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Our model of ministry emphasizes love as the foundation of life and the cosmic oneness of all in Christ.
progressive Catholics really do care about the church
Jamie Manson, ncronline.org | May 7, 2019
Almost every conversation I listen to about the future of the Catholic Church in the United States makes two assumptions. First, that the only young adults still interested in the Catholic Church are very conservative. Second, that all of the other young adults have either rejected the church or are utterly indifferent to it.
If that is the case, why do campus ministry programs at progressive Catholic universities have their liturgies packed with students, and why are there waiting lists for their retreat programs and immersion trips?
Why are programs like the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, or the Good Shepherd Volunteers or the St. Joseph Worker Program filled with 20-something Catholics eager to put their faith into action in some of the poorest and most broken places in our country?
And why are so many graduate schools in theology, ministry and religious studies brimming with young adult Catholics?
A woman called to ministry directly from Christ
Hold this image: “A woman called to ministry directly from Christ.” Mary Magdalene, called by name - and then sent with the Easter kerygma – the message that love is stronger than death. What is the power in that – being called by name by the Christ?
Among the many lessons Mary Magdalene has to teach us, there are three that I wish to reflect on as they relate to Roman Catholic Women Priests.
First, Mary came to the garden with herbs and spices wanting to give Jesus, the one she loved, a proper burial. She expected to experience the dead body lying in the tomb which she would tenderly caress and anoint according to the custom of the Jews. The empty tomb startles her and she weeps for what is no more – he is not here. When the Risen One first speaks to Mary, “Whom are you looking for?” She couldn't recognize him and mistook him as a gardener.
Mary Magdalene teaches us that our relationship with Christ is a personal one that draws us forward. The tomb is empty, he is not here. There is no going back. If we cling to our ideas of yesterday, that what was, is what has to be now, we miss the mark. Today is a new day, a new beginning. The mystery of “now” is where we live. As people of faith, we look for new ways to live in the Risen Christ as people who believe in the equality of women and men. Patriarchal stereotypes and definitions of women that dominate the landscape of the canonical church are now empty and meaningless. They do not give life. We no longer look for meaning in the past but rather in who we are as women created by God equal with men and baptized equally into the Risen Christ. Women can be and are called to priesthood by Christ.
Second, not in his voice did she recognize him; but in speaking her name, “Mary.”
Mary Magdalene teaches us that we are called in who we are: She, a woman who loved Jesus. By speaking her name, the Christ calls Mary to forget about preconceived notions. To hear and see things differently, She is to focus on his risen reality: Life beyond death. Death does not have the victory. Love does. Love is stronger than death.
We too are to refocus our thinking and be open to new possibilities, to dream new visions of what it might mean to give our lives fully to love, as if that was the only thing that mattered.
As Roman Catholic Women Priests we are women of change and transformation. We are part of the Great Spiritual Migration that focuses on the power of love and relationships, rather than rules and regulations, to realize our potential. To be fully alive we need to live in community and we cannot create community unless we dismantle worldly systems of power and separation.
Our model of ministry emphasized love as the foundation of life and the cosmic oneness of all in Christ. Our core values express our belief that real ministry is grounded in mutuality. We believe in the equality of all persons created in the image of God. We believe in inclusive welcome and participation of everyone in our communities. We believe that collaboration and collegiality empowers us to effect change. We believe that we are to be mutually accountable and transparent in our relationships. We believe that we are to be attentive to the voice of the Spirit and to be activists for truth and for justice.
Third, once Mary recognized the Risen Christ, she is sent on a mission. “Go, go and tell the brothers I am alive.” And she runs to tell Peter and the others. Not just that she saw Jesus, that he is alive; but, more importantly, the message, that love is stronger than death. The hate that crucified him did not have the last word. Love lives beyond the grave.
Mary Magdalene teaches us that we are sent on a mission – and that it is urgent. Our call is not for ourselves it is for the community. What if Mary didn't go tell the others that Jesus was risen? Would they believe her, a woman? They didn't, and had to go see for themselves. But what if she didn't go in the first place?
Like Mary, we are to be bold and audacious in proclaiming Love. We are to LOVE OUT LOUD so that everyone can hear the good news. Our mission is to preach the good news Jesus preached – the loving tenderness of God that is all-ways and everywhere and forever, for everyone. This is what we witness to in our ministry in our communities and to our brothers in the canonical church. It is easy to become discouraged when there seems to be so very little progress in advancing the role of women in the church as the recent foot dragging shows, on the possible ordination of women as deacons.
We must not lose heart. It took a long time for the canonical church to recognize Mary as the First Apostle, and Apostle to the Apostles. It has taken until just three years ago (June 22, 2016) for her feast day to be place on par with the liturgical celebrations of the male apostles as a major feast.
[Jane Kryzanowski, Regina, SK is bishop for RCWP Canada]
Secret and not-so-secret lives of those charged with teaching, governing and sanctifying the Church
Susan Roll, Special to The Review | June 1, 2019
Book review: In the Closet of the Vatican
Frédéric Martel, In the Closet of the Vatican. Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy. London and New York: Bloomsbury Continuum, 2019. ISBN 978-1-4729-6614-8. 555 pp. $30.00 US, $40.00 Cdn. First published in French as Sodoma, Éditions Robert Laffont, Paris.
After four decades in fulltime church work this reviewer expected no surprises upon picking up Martel’s book. In fact the surprise lay in the pervasive and international scope of clerical gay practice at all levels that the author, a journalist who has published extensively on homosexual culture, was able to compile. This book is significant for its jaw-dropping revelations and their influence on both doctrine and governance of the Church, indeed its very future.
This is a long, bumpy text to read. Martel insistently documents the extensive reach of his research, based upon numerous interviews with highly-placed Vatican officials and many other knowledgeable contacts over a period of four years. This journalistic thoroughness contrasts strikingly with the tabloid writing style: breathless, gossipy, almost giddy. The author’s ego is on full view. The translation needed a second eye. Yet even with its flaws this book presents what I would consider credible accounts of the secret and not-so-secret lives of those charged with teaching, governing and sanctifying the Church, and makes many events and pronouncements since the time of Paul VI make logical sense.
The author does not speak of “gay culture” or a “gay lobby” in the Vatican and among ecclesial dignitaries worldwide, but rather of homophilic compared to practicing homosexual men. This is because of the increasingly explicit condemnation of homosexual behaviour beginning with Pope Paul VI, then John Paul II, reaching an extreme with Benedict, and addressed by Pope Francis with a combination of repeated denunciations of corruption among highly-placed Church officials and, pertaining to individuals, “Who am I to judge?” An effective “lobby” would have promoted the rights and dignity of LGBTQ2 persons, and this is not the case. One of Martel’s theses is that those who fight most aggressively against homosexuality as such are those most likely to have something (read: a great deal) to hide. This thesis comes to the fore chapter by chapter, country by country, scandal by covered-up scandal.
Men who hold both power and secrets are vulnerable to blackmail. This dynamic underlies not only the rise and fall of various princes of the Church, but the development of doctrine in our time concerning human sexuality as such.
The key to the intransigence at all levels of governance around the ordination of women, according to Martel, lies in an often virulent misogyny related to these clerics’ own identity and perhaps self-loathing. Regrettably the author does not develop this point in a way that would be useful for understanding the suppression of dialogue around women’s ordination. The word “misogyny” as a personal attribute is cited a number of times. Perhaps the most telling quotation, and a fairly obvious point, is this from an unnamed German bishop: “…everyone knows that it won’t be possible to put an end to the sexual abuse by priests until celibacy has been abolished, until homosexuality is acknowledged by the Church, allowing priests to denounce abuse, and until women are ordained as priests.” (p. 515)
Even more thought-provoking is Martel’s takeaway from his interview with Canadian cardinal and Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Marc Ouellet: “Ouellet … described to me the unimaginable explosion in cases of sexual abuse. … The figures that the Québécois quoted to me are terrifying. He paints a picture of a Church that is literally falling apart. In his view, all the parishes in the world, all the bishops’ conferences, all the dioceses are sullied. The image is horrific: the Church seems like a Titanic that is sinking while the orchestra goes on playing. ‘It’s unstoppable,’ one of Ouellet’s colleagues told me, frozen with fear.” (pp. 91-92.)
Hyperbole aside, this book deserves at least a cursory reading as a stimulus for one’s own hermeneutic of suspicion. This research provides breadth; others must provide the depth.
[Permission received from Susan Roll to publish this review in its entirety. A version of this review will appear in The Seed Keepers, Spring 2019, a publication of Catholic Network for Women's Equality.]
Catherine Barnley photo
Death and Rising of Margaret Dick at Qu'Appelle House of Prayer
Editor, Special to The Review | June 1, 2019
Sr. Margaret Dick passed away either late at night on April 23th, or early morning April 24th. Her death was sudden - she went to her cabin a bit later than usual after a wonderful day, prepared for bed, turned off her overheard light and simply, instantly fell back onto her bed. There was no struggle, no distress, only evident peace. Her wish for a long time came true, that she would die quietly here in this place where she has lived and worked for nearly 24 years. As several have remarked, she got her way with God one last time, proving again the power of Easter. The place is Qu'Appelle House of Prayer, near Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan, where, with co-founder, Fr. Glenn Zimmer, Sr. Margaret counselled and inspired many.
Through the years she has served in several ministries. She often was at the "cutting edge" of church work and thinking. This eventually brought her to Queen's House of Retreats, Saskatoon, SK in 1987, once again beginning programs that were new and innovative, reaching many people. As she was preparing to leave the retreat centre, then-director Glenn Zimmer, OMI invited her to come to the Qu'Appelle Valley, where the Oblates of Mary Immaculate were beginning a very new ministry. The provincial of her religious congregation and she agreed to one year - a year that lasted for 24 years.
According to Fr. Zimmer, "The details listed in the many tributes to Margaret just scratch the surface of a very contemplative person with a listening heart, her innovative spirit, her heartfelt love for those most in need, her commitment to her religious community and its newer forms, her enjoyment of nature, especially the outdoors and its creatures, her integrating of silence, solitude and hospitality, her creative sense and leadership of worship and prayer, and a delightful sense of humour, and so much more."
Very recently Sr. Margaret had been named an honorary Oblate by the General Council. The history of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, Sr. Margaret's religious community goes back to 1843, the founding of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary by Marie-Rose Durocher of Montreal, QC who worked with the Oblates, newly arrived in Canada only two years earlier.
Margaret Dick was educated by Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary at Holy Cross School and St. Joseph's Academy in Winnipeg, MB. The summer after her graduation, she felt God calling her to religious life and entered the Sisters of the Holy Names novitiate in Montreal.
During her early years as a vowed Sister, Margaret served as a teacher, and sometimes a principal, at numerous schools run by her religious community: Immaculate Conception, St. Ignatius, St. Gerard's, St. John Brebeuf, all in Winnipeg and St. Maurice Roche in Flin Flon, MB. She enjoyed her years in the classroom, whether teaching in the primary grades or Junior High.
As time passed, however, Sr. Margaret was increasingly drawn to ministry outside the classroom. In 1975, after completing her B.A., she enrolled at the Institute for Spiritual Studies at Berkeley College in California. Upon her return to Manitoba, she ministered at Notre Dame Parish in Kenora, ON.
Sr. Margaret resumed her studies in spirituality in Chicago, IL and completed her Masters in 1983. Her desire to become a spiritual director was realized in 1987, when Fr. Glenn Zimmer, O.M.I. invited her to join his retreat staff at Queen's House in Saskatoon, SK. Eight years later, when Fr. Glenn accepted a challenge to turn a country estate into a House of Prayer at Fort Qu'Appelle, SK and invited Margaret to join him in this pioneering effort, she said "yes".
Life at Qu'Appelle House of Prayer came with new delights and new challenges: a beautiful chapel forged in the wilderness; a garden to tend and canning to be done; daily supper to be prepared for guests. Margaret, a city girl, came to love the rural setting and solitude. During her years at the House of Prayer, Margaret lived a distance from her religious community, so she happily accepted the Oblates' invitation to become an associate member and, as such, she participated in their meetings, social events and retreats.
Sr. Margaret always found creative new ways to reach those she directed at a deep level. She had a special gift for listening. Fr. Glenn, ever touched by Sr. Margaret's childlike inner self, said, "It seemed the child in her was deeply attracted to any small child she encountered, and the child always seemed drawn to Margaret."
With her death, many are both deeply saddened and profoundly grateful.
Jean Vanier, Canadian champion of the developmentally disabled, dead at 90
Associated Press, cbc.ca | May 7, 2019
Jean Vanier, whose charity work helped improve conditions for the developmentally disabled in Canada and multiple other countries over the past half-century, has died at 90.
A charity he founded, L'Arche, said Vanier died Tuesday in Paris after suffering from thyroid cancer.
Vanier, son of former governor general Georges P. Vanier, worked as a Canadian navy officer and professor before turning to Catholic-inspired charity work.
Francis: Decision on women deacons cannot be made 'without historical foundation'
Joshua J. McElwee, ncronline.org | May 10, 2019
Pope Francis announced May 10 that he has given the report of the Vatican commission studying the history of women deacons in the Catholic Church to the global umbrella organization of women religious that requested the group's creation three years ago.
In a nearly hour-long audience at the Vatican with members of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), the pontiff repeated his earlier remarks that the 12 members of the commission had been unable to come to agreement about the role of women deacons in the early centuries of Christianity.
Why does Francis' passion for justice and unity stop short of women?
Jamie Manson, ncronline.org | May 13, 2019
In June 2016, just after Pope Francis announced he would create a commission for the study of the history of women deacons in the Catholic Church, he joked to journalists, "When you want something not to be resolved, make a commission." Apparently, he wasn't kidding after all.
Pope Francis inconsistent about ordination of women
Mary Hunt, rewire.news | May 15, 2019
In continuing to oppose women's ordination the pope argues that something has to be revealed in order for it to be done; but that we don’t do it so it must not have been revealed. A cursory examination of change on Catholic views of the death penalty and usury make quick mincemeat of that argument. Revelation provides direction toward increased justice; it's not a checklist of historical givens.
Women Deacons: Here's How It Will Change
Deborah Rose-Milavec, futurechurchnews.org | May 11, 2019
Pope Francis met with women religious from the International Union of Superiors General (UISG). In response to their unflinching question three years ago about women deacons, he handed them a report saying there had not been agreement about whether women deacons were ordained in the early Church in the same way men were ordained.
Several things jump out.
First of all, it is striking that he sought a unified position from the commission rather than weighing the evidence and the current of contemporary scholarship.
Brian McLaren author of The Great Spiritual Migration asks, "What Am I Now?"
Brian McLaren, mailchi.mp/b81e82b44459 | May 16, 2019
I’ve just begun work on two books, the second of which is tentatively entitled, Do I Stay Christian? As I sketch out the shape and trajectory of the book, I’m thinking more deeply about why I still identify as Christian and what I think Christian can, and in fact, must come to mean in the decades ahead.
Evangelical pope remains undeterred by attacks from rigid Church ideologues
Robert Mickens, international.la-croix.com | May 3, 2019
Pope Francis has been known to make off-color or politically incorrect jokes from time to time. For example, he has provoked sighs and raised eyebrows with stereotypical mother-in-law asides and occasional references to women as strawberries on the cake.Then there's his constant harping about modern-day Pharisees, as he frequently labels those Catholic priests and bishops who are being hypocrites.Jewish leaders are not at all amused at the reference, to put it mildly. They say the way Francis continuously attributes a negative connotation to the word Pharisee only perpetuates age-old anti-Jewish stereotypes.
. . .
Whether this will cause the 82-year-old pope to be more careful about his language, however, is quite another matter. One thing it will not do is halt Francis from calling out the hypocrisy among those in the Catholic "ruling class."
You don't have to be a Catholic fundamentalist to complain about Pope Francis
J. A. Dick, anothervoice-greenleaf.org | May 10, 2019
Catholic fundamentalists are taking aim on Pope Francis. On April 30, a group of 19 Catholics, called more or less “prominent,” released an open letter to the bishops of the world, accusing Pope Francis of heresy.
Certainly, a formal public accusation of heresy against a pope by a group of Catholics, associated with Catholic universities and institutions, cannot simply be ignored. When one examines their accusations, however, one sees a list of what I would call more administrative and public relations issues than strict theological problems: Francis’ efforts to expand relations with China, his work in interfaith dialogue, and what I would call his “perceived” openness to L.G.B.T. people.
. . .
Francis is not a heretic.
Traditionalist Catholic movement disrupts Indiana parish
Peter Feuerherd, ncronline.org | May 2, 2019
The beauty of its architecture made it a "perfect fit" for a traditionalist Catholic movement called the Institute of Christ the King.
The longtime parishioners at St. Joseph Church in Hammond, Indiana, tried to be good hosts for their Latin Mass guests. They even put together a winter luncheon, complete with sandwiches, salads and, at the insistence of Fr. Glenn Gardner, wine.
But for Loraine Moreno, it became clear that the presence of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in their parish church, which was constructed in 1912 and celebrated for its ornate Romanesque style, made for an unhappy marriage.
German Catholic women call for strike
Anne-Bénédicte Hoffner, international.la-croix.com | March 25, 2019
From May 11 to 18, German Catholics are invited to "not set foot in a church," to dress in "white" and to stop "any voluntary service." What would become of the Catholic Church without its women? To make "the Church's other half heard," parishioners of Münster in Germany, are calling for a strike."We women want to see genuine change in our Church. We want to contribute and have our say. We want women and men, on equal footing, to follow their calling in harmony and move forward in the same direction.
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