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Statement released by RCWP Canada in response to Pope Francis' comments regarding the ordination of women in the RC Church

RCWP Canada National Leadership Circle | November 12, 2016

Roman Catholic Women Priests Canada (RCWP Canada) along with thousands of other Catholic men and women are once again disappointed by Pope Francis’s refusal to open up discussions regarding the ordination of women, citing yet again the statement of Pope John Paul II in 1994. Pope Francis seems to feel that the Church needs to follow that 22 year old declaration which was never said to be an infallible statement, rather than listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit clearly moving today within the Church, the people of God, and within the hearts and souls of hundreds of women who have chosen to follow their consciences and join other denominations or be ordained validly but “contra legem” (against Canon Law) as Catholic priests.
When did it become the norm that the words of a pope took priority over the movement of the Spirit within? Does Pope Francis really think that human words will stifle the Holy Spirit whom Jesus said would be with us until the end of time? One has to wonder what Pope John Paul II was afraid of, what was his negative view of women, from where came his failure to uphold the Church’s responsibility to speak out against injustice in all its forms?
The Catholic Church should be a leader in the world, speaking out against the sin of sexism and proclaiming loudly the equality before God of all persons. Sadly, the Church’s voice rings hollow because, by refusing to ordain women, it does not recognize the full personhood of all the baptized. It does not practice what it preaches when it refuses to listen to the Spirit speaking through the people of God.
Pope Francis has shared how he looks back on his first years as a superior in the Jesuit Order. He admits that he made mistakes and that if he could go back, he would do things differently. This took great humility. Is Pope Francis going to look back at this time in his papacy, and realize that it was a mistake not to listen to the voice of the Spirit speaking loudly and clearly for the ordination of women? This is the voice that must be listened to if the Church is to give any meaningful witness to the world today.
RCWP Canada National Leadership Circle
Contact: Jane Kryzanowski
Administrator, RCWP Canada West

Christmas:  Doing an about face from the rat race

Editor | November 12, 2016

Regina's Mary of Magdala Inclusive Catholic Community is sponsoring an Advent Presentation/Discussion by Craig Van Parys, outstanding Christian Ethics Teacher, Masters in Pastoral Studies, and Feminist Theologian.

Topics to be covered include:  
  • Economic success, faith sclerosis, and discipleship failure;
  • The gender politics of Luke's birth narrative;
  • Profits or Prophets.

Time, date, place:  1:30 pm to 5 pm,
Sunday, December 4, 2016,
Victoria Court
2727 Victoria Avenue

Read More -- See poster below:

Voices of Faith -- Vatican approved women's movement newsletter

Imagine the year 2030! The year when we can say: The Catholic Church is the best place in the world to be a woman!

In our October newsletter we talked about "amplification" – a simple strategy to strengthen the voice of Catholic women and support each other in our activities and ideas. This month, we raise the question "what is the critical mass to be achieved so that women's voices are heard and make an impact for change?" The fact is that many women inspire us by their leadership, courage, perseverance and their willingness to risk failures. But how do we (women and men) support each of these individual voices – and come together in unity?

Read More -- newsletter

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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Disappointed with pope’s view on women’s ordination

Jacklynne Guimond, Fort Frances, ON | November 16, 2016

I have to say I am disappointed and bewildered by Pope Francis’ recent statement regarding women’s ordination. In light of what we had been hearing regarding the discussion about women deacons, I thought some movement was on the way. The quote: “St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this and it stands” totally surprised me. Alpha and Omega? Who knew that John Paul II was “Omega”?

I was equally surprised to read that “this teaching is an infallible part of Catholic tradition.” The good OSUs and RNDMs taught me that there were only two “infallible” statements, both in reference to Mary (egad, a woman) and neither one had any bearing on my eternal salvation.

The six additional beatitudes are fitting for our time. The last one makes me wonder if there ever will be “full communion” between Christians. It seems to me that for that to happen there will be a lot of competing, comparing, someone being right so someone else has to be wrong. That hasn’t worked well for us thus far; conceding (dying to self) isn’t something we easily gravitate toward.

Maybe the Body of Christ needs to remain broken/fragmented to keep our hearts soft and tender, other-oriented, to keep EGO at bay so we can revel in the mystery of the Cosmic Christ. Merton got it right; we ARE all ONE. +

Why Catholic women should strive for critical mass in the decision-making of the Church

Voices of Faith Newsletter | November 12, 2016

 Catholic women should strive for critical mass in the decision-making of the Church.

What is the threshold when previously underrepresented voices begin to be heard and start changing the tone and policies of an institution? Maybe the United States Navy provides a lesson that can inspire Catholic women around the world!

In the Catholic Church, women’s voices are still severely under-represented at the leadership level. This is not only because some positions are reserved to ordained clergy. It is true also where laity – men and women – are theoretically allowed. The numbers speak for themselves.

Read More

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.


On May 12, 2016 Pope Francis  announced that he will create a commission to study the possibility of restoring the tradition of ordaining women deacons in the Catholic Church.

Follow this special section to stay up to date and get insights and commentary on developments from many news sources.

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Patricia Cook ordained in Toronto for service as priest with  Roman Catholic Women Priests Canada

Homily for Pat Cook’s Ordination
Marie Bouclin | November 6, 2016

Readings : Jeremiah 2 : 11-13
Psalm 42 : 1-3
Colossians 3 :12-17
John 3 : 7-15
Pat chose “living water” as the theme for our celebration today. In Jeremiah, written some six centuries before the birth of Christ, God is described as “the source of life-giving water”. There can be no more powerful image for a desert people. No water, no life. And we know that 2600 hundred years later we are still concerned about water – its availability or its quality.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers the  Samaritan woman “living water”. The living water Jesus was talking about is the Holy Spirit.  And whoever asks for the Holy Spirit will receive it.  So we give thanks, in the Gospel acclamation, “The Spirit of God has been given to me, for God has anointed me, God has sent me to bring the good news to the poor.”
It’s really hard to talk about living water and Holy Spirit in this postmodern, post-Christian society of ours. We live in a world of faith options, of philosophic inquiry, pursuing truth through scientific analysis, and we typically measure success in terms of appearance, monetary wealth and the power that wealth can procure. Who needs God and who needs organized religion anyway?
I guess we do if we’re here. We believe that words that rang true 2600 hundred years ago with Jeremiah or 2000 years ago with Jesus are still true today. We understand the physical need for clean, potable water, but at some point, we have found ourselves thirsty for meaning in our lives and grounding in something greater than ourselves.
Even those of us who are “priviledged” know that our health can be compromised, our knowledge always needs updating, what ever money or power we have can vanish in an instant. This is why Jeremiah calls them false gods, idols, “water collected in cracked and leaking pits”. We can’t hang on to them forever.
Also true is that the Holy Spirit sends us to proclaim good news to the poor. There are still the poor: people who are hungry and thirsty and cold; people who are sick, homeless, displaced, or just different; victims of war and every form of violence; people who are dying and wondering if this life – be it happy, miserable, or indifferent -  is all there is.
Our search for living water has brought us to church. Here we are, a small remnant of the Judeo-Christian tradition, gathering to celebrate, through a series of ancient, symbolic gestures, the ordination of a woman to priesthood    “outside the law” of a church that refuses to recognize that our God, our Source of life, created women as equal to men.
Recently, as you know, Pope Francis reiterated that there will never be women priests in the  Roman Catholic church. How disappointing that he should be looking backward and adopting the position of his immediate predecessors. We would hope he would show an openness to the Holy Spirit, consider both current scholarship and the history of the early church, enter into dialogue with women, listen to our experience of faith and life, our encounters with Christ who asks us for a drink of water and sent the Spirit upon us.
We believe it is the Spirit that calls for the fullness of women’s gifts to be deployed in the Church.
We know it is the Spirit calling because we are hearing a call to service, and we are finding joy – the signature gift of the Spirit – in serving. There is no doubt women are being called to priesthood.  Sadly many are going to other denominations in order to fulfill their call.  What a loss to the Roman Catholic Church.
Occasionally though, the reverse happens, and the Spirit sends us a gift from another denomination. That is the gift we are receiving today!
Patricia is being ordained for service as a priest with the Roman Catholic Women Priests of Canada. We are part of a prophetic movement (and by prophetic I mean we stand up and speak out about an injustice with our church – the sin of sexism) within the Catholic church which began with the ordination of seven women on the Danube River in 2002. Our mission is to prepare, support and ordain predominantly women who have been called by the Holy Spirit to help rebuild the church.  In fourteen years our movement has spread from Germany and Austria to 14 countries on 5 continents. Pat is the 16th person to be ordained within RCWP in Canada , and she is, I believe number 186 worldwide.
We offer a leadership of service, mostly within small emerging faith communities. Our mission of service is about listening to people, with  “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience”, as we heard in the second reading. It is about “putting on love”, caring about real people, listening to their pains and joys, empathizing rather than judging, preaching through action, in short, becoming for others a vessel for that living water that is the love of our God. 
The Spirit of Christ will guide you in this, Pat, as you sit by the well with Photina, the Samaritan woman, praying to discern where the Spirit is leading, and asking for the strength and courage you need to be available to a variety of people seeking spiritual awakening or renewal.
You will find answers sitting by the well, waiting for Christ to meet you there and ask you for a drink… Seeing in every person you meet the person of Jesus asking you for… directions, advice, a prayer. Or offering you assistance, care, affection and concern.  Wait at the well, listen with the eyes and ears of your heart, and don’t be afraid to ask questions – like the Samaritan woman. And the Spirit of Christ will answer, sometimes in the simple words of people sharing where they have seen God at work in their lives.
Of course, like Jesus, you will also be confronted by questions. Some will ask, why be ordained if your church doesn’t recognize your ministry? Trust that it is God who calls, and the people we reach out to in service recognize our ministry – that is enough.
As for those who, if they were not so polite, would ask, “Why bother bucking a system when so few people care about religion any more anyway?”
There isn’t much point in trying to argue theology or spout doctrine.  A warm smile, a gentle response, a kind offer or acceptance of a service, an aura of peace - that’s the real evangelization that surely can accomplish more than any argument. It was (Mahatma) Gandhi who wrote, “A rose does not need to preach. It simply spreads its fragrance. The fragrance is its own sermon.” (in The Message of Jesus Christ).
We are here for those who are still searching, be it for a more inclusive church or a deeper meaning to life. We simply make ourselves available. We value our Catholic faith, we love our church, we build a community  of service together. We keep alive the memory of Jesus by gathering for prayer and worship, especially the Eucharist. That is how Jesus asked to be remembered – in the sharing of the bread and cup. Eucharist nurtures our faith and directs our action. It binds us together in love, keeps us accountable to one another and to the Source of the living water. It IS the well where we come to be filled with the water that leads to life. Let us celebrate Eucharist, giving thanks together for God’s gift of Living Water.

The ordination of Pat as a woman priest: A sacred moment to remember

Jeff Doucette | November 13, 2016
There are seven sacraments in the Catholic Church…well actually seven for men and six for women as ordination is not open to women. Let that sink in for a moment!  (I have quoted this often.)

Oh it was an incredible moment for me…being part of the ordination of a woman priest in the Roman Catholic Church. Her name is Pat and she is a retired school teacher who felt called to be a priest. So first let me say that there are some who do not like that I write about women’s ordination, feeling where I am no longer a priest I really do not have the right. Some feel I am being disrespectful or berating the church. But just the opposite. I am asking for dialogue. My argument for dialogue is that the Catholic Church has said it’s deepest desire is for union of all Christian churches to become one. But on her terms. So with that I ask, “What do we do with women ministers from other denominations?” among other questions.  And so it is with love that I have this dialogue with the church I grew up in and that formed me and shaped me and ordained me.

I will get to Pat’s ordination in a moment but let me set the stage for why it was so important to be present. You see, as a former member of the Catholic male clergy for 14 years as a deacon and priest, I always advocated for the inclusion and ordination of women priests. There is nothing in the bible that forbids women in the church.  Lots have tried to explain that Jesus never chose women as his disciples as proof.  But again this does not speak against women’s ordination but rather the patriarchal aspect of the time of Jesus.  And we truly do not have the full story of Jesus, yet the early Christian communities spoke of how women acted in these capacities as house churches.  There would have been no language of ordination such as today.  But the church has held on to Canon law #1024 which states that “A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly”.  Yet many denominations who at one time held the same position changed to embrace women as ordained ministers and have never looked back, thanking God for their gifts to church congregations.

And so it was in this spirit that I eagerly asked if I could attend Pat’s ordination into the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement in Toronto last Sunday. I have attended two masses presided over by Cathy and Roberta who are also women priests. I have also with a wide smile been able to be present when Bishop Marie Bouclin who is the first Canadian woman bishop, has presided (including this ordination).

I want to say that all of these four women are wonderful, humble, loving justice seeking priests. They have no disrespect for the church, but rather a strong calling to be priests and have followed God’s calling. I might add they go through the same theological training as men for priesthood. Their desire is to be inclusive and to minister to all of God’s people. They believe they are part of the church’s apostolic succession as a result of what is called the “Event on the Danube”.  Rome does not consider their ordinations to be valid but the women disagree in respectful dissent.

And so on this beautiful sunny November day I made my way along with our church music director who had agreed to play music for them. My heart was full and my spirit excited to be here. I had been asked by the women priests if I would participate and I gladly said yes. I stood at the back of the Roncesville United church where they hold their Eucharist on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month. I greeted people as they came in, chatting with them. And then from the side, in came Pat with a grin so wide it was hard to imagine how she could get in the door. She came over and gave me a big hug. I had sent her a note introducing myself to her as I would be the one placing the chausable over her head after the laying on of hands. As her family came in they said “You must be Jeff…Pat forwarded us your wonderful letter to her.”

It finally came time to begin and as I processed in with Roberta and Cathy and Linda…we were followed by Deacon Pat and Bishop Marie. And how wonderful to hear the choice of music was “Here I am Lord”. It was my choice as an opening song for my own priestly ordination in 1994. I thought why would Pat not hear God’s voice calling in the night as we sang the familiar refrain.

Why would the church think God would only call men in the night?

And as we began to hear the Scripture read I began to smile once more. Pat had chosen the gospel reading of the Samaritan woman at the well. It was also my choice of gospel when I was ordained a priest in 1994. I love the invite to living water, to drink deeply with Jesus who would sit by the well with those on the margins and call them to be witnesses to this living water. And he was sitting with a woman!!!!! Bishop Marie was bang on with her homily as she lamented the words of Pope Francis saying that the question of women priests was closed. He quoted Pope John Paul II as closing the door on the subject. I smiled thinking…well when the doors of the Sistine chapel tried to close, the Holy Spirit stuck her foot in the door and managed to dance in and Argentinian cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was chosen as pope. He has chosen the name Francis and has been doing his best to bring new life and a new spirit to the church. I find hope that recently he has agreed to proceed with a discussion about the possibility of women deacons. Maybe if that goes through…the church will see “What were we so worried about?” and realize that the women priest movement was like the early Christian communities moving forward in faith and embracing the Spirit as the disciples at Pentecost.

As we prepared to invoke God’s Spirit for the laying on of hands we sang the ancient song called the Litany of the Saints. I always love this piece because it invokes the story of the Christian Church. It invokes the stories of people of faith who were steeped in faith in the midst of fear and persecution and followed God and their heart. The names of ancient men and women being sung and we in response singing pray for us. For me the Litany of the Saints is an invitation to dance in faith, the joining of faith stories ancient and present to invoke God’s Spirit once more this day. I smiled as I heard the ancient names but also modern names like John 23rd who called for the throwing open of the windows to allow the Spirit to blow in and renew the church. I heard the name of Oscar Romero who stood eye to eye with the church and government and stood in solidarity with the poor. And when I heard them name the story of Henri Nouwen in the Litany of the Saints I broke down in tears. Henri was not only a Dutch priest and theologian but he was a member of L’Arche Daybreak who spent his final days writing and providing daily care to people with developmental disabilities. Henri was a man of great love and great Spirit and his spiritual writings have touched my story and the stories of many others. And I was doing so well until this point…lol!

And then Bishop Marie invited us into the time of laying on of hands. This was not only extended to the clergy as happens when a male is ordained priest. No…Marie invited all of us to come forward to lay hands and ask God’s Spirit to come upon Pat. It took me back to my own ordination as priest. I had invited the local clergy from the United Church and Anglican Church. The United Church minister was Marion Davies, a woman minister. And as I knelt before the bishop and priests came forward to lay hands…a set of hands came upon my head and Marion’s gentle voice said “God’s Spirit be with you Jeff”. I smiled and thought “Oh I am going to hear about this!” And I did! The Bishop mentioned it to me and I responded with a smile “Andre, I had my eyes closed in prayer!” Some of the priests teased asking if I was now a priest or an ordained United Church minister. How the irony of my story these years later as a United Church minister. It was wonderful to lay hands on Pat and I whispered “God’s Spirit be with you Pat!”.

And then I was asked to vest the newly ordained priest with her chausable and stole. And it took me back to the feeling of this time when I was ordained and my close friends Jeannette and John got to do the same thing to me. And the vestments fit Pat so well and not from the sense of tailored…but fit her calling as a priest. God had clothed her in this new part of her journey of faith.

And when it came time for Communion to see her there with her sister priests and Bishop Marie…well it was like the early church in front of my eyes. A small gathering of people on the threshold of something new and holy and sacred and right. The Eucharistic prayer was inclusive and spirit filled and involved that meal so long ago between Jesus and his disciples. And this was not a defiant act…but women who were following their heart, their call and truly believing in this gathering. And so did we who gathered there and broke bread and shared the cup. We sang One Bread, One Body…Gentile or Jew…woman or man and we were the early disciples once more.

I know Rome, for whatever their reasons, struggles with opening the door to women as priests. I cannot understand it, for I once walked those steps as a priest. I do not know if it is a fear of losing power, or when a private men’s club begins to let in women and there is a sense of a loss. I cannot understand it, my heart does not understand it and my brain does not understand it.

What I know from when I was a priest is that many churches had no priest. And priests often had many parishes. I myself ministered to four when I left and the constant running, fatigue of body and Spirit could be crushing. I only had love and an offer of living water like Jesus to the Samaritan Woman. But one could only do so much. I had often gathered with women ministers and saw how they brought life to their churches. I look back at our own United Church and how at one point we struggled with ordaining women. Now? We can’t imagine church in any other way. To deny women to be ordained is like trying to breathe with one lung. To deny women to be ordained is to deny God to be defined in any other way than male. To deny Pat to be ordained is like invoking God’s Spirit into our midst and then trying to tell it what to do. And good luck with that!!!!!!

And all I can say is that this day…the day Pat was ordained a priest…was good and sacred and holy and of God. And I thank Bishop Marie and Pat and Cathy and Roberta and Linda for allowing this man to crash the celebration and dance the dance of God’s love.

May the Spirit guide us and walk with us and whisper…”Do not be afraid…I am with you!” and may we embrace this Spirit which gives courage to speak our hearts.  And may Pat be blessed and a blessing as she begins her ministry.

Oh…and stay tuned because our United Church of Dunbarton-Fairport in Pickering has agreed to provide space for the creation of a new woman priest led community. And let the church say AMEN!

Permission was granted to publish this essay in its entirety.

Jeff Doucette, was ordained Roman Catholic priest in 1994; currently serving as United Church minister at the United Church of Dunbarton-Fairport in Pickering, ON
Email:   jeffdouc@yahoo.ca

Francis, the comic strip                                                                                                           Francis Comic Strip Archive
by Pat Marrin | October 20, 2016
National Catholic Reporter
Used with permission

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