RCWP Canada Monthly Review -- May 2018 

  • Are we liberal or conservative?
  • Cross purposes: The battle for Christianity in Canada
  • Should women rejoice over 'Gaudete et Exsultate'?
  • Public Letter to Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops from Blue House Group
  • Comments to the Editor
  • My Mother is my Priest, A Short Film by Linda Bhreathnach
  • Quebec bishops ponder possibility of married priests
  • World Day of Prayer for Vocations - A Message from the Women's Ordination Conference
  • Letter to the Editor of the Globe and Mail in response to the article by Michael Higgins about Mary McAleese and women’s equality in the Church
  • Beyond the Altar: Women Religious, Patriarchal Power, and the Church
  • Religion and Intimate Partner Violence: Understanding the Challenges and Proposing Solutions
  • Easter Season Message from Bishop-elect Jane Kryzanowski
  • RCWP Canada response to papal non-apology
  • The plain truth is that the Canadian Catholic bishops will not admit they are divided. They could not agree to issue an invitation to their pope
  • Catholic Network for Women's Equality Seed Keepers magazine
  • This year's Voices of Faith event suggests promising pathways for dismantling Catholic misogyny
  • Free pdf downloadable books
  • Francis, the comic strip

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Easter Season Message from Bishop-elect Jane Kryzanowski

Dear Friends and Companions,

We stood at the Cross and Tomb of Jesus pondering the price of a life of love and service to those on the margins of society in his day - and ours.  As much as we are saved by the cross and resurrection, we are saved by his life.  Just as there is no Easter without Good Friday, there would be no Good Friday without his years of public ministry that showed humanity the face of the Divine and the infinite love of God which rankled those in power to the point of their feeling the need to execute him. 

Our question is how do we witness to the love of God by our lives of love and service?  Are we unafraid of those with power and are we willing to speak and act for truth and justice?  Do we trust that God is with us regardless of the price?  Will we wait in the darkness of the tomb for the promised resurrection? 

Let us ponder the meaning of these holy days and rest in attentiveness so that, with Mary of Magdala, we can greet the dawn of Easter Resurrection.

Blessings of the Sacred Triduum and the Easter Season.


Roman Catholic Women Priests Canada :
Marie Bouclin, Bishop, Sudbury, ON, 705-524-5418
Jane Kryzanowski, Bishop-elect, Regina, SK, 306-737-2927
Email Address: rcwpcanada@outlook.com
Website URL: rcwpcanada.x10.mx

RCWP Canada response to papal non-apology

Roman Catholic Women Priests Canada expresses great sadness that Pope Francis has decided that he “could not personally respond” to the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendation as expressed in a letter by Bishop Lionel Gendron, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, dated March 27, 2018.

Deep wounds and lasting scars have been left on the indigenous peoples of Canada by colonialism and policies of cultural genocide and assimilation. In addition, the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples has been severely affected. The Roman Catholic Church bears much of the responsibility for this; it operated well over half of the residential schools.

The TRC Recommendation #58 states:

We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.

While it is only one of the actions included in the section “Church Apologies and Reconciliation” of the TRC Report, it is one of major visibility and accountability. We can never acknowledge the truth too often or say, “I'm sorry” often enough. Of course it is never enough to say “sorry.” Actions to make amends must follow.

If Pope Francis cannot respond personally to the recommendation of the TRC, he could still do something that would carry the symbolic merit of the requested apology: formally rescind the Doctrine of Discovery used as legal and moral justification for colonial dispossession of sovereign Indigenous Nations, including First Nations in what is now Canada. Popes in the 15th century proclaimed a series of Papal Bulls which was formalized by Pope Alexander VI in 1493. Even though apologetic gestures have been made on this matter over time, notably the 2016 CCCB statement on the Doctrine of Discovery, a formal renunciation would firmly manifest a belief in the true equality of all people as children of God.

A papal visit to Canada would no doubt honour the Roman Catholics of this country. It would also incur a huge expense. Past papal visits have left the CCCB with debts that have resulted in the cancellation of important evangelization programs, especially for our young people. We believe these funds could be put to better use by making good on the shortfall in fund raising which the church agreed to as part of the national settlement. Money could be spent on serving the needs of our Indigenous peoples, for instance, by providing potable water and decent housing in more remote areas.

Catholic groups that ran the boarding schools were, among other arrangements, to raise $25 million for healing programs through “best efforts” that could be made at fund raising. Funds raised were a meagre $3.7 million. Subsequent negotiations between the federal government and church parties resulted in a letter proposing that the church would settle for $1.2 million and be released from “all matters between the parties.” This was interpreted as all matters including the $25 million fund raising for healing programs. A legal gaffe on the part of the federal lawyer allowed the Catholic entities to walk away from fund raising obligations. While the church may no longer have a legal obligation to give more money for reconciliation programs, we feel there is still a moral obligation that ought to be addressed. This would be a positive action "to engage in an intensive pastoral work of reconciliation, healing and solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples." (From Bishop Gendron's letter.)

These two actions, the first by Pope Francis, the second by the Canadian Catholic Bishops, could eventually be more meaningful that the sought after papal apology on Canadian soil.
-- End --

The plain truth is that the Canadian Catholic bishops will not admit they are divided. They could not agree to issue an invitation to their pope

Joe Gunn, Prairie Messinger | April 11, 2018

Divisions among bishops put an apology on hold.  

Once upon a time, when we arrived here, we simply took their land. Then, starting over 150 years ago, we took their children. In 2018, we’re taking away the hope of sincere reconciliation.

In 2015 Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) issued its final report on Indian residential schools, relating the “cultural genocide” that took place, along with much physical and sexual abuse. Looking to the future, 94 Calls to Action were recommended. Some of them were specifically directed to the four churches that ran the schools. But all challenged the members of every faith community, all governments, and the entire Canadian public. Reconciliation must involve us all.

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Catholic Network for Women's Equality Seed Keepers magazine

Winter, 2018
Edited by Virginia Lafond
• We celebrate the life of Louise Akers
• Kornelia Zarins, her story
• Cecily Mills, her story
• A Dialogue Project Update
• Have you heard
• A letter of thanks
• News from RCWP
• CNWE Membership form
• 2018 Annual General Meeting

View/Download the pdf version here.

This year's Voices of Faith event suggests promising pathways for dismantling Catholic misogyny

  • Speak up about female oppression in the church and don't be complicit in the silencing women's voices.

  • The Catholic Church belongs to women as much as to any misguided cleric. Women (and the men who love them) must stay and confront the demons of anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny, and clerical patriarchalism.

  • It would be good if our priests preached about domestic and sexual violence against women. How many Catholic priests even mentioned #MeToo or Time's Up isues from the pulpit.

  • Engage a new generation of young people in conversation about faith and the things that matter in their lives. We have much to learn from each other.

  • Begin an educational program or study group in your parish or small faith community about women's leadership in early (and later) Christianity.

This Month's Special
Are we liberal or conservative?

Rev. Mary Fletcher, Special to RCWP Canada Monthly Review | May 1, 2018

I think in the United Church we are mainly liberal in our thinking of God and God's Spirit alive and working in the world, and the Spirit of Jesus alive and working in the world and through us.

A lot of theological belief is centred in mystery. It is a leap of faith. We see God in Jesus' example and teachings, but we will never fully know God. Our humanness limits us. And our experiences of God are uniquely our own. I think we are "liberal" allowing the freedom of exploration and growth in our faith journey on our individual paths, AND conservative when we come to our basic core beliefs of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

We acknowledge Jesus as God's Son, God revealed to us in Jesus, Immanuel - God With Us, and we believe in the eternal everlasting life which Jesus promises (which means in the here-and-now as well as after death). Hell? Eternal damnation? I don't preach this. But I do preach about being "born again" in the spirit of Christ - the Living Water he says that fills you up.

In my Lenten bible study just recently, two people asked me what it meant to be "born again." One man said his son tells him that he has to reread the bible and be born again to get into right relationship with God/Jesus. The other person, a lady, said that she has friends who speak about a spiritual experience, a "re-borning" in the spirit, something quite wonderful that has happened to them, and she feels left out, inferior to them, because she hasn't experienced anything like that.

I asked them these questions:
~ Do you believe in Jesus, that he is God's Son, that God came to us in Jesus? (Yes, they said.)
~ Do you believe that Jesus "saves" you from your own flawed human nature, offering you forgiveness - God's forgiveness - for your trespasses, your failings, your mistakes, the harm you've caused to yourself and others?
~ Do you believe that when you accept God's forgiveness for you, that you are free to forgive yourself? To say sorry to both yourself and others? To make amends, both to yourself and others? That you are not meant to be burdened with the guilt, shame, or remorse from past trespasses? That through God's forgiveness offered through Jesus, the slate is wiped clean? (Yes, they said.)
~ Do you believe that Jesus offers you something else - his Spirit to live within you, and guide you? That he is with you always? That you can invite His Spirit into your life? That you answer to Him? That Jesus becomes Lord of your life? That you learn to treat and love yourself and others the way Jesus and God intends you to do? (Yes, they said.)

Well then, I said, you are saved, you are born again in Christ's Spirit and the love of God. And no-one can tell you otherwise. No-one can take this away from you.

Rev. Mary Fletcher, is the Minister, at Parkview United Church of Canada, Stratford, ON

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Should women rejoice over 'Gaudete et Exsultate'?

Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter | Apr 13, 2018

The first impressions of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, are in and, not surprisingly, the reviews are glowing.

And with good reason: in his reflection on the universal call of all of God's people to holiness, Francis taps into one of the richest dimensions of the Catholic imagination. That is, the notion that those who live in our midst, from our next-door neighbor to the homeless person on the street, can, and often do, reflect God's presence.

As has been the hallmark of so many of Francis' teachings, in Gaudete et Exsultate, he reserves special concern for the plight of the migrant, the destitute, the abandoned and the enslaved.

But, sadly, another hallmark of Francis' theological vision also resurfaces in this latest work: his narrow view of a woman's purpose in the world.

Read More

Public Letter to Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops from Blue House Group

Dear Bishops of Canada,

We are a group of women in Hamilton diocese who have been meeting for more than five years. We pray together, share experiences and support each other on our spiritual journeys.

In 2017 we watched the CBC news special about women priests in Canada - women who feel called by God to minister in the Catholic church. Their conviction inspires us. They have much to offer. We were also shocked to hear of their excommunication. Why is the Catholic Church closing its doors to them? Why are their gifts not welcome?

We want to support women who answer the call to minister to the spiritual needs of the Catholic community. We believe that they should not be cast out, but welcomed and affirmed for responding to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. When we are baptized we are called to be prophets, priests and royalty. We commend them for heeding this call.

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I felt that Stephanie Strachan's article "Canada has yet to begin the process of reconciliation" was particularly pertinent this month with Pope Francis' refusal to apologize on behalf of the Catholic Church for the abuses that occurred at residential schools. Is the Church afraid of the financial repercussions that could ensue or is taking responsibility too difficult? Either way no action is unacceptable.

Anonymous, Merrickville, ON

I really enjoyed the article on Cleopas' wife. Especially the suggestion that the "church" should be de-clericalized, recognizing the priesthood of all the baptized. This is not likely due to the corruption of power by the men writing the rules.
Fred Dabrowski, McAllen, TX

I've begun reading Gaudete et Exsultate. It's really worth taking the time. Mind you we know Francis is no feminist, but what he calls "spirit of holiness" is probably what we'd call Christian spirituality. AND he recognizes that women can be saints and prophets of reform.

Marie Bouclin, Sudbury, ON

You are heretics, repent before you go to H . . .


[Editors note:  Literal meaning of heretic: One who is able to chose or think differently.]

My Mother is my Priest, A Short Film by Linda Bhreathnach

Quebec bishops ponder possibility of married priests

April 5, 2018

QUEBEC CITY – The Catholic bishops of Quebec have discussed the possibility of ordaining married men to priesthood.

During a conference dedicated to the future of the Catholic Church in Quebec, Auxiliary Bishop Marc Pelchat of Quebec said consolidating parishes was not a solution to the lack of priests.

"During a closed hearing at a recent plenary session of bishops, there was talk of the ordination of married men of a certain age, whose ecclesial commitment is tested. This is an important reflection that we have right now," he said in mid-March.

Read More

World Day of Prayer for Vocations - A Message from the Women's Ordination Conference

On April 22nd the Roman Catholic Church marked the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, asking its members to welcome God's "unique story into their lives."

For women, this story is edited and erased by the institutional Church to exclude the possibility of their vocation to ordained ministry.  At the Women's Ordination Conference we refuse to let the stories of feminist ministries and women's ordination be erased.

Catholic women are called by God: called to renewed priesthood; called to equality; called to full participation in the leadership of the church. We know these women, we walk with these women, we are these women.

For too long, women's calls have been suppressed, dismissed, or ignored by the institutional Church. Now, more than ever, is the time to triumph women's call to renewed priesthood.

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Letter to the Editor of the Globe and Mail in response to the article by Michael Higgins about Mary McAleese and women’s equality in the Church

We heartily agree with the former president of Ireland, Mary McAleese and Professor Michael Higgins that the Catholic Church hierarchy must commit to women’s equality. (Opinion, March 29, 2018).

For 37 years in Canada, members of the Catholic Network for Women’s Equality have been calling on Catholic Church leaders to recognize the equal gifts of women for ministry and leadership at all levels of the Church. Although Pope Francis speaks passionately about social justice and alleviating poverty, the overwhelming consensus of research is that gender equality is the best way for families and communities to prosper. (World Bank, 2017). It is long past time for the Catholic hierarchy to ‘walk the talk’.

Mary Ellen Chown, Cathy Holtmann, Therese Koturbash
Members, Catholic Network for Women’s Equality (cnwe.ca)

Book Reviews

Beyond the Altar: Women Religious, Patriarchal Power, and the Church

by Christine L.M Gervais

Beyond the Altar illustrates how women religious overcome sexist subjugation by side-stepping the patriarchal power of the Roman Catholic Church.

This book counters the stereotypical image of Catholic nuns as being loyally compliant with their church by demonstrating how a selection of Canadian current and former women religious challenge their institutional religion’s precepts and engage in transformative strategies to effect change both within and outside the Roman Catholic Church.

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Religion and Intimate Partner Violence: Understanding the Challenges and Proposing Solutions

by Nancy Nason-Clark, Barbara Fisher-Townsend, Catherine Holtmann, Stephen McMullin

Intimate partner violence is a complex, ugly, fear-inducing reality for large numbers of women around the world. When violence exists in a relationship, safety is compromised, shame abounds, and peace evaporates. Violence is learned behavior and it flourishes most when it is ignored, minimized, or misunderstood.

When it strikes the homes of deeply religious women, they are: more vulnerable; more likely to believe that their abusive partners can, and will, change; less likely to leave a violent home, temporarily or forever; often reluctant to seek outside sources of assistance; and frequently disappointed by the response of the religious leader to their call for help. These women often believe they are called by God to endure the suffering, to forgive (and to keep on forgiving) their abuser, and to fulfill their marital vows until death do us part.

Concurrently, many batterers employ explicitly religious language to justify the violence towards their partners, and sometime they manipulate spiritual leaders who try to offer them help.

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Francis, the comic strip                                                                                                           Francis Comic Strip Archive
by Pat Marrin | March 22, 2018
National Catholic Reporter

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