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2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions!

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Sophie
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/05/30 17:36:33 (permalink)
Dear friends,

For those among us who are new to our dialogues, I write to explain why we spend some time reflecting on the 'heroic agents of change' from other streams of life.  The explanation also helps illuminate the purpose of our dialogue thread, Heroic Agents of Change/Transformation 2009 .

From a practical point of view, work for women's ordination includes labouring for cultural transformation. There is strong resistance to acknowledging the fact that God calls women to be Catholic priests. As workers for change, facing resistance is not an easy part of the journey. Despite the fact that work for justice is a noble endeavor, shunning, condemnation, abusive rhetoric and hostility are unfortunately a reality sometimes encountered by those who forge ahead.


Wood engraving of the pro-slavery mob burning down the warehouse
where American Presbyterian minister, journalist, newspaper
editor and abolitionist, Elijah P. Lovejoy, kept his printing press.
Lovejoy was murdered -- martyred -- by the mob because of his work for the abolition of slavery.
 
Though many are the tests of determination and committment, sources of inspiration are plentiful, too. We are not alone. Many brothers and sisters have travelled parallel journeys before us. When we look to them for role models, we can learn from and be inspired by them.

Shortly after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, stories were broadcast about what were her sources of inspiration. Controversial though she was, when she spoke about her work for democracy, she explained that she understood herself to be a 'Daughter of Destiny.' She was made for the time. Acknowledging the challenges she faced, Benazir was known to share memories of her childhood when her father encouraged her to nourish herself with inspiration by reading the life stories of women like Joan of Arc and Indira Gandhi. Benazir frequently remarked that besides her faith life, the stories of heroes served as sources of empowerment for her.

In that same vein, we reflect on societies heroes who struggled for positive change.  In our dialogue thread, Heroic Agents of Change/Transformation 2009, we gather to read the stories of the world's inspiring and heroic agents of change and transformation. Though not necessarily connected to our Catholic faith community in name, through their works for truth and justice, they share a journey with us. They continue to serve by inspiring us to 'keep going' when perseverence is tough.

I encourage you to visit the heroes. If you have any questions, as always let me know...and if you have any heroic agents of change or transformation, please share their stories with us!

with love and blessings, 

~Sophie~
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/05/30 17:59:28 (permalink)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Today May 30 is Mother's Day in Nicaragua!
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/05/31 16:07:22 (permalink)
 
"Lord, send forth your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth."
Psalm 104 -- Response
 
Let us rejoice! Today we celebrate Pentecost!
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/05/31 16:29:17 (permalink)
A year ago yesterday...
 
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
 
Vatican: Attempted Ordination of Women Incurs Excommunication
by Cindy Wooden
Catholic World News
May 30, 2008

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican's doctrinal congregation has decreed formally that a woman who attempts to be ordained a Catholic priest and the person attempting to ordain her are automatically excommunicated.

"Both the one who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive a sacred order, incur an excommunication latae sententiae," or automatically, said a decree from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The brief "General Decree Regarding the Delict of Attempted Sacred Ordination of a Woman" was published on the front page of the May 30 edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. It said it "comes into force immediately."

Women Roman Catholic Priests

U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the congregation, who signed the decree, said it was published "in order to protect the nature and validity" of the sacrament of holy orders.
 

Cardinal William Levada
Prefect for Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith

While only a handful of cases of the attempted ordination of women occur each year, the ceremonies themselves are given widespread publicity as are the decrees of excommunication that have been pronounced by the bishop of the place where the ceremonies are held.

Dominican Father Augustine Di Noia, undersecretary of the doctrinal congregation, told Catholic News Service May 30 that the decree explicitly applies what canon law says about the offense of attempting to enact a sacrament.

"The problem is not that all of a sudden there was a tsunami of attempted ordinations of women," Di Noia said, but that the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches "never anticipated that such a thing would happen."

The decree was needed "for the good of the church and to ensure bishops have a common way of responding" when such ceremonies are held in their dioceses, he said.

Di Noia said the decree makes clear the fact that the people directly involved in an attempted ordination of a woman excommunicate themselves automatically; it is not a penalty imposed by the local bishop or the universal church.

Since the excommunication is not imposed, there is no possibility of appeal, he said: "The only recourse is repentance.

"The church has said it is authorized to ordain only baptized men and in that way is following the example of Christ," he said.

In a 1994 apostolic letter, "On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone," Pope John Paul II said the church's ban on women priests is definitive and not open to debate among Catholics.

The all-male priesthood does not represent discrimination against women, but fidelity to Christ's example and his plan for the church, the pope said.
Mass presided by Catholic WomenWelcoming Pope Benedict to the U.S. last month

"I declare that the church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the church's faithful," he wrote.

A few months later, during one of his weekly general audiences, Pope John Paul said, "one cannot contest the permanent and normative value" of the church's practice of ordaining only men by arguing that Jesus simply acted in accord with "the prevailing mentality of his age and the prejudices which then and later existed to the detriment of women."

"In reality," the pope had said, "Jesus never conformed to a mentality unfavorable to women and, in fact, he reacted against inequalities."

Ordination, like the other sacraments, must be conferred in obedience to the will of Christ, the pope said at the audience. "Jesus entrusted the task of ministerial priesthood only to persons of the male sex."

Less than a year later, the doctrinal congregation -- headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI -- issued a declaration saying the church teaching that women cannot be ordained priests belongs "to the deposit of faith" and has been taught "infallibly."

http://ncronline3.org/drupal/?q=node/1128
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/05/31 16:31:37 (permalink)

Dear friends,

The Church "has no authority" to ordain women?  Assertions are mad e that His Holiness, Pope John Paul II set this out definitively -- infallibly -- in his May 22, 1994  apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis  in which he decreed that priestly ordination must be reserved to men alone.

How does this square with Scripture? with Catholic Tradition? with Catholic history? with canon law? with the sense of the faithful? 

Do we have a duty to be asking loyal questions?

For those among us who are new to Circles, welcome! We are grateful for your presence here.  I will provide information along with links to help explore these questions in detail.  For our members and long time guests, stay tuned!  The journey continues!

with love and blessings,

~Sophie~
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/05/31 16:38:23 (permalink)

 
Today May 31 is the feast day of the Visitation of Mary.

During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."

And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Luke 1, 39-56

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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/06/01 08:29:31 (permalink)
Wrong: Cardinal Levada is Wrong To Excommunicate Women Priests
 
Cardinal Levada is wrong when he claims Jesus excluded women from pastoral service, priesthood, chose only men. Wrong.
 
1.Jesus did not ordain anyone as priest. Levada's claim that Jesus ordained men is false.
 
2. Jesus called no-one priest, ordained no-one, not male or female.
 
3. Instead Jesus chose both male and female apostles, disciples. Chose both genders to do church service.
 
4. Jesus made women equal co-workers and apostles in the church, no discrimination.
 
5. Jesus gave pastoral and spiritual equality of service of the church to women too.
 
6. Jesus did not excommunicate women, he deliberately chose women to preach and teach the public, to witness publically the most significant events of Christianity, to be significant apostles, to do what the men did.
 
7.  Jesus said drive no one away, he refused to bring fire and brimstone down on the villagers who rejected him despite his disciples asking him to do that.  Jesus welcomed, encouraged, empowered, dialogued with, respected, chose women to represent him to the world, gave pastoral and liturgical equality of all service to the church.
 
8. St Peter says women are now daughters of God, God not husband is their master, lord it over no-one, all are equal, serve each other, serve everyone in humility.  Equality, women are chosen too to do what we now call priesthood.
 
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/06/01 12:14:30 (permalink)
Galileo case showed church didn't respect science, official says
Catholic News Service
May 29, 2009

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As scholars and theologians continue to debate the heresy trial of Galileo Galilei, a Vatican official said that a failure to understand the boundaries between faith and science was at the heart of the church's condemnation of his ideas. Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, told Vatican Radio May 26 that the "incomprehension" on the part of church officials nearly four centuries ago "was born from not having perceived and understood the legitimate autonomy of the natural sciences."
 

Galileo's contradiction of Aristotle had serious consequences. He was interrogated by the Church authorities and convicted of teaching that the earth went around the sun as a matter of fact and not, as he had promised previously, as a mere mathematical hypothesis. He was placed under permanent house arrest, and forbidden to write about or teach his theories. Immediately after being forced to recant his claim that the earth revolved around the sun, the old man is said to have muttered defiantly “and yet it does move.”
 
Msgr. Sanchez was participating in a symposium in Florence discussing the decision of a church tribunal in 1633 to force Galileo to retract his teaching of the Copernican theory that the earth moved around the sun. The symposium was sponsored by the Niels Stensen Foundation, a Jesuit-run cultural institute. Scientists, philosophers, historians and theologians participated in the five-day conference, which was convoked as part of the 2009 celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first use of the telescope. Msgr. Sanchez said it was understandable, given the cultural context of the time, that the church hierarchy could not accept the Copernican view that the sun did not revolve around the earth because for them the theory tarnished the belief in the centrality of man in God's plan. But the "fundamental error," he said, was maintaining that such scientific ideas "were about faith, when instead they were questions of nature."

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/briefs/cns/20090529.htm#head7
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/06/03 15:12:40 (permalink)
Vatican announces papal trip to Czech Republic in September
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
June 1, 2009

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI will visit the Czech Republic in late September, participating in the nation's Sept. 28 observance of the feast of St. Wenceslaus, a 10th-century Czech prince and martyr.

During the Sept. 26-28 trip, the pope will visit Prague, Brno and Stara Boleslav, the town where St. Wenceslaus was murdered by his brother in 935 to protest his embrace of Christianity, the Vatican announced May 30.

The announcement was published as Pope Benedict was meeting Czech President Vaclav Klaus in the papal library.

The pope and president discussed the situation in the Czech Republic, "looking in particular at some questions related to relations with the Catholic Church, as well as to the future of Europe, taking into account the importance of its cultural, spiritual and Christian patrimony," the Vatican said.

Church-state relations in the Czech Republic have been tense over demands for the restitution of Catholic properties confiscated under communist rule. In March, the Czech Supreme Court confirmed state ownership of Prague's historic St. Vitus Cathedral after a 17-year legal battle by the church.

After his audience with the pope, Klaus told Vatican Radio he was pleasantly surprised by "how the pope follows the situation in our country. Our meeting was not just an exchange of pleasantries, but we spoke in a very concrete way."

"As regard preparations for the pope's visit, I must say they already are in an advanced phase. We are happy the pope will be visiting us because he will bring a clear message for everyone," Klaus told Vatican Radio.


http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0902494.htm
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/06/03 15:33:52 (permalink)
Dear friends,

Pope Benedict's forthcoming trip to the Czech Republic -- especially its city of Brno -- brings to mind a heroine in both the Church and the case for women's ordination.

She is Ludmila Javorova who was clandestinely ordained by her Bishop, Felix Davidek in December 1970 in Communist oppressed Czechoslovakia. Javorova's story is one that speaks about how women's capacity and strength -- frequently underestimated and/or denied --routinely emerges to be appreciated during times of social trial and instability. 


Ludmila Javorova 

Czechoslovakia of the 1970s presented as dangerous times for Catholics.  Coming under fierce persecution by government authorities, the Church moved 'underground.'  The fact that priests were targets for arrest, imprisonment and other forms of persecution meant that it became difficult if not impossible to deliver sacramental ministry to the Catholic faithful.  Appreciating that the status of a celibate man would draw attention and suspicion, courageous bishops responded creatively by ordaining women (Ludmila is one) and married men to serve as priests. Javora's call to priesthood and service was especially meaningful to Czech women who because they were in prison and could not receive visits from 'men' were deprived of the sacraments. 
 
Though the ordinations of the married men have since been recognised by the Vatican, the work for recognition of the vocations and service of these courageous women continues to be a project in progress. 

I invite you to learn more about Ludmila.  We have a dialogue thread dedicated to her found here:

and numerous articles about her in our library.  For more, see here:

If you have any questions, please let me know.

with love and blessings,

~Sophie~
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/06/07 10:17:17 (permalink)
SSPX defends plans to ordain 21 priests
by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt
The Tablet
June 6, 2009

The four Lefebvrist bishops whom Pope Benedict XVI partially rehabilitated in January have defended their decision to ordain 21 priests into the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), sparking alarm among German-speaking bishops. In January the Pope lifted the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops, including British-born Richard Williamson, a Holocaust-denier, but the men remain suspended.

The ordinations are to take place in three of the Society's seminaries at the end of June, according to a round-robin letter published on SSPX websites on Monday. Three men will be ordained at Zaitzkofen in Bavaria, 13 at the St Thomas Aquinas Seminary at Winona, Minnesota, and the rest at the SSPX headquarters at Ecône in Switzerland.

The President of the Vatican's Ecclesia Dei Commission, Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, is considering visiting Ecône on 29 June, according to a French priest Claude Barthe, the French right-wing newspaper Présent reported. The priest said the cardinal's visit would be aimed at hastening the implementation of a provisional agreement "for the good of [the clerics'] souls". On 4 July the cardinal turns 80, the age at which membership of ­curial congregations usually ends, and it is widely believed that Cardinal Castrillón wanted to have the SSPX fully reintegrated before he retired.

Following the huge outcry over the lifting of the excommunications, in March the Pope wrote an unprecedented letter to bishops around the world expressly stating that the Society did not have a canonical status in the Church and its ministers did not exercise legitimate ministries.

However, the SSPX communiqué argues that the ordinations will be taking place with the permission of the Holy See. "During the period in which convergence and understanding with Rome is being sought, the SSPX has a provisional legal status for an indefinite period of time until, after the theological talks are over, a definitive canonical ruling is found. That is what the ‘line of approach' which has been agreed to by the Vatican foresees. In none of the talks up to now has there ever been any mention of ‘putting a stop to ordinations' in general. On the contrary, the lifting of the excommunications was meant to show a willingness to cooperate without putting any restrictions on the life of the Society."

There was no comment from the Vatican on the SSPX's statement.

In an interview with Vatican Radio on 1 June, the Bishop of Regensburg, Gerhard Müller, in whose diocese Zaitzkofen lies, said he contacted the Zaitzkofen seminary as soon as he read about the SSPX plans. "I told them that the ordinations were against canon law and that in such a precarious situation one must allow Rome to prescribe how to proceed." Calling the ordinations "a provocation", he said: "One simply must suspend everything until this Society's position is cleared up as far as canon law is concerned. In the letter the Society wrote to the Pope in January, they said they fully accepted the Pope's primacy ... [T]hey are not prepared to take the consequences."

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who founded SSPX, was suspended a divinis in 1976 for ordaining priests without church approval, and  excommunicated in 1988 automatically when he ordained four priests as bishops illicitly.

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/article/13192
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/06/07 10:22:43 (permalink)

Bishop Richard Williamson 

For more about some SSPX/Lefevbrite views about women, see here: http://www.womenpriests.org/circles/tm.asp?m=31435
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/06/07 10:44:25 (permalink)





"Priesthood is in the news again. Pope Benedict has called for the year beginning on 19th June to be dedicated as a Year for Priesthood. We have our own on-going discussion on Catholica on the changing nature of priesthood today. Today it is our pleasure to present a thoughtful reflection put together by Dr Patrick Collins which looks at the maturation of views Thomas Merton had towards the nature of priesthood before he died. This reflection will be of great interest to priests who are reflecting on their roles today as it will be to lay people who are questioning what sort of priests we need today — or even if priesthood as we've known it for millennia is as relevant in our lives as it was in the past."

...

Read more, click here: http://www.womenpriests.org/circles/fb.asp?m=33797
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/06/07 10:48:12 (permalink)






Benedict XVI's Message to Rome Conference on Laity
"Co-responsible for the Church's Being and Action"
zenit.org
June 4, 2009

...

Read Pope Benedict's address, click here: http://www.womenpriests.org/circles/fb.asp?m=33798
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/06/07 10:49:20 (permalink)
Lives of quiet and not-so-quiet desperation
By Jamie L Manson
The National Catholic Reporter
June 4, 2009

Seven years after the crisis first broke, the Catholic church’s sex abuse scandal finally hit home for me.

It came with a call from my mother, who told me that a priest from my childhood, Fr. Brian McKeon, was dead. It had made the local television news.

“Did you know that he was one of Long Island’s most notorious priest-pedophiles?” my mother asked. She began to quickly recount the details of his crimes and his death, all of which were too grim for me to process. Fr. Brian was among several Long Island priests sued for molesting at least six teenage boys. He struggled for decades with alcoholism, and sometimes drank with the teens. There is a particularly dark story about one of his victim’s committing suicide. Fr. Brian presided at the funeral, and provided comfort -- and then subsequently abuse to the victim’s younger brother. He was moved from parish to parish until the bishop laicized him in 2003, after a parent had placed fliers, stating that he was a pedophile, on 100 cars in a parking lot.

At some point thereafter, Brian moved to Florida and, at the time of his death, was an unemployed nurse. He died at home after suffering several seizures and coughing up blood. His roommate said that he refused medical assistance, and they blamed the seizures on the effects of years of alcohol abuse.

The ironic thing about Brian is that he is one of the only priests with whom I’ve ever had a positive experience.

. . .

Read more, click here: http://www.womenpriests.org/circles/fb.asp?m=33804
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/06/10 16:19:58 (permalink)




English nun a step closer to being declared venerable
Catholic News Service
June 9, 2009

LONDON (CNS) -- An English religious sister who was jailed as a heretic by the same pope who sanctioned Galileo has moved a step closer to sainthood after Vatican theologians ruled that she lived a life of heroic virtue. Sister Mary Ward, the founder the Congregation of Jesus and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Loreto Sisters, may be declared venerable some time in 2010, the relator for her cause, Jesuit Father Peter Gumpel, told Catholic News Service in a June 4 interview. The unanimous vote by a panel of theological consultors in late May also was confirmed June 4 by Sister Gemma Simmonds, an English member of the Congregation of Jesus."Mary Ward had a vision of what women could do in the church and in society not only decades but centuries before anyone else saw it," said Sister Gemma, a lecturer in theology at the University of London's Heythrop College.

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/briefs/cns/20090609.htm#head12
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/06/10 16:42:47 (permalink)
Sisters delivered the church Vatican II promised
The National Catholic Reporter
June 12, 2009

While a visit from the Roman inquisition might intimidate most of us, the timing couldn’t be better for American communities of religious women. They have nothing to hide and a marvelous story to tell, unknown to many Catholics and far richer than the caricatures Hollywood and nostalgia have created.

Visitors (Roman and other) to the estimated 400 motherhouses across the country will take away their own impressions, but two things are bound to stand out. One is the community cemetery whose hundreds of ordered graves hold the stories of the first women sent by their European foundations to the frontiers of the new nation, and then those successive waves of sisters inspired to follow them in mission. The story is told a second time in the faces of the mothers superior of each community that stare back at visitors from portraits -- painted, tintype, black and white, and color photo -- hung along the corridors of central administration buildings.

. . .

Read complete story, see here: http://www.womenpriests.org/circles/fb.asp?m=33811
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/06/12 08:32:28 (permalink)
The first sister of feminism
She threw off her habit and put women on the stage. Simon Caldwell tells the tale of the feisty nun set to become a saint

The Independent
June 11, 2009


Mary Ward was put in prison after asking the Pope to
approve her order of nuns./ALAMY

In 1631, an exhausted 46-year-old woman arrived at the gates of the Vatican. Mary Ward, a Yorkshire-born nun, had walked more than 1,500 miles from her order in present-day Belgium to Rome, knowing that she might end up in prison.

For more than two decades, she had been leading an order of devotees that lived in defiance of the Vatican's strict rules that confined nuns to their cloisters.

Ward had taught her religious sisters not to wear habits and trained them to work with the poor and the persecuted, and to found and teach in Catholic schools. She also encouraged women to perform in plays, a move considered scandalous in Shakespearean times when all female roles were played by boys.

She was living at the height of the Roman Inquisition where accusations of heresy abounded. The pope at the time was Urban VIII, the same pontiff who threw Galileo in prison for daring to suggest that the Earth orbited around the Sun.

Now this revolutionary woman had gone to Rome asking him for official approval of her rebellious order which lived in defiance of centuries of Catholic teaching.

It was, therefore, perhaps of little surprise that Urban threw Ward in jail and issued a papal bull ordering her movement to be suppressed.

But now the same institution that declared her a "heretic" has taken the first decisive step towards making Ward a saint. A panel of Vatican theologians from the Commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has concluded that Ward lived a life of "heroic virtue". They are recommending that she should be declared "Venerable" – the first major step toward recognition as a saint.

Ward was born in Ripon in 1585 to a staunchly religious family at a time when Catholicism was under persecution. Two of her relatives were involved in the Gunpowder Plot and as a young girl she spent much of her life on the run.

At age 15 she crossed the Channel to become a Poor Clare, a strictly orthodox Franciscan order of nuns who led a life of prayer and penury. But she soon grew tired of the rigid strictures placed on Catholic nuns and in 1609 founded her own order at St Omer. Based on the Jesuits, her sisters were highly active within their community and believed in educating young women and preserving Catholicism across the Channel – an increasingly dangerous task.

Most controversial was Ward's insistence that women should be allowed to act in plays, at a time when female roles were almost always played by young men. In England it led to the nuns being derided as "chattering hussies" and caused shock on the Continent, where actresses were viewed with the same contempt as showgirls or prostitutes. Urban also singled this idea out for vehement criticism.

The Pope placed Galileo under arrest a year after meeting Ward, whose supporters argue that she is comparable to Galileo not only in the way she was treated but because her ideas were just as revolutionary.

Sister Gemma Simmonds, a member of the Congregation of Jesus, the name by which Ward's order is known today, said: "The Church has apologised for its treatment of Galileo and there is a statue of him in Rome. We are still waiting. Mary Ward had a vision of what women could do in the Church and in society not only decades but centuries before anyone else saw it. She was given this insight directly by God."

Sister Simmonds, who lectures in theology at Heythrop College, the University of London, believes that Ward should be regarded as a feminist icon for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

"She had a vision of the equality of men and women before God and a vision of the capacity of women to do good and to work for the kingdom of God," she said. "She had this at a time when universities were still discussing whether women had souls.

"She was ferociously persecuted by the Church and she submitted to this because she had to. But she never grew bitter and she never allowed a word of bitterness or resentment against those who persecuted her to appear in her writings. Even in prison, even when they thought she was dying, she never lost that extraordinary gift of hope and trust in God. I want her to be canonised. I want justice for her and I want the justification for what women can do in the Church." Ward spent a year in prison in Munich and after her release, she ordered that the Pope's wishes to close down her order be carried out. She died in 1645 in the siege of York during the English Civil War and was buried in the parish church of Osbaldwick, on the outskirts of York. In the century that followed, English nuns persuaded various popes to lift the suppression on the order but they would only do so on the condition that Ward was not recognised as its foundress.

Then in the 1900s, a French member of the order, Sister Magdalen Gremion, asked Pope Pius X to his face to restore Ward as foundress. He immediately denounced Ward as a heretic but later concluded that there was no case against her.

His successor, Pope Pius XI, opened Ward's cause for sainthood in 1932, and Pope Pius XII later praised her as an "incomparable woman".
Father Peter Gumpel, the Rome-based Jesuit who is in charge of the cause, said that he expected Pope Benedict XVI to declare Ward "Venerable" by next year.

The bishops and cardinals of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints will first review the decision of the theologians and scrutinise a 5,500-page position paper on Ward's life. "I expect the decision to be unanimous in favour of the cause progressing," said Father Gumpel. "I think it would be very strange if the cardinals and bishops disagreed with the view of the theologians and I have no reason to think that they would do that."

Today, Ward's order has about 4,000 sisters in two branches – the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or Loreto sisters, and the Congregation of Jesus – working in every continent, and in places as far afield as Cuba, Siberia, outer Mongolia and East Timor.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/the-first-sister-of-feminism-1702163.html
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/06/16 08:01:18 (permalink)
STATEMENT OF THE 9TH ANNUAL MEETING OF
THE INDIAN WOMEN THEOLOGIANS’ FORUM

23rd – 25th April, 2009

Nineteen Indian women theologians, consisting of women religious, members of secular institutes and lay women coming from six different states of the country gathered for the 9th annual meeting of the IWTF in Pune from 23rd to 25th April 2009.

We reflected on the theme “The Space Women have in the Church”.

Two papers, "What space can women claim in the Church for theologizing" from a biblical perspective, and “Feminist Ethics – Perspectives and Challenges”, helped in our reflection and discussion of the theme. Members also shared about their experiences in their field of work. Creative liturgies prepared by members helped deepen our reflection.

Inspired by four instances of strong biblical women (Siphra, Puah, Mariam, the mother of Moses and Pharoah’s daughter; Judith; the Cananite and Samaritan women) who created a space by courageous action and their critique in the light of faith, we reflected on the situation of women today in the Church. We strongly believe that the women in the Church with the light and power of their faith, can create alternative spaces for themselves that recognize their dignity and rights as women. This calls forth women to move out of their complacency, to take a stand collectively and consciously.

Reflecting on the perspectives of feminist ethics we were confronted with the whole area of cultural conditioning and double standards that contribute to women’s stereotyped subordinate status both in Church and society. This was seen clearly in the issues that were presented for our consideration.

Two important issues that gripped our attention were the case of the CMC sisters in Narakal, where the parish priest has tried to appropriate the school from the sisters and the issue of sexual abuse in the Church.

Discussing the case of the Narakal sisters we observed how the power of the hierarchal and patriarchal Church was used to put the parishioners against the school community of sisters and how the Mother General and the Provincial were made to capitulate and go against their own sisters. The case brings out very powerfully how vulnerable and powerless women are, especially the women religious in the hierarchical church.

We know for certain that there are several cases of sexual abuse of sisters that pass in silence because of cultural conditioning . The roots of wrong attitudes to sex go back to suppressed sexuality and family upbringing. Sexuality is still a taboo in religious formation. We regret that the Church does not want to face these issues to solve the problem.

We feel the need to work collectively to deal with these serious issues affecting women’s space in the Church through consciousness raising and standing with the victims for justice.

We invite all women and men of good will to join hands in supporting the cause for justice to women in the Church as well as for creation of “spaces” that recognize women’s autonomy and dignity as equal members in the Church.

Sanjeevan, Pune
25th April 2009
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RE: 2009 News Central, Items of Interest, Traffic Directions! 2009/06/16 08:40:12 (permalink)
News from Ecclesia of Women in Asia (EWA)

God Cannot be Female by Andrea L. Si

"God is not male," I said. "I will have to think about that again," the female doctor replied. "If you think about it again, will you agree that God is not male?" I asked. "No," the doctor answered. "If you think about this 5 times, do you think you'll be able to agree?" I persisted. "No, I cannot see God as anything but male," she said.

That was May 6, 2005 in Yangon , Myanmar ( Burma ), the first morning of the seminar workshop intended as an echo of the Ecclesia of Women Conferences held in Bangkok (2002) and Yogyakarta (2004). All in all, about 14 women religious, 14 women lay associates, and 2 brothers responded to the invitation from the Catholic Religious Conference of Myanmar's EWA Myanmar Committee. I was there because the organizers wanted me to speak about EWA and provide a tangible connection with the main group.

Breaking the Ice
The night before, the participants had gotten to know each other through games and creative introductions. Many of the sisters and the two brothers had studied outside the country hence were no strangers to feminist theology. Even then the Church in Myanmar is Vatican I in many ways. Most priests still refuse to give communion in the hand, women still wear a veil to Church, and it is a very rare Myanmar Catholic who questions the hierarchical structure of the Church or why women, who do most of the work in the parishes and dioceses, are excluded from decision making processes. Naturally, I was filled with uncertainty about how EWA's feminist ideas would be received.

The Mass, Meditation on Bondage and Dreams

My talk was preceded by a mass in which everything was in English except for the songs and the sermon. Of course I did not allow Fr. Victor to go without eliciting from him the meaning of the long sermon that he'd preached. Sent as representative of the good Bishop Charles Bo, he returned my curiosity with a friendly interrogation on this strange animal, Ecclesia of Women in Asia .

After the mass and my guarded exchange with the priest, Grace Chia (EWA I) led the group through a symbolic experience of bondage, and made us think of the ways in which we are in bondage as well as the ways in which we cause others to be in bondage. Following this meditation, we wrote or drew on folded flower cut-outs, our dreams or commitments for the ecclesia of women in Myanmar . Reminiscent of the first EWA conference, the flowers opened up as we floated them around lighted candles in basins of water.

Introducing EWA

When it was finally my time to speak, knowing that what I had to say wasn't exactly aligned with what the priest had said during the mass, also knowing how much I dislike foreign lecturers who sound like they know everything, I said, "The women in EWA believe in many things and we do not all believe in the same things. It is up to you to decide what is good and true for you in Myanmar . All I can do is share with you what other Catholic women in Asia are thinking and saying." Then I told them about how EWA began as a dream in 2001, the themes of the first conference in 2002 and of the 2004 conference, the mission, vision, programs, and people who comprise EWA. As deconstruction and reconstruction are essential in feminist theologizing, in the little time left, I explained as well as I could the Dance of Liberation and Transformation that Prof. Lieve Troch taught us during the first EWA in Bangkok . To end I stressed "We do not want to be like many western feminists. We do not want to become man haters or to compete with men. We just want equality and partnership and this is what EWA hopes to achieve in the development of a theology that is feminist and truly Asian."

Surfacing of Issues

After that talk, there was an initial surfacing of issues in small group discussions. The problem of violence against women was acknowledged and several participants admitted that men and boys do get preferential treatment in most families and in Myanmar society as a whole. Aside from these issues, during the open forum, the women asked how women theologians and feminist theology can develop in Myanmar , when the women have so little exposure and such limited resources.

Myanmar Catholic Women and Their Struggles

In the afternoon, Sr. Patricia (EWA I) presented her paper "Myanmar Catholic Women and their Struggles." Patricia held her audience in rapt attention as she spoke in a mix of English and Burmese of realities that the women well knew but had never thought of questioning. Although I had a translator, I did not need translation to see and feel how much of an impact Patricia's words caused. Sharing in small groups followed and with this were signs of growing realization that after all, women in Myanmar society are not as equal as they had believed.

The Role of Myanmar Women in Society and in Religion

The next day, Sr. Ann presented her EWA II paper, "The Role of Myanmar Women in Society and in Religion." After every segment of the paper, the participants were guided by questions that made them consider their stand on certain issues. Had they ever felt that as women they were inferior to men? Could they honestly say that instead of being nuisances, menstruation and child-bearing are special privileges of women. Is God male or female? Did they always think of God as male, Father? If God is male, where did the female come from? Did they find the structure of the Church to be a pyramid? Were they aware that Vatican II has changed that model to a Communio? Did they still wish to cling to the pyramid model? Could they, as women accept themselves as being relational, like the Trinity? Are women appreciated for the services that they render or are they taken for granted? Are they considered as less important than the priests? Did they agree that women religious are more up-to-date in spirituality and theology (than the priests?)?

Sr. Ann Shwe's Challenge

Seeking directions for the future of the Church of Women in Myanmar , Sr. Ann ended her presentation by challenging the participants with even more question. Culture and tradition are beautiful but if they are found to be oppressive, can we still regard them as beautiful? Do you agree that the allocation of work should be according to talent and aptitude and not hindered by custom and tradition? Are we allowing potentials incarnated in female bodies to go to waste? Can you say that women are given a place in the decision making bodies of the Church? The Church is made up of male and female and do you not think that the female should be represented? Can we honestly say that we belong to the New Covenant or are we still clinging to Jewish customs? God is love. Do we feel that we, women are the image of the loving God? The body expresses the spirit. The breasts, the womb and the vagina, do they not express the life giving spirit of the woman? On the contrary, how are they considered and treated?

Most of the answers might seem obvious but each question called for the admission of a hitherto unseen or unacknowledged reality or the abandonment of a dearly held position in favor of a better one. Transformation did not happen in an instant, neither did it occur at the same level for all. But all throughout, the proceedings were marked by openness and an earnest hunger for truth and new knowledge. The women impressed me with their articulateness and readiness to speak out. Even among the young lay women, I did not detect hesitance or shyness. The brothers were also happily integrated and were truly, as they said about themselves, "Blessed among women." This they showed most convincingly in the numbers that they presented during the cultural and fellowship night.

Give me Life in my Womb

The last day's liturgy was Sr. Ann's version of the meditative walk through the uterus. Not having the original words, Sr. Ann composed a beautiful chant about the blood being life-giving, being sacred, being cleansing, etc. After the walk, the women and the two men (yes, they joined the walk through the uterus) passed around a tray with aromatic healing herbs as each prayed for healing and wholeness. As in the 2nd EWA, the liturgy ended with the song, "Give me Joy in my heart, keep me loving. . . give me life in my womb, keep me giving. . . ."

Forum on Women's Issues in Myanmar

Sharing by women representing different concerns then followed. First, a young feminist who leads an NGO that raises gender awareness, organizes women, and helps them with livelihood skills. Then a Sister who runs a home for persons with HIV AIDS and the children orphaned by the dread disease which is rampant is Myanmar . The third speaker told about her work against trafficking of women and children. The fourth gave a Buddhist woman leader's perspective of woman. Given the magnitude of the challenge before them, the participants listened with great interest to the fifth panelist's orientation on obtaining grants from the German embassy.

Conclusions

That last afternoon, May 8, the participants were asked to share their thoughts on what touched them the most, in what ways their thinking had been changed, what they were prepared to do after the seminar. The doctor who could not at first conceive of God as other than male, could now see God as Father/Mother. A sister said she'd never thought of the Trinity as being relational or of women being relational, like the Trinity but this was an idea that she appreciated very much. Participants confessed to seeing that there are cultural practices that are unjust and need to be changed. Women said they had begun to see their bodies and the reproductive cycle in a new light at the same time that they became aware of how childbearing can be a burden. The men saw that although they could not be birth mothers, they could give life to others in social, spiritual, or other senses. While admitting that change could not be expected to happen quickly, many saw that women should be part of the decision making process in parishes and dioceses. Most agreed that they want their parishes and religious communities to realize what they'd come to realize in the past three days.

Continuing the Work

To ensure that the dance of liberation and transformation continues, that afternoon, two lay women were elected to join the original 4 member EWA Myanmar Committee of the Catholic Religious Conference of Myanmar. This month, the Religious Conference, the association of all male and female religious orders in Myanmar , will have Asian feminist theology in its agenda. The Bishop has promised his full support and to show that he means business, he advanced part of the expenses for the May 5-8 EWA echo. Myanmar appears to lag behind other Asian countries in many ways, but in no other country have the religious orders rallied behind EWA's vision and mission as our Myanmar brothers and sisters have done. Indeed, EWA's advocates in Myanmar deserve every commendation for their pioneering initiative and for showing the rest of us, possibilities for countries that most need to hear the message that EWA brings.

For the organizers whose names I wish I could mention, the EWA echo began as the wildest of dreams. That the dream became reality can only be because -

The Lord God said, I myself will dream a dream within you. . .
My dreams seem impossible, not too practical,
Not for the cautious man or woman,
a little risky sometimes, a trifle brash perhaps. . .
But for those who share my dreams, I ask a little patience,
A little humor, some small courage and a listening heart.
I will do the rest.
Then they will rise and wonder at their daring,
Run and marvel at their speed,
Build and stand in awe at the beauty of their building. . .
So come, be content.
This is my dream you dream.
It is my house you build,
my caring you witness,
my love you share.
And this is the heart of the matter

(The Heart of the Matter, by Charles Peguy)
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