October 1, 2018 ______________________________________________________________________________________

Rebuild My Church                                                                Giotto


  • DEATH IN THE CHURCH: IS NEW LIFE AHEAD? The Church needs a new direction, one pointing not upwards but forward
  • NCR Editorial: It's time to choose the painful path of purification
  • Flirting with Schism; the Right-Wing Effort to Delegitimize Pope Francis
  • The Church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," but not necessarily patriarchal
  • Letter from John Shea
  • Leonardo Boff's model of charism offers road map out of clericalism
  • I send my kids to Catholic school, but I'm not Catholic
  • Wijngaards Institute presents in full the case for women’s ordination from the points of view of scripture, theology, tradition and church teachings
  • Transgressive Traditions: Roman Catholic Womenpriests and the Problem of Women’s Ordination
  • If we want to reform the churcIh, let's make women cardinals
  • RCWP Canada Bishop's Message
  • Would allowing women into the priesthood help fix the widespread child abuse?
  • Dancing My Life, Dancing My God
  • Binding The Strong Man
  • Comments to the Editor
  • Catholic Women Called - Introduction
  • Free pdf down loadable books
  • Francis, the comic strip
  • Links to related information

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RCWP Canada Bishop's Message

For five summer Sundays during Ordinary Time we hear readings from Chapter 6 of the Gospel according to John. He breaks out for his community what it means to be following Jesus when the establishment, both religious and social-political, have no use for them. Basically, they have been expelled (excommunicated), from the Synagogues.  This draws our attention, and we hear our own story.

The whole of Chapter 6 is set in the context of Passover, and the hearers of the story, who are Jews, are reminded that they are living the Exodus journey. Egypt’s fleshpots were paralleled by the Roman annona, the supply of grain—and later, olive oil as well—provided to all Roman citizens as a demonstration of imperial beneficence. Such provisions were meant to control the people and temper the passions of the poor for revolt.  The offering of basic foodstuff might keep them docile.  This patronage system was the foundation upon which the empire was built, with those “below” in the social order expressing gratitude and loyalty to those “above” who offered access to what the poor could not gain on their own. The ultimate patrons were the gods, with the empire standing under their supposed protection. Roman propaganda claimed this kept the empire stable and safe. Sound familiar?
The audience of the Gospel would hear the encounter with the Temple elders as a question, “Is the god of Jesus as powerful a patron as the gods of Rome?  The Judeans' “grumble” about who does Jesus thinks he is, echos that of their Israelite ancestors in the wilderness.  His claim that “I AM the bread that came down from heaven,” refers them back to the manna story.  Then comes a shockingly concrete shift in the metaphor: "The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” In other words, "I am 'all in' for you.  Do you believe this?"
Jesus invites hearers, then and now, to break the cycle of imperial dependence, even to synagogue or church, by trusting ever more completely in God’s own Presence found in human flesh and bone and blood. It is not bread like manna, but so much more, an abiding presence that is our “daily bread,” which also offers “eternal life” -- the fullness of life that has been the covenant promise of God for all ages.  The nourishment that sustains life comes through the relationships one gains by committing to Jesus and his Way while abandoning the way of empire, and by doing this as a people, in community.

When we look at where we are today, can we see parallels of ways we feel beholden to institutional religion or social standards?  Are we not invited to the wildness of exodus and exile and to make the migratory journey to the land of promise as people who support and encourage one another?

As part of our retreat in advance of my ordination as bishop last month we asked participants to study the book, The Great Spiritual Migration, by Brian McLaren.  Much of our discernment of where we are and our trajectory for the future centred on our movement away from things that bind us to systems that no longer serve the hungers of so many.  In her homily during the ordination Eucharist, Bishop Marie set out the course of our journey.  She said, “We are on a migrational faith journey as a movement for reform within our Church, even if we’ve been marginalized by its authorities (much as John's community was expelled from the Synagogue). As a movement, we are deeply aware of some 'mind places' we have left behind.”

Bishop Marie goes on to point out a number of these migrations: from doctrinal certitude to living the questions, from exclusion to inclusion, from sacrificial theology to Eucharistic theology, from patriarchy to discipleship of equals.  (Bishop Marie's full reflection can be found in RCWP Canada semi-Monthly Review for August, 2018.)  Making such transitions is not always easy, especially when the enticements of those who would enslave us spiritually or emotionally offer a sense of security.
As we come to the end of Chapter 6 of John's Gospel we, like his community, are faced with the question, "Will you stay with me or, like many others, will you go?"  Is our spiritual life and faith in Jesus strong enough to trust that the journey we have been called to make with him in to the wildness will bring us to fullness of life?  Is it more important to live in personal integrity of who we are as God's beloved ones than follow rules that have defined us by standards that rob us of our dignity?  Will we be bread and wine to those who journey with us supporting one another with compassion and love?
With the disciples we say, "To whom shall we go?  You are the Way. You are the Truth. You are the Life."  When we celebrate Eucharist we share a holy meal, the Body and Blood of Christ present to us in bread and wine.  We also recognize the holy presence in one another and, together, we become “living bread” for the life of the world.  You are, the Body of Christ.


[Jane Kryzanowski, Regina, SK, is bishop for RCWP Canada.]

Would allowing women into the priesthood help fix the widespread child abuse?

CBC Radio Sudbury, ON | September 4, 2018

Pushing to have women priests in the Roman Catholic church
Would allowing women into the priesthood help fix the widespread child abuse that's been revealed within the Roman Catholic Church? Marie Bouclin thinks so and she's trying to make it happen. She's a bishop emerita with Roman Catholic Women Priests Canada, and she's based in Sudbury.

Listen to the radio interview

Judith Pellerin's Dancing My Life, Dancing My God uses the metaphor of dance to describe how life can be lived joyously and with fulfillment.  The concept of dance as prayer, as communication between self and God, is introduced in an engaging and accepting way for those seeking to discover deeper meaning in their communion with the Divine. 
Balanceing information on the history of dance as Spirit-led communication with more personal anecdotes of the meaning of dance for people today, Dancing My Life, Dancing My God offers a starting place for discussion and discovery of dancing a Spirit-filled life.

[Judith Pellerin, Regina, SK. has given permission to serialize her book.  Click here to read up to and including Chapter 5.]


Radical Discipleship, radicaldiscipleship.net | Ordinary Time, 2018, Year B of the Revised Common Lectionary

As we transition into the summer months of Ordinary Time, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Binding The Strong Man, Ched Myers’ extraordinary political reading of Mark’s Gospel

For each Sunday of Ordinary Time, RCWP Canada semi-Monthly Review  posts links to Myers' comments.]

Buenisimoooo!!! el boletín (RCWP Canada semi-Monthly Review, September 15, 2018).


[Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea, ARCWP Bishop, Medellín, Antioquia, Columbia]

The roots of misogyny are so deep and are shared by cultures and religions around the world and across time, and no matter the evolutionary spirit that rises up in the church from time to time, this problem is atavistic. Will it ever end? It’s a world-wide almost cosmic, question. Do we dare go to the necessary depths as a church (or even simply as people in the world)?  I actually fear the answer is No, but I continue to hope I am wrong. My sadness is that women themselves/ourselves are still so self-hating and self-judging in so many ways - that is where we can start some healing - with healthy love and kindness given to ourselves and the women in our lives!

[Monica Kilburn-Smith, priest of RCWP Canada, servant leader of St. Brigid of Kildare Catholic Community, Calgary]

I encourage everyone to forward the complete newsletter to as many people as they can. I find them so valuable in expanding my awareness and insight in many ways. And we need to include those who won't want to receive these newsletters, or who might condemn us, such as the priests in our dioceses, the bishops, and others who think we are heretics. If we even help to broaden one person's thinking then it is worth it.

[Judith Pellerin, Regina, SK]

Editor's note:  If you would like to be on the editor's newsletter email list, please give your email address in the form below. The newsletter alerts you to a new issue of RCWP Canada semi-Monthly Review.

Nice site. Thanks.


Catholic Women Called - Introduction

Catholic Women Called, Youtube video

Free pdf downloadable books and book-length articles:

195 Reasons Why Women Should Be Ordained
       by Editor, RCWP Canada Monthly Review
Women Priests -- Answering the Call
      by Catherine Cavanaugh

Gaudete et Exsultate
     by Pope Francis

Why Women Should Be Priests
     by Roy Bourgeois

Tech Tip

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DEATH IN THE CHURCH: IS NEW LIFE AHEAD?  The Church needs a new direction, one pointing not upwards but forward

Ilia Delio, The Omega Center | August 28, 2018

The recent disclosure of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and the extent of depravity reported in the news is symptomatic of a Church in crisis.  It is no longer acceptable for the Pope simply to issue a public apology nor is it sufficient for any group merely to reflect on what has happened by issuing position statements. The Church has a deep structural problem which is entirely bound to ancient metaphysical and philosophical principles, not to mention imperial politics, that at this point require either a radical decision towards a new ecclesial structure or accept the possibility of a major schism.

Read More

NCR Editorial: It's time to choose the painful path of purification

NCR Editorial Staff, ncronline.org | August 30, 2018

The Catholic community has arrived at a point in its history so seared by raw reality that we are all left with nothing to lean against or hide behind. Our leaders, drained of authority and credibility, can only follow as we move beyond overburdened expressions, beyond even the content of our normal prayers. We grasp for some new psalm of lamentation to fit this horrid moment and search for a new way to live as a Catholic community.

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Flirting with Schism; the Right-Wing Effort to Delegitimize Pope Francis

Massimo Faggioli, commonwealmagazine.org | September 6, 2018
The publication of the “testimony” of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former Vatican nuncio to the United States, is an unprecedented moment in modern church history—and not just because of his demand that Pope Francis resign. The eleven-page document, crafted and published by Viganò with the help of sympathetic Catholic journalists while the pope was in Ireland, is motivated by a personal vendetta and enabled by a serious crisis within U.S. Catholicism.

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The Church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," but not necessarily patriarchal

Luis T. Gutiérrez, Mother Pelican | September 8, 2018

The current sexual abuse crisis might be the "earthquake" that liberates the church from the patriarchal prison (cf. Acts 16:26ff).  The Church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," but not necessarily patriarchal. 

Points for consideration, based on study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body:

1. Jesus Christ is the Redeemer, God made flesh, not a patriarch
2. God the Father is a person, but not a male
3. God the Son is a person, but was not a male before the incarnation
4. God the Holy Spirit is a person, but not a male
5. The Trinity is a communion of persons, not a patriarchate
6. The "Son of man" is God made flesh, not a patriarch
7. All men and women are consubstantial in their human nature
8. Bodiliness and sexuality are not simply identical
9. Being a body-soul is more fundamental for human personhood than sexuality
10. All men and women are of the same flesh in their somatic structure
11. All men and women are ontologically homogeneous in their whole being
12. All men and women are fully consubstantial with Jesus Christ as to his humanity
13. For the redemption, the masculinity of Jesus is an incidental as the color of his eyes
14. Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life, not the male of life
15. The substance of the Eucharist is BODY, not XX or XY chromosomes
16. The substance of the Eucharist is FLESH, not testosterone
17. The Church is "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic," but not necessarily patriarchal
18. Patriarchy is a disordered attachment to the supremacy of masculinity
19. The Church is a communion of persons, not a patriarchate
20. The Church is the body of Christ, not a woman with a male head
21. The Virgin Mary is the "type" of the Church, not a woman with a male head
22. The Virgin Mary precedes the sacramental economy as Mother of the Eucharist
23. The Marian dimension of the Church precedes the apostolic dimension
24. Apostolic succession is contingent on redeemed flesh, not on masculinity
25. The nuptial mystery of Christ and the Church is not a patriarchal marriage
26. Canon 1024 is an artificial contraceptive and abortifacient of female priestly vocations
27. Catechism 1577 reduces the priesthood of the New Law to priesthood of the Old Law
28. Catechism 1598 declares that ordaining only males is a choice, not a dogma
29. The exclusively male priesthood makes invisible the "feminine genius" in Christ
30. The Christian/Catholic/Orthodox faith is not intrinsically (dogmatically) patriarchal
31. The conflation of patriarchal gender ideology and Christian doctrines is a disgrace
32. Institutionalized ecclesiastical patriarchy is an abuse against Christ and the Church
33. It is time to discard the patriarchal scaffolding that obscures the Catholic faith

For the redemption, and the sacramental economy, the masculinity of Jesus is as incidental as the color of his eyes.  The Vatican should stop fabricating patriarchal doctrines and allow Christ to call women to the priesthood and the episcopate.

[Luis T. Gutiérrez is editor of Mother Pelican, A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability. Permission received from the author to publish this article in its entirety.]

Letter from John Shea

Feast of St. Augustine, 2018

Dear Roman Catholic Womenpriests,

Enclosed are letters I mailed before the Feast of Saint Augustine to Pope Francis and to each member of his Council of Cardinals. They meet September 10-12 to discuss reform of church structures. Please feel free to share these letters in any way appropriate.

If our bishops remain unable to address women’s ordination and if our theologians who are informed enough to speak are also unable to address it, then who is able to speak?

This silence raises the question of the role of the bishops and theologians in the church. If both groups are meant to be our teachers, why is there so little concern for intelligent, informed, and engaged pedagogy? What is the impact of deadening silence—for over two decades now—not just on the ordination of women but on any open, honest, and fruitful discussion of the ministerial needs of the church? What happens to the church when it separates itself from a living theology? What happens to bishops and theologians when they do that? What price do the people of God pay for their continuing silence? 

Jesus keeps saying; “Do not be afraid.” Pope Francis keeps saying: “Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.” But how are courage and dialogue possible in a church where women—seen as another species—are rendered structurally voiceless and where bishops and theologians are only in attendance by not speaking? Is there a future for a church that is deliberately dumb? Is there any hope for a church that respects each person’s voice and gifts for ministry, for a church that is whole, life-giving, authentic, and Spirit-filled, for a church that is responsible and adult, for a gendered church that is as human as Jesus is human?

Are we able to find something theologically better than the literal, “finger and thumb,” patriarchal thinking that so constricts us? Could a deeper metaphorical and trinitarian theology be entertained? If, for example, it is not in his maleness that Jesus images the Father—if neither the Father nor the Spirit is biologically male—what is to be found in the nature of the imaging?

How long will a culture of puerile sexism continue to devastate the church?

Will women in the church ever be human enough to be priest, prophet, and leader?

How long? How long? How long? How long?


John Shea

[John J. Shea
, OSA taught theology for nearly 40 years between Boston College and Fordham University]

Editor's note: permission to pubish all of the above letters in their entirety given by the author.

Leonardo Boff's model of charism offers road map out of clericalism

Christine Schenk, ncronline.org | September 15, 2018

After extensive study of more Eurocentric theological traditions, Boff dared to suggest a new model of church governance. In his model, charism (Spirit-gift) is the organizing principle, rather than the monarchical structures we now have. He points to St. Paul, who saw charism as a concrete function or service that each Christian exercised on behalf of everyone in the community (1 Corinthians 12:7; Romans 12:4; Ephesians 4:7).

Read More

I send my kids to Catholic school, but I'm not Catholic

Pieta Woolley, ucobserver.org | September 2018

A lifelong United Church member explains why she's embracing lessons in reading, writing and rosaries.

Read More

Wijngaards Institute presents in full the case for women’s ordination from the points of view of scripture, theology, tradition and church teachings

Editor, RCWP Canada semi-Monthly Review | October 1, 2018

The Wijngaards Institute, based in the United Kingdom, makes as its specific contribution to the debate in the Church the focus on the academic arguments: to provide reliable guidance to priests, teachers, professors, students, lay leaders, religious and general church members. The Institute decided to make full use of the rapidly growing potential of the Internet, and in 1999 created a website gathering the historical evidence as well as the scholarly arguments for and against the ordination of women.

This website, www.womenpriests.org, has grown to be the largest collection in the world of academic material on the topic of women's ordination, with 10,000+ documents in 26 languages. It is accessed annually by more than 500k Catholics worldwide from 212 different countries: laypeople as well as clergy; academics as well as non-experts; from the first as well as the developing world.

Through the website the Institute presents in full the case for women’s ordination from the points of view of scripture, theology, tradition and church teachings. Equally is provided in full the reasons the Vatican uses to justify the exclusion of women. In doing this, Wijngaards Institute serves the Catholic Church worldwide by helping its members (lay and clerical alike) judge for themselves what makes sense on either side of the debate.

[Wijngaards Institute's website on women's ordination is at www.womenpriests.org]

Transgressive Traditions: Roman Catholic Womenpriests and the Problem of Women’s Ordination

Jill Marie Peterfeso, CAROLINA DIGITAL REPOSITORY | February 13, 2015

Although the Roman Catholic Church bars women from ordained priesthood, since 2002 a movement called Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP) claims to have ordained approximately 120 women as deacons, priests, and bishops in Europe, North America, and Latin America.

 Because the women deliberately break Canon Law—and specifically c. 1024, which reads, “Only a baptized man can validly receive sacred ordination”—RCWP acknowledges that its ordinations are illegal, but the group claims nonetheless to perform valid ordinations because they stand in the traditional line of apostolic succession.
 They retain the modifier “Roman” to signal their lineage within Roman Catholic tradition, yet RCWP’s stated goal is not simply to insert women into the existing Church structures, but rather to “re-imagine, re-structure, and re-shape the priesthood and therefore the church.”
 This dissertation investigates the following: What does it mean that RCWP calls itself Roman Catholic? Why do these women seek ordination and what can they do as priests within a Catholic tradition that claims it has “no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women”? And, as a twenty-first century reform movement, how do Roman Catholic womenpriests affirm, amend, and/or complicate contemporary notions of Catholic priesthood and Catholic Church reform?
 Using interviews, ethnographic methods, documentary film footage, and internet resources from a wide range of Catholic reform groups, this dissertation contributes to the academic fields of Roman Catholic studies, American religious history, women’s religious history, feminist critical theory, and performance studies.
 The project examines the movement’s twentieth-century lineage, RCWP’s ordination ceremonies, the group’s sacramental economy, the womenpriests’ ordained ministries, and the women’s embodied performance of ordained, Catholic priesthood.
 Throughout, I demonstrate how RCWP is, paradoxically, faithful to Catholic tradition while transgressing institutional rules about male-female difference and ordained authority.
[The above abstract is the author's description of a dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Religious Studies.  The 410-page dissertation is available for free in pdf format at  https://cdr.lib.unc.edu/record/uuid:23ffe054-e6de-4b7a-9692-d6922f76ba1c]

If we want to reform the churc
h, let's make women cardinals

James Keenan, ncronline | September 8, 2018

In the reforms being mentioned in light of the contemporary crisis in the Catholic Church, I see lots of punitive proposals but I don't see enough constructive models of empowerment.

I believe that until women have power in the church, we will not be reformed.

By power, I don't think making women deacons is much of a step; I think making them cardinals is.

During the June 2017 consistory, the new Swedish Cardinal Anders Arborelius suggested the pope consider creating a special advisory body of women akin to the College of Cardinals to offer more opportunity for women's leadership in the church.

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