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An Anglican's Perspective -- 3 articles:

40 years after the first Anglican ordination of women: achievements and challenges

Tali Folkinson | December 2, 2016

Four decades after the first women were ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada, much progress remains to be made, say female priests who profess to have struggled with everything from unequal pay to inappropriate touching by some parishioners.

From November 28-December 1, 40 female priests from the Anglican Church of Canada gathered at St. James Anglican Church for “Unmasking the Feminine,” a conference marking the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women in the church. For participants, the event seemed an occasion both for celebrating the achievements made in advancing the rights of women and being mindful of the challenges many say yet remain.

 
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Rome has never claimed that their own prohibition precludes that Christ can work through ordained women in other traditions

Marie-Louise Ternier-Gommers | November 16, 2016

The month of October was eventful on the global ecumenical front, in no small way thanks to Pope Francis. A man of action, and cognizant of the power of gesture and relationship, Francis spent October 2016 — inaugurating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation — in key encounters with leaders from the Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion, and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and LWF President Bishop Mounib Younan both signed joint statements with Pope Francis; a joint statement with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill was signed earlier this year. Each statement confesses the sins of conflict and strife over the past 500 years (1,000 years in case of the Orthodox), reaffirms Christ’s own animating and salvific presence in one another’s traditions, and commits its leaders and members to new paths of joint witness, prayer and mission. Without glossing over disagreements still present, each statement includes a clear commitment to address these differences by “walking together” as one Body of Christ.


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Question of women’s ‘ordination’ is still open in Catholic Church

Michael Jackson | December 7, 2016

Marie-Louise Ternier-Gommers [See article above.] gives a thoughtful perspective on the question of the ordination of women. She notes that in ecumenical dialogue Rome has acknowledged “Christ’s saving action” in other ecclesial communities, including those, such as my own Anglican tradition, which have women clergy.

However, Ms. Ternier-Gommers makes a blanket assertion that Pope Francis has “reiterated the Roman Catholic ban on the ordination of women.” In fact, Pope Francis, like his predecessors Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, has ruled out ordination of women to the priesthood. Like them, he has left open the question of female ordination to the diaconate.

This position is consistent with that of the Orthodox and Oriental churches, some of which have women deacons. Pope Francis has appointed a commission to study the issue, among whose members is Phyllis Zagano, an authority on the history and theology of female deacons. Until the commission reports, and the pope comes to a decision, it is premature to refer to a “ban on the ordination of women” in the Catholic Church.

Some Roman Catholic women who feel a call to the priesthood, like Ms. Ternier-Gommers, have decided to seek ordination in the Anglican communion and we trust that they will find a welcoming spiritual home to nourish their vocation. Let us hope that one day other women may fulfil their call to ministry in the Roman Catholic diaconate.


Reprinted in full with the kind permission of the author:
Canon Michael Jackson, Regina



A Catholic's Perspective:

Why do we have an ordained permanent diaconate at all?
 

Nora Bolcon | December 7, 2016

It is anti-Christian to assert, as many do, that we shouldn't ordain women because some may leave the Church if we do. Sexism does incredible harm to women and any apology won't cure that harm. Justice must be swift or more injustice occurs. The permanent diaconate is nonsense. It contains no more authority than lay people already have.  Lay people need to see themselves valued more in liturgy and sacramentally within our parishes.
 
The Permanent Deaconate takes important work from lay people because the ministry lacks authority to do what priests do.  However, trained lay people have been doing all the same ministries that Deacons do, extraordinarily, for the past 40 years.  This is including many trained laywomen in South America and elsewhere.  These works of lay ministers include, even the sacramental works of the deaconate, as women have been performing baptisms, witnessing at weddings and handling funerals too. This begs the question, why do we have an ordained permanent deaconate at all, except to support sexism and/or clericalism in some form, when no ordination has been necessary for these works to be achieved by laypeople, in our recent past, and even currently?
 
Schism has already occurred and we are continuing to lose women faster than protestant churches, because of our sexism. We must not ordain married men to the priesthood if we are not ordaining women to the priesthood, as this would cause outright gender segregation which is a form of oppression greater than women have ever known in our church. This leaves the church with the treacherous situation of anyone who stands for justice fighting against those who want married men ordained because these men don't want to wait for women to be ordained. Now we have civil war within our church, and the laity feeling torn, and possibly leaving to find churches that have less conflict.
 
Even bringing up ordination to the diaconate for women is a mistake. It claims we agree we are not worthy of full and equal ordination within the very quest for the much lesser role.  We must hold our ground and demand absolute same and equal treatment and ordination or the hierarchy will continually attempt to throw one useless, nonsensical, degrading option after another at us.  Examples:  “Feminine Genius”, “Petrine and Matrine Salvation”, “Complementary Genders”, or "Equal but different roles".  These ideas are not only harmful to women but take us off the proper track of following Jesus as our one true Lord.  These are bad theological ideas that contradict science and fact already proven true.
 
It is time we protest and organize publicly.  Catholics need to make an evident stand outside our parishes this year, and at other significant places, coming in large numbers, to demand women’s human dignity be recognized.  We must prove that women will not be silenced, and that women and men who believe in what the Gospels actually command, will not accept less than equal and same treatment for men and women.  Equal and same ordination for women and men, starting with priesthood, must be granted immediately.
 
Laity must pressure priests and religious to demand actual equality and nothing short of it. We must make it more uncomfortable for our local clergy and religious to remain silent than to speak out against sexism.  We must overcome the discomfort ourselves, of speaking out to other Catholics, after mass, during church meetings and events, and in front of our pastors.  We must make it known that we will have justice for all, in our church, or no peace for our church will exist until there is actual Christian justice for everyone.  Mary, mother of the Church, would not support such twisting of Jesus' teachings, nor should we support this twisting of the Gospel’s commands!
 
Misogyny is disheartening but it will never leave us until we fight against it.  Complicity with a sin is what makes sin able to stand strong where it is. Sexism is a form of hatred and therefore a grave sin.  Civil rights would never have been won, if the black population listened to the leaders of our country when they told them they need to accept "equal but seperate" status.  Justice must be prayed for and fought for both in and out of our church.
 
I am not deserting or disrespecting our church, and there is much that can be done by all to make change happen, and with a clear conscience.  We can picket at churches every Sunday.  We can organize large groups of laity.  We should write continuous letters to bishops demanding justice.  We can pass out fliers, during mass on cars, reminding Catholics that all sexism, especially sexism in religion, has been proven to cause global poverty and violence, and even terrorism with its example.  We can put enormous pressure on priests to stand up against this hatred. We can make sure no married men are ordained priests in our churches or accepted in any parishes, to keep the pressure on, and avoid all-out gender segregation.
 
If we all come together; the justice-minded sections of religious, priests and laity, who agree all sexism is wrong and harmful, and make a large concerted effort, we could see real change, and equal female ordination to priesthood, along with optional celibacy for all priests come quickly.  We have the numbers, and our numbers are our voice.  This collected voice can be the strongest of all voices, in our church, but only if that voice comes together with boldness.  We all must get real about this evil and what it is doing in our church and to the human dignity of all women.
 
I know there is disagreement, but there needs to be a counter to telling women and men who care about our church to just give up and quit.  This is my church as much as it is the Pope's, and I will fight for her to survive, and I will fight for her to be an example of justice in our world. I will not give up on her and I challenge others to follow and act against the evil of sexism instead of leaving too.
 
An original article provided for this News Digest by Nora Bolcon, Pawtucket, RI




    Letters to the Editor

 Editor:  Why does Nora Bolcon think married men should not be ordained until women are ordained too?  As a married priest myself, at first I didn’t see the connection between the two.  Then it hit my male brain, optional celibacy for men is simply another sexist statement.
 
I wish I had Nora’s optimism in thinking that the Church may change more quickly if only we demonstrated sooner in large numbers. But how and where to start?  We even hesitate to wear the “Ordain Women” buttons to church so as not to hurt Father’s feelings, who really is a good priest.
 
Let’s hope Nora’s article will be a “kick in the pants” to wake us up and try something even if it ruffles feathers. At least we certainly don’t fear burning at the stake, or much less, a John the Baptist treatment.
 
Emil Kutarna, Regina  


Sara Butler, MSBT / Robert J. Egan, SJ Debate on the Ordination of Women




Women Priests -- Answering the Call

 

See preface from the book by Catherine Cavanagh -- click here

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



My Journey From Silence to Solidarity


This book available for free as a pdf file downloaded here.



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On Joining John the Baptist in Rebellion against the Religious Establishment (Advent Homily)       

Mike Rivage-Seul | December 4, 2016

Readings for Second Sunday of Advent: IS 11: 1-10; PS 72: 1-2, 7-8, 12-13; ROM 15: 4-9; MT 3: 1-12


“The meaning of the Incarnation is this: In Jesus Christ, God hits the streets. And preparing for that is the meaning of Advent.” (Jim Wallis. “Advent in 2016: Not Normal, Not Now, Not to Come.”

__________

A few days ago I published a review of James Patterson’s novel, Woman of God. It’s the story of Brigid Fitzgerald, a medical doctor who though female, becomes a priest and candidate for the papacy.

Brigid and her husband (also a dissident priest) decide to form their own Catholic parish. They do so because of the studied irrelevance of the Catholic Church to pressing problems of the real world. The two call their congregation the “Jesus, Mary and Joseph (JMJ) Church.” They insist on remaining Catholics not allowing their opponents to drum them out of the church as just another break-away Protestant sect.

The JMJ Church spreads rapidly, largely because it connects Jesus’ Gospel with issues of peace and social justice. And though vilified by her local bishop and physically threatened by right wing Catholics, Brigid eventually becomes widely celebrated and is summoned to Rome not for condemnation, but papal approval.

I couldn’t help thinking of Woman of God as I read today’s liturgy of the word this Second Sunday of Advent. Like the JMJ Church, the first two readings along with the responsorial psalm emphasize the connection between faith and social justice.

Then in today’s Gospel, the prophet, John the Baptist, like Brigid Fitzgerald, initiates an alternative community of faith far from the temple in the desert wilderness. John’s credibility leads “all Jerusalem and Judea” to see him as a prophet. In fact, (as John Dominic Crossan has pointed out) John becomes for the Jewish grassroots their de facto alternative “High Priest.”

To see what I mean, consider that first selection from the prophet Isaiah. It directly links faith with justice for the poor, oppressed and marginalized. In Isaiah’s day (like our own) they were typically ignored. By way of contrast, Isaiah’s concept of justice consists precisely in judging the poor and oppressed fairly and not according to anti-poor prejudice – in Isaiah’s words, not by “appearance or hearsay.”  (A clearer statement against contemporary police and/or government profiling can hardly be imagined.)

Not only that, but according to the prophet, treating the poor justly is the key to peace between humans and with nature. Centralizing their needs rather than those of the rich produces a utopian wonderland where all of us live in complete harmony with nature and with other human beings. In Isaiah’s poetic reality, lions, lambs, and calves play together. Leopards and goats, cows and bears, little babies and deadly snakes experience no threat from each other. (This is the prophetic vision of the relationship between humans and nature – not exploitation and destruction, but harmony and mutual respect.)

Most surprising of all, even believers (Jews) and non-believers (gentiles) are at peace. Today’s excerpt from Paul’s Letter to the Romans seconds this point. He tells his correspondents to “welcome one another” – including gentiles – i.e. those the Jewish community normally considered enemies. (That would be like telling us today to welcome Muslims as brothers and sisters whom God loves as much as any of us.)

Today’s responsorial psalm reinforces the idea of peace flowing from justice meted out to the “least.” As Psalm 72 was sung, we all responded, “Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.” And again, the justice in question has the poor as its object. The psalmist praises a God and a government (king) who “rescue the poor and afflicted when they cry out” – who “save the lives of the poor.”

In his own time, the lack of the justice celebrated in today’s first three readings infuriates Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist. His disgust forces him out of the temple and into the desert. It has him excoriating the religious leaders of his day as a “brood of vipers.”

Unmistakably clothed as a prophet – in garments that absolutely repudiate the “sacred garb” of his effete opponents – John lambasts the Scribal Establishment which had normalized relationships with the brutal occupation forces of Rome. As opposition high priest, John promises a religious renewal that will lead to a new Exodus – this time from the power of Rome and its religious collaborators.

I hope you can see as I do the parallels between the context of John’s preaching and our own. We live in a culture where those in charge contravene our faith by openly slandering the poor and marginalized celebrated in today’s readings as especially dear to God. I mean since November 8th, all the levers of power (the presidency, the Supreme Court, the House and Senate) find themselves in the hands of billionaires and their friends – the 1% that the Occupy Movement identified so accurately five years ago. Ironically that richest 1% has succeeded in scapegoating the country’s poorest 1% (immigrants) as a major cause of our country’s problems. Moreover, they equally vilify other poor and marginalized people: the impoverished in general, brown and black-skinned people, women, the LGBTQ community, environmentalists, protestors and anyone who exposes the crimes of the billionaire class.

As a result, we are about to enter a period of unprecedented national darkness that promises to rival that of Germany, 1933-1945. For at least the next four years our country will be controlled by an organization Noam Chomsky calls “the most dangerous in the history of the world.”

More dangerous than the Nazis? Yes, Chomsky insists. Hitler did not have the power to destroy the planet by nuclear war. Hitler ruled Germany before climate change threatened innumerable species, Mother Earth herself, and continued human existence. And yet the entire Republican Party denies that the problem even exists! Yes, it is the most dangerous organization in the history of the world.

And despite all of that, there’s not a peep about it from the pulpit. People keep going to Mass as though the most important upcoming event is the arrival of St. Nicholas at the parish potluck – or the Christmas bazaar.

So what should we do in the face of such disconnect?

How about following the example of John the Baptist, Brigid Fitzgerald and her husband?

This would entail:

Admitting that present forms of church are hopelessly disconnected from the unprecedented tragedy and threat represented by the accession to power of anti-poor climate change deniers.

Publicly moving out of our local church building.

Perhaps, opening a store front JMJ Catholic church on the Main Street Jim Wallis referred to in his article referenced above.

Inviting former Catholics, college students, and other disaffected church members to join.

Publishing the invitation in local newspapers.

Meeting in the store front for Eucharist each Sunday at the very times the local church celebrates Mass.

Empowering faithful women in the JMJ community to preach and celebrate the Eucharist.

Gathering in the storefront on Wednesday evenings for prayer and to plan the week’s acts of resistance to Trumpism in all of its manifestations.

Using those premises as a sanctuary for the bottom 1% threatened by ICE and police.


Objectors will say:

We have no authority to do this.

It’s better to continue our reform efforts from within.

This will only cause division in our church.

The status quo really doesn’t bother me, because I use the quiet provided by Sunday Mass to facilitate my own prayer life.

(If, like me, you’re of a certain age) I’m too old for such radical disruption of my life.

To such objections John the Baptist might reply:

“I had no official authority to start my desert community of resistance and reform. In fact, I was identified by the authorities as an enemy of the state. Eventually they cut off my head. So don’t expect approval.”

Reform from within? “I gave up on that early on. So did my cousin, Jesus. Both of us operated outside the temple system which we criticized harshly.”
Division in our faith communities? “That didn’t bother me either. Can you get much more divisive or polarizing than calling religious leaders a ‘brood of vipers’?”

Withdrawing into personal prayer? “The spiritual masters in my Essene community convinced me that prayer and meditation are essential elements undergirding prophetic action. However, pietism is useless unless it leads to the kind of witness I gave and risk I took on the banks of the Jordan.”

Too old? “Again, my Essene mysticism would not permit me to identify with the physical as if I were primarily a body with a soul. The truth is that we are first of all ageless spirits who happen to inhabit temporary bodies. The imperative for action is no less incumbent on older people than on the young. Hell, the elders criticized me for being too young to oppose them. I was barely 30 when they killed me.”

Again, as Jim Wallis has intimated, the specter of John the Baptist should haunt us this second Sunday of Advent, and drive our faith communities onto Main Street. These unprecedented times call for radical response outside the sacred precincts and independent of the sleepwalkers awaiting the arrival of St. Nicholas.


Reprinted in full with the kind permission of the author:
Mike Rivage-Seul, Berea, KY, Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies, Liberation theologian, Activist.





Another voice in the wilderness

Matthew -- Attributed to Mary Mother of Jesus -- Adapted from The Message

I’m bursting with God-news;
    I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
    I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
    the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
God's mercy flows in wave after wave
    on those who are in awe before God.
God bared God's arm and showed God's strength,
    scattered the bluffing braggarts.
God knocked tyrants off their high horses,
    pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
    the callous rich were left out in the cold.
God embraced God's chosen child, Israel;
    God remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what God promised,
    beginning with Abraham and Sarah right up to now.



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Christmas:  Doing an about face from the rat race

Editor | December 7, 2016

Regina's Mary of Magdala Inclusive Catholic Community sponsored a public Advent Presentation and Discussion conducted by Craig Van Parys, local Christian Ethics Teacher, Masters in Pastoral Studies, and Feminist Theologian.

The first session explored the socio-economic and psychological impacts of the Christmas season, coupled with the current challenges of our Christian Faith.

Next, a brief overview was made of the socio-economic and political background of the evangelist Luke's birth narrative, and an uncovering of the subversive elements of Luke's birth stories as it applies to gender.

The third session explored what it means to practice Christmas resistance within the socio-economic and political spheres as a Christian called to discipleship, using Luke as our guide.+




Women deacons commission to meet in Rome for first time

Joshua J. McElwee  |  Nov. 19, 2016 NCR

The new Vatican commission studying the possibility of allowing women to serve as deacons in the Catholic church will be meeting in Rome for the first time as a full group Nov. 25-26.  The dates of the meeting, anticipated in recent months, was first reported Saturday by the U.S. newspaper Newsday, which spoke to commission member and NCR columnist Phyllis Zagano.

Pope Francis' creation of the commission, formally known as the Study Commission on the Women's Diaconate, has been seen as signaling an historic openness to the possibility of ending the Catholic church's practice of an all-male clergy.


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New Vatican Document Forbidding Gay Priests “Damaging,” Says Gay Catholic Group

Dignity Nesletter | December 8, 2016

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy is releasing a new document (dated December 8, 2016) entitled “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” which is a set of guidelines for priestly formation. The document notes, “The Holy Father Francis has approved the present General Executive Decree and has ordered its publication.”

“This document is extremely disappointing in its approach to gay men called to be priests,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, an organization of Catholics committed to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the Church and society. “It is not at all what anyone expected from the ‘Who am I to judge?’ Pope.”

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2016 National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples: Prayer for Families

The Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council has released a prayer of thanksgiving for families to mark the 2016 National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples. The Aboriginal Council and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops have promoted the annual National Day of Prayer since 2002. It is celebrated on December 12, the memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whom Pope Pius XII proclaimed patroness of the Americas in 1946. The devotion dates to 1531 when the Blessed Mother appeared as an Aztec princess to a humble Aboriginal peasant, Saint Juan Diego, at a place called the Hill of Tepeyac, which eventually became part of Villa de Guadalupe, a suburb of Mexico City.

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Francis, the comic strip                                                                                                           Francis Comic Strip Archive
by Pat Marrin | November 22, 2016
National Catholic Reporter

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