Archive | April 2014

Bishops At The Border-Rev. Chava’s Reflection-Weeping with Jesus

Here is a beautiful reflection by Rev. Chava Redonnet, woman priest of the migrants.

Please view the pictures through the links, I joined Chava in crying.

In our community we had a family who came from Central America

through Mexico to Florida where they had family and friends.

We did all we could to help them stay.

But they too were deported despite the many gifts they

had to give in the community here.

To see the Holy Eucharist served through the fence

is a meditation for Lent and Holy Week.

The Bishops who did this are in the steps of

Pope Francis and in the shoes of Christ.

There is a lot wrong with the Church, given the

sex-abuse scandals and the

man-made rules of the church that exclude rather than include.

But this is what is RIGHT.

Rev. Chava’s Reflections

Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church
Bulletin for Sunday, April 6, 2014
5th Sunday in Lent
Dear friends,

This week, an international group of bishops went where the church belongs:
with the suffering people. They went to celebrate Mass at the border
between Mexico and the United States, in Nogales, Arizona, where the border
cuts the town in two. There were people on both sides of the fence, and
folks on the Mexican side thrust their hands through the slats of the fence
to receive communion.

When I saw the photos, I cried. I thought of our friend who was deported in
January, who was last heard from at the border. We don’t know where he is.
I thought of all those in our little church, including my darling Santiago,
who will be going to court in the coming months, who without a miracle may
well end up on the other side of that fence. I thought of the friend who
cannot visit her sick daughter in Mexico, the funerals people couldn’t go
to, the grandchildren never seen. They are just a few stories out of the 11
million undocumented people in this country, but I don’t cry for 11 million
people. I cry for my friends.

Then I looked down at the sermon I was trying to write, on Jesus raising
Lazarus from the dead. “Jesus wept.” Oh. Jesus wept for his friends, too.
He healed a lot of people, he responded with compassion, but it was for his
friend that he wept. And I thought of what Shane Claiborne said in “The
Irresistible Revolution,” that the world doesn’t  need more activists, it
needs more lovers. He said that the world is desperately in need of people
who build deep, genuine relationships and “actually know the faces of the
people behind the issues they are concerned about.” And “allow those
relationships to disturb and transform them.”

Scott Peck said, “In community lies the transformation of the world.”
Community – deep, genuine community where we know each other well enough to
share our stories, to care about each other, to walk with each other in the
good times and the bad. All of us can be builders of community. We can
listen, share, know the people around us. But I think for it to be that
transformative type of community, it needs to stretch beyond our own known
world and into the uncomfortable world beyond. Like Gustavo Gutierrez said
in “A Theology of Liberation,” we need to go out of the way to make people
our neighbors.

There is a photo from the Mass at the Border, of hands sticking through the
fence, waiting to receive communion. You can’t see the people, only their
hands. But there is also a photo of one of the bishops, perhaps having just
given someone communion, clasping that person’s hand and talking to them
through the fence. True relationship requires more than a handclasp, but
it’s a very real start. May it be an instrument of transformation: may this
Mass at the Border set a fire that will turn this terrible situation of
injustice around.

Blessings and love to all,

Links to several articles about the bishops’ Mass on the border:

Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph’s House of Hospitality
402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620

Time For Pope Francis to Talk to Jimmy Carter Who is For Women Priests

Time for Pope Francis to talk to Jimmy Carter

  • Former President Jimmy Carter
 |  NCR Today

 I had the great privilege of interviewing former President Jimmy Carter for Interfaith Voices, on Tuesday, April 1. The occasion was the publication of his new book entitled A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power

I came away convinced that Carter and Pope Francis should meet for a serious discussion of the plight of women in the world, and that that conversation should include women’s ordination. In fact, I asked Carter directly if he would be willing to participate in such a dialogue, and he said, “Of course, I would.”    

In fact, in the book, Jimmy Carter reveals that he had already written a letter to Pope Francis on global women’s issues and received a reply. Neither Carter’s letter, nor the Pope’s reply, touched on the question of women’s ordination (not surprisingly … Carter is a Baptist, not a Catholic), but Carter did discuss the global plight of women and urged the Pope to become active on global women’s issues. Francis answered with gratitude, indicating that there was need for a “more incisive female presence in the church.” (As usual, it’s not clear what that means.)

However, Carter noted that, since the publication of his book, four women were among the eight people appointed to a new papal commission to deal with the sex abuse crisis. One of the women was a victim of sex abuse herself. Carter considers those appointments a sign of progress.          

In answer to my direct question, Carter indicated that he is impressed with Francis and the freshness of his leadership. He sounded hopeful but realistic in his assessment. 

The overall thesis of Carter’s book is this:  “… the most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls. …” As one might expect from a man with his international humanitarian expertise, he excoriates the obvious injustices seen in women’s higher poverty rate worldwide, spouse abuse, rape, honor killing, genital cutting, the genocide of girls (because of one-child policies as in China), and child marriage.   

But he goes further — in a distinctly religious direction. He attributes the abuse of women largely to the “false interpretation of religious texts,” whether those are in the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament or the Quran. In the case of Christianity, he makes clear that Jesus fully embraced gender equality, and in the case of Islam, he makes a similar point with the Prophet Mohammed. He is also quite clear that some men embrace these misreadings even after the errors in their interpretations are pointed out, simply because men all too frequently like their sense of superiority, however unfounded.

He also addressed the unequal treatment of women in religious denominations, and favors the full equality of women as pastors, preachers, priests, bishops, rabbis, imams, etc. In fact, he and his wife Rosalynn left the Southern Baptist Convention over issues about the roles of women in the year 2000 and affiliated with the more progressive Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.    

Now, the only question that remains: how to set up that meeting between Carter and Pope Francis, and include a couple Catholic feminists to accompany Carter. I’m just sayin’. …  


Homily The Fifth Sunday In Lent: The Death of a Friend

IMG_0113The Gospel account of the dying and raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45) weaves the themes of friendship and death together in a poignant and prophetic way.  And I can think of no more important connection in the life and ministry of Jesus or in my own life and ministry. When I am in trouble, I need my friends. And my friends turn to me when trouble is near.  In addition to my lifelong and personal friends, the people I minister with and to are my friends. We turn to one another to share joy and sadness, fears and frustrations, life and death.  Pastoring is from the cradle to the grave and so is true friendship. And the “being there” of friends is all the difference.

Just thirteen months ago I had to face major life threatening surgery.  It was so hard to function as I moved almost robotically toward that date. Two things essential to me went on “automatic pilot”- my faith and the loving relationships in my life. I called for Jesus and I called for my other friends to be there with me. They were all there. There was a great cloud of witnesses around me, those that could be seen and those whose presence I could not see but could feel.  It was their love that got me through the surgery and through a very difficult time of slow recovery. Thanks be to God, I am well and have been for many months. I could not have done this alone. I needed my friends.

My friend and neighbor is an older woman of great faith. We visit and pray in the mornings. She told me that she is at peace in her life and when God comes for her she wants to die in her bed with someone there with her. She programmed my number in her phone so I could come if needed as her children do not live nearby. She is still full of life but I pray that I can be there for her. She in turn is there for a friend in a Nursing home and for one who has had a stroke.  Another friend, a woman who lives alone with her pets, just lost her beloved dog who made it to eighteen because of the love and care she poured into him. She is bereft. There is nothing I can say, but I am there for her.  Dying is a time for friends. So is living.  Another beloved friend of over fifty years is living in another state and facing her much loved husband’s struggles with a stage 4 cancer. I went to visit them as soon as I knew, and several times after. But, thanks be to God, he is living with cancer not dying with it and it is over two years later now. Yet we stay close and share the journey. Young or old, joys or sorrows, that’s what friends are for.


Jesus had friends in Bethany. There was Mary and Martha and Lazarus and also Simon, the Leper. Jesus visited them and taught in their homes. It must have been a great comfort to a tired itinerant preacher and teacher to have friends who welcomed him “home” and supported his ministry. Mary is described by the author of John as being the same woman who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume and dried his feet with her tears. This event at Simon’s house is also described in Mark 14 and Matthew 26 and John 11 and 12.  In Luke 10:38 Martha opens her home and hospitality to Jesus and Mary sits at his feet the way disciples did. Clearly Jesus included women and lepers in his circle of friends. Jesus loved with a radical love.  We recall that he shared his identity as the Messiah with a Samaritan woman and in the story of Lazarus and Mary and Martha, Martha displays her great faith in him and he discloses his identity as Messiah to her. Clearly she is his disciple and his friend.  When her brother is sick she calls for her friend Jesus.

Even choosing Bethany as a place to gather his friends and disciples may be a statement of how radical his love is. In Jesus’ Aramaic language Beth Anya means “house of misery/poverty”. There is also some historical evidence in tradition and archeology and in ancient writings like that of Eusebius and others that Bethany was a place where the Essenes had a hospice, a caring home for lepers and for other poor people.  So Bethany was associated with the care of the sick and the poor. Jesus chose Bethany and all of the world’s Bethanys to be with his friends, the poor and the marginalized. Jesus chose Bethany as the place to stay with friends and to teach. He chose it as the place to depart from on Palm Sunday.  And it was the place that he was last seen before returning home to God.  Bethany is now a West Bank Palestinian city and there is still poverty and struggle there. How blessed are we that Jesus chose to be a friend to the poor in the city of the poor and outcast.

Now let’s establish more of a context for the story of Lazarus dying. Jesus has already been stoned in Jerusalem. He got away in the crowd but his enemies are hot after him. He healed the man born blind and exposed the blindness of the religious leaders who made laws but lacked compassion and a sense of justice.  He claimed that he was the Christ, the Anointed one, the Messiah. He had a large following.  He was now safely outside of Judea. Yet he receives word that Lazarus is dying.  He waits awhile for his own reasons that become obvious later, but he then suggests “Let’s go back to Judea” (John 11:7). The disciples try to stop him, “you were just stoned there!”  But, his friends need him, he will go back to Judea.

Then Thomas makes his friendship with Jesus clear “Let us go with Jesus, so that we can die with him.” Jesus says in John 15:9 “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends….I call you friends….” Thomas and the disciples feel this kind of reciprocal love for Jesus although it will be very hard for them to live up to it. Jesus knows what lies ahead in Jerusalem, and still he responds to the call of his friends. In John 11:5 we learn that “Jesus loved these three very much”.  He gets there in time for the funeral and for the recriminations of Mary and Martha who say “He wouldn’t have died if you were here in time”. But this is the way it is in life. We all die. Jesus will die. But something else will happen here.  Jesus was deeply moved with grief, theirs and his own. He wept. “See how he loved Lazarus,” they said. He truly did. He then prays his heart out, thanks God for hearing him, and tells Lazarus to come forth from his tomb.  Lazarus comes forth wrapped in the garments of death and is set free of death. Imagine the amazement and belief of the crowd now. Jesus told Martha that he is the resurrection and the life, she believed him and now everyone can believe him. Jesus and the way of love, justice and equality he teaches can be chosen by the people.  But the authorities cannot let this happen. Jesus will have to give his life for his friends.

Yet, like Lazarus, he will rise. And we will rise with him. We rise from the many deaths we live in our lives. The death of hope, of motivation, of physical strength and abilities, of opportunity, of our communities and families, of relationships, of loved ones, of our friends. Through Christ we rise now and forevermore. Our Friend is right there beside us.

Even as Jesus wept for Lazarus and his other bereft friends, God must weep at the death of God’s children and friends. And God must have wept mightily at the horrifying death of God’s Beloved, Chosen One Jesus. And God raised him from the dead and he was seen by many of his friends and believers until he returned to God, sending the Holy Spirit to be with us.   Ultimately God is with us and within us, we are never separated from God.  But when life is hard and death and loss is real it is so good to have our Friend beside us to comfort us and raise us up.

Let us live in friendship with our loving God.  Let us rise from the dead now and forever. Let us love our friends as Jesus did.  Thanks be to God.


Again, Vatican Punishes Gender Equality More Swiftly Than Sexual Abuse

  • As we approach Easter and Resurrection to new life, let us pray that the church will turn from punishing women priests and their supporters to promoting full life for all as Jesus did.
  • This is an excellent post by Patricia Miller.
  • The 76-year-old Zawada has been ordered to a “life of prayer and penance” within the Wisconsin friary of his order for saying mass with Janice Sevre-Duszynska in 2011. Sevre-Duszynska was ordained a priest in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, a dissent women’s ordination movement in the Catholic Church that has ordained some 180 women as priests since 2002, when seven women were ordained in a ceremony on the Danube River.The Vatican moved aggressively to tamp down any enthusiasm for break-away women’s ordination movements after the Danube River ordination received widespread media coverage. It said that any woman who claims to be ordained is automatically excommunicated and in 2010 declared women’s ordination a grave offense on par with pedophilia.

    The Vatican’s equivocation of women’s ordination and pedophilia, and the relative speed with which it has disciplined dissenters, is ironic given its less-than-rapid response to actual pedophiles and the bishops who covered up their actions.

    In 2012 the CDF expelled Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois from the priesthood four years after he took part in the ordination of Sevre-Duszynska and stripped 92-year-old Jesuit Bill Brennan of his faculties as a priest three weeks after he said mass with Sevre-Duszynska at an annual protest at the School of the Americas. Bourgeois founded the School of the Americas Watch, which seeks the closure of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning, GA, formerly known as the School of the Americas, which trained notorious dictators such as Gen. Manuel Noriega and was implicated in a number of human rights abuses in Latin America, including the murder of six Jesuits.

    In contrast to the relative alacrity with which the CDF moved against three elderly peace activists who celebrated mass with a woman, it took the Vatican 13 years to finally expel Michael Fugee from the priesthood in mid-March. Fugee admitted to fondling a 14-year-old boy in 2001 but his conviction was overturned on a technicality. Under an agreement with prosecutors, the archdiocese of Newark, NJ, agreed to supervise him and banned him from contact with children, but appointed him as chaplain of a hospital without informing the hospital of his history. Fugee continued to have contact with children, including traveling with them on retreats, until last year when a local newspaper brought his activities to light and a public outcry forced his ouster.

    The bishop who was supposed to supervise Fugee, John Myers, remains as head of the diocese of Newark despite calls for his removal. A group of Catholics in Kansas City, MO, is pressing the Vatican to remove Bishop Robert Finn, who was convicted of a misdemeanor charge in 2011 of failing to report suspected abuse after he found pornographic images of a child on a priest’s computer. Monseigneur William Lynn, who was in charge of priests’ assignments and investigating abuse for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004, was convicted of hiding reports of abuse and sentenced to three to six years in prison for enabling “monsters in clerical garb.” He was freed on bail when a court ruled that the state’s child endangerment law didn’t apply to those who didn’t directly supervise children; the diocese paid his bail and he remains a priest in good standing.

    Polls show consistent support for women’s ordination among Catholics. A recent Pew Poll found that 68 percent of Catholics support women priests and 42 percent think the church will probably allow them in the next few decades, which is wildly optimistic given the canonical obstacles that have been erected by the two previous popes to any change to the teaching.

    When he was head of the CDF before he became Pope Benedict, Joseph Ratzinger proclaimed Pope John Paul II’s ban on women’s ordination essentially infallible, a characterization that was disputed by progressive theologians. Such a designation means that women’s ordination is considered a closed subject. Pope Francis confirmed in his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, that the “reservation of the priesthood to males…is not a question open to discussion.”

    Writing in The Week, Damon Linker predicts a “mass exodus” from the Catholic Church if it doesn’t revise the “stunningly unpersuasive” ban on women’s ordination:

    American Catholics have become accustomed to worshipping in a state of cognitive dissonance, with a majority rejecting the church’s sexual teachings.…This is relatively easy to do, because these issues don’t come up very often in Mass. By contrast, the majority of Catholics who support women’s ordination are confronted on the altar with the all-male priesthood every time they go to church. At the moment, frustration about the issue is muted because Pope Francis has inspired so much good will among the faithful—and raised such high hopes for reform. That has given the church some breathing room. But it isn’t going to last….Sooner or later—and probably sooner—egalitarian-minded Catholics are going to lose their patience.

    The Vatican is hoping it can delay that day of reckoning by removing the most visible signs of dissent on the issue. But as Linker says, sooner or later Catholics are going to figure out that the change they have been waiting for isn’t coming at all.

    Correction: Thanks to Bridget Mary Meehan of the ARCWP for letting us know that rather than 160, as a previous version of this post specified, there are in fact over 180 ordained and about to be ordained women in the International Roman Catholic Women Priests movement.