Archive | April 2016

Two Roman Catholic Women Priests Reflect -Sixth Sunday of Easter: My Peace I Give to You- May 1, 2016

Whether we are struggling with what it means to live a  Christ-like life and if we can really do it, or whether we long for a time and place where justice and peace reign and shine like the sun and the splendor of God is brilliantly apparent  (Rev. 21:10-14;22-23), something we do not experience now, this Sunday’s Scriptures give us gentle guidance.  Acts 15:1-2 and 22-29 shows the conflict in the early church between the Jewish Christians who also live the Mosaic Law and follow the Jewish traditions and the gentile Christians who do not want to be circumcised. The landmark decision of the apostles and elders and “all the church’ was that “it is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities…”(and not eating the meat of idols, abstaining from blood and from the meats of strangled animals and from unlawful marriage” were the necessities-circumcision was not. )  As Rev Beverly Bingle notes below: this was the start of a new type of Christianity,not conforming to Judaism except in some ways.

Jesus boils it down even more succinctly in Sunday’s gospel (John 14:23-29): “Whoever loves me will keep my word (will obey my teaching), and my Abba God(Father) will come to (you) and we will make our dwelling with (you). …” (J0hn 14:23) As far as we know Jesus did not speak about conforming to the letter of the Law,and sometimes he set priorities in the Law as in healing on the Sabbath, yet he fulfilled the essence of the Law in his every action and in his being (Matt 5:17). In strongly giving us the Mosaic commandment of loving God above all else and our neighbors as ourselves, he both told us and showed us how to live. John 14:15-16 says clearly”If you love me keep my commandments…and I will send you another Counselor,(Advocate, another Paraclete/Helper, the Holy Spirit) to be with you forever”.

We learn that if we live Love and Compassion and seek justice and peace, our loving God will be with us, the Holy Spirit of God is with us. Then, we don’t have to “sweat the small stuff” worrying always if we are doing all we can to be Christians, if we are good enough or holy enough or even doing enough-if we love Jesus and follow his teachings, loving as he loved, we can stumble and fall many times and yet have the peace that Christ sent deep within us.  The Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth  will teach us all we need to know- “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid-(I will be with you)”.

So on this Sixth Sunday of Easter, let us put aside all anxiety about the lives we lead, as long as we are responsive to the Spirit within us and let Love guide us and sometimes correct us. We are not going to do it perfectly, we are not God, we are not Christ though somewhere in our very human complexity, Christ lives and the Holy Spirit of God sets us on fire for healing, justice and peace and the pursuit of the city of God that shines like the sun, NOW and forever.

Love and blessings,

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP and Co-Pastor of The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida

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And now for the inspirational homily of Rev. Dr. Beverly Bingle ,RCWP

That story about the debate over circumcision
that we hear in the Acts of the Apostles
was written sometime in the mid-90s,
and it’s a different from the story
from what Paul wrote to the Galatians about 40 years earlier.
Fr. Raymond Brown says that decision
to allow non-Jews to become Christians without circumcision
guaranteed that Christianity
would eventually become separate from Judaism.
So, from the very beginning we were ecclesia semper reformanda
—a church always re-forming, always changing,
always searching for ways to tell the story of faith
to the next generation.
In the early 400s St. Augustine of Hippo wrote about it.
In the 1960s Fr. Hans Küng wrote about it.
Now, because of technology,
we get almost immediate reporting of the ongoing debate
about what we need to do to be Christian.
How do we think about the wisdom and the glory of God?
How do we spread the good news that Jesus taught,
that good news that the reign of God is at hand?
How do we express the inexpressible?
Just like they did, we use symbols and metaphors
and create meaningful narratives.
Just like they did,
we try to live what we believe.
It’s like today‘s passage from Revelation, for example,
with all those visionary twelves:
twelve angels at twelve gates
with twelve names inscribed on them,
and twelve courses of stone in the foundation,
with twelve names of apostles inscribed on them.
Those twelves meant more than twelve to the early Christians.
Twelve to them meant complete:
all the people of God, everyone,
all included in God’s house,
all that is.
And Revelation tells us that the city doesn’t have a temple
because all the people live in God.
They don’t need sun and moon
because the presence of God—God’s “glory”—
is in them and lights up the world.
Another effort of early Christians to tell the good news in narratives
shows up in today‘s gospel,
a continuation from last week
of Jesus’ “last will and testament,”
created by the evangelist.
The story is true, but it’s not, as Marcus Borg would put it,
something that really happened.
And the message is not written for the disciples.
They’re not around any more.
It’s for future generations,
communicating in story
Jesus’ important messages:
first, that the Spirit will be with them to help them remember
that Jesus lives not only with God but also with them;
and second, that love, and the peace that love brings,
are central to Jesus’ legacy.
How do we see the joy and the dedication,
the care and the compassion,
the love for one another,
that Jesus learned from his Jewish tradition,
and called on his followers to practice,
in the midst of foreign occupation, oppression, and hardship?
His own experience had to have taught it to him,
had to have brought him the peace
that comes from helping others.
Brain scientists looking at mob mentality found
that people who can think about their own moral standards
are more likely to be able to resist
getting caught up in a vicious cycle of violence.
They also tell us that generosity, kindness, and caring
release oxytocin, the hormone that brings feelings of warmth,
euphoria, and connection to others
and causes them to give more generously
and to feel more empathy.
It’s the exact opposite of the vicious cycle of violence:
people on an “oxytocin high” can jump-start a virtuous circle,
where one person’s generous behavior triggers another’s.
So one person does a good deed for another,
and it inspires people who see it
to behave with compassion later, toward different people.
Maybe you’ve seen those TV ads for Liberty Mutual,
where one person’s small action helps someone
and is seen by a third,
who goes on to do a good deed for someone else.
That really happens.
Brain scientists have shown how altruism spreads
from person to person to person to person,
how one person’s goodness
can influence dozens or even hundreds of people,
some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.
It’s been 2000 years since Jesus called us to love one another,
2000 years since he said God’s reign is at hand,
that he said we would have peace.
Where is this peace in our world?
In Michigan, 16-year-old Hunter Gandee
found peace in the world last week
when he carried his disabled nine-year-old brother 110½ miles
to inspire people to embrace people with disabilities.
In Tennessee, Jacob Weiss and Joy Teal found peace—
and spread it, too—
when they asked the people they invited to their wedding
to skip the presents and donate instead
to a fund that gives micro-grants to local nonprofits.
In last Wednesday‘s talk on Luke’s gospel,
Fr. Jim Bacik shared a story about UT students
coming back from their service project in Haiti
to tell about the happiness they had seen
among people who lived in garbage dumps—
people whose faith taught them to live
with love for one another.
In Toledo, Julie is a coupon queen,
but she doesn’t keep her bargains for herself and her family.
On the first of every month she delivers peace to the world
in the form of hundreds of dollars worth
of food and household goods
to local efforts to help the needy among us.
Down at Claver House, a local firefighter
finds peace in the world every Tuesday
when he brings a package of cookies
to thank George for his service in the Navy.
There was great joy in the early Christian community.
It brought them peace, and it was noticed, and it spread.
They went about doing good, like Jesus had shown them,
and they were remarkable for the way they loved one another.
Their world was at peace.
We experience that same joy, that same peace,
in this community dedicated to the Holy Spirit,
in each of the ways we reach out as individuals
and as a community together in our social concerns ministry.
As theologian Elizabeth Johnson says,
it’s the Holy Spirit,
nothing less than God’s own loving self,
present and active in the world,
bringing new life to all peoples
and the whole of creation.
It’s truly the Holy Spirit in us.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor


Courageous Roman Catholic Woman Priest Slowly Healing From Acid Attack

This is a follow up article on our RCWP-USA-East priest,Rev. Alexandra Dyer, who was attacked with a lye like substance last August, from the New York Times, 4/28/2016 and in print in The NY Times on 4/29/2016 . Her amazing courage to take on this corruption and then to deal with the horrible aftermath of this attack is a testimony to the strength of her faith and a beacon of light to all who suffer, especially those who suffer when doing the right thing.  Please join us in prayer for Rev. Alexandra Dyer and for justice.  Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP-USA-East

Missing Money, a Vicious Attack and Slow Healing for a Charity’s Leader


D. Alexandra Dyer outside her office at the Healing Arts Initiative in Queens, where she is executive director. Ms. Dyer was the victim of a chemical attack in August. CreditChristian Hansen for The New York Times

D. Alexandra Dyer felt as though her face were on fire.

She put her car into drive, but got only a couple of hundred feet before she had to pull over in searing pain and squeeze her eyes shut.

Rescuers arrived as the caustic drain cleaner turned her face purple and dissolved her skin. As recounted later by her lawyer, she then screamed four words that they could not possibly comprehend.

“Kim Williams did this!”

Ms. Dyer had just left work on that hot evening last August in Long Island City, Queens. As she approached her car, parked on a deserted stretch of Skillman Avenue, a man she had never seen before was waiting for her.

“Can I ask you a question?” he said. Before she could answer, he flung a cupof drain cleaner in her face, and fled.

It was the terrifying climax of a three-year drama, with accusations of embezzlement, a cover-up and collusion at the last place one might expect it: a charity that brings musical performances and arts programs to New York City’s hospitalized, disabled, elderly and poor.

Three people have been arrested. Ms. Dyer, 60, who had recently been hired as executive director of the charity, Healing Arts Initiative, has undergone multiple operations to rebuild her face.

Among those charged is Ms. Williams, 47, the charity’s payroll manager, who is accused of stealing more than $750,000 and orchestrating the attack after Ms. Dyer questioned her about bookkeeping lapses. The defendants, including Ms. Williams, have proclaimed their innocence through their lawyers.

The account of the attack, and the tense months leading up to it, were described by Ms. Dyer’s lawyer, Ronald G. Russo, because prosecutors have instructed Ms. Dyer not to speak publicly since she is a witness in the case.

The fallout continues. This month, Ms. Dyer filed a lawsuit against the board of Healing Arts Initiative on behalf of the charity itself, saying board members let the thefts happen on their watch. The suit seeks their removal. (Mr. Russo, a former federal prosecutor, is Ms. Dyer’s lawyer in the suit.)

A lawyer for Healing Arts, David G. Samuels, declined to comment on Thursday because of the continuing suit.

Ms. Dyer, a seasoned nonprofit executive, had taken the helm of Healing Arts in July, joining one of the city’s better-established arts charities. It was started as Hospital Audiences Inc. in 1969 by a pianist named Michael Jon Spencer, after he played a recital to a rapt audience at the Manhattan State Psychiatric Center.

Over the years, Healing Arts grew to a $5-million-a-year operation that serves 350,000 people annually, through workshops and live performances. It provides handicapped seating at Shakespeare in the Park, presents concerts by Alvin Ailey dancers and runs a gallery for artists with mental illnesses.

But some staff members had noticed a surge of fiscal irregularities in the past couple of years, Mr. Russo said. Checks were bouncing. The credit cards that Healing Arts used to buy blocks of discount tickets for its clients were being refused.

The organization’s debt had ballooned from under $100,000 to over $2.2 million from 2012 to 2015, even as the executive director at the time, J. David Sweeny, cut the staff to 14 employees, from 28, and reduced the rent by moving the charity’s offices from SoHo to Queens.

At the heart of Healing Arts’ fiscal operation was Ms. Williams. She had been hired in 2011, through an agency called Professionals for Nonprofits, as a payroll clerk. Under Mr. Sweeny, she enjoyed wide latitude, especially after he got rid of the chief financial officer and did not replace her, Mr. Russo said.

Soon, she was effectively running the fiscal operations and had several other accounting employees reporting to her.

Ms. Williams, who had an apartment in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, seemed to live fairly well for someone who had started out at a yearly salary of $43,000 and had worked her way up to $60,000. She drove a late-model Mercedes, had a second home in Florida and posted about her shopping sprees on Facebook.

office computer called Virago Inc., which sold sex toys and offered online sex seminars.


But the real secret to Ms. Williams’s lifestyle, prosecutors and the police say, was that she stole prodigiously from Healing Arts, cutting checks to dozens of phantom employees and direct-depositing them into accounts controlled by her and her best friend, Pia Louallen.

“That’s how the whole financial thing got to us,” Lt. Alexander Fagiolo, commanding officer of the 108th Precinct detectives, said at a news conference this month.

From November 2012 through August 2015, according to prosecutors, Ms. Williams embezzled at least $750,000 — an average of more than $1,000 per workday. She kept $600,000 and gave the rest to Ms. Louallen, prosecutors said.

One longtime board member, Kitty Lunn, said that while she did not suspect that Ms. Williams was raiding the till, she was concerned about the declined credit cards and the checks that did not clear. She urged fellow board members to investigate.

In January 2015, the board hired a forensic accountant. His finding after several days of reviewing the books, according to Mr. Russo: “No improper transactions.”

Ms. Lunn, a paraplegic dancer who has headed her own nonprofit, was incredulous. In May 2015, she quit in frustration. “I said to the board, ‘There’s something funny going on with the money, and all of you are going to be responsible,’” she recalled.

By this time, Healing Arts was looking for a new executive director — Mr. Sweeny had left for another charity, though he remains on the Healing Arts board. (He declined to comment, referring all calls to the board president, D. Leslie Winter, who did not respond to voice mail messages.)

Enter Ms. Dyer, with an M.B.A. from Columbia and decades of experience managing nonprofits. She also holds a master’s degree in divinity, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest by a group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests and is co-leader of a congregation in Greenwich Village.

Concerned when her new colleagues told her about the money shortfalls and climbing debt, Ms. Dyer began digging around, Mr. Russo said. When she asked Ms. Williams for access to the accounting system, he said, Ms. Williams repeatedly stonewalled her.

On Aug. 17, Ms. Dyer introduced Ms. Williams to a new chief financial officer she planned to hire. His name was Frank Williams (no relation to Ms. Williams) and, Ms. Dyer told her, he was an expert fraud-sniffer who would decipher Healing Arts’ imbalanced books.

Ms. Williams suddenly came down with a toothache, Mr. Russo said, and left the office. Later that day, the police said, she bought drain cleaner at a supermarket in Queens with her credit card.

She was absent the next day, Aug. 18, claiming that she had to go for a dental procedure. Surveillance video revealed that she had come to the office at 6 a.m. and left with boxes of files, Mr. Russo said.

Ms. Williams never returned to work and stopped communicating with Healing Arts.

The day after that, on Aug. 19, Ms. Dyer was attacked.

She spent the next two months at the burn unit of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. But she continued to run Healing Arts from her second day in the hospital, Mr. Russo said, meeting with forensic accountants even though her eyelids were sewn shut, and fielding calls from colleagues.

More troubles surfaced, Mr. Russo said. Healing Arts, it turned out, was paying workers’ compensation premiums based on a payroll of $5.5 million, more than the charity’s entire budget. A company ledger showed a discrepancy of $480,000 that was noted simply as a “payment adjustment.”

While Ms. Dyer mended, the police and the Queens district attorney’s office labored to piece together the criminal case and tracked Ms. Williams, who was spending time in Florida.

In December, Ms. Dyer viewed a photo lineup and identified Jerry Mohammed, a 32-year-old from Troy, N.Y., with a record of drug-dealing convictions, as her assailant. Surveillance video taken the day of the attack shows him getting into a Mercedes belonging to Ms. Louallen, the police said.

On April 4, Mr. Mohammed and Ms. Louallen were arrested.

Ms. Williams fled, prosecutors said, but at 8:57 p.m. she was arrested behind the wheel of a white 2010 Mercedes E350 at a rest area on the New Jersey Turnpike. She was charged with two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of conspiracy, two counts of grand larceny, weapons possession, falsifying business records and 48 counts of identity theft. She is being held without bail and faces up to 25 years in prison.

Mr. Mohammed is charged with assault, conspiracy and weapons possession and also faces up to 25 years. Ms. Louallen is charged with grand larceny and conspiracy and faces up to 15 years.

Mr. Mohammed’s lawyer, Michael D. Siff, said on Wednesday that Ms. Dyer had picked someone other than his client at an in-person lineup in Queens on April 12. The district attorney’s office declined to comment.

Today, Ms. Dyer’s face is a pinkened map of scar tissue. One eye is red-rimmed and runs continuously. The other opens only partially, beneath an imperfectly restored eyelid. But she is back at work.

And Healing Arts continues its mission to bring cultural medicine to the sick and the injured. Ms. Dyer knows something of this firsthand.

Last September, as Ms. Dyer lay in her hospital bed, a folk singer named Kathy Lord, one of Healing Arts’s contractors, entered the room.

“I’ve seen a lot of things over the years, and that was probably just about as bad as it gets,” said Ms. Lord, who runs a nonprofit called Music That Heals.

“I said, ‘Alexandra, here I am, Music That Heals,’” Ms. Lord recalled. Knowing of Ms. Dyer’s faith, she sang the country gospel song “One Day at a Time.”

“One day at a time, sweet Jesus,” it goes. “That’s all I’m asking from you. / Just give me the strength / To do every day / What I have to do.”

Tears ran down Ms. Dyer’s ravaged face.

A version of this article appears in print on April 29, 2016, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Crime and Chaos Jolt a Haven of Philanthropy. Order Reprints| Today’s Paper|Subscribe


ThreeWomen Ordained Roman Catholic Priests In New Jersey

Members of the Eastern Region of RCWP- (Roman Catholic Womenpriests-)USA were  excited to travel to Morristown, New Jersey for the priestly ordination of three of our Deacons.
We regret that we (Revs. Judy Lee, Judy Beaumont and Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia) could not be there but we will be with the group  in October, God willing, when the group assembles again.
We rejoice in the  priestly ordinations on Saturday, April 23rd of Jacqueline Clarys, Sharon Dickinson and Claire Gareau!
 Bishop Andrea Johnson presided. 
 Thank you for your thoughts, prayers and well wishes for the newly ordained!
Eastern Region RCWP USA
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee, RCWP
Jacqueline M. Clarys's photo.


Jacqueline Clarys says: My priestly ordination: April 23, 2016, RCWP-USA, Eastern Region. Ordained at the Church of the Redeemer, Morristown, NJ.


Cait Finnegan -Grenier says:  Blessings on her ministry!

Michael Keefe:  Congratulations!

Chava Redonnet's photo.
  • April 24 at 9:48pm ·

    “About half our region of Roman Catholic Women Priests was present for yesterday’s ordinations in Morristown, NJ… and that’s just one region! Do you realize how much this movement has grown?!”

     Opening this door in this year of mercy…three Roman Catholic Womenpriests ordained this weekend in Morristown, NJ. S
Chava Redonnet's photo.

Catherine Farren says:  Congratulations, Sharon!! I’m so happy for you.!!!!!!



Second African American Woman to Be Ordained a Roman Catholic Woman Priest

Deacon Donnieau Snyder of Fresno, California to be ordained a Roman Catholic Priest on Saturday April, 30,2016.

A slight correction to the article below from the Fresno Bee online. RCWP world-wide has over 200 ordained priests and transitional deacons.  JL

Deacon Donnieau Snyder of Stanislaus County will be ordained as a reverend in the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement during a ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 30 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 3973 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno. RAZI SYED

Ordination ceremony for Donnieau Snyder of Roman Catholic Womenpriests

Deacon Donnieau Snyder of Stanislaus County will be ordained as a reverend in the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement during a ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 30, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 3973 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno.

The Roman Catholic Church issued its clearest opposition to the Womenpriests in 2008 by announcing that they and the bishops who ordain them would be excommunicated. Snyder’s ordination will make her the first female priest from the region, the second black female priest and the 125th worldwide.

“The Roman Catholic Church has yet to open their doors to women in recognizing their call,” Snyder said during a Fresno news conference April 14, “but the spirit will move regardless.”

Donnieau Snyder
Donnieau Snyder
womandeacon 2014




Donnieau Snyder, PhD is a member of New Spirit Rising, an inclusive Catholic faith community located in Fresno, CA. She loves and is deeply devoted to the various facets of her ministry which includes serving her faith community, religious education, working with homeless veterans dually diagnosed with mental health needs and substance abuse issues, as well as working with homeless teens and young adults. Her ministry work stretches across California’s central valley and the San Francisco bay area. She has a deep passion for social justice which includes advocating for women’s leadership across all faiths, community outreach to assist with appropriate access to mental health services and providing education about mental health. Dr. Snyder was ordained a deacon on September 06, 2014.

Vatican Dialogues with Women Priests


Guest Post on the Women’s Ordination Conference Blog -The Table-By Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Rev. Jane Via and Rev. Janice Sevre-Dusynska on their Holy Thursday Witness Outside the Vatican in Washington DC, 3/24/16 when US Papal Nuncio Carlo Maria Vigano spoke with them on the steps of the Embassy.

From Condemnation to Conversation: Vatican Dialogues with Women Priests 4/19/16. 

From 2002 through 2016, the Vatican has condemned the ordination of women priests. Since the ordination of  “The Danube Seven” in 2002, the Vatican has tried a number of strategies to quash our movement: excommunication, silencing, shunning, firing and ignoring. Now ten years since the first U.S. ordinations on the boat in Pittsburgh, the door has been opened for the first time.

12042642_10156649068295368_1510251452953464461_nDuring Holy Week, March 24, the feast day of Oscar Romero, in the era of Pope Francis and his Year of Mercy, a conversation — turbulent at first — began.

Outside the Vatican Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C. on Holy Thursday, March 24th the three of us — two women priests – Jane Via and Janice Sevre-Duszynska, and one excommunicated male priest –Roy Bourgeois — washed the feet of supporters on the sidewalk in front of the embassy as cars and buses passed on the busy road.

We prayed and shared our statement of purpose to Pope Francis and the Catholic Church calling for the full and equal inclusion of women and LGBT people.  We read from Scripture, and prayed again this time that church leaders would remember Jesus’ teaching to be servant leaders and love all disciples as Jesus had. We thanked those who gathered with us, re-read our statement of purpose lifted up our signs, and – still in albs and stoles – stepped onto Vatican property and walked toward the door. We had no idea how our action would play out.

Before we crossed the circle drive, suddenly filled with police vehicles, we were surrounded and intercepted by Secret Service officers announcing we were trespassing on private property and had to leave. We walked past and through them to the door where Roy posted our statement then rang the doorbell. To our surprise, the door opened and Roy was able to hand in a manila envelope with a signed copy of our statement asking that it be forwarded to Pope Francis. Then, we turned to face the street holding our signs for passing traffic to see. They read: Pope Francis: Ordain Women, God IS Calling Women To Be Priests and God Created US All Equal – Gay & Straight.

10649795_10156649068380368_3534668190522680447_nThe officers began the ritual notice: “You are on private property. If you don’t leave, you will be arrested. Do you understand?” Over the next two hours, one supervisor after another, each higher than the former, arrived at the embassy and spoke with us. There were pauses for radio calls, the arrival of even higher supervisors and then the announcements would begin again. The highest authority, who arrived in a suit, announced that he was from the State Department. He threatened us with the dire state of the D.C. jail and “the very bad people” we would share space with if we were arrested.

Intermittently, two to three officers would disappear around the side of the palace-like building to confer with the Papal Nuncio and staff. Eventually, the officers told us the Nuncio would like to meet with one of us, specifically a woman. We declined the invitation, suggesting the officer tell the Nuncio we would meet if all of us were invited. After all, we were only three people, not a crowd of protesters. Told, “That was not the invitation,” we remained silent.

The day became hot. We were dressed too warmly in order not to be cold in jail if we were held. The sun beat down on us. Above, the Papal flag, yellow and white, fluttering in the breeze, provided occasional relief, blocking the sun.

More negotiations between the officers and the Nuncio followed, until officers announced the Nuncio would come to us.

He came up the steps and onto the porch alone, while his staff remained in the driveway. Officers joined him on the steps, standing on either side and behind us. Wearing a Roman collar, the man introduced himself by title and, although we asked him several times, he declined to give his name.

524771_10156649068230368_4349012172086201206_nHe engaged Roy first, who tried to speak for LGBT people, how they suffer because of church teaching, and of God’s love for all people. The Nuncio kept interrupting him. He was arrogant, insolent in style and tone, lecturing us on church teaching, as if its truth was self-evident. The exchange became heated, raised voices talking over one another. Officers closed in on Roy, ready to restrain him if needed.  Janice intervened: “The Church’s teaching creates suffering for LGBT people and they are murdered in Africa and Latin America.” “They commit suicide,” Roy said and shared the difficulties of someone in his own family. The Nuncio replied that the church didn’t kill anyone; these people had their own consciences; they made their own decisions.

The Nuncio then invited one of us women priests to talk with him inside the embassy. We looked at each other, then said: “No, it would have to be all three of us in solidarity.”

Roy told him that the church was hurting women and itself by not ordaining women. The Nuncio said that issue had been a closed door since John Paul II.

“You need to read Catholic theologians Gary Macy and Dorothy Irving,” Janice said as he looked at her intently. “Their research gives evidence of women’s leadership in early Christianity including deaconesses, presbyteras and bishops up until the 12th century.” His face revealed no hint of surprise. “The US church has lost 33 million Catholics because its leadership has refused to hear the voice of the Spirit within the people who embrace women priests and LGBTs. There is a connection,” Janice said, “between the church’s oppression of women and violence toward women and their children in the world.” He responded that the church isn’t responsible for violence in the world.

Janice Sevre-Duszynska, 2013 Getty Image

When the Nuncio finally approached Jane, after again refusing to give his name despite very polite inquiry, told us he had been Nuncio since 2011, disclosing his identity as Carlo Maria Vigano, the Nuncio responsible for inviting Kim Davis — who refused to follow federal law and give marriage licenses to GLBT people — to meet Pope Francis, sparking a media firestorm and public outrage that the Pope embraced Davis and encouraged her to keep up her good work. Then Vigano, in an indignant and derisive tone asked, “Where did you get those?” in reference to the alb and stole Jane was wearing. The irrelevance of the question resulted in Jane’s blank stare and his move away. His comment reminded us of the Rome police asking Janice the same question in front of St. Peter’s Square before detaining her during the March 2013 papal Conclave.

As he was leaving, we told the Nuncio we would stay until we were assured Pope Francis received our statement of purpose. He said Francis would eventually get the statement – which he said he already read. As he neared the side of the building to return into the Embassy, he said, “You can stay as long as you like. If you need something to eat or drink let us know.”

Shortly afterwards, officers explained that the Nuncio declined to arrest us. We could stay. Most officers departed, leaving only two vehicles, on at each side of the circular drive.

Minutes later, we heard noise above us as we stood on the porch, holding our signs. Looking up, we saw the Papal flag disappearing into the embassy.

It was afternoon by now. We had had nothing to eat or drink since our early, light breakfast. We were glad we were fasting, delaying the inevitable as long as possible. We talked further about our witness here on the steps of the Vatican Embassy, the Nuncio’s choice not to arrest us, and how to proceed. We decided we would “occupy” the porch and lawn of the embassy for 24 hours from the time our trespass began. We would sleep on the porch of the Vatican Embassy on Holy Thursday.

Vatican8During the hours between 1pm and 8pm, Roy stood with his banner on the Vatican’s porch while Jane — whose arm was in a cast from her wrist to her elbow — and Janice held our signs for women priests and LGBT equality on the lawn until nightfall. We attracted the attention of thousands of drivers on busy Massachusetts Avenue, many who gave us thumbs-up or tooted their horns in approval. We also made friends with John Wojnowski, 73, who was sexually abused when he was 14 by a priest in Italy. John, who has been protesting with his huge sign – accusing the Vatican of protecting pedophiles — outside the embassy for 17 years, told us the incident changed who he was. “I’ve lived with the idea of committing suicide everyday (since),” he said.

As night fell, the wind picked up and it grew colder. We sat on the embassy porch bundled in our light jackets as a number of police squads pulled up. A plainclothes secret serviceman told us we would be arrested on his way to talk with the Nuncio. Meanwhile, friends arrived to take Jane and Janice to a restroom and provide water and blankets. We took only one blanket each, thinking we would spend the night in jail where the activists’ rule is: have your ID and metro card only. Roy had a different perspective. Throughout the day, he repeatedly told us, “The Vatican is not going to arrest women priests.”

Not long after our friends left, the secret serviceman announced, “The ambassador says it’s okay for you to stay overnight.” Initially too wired to sleep, we sat talking. About midnight, another friend and supporter arrived with wine and paper cups. Having had no solid food since early morning and few liquids, we drank cautiously. As the day had become night, the warmth became cold, and the wine warmed us and relaxed us.

Eventually, we laid down in a row, our heads next to the embassy door, with one thin blanket between us and the concrete and our stoles as our pillows. We cocooned ourselves in our individual blankets, warm but not warm enough, draped our signs over our blankets, and tried to sleep.

Friday morning, we woke to a cold but sunny morning. We left Roy to hold down the porch while we sought restrooms and coffee. Then we returned to the lawn and traffic for more witnessing.


At 10:00 a.m., 24 hours after our trespass began, we prayed with one another and packed to leave. As we stood on the sidewalk, the Nuncio came down the driveway toward us. His attitude was completely different. He acknowledged our courage and thanked us for being nonviolent. He said he wanted to shake our hands before we left.  He told us that Francis knew we were there and that Francis had received our statement. Another discussion began, but this time, he allowed us to speak. Though he never showed agreement, he listened. He expressed his belief that the demise of the Protestant churches is the result of the ordination of women and that LGBT people are as they are due to some sin in them. We gave him brief condensed versions of our most basic arguments. At his request, his priest companion, who was watching our interchange, took photos of us standing together and smiling.

As we were preparing to leave a cyclist passed us, then stopped and backed up. A young woman of about thirty, she smiled at us and asked if we were there the day before witnessing to women’s ordination. When we acknowledged we were, she thanked us and launched into a description of the theology course she was taking at Georgetown, their study of Canon 1024 (which says only a baptized male can be ordained) and her conviction that change in the church was so important. At that point, and for the first time, she looked directly at the Nuncio, the only one among us wearing a Roman collar, and said, “I hope that you decision-makers will be supportive.” With a smile and a wave, off she went. The three of us watched her go in amazement.

At one point in the conversation, Janice turned to address the priest who introduced himself as the Nuncio’s councilor. He repeated what the Nuncio had said before:  that the Church receives its instructions from God. Janice responded that Holy Spirit Wisdom, Sophia Wisdom, works through the church, especially the people of God, and transforms our thinking; that women are in need of feminine images of God because without them there is damage to our souls; that men can be filled with hubris and arrogance from not experiencing feminine images of God; that we need women to celebrate Eucharist – as womenpriests do – with our sacred, holy, feminine bodies.  Janice asked him if he was aware of femicide in our world. “We need the Gospels interpreted from the experience of women living and dying,” she said. “God speaks through the Church,” he replied.

Janice looked at him and smiled as a thought came through. “Didn’t St. Francis of Assisi teach the church?” she asked. His eyes lit up and he smiled. “So do women priests and the LGBT community,” she added.

Farewells said, including handshakes and Italian kisses on the cheeks, the Nuncio left and we climbed into a cab.

We reflected on how events had unfolded in unimaginable and remarkable ways. We think the Spirit moved all of us, in and out of the embassy, so that seeds were planted in the hearts of decision-makers; but only time will tell. For us, a night in the DC Metropolitan jail sharing a bare metal bed with herds of cockroaches, will have to wait for another day. Meanwhile, perhaps the Vatican is listening…Like the persistent widow of Luke’s gospel, we keep knocking at those decision makers’ doors.

More photos from this witness, by Bob Cooke

Holy Thursday Prayer Ritual, by Jane Via and Janice Sevre-Duszynska

Bridget Mary Meehan’s Blog on the witness, including the Statement delivered to the Nuncio

Conservative Vigano is out as Vatican Nuncio to US-Pierre is in

Pope Francis continues in making choices for the people and for inclusivity and compassion:

From La Stampa Italian News-Vatican Insider, World News:

Pope appoints French-born Christophe Pierre, as the New Nuncio to the United States

Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Christophe Pierre to succeed Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò as nuncio (that is, ambassador) to the United States of America

Archbishop Christophe Pierre

April 12,2016
 Pope Francis has appointed the French-born Archbishop Christophe Pierre, one of the Holy See’s most distinguished and respected diplomats, as the new Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.


The Vatican made the announcement, April 12, after the Holy See received the formal agreement from the Obama administration. He succeeds Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò who served as nuncio to the United States since 10 October 2011. The Italian archbishop now ends his long years of service to the Holy See, and will retire to his homeland.

At the time of his new assignment, Archbishop Pierre was nuncio to Mexico, a position he has held with considerable distinction for the past nine years, since March 22, 2007. He comes to Washington D.C as an experienced diplomat, with first-hand knowledge of the dramatic plight of migrants from Central America and Mexico to the United States, and will be able to give voice to Pope Francis’ concern for them.

As nuncio, he will be the Holy See’s point man in relations with the US Administration and with the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB). One of his most important roles will be the identification of candidates to be bishops in this country. Pope Francis has already outlined clearly the qualities he wants to see in future bishops, and the new Nuncio will ensure this is reflected in the names he presents to Rome.

Archbishop Pierre, 70, is the first Frenchman to be appointed as Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. A polyglot, he speaks English and Spanish fluently. He is “a pastor”, known for his “humility and simplicity” and is “excellent on all fronts”, a source who knows him well confided. A fellow nuncio described him as “a thoughtful, hardworking man”, and “good listener” with “a great sense of fairness and balanced judgment.”

Pope Francis got to know him well as he prepared for his recent visit to Mexico, and so liked him that he decided to assign him this highly important mission.

Before going to Mexico, Archbishop Pierre had served with distinction as nuncio to Uganda (1999-2007) and Haiti (1995-1999). While in Uganda, John Paul II sent him to Burundi to oversee the Holy’s See’s diplomatic mission there following the assassination of the papal nuncio to that country, the Irish-born archbishop Michael Courtney, on December 29, 2004. He celebrated the funeral mass for the former nuncio at the Regina Mundi Cathedral in Bujumbura on Dec 30, attended by thousands of people. He remained in the country until the pope appointed Archbishop Paul Gallagher (now Secretary for Relations with States) as the new nuncio there.

Gifted with a good sense of humor and a deep voice, the new nuncio can captivate an audience. According to The Vision, Uganda’s leading daily, he is a man who goes among the people, is ready to help anyone regardless of status.

Born in Rennes, France on January 30, 1946, he spent the greater part of his childhood and early education in Africa, mainly in Madagascar, with some years in Malawi, Zimbabwe and one in Morocco. He entered the seminary of Saint-Yves in Rennes at the age of 17, but interrupted his studies to do his two-years of military service (1965-’66).

Ordained priest for the archdiocese of Rennes in April 1970, he served as assistant priest in a parish in the diocese of Nanterre for the next three years. He subsequently gained a Master’s degree in theology from the Institute Catholique de Paris, and a doctorate in Canon Law in Rome.

He entered the Holy See’s diplomatic service in 1977 after studying at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome, where its diplomats are trained. He was subsequently assigned to serve in its diplomatic missions in New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Brazil, and as Permanent Observer to the United Nations office in Geneva. He therefore comes to his new post with considerable experience in both bilateral and multilateral diplomacy.

Archbishop Pierre is expected to take up his new position within two months, a Vatican source told America.

Note: This article was first published in America Media and magazine, and is reproduced here with permission

 And about Nuncio Vigano:
From The Washington Post:
Pope Francis is reportedly appointing a new ambassador to the United States

By Julie Zauzmer March 10
The Vatican will appoint Archbishop Christophe Pierre to be the new ambassador to the United States, replacing an ambassador whose tenure has sparked controversy, reports say.

The Jesuit news organization America and longtime Vatican reporter Sandro Magister said Thursday that they expect Pierre will be appointed the Apostolic Nuncio, though the Holy See has not yet announced its choice for the position.

Pierre, 70, who was born in France, speaks fluent English and has served the Catholic Church as a diplomat all over the world, dating to 1977, America reported. His most recent job — following terms as nuncio to Uganda and Haiti — is nuncio to Mexico.

In moving from Mexico to the United States, he might bring to Washington an emphasis on immigration issues, particularly at the U.S.-Mexico border where Pope Francis recently visited to offer a prayer.

[Pope Francis prays for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border]

America said that the Vatican normally would not declare that someone has been nominated to this diplomatic position until the White House approved the Vatican’s choice of ambassador.

The current Vatican ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, has reached the statutory retirement age, according to America.

Viganò was in the spotlight in September, when he hosted an unexpected meeting at his D.C. residence between Pope Francis and Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, inflaming a nationwide debate over her decision.

In the whirl of questions over why Francis had met Davis on his trip to the United States and who had planned the encounter, the Vatican said that Davis was “invited by the Nuncio” and referred questions about why Davis was on the guest list to Viganò’s office.

[No one wants to talk about how the Pope Francis-Kim Davis meeting was arranged]

Viganò was often more outspoken in his antagonism to same-sex marriage than others in the church. And before his appointment to Washington, he made enemies in the Vatican when he tried to enforce (financial) reforms while he worked for Pope Benedict XVI.

This Is What a Rich Businessman in Government Does Consistently

A foreshadowing of a Donald Trump in power, Gov. Scott consistently acts against the poor and working poor:

From Daily Kos 4/18/16

Governor Rick Scott
Despite unanimously passing, Florida governor vetoes bill aimed at helping poor and rural residents

Governor Rick Scott is at it again, coming up with new ways for the residents of Florida to despise him. This time, it is denying dental care to Florida’s poor and more rural residents. He vetoed a bill to that unanimously passed both chambers of the Florida legislature:

The bill (HB 139), filed by state Rep. Travis Cummings, had been passed unanimously by both chambers of the Legislature in the 2016 Legislative Session.

It created a grants program aimed at dentists to serve patients in counties with a shortage of dentists or in otherwise “medically underserved areas.” The grants, anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000, were to be administered by the Department of Health.

In his veto letter, Scott said he agreed that “maintaining good oral health is integral to the overall health of Florida families.” But he added he could not “support a program that does not place appropriate safeguards on taxpayer investments.”

Do you know how hard it is to get unanimous support for any bill in this day and age? Harder than finding a dentist in rural Florida.

More reaction from

A representative of the Florida Dental Association said the group was “disappointed” because the legislation “would have provided significant support for promoting dental care, economic development and job growth in underserved areas of Florida.”

“The challenges of accessing routine dental care have critically impacted the health and success of Florida communities, especially in rural areas,” said Joe Anne Hart, the FDA’s Director of Governmental Affairs. “The results are repeated visits to the emergency room for preventable dental problems, missed days of school due to toothaches, and lower GPAs and graduation rates.”


The Black Sheep-RC Women Priests: A Homily

We are pleased to present this astute homily with an interesting comparison by Roman Catholic Woman Priest, Rev.Dr. Gloria R. Carpeneto of The Living Waters Catholic Community in  Baltimore, Maryland.

Gloria R. Carpeneto, Homily
4th Sunday of Easter, Cycle C
April 17, 2016

Acts 13:14,43-52; Revelation 7:9, 14-17; John 10:27-30; Psalm 100, We are God’s people, the sheep of God’s pasture.

Way back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, Andrea Johnson and I were ordained on the same day – she a priest, and I a deacon. Many people sitting here today were with us in Judson Memorial Church in the Village in New York on July 14, 2007 when that ordination took place.

There are lots of memories that I know we each carry of that day, not the least of which is that it was Bastille Day, July 14. And so it was that for the first time in the United States, Roman Catholic women priests emerged from the waters where our ordinations had taken place since 2002. We crawled up out of the rivers and onto land for our first ordinations on terra firma here in the United States. And, in at least a figurative sense, we promptly stormed the Bastille on that July 14.

If you remember any of your French history, it was in 1789 that the working class citizens of France had had enough of taxation and oppression by what we might call today “the 1%.” They had been emboldened by the American Revolution a few years before, and they were in rebellion. Turns out, they had plenty of guns, but little ammunition. So they stormed the Bastille where the government’s ammunition was stored.

French peasants were trying to liberate ammunition from the control of the aristocracy when they stormed the Bastille. But Roman Catholics who supported the ordination of women in our Church  were trying to liberate the very life of our church from centuries of control by a monolithic hierarchical structure. French peasants in 1789 and Roman Catholic Women Priests on the Danube in 2002 – all either of us really wanted was justice. We wanted our voices to be heard and we wanted our votes to count for something


And just as Marie Antoinette,  in her naïve arrogance, may have wanted the peasants to eat cake, centuries of hierarchical clericalism in our Church had left Roman Catholic women – all Roman Catholic women —  with little to eat but obedience, subservience and tasteless canon law.

So there we were in 2007 – storming the Bastille, excommunicating ourselves, and (depending on which canon lawyer you talked to) maybe even dragging everyone in the church that day (and today) down with us. Bishop Patricia Fresen was our ordaining bishop. And in an act of defiance, as Patricia began her homily she placed a black sheep on the altar.

I never got a copy of Patricia’s homily. But I do remember her telling Andrea, Gabriella, Eleanora and myself  that we were all black sheep … that it would be a very long time before the Church welcomed us in again … that we were taking a fateful step outside the fold … and that there would be consequences.

Now all shepherds know that in most flocks, nearly all the sheep will be white. But a  recessive gene will always produce a black sheep or two. The wool of a black sheep is not as valuable as a white sheep’s wool. It’s wiry, and it’s not soft. It can’t be dyed any colors. It’s hard to weave black wool. Black sheep are anomalies. But they will always be there, and they are not without value. They are actually genetically helpful to the fold, and good shepherds always want their flocks to produce a few black sheep.

So unless I’m reading John’s Gospel today incorrectly, Jesus makes no distinction between black sheep and white sheep. He doesn’t say excommunicate the black ones, and  invite the white ones to be on the faculty of Catholic University. He doesn’t say that the white ones can preside at Eucharist, but the black ones can polish the brass. Instead, Jesus says to us today, I am the Good Shepherd. My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me. They belong to me — every last one, no exceptions.


In the Book of Revelation, it’s Jesus who promises to shelter his sheep forever. It’s Jesus who says that all those sheep who reside with him in eternity will never again be hungry or thirsty. The sun will never beat down on them, because Jesus is their shepherd, who will lead his flock to springs of living water, and wipe every last tear from their eye. We belong to him – every last one of us, no exceptions.

And for those of us who are the black sheep – those outside the system, like Paul and Barnabas, all of us in Judson Memorial on July 14, 2007, and all of us worshiping here as the Living Water Community today – we are assured  that the Spirit of the Living God will always give us courage to storm the Bastille and share the Gospel message of justice, inclusion and equality for all. Like Paul and Barnabas, those black sheep among us may encounter  jealousy, revulsion, betrayal and expulsion from our synagogues. But we know we are absolutely necessary to the life of the flock. Like Paul and Barnabas in the early church (before it turned into the Bastille), we are buoyed by the grace of God, and courageous in speaking out the message we heard proclaimed in our Gospel today. Jew and Gentile, slave and free, old and young, black and white, gay and straight, male and female — we all belong to Jesus – every last one of us, no exceptions.

Our responsorial psalm today was a beautiful one – We are God’s people, the flock of our God. So let’s remember just how good it is to be in that flock.

  • It’s good to be a white sheep; it’s good to love our Church, to appreciate our history and traditions, to be grounded in a sacramental / liturgical  tradition that feeds us all.
  • But it’s also good to be a black sheep; it’s good to call our Church on the carpet when that’s needed, to speak out when there is injustice, to say something when there is hypocrisy.

We are God’s people, the sheep of the flock. And we cry out with joy every day that our God is good and loves all of us – white sheep, black sheep, inside the Bastille or out of it – every last one, absolutely no exceptions.
In the foreground

Belonging to God: Two RCWP Homilies for Easter 4 April 17,2016

In today’s Gospel (John 10: 27-30) Jesus is possessive of his followers-“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life…No one can take them out of my hand….and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.” Well, this old sheep is comforted and challenged by this message. I rest in Jesus’ arms, and in the Father/Mother’s arms. When life hits you from every side-with the horrors of violence, and illness and many causes for anxiety, it is good to know where you belong and feel sheltered and cared for.

The metaphor of the Good Shepherd in which Jesus is claiming both “Messiah-ship” and oneness with the Father  who will not let us go, works for me. I was a city kid and only knew sheep from magazines and coloring books until adulthood, but I was gifted early with a love for all animals and a sense of kinship with all of creation. Then and now I have no trouble thinking of myself as a sheep. But when Good Shepherd Sunday came a few years back one five year old raised her hand as I went on about the sheep. She had not yet learned that she can comment after the homily but not in the middle but she was so insistent that I finally asked what she wanted to say. She said” I am not a sheep, I am a girl”. An older kid answered quickly “there are girl sheep and boy sheep, and tried to explain why Christ’s followers are called sheep. She remained indignant. So I said, “okay then, Jesus is saying “MY girls and boys and women and men know my voice….and follow me-no one can take my children away….” She nodded and we could proceed.

(Some of the sheep and lambs, God’s beloved children.)


(Below, Pastor Judy Lee and RCWP Candidate  Maria Elena Sierra Sanchez in Colombia with goats-okay-not quite sheep..)

So if you are one who does not accept metaphoric connection to farm animals, or never saw a sheep or shepherd, accept that God is claiming you,and claiming us as God’s very own-knowing you inside and out and never letting go of you even if you are squirming away for a spell. And if you land at the edge of a precipice, God’s got your back. The earlier part of John 10 says “I lay down my life for the sheep”( 10:14), and for my other sheep “that are not of this pen”. What kind of love is this? All-inclusive love,not just “my kind” but all human kind.  Love that has a claim on us, love that gives it all away for us, love from the wonderful God that we belong to forever. Wow!  No matter what we have to deal with, and in our community is unspeakable grief due to violence, the murder of a mother; the drive by shooting of young people and children, the loss of children; the whispered pain and shame of the family of a shooter,( ‘pray for him he is a murderer’, she asked); a murder- suicide leaving four children without a parent though Grandma steps up; and the  ravages of untreated illnesses and the struggles with difficult treatable diseases as well often compounded by the insecurity of not being able to pay the next bill and returning to homelessness. And,the feelings of helplessness many of us have as we see our loved ones living at the precipice are only mitigated by knowing that God IS there. Through it all, we are not alone, we have a safe haven and loving arms encircling us. God’s own arms,often presented in the arms of others. But sometimes, by yourself in the middle of the night God’s arms encircle,God’s voice speaks ever so gently and you know that you are not alone.

Today,4/16, Pope Francis and the Prelates of the Greek Orthodox and Eastern Ecumenical Church literally walked with and embraced and strongly advocated for the Syrian Refugees in Greece on the Island of Lesbos at the Moria Refugee Camp. Many are facing deportation from this Camp. As I watched their emotional faces on TV as they reached out to these frightened  people with love and compassion, I knew the Good Shepherd was still caring for the most lost and bedraggled of the sheep. How beautiful it is when our leaders do show us the way. Pope Francis has made a home in the Vatican for three Syrian Muslim families,6 adults and 6 children. He is showing us by example not only words how to care for the sheep not of “this pen”. He is showing us how to build bridges and not walls in every aspect of this visit. I thank God for him and for the Greek Prelates who lead the way this very day.

And, I ask Pope Francis to make a bridge for his Roman Catholic Women Priests who also “smell of sheep”  to meet with him in serious communication and be welcomed back home.

Thank God, thank Jesus Christ,we belong to God and life is ours now and forever-nothing can separate us from the love of Christ! Amen!

Rev Dr. Judy Lee,RCWP-Co-Pastor, The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community

And Rev. Dr. Beverly Bingle’s insightful homily:

“John’s gospel went through two or three editions by several authors
before it reached its current form 70 to 80 years after Jesus.
The community that developed it, known as the “Johannine Community,”
searched for its identity as a community in relation to the Hebrew
And it was concerned to present a narrative framework
that would support Jesus’ status as the Messiah.
As a result, today‘s passage has Jesus use
the traditional scriptural image of the shepherd and sheep
to answer a question about messiahship.
In our first reading we see Paul and Barnabas doing that same kind of
thing, too,
quoting scriptures to support their message.
And Pope Francis uses scripture
to convey his message in Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love,
the apostolic exhortation he issued last week.
Just as Paul and Barnabas apply scripture to the situation in Antioch,
and just as Pope Francis applies scripture to his exhortation on family,
so do we.
Whether we’re reading John’s gospel
or Luke’s Acts of the Apostles
or Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia,
we look at the time and the context
and listen to what it means for us in our time.
So the gospel verses about Jesus as the Messiah can speak to us;
Jesus talking about his unity with God can speak to us;
the metaphor of the sheep and the shepherd can speak to us.
One of the messages that stands out in all three of today‘s readings
is that life is not perfect
for people who live a life of faith in God,
and the way is not always clear.
Paul and Barnabas meet opposition
and get thrown out of town.
They shake the dust from their feet in protest
and go on to preach in another place.
Jesus is challenged by some of his countrymen
and tries to help them see what he’s about
and what God’s about.
He meets opposition, too.
In the verses after today‘s passage,
some of the crowd pick up rocks to stone him,
so he continues trying to teach, citing scripture.
Then they try to arrest him,
but he leaves Jerusalem and heads across the Jordan.
Francis’ apostolic exhortation is meeting opposition, too.
It’s not enough for the progressives,
and it’s too much for the traditionalists.
It’s easy to be critical.
Pope Francis certainly has an obvious blind spot
when it comes to women,
typical of the culture he was formed in.
And he uses exclusive patriarchal language.
Still, he sees the working of the Spirit in the women’s movement,
saying that to blame feminism for today‘s problems
is invalid, false, untrue, a form of male chauvinism.
He seems to be trying to revive the spirit of Vatican II
and lead the church in a better direction,
and that gives me much hope for the future.

He sees us as a church on the way,
not a church with the right answers.
The Pope tells priests to help people use their own consciences
when they make decision,
saying they’re “capable of carrying out their own discernment
in complex situations.”
He calls for dialogue as essential to Christian life.
He practices subsidiarity, calling on the bishops
to take local customs and practices into account in a pastoral way
and not to lay down a one-size-fits-all dogmatic rule.
He celebrates diversity and encourages unity… but not uniformity.
Most of all, he returns to the way of Jesus
in calling all the faithful to discern their own situation
and exercise their own conscience.
Our tradition gives us models of faithfulness:
Jesus teaching and healing in spite of the consequences,
Paul and Barnabas preaching in spite of opposition,
Francis exhorting us to prayer and discernment
as we follow our vocation…
and the members of our own community
questioning and studying and discerning the way.
Francis ends his exhortation with a prayer that fits every one of us.
He says,
“May we never lose heart because of our limitations,
or ever stop seeking that fullness of love and communion
which God holds out before us.”

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006


Obey only God, Love and Serve! Third Sunday of Easter, 4/10/16

In today’s Gospel, John 21:1-19, we have the Risen Christ teaching us once again how to fish, and equating love and service. After Jesus’ crucifixion the disciples were lost and scared and went back to their old jobs of fishing. In order to fish for people they needed to know he was very much alive and it is not surprising that he instructs them again from the shores of Lake Genesaret,  the sea of Galilee where they first met. It has always been a wonder to me that Jesus asked for Peter’s love, not his professions or allegiance or beliefs but for his love as shown in service in “feeding the sheep,  ewes, and lambs” the men, women and children of the world.  We cannot claim to be Christians if we are full of right words but empty of love expressed in action for healing, justice and peace. It is love that transforms us and enables us to serve, even when the going gets rough as it did for Jesus. It is Love that brings us through suffering and death into life. It is love in relation and in prophetic obedience to our God that keeps us going and gives meaning to our lives. It is love that will bring on the kindom of God here and now so that we can fulfill Christ’s Messianic mission and our own reasons for being in this world. Cast the nets and bring on the love!

Below is Rev. Beverly Bingle’s inspirational homily for today. I love her point about the 153 fish as a count of all the types of fish known at the time, hence, the call is to bring in everyone with our loving service. Bring everyone , as Revelation 5:11-14 says, to cry out blessing and honor to our God-to live lives of compassion, mercy, peace and justice.. Bring everyone to change mourning into dancing (Psalm 30). And obey no one except God in preaching and living the Gospel as the first reading in Acts(5:27-32,40-41) tells us. This is particularly so for those who have been forbidden to accept God’s call to Holy Orders because they are women.  We echo Peter “We must obey God rather than men”. And being ordered to stop speaking of Jesus ,they “left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name”. Rejoice! Thanks be to God!

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP, Co-Pastor The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida

And now Rev. Dr. Beverly Bingle’s Homily: 

When I read that passage from the Acts of the Apostles,
my first thought is
that things haven’t changed a whole lot in 2,000 years.
Religious authorities are still telling people—
telling laypeople and theologians and clergy
and especially women—
to obey them instead of obeying God.
Fortunately, as with those first disciples,
some folks these days stay faithful to God
by keeping on:
proclaiming the word,
getting excomunicated,
and staying in the church speaking out.
Others stay faithful to God by walking away.
Then I read that passage from Revelation
and hear that those voices crying out in praise are
“every creature in heaven
and on earth and under the earth and in the sea,
everything in the universe.”
But our Catholic hierarchy
continues to excommunicate the divorced who remarry
and LGBT folks who live in committed relationships.
They continue to require Mass prayers in antiquated language
unrelated to the spiritual experience of 21st century Christians.
And there’s a long list of people they have silenced
for applying Vatican II teachings
to theology and ecclesiology and spirituality.
And then there’s that passage we hear from John’s Gospel.
Scripture scholars agree that this chapter, Chapter 21,
was written later and added on to John’s Gospel,
which really ended at Chapter 20.
They agree that just about every detail in this appearance story
creates difficult problems
and leads to speculative adjustments.
For example, scholars notice that this passage says
it’s Jesus’ third appearance,
but it’s really the fourth one in John’s gospel.
Some of them think the author left out
Jesus’ first appearance to Mary of Magdala
because she was a leader in the early Christian movement
and the Johannine community
was arguing for Peter as the leader.
Others think they didn’t count Mary of Magdala
because, in that culture, the witness of women didn’t count.
Many scholars think that this fish story at the end of John’s gospel
comes from the same experience
as the story of the miraculous catch
at the beginning of Luke’s gospel.
In that light, it’s significant that both gospel writers
use the incident to teach about Jesus’ call to follow his way—
the call to discipleship.
And scholars agree
that the meanings in this passage are deeply symbolic.
Peter decides to go fishing, and his friends go along.
They catch nothing and they’re calling it quits.
Someone on the shore calls out to them: “Catch anything?”
That’s a commonplace experience
for anyone who’s ever gone fishing.
Back home in Fremont
in the hunting-fishing-trapping family I grew up in,
we were regularly out on the water or on the ice
catching supper.
When we arrived at a spot,
we’d call out to the fishers already there, “Catch anything?”
Or we’d get there first,
and the newcomers would call out to us, “Catch anything?”
We were talking about catching fish,
but Jesus is talking about catching people,
being “fishers of men,” as the synoptic gospels put it.
And the disciples, without Jesus, catch nothing on their own.
When he tells them to throw the net on the RIGHT side of the boat,
they take in a huge catch.
Those 153 fish are symbolic, too.
Historians say that 1st century folks
believed there to be 153 species of fish.
Jesus’ way catches everybody.
What follows the breakfast on the beach
is the dialogue between Jesus and Peter,
crafted to be parallel to Peter’s three denials in Chapter 18.
Peter professes his love for Jesus three times,
just as he had denied him three times.
Jesus’ response is to call Peter to discipleship:
Keep on feeding and tending my flock,
keep on following my way.
The call of the disciples, like all calls—all vocations—
is a call to love.
It’s a call to keep on.
Never stop.
Keep on learning and teaching and loving and serving.
It’s like people in love—
people with a vocation to companionship and commitment.
They never stop thinking about and talking about
and caring for their beloved.
It’s like the spouse of a victim of Alzheimer’s,
willing to suffer whatever is required
for the sake of the other.
It’s like Pope Francis
and the growing mass of people
who see earth as our common home
and will not be silent about our responsibility
to change our selfish and wasteful habits.
It’s like the prophetic voices within our Catholic Church:
following the way of Jesus;
following their consciences
in holy disobedience to unjust rules;
obeying God, not humans.
It’s like us, here, a gathering of Vatican II Catholics
serious about discipleship
and living lives of commitment to peace and justice,
the way Jesus taught.
We’re not alone.
Everywhere we go Jesus is with us.
Thanks be to God!

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006


Let’s go Fishing!