Archive | May 2015

Pope Francis Orders a Jubilee Year of Mercy and Pardon

This article is from the dailymail.com.co.uk/news

BY Hannah Roberts

Pope Francis has ordered Roman Catholic priests to bestow a full pardon on women who have committed a mortal sin by having an abortion.

Next year, both women who have had abortions, and doctors that have performed them, will be able to seek absolution, as part of a special Holy Year of Mercy decreed by the pope.

In the Catholic Church, abortion is considered one of the gravest sins and results in automatic excommunication. It can only be forgiven in certain special circumstances, by high-ranking clergy or by making a pilgrimage to Rome during a Holy Year.

Pope Francis is handed a child to bless on his first official trip outside Rome since taking the Papacy

But in a gesture of reconciliation the pope is for the first time to send ordinary priests as ‘missionaries of mercy’ all over the world with special powers to forgive even the most serious sins.

One of the organisers of the Jubilee Year Monsignor Rino Fisichella told a press conference that this included also abortion.

He said the pope meant the gesture ‘as a concrete sign that a priest must be a man of mercy and close to all.’

Those priests who apply to be missionaries must be especially skilled and ‘good confessors’, he said.

The theme of the Holy Year, which begins on December 8th, has been widely interpreted as a signal by Francis that the church should be less judgmental.

In a document known as a ‘bull of indiction’ explaining how he wants Catholic to celebrate the Jubilee year, the pope said that ‘the church must be ‘an oasis of mercy’.

It went on: ‘The Church’s very credibility is seen in how she shows merciful and compassionate love.’

The Pope pauses to bless a young child in St Peter's Square in the Vatican after a Palm Sunday service 

The Pope pauses to bless a young child in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican after a Palm Sunday service

The charismatic Pope Francis is proving popular, expressing a more progressive view on many Catholic beliefs that are seen as outdated and out of touch, such as those on contraception and abortion
The charismatic Pope Francis is proving popular, expressing a more progressive view on many Catholic beliefs that are seen as outdated and out of touch, such as those on contraception and abortion

The charismatic Pope Francis is proving popular, expressing a more progressive view on many Catholic beliefs that are seen as outdated and out of touch, such as those on contraception and abortion

The United Nations has previously condemned the Vatican for excommunicating the mother and doctor of a nine-year-old girl who had an abortion in Brazil in 2009 after she was raped by her stepfather and became pregnant with twins.

But the move is not likely to be approved universally. Italian cardinal Velasio De Paolis said it could cause ‘confusion’ among the faithful. He said: ‘Regardless of this decision by the pope, the church will continue to consider abortion a sin.

‘I hope it does not cause confusion.’

He told La Nazione: ‘He is the pope of mercy and wants to show the benevolence of the church towards sinners. This does not cancel the sin of abortion.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3070327/The-Pope-orders-Catholic-priests-bestow-pardon-women-abortion-doctors-performed-them.html#ixzz3ZT0wBfHy
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This I Command You: Love One Another:Sixth Sunday of Easter 5/10/2015

What’s love got to do with it, dear Tina Turner? “Everything!” is the answer in the readings for this Sunday and throughout the eight weeks of Easter during which we celebrate the risen Christ and the ways in which Christ remains with us.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  who, like Jesus, gave up his life for his friends, struggled with applying the gospel message of radical love and inclusion to our social and political structural context in America. In 1967 he said: . “…we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing‐oriented” society to a “person‐oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and propertyrights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered… True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice, which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth… A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual
death.” —“Beyond Vietnam” (April 1967)

The first reading is from the book of Acts about the growth and struggles of the early church,struggles about exclusion and inclusion that are like ours today.  In Acts 10:25-48 we learn that despite the wishes of the early church to keep God for themselves and their small group, after a vision showing him that nothing (and no one) is impure when God makes them clean, and experiencing the righteous life of caring for the poor and prayer of the Centurion Cornelius, Peter instructs them: “I begin to see how true it is that God shows no partiality-rather, that any person of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God”(verses 34-35). And so, in the recent words of Pope Francis:”Who are we to judge?” When the Jewish Christians saw the compassionate actions of Cornelius and saw that the Holy Spirit equally visited Cornelius and his friends, they were open to Peter’s conclusion that all can be baptized. How awful it is, then that we can cite time after time that baptism was refused by a priest of the Roman Catholic Church (and I’m sure of other Christian faiths as well) to the children of gays, divorced, “intermarried”, or couples cohabiting and to these adults themselves as well. See, for example, https://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/28/religious-superiors-call-for-rethinking-about-gay-couples-cardinal-burke-calls-them-murderers/ . Moreover, some also deny baptism and other sacraments to those who are not members of a certain parish. All of this is about exclusion and is the stark opposite of what Jesus asked of us. Clearly the texts of this day tell us that there is but one criteria of being right with God: that we love one another.

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From the earliest years on we need to learn love, especially when people are different than we are. We have one Haitian boy,Jerry, that has been with us for a few years. One of our other boys constantly taunts him with remarks like: “Your people eat dogs, do voodoo and speak mumbojumbo”. We have addressed this as it happened and it is better, but not gone yet! Finally in the group I had Jerry share how the remarks made him feel. He looked up and said one word: “hurt’, adding “It’s not funny to me”.  Finally the other boy heard him.

Another example is acceptance across the racial divides. Fort Myers’ schools were not integrated until 1969. Most neighborhoods and most churches still remain segregated. School “balance” was achieved through a desegregation busing law but when that law reached its legal limit about two years ago it is no longer in force.     Our smaller kids are more able to cross the divides than the older ones. Sometimes the older kids reach out to one another but often they do not. It is our task to help remove these divides now or “integration” really has not happened and probably will not happen for them. Similarly we work on acceptance for our members with mental illness, mental challenges and those who may be gay or bisexual. With young people we work against ugly name calling, but with adults we work for full inclusion.

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A few weeks ago some new children joined our Sunday school. One handsome little boy had long dreadlocks. One of our little girls,also African-American, said he was ugly because of his raggedy hair. (She also used stronger terms). We needed to take her aside and teach her about love and acceptance. The next week all of the children were eating and playing together and the incident was over. I commented to the boy that the little girl had learned something important, He said with remarkable honesty: ” I learned too- I said something mean back to her last week and now I won’t do that”.  This same 6 year old corrected a 13 year old boy who was sassing his teacher: “That is not the way we speak to adults”. Wow! He is a welcome addition.

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The Epistle of 1 John 4:7-10 says: “Beloved, let us love one another….You who do not love have known nothing of God ,for God is love“.  Selah-pause and take that in. How blessed we are to have and know our God of love. Yet, what a struggle it can be for each of us to love as God does, as Jesus did. Jesus was full of surprises in who he embraced and loved-he included the social and political outcasts of the time and those who the strict religionists of his time saw as sinners- “impure”,unclean and outside of God’s love. Indeed, for Jesus, no one was outside of God’s love. We note in 1 John 4:10 that it was God who reached out to us, embraced us and gave all for us-God showed us how to love. We can take no credit for it, other than doing what we are asked to do: to love one another as God has loved us.

In the Gospel (John 15: 9-17) Jesus asks us to “live on in my love. and you will live on in my love if you keep my commandments”: “Love one another as I have loved you”. Jesus also calls us friends. How wonderful to have friendship with God through Christ. We pray to truly call each other friends. Recently I asked our Tuesday group members to write down the three things that empowered them most in their lives.  Most included “Friends” “community” ” church fellowship” and relationships as the source of empowerment. Carter Heyward and Mary Hunt, both feminist theologians, see friendship as a paradigm for our relationship with God. Bernard Cooke sees it as sacramental.    In John 15:17 loving one another is turned into a crystal clear commandment:”This command I give you:  Love one another”.   We are a work in progress. Real growth in love is hard to achieve. Let us pray for the grace to know what love means in our everyday lives,as a society, and as a church.  

AMEN! 

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Woman Roman Catholic Bishop Andrea Johnson’s Homily at the Ordination of Seven Women Priests

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Here is the beautiful homily given by Bishop Andrea M. Johnson, RCWP on 4/25/15 at the Ordination of seven women priests from the Eastern Region of RCWP-USA.

Homily For RCWP Priestly Ordinations

April 25, 2015

Episcopal Church of the Redeemer

Morristown New Jersey

 

It is such a joy to be here in Morristown with all of you today — Jersey girl that I am – to celebrate together with you this historic moment in which we call forth and ordain seven new Roman Catholic Women Priests for the eastern USA. The first time there were seven ordained together was on the Danube River in June of 2002 when our movement began; and in 2006, eight women were ordained priests in Pittsburgh, PA, coming from the entire USA. This is the first time such a large number is being ordained for just one region of our country.

We are so very grateful to be here at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, and want to express our deep appreciation to the Reverend Cynthia Black and the entire congregation for welcoming us here today.

Our ordination liturgy began this afternoon with these words from our opening hymn: Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live. What an awesome vision of who we seek to be as church – as the Body of Christ! What an apt description of the mission of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, standing firmly within the Roman Catholic tradition, yet pushing the envelope, and creating a safe and welcoming space for all who want to participate.

The seven women who have come before us today seeking ordination to priesthood have prepared extensively, and they have discerned deeply. They have grasped and embraced our model of priestly ministry which is a servant model, an inclusive model that empowers all of God’s people.

The readings chosen by the ordinands reflect their clear understanding that their call to ordination is a call – not to a leadership of privilege, but to a leadership of servanthood; a leadership that is prophetic in its demand for justice in our church and in our world. Indeed, as our reading from Isaiah says, these servants are called to “give life and spirit to people; to proclaim the covenant of love and fidelity that our God offers us; to give light; to heal; and to liberate.”These ordinands know themselves to be called to empower others so that those they empower can do the same for yet others.

These women understand that, in order to serve,, they must first live by the Spirit, indeed follow the Spirit’s beckoning by living into the fruits of the Spirit – which include among them patience, generosity, gentleness and self-control – ….they follow the Spirit’s promptings, even as they struggle with the harsh realities of injustice and persistent inequities in our church and world systems. They are committed to seek out and to speak the truth as they minister, knowing that it is God’s Spirit who upholds them and leads them into all truth and all true unity.

As we in Roman Catholic Womenpriests approach thirteen years of existence as an initiative within the Roman Catholic Church, seeking to break open the model of ministry to include women and all baptized persons called by their communities to priesthood; and with those descended from the Danube ordinations of 2002 now numbering more than 200 worldwide, how can we describe our mission to ordain, and our vision of church going forward? In real terms, how does our vision of inclusivity play out in a church whose structures have historically and increasingly disenfranchised the many?

We believe our call to priesthood is rooted in our baptism, and is sustained by a reflective, contemplative and prayerful lifestyle which seeks to follow in prophetic obedience where the Spirit leads us. We believe we are called to model a new way of leading which strives to empower others, to work with others in our communities to mobilize resources to serve the disenfranchised, to release creativity, and to enable stable communities to form and thrive. Most importantly, we believe we ensure, by providing priests to a renewed and emerging Catholic church, that the subversive memory of Jesus is perpetuated through the proclamation of the Word and the celebration of the sacraments, especially the eucharist, which is the core of our commitment to unity with one another – the unity that binds us in the One Body of Christ.

Nourished by Word and Bread, we, together with the whole people of God, call forth the gifts of the community to do the work of justice, peace and integrity of life. As for the communities we serve, they are diverse; nonetheless they are all characterized by a new spirit of collaboration. What do the communities committed to renewal and led by Roman Catholic Womenpriests look like?

  • They are imbued with a spirit of discernment, and they give voice to all community members
  • They have a variety of persons functioning in a variety of ministries according to their preparation, their gifts, and their call by the community
  • There are ordained and non-ordained persons serving on teams together collaboratively
  • There is mutual respect and openness to the views of others
  • Our communities practice contemplative listening
  • There is collaboration and connection with other RCWP-led (and other progressive) Catholic communities
  • There is meaningful ecumenical and interfaith outreach.
  • There is an unbroken liturgical and theological link with Roman Catholic tradition
  • There are active social justice ministries
  • The model of diakonia or service is foundational for all who minister in the community
  • There is a deeply eucharistic (i.e. thankful) spirituality, with mindfulness of God’s indwelling presence in and through the life of the community
  • And there is a deeply catholic spirit that is ever aware of being part of a much greater whole in terms of church

And so, today, we are truly thankful to our loving and compassionate God, who has given us an abundance of new servant leaders to continue to grow this movement for a renewed priesthood and church, and to discern a new understanding of what it means to be catholic – of what it means to be One Body in all of our diversity.

Roman Catholic Women Priests Fight For Inclusion—For ALL

Here is another excellent article on the ordination of the seven women to the Roman Catholic Priesthood in New Jersey on April 25,2015. This is by Mark Di Ionno in the Star Ledger. 

I also want to thank the over 50,000 viewers and mounting who have seen my blog on this thus far . Only a very small percent-50 or so, have written what is easily termed hate mail full of self righteousness and ignorance. For them we pray. We are thankful for the opportunity to shed light on the fact that Roman Catholic Women Priests are already here! Thanks be to God! 

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

Co-Pastor of The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community

STAR LEDGER-Mark Di Ionno

The call to religious vocation came at different times in different ways. For some, it was a thunderclap, a great moment of clarity. For others, it was a building crescendo after a lifetime of being in harmony with their faith.

But the seven women ordained as Catholic priests last weekend in Morristown all agree on this: Their call to a religious pastoral life was genuinely sent by God and is as pure as any man’s.

“For me, it was when I received my first Holy Communion,” said Susan Schessler. “In that instant, I felt a very personal bond with Christ that was not breakable. Christ was there to me, and I was there to Christ. Like any relationship, we’ve had our ups and downs.”

Schessler’s communion was 68 year ago at Our Lady of the Valley Church in Orange. What followed was a life of religious service with the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell. She taught school, directed religious education and then immersed herself in helping children in the inner cities.

But she — like the other women ordained last weekend and their sister priests around the world — had a growing dissatisfaction with the “lack of inclusivity” and “ego domination” of the male hierarchy.

I was tired of people telling God how to be God.’ Susan Schlessler, ordained woman priest

“I was tired of people telling God how to be God,” she said.

Two years ago, at age 73, she made the decision to seek priesthood and said “the freedom that came with that decision is the freest I’ve ever felt in my life.”

Inclusivity is a word the Roman Catholic Women Priests (RCWP) organization is built upon. The movement began in Germany in 2002 with seven women who were ordained on the Danube River by an Argentine Catholic bishop who cut his ties to Rome and began a church he believed would be more progressive.

Those women chose ex-communication by Rome, which, simply put, is like leaving a club you were never allowed to join.

So they started their own branch of the club and there are now 208 women priests worldwide, following Saturday’s ordainment.

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Seven women ordained Roman Catholic priests in MorristownSeven women were ordained Roman Catholic priests by a dissident organization called the Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP) at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Morristown N.J. The ceremony was led by Andrea Johnson, Bishop of the Eastern Region of RCWP. Including this ceremony, there are now 208 catholic women priests worldwide. (Video by Andre Malok | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

“We did not leave our religion. We love being Catholic; it is a faith of great hope and great promise,” said Andrea Johnson, a self-described “Jersey Girl” from Ventnor, who is bishop of the Eastern Region of the RCWP in Annapolis, Md.

Again, simply put, the women believe the Catholic faith is to the Vatican what democracy is to the U.S. government. One is a philosophy, the other is a hierarchical bureaucracy.

Johnson ordained the seven women at Morristown’s (Episcopalian) Church of the Redeemer. In her homily, she described the “mission of Roman Catholic Women Priests (as) standing firmly within Roman Catholic tradition, yet pushing the envelope and creating a safe and welcoming space for all.”

“We are obedient to the Holy Spirit and disobedient to unjust laws,” said Kathleen Gibbons Schuck, 59, a Summit native now living in Blue Bell, Pa.

Her moment of clarity came in 2012 after Mass one day. She was deeply involved in her local parish as a Eucharistic minister, Gospel reader, teacher and fundraiser, but the monsignor always greeted her husband first.

“My daughter (Ann, then 15) asked, ‘Why is that monsignor treats Daddy so differently than he treats you?’ ” Schuck said. “That was like the wake-up call. I remember in my own (church) upbringing that the women did the work and the men made the decisions. I thought it was time to stand up.”

The entrance hymn to the ceremony was “All Are Welcome,” as a procession of clergy accompanied the seven women through the ornate stone edifice and nave of the Gothic church. It’s interesting to note that the Church of the Redeemer started in 1852, breaking off from another Episcopal church in Morristown that was pro-slavery.

That progressive tradition is obviously still alive, as the church welcomed not only the women priests but a group of married male Catholic priests who also practice outside the reach of Rome.

One is Michael Corso, who was ordained in the Archdiocese of Newark in 1983, but left to marry. He is the pastor of Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community in Sparta. The church was founded by Mary Ann Schoettly, New Jersey’s first RCWP member who was ordained six years ago. Schoettly, a mother of three and a grandmother, died last July.

The ceremony followed the rituals of ordainment for male priests. The women lay on the church floor in “prostration,” a symbol of humility during the long Litany of Saints. In the most emotional moment of the ceremony, the congregation joined in the “laying of hands” on the women, a tradition that invokes the Holy Spirit. The women had their hands anointed with oil and received their vestments, chalices and patens. Then, with hands clasped together and held high, they were celebrated as new priests by the estimated 400 people in attendance who stood and cheered.

But the differences between Rome-scripted ordainment and the RCWP’s ceremony were apparent. One was the gender-neutral liturgy. The word Lord was absent. God was not exclusively called Father, but Creator God, Creator Spirit and Life-Giving Mother, Gentle Father. Christ’s disciples, a heavily male-oriented word, were described as friends. The prayer over the Eucharist is said by the whole church, meaning the congregation shares the power to bring the body and blood of Christ into their midst.

The women priests and other clergy also received Holy Communion last, not first, a RCWP tradition that speaks to a “leadership of servanthood” rather than “privilege,” as Johnson said in her homily.

Most important, the RCWP does not believe their priests are more godly than anyone else. In the Roman Catholic Church tradition, male priests are said to be ontologically changed by the Holy Spirit when they are ordained.

“I’m no more or less divine than I’ve always been,” said Schuck. “We believe the Holy Spirit is equally present in everyone.”

The women, and the men who support them, don’t see themselves as pioneers as much as the first standard-bearers of inevitable change.

“Most of these women were already (experienced) ministers; for them, this is a reality that already exists,” Corso said. “This is just the beginning of their acceptance.”

All the women hold various or multiple masters or doctoral degrees in education, health, social work and theology. Some came from the business world, like Schuck, who was a telecommunications executive; others, like Schessler, spent years in religious service. Now, they will serve in what they call “inclusive Eucharistic ministries” in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.

“We bring an aspect of inclusiveness that people want,” Johnson said. “We are as capable, if not more capable, of doing the pastoral work our communities need.”

And like any social change, the old rules will seem archaic to future generations.
“I think when people look back in, say, 100 years, they’ll ask, ‘What was the big deal?’ ” Schuck said. “And really, what was the big deal?”

Mark Di Ionno may be reached at mdiionno@starledger.com. Follow The Star-Ledger on Twitter @StarLedger

Pruned and Cleansed: A RC Woman Priest’s Homily for Sunday May 3, 2015, Fifth Sunday of Easter

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There is a red- magenta flowered Bougainvillea tree (or bush) in front of our house. My neighbor planted it as a gift about five years ago. It was a small plant when it started and it took a long time to flower beyond a few blooms. With hope and patience, we cut and pruned it’s scraggily, long, thorny and uneven branches hoping for something beautiful to appear. We have the marks to prove that it did not like being pruned.  We first began to notice that at Christmas it bloomed beautifully and added to our Christmas joy. Then, by the fourth or fifth year it burst forth with blooms everywhere lasting all year.  It still needs occasional pruning, sometimes long asymmetric bloomless shoots dart forth. We cut them off and enjoy the abundant and magnificent color all year. The cut-off shoots wither and die quickly.

There are banana trees in our rear yard that also need pruning. When they are not cut properly no fruit is formed just big green leaves. Our friends from St. Lucia showed us how, when and where to cut them down or back. When pruned carefully clusters of bananas grow into maturity. This is nothing short of miraculous to one from the inner city of New York.

I remember climbing in the back yard grape vines of my Italian neighbors when I was a child. We were delighted when we found sweet edible grapes. Sometimes we bit into bitter sour grapes and we had no idea why some were sweet and some were sour and some had no fruit.

Jesus likened himself to the vine and his precious followers to branches of the vine. We are organically connected to Christ, one with Christ, as long as we practice what we have been taught-to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors-all of them-everywhere- as ourselves. On the Vine we are also organically connected to one another. The Epistle of First John (3:18-24) tells us that we cannot pay mere lip-service to love, we must live it, love is an action word. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said “My vocation is to love. Love is not words it is action”. I am so thankful for all of the volunteers and members who love and serve one another in our Good Shepherd church and for the other churches, individuals and groups that freely and generously give so that our people may be housed and fed, clothed and sheltered and receive the benefits of education and learning enrichment.

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So to remain on the vine we must ask ourselves-what are we DOING to live love and justice?  What are we doing with and for the outcast of all types, the poor and the different, “the least of these our brothers and sisters?” What are we doing in the face of injustice toward people of difference-toward the LGBTQ community? Toward those with mental illness, mental challenges and AIDS and other horrible diseases? Toward those who experience licensed brutality of law authorities and to all of those who experience random violence from one another as well as from the Law? We all know about the death of Freddie Gray in Maryland and the response of some of the youth in the community. Rather than sit and condemn can we understand how it is to BE them and face police authority whether justly or unjustly apprehended. Here in SW Florida in Cape Coral, a young white man was unjustly apprehended and beaten badly by police authorities last year. There are protests here too. Here, as elsewhere, it is as much about class as race though the double whammy of both doubles the jeopardy of discrimination and pre-judging. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed when he allied himself with poor whites and others as well as blacks. Christ lives in the ghetto and in the hearts and hopes of all who are lowest income as well as the well to do. Where are we, the so-called followers of Christ? Have we followed him to where the rocks are flying and the guns are killing and the people are frightened?  Can we also understand how it is to BE law authority when random violence is directed at them for doing their very difficult jobs? Can we understand how it all has gone wrong-toward hate and not love. How lawlessness and violence are signs that love is dying on the vine.  Jesus is saying that if we do nothing but talk our faith we are not abiding in him, in his teaching, and we are bearing no fruit. We will become dead wood, dead branches, no longer connected to Love and Life.  Roger Karban once said-if we merely worship Christ and do not LIVE what Christ said and did we do not “get it”. And if we do not get it, our communities suffer and die as well.  Some die in conflagration. Some die in self-indulgence. Dying is dying-the question is how can the church be relevant to the death all around us if we too are dying on the vine?

To take it one step farther, the church itself is dying on the vine when it conveys lack of acceptance and injustice to any of our brothers and sisters in our communities and in our church.  To refuse anyone at the Table of Christ is unloving and unjust. To refuse anyone baptism or last rites, or burial in ‘hallowed ground’ is the opposite of Christ-like.  To refuse Holy Orders to anyone called by God and prepared is unloving and unjust. To attempt to cut ordained women and openly gay or married priests off from the sacrament of Holy Communion, use of faculties and Christian burial is vengeful, unloving and unjust.  It is also impossible as no one can undo our baptisms or our calls or sever us from the love of Christ. No one. We recall with Sunday’s reading from Acts (9:26-31) that the Apostle Paul was initially maligned and rejected by the disciples in Jerusalem and that Barnabas took charge and mediated for him, introducing him to the disciples. Today we are thankful that there are those like Barnabas who do this for women priests and others rejected by the church authorities.  So, it is not we who are ultimately cut off, nor have we cut ourselves off or died on the vine. It is the church itself that is being pruned by the God who loves it so that it can bear good fruit. Not the fruit of self righteous traditionalism, paternalism, or misogyny, or heterosexism, or class entitlement and greed but the true fruit of love, inclusion and connection to the Vine forever.

The Greek word for “prune” in the scriptures (kathairo) is also the word for “cleanse”.  Even as Jesus cleansed the Temple of cultic blood sacrifice, mercenary pursuits, excessive and unending legalisms, and hypocritical posturing, today Christ prunes the church of its adherence to traditions that exclude, vilify, and actually promote hate instead of love. For those who “get it” we are thankful to God. For those who respond with hateful vindictive words and ugly actions, we are praying for you.

This Sunday the Gospel text, John 15:1-8, is the seventh and final I AM statement of Jesus. Each statement reveals another unique and divine aspect of who Jesus is and how we are connected to him: Bread of life (Jn 6:35), Light (Jn8:12), door of the sheep (Jn 10:7,9), good shepherd (Jn:10-11,14), The Resurrection and the Life (Jn 11:25) the Way (Jn14:6) and finally the Vine (Jn15:1,5). In Aramaic this also allies Jesus, the Christ, with ‘true religion’.  Religion that is hateful and vengeful toward any of God’s people is not true. What is true is what is loving. What is true is living love.  This last claim and offering of himself to his followers as the Vine takes place shortly before he is betrayed by Judas and arrested. Jesus is assuring them and us that we are an organic part of him and of one another, and as we continue to follow/act on his words of love and justice we remain both connected and fruitful, come what may.

Thanks be to God!

With love and prayers,

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

Co-Pastor The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers

Woman RC Priest Martha Sherman Responds in Counterpoint

Here is an article from the Chicago Sun-Tiimes with accurate history-herstory and the testimony of a woman Roman Catholic Priest.

JL

Counterpoint: Church fails to fully include women

Posted: 05/01/2015, 04:27pm |
In 2005 in Lyon, France, in a ceremony that made news internationally, Genevieve Beney was ordained a priest, though Catholic Church leaders said she automatically would be prohibited from receiving the Church’s sacraments.

The Roman Catholic Church, a mammoth institution plodding through history, changes slowly. Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich and others may move towards fuller inclusion of women, but until they extend all seven sacraments to women, the Roman Catholic Church will not reach wholeness.

Until the Church accepts women as truly equal, the fullness of God’s creation will not be.

OPINION

Modern scholars have unearthed evidence that the Roman Catholic Church ordained women to be deacons, priests and even bishops in its history.  The Vatican commissioned a study of scripture to uncover impediments to the ordination of women.  The scripture scholars found none.  The Catholic Church praises the many gifts of women, yet claims the ordination of women is impossible, they claim they simply cannot do it.

I am a child of the Second Vatican Council.  I spent 16 years in Catholic Schools and then taught in them for another eight.  By the time I was in second grade I had memorized the Eucharistic Prayers at Mass. When the priest would invite us to encircle the altar during the liturgy of the Eucharist I felt like I was concelebrating with the priest, even though I was still in elementary school.  When I was entering the convent in the 1980s, my then 70-year-old aunt suggested that I was better suited for the priesthood. I laughed and then tried to be a good sister. But avoiding God’s call is not an option for me and hundreds of other women.

The truth is that women can be ordained and for the past eleven years women have been validly ordained, by bishops in apostolic succession and good standing through the Roman Catholic Womenpriest movement.  The response of the US Bishops has been the excommunication of those women who “attempt” ordination. I urge my brother priests and the Catholics in the pews to demand justice through the inclusion of women priests.

Parishes close or consolidate while women priests gather with Catholics in homes and Protestant churches across the globe to celebrate the Eucharist.  Some people say that I, a Roman Catholic woman priest, should just join the Episcopal Church to be a priest. My response is, “I am Catholic, the Church is the people of God, it is my church.  God called and I answered with my whole being.”  Who are we to say no when God calls?

Martha Sherman, who lives in Salem, SD, was ordained a priest by the Roman Catholic Womenpriests of the Midwest Region in 2013 in St. Cloud, Minnesota.