Monday, April 30, 2012

Dublin vigil outside Papal Nuncio’s home calls on Church to lift gagging orders

Nuns and priests wear gags as they protest against Vatican censorship

Dublin vigil outside Papal Nuncio’s home calls on Church to lift gagging orders

Nun in silent protest outside the Papal Nuncio's home in Dublin
Nun in silent protest outside the Papal Nuncio's home in Dublin
Photo by Irish Times

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Nuns and priests wore gags in the Vatican colors as they protested in Dublin against the Catholic church’s latest censorship moves.

A silent vigil outside the Papal Nunciature was held to oppose recent Vatican attempts to silence five high profile clerics.

The move came after celebrity priest Fr Brian D’Arcy confirmed that he had been censored for his Sunday World newspaper column.

Redemptorist priests Fr Tony Flannery and Fr Gerard Moloney, Marist priest Fr Seán Fagan and Capuchin priest Fr Owen O’Sullivan have also been the subject of Vatican censorship in recent weeks.

The Dublin protest attracted more than 200 lay Catholics and religious.

The Irish Times reports that several of whom wore gags in the Vatican colours of white and yellow as they handed in a letter at the gates of the residence of papal nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown.

The protestors called on the recently appointed Papal Nuncio and the Vatican to revoke the censures.

One of the protestors, Dominican nun Sr Siobhán Ní Mhaoilmhichil, told the paper she was angered by the way the priests had been treated.

“These are all good theologians who have worked for the church for many years and we are here to show our solidarity with them,” she said.

Organizer Brendan Butler, spokesman for the We Are Church Ireland group, said the Vatican had been heavy-handed in silencing the priests.

“The treatment of these priests goes against the teachings of Jesus Christ and the church founded by Jesus. These are outstanding priests and people are outraged by the disrespect that has been shown to them,” he said.

Butler also told the paper that he is aware of four other priests who have been silenced but have chosen to remain anonymous.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bullying the Nuns

Bullying the Nuns

Garry Wills

A group of Adrian Dominican Associates
The Vatican has issued a harsh statement claiming that American nuns do not follow their bishops’ thinking. That statement is profoundly true. Thank God, they don’t. Nuns have always had a different set of priorities from that of bishops. The bishops are interested in power. The nuns are interested in the powerless. Nuns have preserved Gospel values while bishops have been perverting them. The priests drive their own new cars, while nuns ride the bus (always in pairs). The priests specialize in arrogance, the nuns in humility.
There was a vogue, just after the Second Vatican Council, for some Catholics to demonstrate their liberation from Catholic schooling by making fun of nuns, as strict disciplinarians or prissy moralists. I wrote at the time that this was untrue of the many nuns I have known, beginning with the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan, who taught me for five of my grade school years. They taught me the Latin of the old liturgy; Father Sullivan, our pastor, just got angry at words mispronounced or forgotten. The Dominicans never physically punished anyone that I saw or heard of.
They were more supportive of talent than were most of the lay teachers I met in a brief experience of public school. I had no artistic inclinations, but classmates who did were encouraged. The nuns’ genuine interest in their pupils can be seen in the fact that my seventh grade teacher kept in touch with me for all the years until her death in 1996. She was Sister John Joseph when I met her, but she recovered her real name after the Council, and as Anne O’Connor congratulated me on anything I wrote. (I would no more have kept up with Father Sullivan than with cholera.)
Anne O’Connor was just the kind of nun the Vatican is now intent on punishing. She had been a social worker before she became a nun, work that she loved and went back to several times as a Dominican. She was quick to shed the old habit (which was designed to disguise the fact that there was a woman somewhere in that voluminous disguising of hair, breasts, and hips), and quick to take back her own name. After she took on several high offices in her order, she became the mother provincial of the California branch of the Dominican order during the 1960s, coping with the changes of that volatile era on her college campuses.
Now the Vatican says that nuns are too interested in “the social Gospel” (which is the Gospel), when they should be more interested in Gospel teachings about abortion and contraception (which do not exist). Nuns were quick to respond to the AIDS crisis, and to the spiritual needs of gay people—which earned them an earlier rebuke from Rome. They were active in the civil rights movement. They ran soup kitchens.
Mother Camilla Madden, OP, 1st Provincial and Foundress of the Dominicans in Adrian
I saw their regard for the neglected or despised when our grade school had an influx of Mexican immigrants during World War II. The jobs left open when men went into the army were filled by Mexicans coming into the country to fill them. These families were not welcomed by some in the community, but the nuns insisted that their children, our classmates, must be treated as brothers and sisters.
Last week, following an assessment by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican stripped the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, representing most American nuns, of its powers of self-government, maintaining that its members have made statements that “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle has taken control of the Conference, writing new laws for it, supplanting its leadership, and banning “political” activity (which is what Rome calls social work). Women are not capable, in the Vatican’s mind, of governing others or even themselves. Is it any wonder so many nuns have left the orders or avoided joining them? Who wants to be bullied?
It is typical of the pope’s sense of priorities that, at the very time when he is quashing an independent spirit in the church’s women, he is negotiating a welcome back to priests who left the church in protest at the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. These men, with their own dissident bishop, Marcel Lefebvre, formed the Society of Saint Pius X—the Pius whose Secretariat of State had a monsignor (Umberto Benigni) who promoted the Protocols of the Elder of Zion. Pope Benedict has already lifted the excommunication of four bishops in the Society of Saint Pius X, including that of Richard Williamson, who is a holocaust denier. Now a return of the whole body is being negotiated.
None of the anti-Semitic ties of the Pius X crew matter to Rome, since that crew holds to the hard line against women priests, gay marriage, and contraception. They have also retained the Latin Mass, which Rome has been inching back toward. All these things, you see, are the work solely of male hierarchs, distrustful of the People of God—who are the church, as defined by the Second Vatican Council. Those Lefebvre defiers of the Council are all the things the nuns are not, and all the things Rome wants to restore. The real Gospel must be quashed in the name of the pseudo-Gospel of papal monarchs. Poor Anne O’Connor—she thought caring for the poor was what Jesus wanted. She did not live to see that what Rome wants is all that matters.
April 24, 2012, 12:45 p.m.

Friday, April 27, 2012

How much do you know about Vatican Politics?

Comment: Can the Vatican really take the Sister's properties if it removes women's Canonical Status?   
If Rome's worst way prevails and canonical status is taken from the sisters' congregations, all, some, a few, will lose their properties and the threat of that the Vatican knows is more than enough to give the sisters pause.

The writer mentions Cleveland, St. Louis  and Boston.  The parishes in Cleveland and Boston were under the legal principal of Corporate Sole.  All bishops own the properties of Churches.  In Cleveland, the Vatican examined the parishes in question and told them the Bishop did not vet all of the necessary steps for closing parishes and he still "owns " the properties but according to Canon Law they do not qualify.  The other 39 did.

St. Louis was a totally different problem for the Archbishop.  In the early 1900's, this ethnic parish was set up so that the people owned the property.  This practice was eliminated as new parished arose throughout the US.  The law was on the side of the parishioners and neither the Archbishop, the Vatican or local dissident parishioners could do anything.    At St. Stan's the people are the Corporate Sole....

I have wondered if, because the sisters have their own properties, they can carry on without canonical approval but keep thier properties.  The Sisters that owned the hospital in Arizona did that-they just took the name Catholic off the hospital advertizements and went on with business as usual.  Perhaps this is the politic that Benedict will use as he claims to create a smaller, purer Catholic Church.

Diane Dougherty 4/23/2012

Excerpt From an EDITORIAL

The Good Sisters

To say that the sisters are at a critical crossroad is an understatement.

They know, as we do, that it is their properties more likely than their policies that today are in the bulls eye of Rome. It is no coincidence that the current situation collides with the steeple grab of parishes hitting a major obstacle in Cleveland. Bishop Richard Lennon must back down and re-open the 12 parishes on which he hung closed signs with the bulldozer disregard he honed in Boston as an auxiliary of Cardinal Law's. In St. Louis the Missouri Supreme Court sided with the trusteeship organization of the parish of St. Stanislaus Parish and bluntly told the archbishop that he does not own the $9 million assets of this parish no matter how much excommunicating gets waived about or how much hold he thinks he has over the parishioners souls.

The religious sisters hold and manage valuable properties in the United States and a number of the congregations are involved in the lucrative business of health care both in hospitals and nursing homes.

If Rome's worst way prevails and canonical status is taken from the sisters' congregations, all, some, a few, will lose their properties and the threat of that the Vatican knows is more than enough to give the sisters pause.
Pause enough to heed and heel or pause to seize the moment in true freedom and heal the Church itself only time will tell us.

--- Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), 937-272-0308

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How to properly spank a nun

Comment:    Must Read

How to properly spank a nun
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Funny how no one ever talks about the nuns.
I suppose it makes sense. After all, Catholic nuns are so rarely embroiled in sex scandals. They are never caught pants down in the rectory with a 10-year-old altar boy, teaching him of the "mystical secretions" of the Lord. They never cost the church billions in litigious payouts for rape, abuse, millennia of pedophilic atrocity and shame. For that, you gotta look to the priests.
The nuns, they keep to themselves. They work quietly, faithfully in the background, the humble and resolute handmaidens to the patriarchy. If we imagine them at all, we imagine them smacking schoolchildren's wrists with rulers. We imagine them as the Mother Theresa types, ministering to the sick and the infirm, changing the bloody bandages on the soldiers in WWII. We imagine them helping out the Von Trapps.
But until recently, I had not the slightest clue as to what American nuns did all day. Delivering meals to the poor. Knitting giant crucifix cozies. Cleaning up after sloppy priests. Feeding hungry squirrels. Facebooking with angels. No idea.
Until now. Until I discovered that a great many American nuns, some 57,000 of them to be exact, they've been actively and frequently pissing off the Vatican, nearly every single day, in all sorts of delightful ways, for years. Isn't that grand?
How are they doing it? Why, the very same way the tastier gender has always annoyed the sour patriarchy: by daring to think for themselves (just a little), by following their own code of conduct, by asking humble but firm questions of the orthodoxy, by pushing back eversoslightly against the dogma the Vatican likes to throw down like stale oatmeal made of concrete and death. Damn fine work, really. I wholly endorse it.
Have you heard? The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the umbrella group representing those 57K American nuns, they've been accused of having "serious doctrinal issues" and promoting nothing short of "radical feminist themes" (!) which apparently consist of gently supporting Obamacare (free health care for the poor? Nuns are all over it), endorsing the idea of female priests, ministering to the underprivileged and being way too nice to gay people.
Horrible! You can see why the pope is furious. Some nuns are even accused of spending so much time working in local politics to help the needy, they leave themselves no room to bash gay marriage, wail about abortion, attack humanity for enjoying sex, or scold their own gender for having vaginas in the first place. I know! Those wenches.
So now, it's come to this: The men are taking over. The ever-unhappy pope reportedly assigned Seattle archbishop Peter Sartain to whip the LCWR back into shape, reform the entire organization and slap that "radical" feminist agenda right out of their presumptuous little habits. Because that's what the Vatican does.
Which is another way of saying: womenfolk getting uppity again? Females starting to think for themselves? Showing a modicum of spirit, fire, individuality? This will not do. This way anarchy lies. What's next, lesbianism? Birth control? Acknowledging the Virgin Mary was a nasty myth designed to suppress 10,000 years of hotly fertile, goddess-based pagan belief? Oh wait.
Time for some changes. Time for the angry manhammer of fear to come down. The Vatican has given the LCWR five years to shape up, and it put a man in charge of the process. Because, being mere women, they obviously cannot think, act, or figure it out by themselves. And God simply does not abide uppity females. Just ask Eve.
Is it not sort of amazing? Is it not all flavors of classic and timeless in its barely veiled misogyny? It's like 1884 all over again. Or was that 1484? 484? When were the witch trials? When was Hypatia beaten to death for liking math? I get confused.
To be perfectly honest, I can sympathize with the Vatican. Women are dangerous things. Unnerving. They can mess with your head, overwhelm the body, make you feel all sticky and tingly inside, like you just ate a giant chocolate cake made of lightning and orchids and MDMA. They throw you for a loop and take you for a ride and confuse all reality, so much so you can't help but see something as inane as organized religion as completely idiotic and small. It's something about their smell.
No wonder the Vatican is nervous. I imagine if they don't take action soon, they'll have to admit the nuns have gone AWOL, have become crazy with power, have become wild, feral, hysterical. And you know what they do with hysterical women, don't you? Oh, I bet you do.
Let us not go too far. Let us not get overly carried away. The pope may call the LCWR "radical," but that's a bit like the NRA calling a guy with only nine shotguns a liberal. It's a relative scale, to be sure. They are still wildly devout Catholics; their radicalism, in the larger view, is about as extreme as ordering a glass of wine at a NASCAR rally.
But if you're like me -- and I know you are -- the question often gnaws like a squirrel in the rafters: In an age of bitter corruption, suspicious sources and ersatz meanings, where do you go to find true integrity of mission? Where do you go to find a quietly intentional upsetting of the long-established doctrine of idiocy and belligerence, patriarchy and hoary dogma?
Now we know. Now we can look to the Catholic nuns, those fierce n' fiery wenches of God, those cool goth cheerleaders of Jesus, for a hint of inspiration and temerity, just a tiny taste of delicious insurrection right when we need it most.
Sure, they're not exactly sex-positive lefty feminists. Sure, you can't see their ankles. Sure, they work for an institution that openly fears and humiliates them, treats them as an afterthought, as lesser, as unruly children -- and yet still they stick around. Sure, they're being spanked and silenced by a gaggle of angry and confused old men who barely go outside and never have sex. Hell, that just means they're doing something right, no?

Vatican Investigated for Crimes Against Humanity

The Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City on behalf of SNAP has written to Mr. Luis Moreno Ocampo, a Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, to investigate the "responsibility of four high-level Vatican officials for the systematic rape, sexual violence and torture of children and vulnerable adults by priest and others associated with the Roman Catholic Church." The ICC File No. is OTP-CR-159/11. SNAP has received 500 from 65 countries, including victims, whistleblowers, etc.

And, from the Huffington Post,

The juvenile sexual abuse crisis will become more and more expensive for the church. Apparently the problem of juvenile sexual rape by priests in African nations and India is ongoing, severe and just beginning to come to light. When the scope of the scourge of child abuse and juvenile rape in the developing world comes to light, the Vatican is likely to take a huge hit. If (when!) these human rights cases are finally heard in the Hague, the defendant (the Vatican) stands to lose a fortune.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

LCWR: A radical obedience to the voice of God in our time
LCWR: A radical obedience to the voice of God in our time
by Jamie L Manson [1] on Apr. 23, 2012
    Grace on the Margins [2]
    Support our Catholic Sisters [3]
In his Holy Thursday sermon, Pope Benedict XVI made headlines for criticizing [4] those who refuse to obey the church's position on the ordination of celibate men. He traced his argument back to Christ's obedience to the will of God.
"His concern was for true obedience," Benedict said, "as opposed to human caprice."
Of course, the pontiff fails to point out that Jesus was obeying God while also radically disobeying the religious leaders and laws of his time. Like so many archconservative Roman Catholics, he is confusing God with the institutional church and its doctrine.
I suppose the pope is using some of this same logic in his treatment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. He views the sisters' unwillingness to condemn gays and lesbians or contraception or women who feel called ordained ministry as an act of "caprice."
But the basis on which the sisters focus their ministries is anything but shallow and whimsical. Their devotion is founded on a radical obedience to the voice of God as it emerges from the voices of the poor, the sick, the abandoned and the broken.
Most sisters spend their lives immersed in the deepest sufferings of our world. They don't just stop by the soup kitchen on Ash Wednesday for a photo op. Some actually live in shelters with homeless women, orphans or the addicted.
Their unwillingness to condemn gays and lesbians probably stems from the work they did with AIDS patients in the early 1980s. Back then, the disease affected mostly gay men, and no one was sure how it was contracted. Women religious were among one of the few groups who were unafraid to touch those dying from this unknown, frightening disease.
Is there any doubt that, as the sisters bathed and fed these deteriorating bodies, they also noticed the deep and authentic love that these men shared with partners and friends? The sisters also saw anguish suffered by men whose parents would not visit them and the sacramental power of those who reconciled with family before they died.
Any disagreements on contraception likely stem from the sisters' work with poor, homeless and battered women. They harbor girls enslaved in the sex trade, women trapped in abusive relationships and mothers abandoned to poverty.
Many sisters still run hospitals and are medical professionals. They have seen firsthand the price that so many women pay for husbands and boyfriends who refuse to wear condoms yet still demand sex. Every day, they see patients who have been date raped or women who bear life-threatening pregnancies.
Many sisters are theologians, ethicists, spiritual directors and teachers. They engage students and directees in their metaphysical and existential questions. They spend hours listening to stories and struggles and aid in discerning ethical dilemmas and spiritual crises. And though technically they cannot confer absolution, they have heard countless confessions.
Some women religious do support the ordination of women. They have dedicated their entire lives to being a sacrament in the world, yet they have been told that their bodies are not worthy of consecrating the Eucharist or giving last rites to an ailing patient whom they have shepherded through sickness unto death.
With such an intensely sacramental life, it should be no wonder that sisters have deep intellectual curiosity and spiritual longings. With hearts so regularly broken open, why wouldn't they ask deeper questions of this mysterious world that brims with the power of a wounded God? With all that they've witnessed, how could they not entertain the possibility that holiness can be present in same-sex love or in the body of a woman priest?
Their ideas, interests and programs are not the product of an obstinate disobedience of power. Rather, their commitments come from a deep obedience to the God who appears in the faces of the powerless and the vulnerable. They see the crucified Christ in places most clergy and laypeople dare not go. They are not wayward, but wise enough not to place limits on how and where God works God's grace.
The sisters' experiences tell them that hiding behind the false fortress of religious laws simply does not do justice to a God who reaches out to us in ways that far exceed even the most active Catholic imagination. The sisters have learned well Jesus' criticism of the Pharisees who "disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition." They are obeying their calling to be, what Sandra Schneiders recently called, a "prophetic life form."
But the Vatican is telling these women, as it has told many groundbreaking theologians, ministers and saints before, that a prophet is not welcome in her own native place. They are commanding the sisters to shut down their minds and hearts even at the price of shutting out the very voice of God.
Sure, the Vatican is thanking the sisters for their hard work and devotion on behalf of the church. But they are also telling them that they have become too empowered and that they must now be carefully watched and tightly controlled. They must halt the practice of asking theological questions, they must stop reading the signs of the times and they must cease exploring the ways in which God's presence is unfolding in our present reality. Essentially, the hierarchy is reducing them to the equivalent of spiritual enslavement.
This latest development in the U.S. church poses a challenge not only for sisters, but for all Catholics who believe that the Catholic tradition is much richer and deeper than absolute subservience to manmade doctrines on issues related to the pelvic zone.
It is a moment that demands we read the writing on the wall: There is no safe place within the institutional church for intellectually based, pastorally grounded interpretation of or questioning of doctrine. There is no space in this institution for prophets to dwell.
With each new crackdown on a priest, nun or layperson of integrity, the institutional church seems to be begging a schism. Their goal is either to coerce or force out anyone who won't toe the line on marriage equality, contraception and women's ordination. Without absolute conformity on these issues, the bishops cannot make their far more profitable alliances with right-wing religious and political groups.
As NCR reported last week [5], if the sisters do not comply, they will likely "face ouster as a Vatican-recognized representative of sisters in the United States." If the LCWR isn't the representative of sisters in the United States, wouldn't that position necessarily fall on the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) [6], a highly orthodox group representing less than 20 percent of sisters in United States? This would surely help the Vatican in fulfilling its vision of a leaner, meaner Roman Catholic Church.
This attack on the sisters is an attack on everyone who believes in their ministries and who has benefited from their ministries. There has never been a more crucial moment for us to stand in solidarity. It is time particularly for men religious in this country to take a courageous stand. They, too, must use their privilege to speak out and risk their own well-being for the good of their sisters.
The very life of the prophetic life form is in peril. If the sisters are ejected from the church, we must create church around them. If they are evicted from their properties, those with the means must take them in. The sisters, who have dedicated their lives to ensuring that no one is abandoned, cannot be abandoned.
Because to abandon them would be to abandon one of the last vestiges of the spirit of God at work in the church.
[Jamie L. Manson received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her columns for NCR earned her a first prize Catholic Press Association award for Best Column/Regular Commentary in 2010.]
Editor's note: We can send you an email alert every time Jamie Manson's column, "Grace on the Margins," is posted to Go to this page and follow directions: Email alert sign-up [7]. If you already receive email alerts from us, click on the "update my profile" button to add "Grace on the Margins" to your list.
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Declare a Nuns' Emancipation Proclamation from Vatican Control

                    Declare a Nuns' Emancipation Proclamation from Vatican Control

Press Release:  April 23, 2012

From: The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Contact: Janice Sevre-Duszynska:; 859-684-4247
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan,; 703-505-0004

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests celebrates the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the nearly 60,000 women religious they represent in the United States. We reject the unjust, bullying behavior of the scandal-ridden Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who has ordered the LCWR to reform itself more closely to “the teachings and discipline of the Church.”  It is the corrupt hierarchy, who has spent billions of dollars and devastated the lives of thousands of youth in the sexual abuse crisis that needs reform, not the dedicated nuns in the United States.

Now is the time for the LCWR to speak truth to power. Declare a nuns’ emancipation proclamation from Vatican control. Challenge Vatican misogyny publicly.  Affirm primacy of conscience and gender equality including women's ordination.
"As a Sister for Christian Community, I belong to an independent community of women religious not under Vatican control," Bridget Mary Meehan reflects. “This means that I am blessed with freedom to live my vocation as a woman priest. "

Nuns who are called by God and their communities should be able to serve as priests.

“Religious communities of women have been the backbone of the church and the heart that pumps hope through the life of the church,” said newly ordained woman priest Miriam Picconi of Palm Coast, Florida.
 In the Biblical prophetic tradition the sisters have devoted their lives to living Gospel justice and reading the signs of the times.  They have heard the cries of the poor, the exploited and the abandoned.  Lifting oppression and birthing community and right relations, women religious have been at work transforming the world.
 We as women priests express our gratitude to the sisters, our mentors and teachers, who have been inspired by the Spirit.  They have re-discovered and reaffirmed in us the Feminine Wisdom of God.  They have blessed the love and commitment of same-sex partnerships.  They have encouraged us women called to priesthood to live out our call.  They have been prophetic voices for the liberating activity of the Spirit in our church and world.  We stand in prayerful solidarity with all nuns and the LCWR in time of crisis. May women religious lead the church into a new beginning of justice and equality!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The instructive timing of the crackdown on nuns

Comment:  Melinda Henneburger gets right into Vatican politics, unfolding information that will directly stack the deck toward retrenchment from Vatican II as it's 50th anniversary aproaches.  Think of the movement as you read the Lefebvre Society of Ultra-conservative priests are welcomed to bolster the Vatican's politics, while Seatle's Archbishop gets the assignment to lead the crack down on 57,000 women religious who are and have been serving the people of God  bypassing the dictates the Vatican tries to impose on Catholics.  If the Pope is not aware, Catholics, like the sisters, are following the Gospel and their informed conscience.  We faithfully engage in all issues, and tend not  to go along with the Vatican's efforts to use Catholicism as their political football.  These are tactics causing force and fear.  Hopefully they will galvanize intelligent Catholics who will see them for what they are. 
Diane Dougherty, ARCWP

Hindu's to Pope-Ordain Women

"Hindus Urge Pope to Reconsider Ordination of Women Priests"

Hindus Urge Pope to Reconsider Ordination of Women Priests

"Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that women could disseminate God’s message as skillfully as men and deserved equal and full participation and access in religion
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that as women were equal partners in the society, so they should be equal partners in the religion also. He urged Vatican to be more kind to Roman Catholic women as exclusion of women from religious services, just because they were female, was very unfair and ungodly.
Quoting Hindu scriptures, Rajan Zed says: Where women are honored, there the gods are pleased. Men and women are equal in the eyes of God and religions should respect that, Zed stresses and adds that time has now come for the women priests and bishops.
Zed suggested that theologians and canonists of the Church needed to address this issue urgently; re-evaluate Church doctrine, theology, male hierarchy and history; and give women a chance. Women should be ordained to priesthood and should perform the same functions as male priests. Treating women as not equal to men was clearly a case of discrimination promoting gender inequality..."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

John Shea's letter to the Hierarchy-Explain Please, Why Women Cannot Be Priests!

Comment: On March 6, 2012, John Shea OSA gave up his position at Boston College asking the Bishops and hierarchy to respond to his questions about Women's ordination.  He was fired.  Here is the notice of BC's action.
Here is the letter he sent to the hierarchy.  At the end of the letter, are the addressesof his superiors if you care to ask them the same question.  .....Diane Dougherty, ARCWP

The Beginning of Lent, 2012 
Dear Archbishop O’Brien, 
I am writing to you and to all the ordinaries of the dioceses in the United States to ask you and your fellow bishops in your role as teachers to provide a clear and credible theological explanation of why women are not being ordained to the priesthood in the Catholic Church. 
I write not to challenge the teaching of the church as set forth in the 1994 Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis ,  c oncerning priestly ordination. My concern is the theological explanation  of this teaching. Theology I take to be essentially what Anselm said it is, “faith seeking understanding.” 
I teach in the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College. As you might expect, in the school we have a number of students—women and men—who are preparing for ministry of one kind or another. As serious students of theology and ministry, the issue of women’s ordination is extremely important for many of them—how this issue is now understood and has been in the past, what the requirements for ordination are, and especially what a clear and adequate theological explanation of this teaching might be. For some of our students, this issue is the most important one they wrestle with. For some of them, what resolution they come to determines whether or not they stay in the Catholic Church. 
Yet, in the Catholic Church there is a rule of silence. We are told that women’s ordination cannot be discussed. The issue that cries for  theological explanation is not to be discussed in schools that have theological explanation as one of their prime reasons for being. In other settings, however, rather abstruse arguments are put forward, usually around “bride ofChrist” symbolism or with a suggestion such as ordination is “God’s gift to men.” Several years ago, as you know, Pope Benedict XVI declared that the ordination of women was a “grave crime” akin to pedophilia. My sense is that these comments are found to be more puz- 
zling, or bizarre, or embarrassing than seriously theological. They beg the issue, raising more questions than they answer.  
In case you are wondering who this person is who is writing to you, I am an Augustinian priest, solemnly professed for 50 years, teaching at the School of Theology and Ministry of Boston College. Before coming to Boston College in 2003, I taught for many years in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University. My areas of expertise are in pastoral care and counseling (Fellow, American Association of Pastoral Counselors) and the psychology of religious development (Ph.D., Psychology of Religion, University of Ottawa), areas that today would be considered practical theology.
I also have graduate degrees in theology, philosophy, pastoral counseling, and social work. 
I mention this background because in all of my study, in all of my training, in all of my counseling experience, and in all of my thirty years of teaching I have not come across a single credible thinker who holds that women are not fully able to provide pastoral care . Likewise, I have not come across a single credible thinker who holds that women are deficient in religious development or maturity . From the perspective of practical theology—a theology of the living church—I find there is absolutely nothing that does not support the ordination of women to the priesthood. 
Therefore, I too am looking to you and your fellow bishops for a serious  theological
explanation of the church’s teaching on women’s ordination. 
Not being an historical or a sacramental theologian, I have attempted to keep abreast of some of the contemporary research. Perhaps in the mainstream of that research is Gary Macy’s The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination: Female Clergy in the Medieval West . Macy, a serious scholar by any account, begins the Preface of the book by saying: “The 
fact that women were ordained for the first twelve hundred years of Christianity will surprise many people. It surprised me when I first discovered it.” Chapter 4, “Defining Women Out of Ordination,” is as disturbing ecclesially as it is fascinating historically. Without doubt, patriarchy was alive and well in the medieval church. 
All the historical reasons offered against the ordination of women ultimately boil down to the one theological explanation the Vatican actually did offer a number of years ago: women cannot be ordained because they are “not fully in the likeness of Jesus.” It seems to me, however, that to hold that women are not fully in the likeness of Jesus is to engage in heresy. It is to say that women are not fully redeemed by Jesus. It is to say that women are not made whole by the saving favor of our God. The statement of the Vatican on the ordination of women substitutes gender biology for Christian theology, privileging Jesus’ maleness instead of his full humanness.  
Archbishop O’Brien, can you actually support this theological explanation offered by the Vatican? Is the theological reason why women cannot be ordained because they are “not fully in the likeness of Jesus”? 
As you know, for centuries the question in the church was whether or not women had souls, and if they did, were they equal to those of men. Now, with an understanding of the person more as body than soul, the question is whether or not women have bodies equal to those of men. Is not Cardinal José da Cruz Policarpo, the Patriarch of Lisbon, right when speaking on this issue he clearly affirms the “fundamental equality of all members of the Church”?  
Since 1986, I have been calling every four years for open discussion of women’s ordination at the chapters of my province, the Province of St. Thomas of Villanova. In September of 2010, I wrote to Father Robert Prevost, O.S.A. in Rome, the Prior General of the Augustinian Order, asking “that I be officially recognized as stepping aside from the public exercise of priesthood until women are ordained as priests in our church.” Eventually, I heard back from the Vicar General saying there was “no category” for what I am asking. In February of 2011, I wrote to you, the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston; to my Provincial, Reverend Anthony 
Genovese, O.S.A.; to Reverend Mark Massa, S.J., Dean of the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College; and to Dr. Thomas Groome, my chair at the school, informing them that I was stepping aside from active ministry as a priest until women are ordained. 
As a way of giving some context in my letter to Father Prevost, I told the following story. In 1991, I was invited to India to give a paper at a conference in Madras (now Chennai) honoring the life and work of Father D. S. Amalorpavadass. After the conference, I offered a workshop on “Listening Skills in Pastoral Counselling.” As I was describing these skills, a priest from a neighboring country said: “Can I ask you a practi- cal question?” I said: “Of course.”
And then he proceed to tell me that the most pressing pastoral problem he was facing was that mothers were killing their own baby girls. The families were too poor to provide a dowry 
for them and it would be too difficult to keep them. Later, as I was reflecting on the horror of mothers being made to kill their own daughters, 
I asked myself: “How can the church respond to this?” And then it came to me: “How can the church talk about the dignity of women when it also sees women as inferior to men, as in a ‘state of subjection,’ as not fully in the likeness of Jesus?” I write to you to ask you in your role as a bishop in the church to craft a serious theological explanation of why women are not able to be ordained.
I also ask that you speak with your fellow bishops so that you can lift the rule of silence on this issue. If you agree with the church’s statements on women’s ordination, please have the courage to teach about this issue in a way that mature, intelligent adults can appreciate, 
taking into account Jesus’ relating to women and the actual history of ordination. If you have serious theological problems with the church’s statements on women’s ordination, please have the courage to teach about this issue with pastoral care so that the hemorrhaging in our church can begin to stop. Whatever your position ultimately may be, our church—including the students of theology and ministry at Boston College and elsewhere across the country—is in desperate need of your honesty, openness, informed clarity, and leadership. 
A friend of mine is fond of saying that in the church today authority trumps theology every time. If this is true, it is clearly not a strategy for the long term. Is there a better way? Can authority and theology actually strengthen each other for the good of all the people of God? 
It is the beginning of Lent, a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, a time of for all of us in the church to be mindful of how we are in our caring and in our justice. Archbishop O’Brien, is providing a serious  theological explanation of why women are not being ordained in the 
church something you can do as part of your teaching responsibility as a bishop, as part of your caring and your justice? 
John J. Shea, O.S.A., Ph.D., M.S.W. 
Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Care and 
Counseling; Dual Degree Director (MA/MA 
and MA/MSW) 
School of Theology and Ministry 
Boston College

Here are the addresses of members of Boston College for those who wish to write their own responses.....
Contact Information if you wish to write letters.  I am working on a letter to post on my blog....if anyone has already prepared one, I would be glad to post that also. dd
John J. Shea, O.S.A.     Office Phone: 617-552-1315
Boston College
School of Theology and Ministry
140 Commonwealth Ave.
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
William Leahy, SJ
President, Office of the President
BC Work Address:
Botolph House Genrl
18 Old Colony Road
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467 BC
Work Phone: 617-552-3250
Department Phone: 617-552-3250 

T. Frank Kennedy, S.J.,’71
Professor, The Peter Canisius  Chair,Director, Jesuit Institute
Rector, Jesuit Community of Boston College, Jesuit CommunityHouse
Secretary of BC Board of Trustees

BC Work Address: 
St Mary's Hall Genrl
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467 BC
Work Phone:617-552-8171 

I will be posting the letter I wrote shortly. dd

Friday, April 20, 2012

Peoria bishop compares Obama's actions to Stalin, Hitler

Comment:  To me, this is just frightening.  An American Bishop, who has been appointed to lead Catholics in America, inflames a population over a directive on contraception that 98% of that population ignores.  An American Bishop, using politics to drive home a doctrine that belongs to their 1%, denying the 98% of their own population access to coverage because "they said so". 
Catholics-please look at this for what it really is-a distraction from one of the real issues-American Bishops have in a sense embezzled the legacy we charged them with by trying to fend off the courts that would hold them accountable for their active role in housing and protecting pedophiles. The latest statistics say their actions cost Catholics-the 99%,  3.3 billion dollars....and this number is rising as well as 33 million who are just turning away.  We need to place our attention and voice where it needs to be.....our children-are they choosing Catholicism as a spiritual way of life.....are your churches actively supporting them on their life's journey.....? 
And reflect further on this accusation- if 98% of the Catholic population will continue to use contraceptives inspite of that the Bishop's say, why would these Bishops use social services that serve the poor, merely to "get their message across?"  Obama is not closing services to anyone-but to get their message across, the Bishops are denying others needed access.....  Is this not bullying? 
Since 1968, the hierarchy has drawn a line in the sand about contraception, and since then, so has the laity.  Both have gone their own way and now the bishops have become vocal without lay participation and cooperation-the majority of laity use, if the people of the Church do not believe the docrtine, don't agree with the doctrine, is it a doctrine-or a false notion?  The hierarchy had best go back to the drawing board and revisit the issue....
Diane Dougherty  770-683-8101
Peoria bishop compares Obama's actions to Stalin, Hitler
The Anti-Defamation League wants an apology from Peoria's bishop following a recent homily comparing President Barack Obama's policies to those of despots Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
During the message at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria, Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky contended social services for Catholics could be eliminated if Obama's directive to include contraceptives in health insurance continues. Jenky went on to compare the actions to past cultural wars against the Catholic Church.
“Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches like the first disciples locked up in the Upper Room,” Jenky said.
Read the original story, hear audio at
In comparison, he pointed to Otto von Bismarck's "culture war against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany."

“Clemenceau, nicknamed ‘the priest eater,’ tried the same thing in France in the first decade of the 20th Century," Jenky said. "Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

WOC's response to the Vatican's War on Women

Media Contact: Kate Conmy (202) 675-1006

Yesterday, the Congregation of Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) launched a crackdown on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an umbrella group that represents more than 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States.

The following is a statement from Erin Saiz Hanna, Executive Director 

WASHINGTON, DC - When the Vatican first launched its investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in 2009, we were warned that the outcome could be severe. Yet nothing could brace me for the shock that I would feel actually seeing their document in writing yesterday.  This most serious attack on the women who have been the backbone of the Church in this country for centuries has obliterated what little moral credibility the hierarchy once had with the people of God.

Once again, the Roman Catholic hierarchy's bullying has intentionally created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, and has proved that they will stop at nothing to attempt to control the lives of women--threatening justice, charity, and service in their wake.

The CDF (formerly the Office of the Inquisition) accuses the LCWR of "radical feminist themes" and "corporate dissent" as the need for this "call for renewal." Their agenda is very clear: they are declaring war on the right of conscience and the right of women to be agents in their own lives. These fear tactics will not work nor will it distract us from the hierarchy's own corruption and scandal that is devastating our Church.

Having had the privilege of being educated by women religious, there is one thing I am certain of - the power of community. Over the centuries, Catholic sisters have responded to some of our nationʼs most difficult trials and when faced with adversity, women religious have stood courageously together with faith as their shield. I am confident that they will respond to this recent trial with courage and grace.

As the leaders of LCWR process this announcement and take time to discern, the Women's Ordination Conference (WOC) membership will hold them in prayer. WOC affirms and celebrates the prophetic works of women religious. We stand in solidarity with the millions of Catholics in this country who acknowledge women religious as pioneers of social justice, advocates for peace, and women of dignity. 


Women's  Ordination Conference (WOC), founded in 1975 and based in Washington, D.C., is  the is the oldest and largest national organization working for the  ordination of women as priests, deacons, and bishops into an inclusive  and accountable Roman Catholic Church. WOC also promotes new  perspectives on ordination that call for less separation between the  clergy and laity.     

War on Women-Vatican Style

Comment:  We are not fooled-this is not a "Renewal process" that is about to take place-it is a process to put women in their "place"-in the 21 Century.  Sister, peacefully resist!

Breaking news: Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the USCCB have called for a "reform" of LCWR, the main, and largest, organization of women's religious congregations in the U.S. The Vatican statement comes after an investigation of the LCWR, in conjunction with its investigation into the "quality of life" of US women's religious congregations, and finds "serious doctrinal problems" with the LCWR's activities, especially in its selection of speakers at conferences.

Vatican Names Archbishop Sartain To Lead Renewal Of LCWR

April 18, 2012

Critiques doctrinal aspects of LCWR assemblies, publications
Faults work with Network social justice lobby, financial, legal ResourceCenter
Calls for advisory group of bishops, sisters and other experts to assistin renewal

WASHINGTON—The Vatican Congregationfor the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has called for reform of the LeadershipConference of Women Religious (LCWR) and named Archbishop Peter Sartain ofSeattle as its Archbishop Delegate for the initiative.Bishop Leonard Blair and Bishop Thomas JohnPaprocki also were also named to assist in this effort.
TheCDF outlined the call in a “Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conferenceof Women Religious” (;pageid=55544),released April 18. The document outlines findings of the 2008 CDF-initiateddoctrinal assessment of LCWR, conducted by Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio,which included his findings and an LCWR response submitted at the end of 2009, aswell as a subsequent report from Bishop Blair in 2010.
A statement by Cardinal WilliamLevada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is alsoavailable at
The2010 report included “documentation on the content of LCWR’s Mentoring Leadership Manual and also onthe organizations associated with the LCWR, namely Network andthe Resource Center for Religious Institutes,”CDF said. Network is a social justice lobby founded by nuns. The ResourceCenter provides religious orders with legal and financial advice.
The Archbishop Delegate’s roleis to provide “review, guidance and approval, where necessary, of the work ofthe LCWR,” the CDF document said.
The mandate for the Delegate “willbe for a period of up to five years, as deemed necessary,” the document said. Itcalls for additional advisers – bishops, women religious and other experts –“to work with the leadership of the LCWR to achieve the goals necessary toaddress the problems outlined in this statement.”It also asked for a formal link between the Delegateand the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“It will be the task of theArchbishop Delegate to work collaboratively with the officers of the LCWR toachieve the goals outlined in this document, and to report on the progress of thisto the Holy See …. In this way, the Holy See hopes to offer an importantcontribution to the future of religious life in the Church in the United States,”the CDF document said.
CDF said Pope Benedict XVI approved CDF’staking action January 14, 2011, two days after a regular session of the CDFdecided that “the current doctrinal and pastoral situation of LCWR is grave anda matter of serious concern, also given the influence the LCWR exercises onreligious Congregations in other parts of the world.” CDF also recommend that afterthe Apostolic Visitation of Religious Communities of Women in the UnitedStates, the final report of which was submitted to the Holy See in December2011, “The Holy See should intervene, with the prudent steps necessary toeffect reform of the LCWR.” It also said CDF would “examine the various formsof canonical intervention for the resolution of the problematic aspects presentin the LCWR.”
The mandate for the Delegateincludes:
·Revision of LCWR statutes
·Review of LCWR plans and programs, including itsGeneral Assemblies
·Creation of programs for LCWR member congregationsin initial and on-going formation
·Review LCWR’s application of liturgical normsand texts
·Review of LCWR affiliation with Network and theResources Center for Religious Life.
Thedoctrinal assessment criticized positions espoused at LCWR annual assemblies andin its literature as well as the absence of support from LCWR for Churchteaching on women’s ordination and homosexuality.
CDF said that the documentation “revealsthat, while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promotingissues of social justice in harmony with the Church’s social doctrine, it issilent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question thatis part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the UnitedStates.Further, issues of crucialimportance in the life of the Church and society, such as the Church’s Biblicalview of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in away that promotes Church teaching. Moreover, occasional public statements bythe LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the Bishops, whoare the Church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatiblewith its purpose.”
The CDF document said “the Holy Seeacknowledges with gratitude the great contributions of women Religious to theChurch in the United States as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals,and institutions of support for the poor which have been founded and staffed byReligious over the years.” It said CDF “does not intend to offer judgment onthe faith and life of Women Religious in the member congregations which belongto the conference.”
Nevertheless, CDF said, “TheAssessment reveals serious doctrinal problems which affect many in Consecratedlife,” calling it a crisis “characterized by a diminution of the fundamental Christologicalcenter and focus of religious consecration.”
Thedocument listed the principal findings of the LCWR doctrinal assessment.
OnLCWR annual assemblies, it said, “The talks, while not scholarly theologicaldiscourses per se, do havesignificant doctrinal and moral content with implications which oftencontradict or ignore magisterial teaching.”
Onformation of religious superiors and formators, the CDF said, “Many of thematerials prepared by the LCWR for these purposes (Occasional Papers, Systems
ThinkingHandbook) do not have a sufficient doctrinal foundation. These materialsrecommend strategies for dialogue, for example when sisters disagree aboutbasic matters of Catholic faith or moral practice, but it is not clear whetherthis dialogue is directed towards reception of Church teaching.”
ArchbishopSartain acknowledged the significance of the CDF assignment.
“In the four dioceses I have served,I have had the privilege of working with many women religious from a largenumber of congregations.For most ofthose congregations, the LCWR plays an important role of support,communication, and collaboration, a role valued by the sisters and theircongregational leadership.I am honoredthat the CDF has entrusted this important and sensitive work to me, because theministry of religious sisters, especially here in the United States, is deeplyrespected and paramount to the mission of the Church.Just as the LCWR can be a vital resource inmany ways for its members, I hope to be of service to them and to the Holy Seeas we face areas of concern to all.”
Keywords: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, CDF,Leadership Conference of Women Religious, LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain,Bishop Leonard Blair, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, “Doctrinal Assessment of theLeadership Conference of Women Religious, “Mentoring Leadership Manual,”Network, Resource Center for Religious Institutes,”United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,USCCB, Pope Benedict XVI, women’s ordination, homosexuality, women religious.
# # # # #
Sr. Mary Ann Walsh
O: 202-541-3200
M: 301-325-7935

Erin Saiz Hanna
1133 6th Street NW
Unit 3
Washington, DC 20001

(home) 202.393.1093
(cell) 401.588.0457
(work) 202.675.1006

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bishop: Women's ordination 'a holy shake-up whose time has come'

Bishop: Women's ordination 'a holy shake-up whose time has come'

Posted in:

Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan lays hands on Miriam Picconi and Wanda Russell during their ordination into the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests in Ormond Beach on Saturday. (N-J | Nigel Cook)
Congregation members place their hands on newly ordained priests Miriam Picconi and Wanda Russell during their ordination into the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests in Ormond Beach on Saturday. (N-J | Nigel Cook)
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, center, presents newly ordained priests Miriam Picconi, right, and Wanda Russell to the congregation during a ceremony for the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests in Ormond Beach on Saturday. (N-J | Nigel Cook)
ORMOND BEACH -- Two Palm Coast women who "stand on the margins" were ushered in Saturday to a role that's been reserved for men for hundreds of years.
Miriam Picconi and Wanda Russell were ordained into the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a group that's urging the Catholic Church to welcome women into its clergy. About 150 people attended the ceremony Saturday afternoon at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Ormond Beach.
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, who presided over the ceremony, said the movement is "a holy shake-up whose time has come."
"One could say this is the church's best-kept secret," Meehan said. "But no more."
The Catholic Church won't recognize the women's ordination as valid, but Picconi and Russell say they plan to worship out of their home with a small group of people.
Meehan said her group is seeking justice for all people, particularly for women in the Catholic Church. The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests has ordained about 130 women worldwide since 2002.
At the start of the ceremony, others presented the soon-to-be priests to Meehan and the rest of the group. Russell's daughter, Monica Leavitt, recalled that as a young child, she often stayed late at her church, waiting for her mother to emerge from her Bible study group or wrap up other business there. The church is Russell's passion, she said.
"This was meant to be," Leavitt said. "My mother was born a priest. I know that from the bottom of my soul."
Since the two women moved to Palm Coast nearly three years ago, they've attended St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Palm Coast. Picconi teaches adult Sunday school classes and occasionally preaches to the congregation there.
"She is a wise woman, and we benefit greatly from her presence," the Rev. Bradley Hauff, the pastor of St. Thomas, said during the ceremony.
Picconi and Russell said finding a congregation to host their ordination ceremony wasn't easy. Some told the women they supported their cause but didn't want to offend Catholics or their clergy.
But Bud Murphy, the pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Society in Ormond Beach, said his denomination is "radically hospitable or inclusive."
"We felt very comfortable with what is happening here because, in a way, they're doing what should have been done years ago," Murphy said.
He also said the Unitarian movement emerged when some Christians, who were considered heretics at the time, broke with their church.
"We feel a kinship because they are speaking truth to power," Murphy said.
Fran Leavitt, whose son is married to Monica Leavitt, traveled from New Hampshire to attend the ceremony and spend a few days in Florida. A Catholic since age 19, Fran Leavitt said in an interview she's "amazed at the positive reception," that Picconi and Russell have received from other people.
"I think it's wonderful," Leavitt said about the two women's decision to be ordained. "I think it's inspirational."
At the end of the ceremony, Picconi and Russell changed into their new priests' robes, taking Meehan's hands and raising their arms before the audience.
Picconi cried "tears of joy," telling the crowd "my cup runneth over."
"My heart could burst right out of my body," Picconi said.

Palm Coast women follow passion to become ordained as priests

Palm Coast women follow passion to become ordained as priests
By ANNIE MARTIN, Staff writer 
 April 13, 2012 12:30 AM

Miriam Picconi, left, and Wanda Russell of Palm Coast will be ordained Saturday in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. (Photo | Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests)

PALM COAST -- Miriam Picconi remembers sitting before a life-sized crucifix adorned with the body of Christ at her church as a young teenager.
"I would just see Jesus on the cross and I kept thinking, 'If you did that for me, what can I do for you?' " she said.
Picconi, 68, said she was "called to minister" early in life. By age 16, she was teaching disabled children about Christ and visiting isolated people who were unable to leave nursing homes and hospitals. She said she became a nun at age 20, delivering communion and praying with people who were too ill to attend church.
"I always had a deep love for the Eucharist, in the way Jesus shares himself with us," Picconi said.
There was one thing she couldn't do -- becoming a priest was off limits.
The Catholic Church doesn't ordain women but some are seeking to change that. Picconi and Wanda Russell, both of Palm Coast, will be ordained into the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Ormond Beach.
Together they're challenging a centuries-old tradition of an all-male clergy within the Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations. The ceremony will include the same rite used to ordain male Catholic priests.

The Catholic Church won't recognize the ordination as being valid, according to a statement from the Diocese of St. Augustine.
"The Catholic Church is very clear and doesn't take positions unilaterally and without substantiation," according to a statement emailed from director of communications Kathleen Bagg. "And the Church does not discourage dialogue, except on the question of the ordination of women."
Catholic leaders have repeatedly made it clear they have no intention of allowing women to join the priesthood. In his homily on Holy Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI denounced priests who have questioned the church's policies on celibacy and ordaining women. He suggested dissenters were making "a desperate push to do something to change the church in accordance with (their) own preferences and ideas."
But Picconi and Russell, who call each other "best friends," say they're not seeking the priesthood for the sake of protest. They believe God has been preparing them for this role for years and they're ready to embrace it.
"If we were doing this just to revolt, we wouldn't be accepted," said Russell, 67. "You don't do something like this just in revolt."
About 130 women worldwide have been ordained into the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests since 2002, Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan said. The movement campaigns for "justice for all," not just women, she said. To be ordained, women must earn a master's degree in pastoral ministry or an equivalent.
The two Palm Coast women and others say there's historical and biblical support for a female priesthood. Many Protestant denominations ordain women and some have done so for decades. Russell remembers walking through the catacombs in Rome and seeing an image of a feminine priest wearing earrings.
Archeological evidence suggests the early church included female clergy, said Dorothy Irvin, an independent scholar with a doctorate in theology. Though Irvin said many lay people believe women are fit for the priesthood, Catholic church leaders squelch research or support for that cause, she said.
Picconi and Russell blame a climate of clericalism: Many Catholics grow up believing their church, and its leadership, are infallible. Fearing retribution, Catholics and their clergy don't question authority. The women say several priests have told them privately that they support their cause.
"I don't disparage them for not having the courage to speak the truth because I understand the dilemma," Picconi said.
They were hard-pressed to find local churches, even those from other denominations, that would host their ordination. Some congregations said they supported the women's mission, but they didn't want to offend Catholic leaders and members.

Though they take exception with parts of the church, Picconi and Russell say they are "cradle Catholics." Picconi compared being Catholic to being Italian -- it's in her blood, she said. She said she joined the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity in Philadelphia when she was 20. She was a sister for 25 years.
Even after she joined the ministry, she couldn't shake the feeling she would "fall short of the ideal." That changed about 10 years later as she sat on a beach and watched waves roll to the shore during a retreat in Puerto Rico.
"Once I discovered God's profound, unconditional love, it became a passion," Picconi said. "It's not a matter of obeying laws or rules, even though there are guidelines. But ultimately, it is responding to God's love. Not out of fear. Not out of obligation. But out of love."
Picconi later served as a pastoral director and associate at a church in Frankfort, Ky., but she says she was "forced out" in 2008 when there was a changeover in church leadership. She was devastated, but she now thinks that period eventually helped lead her to the priesthood.
"Crosses are not always easy to bear but if you can bear them, it leads to resurrection," she said.
Like Picconi, Russell also joined the ministry after high school. She joined the joined the Sisters of Loretto, a Catholic women's community in Nerinx, Ky., for 13 months, though she didn't take her final vows. Growing up during the Civil Rights era, Russell said she was inspired by the bravery of black Americans as they fought racial discrimination.
"I always knew I wanted to save the world," she said.
But back then, career paths for women were limited, she said. She couldn't stomach becoming a nurse and didn't think teaching would suit her. After she left the ministry, she married, had a daughter and became a social worker. She retired after 25 years because she was "tired of putting Band-Aids on problems."
She recalled going to church with her husband when she was in her 20s. The couple often grumbled about the sermons during the car ride home.
One Sunday morning, Russell said she was stunned by the priest's message: If you don't believe every word the church says, go home. She left for three years.
But she says God "expects you to go back to your roots" and Russell returned to the Catholic church. She had "an adult conversion" in her early 30s. She described that moment as a door opening and God's love instantly encompassing her.
"I just fell in love with God's people -- all kinds of people," she said.

Since moving to Palm Coast nearly three years ago, Picconi and Russell have attended St. Thomas Episcopal Church, which they say has supported their calling. Seeking the priesthood was a hard decision, they say, partly because they feel the church leaders and some of the members that they grew up with will reject them. But Russell says she fears only "the awesomeness of the responsibility."
Even their own friends and family members have resisted their decision. Russell's mother and sister told her they still love her, but won't attend the ordination because they don't understand it and won't support it, she said.
Afterward, they plan to celebrate mass in their home with a small group of other believers. They envision a collegial relationship with the rest of the congregation. People will take turns giving meaningful sermons -- a far cry from the "dead rituals" Russell said she experienced in some churches.
"God is present where two or more people are gathering in Jesus' name," she said.
Most of all, the two women say they dream of an affirming environment where all people, even those of other religious backgrounds, can worship together.
Though their path hasn't been easy, the two women say it must be done.
"We have to do it now," Picconi said. "We can't wait for the next generation."
"If we wait for Rome to change, it probably would never happen," Russell added.

If you go
WHAT: Ordination of Miriam Picconi and Wanda Russell to the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Unitarian Universalist Society, Ormond Beach, 56 N. Halifax Drive, Ormond Beach.
CONTACT: Miraim Picconi,, and Wanda

Friday, April 13, 2012

87% of Catholics in favour of priests marrying Ireland

Six One News:
87% of Catholics in favour of priests marrying - Survey
News At One: Survey of Irish Catholics show the church is changing - Fr Sean McDonagh

It also found that the Church's teaching on sexuality was irrelevant for almost three quarters of respondents.
The Contemporary Catholic Perspectives survey was carried out for the Association of Catholic Priests by Amárach Consulting.
1,000 Catholics were questioned over a two-week period in February.
It found that there was a disconnect between official church teaching and what Catholics actually believe. 87% said priest should be allowed to marry, while 77% said women should be ordained.
60% surveyed disagreed with the Church's stance on homosexuality. Only 9% ''agreed strongly'' with Catholic teaching that homosexuality is immoral.
One in three Catholics said they attended mass once a week and only 5% of those surveyed said they never went to mass.
When questioned about the serving terms of bishops, 55% of respondents said they believed bishops should serve a fixed term - as opposed to the current arrangement where they remain in the role until the age of 75.
Many also expressed negative attitudes to the new wording of church liturgy.
The Catholic Communications Office has said in a statement that "the recent Apostolic Visitation highlighted the need for a new focus on the dignity and role of all the faithful and for deeper formation in the faith."
The statement continued, "the results of this survey confirm the importance of all in the Church taking up this task in a spirit of communion and sharing the good news of the Gospel in a rapidly changing social and cultural environment in Ireland today".

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gay priest fearful ahead of memoirs publication

Comment:  14 years of hiding love in the name of Christ..  Hummmmm doesn't the gospel say you should not hide your light under a bushel-but should let it shine for all?  I am writing to his community ahead of time to give them permission to keep him in the community and allow them to break a whole in this basket! dd

Gay priest fearful ahead of memoirs publication

Tuesday, April 10, 2012
A priest fears he will be defrocked after his explosive memoirs, containing intimate details of a 14-year marriage to another gay man, are published next month.
Fr Bernard Lynch, who is openly gay and thinks gay priests make up 50% of the Catholic clergy, discloses for the first time his relationship with fellow Irishman Billy Desmond in his forthcoming autobiography.

Read more:

MSNBC-Lawrence O'Donnell

Women Priests Now- A Revolution in the Catholic Church/MSNBC: Lawrence O'Donnell/The Last Word/ Helmut Schuller/Austrian Priests Challenge Vatican on Women Priests

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Simplifying Sex
Jo McGowan
Comments   (47)

The current debate over health insurance and contraception has raised interesting questions for people of faith, particularly Catholics. I’m past menopause, and so contraception is not an issue for me. Yet I’m interested in it—in the same way I remain interested in pregnancy or childbirth. Avoiding or embracing pregnancy is the stuff of real life—the vivid centerpiece of youth and middle age. As a woman, a mother, and a Catholic, I’m part of it. I remember the drama, the excitement, the fear. Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding are intense experiences. For the sustained nature of the physical bond, nothing compares. But it begins with sex, and sex is never simple.
And so it is unsettling when men who may never have experienced sex feel qualified not just to speak about it but to pronounce on it with certainty. In an article in the New York Times (February 18), Fr. Roger Landry, a priest in my old diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, is quoted as saying, “What happens in the use of contraception, rather than embracing us totally as God made the other, with the masculine capacity to become a dad, or the feminine capacity to become a mom, we reject that paternal and maternal leaning.”
Well, no, Fr. Landry, we don’t. We don’t reject it. We make a decision about it. We recognize that pregnancy is a possibility, and we decide whether this is the right time for us to have a baby. We acknowledge that we are more than just potential (or actual) parents. One of the surest signs of youth—in any profession—is an unswerving adherence to literal interpretations. New teachers cling to the curriculum, whether or not the class is getting it. Young doctors focus on the clear x-ray, unable to see the patient in front of them writhing in pain. Parish priests preach the letter of the law, while their parishioners refuse to follow rules created without reference to the reality they know. But the rules aren’t just unrealistic. They are often irrelevant, based on incorrect or incomplete information.

Fr. Landry goes on to say, “Contraception…make[s] pleasure the point of the act, and any time pleasure becomes the point rather than the fruit of the act, the other person becomes the means to that end. And we’re actually going to hurt the people we love.” At one level, this is insightful and nuanced. When he laments how frequently such objectification happens to women in sexual relationships, Fr. Landry sounds almost feminist. And he is right that a relationship that’s only about the pursuit of pleasure is demeaning and ultimately hurtful.
He is wrong, though, to assume that using contraception automatically makes “pleasure the point of the act.” This is how adolescents think. Teenagers dream of constantly available sex, uninhibited by any possibility of pregnancy. That priests would talk the same way about sex between a husband and wife who have chosen to use contraception reflects inexperience and adolescent projection.
Adults understand that good sex, with or without contraception, goes deeper than pleasure. It is complex and demanding. And pleasure isn’t necessarily a part of it. Any human encounter requiring honesty and surrender has the potential for both revelation and pain. The communication, healing, and strengthening that good sex ensures is foundational to a marriage. Pure pleasure the point of the act? What is Fr. Landry talking about?
Distrust of pleasure is one hallmark of the church’s teaching about sex. This is odd because, as Catholics, we also believe that “eye has not seen nor ear heard the wonders God has prepared for those who love Him.” But that aside, what is the church’s antidote to the dread prospect of people having too much fun in bed? Children.
The thing is, children are also a deep source of pleasure, joy, and fun. The bishops, while recognizing this truth, nonetheless focus on babies as natural results of the biological act, asconsequences and responsibilities—not as persons who are sought after and gladly welcomed. (Indeed, people who seek too vigorously to have children are also criticized as trying to play God, to control what should be divinely ordained.)
I understand what is behind the bishops’ anxiety over designer parenthood—the demand for too much control over what kind of children we have. And I agree that sexual license is a serious threat to happiness, order, and the good of the human community.
But every human activity has the potential to become unbalanced. Having children mindlessly, year after year, as former generations of Catholics did, is just as harmful to the social good as the refusal to connect sex with pregnancy. Visit India, Fr. Landry. Talk with the women here who are treated purely as producers of sons.
To defend contraception within marriage is not to defend sexual license. Married couples who have pledged a lifetime of commitment to each other and their families have the right and the duty to make their own decisions about contraception. The church’s role is to help them arrive at the decision that is right for their lives. It is not to dictate one-size-fits-all rules that have no foundation in practical experience.
The church has made a spectacle of itself by promoting an immature version of sexuality that is missing the sinew of lived experience. It used to frighten people into submission. Now it simply makes them smile a little sadly. I’m a prolife Catholic who practiced only Natural Family Planning. But I’m smiling, too. Because I’m sad for my church.

800 "Priests Warn Vatican over Gag Move"/ Justice is Rising Up

Comment:  Interestingly-it use to be 300priests-then 600 now 800  Hummm.  From all my conversations, you cannot tell me the priests of the Roman Catholic Church are 100% sexist, misogynists, and celebates. I know differently....Clerics need  to come clean about their beliefs....

In his Holy Thursday speech, Benedict warned, ".......  that the church will not tolerate priests speaking out against Catholic teaching..." 

This is not Catholic teaching because Catholics , including me, do not believe this....I belive Catholic is inclusive, welcoming to all minorities and majorities. I believe Catholic understands God calls whomsoever God will.   And I believe God would not throw anyone out of the Catholic Church because they want to responsibly raise the children with whom they have been gifted. 

However, I do believe a cleric who wants to maintain their position of power (not gospel authority) over others would make these choices.....The Pope is governing hierarchically, not pastorally-this so called doctrine is simply theirs to maintain their power over the polity.

800 "Priests Warn Vatican over Gag Move"/ Justice is Rising Up

Irish Independent, Monday April 09 2012
"An 800-strong group of Irish priests has said it is disturbed over the Vatican's silencing of one of its members for his liberal views.
The Association of Catholic Priests has warned that forcing Father Tony Flannery to stop writing for a Redemptorist magazine will fuel belief of a disconnect between Irish Catholics and Rome.
"We believe that such an approach, in its individual focus on Fr Flannery and inevitably by implication on the members of the association, is an extremely ill-advised intervention in the present pastoral context in Ireland," the group said.
"We wish to make clear our profound view that this intervention is unfair, unwarranted and unwise."
Fr Flannery, a founder of the association, has had his monthly column with the religious publication Reality pulled on orders from Rome. A second priest, Father Gerard Moloney, the magazine's editor, has been ordered to stop writing on certain issues.
Both priests hold liberal views on contraception, celibacy and women priests. At least a dozen priests had already publicly declared support for Fr Flannery and Fr Moloney in messages on the association's website.
In a strongly worded statement, the group said Fr Flannery's writings should not be seen as an attack on or rejection of the fundamental teachings of the church but a reflection on issues surfacing in parishes nationwide. It said they also reject their portrayal in some circles as a "small coterie of radical priests with a radical agenda".
"At this critical juncture in our history, the ACP believes that this form of intervention - what Archbishop Diarmuid Martin recently called 'heresy-hunting' - is of no service to the Irish Catholic Church and may have the unintended effect of exacerbating a growing perception of a significant 'disconnect' between the Irish Church and Rome," the group said.
Fr Flannery, who has written on religious matters in the Redemptorist magazine for 14 years, is under investigation by the Vatican over his views. As well as expressing opposition to the church's ban on contraception and women priests, Fr Flannery publicly backed Taoiseach Enda Kenny's unprecedented attack on the Catholic hierarchy in the aftermath of the Cloyne Report last year.
In a Holy Thursday homily at St Peter's Basilica in Rome, Pope Benedict warned that the church will not tolerate priests speaking out against Catholic teaching."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

New Book Julia Episcopa, A Women’s Struggle in the Church, John H. Rigoli

Book Review 

 Julia Episcopa, A Women’s Struggle in the Church,   John H. Rigoli

For a purely fictional tale, John Rigoli gets a lot of things right.  Spanning more than 2000 years time, Julia Episcopa highlights the legalized and cultural politics of power men have maintained against women.  In a skillful translation of fictional events from the 1st to the 21st century, Julia’s privileged status in higher society moved her through family lineage, political arrangement through marriage and later into the role of a first century Bishop.   Unburdened by the politics of marriage, the two 21st century women moved into the Vatican’s clerical society by specialized education in the field of archeology.  What follows is a mythic travelogue marked by displays of age old heroism in the midst of treachery, betrayal, and murder that follows all cultures as they dealt with women who stood up to male dominators.  The book excels in giving definition to the Vatican’s centuries-old struggle to control women who cleverly continue to make their mark and shift their influence at every juncture in time. 

Review by Diane Dougherty