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Archives -- 2015

The benevolent sexism of the church is not harmless . . . It is detrimental to women and undermines the ability of women and their allies to mobilize and improve the situation of women -- Stay or Go?

Heidi Schlumpf   |  Dec. 3, 2015 

Column  The question inevitably comes up at any gathering about women and the church: To stay or go? The theme at a recent two-day conference at Loyola University Chicago on women and the church since Vatican II put the question front and center. Are women "Still Guests in Our Own House?" And if so, should we pack our bags to find a more welcoming home?

 One of the more provocative presentations at the conference, held Nov. 6-7, asked, "Is active membership in the Catholic church an example of morally serious cooperation with the evil of gender injustice?"

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Role of the Public Intellectual -- you and me

Joan Chittister | November 7, 2015

. . . in the Church with a Pope who is opening
it for questions, ask yourself:  What is your role and mine, if we are to live the Gospel faithfully and radically?

Or to put it another way, we must ask, What is the role of freelance thinkers, public intellectuals, like you and me, here and now? We who care about topics with deep feelings, personal experience and strong, educated opinions, but who have no power and authority to mandate change where change is necessary; in a society of talking points, public relations managers and political spin, but who nevertheless know we can’t blame God for what we fail to do ourselves; in a country hijacked by extremists, in a church whose vision of future has too long been the past, where possible answers were blocked and half the population is excluded from even thinking about them.

Read the complete text of Joan Chittister's key note address at CTA 2015

Sorry, no room in the inn

Jacklynne Guimond, Fort Frances, ON, quillonig@gmail.com

The Gift of the Blind

Catherine Cavanagh | December 23, 2015

Mary reflects; she ponders.  Even as a child they branded her the quiet one, the introvert.  But this is only because they couldn’t see the power of the images inside her, or hear those voices, or taste that sweetness.  She works hard too, even in the torturous noonday sun, bowing under the weight of the water pails, wrestling with the laundry, pounding the grain, not just for her family, but for the children, the neighbours, the sick, the weak and the blind.

The Holy Ones command, “Stay away from them!  Stay back.  Stay pure.  They will infect you with their sin, inseminate you with their horror, ravage you with their hopelessness.”

But Mary rejects purity.  She peers instead at the dust-encrusted face of the blind man by the well and is shocked by the pain etched across every wrinkle of that not-so-old brow, the loneliness on each sun-blotched cheek, the fear in each unseeing eye.  His name is Bartimaeus, and she spies on him, reaching into his eyes with her own.  She finds her village there, her family, herself.  Her fingers brush the ragged arm of this outcast man, and as he trembles, she feels his pulse, senses his warmth, unveils his humanity.  If she leaves him untended, then she abandons not only him, but every friend, every enemy, every person she has ever known. 
Every day, she draws water first for Bartimaeus, and waits as he drinks.  He sips carefully, making sure that none of the life-giving liquid is wasted, and when he is finished, she wipes his face with a damp cloth.  Their conversation is ragged at first.  It smoothes with time.  Mary describes to him the landscape of their world, and he describes to her his life of solitude in plain view.  If he has owned anything, it is time and thought, and these he shares eagerly with her.

The villagers shake their heads, and keep their distance at the well.  Only Joseph understands, pausing in his work on the hottest days to mop his brow and join in a drink of cool refreshing water.  Bartimaeus smiles, grows quiet and listens as Mary and Joseph converse.  He knows.  He has heard it before.

Joseph and Mary only speak with each other at the well but their eyes meet repeatedly through the rest of their day.  He nods at Mary across the sweltering market as he selects the finest wood, humble at that, and builds a shelter not for her but for the gnarled, sightless one.  Bartimaeus shall have a home. 

The shavings rise from Joseph’s workshop, swirl towards Mary, gather her to him.  Mary reflects:  there is a greater vision that does not require eyes, an understanding that forfeits ears, a wisdom that overflows the heart.  And so they are betrothed, promised to each other, perfect one for the other in thought, in deed, and in love.

And now?  Perhaps this would signal the end, the ‘happy ever after’, the grand finale, but there are no secrets in heaven.  This love commands attention.  This moment has come.

The universe rustles with hope, angels pause, the Spirit hovers. 

Sacred night.  Betrothed but not yet married, Mary sleeps.  Suddenly the darkness shatters, all peace destroyed.  She bolts upright on her sleeping mat.  Listens.  Gasps breathless before the Angel.  How can this be?  His call breaks through the night, explodes in her heart, shakes her to the soul. 

A question lies veiled behind his words, but how do you answer a question such as this?  What kind of a person can accept such a challenge?  What kind of a God would ask this of her? 

What kind of a woman would say yes? 

Only one that is blind, deaf and mute.  And Mary is all that:  blind to social status, deaf to idle chatter, and  mute before material possession.  She ponders this in her heart; that blindness is nothing but inward sight, that deafness is just the potential to hear the possible, that silence is necessary to grasp the sublime. 

And so, Mary stretches out towards the Presence, offers herself as sacrifice, trusts God and wraps herself around the Innocence that burgeons within her. 

She will give her life for this Child that He may give His life for others.  She will raise Him blind to hate.  She will raise Him deaf to wealth.  She will raise Him mute to insult and slander.

And she will give him the vision, the sound, and the Word of a world that belongs to God. 

Published here with the kind permission of the author:

Catherine Cavanagh, Brockville, ON cathmarycavanagh@gmail.com

“You are Anointed for Mercy”

The following is an adaptation of a sermon preached on Saturday, November 7, 2015 at the FutureChurch liturgy “Celebrating Women Witnesses of Mercy” in Milwaukee, WI at the Call To Action Conference.

[The readings were: excerpts from Pope Francis’ March 13, 2015 homily; Dorothy Day’s “The Scandal of the Works of Mercy;” Psalm 33; and Matthew 25:31-45.

Mercy! What is it we are talking about when we talk about mercy – about God’s mercy, and our prayer to be merciful as God is merciful? And how, in the words of Pope Francis, might we “rediscover and make fruitful” the mercy of God? Pope Francis has said that mercy is “the very substance of the Gospel message,” and “the mission of the Church to be a witness to mercy.”

Where does mercy live? Not in our heads. It is not something we can think ourselves into. Mercy resides in our hearts – think of God telling God’s people in Ezekiel their hearts of stone will be replaced with hearts of flesh. Mercy is in our bodies. There are
two words – one Hebrew and one Greek – which show us something about the nature of mercy.

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Women Priests -- Answering the Call


Preface from the book by Catherine Cavanagh | November 30, 2015

This is meant to be a book of hope, offered in the belief that the Roman Catholic Church brings goodness and faith alive in the world. But it is a book born in sadness as well, recognizing that we have much to do in our house to truly be the Church God calls us to be.

The Catholic Church introduced me to God, and first helped me understand
the experience of the divine. But it also reinforced in me as a child the idea that women and men are separate, and that somehow men are closer to God. I learned as I grew older that this could not be the truth, whatever the Church might each, and that the altar remained the altar for all, not just men. To think otherwise belied all the other truths of God that I knew, and all the other wisdom of God that the Catholic Church had taught me.

So I did what all good Catholics should do. I studied, reflected, prayed
and informed my conscience. And in writing this booklet, I am pursuing the second fundamental teaching of the Church on conscience, to follow it no matter what the cost.

I do so in the hopes that the Vatican will listen. I use the word ‘Church’ interchangeably in this booklet, sometimes to mean the Magisterium (Vatican) and sometimes to mean the people of God (true Church). I believe the context will make clear what sense I mean. In the end, the goal is to bring both together so that we may be the one Church we were always meant to be.

Catherine Cavanagh, cathmarycavanagh@gmail.com

Editor's note:  The author has given permission to download for free the complete 48 page booklet and read on your computer or e-reader

Click here for pdf format of Women Priests -- Following the Call

Composer's music celebrates women in the Catholic church -- as priests

Nancy Klein and Rich Moriarty (Courtesy of Rich Moriarty)
by Gail DeGeorge    |  Nov. 20, 2015 

When composer Rich Moriarty, 69, was inspired four years ago to write music for a liturgy to celebrate women in the church, he had a particular role in mind: women as priests in the Catholic church.
Part of his dream will be realized in a special concert of two works by the former chief of pathology, who swapped a career in medicine for music a decade ago, earning both bachelors and masters degrees in composition at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.

 "Adsum! A Mass Celebrating Women in the Church" premieres Sunday, Nov. 22 at Christ and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Norfolk, Va. The nine movement English-Latin liturgy will be performed by the ODU Concert Choir, conducted by Nancy Klein, director of the university’s choral department, and Schola Cantorum of Virginia, under artistic director Agnes Mobley-Wynne, who will co-conduct.

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We need fearless discussion on women's ordination

by NCR Editorial Staff    |  Nov. 13, 2015 

In an interview with The Irish Catholic newspaper, former Irish President Mary McAleese calls Pope Francis "by far the most intriguing pope of my lifetime." She says, "His greatest legacy to the church has been his welcoming of debate after the stultifying and suffocating imposed silence" of his two immediate predecessors.
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Irish priests' statement calls for free, open discussion of church's exclusion of women

Sarah Mac Donald | Nov. 6, 2015

Anger at the "systemic oppression of women within the Catholic church" has prompted a group of 12 Irish priests to issue a statement of protest calling for a free and open discussion of the exclusion of women from decision-making and the priesthood in the church.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Nov. 1, the 12, who include diocesan clergy as well as religious priests, warned that the current "strict prohibition" on discussing the question of women's ordination has failed to silence the majority of the Catholic faithful.

They underlined that it has, however, silenced priests and bishops because the sanctions imposed on those who dare to raise the question are "swift and severe."

The group, which includes some members of the reformist Association of Catholic Priests, said it believes the example given by the church in discriminating against women "encourages and reinforces abuse and violence against women in many cultures and societies."

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Ordination of married men would cause other major changes within the church -- including women's ordination

Joan Chittister | Nov. 6, 2015

God writes straight with crooked lines. -Portuguese Proverb
The question of the theology of ordination to the priesthood just isn't going to go away.

First, in a meeting with Italian priests in Rome in February, the pope, they tell us, said that he is going to put the topic of the ordination of married men "into his diary." Meaning on his list of subjects to be -- what? Addressed? Discussed? Opened to consideration? Promised? The possibilities are tantalizing.

In countries where some Catholic communities never see a priest more than once a year, the implications of a new and developing clergy -- a married clergy as well as a celibate clergy -- conjure up images of a church choosing to be vital and viable again.
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Cleansing ritual will not eliminate fear in those who cling to power

Jacklynne Guimond | November 17, 2015

Most recently it has been brought to my attention that an action initiated by my husband and me this past September has caused confusion and concern for many.

A newly ordained Roman Catholic Woman Priest friend from Regina had come to visit and, when we invited her to celebrate liturgy with us, she happily accepted.  Knowing fully well that, while Roman Catholic Women Priests refuse to leave the church, the official church refuses to acknowledge them as validly ordained.  (Kind of like dual citizenship.  Canada recognizes it, USA does not, yet, I am what I am.)

In light of that, I proceeded to search for a neutral place that would not put any of the local churches in an awkward  position.  Rainycrest chapel came to mind.  Fr. Wayne McIntosh had already left his chaplaincy post and no one had yet replaced him so I spoke to a staff member about it, asking if we might use the chapel on a Tuesday evening if it wasn’t being used.  She checked, found it was available and had no problem.  She understood that it was for a ‘private’ celebration with  our invited friends, not a Rainycrest service.

Because we are common faces at Rainycrest, some of the residents questioned what was happening, and some asked if they could participate. Since Eucharist is not our table but that of the Lord, no one can be excluded or denied. A few residents joined us for the liturgy and  even visited with us afterwards.  I wish to clarify that we brought our own bread, wine, utensils, and used only one music stand from the chapel closet, which we returned to its proper place.

Two months later I am told that we had no authority to be there.  Some people are so upset that even a “cleansing  of the chapel” has been suggested.

When a clergy-person is visiting a diocese other than his/her own, it is a customary courtesy to ‘ask permission’ to function in that diocese.  For example: If an Anglican priest from another diocese comes to town to officiate at even a family member’s funeral, he or she must clear that with the local Anglican authority.  Likewise with Roman Catholic clergy, the same courtesy or ‘permission’ is expected.  (Perhaps the same holds true for other denominations, I really cannot speak to that).

Did I know this?  Of course, I did.  I knew we would not be welcome to use St. Mary’s church, because our celebration would be considered ‘invalid by Church standards’.  I also knew that because there are no local Roman Catholic Women priests here, there was no need to ‘get permission’ from anyone, other than Rainycrest.

So, for those who think it is necessary, have a cleansing ritual, but know it will take far more than that to eliminate the fear in those who cling to power.

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, we will have peace.”

Jacklynne Guimond, Fort Frances, ON, quillonig@gmail.com

Review of Vatican Waltz

-- a novel by Roland Merullo (New York: Crown Publishers, 2013)

Shannon Hengen, Sudbury | October 24, 2015

The description on this novel’s cover would seem to make it an essential read for any Roman Catholic woman who has ever thought of ordination to the priesthood.  The main character, Cynthia Clare Piantedosi, a quiet young woman studying nursing while living at home with and caring for her widowed father in a Boston suburb, develops a uniquely rich spiritual life.  Entering an almost trancelike state, she feels divine love intensely.  And at the centre of those feelings is what she perceives to be a call to the priesthood.  Merullo’s descriptions of those feelings are among the novel’s strengths.

Members of RCWP and others interested in the ordination of Catholic women priests will want to know that RCWP is actually mentioned in the novel, though not by name. Says one of the sympathetic priests she consults with, “There is a group of women who’ve been ordained or who consider themselves ordained.  I respect them, but they haven’t been acknowledged by the Vatican” (pp. 69-70).   He adds that “Maybe in a hundred years, or three hundred years, we’ll see married priests or female Roman Catholic priests.  Maybe” (p. 69). 

Not written in a poetic style—more journalistic, in fact—Vatican Waltz describes Cynthia’s meetings with Catholic clergy as she discerns her vocation, some meetings discreetly encouraging and others forcefully discouraging.  But the sense that she is somehow chosen and favoured by God seems to be recognized by all she meets.  In her hospital work as a student nurse, she unobtrusively heals patients with a laying on of her hands.

The trances and healings would set Cynthia apart in a way that would make her impossible to relate to, except that she also engages in compelling discussions and disagreements with clergy about the Church’s current and future state that seem convincingly, provocatively real.  In many ways she seems a typical thinking, questioning Catholic woman, and her talks with clergy compel the reader.  She naturally experiences a range of emotions from encouragement to despair; rarely, though, does she experience fear, and in that way she remains distant from the reader.

To lend suspense and intrigue to the novel, Merullo introduces a band of ultra-conservative Catholics, the Lamb of God group, who seriously threaten her and other progressive Catholics throughout.  When Cynthia travels to Rome to bring her petition to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and beyond, she is physically menaced by them but, with the support of her conviction, she carries on.

Italian by heritage, Cynthia falls in love with Rome, and her visits to its many beautiful churches provide lovely lyrical passages.  She also meets cousins who, however, hate the Church, connecting it with Fascist ideology and tactics.  Thematically, the novel rests between extremes of radical change, ordination of women on one hand and harsh repression of any change on the other. Unfortunately, the theme takes a baffling turn at novel’s end.

In a way preparing readers for the ending, the central character undergoes a revelation in one Italian church, Santa Maria in Trastevere, where she ponders a mosaic of Jesus and Mary, the son’s arm around his mother.  Intuiting that this church might be her true destination in Rome, rather than her meetings with cardinals, she muses: “That, I thought, that was my Jesus.  Not the tortured man hanging from nails on a cross . . . but an ordinary-looking, loving man . . . giving his mother an embrace that seemed to say, there is no distinction here, she and I are made of the same stuff” (p. 187).

Jesus accepted women as equals, this intuition declares.  The Church does not. In order for the Jesus of this intuition to return to the centre of the Catholic Church, a shift in current practice must be much greater than the ordination of women.  It must destroy the hierarchy as it is and replace it with what one Cardinal calls, simply, “the interior world” (p. 271) where we are “warm, . . . kind . . ., your heart is open to the full love of Christ without reservation” (p. 268).  In the current Church, he states baldly, when members act in such Christlike ways, “you must always invite hatred” (p. 268). Christ came “to break . . . things apart,” he continues, and “now in our Church we have a time like that also” (p. 269).

Such exciting and promising words from a Cardinal lead to the novel’s final scenes in which, in a clandestine meeting, he prays with Cynthia and requests her blessing.  What follows in the novel’s last pages is—to say the least—confusing, if not preposterous.  The Church may indeed require a Second Coming in order to reform, but readers might understandably hope for less dramatic means.  That the central character is brought to a “larger” (p. 271) purpose than ordination raises serious questions about the novelist’s view of women’s role in the Church.  Despite the novel’s last pages, and the nagging sense of distance that we sometimes feel from the main character, it could be worth the attention of those Catholic women who are discerning ordination.  Simply: beware of the conclusion!

Shannon Hengen, Sudbury

Pope Francis, Reinstate Fired Nun

Petition for Justice, women's ordination

Groundswell | November 4, 2015

Pope Francis has ushered in an era of renewal and justice in the Catholic Church. So why is an elderly, seriously ill nun who faithfully served for 47 years being excommunicated from the Church and dismissed from her religious order?

Because she is a woman. Sister Tish Rawles was excommunicated when she followed God’s call to become an ordained priest in April of this year – something the institutional church does not support for women.

That’s why women priests across the globe started a Groundswell petition asking Pope Francis to overturn Tish’s excommunication – so she can faithfully serve her community, regardless of her gender. If you believe in Francis’ vision of a “Church of Mercy” that “excludes no one,” please add your name.

Click to sign the petition.

Pope Francis states that “true power, at whatever level, is service.” Forced to choose between remaining in her order and public priestly ministry, Sister Tish lived Christ-like service as she followed her conscience and secretly administered the sacraments to the sick and dying.

Now Pope Francis can use his papal power to overturn Sister Tish’s excommunication, as well as the excommunications of all women priests and supporters.

This petition will be delivered to Pope Francis and the bishop of Sister Tish’s diocese -- Cincinnati.  Help uplift the voices of Catholics and all people of faith and good will who believe in equal rights and equal rites.

Sign the petition to tell Pope Francis you stand with Sister Tish and all women called to ordination.

After you’ve signed, please share the petition with family and friends, using the hashtag #StandWithTish. Your support of Gospel equality will help the movement for justice in the Church grow.


Priest sanctioned after appearing at women's ordination gathering

Thomas C. Fox  |  Sep. 22, 2015

After appearing at a women's ordination conference, Fr. Jack McClure was told he can't celebrate mass at the parish where he has been pastor for the past 15 months.

Women’s ordination: WOW delivers its message to the world

Maureen Fiedler  |  Sep. 22, 2015

If the church ended gender discrimination and proclaimed the equality of all human beings loud and clear, it would send a message to the world that would reverberate across oceans.

As meeting ends, ordination advocates claim renewed purpose

Thomas C. Fox  |  Sep. 21, 2015

Organizers and delegates to the third international women’s ordination conference, finishing a three-day conference here, said they were leaving with a renewed energy and purpose.

Women's ordination conference ends in song, dance, Eucharist

Thomas C. Fox  |  Sep. 20, 2015

Women ordination advocates joined in a liturgical celebration Sunday morning which turned into an energetic sendoff ceremony. 

Theologian: 'Ordination ideas have changed over time'

Thomas C. Fox  |  Sep. 20, 2015

Church historian says: “In the past, ordination referred to the selection and installment of a person by their own community to a position, or office, or function really, within that community ... to any function considered of service to the Christian community."

Priests offer support for women's ordination

Thomas C. Fox  |  Sep. 19, 2015

Priests explain their diverse journeys in support of women's ordination at WOW conference in Philadelphia.

Theologian: 'Gender insights challenge priesthood theology'

Thomas C. Fox  |  Sep. 19, 2015

Sharp traditional distinctions between male and female that formed traditional Catholic theology over centuries have dissolved in recent times challenging church teachings.

Theresa Kane's message to Pope Francis: eradicate scandal of gender inequality

Thomas C. Fox  |  Sep. 19, 2015

At women's ordination conference. Sr. Kane says, "Pope Francis, to listen to the women of our church and world who cry out in anguish."

Four women honored with 'Theresa Kane vision and courage' awards

Thomas C. Fox  |  Sep. 18, 2015

Philadelphia -- The women's ordination conference this evening singled out four women, honoring them with the "Theresa Kane Woman of Vision and Courage Awards."

Women's ordination conference opens in Philadelphia

Thomas C. Fox  |  Sep. 18, 2015

As women ordination advocates trickled in from around the globe, Women’s Ordination Worldwide 2015 (WOW) got underway here just one week before Pope Francis is set to step foot in the city.

What Women Priests Want: a discussion with Rev. Dr. Linda M. Maloney, a priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont and Rev. Linda Spear RCWP, a Roman Catholic Woman Priest from Sutton, Quebec, Canada

Two women priests, Rev. Linda Spear, RCWP, and Rev. Dr. Linda Maloney talk with host Margaret Harrington about contemporary issues related to peace and justice, gender, history, theology, immigration, political and social issues

View video here

Lift the Ban on Women Priests: An Open Letter to Pope Francis
Roy Bourgeois | October 23, 2015

Dear Pope Francis:

In 2012, after serving as a Catholic priest for 40 years, I was expelled from the priesthood because of my public support for the ordination of women. My expulsion from the priesthood by Pope Benedict came just five months before you became our Pope.

As Catholics, we are taught that men and women are created equal: “There is neither male nor female. In Christ you are one.” (Galatians 3:28). Pope Francis, why can’t women be priests?

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The Surprising 
Origins of (and Problem with) the Vatican’s View of Sex and Gender

A primer on an issue that brings sex and gender into focus like no other—women’s ordination

Ivan Strenski | October 6, 2015

Indeed, when Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, one the Vatican’s chief theological gatekeepers, openly celebrated his homosexuality and love for his partner as the “will of God” on the eve of the Synod on the Family, he both got himself fired and stirred a chorus of controversy—perhaps beyond his reckoning.

Might it rile an intransigent “hell-no” chorus or empower liberals to face the Church with its own “We’re here, we’re queer. So, deal with it” chorus? Will it expose the brittle historicity (and thus fallibility) of the church’s long naturalized theological anthropology? Can we expect the Vatican to examine its most fundamental notions about sex, sexual identity, and gender?

Along with gay Catholics, keen Catholic feminists also relentlessly point out the oddities of the Church’s vision of the sexed human person. Could this be their moment, too? Indeed, timed for the Synod, the Paulist Press’ publication of an anthology of essays—Catholic Women Speak: Bringing Our Gifts to the Table—exposes how very weird, and not so wonderful, the official Vatican view of sexed human nature is.

Calls for such a deeper theology of the sexed and gendered human person call in turn, for a primer on an issue that brings sex and gender into focus like no other—women’s ordination.

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Are we prepared to be surprised by the Spirit?
NCR Editorial Staff | Oct. 4, 2015

Catholics today are faced with a conundrum and a question. Pope Francis advocates for a church with open doors, "so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door." But one door remains firmly shut with a deadbolt securely in place. On women's ordination, Francis says, "That door is closed."
He reinforced that statement Sept. 27 aboard the papal plane en route back to Rome from the U.S. "Women priests -- that cannot be done," he said. "Not because women do not have the capacity," he added. They just can't.

That's the conundrum: All the doors are open, all but one.

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German woman petitions pope for priesthood

 Gia Vang | September 18, 2015

There is a law in the Catholic Church called Cannon Law 1024 and it states "A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly." A man, and no other.

Except there are men and women who believe this is unjust in today's world and are trying to work to change it. That includes a young German woman named Jacqueline Straub, 25, who you could say is making a little bit of headway in this cause.

"If God can call a man he can also call a women," she said. "I have a call to be a priest, to be a Catholic priest."

The masters student studying theology in Switzerland, and hoping to get her PhD in church law, sat down in September, 2014 and wrote a letter to Pope Francis.

"I bring my heart to the pope and said, 'Please you can change something, I know it's not on your agenda but try to make something that in the future it will happen,'" she said.

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Canadian archbishop's full remarks to Synod on women, St. Paul, deacons

The latest statistics from the World Health Organization show this disturbing fact: even today, nearly a third of women worldwide are victims of domestic violence.

Yet in Familiaris Consortio, Pope St. John Paul II issued a strong appeal: “I ask that vigorous and incisive pastoral action be taken by all to overcome [offenses against the dignity of women] definitively.”

Unfortunately, more than thirty years later, women continue to face discrimination and violence at the hands of men, including their spouses.

Faced with this sad and dramatic reality, I suggest that this Synod clearly states that a proper interpretation of Scripture can never justify male domination over women. In particular, this Synod should affirm that the passages where St. Paul speaks of the woman's submission to her husband do not justify male domination over women, much less violence towards her.

But we must go further. To clearly show the world the equal dignity of women and men in the Church, we should take up the suggestion of Pope Benedict XVI in his March 2006 address to the Roman clergy, when he said: “It is right to ask whether in ministerial service – despite the fact that here Sacrament and charism are the two ways in which the Church fulfills herself – it might be possible to make more room, to give more offices of responsibility to women.”

I propose three other courses of action for this Synod.
1.That this Synod considers the possibility of granting to married men and women, well-trained and accompanied, permission to speak in homilies at Mass in order to show the link between the Word proclaimed and the lives of spouses and parents.
2.That in order to recognize the equal capacity of women to assume decision-making positions in the Church, the Synod recommends the appointment of women to positions they are able to occupy in the Roman Curia and in our diocesan curias.
3.Finally, concerning the permanent diaconate, that this Synod recommends the establishment of a process that could eventually open to women access to this order, which, as tradition says, is directed non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium [“not to priesthood, but to ministry”].

Pope Francis on women priests: “That cannot be done.”
For Immediate Release

September 28, 2015


Erin Saiz Hanna 401.588.0457

Kate McElwee 607.725.1364

On the papal plane from Philadelphia to Rome, Pope Francis was asked:

“Will we one day see women priests in the Catholic church as some groups in the U.S. ask, and some other Christian churches have?”

“On women priests, that cannot be done. Pope St. John Paul II after long, long intense discussions, long reflection said so clearly. Not because women don’t have the capacity. Look, in the Church women are more important than men, because the church is a woman. It is “la” church, not “il” church. The Church is the bride of Jesus Christ. And the Madonna is more important than popes and bishops and priests. I must admit we are a bit late in an elaboration of the theology of women. We have to move ahead with that theology. Yes, that’s true.” – Pope Francis

The Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) refuses to accept the “more important” but unequal status of women in the Roman Catholic Church. This prejudicial recognition of vocations is an injustice that has no other name but sexism.

Pope Francis has finally acknowledged that women are excluded from the priesthood, “not because they do not have the capacity” but because of an outdated, patriarchal metaphor of the Church as “bride” and Christ and priest as “bridegroom.” In the 21st century, this antiquated concept has been refuted time and time again as a flimsy rationale to discriminate against women in the Church.

While the hierarchy of the church is late on their own theology of women, the fact is that there is a wealth of deeply moral and inclusive theology of women, by women, and for women that has been published over the last four decades by feminist and liberation theologians that prove otherwise.

Pope John Paul II ignored the findings of his own Pontifical Commission of 1976 which found no biblical or theological barrier for women’s ordination. In all four gospels, Mary Magdalene was the primary witness to the central event of Christianity-Christ’s resurrection. The Scriptures also mention eight women who led small house churches, including Phoebe, Priscilla, and Prisca. Despite the widespread call for women’s equality in the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II further tried to silence the issue by officially banning discussion in 1994. 

WOC is inspired by Pope Francis’ call to “dialogue fearlessly.” However, to lead by example he must begin with the many women who are called to the priesthood and to listen to the pain caused by the rejection of their gifts by the Catholic Church. Until women are entrusted to answer their own call to the priesthood and participate as fully human in Church decision-making capacities, the Catholic Church is legitimizing sexism.

The Shriver Report revealed earlier this month that 88% of Catholics in the U.S. support the ordination of women. Around the globe, the majority of Catholics would like to see women have equal standing in ordained ministry: in France (83 percent), Spain (78 percent), Argentina (60 percent), and Italy (59 percent), and Brazil (54 percent), according to a 2014 Univision poll.  Furthermore, currently more than 200 women have been ordained or are in the process of ordination through the movement, Roman Catholic Women Priests.

It is impossible, Pope Francis, to be serious about doing anything for the poor and at the same time do little or nothing for women.

A letter to Pope Francis from Joan Chittister

Posted  Sep 19, 2015

Dear Pope Francis,

Your visit to the United States is important to us all. We have watched you make the papacy a model of pastoral listening. You have become for us a powerful reminder of the Jesus who walked among the crowds listening to them, loving them—healing them.

Your commitment to poverty and mercy, to the lives of the poor and the spiritual suffering of many—however secure they may feel materially—gives us new hope in the integrity and holiness of the Church itself. A church that is more about sin than the suffering of those who bear the burdens of the world is a puny church, indeed. In the face of the Jesus who consorted with the most wounded, the most outcast of society, all the time judging only the judgers, your insistence is the lesson of a lifetime for the self-righteous and the professionally religious.

It is with this awareness that we raise two issues here:

Read More

Hundreds of photos with commentary of Pope Francis' visit

Click here for photos 

The Evolution of Mormon Feminism

Lorena O'Neil | JUL 12•2014

What happens if you have to pick between heaven and equality?

It’s exactly the decision Kate Kelly felt she had to make. The feminist Mormon was recently excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, following her call for female ordination. In 2013, Kelly, a human rights lawyer, started the website Ordain Women, asking that the LDS church extend the male-only priesthood to women. During these past few months, she was warned repeatedly that she should take down the website and disaffiliate from the group, or face consequences.

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35 years ago Sister Teresa Kane welcomed Pope John Paul II with a request for equality and ordination on behalf of Catholic women everywhere

Kate Stoltzfus    |  Aug. 1, 2015  

To hear Sr. Theresa Kane speak is to be struck with an urge to act.
When the Sister of Mercy welcomed Pope John Paul II in October 1979 as the spokeswoman for U.S. women religious, she chose those brief moments to ask for equality and ordination on behalf of Catholic women everywhere. Her words, though met with fierce negation by the pope and Vatican officials, were broadcast around the world.

There are few who dare to speak their truths aloud under such powerful opposition and public eye, but Kane didn't shy away from truth in 1979. She encouraged the end of oppression for women in the church, setting alight a spark of change. She continues to be a leading voice in the feminist religious movement decades later. 

Read More or see original 1979 video

Intentional Eucharistic Communities -- Fourth IEC Gathering 2015

Intentional Eucharistic Communities (IECs) are those small faith communities, rooted in the Catholic tradition, which gather to celebrate Eucharist on a regular basis. Born in the enthusiasm flowing from Vatican II for a church of the people, some IECs were instituted in parishes, some were created as alternatives to the parish, some retain close ties with the institutional church, and some function independently. All are characterized by shared responsibility for the governance and life of the community. Through sharing liturgical life and mutual support for one another, members are strengthened to live Gospel-centered lives dedicated to spiritual growth and social commitment.

View any of 27 videos free on line (Fourth IEC Gathering 2015)

Toward a compassionate Catholicism for tomorrow

Gerald Schmitz | August 6, 2015

The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis

A book by Garry Wills (New York, Viking, 2015)

Eminent American historian and Catholic thinker Garry Wills begins his latest book by observing “Pope Francis heartens some Catholics, but frightens others — both of them for the same reason, the prospect of change.” He quotes Francis that: “To be faithful, to be creative, we need to be able to change.” The notion of a perfect church based on institutional and doctrinal “immutability” may be of comfort to conservatives but is an illusion that ignores the actual history of a Catholic church that has changed early and often.

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Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) is holding its third international conference just prior to Pope Francis’ visit

Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) is holding its third international conference just prior to Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. The theme of the gathering is “Gender, Gospel & Global Justice.”  Advocates for women’s ordination and equality in religion from around the globe will gather to explore the essential links between ordaining Catholic women and building a just society.

Hundreds of WOW delegates and members, Catholic reform and feminist groups, theologians and students, and advocates of women’s ordination from around the world are expected to attend the historic gathering.

The conference runs September 18-20, 2015 at Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, 1201 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA USA

Speakers include Sr. Teresa Forcades, Tina Beattie, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Mary E. Hunt, Sr. Theresa Kane, Shannen Dee Williams, Gary Macy, Ursula King, Patricia Fresen, Roy Bourgeois, Jamie Manson, Tony Flannery, Sr. Christine Schenk, Phyllis Zagano, Kate Kelly, Asra Nomani, Sr. Maureen Fiedler, Barbara Blaine, and many more.

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Women's Ordination Worldwide has a Canadian Connection

Editor | August 31, 2015

Thanks to Marie Bouclin of Sudbury, Therese Koturbash of Dauphin, and many attendees at two previous WOW conferences, there is a strong Canadian Connection to the worldwide organization that promotes the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church.

In July 2002, the WOW International Steering Committee met at Salzburg, Austria, and drew up a constitution. At this meeting, Marie Bouclin 
was elected coordinator of the Steering Committee.  

Therese Koturbash, is a WOW Communications Coordinator.  In 2005 she replaced Marie Bouclin as Canadian representative to the Steering Committee.

Danielle Whissell of Sudbury, became WOW's secretary-treasurer in 2004, and set up its listserv which she managed for several years.

The second international conference, hosted by the Canadian organization, Catholic Network for Women's Equality, took place in Ottawa in July 2005.  Speakers at the Ottawa conference included Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza and Rosemary Radford Ruether.

Three other Canadians, Stephanie Molloy of Regina, Marie-Louise Ternier-Gommers of Humboldt, and
Adelina Pecchia of Thunder Bay, will be presenters at the 2015 international conference in Philadelphia.

The following excerpt continues on WOW's web site, together with links to proceedings of the Dublin conference (2001) and the Ottawa conference (2005):

Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) was founded in 1996 at the First European Women's Synod in Gmunden, Austria.

WOW is an international ecumenical network of groups whose current mission is the admission of Roman Catholic women to all ordained ministries.  It is founded on the principle of equality and therefore opposes any discrimination.

'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus'. (Galatians 3.28).  WOW affirms the God-given diversity of humanity and is committed to providing a model of collaborative, non-hierarchical leadership.

In its early years, WOW functioned as a loose network of organisations who kept in touch by email or through occasional newsletters. The first coordinator was Andrea Johnson (Women's Ordination Conference - USA). In 1998, she was succeeded by Myra Poole (Catholic Women's Ordination - Britain).  In 2005, Marie Bouclin (Catholic Network for Women's Equality - Canada) assumed the coordinator's role.  She was followed by Jennifer Stark (Catholic Women's Ordination - Britain).

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Archives of both conferences, including all the keynote addresses, may be accessed with these links:

Declaration on Women in the Catholic Church

Ryan Hoffmann | July 25, 2015

Focus Areas: ,

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 12.57.29 PM

The declaration below was released after a landmark women’s forum was held July 25, 2015 at Chicago Theological Seminary.

Declaration on Women in the Catholic Church

As the Catholic church strives to cultivate a faith rooted in human dignity and equality, we are aware that women in the church are neglected, cast aside, abused and dismissed. We know that historically women have been exploited as labor, denied reproductive healthcare, discriminated against because of whom they love and not allowed to fulfill their call to ministry. Women have not been recognized for their human dignity.

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Or watch a recording of the whole conference on Youtube here.  Then click on the time line to start wherever you wish

Will the Pope’s Woman Problem Alienate Young Catholics?
Millennials are instead looking for “sacramental moments in their own communities.”

Patricia Miller | July 28, 2015
Calling Pope Francis their “holy conundrum,” Catholic scholars, theologians, activists and religious convened in Chicago on Saturday at a forum titled “Women in the Catholic Church: What Francis Needs to Know.” [Full disclosure: I moderated a panel on the church and sex.]

The participants, many of them long-time social justice activists, were generally grateful for Francis’ strong language on economic inequality and environmental degradation. However, they decried the pope’s blind spots when it comes to women, fearing that they will perpetuate a number of injustices and lead to an exodus from the church—particularly among millennials.

The forum, convened by Call To Action, Catholics for Choice, CORPUS and nine co-sponsors, was especially appropriate coming in the midst of a robust discussion of Pope Francis’ relationship to women in the Catholic Church. Writing in the American Prospect, Adele Stan argued that if Francis wants to maintain the church’s relevancy in the developing world he would promote positions that empower women, like lifting the ban on contraception. Yet, she says, “the Church remains intransigent on virtually any vestige of equality for women”
Read More


RCWP-USA web site | July 27, 2015

Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA joyfully celebrates the 10th anniversary of the first ordination of Roman Catholic Women in North America.

For the first time on this continent, four women were ordained priests: Michelle Birch Conery [Canada], Marie David [Maine], Jean Marchant [Massachusetts] and Victoria Rue [California].  Another historical first, the women were ordained priests by three women bishops.  Five women deacons were ordained on the same day.   

The setting for the ordinations was on a boat on the St. Lawrence Seaway as it floated through the beautiful area known as Thousand Islands National Park.  Why a boat? Jesus taught from boats and these ordinations were certainly a teaching for the church.

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A Mass to Remember

Kornelia Zarins | August 7, 2015

I am a Catholic by birth and practising my faith by choice.

Last Sunday, I came home from attending Mass spiritually elated, and in a Vatican II mood that I had not felt for many decades. It was a great Eucharistic Celebration with inclusive language, meaningful liturgy and a high quality homily during which I was not preached at, preached down to or subjected to rote regurgitation of the same old stuff I had heard since childhood. I approached the altar with reverence and joy for my share of bread and wine in the Eucharist. So, where does Vatican II come in? That was the time of renewal, when our souls grew wings and we were filled with hope and joy. We were the Church, the priesthood of the faithful, commissioned and committed to lives of unconditional love and service, regardless of gender or race. The Mass that brought me back to Vatican II was celebrated by a woman priest.

Let me backtrack how I got to this particular Eucharistic Celebration. I am a member of CNWE (Catholic Network for Women’s Equality), and while attending this year’s convention at the end of May I had the pleasure of meeting two members of RCWP Canada, Bishop Marie Bouclin and Linda Spear. I was very impressed by both of them. Linda, who since then has become a valued friend, gave me information where I could attend Mass celebrated by a woman priest in my area. I am glad I did, and I intend to return as often as possible. I will also invite my friends who feel marginalized or rejected or have dropped out of the Church for a variety of reasons.

When I was one of the two women asked to spearhead female Ministers of the Eucharist by the pastor, there were unfortunately more women than men who changed lines because they did not want to receive the Host from a woman. One woman even berated me after Mass for my presumption: How dare I do what I did; that I was not even a holy nun. Things have changed for the better – no one is now bothered by the gender of the distributor of Hosts. Every little bit of progress counts, as every drop of water counts to make the ocean.

When Pope Frances said that the door to ordination of women is closed, I looked at it positively: Doors have hinges and can be opened. I pray that the right key be found and I give thanks to God for the brave pioneers RCWP Canada.

Kornelia Zarins, Toronto

Will the Pope’s Woman Problem Alienate Young Catholics?
Millennials are instead looking for “sacramental moments in their own communities.”

Patricia Miller | July 28, 2015
Calling Pope Francis their “holy conundrum,” Catholic scholars, theologians, activists and religious convened in Chicago on Saturday at a forum titled “Women in the Catholic Church: What Francis Needs to Know.” [Full disclosure: I moderated a panel on the church and sex.]

The participants, many of them long-time social justice activists, were generally grateful for Francis’ strong language on economic inequality and environmental degradation. However, they decried the pope’s blind spots when it comes to women, fearing that they will perpetuate a number of injustices and lead to an exodus from the church—particularly among millennials.

The forum, convened by Call To Action, Catholics for Choice, CORPUS and nine co-sponsors, was especially appropriate coming in the midst of a robust discussion of Pope Francis’ relationship to women in the Catholic Church. Writing in the American Prospect, Adele Stan argued that if Francis wants to maintain the church’s relevancy in the developing world he would promote positions that empower women, like lifting the ban on contraception. Yet, she says, “the Church remains intransigent on virtually any vestige of equality for women”
Read More


RCWP-USA web site | July 27, 2015

Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA joyfully celebrates the 10th anniversary of the first ordination of Roman Catholic Women in North America.

For the first time on this continent, four women were ordained priests: Michelle Birch Conery [Canada], Marie David [Maine], Jean Marchant [Massachusetts] and Victoria Rue [California].  Another historical first, the women were ordained priests by three women bishops.  Five women deacons were ordained on the same day.   

The setting for the ordinations was on a boat on the St. Lawrence Seaway as it floated through the beautiful area known as Thousand Islands National Park.  Why a boat? Jesus taught from boats and these ordinations were certainly a teaching for the church.

Read More

Woman to be ordained priest in Windsor

Sharon Hill | Jul 23, 2015

Barbara Billey is about to be ordained by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests — a movement determined to shake up the church hierarchy.

The Windsor woman may call herself a priest after her ordination Saturday, but she knows she won’t be welcome in that role in any local Roman Catholic churches and could be considered ex-communicated.

“I don’t expect any major invitations anytime too soon,” Billey said.

The Windsor counsellor who operates a home church said she felt called to become a priest about five years ago at a retreat and is now part of an international movement to get the Roman Catholic church to accept female priests.

She said it’s about equality.

Read More

Mary Magdelene to a discipleship of equals

Elizabeth Johnson | April 21, 2015

Video presentation by Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ at
Creator  Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education beginning with Mary Magdelene and moving towards "women and men together as a discipleship of equals."

See video at:  


Nora Bolcon | July 7, 2015

Meanwhile, the voice of the saint [Pope John Paul II] echoes, "Vocations!"

Did NCR forget it was that Saint that helped to make the problem?

I for one would protest any married men being made priests before women have been ordained as a matter of Justice.

Has NCR forgotten that women exist too and have been called to priesthood the same as men. Or did they just throw their sisters under the bus too.

It is time to demand women and then married people be ordained to priesthood immediately and not take no for an answer anymore.

It is time Western Bishops and Priests demanded with one voice, pressured by their laity, that if this pope does not ordain a woman to priesthood and make women cardinals this year, as a matter of basic human justice, they will start co-presiding with Roman Catholic Women Priests without permission, and start teaching that this discrimnation is anti-Gospel, anti-The Great Commandment of Christ, and anti-human decency in their parishes. We, the laity need to pressure our priests and Bishops to do this. Enough of these voices, and they can't afford to excommunicate the amount that rebel.

To ordain married men before women will stop women from being ordained and increase the enormous injustice already paid toward women. I will fight against this and find as many decent Catholics I can to fight with me. This would create a complete Gender aparteid in our church where every woman is a sacramental slave to all men.

Women if you let this happen, ordaining married men first, then don't blame anyone but yourself for the horrible treatment of women in this church. The men of this church have gotten away with treating us like dirt for 2000 years, because we let them. Don't make it easier for them to treat us worse in the future. This church does not belong only to men. We need to fight to take it back, both for Christ and the entire body of believers as it was meant to be in the beginning.

ENOUGH OF THE HATRED TOWARDS WOMEN - PROTEST ANY MARRIED MAN BEING ORDAINED TO PRIESTHOOD WHILE WE ARE STILL REFUSING TO ORDAIN WOMEN. We need to protest at any such ordination, and protest continually at any parish any of these men are sent to, or they will continue this apartied spread. If these men are worthy to be priests, they will stand up for their sisters being ordained first because all of them could have been ordained but chose marriage. Women unjustly were not given this choice.

There is never a good enough reason to support sexual or racial hatred - Shame on you Mickens for forgetting women entirely from this article. Where is the Christian sense of Justice in that choice?

[Editor's note:  This response to an article in NCR is reprinted here with the permission of the author]

At the conclusion of the encyclical Laudato Si (Praise be to you) which has been both joyful and troubling, Pope Francis proposes that we offer this prayer:

A prayer for our earth

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
 and in the smallest of your creatures.

You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.

Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.

Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.

Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.

Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.

Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united  with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.

We thank you for being with us each day.

Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.

(For the complete encyclical click here.)

Women Called, Ordained and Serving: Roman Catholic Women Priests in Minnesota

Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl | July 7, 2015

On May 17, Josie Petermeier took to the altar to be ordained as a Catholic priest. As ceremonies go, it was uneventful. Her small congregation gathered where it always does, in a modest Craftsman-style Methodist church below the Witch’s Hat Tower in Prospect Park, to watch Petermeier receive the sacrament of Holy Orders from a bishop who flew in from Indiana.

As Petermeier took part in a tradition said to trace an unbroken line to the original apostles, she promised to carry out the work of Christ on Earth. At that moment, she was excommunicated from the church. By order of the pope, she no longer can be buried in sacred ground. She cannot go to confession or receive the Eucharist.

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You cannot have an all-male hierarchy to the exclusion of half the population and say we are all equal

Illia Delio, SFM | June 25, 2015

To turn this around takes three things. One, the church must walk the talk. If we’re going to call for structural changes, we must have the same structural changes within the church itself. That goes for everything, even in terms of gender, male and female. Science tells us male and female are equal, so how do we worship in medieval ways when we’re saying that science informs us? The institution must model the very changes we’re putting forth to the world at large. You cannot have an all-male hierarchy to the exclusion of half the population and say we are all equal.

Two, we need to address technology. It’s one of the great challenges today, and it’s already in transition. We are not just images of God as human persons, we are images of God as techno-sapiens. We need to see God working through technology as we become another species. We need to take evolution seriously, because we are in evolution together. Instead, Third World countries just want to be First World countries. We don’t have an over-arching cosmology together.

Third, the church needs to present a model of how this can work. What is our dream? What is our dream for the world and how can the church empower us in that dream for the world. It’s good what he’s doing, but it’s not going to move us. People are moved by vision and imagination. And we need to put that into action. The church needs to re-create itself as a model of what a godly world might look like.

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Small Faith Group movement, a growing number of people who question what Chuchman calls “institutional closed systems of doctrine and dogma” and instead seek alternative communities that “embrace today’s bigger personal and planetary issues while providing spiritual support and nurturing.”


TRAVERSE CITY, MI — John Chuchman was born to and raised in a Roman Catholic household, but his spiritual growth later in life led him to question much of what he learned.
Now he speaks out against sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and against discrimination toward women and others in the church’s male hierarchy.
He’s also part of the so-called Small Faith Group movement, a growing number of people who question what Chuchman calls “institutional closed systems of doctrine and dogma” and instead seek alternative communities that “embrace today’s bigger personal and planetary issues while providing spiritual support and nurturing.”
“It’s not a Catholic problem per se,” said Chuchman, of Central Lake, whose Friends in Faith group began gathering about three years ago. “It’s more that people are dissatisfied with institutionalized religion. I think people are really starving spiritually and looking for guidance, nurturing,

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Will the Irish church lead the way? In the early church, ordained women deacons extended the bishop's ministry to women and children. Who does that now? Who will do it in the future?

Phyllis Zagano    |  Jun. 17, 2015 Just Catholic   

The good news: Kilmore, Ireland, Bishop Leo O'Reilly wants the Irish bishops' conference to study women deacons. The bad news: The news reports misrepresent the latest Vatican statement on women deacons.
Whatever will we do about the folks who fall down in a dead faint whenever you say "woman" and "ordination" in the same sentence?

To begin: A Catholic News Service article by Irish Catholic editor Michael Kelly changes facts. Kelly says it's a dead idea: No women deacons. He writes: "The permanent diaconate belongs to the sacrament of orders, which the church believes is limited to men alone."

Correction: The church teaches that priestly ordination is reserved to men alone. There is no magisterial statement about women as deacons.

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Women, respect, and the Catholic Church

(Two views)

June 2015

Does the Catholic Church respect women or not? New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote recently that it doesn’t — not when the symbolism, rituals, and vocabulary of the institution exalt men over women. But law professor Helen M. Alvaré of George Mason University argues that women’s relationship with the Church is far more complicated and nuanced than obsessions over contraception and the male priesthood. Here are their competing views.

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Church needs women's voices, input, experiences, pope tells religious

Cindy Wooden | May. 18, 2015

Women can be appointed heads of some offices of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis said, but that will not be enough to "recover the role" women should have in the Catholic church.
"Women should be promoted," he said Saturday during an audience with an international group of men and women religious working in the diocese of Rome. But assigning a certain number of women to leadership positions is "simply functionalism," he said.

What is important is to ensure that women have a voice and are listened to, he said, because the church needs their specific contributions.

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The need for women to see the feminine in the divine

Mariam Williams | May. 18, 2015

. . . At the beginning of this year, I resolved to imagine a feminine image of God. I'm not always successful, and I don't feel any differently about myself since making this effort. I think it's hard to compete with the prevalence of "he/him" in the literature on God and with all the male imagery that's been fed to me for more than 30 years. But I'm going to continue to try to pray to her and ask her to guide me, because if I can celebrate the swoop of a young daughter's hips one day and she can see herself as godly more easily than I've been able to, it will be worth the effort.

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(… with apologies to Sister Joan)

About women being ordained as Catholic priests, there are views both for and against. Rome takes the either/or position: against. Either you follow Canon Law (1024) or the ordination is invalid, meaning that if a woman is ordained she receives no priestly power.

But Canon Law is not infallible. Only if the Pope makes a statement “ex cathedra” meaning an official declaration of a dogma, can the claim of infallibility be made. Even John Paul II’s Ordinatio Sacerdotalis on May 22, 1994 where he stated “the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination upon women” was not an infallible statement. Most theologians agree that limiting ordination to men only is not an infallible teaching. This means that a Catholic may withhold assent to this statement in good conscience.

But let me go a step further.

In September 2007 Dominican theologians in the Netherlands sent a booklet Kirk en Ambt (Church and Ministry) to 1300 parishes addressing the shortage of priests to celebrate Mass. This booklet instructed the parishes how to celebrate Mass in the absence of a priest by choosing leaders for the liturgy “whether they are women or men, homo- or heterosexual, married or single, makes no difference. What is important is an infectious attitude of Faith.” The congregation should speak the words of consecration together. “Speaking these words is not the exclusive right or power of the priest . . . it is the conscious expression of faith by the whole congregation.”

After so many theologians have been silenced, lost their teaching positions, excommunicated and otherwise threatened, it is surprising to me that all that the Vatican did was to issue a statement from the Dominican headquarters saying that the solution to the shortage of priests proposed by the Dutch Dominicans was not acceptable.

Why the soft-pedal about laity celebrating and the sledgehammer about ordaining women?

What is probably not well known is that lay people have been holding Eucharistic celebrations for decades. I personally had a group of nuns tell me that they did.

So women don’t need to be ordained if theologians agree that even laypersons can celebrate Eucharist.

Aha! Now we’re getting to the bottom of things. It’s about power. It’s about sexism. It’s about justice. What else can it be about?

Now let us imagine a small faith group that meets for spiritual nourishment that they do not get from their local parish. What do they do if one of these ordained women joins them? Must they ask her to lead the celebration because she is ordained? Not necessarily. If, as the Dutch Dominicans said, it was “the conscious expression of faith” before, should it be any different if an ordained person is present. I am ordained but I am just one of the group when I am present at a small faith community’s Eucharistic celebration.

So it’s not the question of “who does the magic” when it comes to women’s ordination. From where I stand, it is the question of challenging the Church as an institution that is practising the sin of sexism. After all other attempts have failed, it is time to just do it, just stop being sexist and ordain women. Period.

Emil Kutarna
Regional Contact for Corpus Canada

It’s high time for Catholics to follow the example of their Protestant sisters and brothers in seizing control of their church

Mike Rivage-Seul | June 8, 2015

As Austin Ivereigh has pointed out, the Catholic Church finally has a reformer pope. More than 500 years after Martin Luther, Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel” (JG) has called for radical change – for conversion “which cannot leave things as they presently are” (JG 25).

Yet, as far as I can see, nothing has changed since the publication of the Exhortation a year and a half ago.

Such immobility was illustrated at a fundamental level last week when our church of St. Clare’s in Berea Kentucky was visited by our new bishop, John Stowe. The event showed how easily even we who are elders – who have learned so much from long years of experience – submit to our juniors rolling over abjectly and allowing those who are “children” by comparison to make us obedient and submissive.

Bishop Stowe, it turns out, is a very nice man – a Franciscan, educated by Jesuits, well-spoken, experienced, and smart. He holds a Master’s degree in theology. He is 49 years old, unmarried, of course, and has no children.

The bishop was born in 1966 – the year I was ordained as a priest in the Society of St. Columban.

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Are things looking up for women in the church?

Christine Schenk    |  May. 7, 201

A plethora of conferences about women have popped up all over Rome in the last three months. The Vatican's former hard-line freeze on discussing women's roles may at last be thawing out.
The Pontifical Council for Culture's controversial February event, "Women's Cultures: Equality and Difference," was the first to break the ice. A month later, Voices of Faith hosted a searingly honest discussion by female theologians and activists from inside Vatican walls.

Then, on April 14, the U.S. embassy to the Holy See sponsored an interreligious conference on "Women's Leadership in Conflict Resolution: Faith Perspectives." Cardinal Peter Turkson shared a private conversation he had with Pope Francis, who told him he saw no obstacles to a woman or married couples being appointed as the new secretary of justice and peace or as heads of the pontifical councils for the laity and for the family. (Turkson, however, was careful to remind attendees of the need to "de-couple" the question of women's roles from priestly ordination.)
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Catholicism Undervalues Women

Frank Bruni | MAY 6, 2015

Like a Pringles vendor sounding an alarm about obesity, Pope Francis fashioned himself a feminist last week.

You are not reading The Onion.

It was an epic mismatch of messenger and message, and I say that as someone who is thankful for this pope, admires him greatly and believes that a change of tone even without a change in teaching has meaning and warrants celebration.

But a change of tone in defiance of fact should be flagged (and flogged) as such. And neither Pope Francis nor any other top official in the bastion of male entitlement known as the Vatican can credibly assert concern about parity between the sexes. Their own kitchen is much too messy for them to call out the ketchup smudges in anybody else’s.

To have a truly just church, Pope Francis must move beyond complementarity

Jamie Manson  |  May. 6, 2015

Pope Francis seems to be saying a lot about women lately. Headlines declaring his call for the church to hear the voices of women and his call for equal pay could be spotted in both the religious and secular press during the last two weeks of April.
What wasn't talked about much in the media, however, was the context in which those headline-making statements were made.
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eed Keepers Spring 2015 issue available


Eileen Kerwin Jones on Human Trafficking 2

Jo Young on Sally’s Armstrong’s Ascent of Women 5

CNWE Conference and AGM information / application 8

Join CNWE to read the latest newsletter; see past issues at cnwe.org

Start planning your Feast Day Celebration today by downloading the new materials. The theme for July 22nd is Being a Witness for the Victims of Human Trafficking. This year's prayer service includes powerful testimonies and reflections for your gathering.
Need more inspiration? See highlights from our 2014 celebrations.

Our updated Women and the Word: Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost resource will help your faith community put women like the anointing women, St. Mary of Magdala and the women from Galilee who stayed with Jesus from crucifixion to resurrection "back in the biblical picture" during this most sacred season of our liturgical calendar. Order Your Copy Today!

Why Arguments Against Women in Ministry Aren’t Biblical

Ben Witherington | June 2, 2015

 (This is a re-post of a piece I wrote for Beliefnet many years ago, back by popular demand. BW)

Most of you who know me, know that I did my doctoral thesis on women in the NT with C.K. Barrett at the University of Durham in England. My first three published scholarly books were on this very subject. One of the reasons I did that thirty some years ago was because of the controversy that raged then over the issue of women in ministry, and more particularly women as pulpit ministers and senior pastors. Never mind that the Bible does not have categories like ‘senior pastor’ or ‘pulpit minister’, the NT has been used over and over again to justify the suppression of women in ministry— and as I was to discover through years of research and study, without Biblical justification. Now of course equally sincere Christians may disagree on this matter, but the disagreements should be on the basis of sound exegesis of Biblical texts, not emotions, rhetoric, mere church polity, dubious hermeneutics and the like.

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Pope Francis is* friend and confidant of a woman priest

Editor, RCWP Canada web site | May 25, 2015

In his latest book, Garry Wills thinks Pope Francis is promoting Catholic women's issues, including inclusion of women in the priesthood, in his own peculiar way – through others.

It was always against the Gospel for men to treat women as inferior, just because of the surrounding culture was patriarchal.

Pope Francis seems to sense this.  Though he said a woman priesthood is settled, that probably just means he will let others bring it about.  But that doesn't mean he cannot nudge an outcome along.  John XXIII had to let the council listen to Jewish Catholics before reversing the rejection of the Covenant – but he encouraged them to think about it when he turned the matter over to Cardinal Bea.  In the same way, Francis is indicating his views on Catholic women by his dealings with them, as well as by what he says.  He easily uses inclusive language, as when he calls the hierarchy – not the church, but the hierarchy -- “Mother Church.”  He said, “I dream of a church that is mother and shepherdess.”  If he says that, how can he exclude women from any offices in the church?

This pope shows by doing.  He not only treats women as equals, and consults them.  He befriends to this day a woman priest.  She is the widow of the radical bishop Jeronimo Jose Podesta, who was hunted out of Argentina by the government and disowned by the Vatican.  He asked to see Bergoglio, as archbishop of Buenos Aries, and be reconciled with the church on his deathbed.  But in his radical days he concelebrated Mass with his wife, Clelia.  The pope became her friend and confidant, and he still calls her from Rome*.  That would have been scandalous in Rome not so very long ago.  We can take it, rather, as a sign of hope for the future.  The official church has been one of history's sturdiest bastions of patriarchy.  But it seems to be listening again to Paul, and to Jesus.  “Clothed in Messiah, [you are] no longer 'male and female'” 1

1 Garry Wills, The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis, (Viking, 2015), 211-212.

* Clelia Luro de Podestá died in Buenos Aires on November 4, 2013.

Discovering Fire

Patricia Datchuck Sánchez | Pentecost Homily

ACTS 2:1-11
1 CORINTHIANS 12:3-7, 12-13
JOHN 20:19-23

The day will come,” said Teilhard de Chardin, “when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.” In a sense the annual feast of Pentecost is another opportunity, placed in the path of the believer, for discovering and participating in the ever-present fire which is God’s love. Pentecost rounds out and climaxes the Easter event. All that we have remembered and celebrated, viz., Jesus’ saving death, his resurrection and ascension to glory, all of these sacred events took place so that the Holy Spirit might be unleashed upon the world.

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In India, a truly outstanding road map for creating gender equality

by Christine Schenk    |  Apr. 23, 2015

In my March 12 column, I promised to revisit the creative gender policy approved by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI). This 2010 document has the ambitious goal of integrating gender justice into societal structures at every level of the Indian church, from the parish to the bishops' conference itself. An important objective is "to stimulate reflection in the Church on its mission to form a discipleship of equals," with "the ultimate goal [being] to achieve gender equality."
Nowhere in evidence is the gender-apartheid-evoking complementarity language so frequently found in recent church documents. Instead, the bishops cite Genesis 1:27 ("In the image of God, male and female God created them"); Galatians 3:28 ("There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus"); and Gaudium et Spes ("Every type of discrimination ... is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent").

I recently interviewed one of the architects of the gender policy statement, Dr. Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, who is an Indian scientist, theologian, writer and mother of three. She has been living her Christian commitment in an interfaith family for the past 25 years.

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Going forward: LCWR after the doctrinal assessment

Thomas C. Fox    |  Apr. 17, 2015

The whole sad doctrinal assessment from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and oversight mandate of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is history. Alleluia!
We should all feel a sense of relief. There's been reconciliation, and this follows months of difficult and, as best we know, honest dialogue between the LCWR leadership and Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain. From what's been made public, it appears there's been some form of a meeting of minds, and, no doubt, this represents further evidence that Pope Francis is changing the overriding spirit and even perhaps the course of the church. Again, this is good news.

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Vatican ends controversial three-year oversight of US sisters' leaders

Joshua J. McElwee    |  Apr. 16, 2015 

A controversial three-year program of Vatican oversight of the main leadership group of U.S. Catholic sisters has come to a curt and unexpected end, with the sisters and the church’s doctrinal office announcing that the goal of the oversight “has been accomplished."

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Pope Francis: Gender theory is the problem, not the solution.  But he still uses the "c" word.

Carol Glatz  |  Apr. 15, 2015

Vatican City --   Eradicating male and female identities does nothing to solve the problem of unfair or disrespectful treatment based on people's gender, Pope Francis said.
"Getting rid of the difference is the problem, not the solution," he said Wednesday during his general audience in St. Peter's Square.

The right way to solve the problems and conflicts in male-female relations is to have men and women "talk to each other more, listen to each other more, know each other better, care more for each other," he said.

The pope continued a series of general audience talks about the family by beginning the first of two talks on "the difference and complementarity between men and women." He said the two talks would serve as the foundation for two later talks dedicated to the sacrament of marriage.

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Portraits From the Forbidden Priesthood of Women

Janna Dotschkal, Associate Photo Editor, Digital, National Geographic | April 14, 2015

The Roman Catholic Church prohibits women from being ordained. Canon law 1024 states that, “A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly.” In 2002, a movement now called Womenpriests defied church decree and ordained seven women on the Danube River in Germany. Since then, over 200 women worldwide have been “ordained” or are training for “ordination” in the women priests movement.

In 2013 Italian photographer Giulia Bianchi set out to document the lives of some of these women. I corresponded with Bianchi over email and asked her about her experiences photographing women priests and those they serve.

NOTE: The following images depict Womenpriests as well as the men and women who they have served.

Read More and view photos

"The Pope has good will, but he can't revolutionize the role of women in the Church": An interview with Ivone Gebara

Paulo Emanuel Lopes (English translation by Rebel Girl) | Friday, March 27, 2015

The feminist theological movement in the world is gaining ground from the reformist winds driven by the reforms of Francis' papacy. For Ivone Gebara, theologian, scholar and national reference on feminist theology, we should not, however, expect changes in the male structure of the Catholic Church. "Pope Francis has good will (...) but, living within a male sacred tradition, he's unable to take revolutionary steps to in fact promote the innovation needed in today's world."

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Meeting the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus changed everything for Paul

From Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation
Sunday, April 5, 2015
(Easter Sunday) 

Meeting the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus changed everything for Paul. He experienced the great paradox that the crucified Jesus was in fact alive! And he, a "sinner," was in fact chosen and beloved. This pushed Paul from the usual either/or, dualistic thinking to both/and, mystical thinking. The truth in paradoxical language lies neither in the affirmation nor in the denial of either side, but precisely in the resolution of the tug of war between the two.
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When it comes to women, Pope Francis has five strikes against him, but he also has some good points

Thomas Reese | March 20, 2015

When it comes to women, Pope Francis has five strikes against him, but he also has some good points.
First strike: He is male. Any man who thinks he has something to say about women to women needs his head examined. The smartest thing men can do when it comes to women's topics is shut up and listen.

Second, he is celibate. Not having sex is not what makes celibates ignorant of women; it is not having a wife to set you straight when you say something dumb.

Not having daughters is also a problem. "Get real, Dad!" is not something celibate males hear, but they should. Nor is there anything like cheering on your daughter's soccer team to turn an otherwise Neanderthal male into a feminist.
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Advances made by women in the Catholic Church in the past 40 years 

Marie Bouclin | March 16, 2015

I was invited to express my thoughts on International Women's Day at the Club Richelieu Féminin of Sudbury, March 4, 2015. My hostess asked me specifically if any advances had been made by women in the Catholic Church these past 40 years.


Thank you for inviting me to celebrate with you the United Nations' fortieth International Women’s Day. Because I am among friends, and many of you know my story, I am honoured to share with you some of the milestones of the past forty years from my perspective as an ordained Canadian Catholic woman.

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Vancouver's Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community
Celebrates KAIROS Sunday

Janette McIntosh photo

Editor | March 16, 2015

"Thanks to the wonderful and dedicated leadership of Rev. Dr. Victoria Marie, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community in Vancouver," stated Janette McIntosh, KAIROS representative, "we were able to celebrate a Kairos Sunday together at the Listening Post near the corner of Main and Hastings."

KAIROS is a Canadian ecumenical justice initiative that unites eleven churches and religious organizations in faithful action for ecological justice and human rights.

Attached are Dr. Marie's homily and liturgy depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community's origin and its connection to KAIROS.


The latest Newsletter issued by Saint Brigid of Kildare Catholic Faith Community, Calgary, is now available online.  The Newsletter contains an abundance of local, national and international news relevant to women and men on issues of fatih.

Feature-length documentary Radical Grace to have World Premiere in Toronto at Hot Docs 2015 

Film follows three American nuns as they continue their social justice work during the Vatican crackdown on “radical feminism” in their ranks.

CHICAGO, IL – The feature-length documentary film Radical Grace will have its World Premiere at Toronto’s Hot Docs International Film Festival on April 28th, 2015. The film by first-time director Rebecca Parrish follows three extraordinary American nuns as they lead social justice initiatives in the shadow of Vatican investigations into “radical feminism” infiltrating their ranks.
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CBC The Sunday Edition with Michael Enright:  A Papal progress report

Sunday March 15, 2015

Even before he ascended Peter's throne, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio warned that the Catholic Church was "sick" and full of "theological narcissism."

Since taking the top job, Pope Francis has embarked on an aggressive campaign of reform. His target is one of the oldest, most powerful and least open to reform institutions in the world. His task is Herculean.
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Listen to a 20 minute interview with Michael Higgins

Project to foster dialogue about and encourage greater inclusion and acceptance of LGBT people in the Church
March 17, 2015
In November 2014, several LGBT Catholics from the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City launched a project concerning the relationship between the Catholic Church and people of sexual and gender minorities. The goals of this project are to foster dialogue about and encourage greater inclusion and acceptance of LGBT people in the Church. In October 2014, Pope Francis convened a synod of bishops to discuss issues of the family within the Catholic Church, including the topic of homosexuality.  The Pope has encouraged ongoing conversation on these topics in preparation for the Ordinary Synod on the Family, set to take place in October 2015.
We want our stories to be a part of the discussion because LGBT people have unique gifts to contribute to the life of the Church.
We hope the Church recognizes that God is working through our life stories. We want to inspire change that will strengthen families, encourage acceptance of LGBT people, foster an inclusive community, and promote an open and accepting dialogue among Catholics across the world. Most of all, we want everyone to know they are loved and not alone.

LGBT Catholics: OwningOurFaith seeks to open hearts and remind all of us that God works through love.
Watch film here.

Why Pope Francis Won't Let Women Become Priests

John L. Allen, Jr. |   March 6, 2015
The first pope of the Catholic Church to have had a woman as a boss is steadfast in his defense of the status quo when it comes to women and Church leadership

On two occasions when Pope Francis has been asked about possibly admitting women to the ranks of the clergy, he has given a firm no.

At the same time, he has said that he wants to see a “greater role” for women in Catholicism, including participation in the “important decisions . . . where the authority of the Church is exercised.” He has also said that he wants a “deeper theology” about the place of women in the faith, one that will emphasize the critically important contributions they make. During his first two years in office, however, there were relatively few steps forward in either regard. No groundbreaking new roles for women were created and no new theological study was commissioned. While Francis’s popularity tends to insulate him against the criticism that such a record might otherwise attract, over time his ability to reframe impressions of the Catholic Church as a boys’ club, at least at the top, will be an important measure of his success—not merely because it’s a question of interest to the outside world but also because Francis himself has set it as a standard.

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Image courtesy Morguefile.com

'It was the women who stayed'
by Christine Schenk | Mar. 26, 2015

Yesterday was the feast of the Annunciation. While I can't pretend to understand the mystical encounter narrated in Luke's Gospel, Sojourner Truth's take on the story always brings a smile:
Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

A bit irreverent perhaps, but as Luke's Gospel tells it, quite true. At the March 8 Voices of Faith program from the Vatican (now available via webcast), British theologian Tina Beattie pointedly noted that the faithfulness of women both opens and closes our Gospel stories. Yesterday's feast marks the beginning of Jesus' earthly sojourn. On Palm Sunday, we commence a weeklong journey remembering Jesus' passion, death and resurrection.

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If the canon law prerequisite of ordination were lifted, many administrative positions inside the Vatican could quickly be opened to women

Montreal's CJAD radio |
March 14, 2015

A member of Catholic Network for Women's Equality - Canada 's National Work Group and former National Coordinator, Mary Ellen Chown was in conversation with Todd van der Heyden of Montreal's CJAD radio.  Mary Ellen talks about a number of important issues. She addresses the importance of our waking up to our role as the People of God. She draws attention to the fact that if the canon law prerequisite of ordination were lifted, many administrative positions inside the Vatican could quickly be opened to women.

Mary Ellen's segment begins at minute 51 in this podcast.

Vatican Removes Offensive Image of Woman from Website

Mary Ellen Chown | Mar 13, 2015

The image of the headless bound torso of a woman (‘Venus Restored’ by Man Ray) has been removed from the website of the Pontifical Council for Culture Outline Document for the Plenary Session on Women’s Cultures held in February. The collective efforts of women and men around the world who found this image offensive and inappropriate and who signed this petition, sent emails and demonstrated against it (We Are Church, Ireland) likely influenced the decision to remove the image.

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Vatican event tackles women's equality, inclusion, ordination
Joshua J. McElwee | Mar. 9, 2015 

A Vatican event Sunday saw a remarkably open and frank discussion among women about the limits on their participation in church structures in what may have been the first such public conversation ever to take place at the center of the Catholic hierarchy.
Among the topics the women discussed at the event, held to mark International Women's Day: the need for the church to practice what it preaches about full equality between men and women, to include women in every level of decision-making, and to use inclusive language in its worship.

The women also expressed a desire for a fundamental rethink regarding how church prelates and documents describe them, saying they are often pigeonholed as reflecting only the sensitive or tender half of humanity.

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Rising Women Rising World
International Women's Day, March 8, 2015

If you missed the event—or simply want to listen again—you can listen to or download the recording here:

Rising Women Banner

By listening to the recording, you will discover:
  • The unprecedented opportunity women have to impact the world with our creativity, leadership, and participation
  • Why a feminine form of power is what’s most needed today, and how to tap into your own inherent source to live out your highest potentials and make your biggest contribution in the world
  • The ways in which women can continue to powerfully impact the political and social landscape around the globe
  • How women supporting one another across communities and cultures strengthens and ignites possibilities for us all

Women of faith

Women of faith will mark International Women's Day on Sunday March 8, 2015 by joining together in a global, interfaith fast and social media campaign (#EqualinFaith) for gender justice and the equality of women in their faith communities. The day-long fast and social media campaign will culminate in interfaith prayer services and regional gatherings in more than 20 cities, in three countries.

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International Women's Day 2015 Theme: MAKE IT HAPPEN

All around the world, International Women's Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality.

Make It Happen is the 2015 theme for our internationalwomensday.com global hub, encouraging effective action for advancing and recognising women.

Each year International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. The first International Women's Day was held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women's groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day.

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Catholic College holds LGBTQ Panel: A Call To Love

Last Updated on February 11, 2015

A gay Catholic priest, a mother with a lesbian daughter, a lesbian, a mother who lost a gay son through suicide and a gay man all told their story as more than 100 listened with respect.  It was called, Listening: The Call to Love and the audience did listen as each told of their journey at the February 3 event held in Campion College’s Riffel Auditorium, Regina, Saskatchewan. The panel was suggested by Campion College Chaplain Stephanie Molloy and organized by the Campion College Vocations Committee as part of the Campion Controversies Series.

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Rising Women Rising World
International Women's Day, March 8, 2015

If you missed the event—or simply want to listen again—you can listen to or download the recording here:

Rising Women Banner

By listening to the recording, you will discover:
  • The unprecedented opportunity women have to impact the world with our creativity, leadership, and participation
  • Why a feminine form of power is what’s most needed today, and how to tap into your own inherent source to live out your highest potentials and make your biggest contribution in the world
  • The ways in which women can continue to powerfully impact the political and social landscape around the globe
  • How women supporting one another across communities and cultures strengthens and ignites possibilities for us all

Women See Themselves as Left Out Amid Talk of Change in Catholic Church


In the first two years of his papacy, Pope Francis has stirred great expectations for change among Roman Catholics who believe that the church has not kept pace with the social transformations of secular society.

Nowhere are those hopes felt more keenly, perhaps, than among women, often the driving force behind local church communities, but who say that their voices remain marginalized.

Though the pope has repeatedly cited the importance of women in the life of the church, critics say he has at times proved strikingly tone-deaf toward the sensitivities and needs of women (for example, describing five women he appointed to a committee as “the strawberries on the cake”).

Some momentum is nevertheless gathering behind women’s issues, however, if only because women, correctly or not, see his papacy as an opportunity and have begun pushing their agenda forward, challenging various corners of the Vatican’s male-dominated status quo.

On Sunday, International Women’s Day, Voices of Faith, an initiative sponsored by a Liechtenstein-based foundation, will for only the second time bring together women from various walks of life to discuss women’s issues at a seminar inside Vatican City, a hard-fought victory, said Chantal Götz, the president of the foundation.

Women's Day Program from the Vatican (Live Sunday at 10:00 am EST):

“It becomes all the more symbolic when it’s inside the Vatican. It’s a step ahead,” she said. Participants in the seminar could provide a sort of de facto think tank. “If the pope needs advice, there are women who can provide it,” she said.

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Why Women Should Be Priests

Roy Bourgeois | January 2015

This is an Author’s Accepted Manuscript of an article published online on 26 January 2015 by Taylor & Francis in International Studies in Catholic Education, as “The Ordination of Women in the Catholic Church: Arguments for Teachers and Students in Catholic Schools to Consider – Part 2, the case for.”

Bourgeois’ ISCE article is available for purchase online and is included in their March 2015 print issue, available at many Catholic university libraries. That same issue has an article by Sr. Catherine Joseph Droste, OP, which argues against the ordination of women.


Vatican authority is being challenged as Roman Catholic women act upon their vocations to the priesthood, receive ordination, and openly serve their faith communities.

Since 2002—when seven women were ordained by male Roman Catholic bishops—190 women have been ordained to the priesthood, including a dozen women bishops. Vatican officials dismiss their ordinations as “illicit,” but many Catholics believe these women are ushering in a renaissance of the Church as a truly egalitarian faith community. In this paper, I explain why I believe women should be priests.

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Fr Tony Flannery at the ACI Meeting in Belfast – Can the Catholic Church Survive in Ireland?

By Gladys Ganiel on February 26, 2015

On Saturday 21 February Fr Tony Flannery spoke at a meeting of the Association of Catholics in Ireland (ACI) at the Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts in Belfast.

Flannery’s topics were “The urgent reforms needed in the Catholic Church, and where Pope Francis stands on them” and “Reflections on the growth of the Catholic reform movement around the world; its strengths and weaknesses”. (Audio from the event is on the ACI website.)

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Vatican event seeks to gently push Francis on women's roles

Joshua J. McElwee    |  Feb. 20, 2015 

An organization seeking to influence Pope Francis' view of women -- and to propose female professionals he might tap to lead high church offices -- will be hosting a live-streamed event from the Vatican for the second time next month.
Called Voices of Faith, the event will feature storytelling presentations from 10 women from various parts of the world who have overcome adversity or have reached the highest places available for women below the hierarchy's stained-glass ceiling.

The event will be held March 8, the day marked as International Women's Day,

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Pope Francis calls on Catholics to share everything, be 'islands of mercy'

Joshua J. McElwee  |  Jan. 27, 2015

Pope Francis has called on Catholics to use the upcoming Lenten season to tackle what he has called a "globalization of indifference" by practicing acts of charity and becoming "islands of mercy" for brothers and sisters in need.
Reflecting on the sense of communion that Catholics have, Francis has also said that those in the church should share their possessions with one another.

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Dead for 48 minutes, Catholic Priest claims God is mother

Feb 19, 2015

 A Catholic priest from Massachussetts was officially dead for more than 48 minutes before medics were able to miraculously re-start his heart has revealed a shocking revelation that will change everything you once believed.

 The 71-year-old cleric Father John Micheal O’neal claims he went to heaven and met God, which he describes as a warm and comforting motherly figure.

 Father John Micheal O’neal was rushed to the hospital on January 29 after a major heart attack, but was declared clinically dead soon after his arrival.

With the aid of a high-tech machine called LUCAS 2, that kept the blood flowing to his brain, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital managed to unblock vital arteries and return his heart to a normal rhythm.
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Petition Update

Mary Ellen Chown, CNWE, Oakville, ON |  Feb 13, 2015

Wow! 612 people from around the world have signed this petition to date. Please take a minute to read the reply that Cardinal Ravasi sent and our response. Let's let him know that the conference may be over but the work for women's equality in the Catholic church and in the world carries on. And don't worry, this is the only update you will get - until we learn that the image has been removed!

Reply by Cardinal Ravasi: 

“I have received your objection to the use of “Venus Restored” by the artist Man Ray on the Pontifical Council for Culture’s website to illustrate the working document of the Plenary Assembly on“Women’s Cultures: equality and difference”. While registering your complaint, we have chosen not to remove the image, as we believe it speaks clearly for one of the central points of our document: many women, alas, are still struggling for freedom (bound with rope), their voices and intellect often unheard (headless), their actions unappreciated (limbless). Gianfranco Ravasi”

Dear Cardinal Ravasi,
Thank you for your email reply dated February 5, 2015 regarding our request to remove the Man Ray image of a bound, headless, limbless woman from the outline document for the “Women’s Cultures” plenary session. In your reply you claim that the image speaks “clearly for one of the central points of our document: many women, alas, are still struggling for freedom (bound with rope), their voices and intellect often unheard (headless), their actions unappreciated (limbless).” At first glance, this could be a powerful image to portray these realities, but our further research suggests otherwise.

The problem is that this understanding of the image is quite the opposite of what the original artist intended and we feel that to ignore the context of the artwork is both irresponsible and offensive to women. The intent of the artist was to depict sadomasochism. Man Ray’s own diaries, among other disturbing entries, describe him “brutally” sexually assaulting his former wife and on another occasion he states: “I pulled out my belt and began lashing her. She fell on her face moaning; I continued striking her back a number of times, then stopped and told her to explain the marks to Luis [her lover].”

We have to ask once again, does the Pontifical Council for Culture really want to dignify the work of a clearly very violent and misogynist man on a document discussing “Women’s Cultures”? There are many other artworks by women that allow women to speak for themselves that could be used instead.

The bitter irony of using this image has also not been lost on many of us. By excluding women from equal participation in ordained ministry and governance in the Catholic Church, it is the Vatican itself that continues to ‘bind’ women, to ‘silence’ us and to circumscribe what our actions in the world should be (as evidenced also in aspects of the outline document itself). It is time for an all-male Church leadership to take responsibility for its part in oppressing women over centuries in our Church and take concrete steps to recognize women not merely as ‘observers’ or ‘consultors’ but rather as equal disciples of Christ at all levels of participation in our Church.
To date, over 600 women and men around the world find the Man Ray image offensive and they are making ‘their voices and intellect heard’ on the issue. We invite you to read some of their comments on the petition.  [Comments at

We earnestly invite you to hear the ‘people of God’ and once again we ask you to remove this offensive image from the document.


C. Holtmann, M. Chown, S. Kindred, D. Wiggins, M. Goss and A. Rowley
National Work Group
Catholic Network for Women’s Equality (CNWE), Canada

Pontifical Council for Culture outline document and image

You can contact the Pontifical Council for Culture at:

Pontifical Council for Culture
Vatican City

Or send an email: cultura@cultura.va
Or you can phone: [+39] 06 6989 3811

Office hours:
Mornings: Monday to Friday 8.30am-1.30pm
Afternoons: Monday, Tuesday & Thursday 3pm - 6pm

[Please note:  Vatican City is seven hours ahead of Eastern Time - Canada]

Or, sign a petition at Change.org

Clericalism and the Francis Effect

John Krejci, STL, MSW, Ph.D | February 2015

If you ask a fish what water is, the fish would have no idea what you were talking about.  They are immersed in it. Ask a cleric  --priest, monsignor, or bishop-if they are immersed in clericalism and they might  respond in the same way. "There is no clericalism in this diocese."  When one is living in a culture, in this case, the clerical  culture, there is little awareness of the privilege, the perks, the power that accompanies the role.  Unfortunately, the laity often buy into the system.   "Yes, Father; no Father, whatever you say, Father."  The blind obedience of unquestioning followers!

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J. A. Dick | February 13, 2015

From 4 to 7 February 2015 the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture hosted a conference on “women’s cultures: equality and difference.” The conference got off to a rough start because of the sexist and women-denigrating images used in the Pontifical Council for Culture’s promotional materials.

On Valentine’s Day 2015 Pope Francis is “creating” twenty new cardinals. Some older cardinals, and perhaps some new ones, have expressed anxious concerns about the “feminization of the church.” Certainly news reports and news images about the pope’s up-coming meeting with cardinals new and old reinforce that alarming situation. (See image below.)

To correct the situation in the church, I strongly suggest that the Pontifical Council for Culture host an international conference on “Men’s Cultures: Equality and Difference.” Perhaps the Leadership Council of Women Religious would be willing to coordinate this worthwhile project…….

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Has the Vatican Discovered that Women Should Be Running the World?

Carol P. Christ | FEBRUARY 9, 2015

So it is a [female] generativity that .. is … giving life to social, cultural and economic structures that are inspired by values, ideas, principles and practices oriented to the common good …

The above statement from the Pontifical Council’s document on“Women’s Cultures: Equality and Diffference” is a response to Pope Francis’s call for a discussion of “feminine genius” and its role in the Church. If in fact women are  “oriented to the common good,” then this is the best reason I can think of to elect a woman pope. And if a women are in fact hard-wired to think about the good of all, wouldn’t a woman pope’s first act be to dissolve the hierarchy that elected her? Is this why the Vatican is so afraid of the power of women?

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Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope
Austen Ivereigh
Henry Holt, $30, 445 pp.

Kindle Edition $14.99

The Great Reformer is a magnificent book that should gain a wide readership. It is a tour de force of biographical research and good judgment, and it provides useful background information to readers who are new to Argentine history, the Jesuits, or Catholic language and customs. Austen Ivereigh manages to illuminate every aspect of Francis’s leadership—especially the unusual aspects that have attracted admiration from some and worry from others, and in many cases both at once.
. . .

This “concrete Catholic thing” is, even more than Pope Francis himself, at the heart of Ivereigh’s book. Through an exposition of the pope’s accomplishments, Ivereigh lovingly presents “the concrete Catholic thing” as something that still has the power to create true solidarity, hope, and renewal in church and in the world. Commenting on Francis’s exhortations against spiritual worldliness, Ivereigh notes, “The church, Francis endlessly pointed out, was not an NGO but a love story, and the men and women were links in this ‘chain of love.’ ‘If we do not understand this,’ said Francis, ‘we have understood nothing of what the church is.’” The question put to the reader is: Can we still, even in the twenty-first century, believe in a love story? In this love story? If so, Ivereigh suggests, and only if so, we can begin to see the possibilities for genuine reform in our own hearts and in the church.

Read all of the Commonweal book review

Vatican Council on Women Would Be Funny Were it Not So Insulting

Mary E. Hunt /  February 5, 2015

It may be Women’s Week at the Vatican, but you have to look carefully at the skirts to find many women. However well-intentioned Vatican officials may be, they embody Murphy’s Law when it comes to women: everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Maybe if women were more than bit players, things might improve.

The Pontifical Council for Culture in Rome, presided over by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and made up of cardinals and bishops who are all men, are discussing “Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference” from February 4-7, 2015 in mostly closed-door sessions. There are enough contradictions in that sentence to end my analysis right here.

I persist, if only to encourage others to trust their intuitions about such dubious endeavors and to think about women when they sing the praises of Pope Francis. Women make up slightly more than half of the Catholic population, and many more than half of its active members. Only by ignoring women can Francis fans herald his achievements.

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The Pontifical Council for Culture has an agenda on women: the same tired old cage

Veleda [The Cailleach in Irish Megalithic Traditions] | February 2, 2015

The Pontifical Council for Culture meets in Rome on 4-7 February 2015 to consider “Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference.” They’ve issued a preliminary document that tips their hand, in case you entertained any doubts that their ideas about women have changed a whit. It’s titled “Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference,” and it endeavors — yet again — to convince women of what the male hierarchy insists is their rightful place:

“At the dawn of human history, societies divided roles and functions between men and women rigorously. To the men belonged responsibility, authority, and presence in the public sphere: the law, politics, war, power. To women belonged reproduction, education, and care of the family in the domestic sphere.”

Hold it right there.

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Is the Vatican finally getting it?  Are they going beyond jokes and stereotypically coquettish videos?

Outline document
for the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture,
Rome 4-7 February 2015


“I am convinced that the human species develops as a twofold species, ‘male’
and ‘female’; that the essence of the human being, of which no trait should be
missing, is present in both, manifesting itself in two ways: and that the entire
structure of being highlights this specific mould.” (Edith Stein)

In our Plenary, the invaluable contribution of our Members and Consultors will
allow us to gather some aspects of women’s cultures in four thematic stages, in order
to identify possible pastoral paths, which will allow Christian communities to listen
and dialogue with the world today in this sphere. The expression “women’s cultures”
does not imply any division from men’s cultures, but shows our awareness that there
is a women’s “perspective” on the world and all that surrounds us, on life and on
experience. This perspective is a normal part of the fabric of all cultures and
societies; we can see it in the family and in work, in politics and the economy, in
study and decision making, in communications and literature, in art and sport, in
fashion and cuisine, etc. This text has been composed by a group of women in the
light of pastoral considerations sent in by our Members and Consultors and will guide
us in our reflections.

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of the document

View the stereotypically coquettish video here.




Media inquiries:

Atlantic Canada: Cathy Holtmann,
(506) 476-1080, atlantic@cnwe.org

Central Canada: Mary Ellen Chown,
(905) 330-1437, central@cnwe.org

Western Canada: Therese Koturbash,
(204) 622-7000, western@cnwe.org

The Pontifical Council for Culture is hosting a plenary assembly on the theme of “Women’s Cultures” February 4-7, 2015 in Rome. In preparation, the Council produced a video requesting input from women and published a working document and accompanying image for discussion.  The serious flaws in these initiatives reflect the problem of an all-male hierarchy attempting to speak for and about women, while being representatives of an institution that excludes them. 

The Council video featured an actress inviting women to send in short clips responding to questions such as: “Who are you?” “What are your strengths, difficulties?” What do you think about “your body?” “your spiritual life?” The English version of the video was removed in response to wide critique of its patronizing questions and format. The irony is that canvassing women would not be necessary if the membership of the Pontifical Council reflected the diversity of Catholic women in the church. The video concludes by telling Catholic women, “You, yes you are important!” – a further irony considering Catholic Church leadership does not consider women important enough to participate equally. 

Aspects of the working document point to poverty and violence as global realities for women, but the discussion fails to acknowledge how Catholic Church leadership through centuries of patriarchy and sexism have contributed to these problems.  The document states, “In the very discrimination and stereotypes tied to roles, violence against women sinks its roots even deeper”. Yet Catholic Church leadership discriminates against the full participation of women and holds fast to stereotypes of women in its teaching. The document asks why husbands abuse their wives and why women stay in abusive marriages but does not question what role the Catholic Church plays in instilling guilt over ‘failed marriages’ and urging forgiveness at the expense of women’s safety. The possibility of women priests is dismissed in the document with the unsubstantiated claim that “according to statistics, it is not something that women want.”

The image that accompanies the document on the Pontifical Council for Culture website is “Venus Restored” by Man Ray (1936). It depicts the naked torso of a headless woman, bound tightly with rope. Given that Man Ray objectified and sexually assaulted women and was a devotee of the Marquis de Sade, this image has no place at any gathering that supports women,

We call on the Pontifical Council for Culture to remove the image of ‘Venus Restored’ from its website. We urge the Council to ‘walk the talk’ of respecting the dignity of women by advocating for women’s equal participation at all levels of Church ministry and leadership. Anything less means that the male hierarchy of the Church corroborates in ‘tightening the bonds’ that oppress women globally.

Pontifical Council for Culture outline document and image

You can contact the Pontifical Council for Culture at:

Pontifical Council for Culture
Vatican City

Or send us an email: cultura@cultura.va
Or you can phone: [+39] 06 6989 3811

Office hours:
Mornings: Monday to Friday 8.30am-1.30pm
Afternoons: Monday, Tuesday & Thursday 3pm - 6pm

[Please note:  Vatican City is seven hours ahead of Eastern Time - Canada]

Or, sign a petition at Change.org

For the sake of the priesthood's future, Catholics need to talk about women priests

Cristina Odone | January 21, 2015

Anyone who steps into a church can see that women make up the majority of the congregation.  More women than men believe in God and an afterlife. While more than half of men would call themselves atheists, two thirds of women call themselves believers.

No surprises there: anyone who steps into a church can see that women make up the majority of the congregation.

Yet the latest research about British attitudes to God and the hereafter must drive feminists crazy: in Islam, Orthodox Judaism and the Catholic Church women hold no position of power. In the Church of England the battle to allow women priests proved bloody and divisive – it took 13 years before Anglicans could come to terms with women bishops.

So why do women support the communities that snub them? What, ask feminists in disbelief, smacks more of "patriarchy" than these ancient bodies with their antiquated rules that compel women to wear a veil or ban them from controlling their own reproductive systems? Religious teachings wholeheartedly reject some of the core principles that women’s self-appointed champions cherish most: abortion, the pill, status – heck, even schooling are frowned upon by some disciples of the world’s major religions.

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