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The Elephant in

the Church by 

Mary T. Malone: 

Book Review

Gladys Ganiel | December 2, 2014

The Elephant in the Church: A Woman’s Tract for Our Times (Columba 2014), the latest book by Mary T. Malone, is a passionately-argued, historically-grounded plea for women to have equal voices and positions in the Catholic Church.

Malone retired home to Ireland in 1997 after teaching almost 40 years in Canada in Toronto’s St Augustine Seminary, and the University of St Jerome’s, the Catholic College on the campus of the University of Waterloo. She is previously the author of a trilogy on Women and Christianity (2000, 2001, 2003) and Praying with the Women Mystics (2006), all published by Columba.
Malone argues that women, and their exclusion, are the ‘elephant in the room’ when it comes to discussions of renewal and reform in the Catholic Church.

The male-dominated hierarchy just don’t want to talk about women or listen to their perspectives. Women’s exclusion is an issue that won’t be solved simply by allowing the ordination of women to the priesthood, an office which Malone sees as a ‘male construct’. For her, change must go much deeper than that. As she writes (xii):

‘Women are still the permanently silenced members of the Roman Catholic Church, nothing they think or say is of interest when it comes to formulating teaching, or revising the public prayer of the Church. But the Good News has penetrated the imaginations of people, and the open horizons offered by Jesus continue to inspire people to move beyond the imposed spiritual and theological restrictions.’

Setting herself the task of pushing her readers beyond these restrictions, The Elephant in the Church chronicles, ‘the lives and teaching of women throughout the whole span of Christianity … in the hope that, as women and men Christians, our joint insights, historical and contemporary, may help to renew the church we love’ (p. xiii).

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Too many women on the altar? Yikes!

Caitlin Hendel   |  Jan. 8, 2015

Is it possible Cardinal Raymond Burke says these things just to watch the response from the good folks at NCR and from women around the world?
Perhaps, but I'll bite anyway.

In an interview with a group called The New Emangelization (get it? eMANgelization because it's a ministry for men, although I thought that was already called the priesthood), Burke decries the influence of women in the church, saying an increased focus on them has "feminized" the church.

According to Burke, there are way too many women on the altar these days -- servers, lectors, eucharistic ministers, oh my! Who let them get on the other side of the Communion rail? Oh, wait, no more Communion rails. Maybe that explains it.
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The Incarnation is both pure grace and a work in progress

NCR Editorial Staff   |  Dec. 20, 2014

Theology can seem as distant from reality as a greeting card is from the terror of that first Christmas: a homeless couple with newborn, the sound of hoofbeats, the slaughter of innocents, desert flight to alien status in a strange land.
But theology is all we have to articulate a different outcome for our reality, so shadowed by trouble and rumors of more trouble to come, one world collapsing under its own weight with no sign yet of another world emerging more attentive to the needs of basic human community.

Christmas proclaims the Incarnation, that God is among us, one of us. It is a theological mystery so all-encompassing it is invisible, like DNA, the organizing principle of evolution itself. To be is to be in God, of God, for God. Jesus arrives not to bring this but to reveal it.

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Pope issues scathing critique of Vatican bureaucracy in pre-Christmas meeting

Joshua J. McElwee   |  Dec. 22, 2014 

Pope Francis on Monday used an annual pre-Christmas meeting with the cardinals and bishops of the Vatican bureaucracy -- normally an exchange of good wishes and blessings -- to issue a scathing critique of them, warning against 15 separate "diseases" in their work and attitudes.
Saying he wanted to prepare them all -- including himself -- to make "a real examination of conscience" before Christmas, Francis said while the Vatican bureaucracy was called to "always improve and grow in communion," it was also prone to "disease, malfunction, and infirmity" like every human institution.

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Marie Evans Bouclin - Évêque et féministe 

Video interview in French - Interview vidéo en français

Published on Jan 19, 2015

Elle milite pour l'avancement des femmes dans l'Église catholique.
Plus jeune, elle défroque des soeurs de la Charité et travaille au diocèse de Sault Ste-Marie et à la Conférence des évêques catholiques de l'Ontario. Elle y constate les profondes inégalités et les injustices auxquelles les femmes sont confrontées. Elle publiera des ouvrages qui dénoncent d'ailleurs l'abus de pouvoir dans l'Église.

Puis, Marie Bouclin est ordonnée prêtre en 2007 et évêque en 2011, au sein d'un groupe dissident de l'Église catholique.

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Pope Francis Stinks!

by Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog 

Conservatives are suspicious of Pope Francis and are on the point of vilifying him because he smells too much like sheep -- like the poor. He smells too much like Jesus.

Readings for 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: I SAM 3: 3B-10, 19; PS 40: 4, 7-10; I COR 6: 13C-15A, 17-20; JN 35-42

Recently Pope Francis has come in for some hard criticism from the U.S. right wing. It’s not just because of his rejection of free market capitalism, trickle-down theory, and huge income disparities between the rich and poor. It’s not just his openness to gays and divorcees, and his refusal to obsess about abortion and contraception.

Yes, all of these have undermined what conservatives have seen as a close alliance between the Catholic Church and their pet causes and thinking modes.

However, the straw breaking the back of reactionaries is the pope’s unequivocal warnings about climate change. They’ve gone apoplectic about his intention to publish an encyclical on the matter, and his plans to convoke a conference of religious leaders to address it. The pope’s expressed intention is to influence this year’s U.N. Paris Conference on Climate Change. All of that has raised the specter of a global Catholic climate change movement potentially mobilizing the world’s 1.2 billion members. Think about that for a minute!

In such context, Francis visit this week to the Philippines is extremely significant. The Philippines is not only the home of 80% Asia’s Catholics – more than 100 million. It is also the poster child for the devastation that climate change wreaks on the principal victims of global warming, the world’s poor. In 2013 the archipelago was raked by Typhoon Yolanda whose winds and floods killed more than 7000.

So the world listened when on his way to Manila Pope Francis was asked if climate change is “mostly due to the work of man and his lack of care for nature?” In reply, the pope said:

(F)or the greater part, it is man who gives a slap to nature continually, and we have to some degree become the owners of nature, of sister earth, of mother earth. I recall, and you have heard, what an old peasant once told me: God always forgives, we men forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives. If you give her a slap, she will give you one. I believe that we have exploited nature too much, deforestation, for example.

With words like those, the pope’s critics charge he is speaking beyond his expertise, which involves matters of “faith and morals.” But that’s just the point. The pope is making climate change a moral issue, a matter of ethics even more important than more “traditional” Catholic moral concerns about sex which after all presume the survival of the human species and the planet.

The pope’s critics also ignore, of course, that Francis bases his judgments not only on the testimony of 97% of all climate scientists, but on the research of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Its membership roster features the names of the world’s most respected scientists. These include Nobel laureates such as Ernest Rutherford, Max Planck, Otto Hahn, Niels Bohr, and Charles Hard Townes. The Academy’s current president is Werner Arber, himself a Nobel laureate, and the first Protestant to head the group.

But why such right-wing fury? It’s because like Naomi Klein, conservatives see the (for them) disastrous implications of addressing the issue. As announced in the title of Klein’s book, they sense that This Changes Everything. That is, taking on climate change as a moral issue undermines the political right’s program of market deregulation and continued extraction of non-renewable resources.

So pundits like First Things blogger, Maureen Mullarkey have given up on lip sticking the pope and are now in full attack mode. According to Mullarkey Pope Francis is simply “an ideologue and a meddlesome egoist. His clumsy intrusion into the Middle East and covert collusion with Obama over Cuba makes that clear. Megalomania sends him galloping into geopolitical—and now meteorological—thickets, sacralizing politics and bending theology to premature, intemperate policy endorsements.”

For Mullarkey, Pope Francis pretty much stinks.

And that brings me to today’s gospel reading. It’s all about stink – about what Pope Francis calls “the smell of the sheep.” Famously, you recall, the pontiff called on Catholic priests to live closer to the poor, to recognize them as God’s people and their welfare as the guideline for economic and social policy – to “take on,” he said, “the smell of the sheep.”

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Without substantive attitudinal and structural changes, not among the women investigated, but rather those who initiated the investigation, this grand mistake and others like it will be repeated.

Thomas C. Fox    |  Dec. 17, 2014 

The apostolic visitation, which sowed much division and cast a dark shadow over the lives and work of U.S. women religious for nearly six years, is finally drawing to an end. Beleaguered as we are, for this we should express gratitude.
To quote from T.S. Eliot: "Not with a bang but a whimper."

The head of the Vatican's religious congregation, Cardinal João Bráz de Aviz, whose heart has never been in this investigation, an investigation he inherited, deserves praise for attempting as best he can to stop the bleeding.

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Visitation report takes mostly positive tone toward US sisters

Joshua J. McElwee | Dec. 16, 2014  

The final report of a controversial six-year Vatican investigation of tens of thousands of U.S. Catholic sisters takes a roundly positive, even laudatory, tone toward their life and work but also includes several couched but barbed criticisms of them.
Using some form of the word "gratitude" eight times over its 12 pages, the report also acknowledges the suspicion many sisters had over the launching of the investigation and says the Vatican is seeking "respectful and fruitful dialogue" with those who refused to collaborate in the process.

The Vatican's congregation for religious life, which wrote the report, states at one point: "We express the hope that together we may welcome this present moment as an opportunity to transform uncertainty and hesitancy into collaborative trust, so that the Lord may lead us forward in the mission he has entrusted to us on behalf of the people we serve."

The Vatican investigation, known formally as an apostolic visitation, was launched by the religious congregation in 2008 with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI. Likely the largest such investigation in church history, it involved inquiry into some 341 female religious institutes in the U.S. that include some 50,000 women.

Read the full story at Global Sisters Report.

10 Things Christians Shouldn’t Do At Christmas

Mark Sandlin | December 9, 2014

Ah, Christmas! “The most wonderful time of the year.”

A time to gather with family and friends and, with smiles on our faces, pretend we aren’t quietly measuring who received the best present and which of our relatives really, really needs to stop drinking.

A time to hang tinsel and baubles from the tree, and time to hang up our hopes of losing that last 10 pounds this year.

Such a joyous season!

The real point here is that Christmas is what we make of it.

For Christians, however, there are some very specific things you can’t do if you want to actually honor and follow the person we say we celebrate this season.

So, I give you my “10 Things Christians Shouldn’t Do At Christmas.”

This is not intended to be a complete list, but it is a pretty good start.

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Unearthing the gender balance at the heart of our Catholic tradition

by Christine Schenk    |  Dec. 4, 2014

I love Advent. It's such a hopeful and consoling season for those who long to see God's values fully realized "on Earth as in heaven," as Jesus prayed.
This is the season of the prophet Isaiah, whose proclamations permeate our liturgies and whose writings inspired both Jesus and St. Paul. We renew our belief in a God who brings "glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives and makes justice and praise spring up before all the nations" (Isaiah 61).

Above all, we bask in a very special brand of prophetic hope that stretches back over 2,500 years.

Recently, I was delighted to discover that female prophets and scribes helped shape the Isaiah tradition so important to early Christianity. Episcopal priest Wilda Gafney's book Daughters of Miriam uncovers the all-but-unknown fact that in ancient Israel, prophetic schools and scribal guilds were composed of both women and men. These gender-balanced groups created the prophetic writings attributed to Isaiah and many other prophetic figures. Gafney's doctoral study of ancient prophecy and its technical vocabulary is credited with beginning a new chapter in gender and biblical studies.

Since the New Testament cites or alludes to the Book of Isaiah more than 300 times, it is not an exaggeration to say that the foundational motifs of Christianity emerge from the prophetic ministries of both women and men. For example, St. Paul quotes Isaiah more than any other Old Testament source, and Jesus reads Isaiah 61 as he inaugurates his own mission: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:17-22).

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Vatican asks for wide input on 2015 synod, not based on doctrine

Joshua J. McElwee    |  Dec. 9, 2014

For the second time in two years, the Vatican has asked national bishops' conferences around the world to seek input from Catholics at "all levels" about how the church should respond to sometimes difficult questions of modern family life, such as divorce and remarriage.
Issuing a document in preparation for a second worldwide meeting of Catholic bishops on family life next year, the Vatican has also stressed the need for mercy in responding to such difficult situations -- even asking the bishops to avoid basing their pastoral care solely on current Catholic doctrine.

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Block that metaphor
-- Pope Francis and Women

Phyllis Zagano | Dec. 3, 2014

Pope Francis hurled an annoying — even insulting — metaphor at half the planet when, in a speech before the European Parliament, he likened Europe to a “haggard” grandmother “no longer fertile and vibrant.” Not sure how many grandmothers he knows, but it’s pretty clear he hasn’t been to the gym lately. He might meet a few vibrant grandmothers there.
OK, stand by, before we all get run over by the Francis Fan Club. He’s terrific. He really is. He regularly says and does the right thing at the right time. Yet, he seems to have a blind spot when it comes to women.

It might not be entirely his fault.

Francis does not seem to have a single person coordinating his message. There is no way a professional editor in the 21st century would allow the chief executive of any corporation to use demeaning metaphors about women. Yet this “selfie” shows Francis with his foot in his mouth.

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Vatican lifts ban on married priests for Eastern Catholics in diaspora

Will married priests for Western Catholics be next?

Will women priests be next?

Laura Ieraci  |  Nov. 17, 2014

The Vatican has lifted its ban on the ordination of married men to the priesthood in Eastern Catholic churches outside their traditional territories, including in the United States, Canada and Australia.
Pope Francis approved lifting the ban, also doing away with the provision that, in exceptional cases, Eastern Catholic bishops in the diaspora could receive Vatican approval to ordain married men. In recent years, however, some Eastern Catholic bishops went ahead with such ordinations discreetly without Vatican approval.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, signed the decree June 14. It was published later online in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official periodical through which Vatican laws and decisions are published.

The new law says the pope concedes to Eastern Catholic bishops outside their traditional territory the faculties to "allow pastoral service of Eastern married clergy" and "to ordain Eastern married candidates" in their eparchies or dioceses, although they must inform the local Latin-rite bishop in writing "in order to have his opinion and any relevant information."

"We are overjoyed with the lifting of the ban," Melkite Bishop Nicholas Samra of Newton, Mass., told Catholic News Service in a Nov. 15 email.

The Vatican decree explained that in response to the "protests" of the Latin-rite bishops in the United States, in 1890 the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples prohibited married Ruthenian priests from living in the United States. And in 1929-30, the Congregation for Eastern Churches extended the ban to all Eastern-rite priests throughout North America, South America and Australia.

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Cardinal O'Malley: If I started a church, I'd love to have women priests

Teresa M. Hanafin | November 16, 2014

Catholics who thought Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s remarks about Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn’s suitability for office were provocative have another interesting comment to ponder: If he were to start a church, he would “love to have women priests.”

In an interview with “60 Minutes” on CBS that producers said took more than a year for them to persuade him to do, O’Malley seemed troubled by reporter Norah O’Donnell’s question as to whether the exclusion of women from the Church hierarchy was “immoral.”

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Open Letter to Cardinal O’Malley
Dear Cardinal Sean O’Malley:

In what has already become an infamous “60 Minutes” interview, you stated to Norah O’Donnell: “If I were founding a church, I’d love to have women priests. But Christ founded it, and what he has given us is something different.”

As women born well after Vatican II, we are constantly asked: “Why would any young, educated woman choose to stay in a Church that purposefully denies her equality?” We stay because we believe that Jesus did give us “something different.” Jesus gave us the Gospel message of equality and social justice, where all people are made in God’s image and welcomed at the table.

Unfortunately, the Catholic hierarchy has given the Church only misguided, theologically dubious doctrines that have been refuted time and time again. You may not have founded our faith, but in today’s Church you do have a voice, authority, and a vote, which is something denied to women.

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Vatican consultant ‘absolutely’ in favour of women priests

Excluding women ‘unacceptable’ says priest due to report to pontifical council

Paddy Agnew | Nov 6, 2014

Spanish priest Fr Pablo d’Ors, a consultant to the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, yesterday said he was “absolutely” in favour of opening up the priesthood to women.

Speaking in a candid tone that appears to take its cue from the frank debate at the recent Synod of Bishops, Fr d’Ors told Italian daily La Repubblica: “Am I in favour [of the ordination of women]? Absolutely, and I am not the only one. The reasoning which claims that women cannot become priests because Jesus was a man and because he chose only men [as his apostles] is very weak. That is a cultural consideration not a metaphysical one.”

Were it not for the fact that Fr D’Ors is one of 30 consultants due to report to a meeting of the Pontifical Council for Culture (PCC) in February, his comments might have little significance. However, the PCC’s meeting in the Vatican will be focussed on the role of women in the Catholic Church today.

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A Much-Needed Book -- on Misandry

S. Bayley | October 26, 2004

This review is from: Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture (Hardcover)

This excellent book presents convincing evidence of the pervasiveness of misandry (contempt for men) in popular culture. Written in a very scholarly manner and carefully documented, it analyzes numerous movies, cartoons and tv shows to prove this point. The reader is clearly shown how men are ridiculed and insulted in virtually every advertisement, cartoon and movie by individuals (male and female) who feel duty-bound to put men down at every opportunity.

Some readers wonder why so few men complain about this kind of treatment. The reason is clear. Western culture has a double standard whereby women may complain endlessly, but men must keep their mouths shut. It is not macho for a man to complain. Thus if a man dares to complain about misandry, he is likely to be reviled as a whimp, a whiner or a male chauvinist pig. Faced with such vilification, is it any wonder that men are reluctant to speak out? They know full well that they will never be taken seriously.

While some of the misandry emanates from men, much of it comes from feminists as well. All this and more is addressed in this well-written book. It should be required reading for all social science students.

Editor's Note: The following is a quote from RCWP's Mission Statement:

The mission of Roman Catholic Women Priests is to prepare, ordain, and support qualified women from all states of life who are committed to an inclusive model of Church, and who are called by the Holy Spirit and their communities to minister to the People of God. 

Bishop Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger believes Pope Francis is in favour of women priests

The Local - Austria's News in English | 11 Nov 2014

A former school teacher, Mayr-Lumetzberger came under the spotlight after she and a group of other Catholic women announced they had been ordained as priests by a retired bishop on a boat in the middle of the Danube.

The so-called Danube Seven have inspired at least 100 other women to follow in their footsteps. In 2003 Mayr-Lumetzberger took it one stage further by being consecrated a bishop.

She told The Local that there are very few women priests practising in Austria as the Catholic Church is so powerful here that it can be a difficult life for someone who chooses to make a stand. “You have to be very strong,” she says. “Many women don’t want to be in the spotlight and don’t want to be attacked by the press.”

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When it comes to the vocal minority, the tail must no longer wag the dog

Robert Mickens  |  Nov. 10, 2014

Pope Francis' transfer of Cardinal Raymond Burke on Saturday from being the Vatican's "chief justice" to a mere cardinal-protector of the Knights of Malta has intensified yet more irresponsible talk of schism within the Catholic church.

And top prize for the person most responsible for being irresponsible goes to none other than the man wearing the long red train. Yes, to Burke himself.

In an interview with the news site Breitbart.com just days before he was officially removed as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the 66-year-old American cardinal again stoked the fires. He said if bishops, in the months leading to next year's second gathering of the Synod of Bishops on the family, were seen to move "contrary to the constant teaching and practice of the Church, there is a risk [of schism] because these are unchanging and unchangeable truths."

In the same interview, he urged Catholics to "speak up and act."

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CTA in Memphis: Day One

CTA in Memphis: Day Two

CTA in Memphis: Day Three

Patriarchy must be defrocked - A voice out of Africa

31 Oct 2014 | Mbuyiselo Botha

A few weeks ago, Mary Ryan became the second South African woman to be ordained as a Catholic priest. The Catholic Church does not, of course, acknowledge this ordination.

In fact, in 2007, the Vatican declared that even attempting to ordain women would lead to excommunication, the harshest punishment the church leadership can mete out.

But Ryan and her colleagues bravely persisted.

Patricia Fresen, a veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle and the first South African woman to become a Catholic priest, oversaw Ryan’s ordination ceremony, during which she said: “In South Africa in particular we know that the only way to change an unjust law is to break it. And that is what we are doing today.”

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English translation of synod final document -- finally!

by Thomas Reese    |  Oct. 30, 2014  

NCR Today: The final document of the Synod of Bishops on the family has finally been translated into English and posted to the Vatican's website.

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5 Ways to Avoid Undermining Your Theology of Gender

Tim Peck | October 14, 2013

Paying attention to
1) body language,
2) challenging assumptions,
3) using gender-inclusive language,
4) rethinking examples, and
5) being willing to pay a price for my convictions
are all things that have helped me become more authentic as an egalitarian leader.  Having spent most of my Christian life in a setting filled with unspoken assumptions about gender inequality, my journey to align my practice with my faith is still a work in progress.  Fortunately, I have several women around me who are willing to give me honest, constructive feedback when I ask for it.

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