard Ministry in Fort Myers, helping the poor and homeless. Beaumont says the people she serves have called her to be a priest, so she will be ordained in a ceremony in January.
"It will be a joy for me to celebrate the eucharist and to lead the mass for the people at Good Shepard," Beaumont says. "I do look forward to celebrating mass and performing the sacrements."
Beaumont had served as a nun in the church for 34 years. She left her life as a nun some years ago, and has dedicated recent years to helping people in need. She runs the Good Shepard Ministry out of a former home, just south of Downtown Fort Myers.
However, she will take the next step, without the blessing of the Catholic Church. The Diocese of Venice sent a statement to WINK News, reiterating that only males can be ordained as priests. The Diocese says that males are priests, because that is a "Deposit of Faith handed down by Christ through his Apostles." The statement says that any woman who is ordained, will be automatically excommunicated. The statement also says the Church forbids Catholics from attending the ordination of a woman as priest.
Beaumont knows and accepts the fact that she will be out of the church, once she is ordained.
"Excommunication does not bother me, I do not wake up at night thinking, oh, no, I'm being excommunicated! I don't have nightmares about it. I just want to go on serving the people in this community, and it is time for changes in the church. I believe eventually the Vatican will allow women as priests. Maybe not in my lifetime, but sometime. And think of how much that will do for women's rights once the Vatican says, women are equal to men in terms of ordination. That will be a great step forward," Beaumont told WINK.
The ordination of Beaumont is set for Jan. 21 at a Lutheran-Episcopal Church in South Fort Myers.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

O'Leary leaves Catholic Church over stance on women priests
Veteran Irish broadcaster Olivia O'Leary has made a very public departure from the Catholic Church.
The Carlow-born journalist, best known for her "we were a bit worried about the curtsy" tribute to the Queen during the monarch's State visit, renounced Catholicism because of the church's refusal to ordain women, though the institutional cover-up of clerical child sex abuse was a "proximate factor".

A Message from Priests and Clergy Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors

A Message from Priests and Clergy Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors

 Some of us are priests of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and some of us are survivors of childhood rape and sexual assault by priests.
 In the wake of the bankruptcy filing by the archdiocese this year, we have joined together as survivors and clergy in an ongoing dialogue about the clergy sex abuse crisis and what we can do about it.
 The sexual abuse of a minor by a priest is a crime and a sin. If you were sexually violated by a member of the clergy it was not your fault. We want you to know:
 • If you suffered this violation you are not alone.
• There are many survivors who have come forward and are receiving the care and assistance that they need.
 • There are many resources in our community that are available to assist you and you can choose to use them or not.
 We stand by you and support you.
 • To be believed you must be heard. No one else will know unless you tell them.
 EACH OF US BELIEVES that at the center of the human heart is
 an absolute longing for justice. We are committed to creating among
 priests and survivors a true and lasting community of justice.
 Over the next months we want to widen our conversation to include
 other priests and survivors in the archdiocese, especially those that
 have already expressed a desire to join with us.
 we publicly declare our unqualified support to every victim/survivor.
 We hold ourselves and our institution fully accountable for any action
 or inaction that may have allowed these crimes to occur, the
 offender to go unpunished, and other children to be harmed. We are
 truly sorry that this happened to you.
 We believe that, in order for our church and our community to heal,
 there will need to be a full institutional accounting of the crimes
 that have taken place in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Victim/Survivors
 and their families have told us how important it is that they
 know the truth about what happened to them in their church. But,
 it is also important for each one of us.
 Obviously, we are very tardy in making this public statement of
 apology, support, and accountability. But, making this statement
 now is better than remaining silent.
 unqualified support for every priest who takes the courageous step
 of publicly standing with survivors.
 Shame is logically and naturally created when a child is sexually
 violated. But that shame is rarely, if ever, felt by the offender.
 Instead, the offender pours that shame into the body of the child.
 If justice does not intervene to lift that weight, eventually the soul and
 aspirations of that child will be crushed by it.
 If even the possibility of spiritual repair with the church is to become
 real and effective for survivors, priests of the archdiocese must
 courageously join us and insist upon a full and public confession,
 which must include the open publication of all abuse related
 documents in possession of the archdiocese and of the religious orders
 serving in the archdiocese, detailing a full and explanatory
 list of all clerics and employees who have harmed children and minors.
 THE SEX OFFENDER ALWAYS commits two crimes: first he
 steals the body, and then he steals the voice. The first and last moment
 of the miracle of recovery from sexual violence—for the victim,
 for the offender, and for an institution--is the resurrection of the
 voice through words of truth.
 We want there to be hope. We want there to be healing.
 We want a new day for the church.
 For victim/survivors who may still be living in silence or shame,
 we hope this public plea from us—as survivors and priests working
 together--to come forward before the February 1, 2012 court date
 for filing a case for restitution through the bankruptcy process and
 to seek help and guidance with this decision through the resources
 we have posted below will be a beginning in creating together the
 community of justice, which we all long for.
 Mike Sneesby, SNAP Milwaukee Director (survivor)
 Karen Konter, female advocate, (survivor)
 Peter J. Isely, MS, M.Div, LCSW, SNAP Midwest Director (survivor)
 John Pilmaier, MSW, APSW, SNAP Wisconsin Director (survivor)
 Vicky A. Schneider, MAPS (survivor)
 Marilynn Pilmaier, RN, BSN (mother of survivor)
 Fr. Richard Cerpich | Fr. James Connell
 Fr. Gregory Greiten | Fr. Howard G. Haase
 Resources in our community:
 The Healing Center: 414-671-4325
 Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault:
 608-257-1516 608-257-2537 (TTY)
 Sexual Assault Treatment Center:
 414-219-5555 (A crisis counselor is available 24 hours a day. Non-crisis
 information/referral is available M-F 8:30-5:00)
 Counsel for Creditor’s Committee (of survivors)
 for information regarding the bankruptcy: 1-888-496-8643
 SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests)
 Peter J Isely: 414-429-7259
 John Pilmaier: 414-336-8575
 Mike Sneesby: 414-915-4374
 Archdiocese of Milwaukee:
 Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office:
 Sensitive Crimes Division: (if you would like to speak to a member
 of the law enforcement community concerning a sexual assault)
 Your local police department or county office for health and human
 Any other resource that you trust.
 If you would like to contact one of us whose names are listed above,
 call Fr. Jim Connell at 414-940-8054 or John Pilmaier at 414-336-8575.
 Paid Advertisement Paid Advertisement
 Today we are making an urgent appeal to victim/survivors
 to come forward before the closing of the February 1, 2012
 bankruptcy bar date, and offer our help.
The Healing Center - Home

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas People-Give Flesh to the Word

For all who go to church but don't listen.  Here is a way to get a new message without leaving the house....then go out and make the Word "flesh".

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fighting Tradition A Catholic Womanpriest Leads Mass in East ...

Gabriella Velardi-Ward leads the celebration, which is part of a growing movement worldwide that's changing who can lead a Catholic church.(Brigid Bergin/WNYC)
  • “The church stated for centuries that it was not against the will of God to have slavery. Well today, of course, we realize that that was a church’s teaching that was wrong. What we have here is another church’s teaching that is rooted in ignorance and in this case, sexism.”
    — Father Roy Bourgeois, a Catholic priest with the Maryknoll Order and based in Columbus, Georgia

  • This is not a traditional church. In fact, it’s just the community room of a residential building in the East Village. Paper signs taped to entrance read “Private: Prayer Service in Session. Do not disturb.”
    But on the second Sunday of the month, a small group gathers at 175 E. 4th Street to celebrate a Catholic mass, creating a sanctuary by dragging chairs into a circle and setting up a makeshift alter. A woman, Gabriella Velardi-Ward, leads the celebration, which is part of a growing movement worldwide that's changing who can lead a Catholic church.

    “I was 5-years old when I told my sister I wanted to be a priest when I grew up,” Ward said. “She said ‘Ha, you can’t you’re a girl.’ I couldn’t put words to it then, but on reflection I realize that rejection formed my life.”

    Ward was ordained in 2008 as part of a movement called the Roman Catholic Womenpriests. The movement dates back to 2002 when a group of women in Austria and Germany wrote to three bishops seeking ordination.

    Two of those bishops -- whose identities are not known to Rome -- conducted the first ordination on a boat aboard the Danube River.

    Seven women were ordained and since then the movement has grown to 120 people globally.

    While these people consider themselves Catholic, their work is not recognized by the church in Rome. And that holds true here in New York, according to Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

    “There are people who are constantly pushing for changes, renewal revision in the church,” Dolan said. “They’re some things that can change, and then there are some things that cannot.”

    At a food giveaway just before Thanksgiving, Dolan elaborated on the church's position.

    “Pope John Paul II was very, very resolute about 15 years ago and he said ‘No’ The best I can do in justice is to say we can’t do that. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. I, too, as Pope, am a man under authority and I must obey the Tradition with a capital T of the Catholic Church.”
    (Photo: A non-traditional church in the community room of an East Village residential building. Brigid Bergin/WNYC)
    The argument in support of what Dolan calls tradition is the one most often used to reject the possibility of women priests. It was largely the basis of a letter written by Pope John Paul II in 1994 about reserving the priesthood for men alone.

    Women's ordination is a violation of Canon Law 1024, which says only a baptized male can be ordained.

    In July 2010, with approval of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican issued a revision to church law which puts women's ordination on the same list of "grave crimes" as the sexual abuse of children by priests.

    In the subsequent uproar, the Vatican did attempt to clarify that it did not consider these crimes on par with one and other. But the Vatican does consider support of women's ordination as grounds for automatic excommunication.

    Take the case of Father Roy Bourgeois, a Catholic priest for 39 years with the Maryknoll Order and based in Columbus, Georgia. Three years ago, he attended the ordination of a Janice Sevre-Duszynska, whom he described as a long time friend.

    By attending this ordination, and speaking out in favor of women priests, Bourgeois has been reprimanded by the Vatican and instructed to recant his position.

    He's refused, and has written responses back to Rome and to the head of his order, the Maryknolls, explaining how he can not in good conscience support the church's position.

    “The church stated for centuries that it was not against the will of God to have slavery. Well today, of course, we realize that that was a church’s teaching that was wrong,” Bourgeois said. “What we have here is another church’s teaching that is rooted in ignorance and in this case, sexism.”

    Bourgeois said he is willing to embrace the consequences of his actions even if that means excommunication, although he has hired a Canon Law lawyer to defend his position.

    But even for those who are open to the idea of women priests — there's ambivalence.
    (Photo: A sign outside 175 East 4th Street. Brigid Bergin/WNYC)
    “I can’t accept it at this point,” said parishioner Florence Rowe, who, despite her doubts, attends the monthly masses celebrated by Ward in the East Village.

    The two are friends and neighbors on Staten Island. Even though she participates in the services, she struggles with the idea of priest who is a woman.

    “Because my upbringing, my whole life, a man taught the word not a woman,” said Rowe, “so it’s hard for me to change to take this as a concept. Although I respect them, and I respect Gabriella, but otherwise it’s very hard for me.”

    This is not a new debate. Among the scholars who have weighed in on the issue, Paul Lakeland wrote a book 37 years ago called, Can Women Be Priests? He's the director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, a Jesuit school in Connecticut.

    “There is no sound theological reason why women can’t be ordained,” Lakeland said.

    He continues to support women's ordination and knows another woman priest who runs a small parish just outside of Boston.

    “Most theologians would say that Jesus didn’t ordain anybody,” Lakeland said.

    He added that the development of ministry took several centuries, and given what we know about men and women today compared to what we thought about men and women 2,000 years ago, “there’s no reason that ordination could not be extended to them. But there are many conservative Catholic theologians who would not agree with me.”

    But for Gabriella Velardi Ward — and the other Roman Catholic Womenpriests — they are not waiting for permission from Rome. The change has happened. Ward defines herself as a Catholic priest, leading a parish, looking to enhance the ministry she provides to her congregation.

    While the Vatican has clearly stated its position against women priests, the future of this movement will depend on whether everyday Catholics are open to embracing a new tradition.

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Female priests push Catholic boundaries

    Female priests push Catholic boundaries

    • Article by: ROSE FRENCH , Star Tribune
    • Updated: December 10, 2011 - 9:56 PM
    Minnesota is home to a small movement of women celebrating mass despite Vatican prohibition.
    Monique Venne, a priest at Compassion of Christ Church that meets at Prospect Park United Methodist Church, gave communion to Judith McKloskey, also a priest in the church, during a recent service on Sunday, November 6, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minn. Because the women are violating Catholic doctrine by celebrating mass, they're not allowed to meet in Catholic churches. That's why they're meeting at Prospect Park United Methodist Church where Methodists do allow for female ministers.
    Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune
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    Dressed in a priestly white robe and green stole, Monique Venne lifted communion bread before an altar -- defying centuries of Catholic Church law.
    Despite promises of excommunication from the Vatican, she and six other women in Minnesota say they are legitimate, ordained Catholic priests, fit to celebrate the mass. They trace their status through a line of ordained women bishops back to anonymous male bishops in Europe.
    "We love the church, but we see this great wrong," said Venne, 54, who cofounded Compassion of Christ Church, a Minneapolis congregation that just celebrated its first anniversary. "Not allowing women to be at the altar is a denigration of their dignity. We want the church to be the best it can be. If one leaves, one cannot effect change. So we're pushing boundaries."
    Minnesota has emerged as a hotbed for the growing movement to ordain women as priests, with the highest per-capita number of female Catholic priests in the nation, according to the organization Roman Catholic Womenpriests. Women priests are working in the Twin Cities, Red Wing, Winona, Clear Lake and soon St. Cloud. The group claims about 70 women priests in the United States and more than 100 worldwide.
    Several Protestant denominations have allowed women to be ordained ministers for decades. But the Catholic Church views an all-male priesthood as unchangeable, "based on the example of Jesus, who, even though he had revered relationships with women who were his disciples, chose only men to be his apostles," said Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
    "Women who claim to have been ordained Catholic priests in fact have no relationship to the Catholic Church because their ordination is not valid," he said.
    Dozens of congregations
    An increasing number of Catholics disagree with the church on this. In a poll last year by the New York Times and CBS, 59 percent of U.S. Catholics favored letting women become priests, with 33 percent opposed.
    That's encouraging news for Roman Catholic Womenpriests, founded nearly nine years ago in Europe. It began after seven women were ordained aboard a ship on the Danube River by three male bishops. The group claims their ordinations are valid because they conform within the bounds of "apostolic succession."
    "I do believe we are connecting through the original church, which started with the apostles," said Regina Nicolosi, 69, of Red Wing, who became bishop for Womenpriests' Midwest region in 2009.
    Dozens of U.S. congregations are being led by women priests, a movement many Catholics view as a means to solving the church's problem of declining numbers of male priests. Roman Catholic Womenpriests is the first group to claim "apostolic succession," said Marian Ronan, associate professor at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif.
    The church sees that as a threat to its authority, Ronan said.
    The Vatican issued a pronouncement in 2008 that women who sought ordination and bishops who ordained them would be excommunicated. Last year, the Vatican also labeled female ordination a delictum gravius, or grave crime.
    Venne says women who work on church staffs also face the likelihood of getting fired for becoming priests. Male priests who support them can't do so publicly because they risk their retirement pensions if they are excommunicated.
    Proponents of female ordination argue, however, the New Testament and early Christian art show women as priests and in other leadership roles.
    'I feel like it's a nationality'
    Asked why they insist on remaining Catholic when they could be welcomed as ministers in other denominations, the women say, in so many words, it's their religion, too.
    "I'm as much Catholic, -- I feel like it's a nationality, -- as I am English, German and Polish," said Linda Wilcox, 64, who felt called to become a priest after working in the St. Paul library system for nearly 35 years. She is one of four women priests at Compassion of Christ.
    Women priests in Minnesota come from a variety of backgrounds: chaplain, librarian, even meteorologist. A significant number are married and have children, another forbidden activity by the church, which calls for its priests to be celibate.
    Like many women who've joined the ranks of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, Nicolosi has a master's degree in theology.
    Venne and other women at Compassion of Christ recall "playing mass" when they were children and pretending to be priests. As young girls, they felt rejected that they could not be altar servers, let alone priests.
    "At the core of my being I knew that couldn't be," said Judith McKloskey, 65, of Eden Prairie. "Jesus included everybody." For years at her parish church, Pax Christi, she served as a lay preacher and ran a national association for lay ministry. She was ordained in 2007.
    Venne, of Burnsville, the former meteorologist, was in a Bible study group with McKloskey and decided to pursue the priesthood after participating in her ordination. Venne was ordained in June.
    "I felt as though I was fulfilling what God wanted me to do," she said. "It was something I'd been called to since I was in fourth grade and because the way the Catholic Church was structured, I wasn't able to recognize it until years later. I couldn't even be an altar server in those days."
    Nicolosi was helping her husband train to become a deacon in 1980 when she realized she "had a call, too. I experienced the injustice of doing the entire training and being totally qualified but not being able to be ordained."
    Answer to priest shortage?
    Compassion of Christ is a small congregation, with only about 15 to 20 people attending regularly. One is Pauline Cahalan, 66, a lifelong Catholic who started going a year ago.
    "Basically there's just something missing with the fact that there's this philosophy or rules that say the Holy Spirit only inspires men to be priests," Cahalan said. "And that if a woman gets that calling ... they're supposed to ignore it and deny it. That just doesn't make sense to me.
    "We have such a shortage of priests. To me this is one of the answers ... that we would recognize the vocations when the Holy Spirit calls women and let them become priests."
    In Minnesota, the movement is expanding. One of the four priests leading Compassion of Christ, Mary Smith, will leave at the end of the year to become the full-time pastor at a new congregation in St. Cloud.
    The four women say a significant reason why they buck Catholic Church convention is because they were inspired by seeing other women celebrating mass. Now they're paying it forward.
    "I hope the women priests can help fire the imagination of young women in the church today, that this is a possibility," Wilcox said. "We are equal."
    Rose French • 612-673-4352

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    CBS-The Catholic Church-A Houase Divided

    The reporter did his homework and in 10 short minutes, encapsulated the divide between the hierarchical monarchy and the "Catholic Church of the 21st Century".  The focus shines on women in the church-Sisters and laity-trying to live out catholicism under a hierarchical politic that would rope in all voices, change and movement that does not lead us to full adherence under Vatican dictates.  Blessings go to Sister's Mary Ann Hinsdale (former professor) and Margaret Mary McBride whose gracious tone are lights opening the doors to honorable discussion beyond the rigid minds of the hierarchs.  This we all must do in spite of the Vatican's bans on speech....Kudos to CBS.....

    Diane Dougherty   

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    Petition to save altar servers

    Why sign this?

    No matter what denomination you are-any mega institution that uses unjust rules to say one segment of their membership is less that the other participates directly in the practice of sexism.  Serving at Liturgy is not rocket science.  If women can teach boys to serve-why can't they teach girls....This is the first step in psychological bullying that returns Catholicism to a male dominated institution-it was wrong when it started in the 4th century AD and it is wrong now.....

    Diane Dougherty

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Fr. Jerry Zawada says excommunication has yet to be discussed

    Franciscan ready to accept consequences for joining woman-led liturgy

    Fr. Jerry Zawada says excommunication has yet to be discussed

    Nov. 30, 2011

    Franciscan Fr. Jerry Zawada, right, leads a Nov. 19 liturgy with Janice Sevre-Duszynska.
    Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionSend to friendSend to friendPDF versionPDF versionDespite rumors that Franciscan Fr. Jerry Zawada would be excommunicated and expelled from his order for his participation in a liturgy led by a female priest, Zawada and the leadership of his order say that has yet to be discussed.
    Zawada participated in the Nov. 19 liturgy while attending the School of Americas Watch in Fort Benning, Ga.
    Fr. John Puodziunas, provincial minister of the Franciscan Friars of the Assumption BVM Province, told NCR that he has not received any contact from the Vatican on the matter.
    "There have been no official contacts from anyone," Puodziunas said.
    As of Wednesday afternoon, Zawada and his lawyer also said no contact had been made.
    Zawada, a well-known peace activist, told NCR he met with Puodziunas on Nov. 29 at the Franciscan friary in Franklin, Wis., and said some of the discussion focused on the liturgy held during the SOA Watch weekend.
    "[Puodziunas] was reassuring me in many ways," Zawada said. "He was not harsh, he was not antagonistic in any way. He's been very respectful, very kind and very understanding."
    Zawada's lawyer, Bill Quigley, also described the talks as a "very mutual, respectful dialogue."
    Puodziunas declined to comment on the matter.
    Zawada joined Janice Sevre-Duszynska, who was ordained as a priest in 2008 in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, in leading a liturgical service for more than 300 people at the annual SOA Watch in Columbus, Ga., north of Fort Benning.
    Zawada said he has pondered the issue of women's ordination for "quite a long time," adding that there's "something unjust" with the current structure.
    "Our structure needs reshaping," he added.
    For him, the opportunity to follow his conscience and to join others to "support the movement" toward female ordination presented itself in the liturgy at SOA Watch.
    "[It's what] the Holy Spirit is calling us to do," Zawada said.
    Previous cases involving support of women priests have resulted in latae sententiae, or automatic excommunication. Attempted ordination of a woman was added to the Vatican's list of "grave crimes" in 2010.
    Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans, said Zawada and others in the church are entitled to due process and a right to a hearing. Quigley said Zawada did not want an adversarial situation, but did want a transparent process.
    When asked about a possibility of excommunication, Zawada said the thought was "hurtful on some levels" but told NCR he does not plan to challenge any disciplinary action.
    "Whatever consequences come for me, I'm willing to accept," he said, adding he has no intention to retract his opinion and has "no intention of leaving the Catholic church."
    Zawada has been involved in a variety of social justice causes. He has been arrested several times for trespassing at previous SOA Watch protests as well as for trespassing while protesting the construction of a nuclear weapons facility in Kansas City, Mo., in 2010.
    In 2009, he was a member of the "Creech 14" who peacefully protested the U.S. military's use of automated attack drones, leading to his arrest at Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas. In July of that year, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers charged Zawada and others for littering after they allegedly left gallon jugs of water along trails for passing migrants.
    Recent years have seen the church take action against several church figures who supported women's ordination. In May, the pope removed Bishop William M. Morris of Australia for a 2006 pastoral letter indicating his openness to ordaining women as well as married men.
    Fr. Roy Bourgeois continues to fight to remain a member of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers after his 2008 participation in Sevre-Duszynska's ordination. Bourgeois is a friend of Zawada's.
    "I think what [Roy] did was courageous and admire him to this day," Zawada said.
    Zawada said he hopes to return to his home in Tucson, Ariz., where he and two fellow friars aid migrant workers, on Dec. 10. It is possible he will meet with Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson upon his return.
    Zawada said he will not fight any prospective charges and said he plans to continue working for those in need of help.
    "I believe in the struggle for truth and for justice for people," he said. "I want healing. I want hope. I want compassion."
    [Brian Roewe is an NCR intern. His email address is]