Women priests ‘delighted’ by Google, Vatican catacombs tour


A fresco inside the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome (CNS/Max Rossi)

Thanks to collaboration between Google Street View and the Vatican, Rome’s catacombs are now accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. However, the move has created controversy for what some say the catacombs hold. Read full article by Megan Fincher posted on National Catholic Reporter.

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Catholic Church Reform

Continued from September 6, 2013 Newsletter

Meeting called by Pope Francis
As you may know, Pope Francis has called a meeting with his eight Cardinal advisers, representatives from every region of the world, to meet with him at the Vatican October 1 through 3. We are asking that our agreed-upon topic be placed on the meeting agenda backed up by the data gathered from all of the Church groups. We have asked Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga, the coordinator for the advisers, to be our messenger and deliver our letter and packet to the pope just prior to their scheduled meeting. The topics set by the pope for this meeting are (1) reform of the Curia, and (2) governance of the Church. Our objective is to address the changes we would like to see in how the Church is governed, namely, that we support the Pope in his desire to move away from so much clericalism and request that the people be given a voice and a vote in their Church.

Gathering of Data to be delivered to the pope
Between September 4 and September 20, we will be gathering all the data from the groups who choose to participate and have something to contribute. This could include any petition, initiative, referendum, outcome of a conference, agreement resulting from a meeting, a mission statement, a rally, etc., etc., resulting from their efforts over the past several years. All of this will be summarized for the Pope. If you belong to an organization and have an item – one related to the general topic of greater involvement of the laity, including religious, in our Church – that you would like to have included, please send that information to info@CatholicChurchReform.com.
What challenges do we face? We admittedly have numerous hurdles to overcome. Some groups, particularly religious men and women’s organizations, will be reticent to participate even though they fully support the need for reform in the Church. Why? Because they fear reprisal from the Vatican or from their local bishops or because getting the approval of their entire community would require a great deal of bureaucracy, more than time will allow. So what is the solution? Pope Francis appears very open to dialogue and to hearing from the various sources both inside and outside the Church. He is clearly not interested in specific names of the individuals or groups participating. But he seems eager to gather input from every region of the world…beyond the narrow focus of the Vatican, the Curia, and the Cardinals.
Therefore, for those organizations who want to preserve their identity and have their issues made known in their name, we can accommodate them. And for those groups who, for their own reasons, want to support reform of the Church but wish to remain anonymous, we can accommodate them as well. What we need is the data: namely, the issue raised and the number of supporters of that cause, broken down, if possible, by demographics or status (Catholic, former Catholic, priest, religious, other Christian, non-Christian). If we are to be heard and taken seriously, we must be in agreement on a common issue and backed by large numbers of people willing to speak out. When Paulo Gabriele, the butler to Pope Benedict, was asked how he found the courage to release documents from the Vatican, he said: “I love the Church and I was in a position to know what was going on. I felt that to remain silent was to become complicit with the wrong.” And so it is with us. If we do not approve of the current status of the Church, it is incumbent upon us to speak out. For us to remain silent is to be complicit with the wrong.
Call to Action
We agree with Sister Joan that “until we raise a common voice we will not only not be heard, we will not even be listened to in the light of larger issues and larger groups, all clamoring for attention.” Along with her, our “hope is that by speaking out together–astrong chorus of calls for Reform–we can provide a common, a clear, a strong and ongoing voice for the yet incomplete vision of Vatican II.”

Across not only America but the entire civilized world at this time, people are recalling Martin Luther King’s famous speech: I have a Dream. I invite you to visit our blog. Begin your sentence with “I have a dream …” and complete your dream for our Church. As this all important October meeting draws near, let us find our voice and speak out on what it is that – as Catholics, as former Catholics, as priests, as religious, as Christians from other denominations, and as non-Christians – we dream for the Catholic Church. As we have learned from the Civil Rights movement, the power of the people can be persuasive with the people in power. This is a call to action: Let us speak out with a strong, united voice loud enough to be heard all the way to the Vatican.

If you want to contact people in your circle and encourage them to sign our letter to Pope Francis, visit our Facebook page. The first video reaches out to everyone – not just Catholics but to non-Catholics as well – inviting them to sign the letter to Pope Francis. The second video is intended to reach those who feel that women deserve an expanded role in the Church. You may want to “like” us while you’re there.

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News Story — Role of Women in the Church

Continued from September 6, 2013 Newsletter

The Pope then launched into a strange interlude about Paraguayan women who,
after that country’s war with Brazil led to such a decimation of the male
population that there were eight women to every man, made the risky choice
to have more children to preserve the homeland, culture, faith and
language. And he said that, in the Church, we must think of women from that
perspective of risky choices made as women. Before what I’m sure were very
bemused faces in the press corps, he then added that this should be better
explained. Indeed it should. “I believe that we have not yet done a
profound theology of women in the Church. Only that they can do this, they
can do that, now they’re altar servers, now they’re lectors, the president
of Caritas … But, there’s more! We must do a deep theology of women.”

These remarks have led to a certain amount of eye-rolling among Catholic
feminists. As Jamie Mason put it succinctly in the National Catholic
Reporter, “for the past half-century, Catholic women theologians, many of
them women religious, have been developing, writing and teaching a profound
theology of women. Just because the hierarchy has not cared to read it
doesn’t mean it doesn’t already exist.” Perhaps Pope Francis could invite
some of these theologians to come to the Vatican and brief him on the state
of theological research in this area. He might start with Sr. Teresa
Forcades i Vila, the Benedictine nun and theologian who has written a book
on the subject. Because she’s Spanish, there would be no language barrier
and, as an officer of the European Society of Women in Theological
Research, Dr. Forcades is well-positioned to recommend other experts in her
field with whom the Pope might consult.

Further along in the in-flight press conference, a Brazilian reporter, Anna
Ferreira, gave the Pope an opportunity to dig himself in deeper by asking
him why he decided to talk to the Brazilian bishops about the role of women
in the Church and then asked him point-blank what women’s participation in
the Church should be and specifically about women’s ordination.

The Pope responded that he “would like to explain a little what I said
about the participation of women in the Church — it can’t be limited to
the fact of being an altar server or the president of Caritas, the
catechist … No! It must be more, but deeply more, even mystically more,
with what I’ve said about the theology of women. And, with reference to the
ordination of women, the Church has spoken and it says, “No”. John Paul II
said it, but with a definitive formulation. That it, that door, is closed,
but on this I want to say something to you. I’ve said it, but I’ll repeat
it. Our Lady, Mary, was more important than the apostles, the bishops and
deacons and priests. Women in the Church are more important than the
bishops and priests — why that is, is what we must try to explain better,
because I think a theological explanation for this is lacking.”

Needless to say, this reiteration of Pope John Paul II’s ban on women
priests and even on the discussion thereof drew immediate fire from groups
and individuals supporting women’s ordination. A sample:

Women’s Ordination Conference: “The church was not Pope John II in 1994
when he forbade women’s ordination nor is it Pope Francis today. The church
is made up of the people of God and Pope Francis could have looked to the
majority of Catholics who support the ordination of women, recognize that
women are created in God’s image, and strongly believe with God a door is
always open.”

Women’s Ordination Worldwide: “The church has spoken? We remind Pope
Francis that the church is made up of millions of women and men who have
been officially forbidden by the Vatican from even discussing the question
of women’s ordination. Pope John Paul II may have spoken but he is not the
Church. The ban on women priests may have been a definitive expression of
prejudice but it was not an infallible ruling and it does not reflect the
will or best interests of the people of the Church.”

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests: “The Association of Roman
Catholic Women Priests calls on Pope Francis to open a dialogue on women
priests and gender equality, following the example of Saint Francis and
Saint Clare. It is time for the full equality of women in the Catholic
Church and for Pope Francis to drop ‘definitive’ and discriminatory

Dr. Mary E. Hunt, feminist theologian: “This is the same old same old
theology — the Virgin Mary is more important than anyone else in the
story, but living women cannot make ecclesial decisions, exercise
sacramental ministry, or make ethical choices. Apparently, the question of
women’s ordination is so yesterday in the Vatican Francis doesn’t think it
needs to be revisited.”

Sr. Ivone Gebara, Brazilian nun and eco-feminist theologian: “How can Pope
Francis simply ignore the strength of the feminist movement and its
expression in Catholic feminist theology for more than thirty or forty
decades, depending on the place? It also amazes me that he stated that we
can even have more spaces in ministry when, in fact, in all the Catholic
parishes, it’s women for the most part who are carrying out the many
missionary projects.”

Bottom line: Your Holiness, women understand perfectly well where power
resides in the Catholic Church. You can try to diminish clericalism — a
laudable goal — and increase the role of the laity, but in any parish the
ultimate decision-making power rests with the pastor who, in the current
Church structure, is always a male priest. Higher up, at the diocesan
level, it rests with the bishop and ultimately with your office. Women do
not presently have access to those positions and that needs to change. No
amount of ethereal Marian theology will compensate for that or satisfy the
demands of women today who are used to equality in every other sphere of
society. With all due respect, it’s time for you to start to listen to
women for a change.

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Turning Again

Continued from September 6, 2013 Newsletter

Ten years later, I’ve been reflecting on the gifts that have come through this door (some of which sure didn’t feel like gifts at first). Little by little, we followed the kids who came for dinner to their homes, to their schools, downtown to the jail, and to the basketball court. Eventually, this led us to our work with Walltown Aspiring Youth.

When folks coming home from prison told us what it felt like to grow up here, we began to see the so-called school-to-prison pipeline. Our Project TURN grew out of a deep sense that we need to have conversations across the prison line if our country is to experience genuine conversion today. People who needed a place to come home to gave us a renewed hunger and thirst for justice.
Month by month, I’ve written to tell you the story of how all of this has led me to turn and turn again. And you’ve joined us to be part of this story in so many ways through School for Conversion. For all that, I thank you. And I give thanks to our God when I think of you.
But, unless you stop by the house, you rarely get to hear from Leah, who doesn’t dwell on repeating herself but prefers to get to work. A couple of months ago, a reporter from InTouch Magazine stopped by to take some pictures and talk to folks here. In our kitchen, he asked Leah to explain why “helping the needy” doesn’t really describe what we’re doing here. Her response gives me the occasion to share the wisdom Leah prefers to live without much talk (and this fine picture from the magazine, which captures the message precisely).

"A lot of people think of our house as a mission of sorts to bring the gospel into the neighborhood," Leah said, "to which I would invite them to come and see, because the gospel is very much alive and well here. Our neighbors have taught me a lot about the gospel--about their struggles and their faith, hope, and joy in the midst of that. So the term 'needy' isn't one that we've used over the years, but is actually part of the reason we were drawn here to instead see our neighbors as people who have a lot to teach us, and as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ."
So, there you have it.
If you have time for a story from me this month, you can read about my friendship with Jeremiah (and see more recent pictures of life around here) over at InTouch Magazine. If not, Leah has, as usual, gotten to the point much faster.
Peace and all good,
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Passing of Shelagh Mikulak

Continued from September 6, 2013 Newsletter

In 1957, Carmel and Gerald Neary left their home in Ireland to make a new life in Calgary with their daughters, Shelagh and Dara. Two more girls, Geraldine and Donna, were born in short succession. The family embodied the classic immigrant success story in that they prospered and all four girls grew up to embrace the opportunities on offer in their new homeland. In Shelagh, the principled rebelliousness of her Irish heritage fused with the Albertan spirit of pioneering enterprise to forge an ambitious, determined, tenacious character with a zest for life, a strong work ethic, a mighty heart and an enormous capacity to love.

And if my parting has left a void
Then fill it with remembered joy.
She loved books and reading and decided early in life that she wanted to be a librarian. She earned a BA in English (with Distinction) from the University of Calgary, and a Masters Degree in Library Science from the University of British Columbia. She went to work at the University of Calgary library, where she was one of Alan MacDonald’s cadre of feisty, opinionated and clever young go-getters. While she was involved in many U of C initiatives, the legacy she was most proud was the Business Library in Scurfield Hall (Haskayne School of Business). After 18 years at the U of C she was ready to seek new challenges and she headed downtown to Bennett Jones, one of Canada’s premier business law firms, where she provided energetic leadership. Sometimes willful and always passionate, she was supportive of her staff, providing them with mentoring and opportunities. The last major project which benefited from her vision and hard work was the creation of BenNet, the firm’s intranet which was recognized with the Nielsen Norman Intranet Design Award in an international competition. In 2012, in acknowledgement of her formidable leadership abilities, the Calgary Law Library Group dedicated a Leadership Award in her name to be awarded annually.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss
Ah yes, these things I, too, shall miss.
My life’s been full, I’ve savoured much
Good times, good friends, a loved-one’s touch.
She was married to Murray for 39 happy years. Like all couples they faced their trials together, not least of which was the ten long years they waited for their son Sean to enter their lives, bringing with him joy and love. More fulfillment came three years later with the arrival of Kevin. She loved her boys profoundly and was immensely proud of the fine men they have become, and her family was enhanced yet again when Kevin married Alexandra. Shelagh loved Calgary and retained a strong affection for her Irish roots but her favourite location was the family retreat at Duck Lake, Montana, which became her sanctuary and the place to which she removed herself to read, to rest, to contemplate and to become reenergized. A devout feminist, she worked assiduously to promote the ordination of women to priesthood in the Catholic Church. She was a devoted member of the Saint Brigid of Kildare Catholic Faith Community and a supporter of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, an international group seeking to reform the Church. Implacably opposed to injustice and unfairness, she was a formidable campaigner and she encouraged others to question misguided allegiance to the status quo. Tragedy struck in November 2010 when she was diagnosed with ALS. This was the most daunting challenge of her life but she stepped up to the plate and confronted her fate with resilience, courage, grace and true grit. She was supported magnificently by her family, friends, colleagues, the Adult and Palliative Home Care teams from Alberta Health Services, and most notably, the ALS Society of Alberta (especially Jane Rivest and Megan Blomfield). Special mention must go to the wonderful Tina Lorenzo, Shelagh’s constant caregiver, for her professional skills, her unwavering devotion to duty and her unstinting kindness. Shelagh faced her final days and hours with her customary consideration for loved ones and with a fortitude that was inspirational. Such was her life and such was her death. She will be missed.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief
Don’t shorten yours with undue grief
Be not be burdened with tears of sorrow
Enjoy the sunshine of the morrow.
A Celebration of Shelagh’s Life will take place at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday July 23, 2013 at St. David’s United Church, 3303 Capitol Hill Crescent N.W., Calgary, AB with a Funeral Mass celebrated by the Pastor of St. Brigid of Kildare Catholic Faith Community. At Shelagh’s request, please wear bright colours! In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the ALS Society of Alberta, No. 250, 4723 – 1 Street S.W., Calgary, Alberta T2G 4Y8. In living memory of Shelagh Mikulak, a tree will be planted at Hill Springs Park, Cochrane.
Published in The Calgary Herald on July 18, 2013
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Magnificent Men! A Leadership Journey Speaker Series

Learn from Canada’s best leaders!
Please join us for an entertaining and inspiring series about how to be a true achiever; gain images of success and encouragement so you maximize your personal and professional contributions. A new series starts this fall!

“Doug Mitchell is a distinguished lawyer, committed volunteer and thoughtful philanthropist who has helped many community organizations, but outstanding among these efforts is his long-time support of amateur sport in Canada, and university athletes in particular.” U.B.C. Alumni Award of Achievement, 2012.

In addition to a remarkable legal career, Doug Mitchell’s strategic leadership has shone as Commissioner of the CFL, a Governor of the NHL and Chair of the Alberta Economic Development Authority and the Calgary Airport Authority. As National Co-Chair of Borden Ladner Gervais, Canada’s largest law firm, Mitchell continues the awards he established in 1992, now known as the BLG awards honouring Canada’s top male and female student athletes and providing them a $10,000 scholarship for graduate school. Thanks to Mitchell’s lead donation, the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre enabled UBC to serve as a host venue for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Recently Mitchell and his wife, Lois, co-chaired the 2012 Calgary’s Cultural Capital of Canada programme, another outstanding success!

What are the Mitchell’s leadership strategies? How does one build an extraordinary law firm, become an outstanding community leader and respected philanthropist while also enjoying a happy family life? The answer to even one of these challenges will be inspiring! No doubt, Doug Mitchell will provide several insights!!

Magnificent Men! features outstanding male champions from the fields of business, sports and public service. Each lunch will enable you to see leadership in action, learn from the best and determine strategies for your own leadership journey. Prior to and following the lunch, you will have an opportunity to meet the keynote speaker and our fascinating guests. This is a great opportunity to mentor new or young employees.

Past speakers:

2012-13 Speakers: Also included Ken Dryden, Jim Gray, Bob Schulz and Hon. Jack Major)

Date: Friday, May 24th – Doug Mitchell!
Emcee: Kelly Kirch, 960The Fan
Tickets: $70 per person (+GST); 8 guests per table
Venue: Crystal Ballroom, Fairmont Palliser Hotel, 133 – 9th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB
Time: Refreshments/Registration 11:30am; Lunch 12:00-1:15 pm

To order your tickets or for more information – http://www.cc4ms.ca

Coming soon: More news about the Ordinary Joe’s Country Golf Tournament, August 15!
Coming this fall: Magnificent Men! Leadership Lunches 2013-14

Thank you!

Frances Wright
Canadian Centre for Male Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (cc4ms)

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Is Pope Francis inaugurating the third millennium?

A short opinion piece from theologian Leonardo Boff regarding Pope Francis

The first millennium of Christianity was marked by the paradigm of community. The Churches had relative autonomy regarding their own rites: Orthodox, Coptic, Ambrosian from Milan, Mozarabic, from Spain, and others. They venerated their own martyrs and confessors and had their own theologies, as seen in the flourishing Christianity of North Africa with Saint Augustine, Saint Cyprian and the lay theologian Tertullian. Those Churches recognized each other, and even though a mostly juridical vision in Rome was already appearing, the primacy of charity predominated .

The second millennium was characterized by the paradigm of the Church as a perfect and hierarchical society: an absolutist monarchy centered in the figure of the Pope as supreme head (cephalic), endowed with unlimited powers and, most recently, with infallibility, when he makes declarations as such in matters of faith and morality. The Pontifical State was created, with an army, a financial system and legislation that included the death penalty. A body of experts of the institution was created, the Roman Curia, responsible for the world ecclesiastical administration. This centralization produced the Romanization of all of Christianity. The evangelization of Latin America, Asia and Africa was accomplished within a process of colonial conquest of the world, and meant that the Roman model was transplanted, practically annulling the embodiment of the local cultures. The strict separation between the clergy and the lay was made official. The lay had no power of decision, (in the first millennium the lay participated in the election of bishops and even of the Pope), and were turned into childlike non-entities, in law and fact.
The palatial ways of the priests, bishops, cardinals and popes were affirmed. The titles of power of the Roman emperors, starting with those of Pope and Sumo Pontiff, were transferred to the bishop of Rome. The cardinals, princes of the Church, dressed up as the high Renaissance nobility, and so it has remained until now, scandalizing more than a few Christians, who were used to seeing Jesus of Nazareth as poor, a man of the people, persecuted, tortured and executed on the cross.
All indications are that this model of Church ended with the resignation of Benedict XVI, the last Pope from this monarchical model, in the tragic context of scandals that have touched the very heart of the credibility of the Christian message.
The election of Pope Francis, who comes «from the end of the world», as he presented himself, from the periphery of Christianity, from the Great South where 60% of Roman Catholics live, will inaugurate the ecclesiastic paradigm of the Third Millennium: the Church as a vast network of Christian communities, rooted in the various cultures, some more ancient than the Western cultures, such as the Chinese, Indian and Japanese, the tribal cultures of Africa and the communities of Latin America. It is also embodied in the modern culture of the technologically advanced countries, with a faith that is also lived out in small communities. All these incarnations have something in common: the urbanization of humanity, where more than the 80% of the population live in huge conglomerates of millions and millions of persons.
In this context, it will be impossible to talk of territorial parishes, but of neighborhood communities, of the buildings, of the streets nearby. In that Christianity, the lay will be protagonists, encouraged by priests who may or may not be married, or by women priests or women bishops, bound more by spirituality than administration. The Churches will have different faces.
The Reformation will not be restricted to the Roman curia, that is in a calamitous state, but will be extended to the entire institution of the Church. Perhaps only by convoking a new Council, with representatives from all of Christendom, will the Pope have the security and the master lines of the Church of the Third Millennium. May the Spirit not fail him.
– Leonardo

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New Pope is Good News for the Catholic Church

Francis. Pope Francis. This could be good news for the Catholic Church, for the whole church, and for the world. Let’s hope and pray so.

Jorge Bergoglio, the Argentinian cardinal from Buenos Aires, will be the first pope from Latin America and the first outside of Europe in a millennium. That’s good news from the start. And the world is now learning about the 76-year-old new pontiff whose election caused the white smoke to rise in the night skies of Rome to the cheers of tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square. A Jesuit scholar, he seems to be a humble man who lives simply, choosing to live in a small apartment instead of the archbishop’s palace, and travel on buses and trams instead of in the church limousine.

Will simplicity and social justice become the witness of the Roman Catholic Church around the world — and will it emanate from the first pope from the Global South, which is clearly the growing future of the church? What good news that would be.

While a theological conservative, Cardinal Bergoglio is also known for his compassion — a good combination reminiscent of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador or Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker Movement. In Buenos Aires, the cardinal showed real compassion for HIV victims, and he sternly rebuked priests who refused to baptize children born out of wedlock. There are also reports of the new pope being a “bridge builder” between Jesuits and other orders and, more widely, between conservatives and liberals in the church. How welcome that would be.

In all I read about the new pope following the announcement, two quotes stood out to me. The first was about the poor and the world’s massive inequality — from the perspective of one of the world’s poorest places.

”We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least,” said Bergoglio at a 2007 Latin American bishops meeting, according to National Catholic Reporter. “The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”

The second was about clerical privilege and insular church hierarchy. That ecclesial isolation has set the terms of the Catholic Church’s reputation and behavior for far too long.

The new pope said:

“We have to avoid the spiritual sickness of a self-referential church. It’s true that when you get out into the street, as happens to every man and woman, there can be accidents. However, if the church remains closed in on itself, self-referential, it gets old. Between a church that suffers accidents in the street, and a church that’s sick because it’s self-referential, I have no doubts about preferring the former.


I think the term “self-referential” is a powerful insight and prophetic critique of what the church’s institutions have become. Reverencing and worshiping God is so very different from doing the same for the structures of the church. 
And if that preference of the new Pope Francis prevails in Rome, might it even begin to change those church structures?

I fervently hope and pray that a Global South pope who deliberately chooses his name from Francis of Assisi will be that agent of change. In the 12th century, the young Francis of Assisi heard a call that became his mission — “rebuild my Church” — straight from the voice of God. And today, the church needs rebuilding again — to be what the church was meant to be. But to make those changes, Pope Francis will need to address some very fundamental issues.

First, the church must indeed be transformed to become known, as Francis of Assisi was, as the defender of the poorest and most vulnerable. Biblically speaking, that should be the church’s first and primary reputation. Sadly, the Catholic Church’s hierarchy is not best known for those primary issues today.

Second, Pope Francis must address, with both compassion and justice, the enormously painful reality of church’s sexual abuse of children. In the United States and around the world, the horrible sins of pedophile priests and cover-up bishops must be repented and reconciled. Until that happens, the church’s reputation can never be restored.

Third, the new pope must reverse and redress the Vatican’s recent censure and, in my view, mistreatment of its own sisters. These Catholic religious women around the world represent the best of Catholic social teaching. Pope Francis could and should embrace the women of the church instead of suspecting and disrespecting them.

While these are enormous challenges for Pope Francis, the grace of God is sufficient for faithful church leaders to lead. And Jorge Bergoglio is said to be such a man of God — fervent in personal faith and consistent prayer.

So let us all do what the first thing the new Pope Francis asked the people in the square to do: pray for him.

(Jim Wallis is CEO of Sojourners. His forthcoming book, On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good, is set to release in April. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.)

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LGBTI Activists and Organisations Statement

The secretaries general of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (which held its international conference in Manila in 2003) have released a statement which speaks for itself, with great clarity:

“Though the election of a pope should in a normal world be of concern just for the people following the teaching of Catholicism, the influence the Roman Catholic Church has on many governments and authorities governing the lives of Catholics and non-Catholics alike, justifies the concern of LGBTI activists and organisations in most countries of the world in relation to the election of Francis I.

For as much new the election of Cardinal Bergoglio represents for the Catholic Church – the first Latin American, the first Jesuit, the first to adopt the name of Francis – very little will change with regard to the position of the Vatican hierarchies on sexual orientation and gender identity. The fierce opposition of Bergoglio to the Argentinian same-sex marriage and gender identity laws does not leave much ground for hope, though the LGBTI movement was aware from the beginning of the conclave that none of the ‘papabili’ could be really thought of as a potential progressive leader of the Roman Catholic church. However, if the new pope is really committed about fighting the injustice of poverty, then he should also realise that people marginalised because of their sexual orientation and gender identity end up in the very same circle of poverty and social exclusion like everybody else. 

Secular LGBTI activists and organisations, who do not want religious entities to interfere with the enjoyment of their human rights, and religious LGBTI activists and organisations, who seek to change the oppressive structure of their churches from the inside, will have to join forces in a renewed struggle for the liberation of all oppressed lesbians, gays, bisexual, trans and intersex people, regardless of their faith or lack thereof.”

Gloria Careaga and Renato Sabbadini 
Co-Secretaries General of ILGA

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RCWP Canada Response to the Papal Election






Media Inquiries

Canada East: Cathy O’Connor, Roman Catholic Woman Deacon cathy@oconnor.net
(Orillia, ON)

Canada West: Monica Kilburn Smith, Roman Catholic Woman Priest
hearthkeepers@saintbrigids.org (Calgary, AB)

Marie Bouclin, Bishop, RCWP: mbouclin@tyenet.com (Sudbury, ON)

Website: http://www.romancatholicwomenpriests.org/

Facebook Page: Roman Catholic Womenpriests Canada



Yesterday, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Roman Catholic Womenpriests – Canada (RCWP – Canada) join with the Roman Catholic Church around the world in welcoming Francis I as the next Pope.

He begins his papacy amidst a great need for reform and renewal within the Church. If it is to be a vehicle for bringing the Gospel to contemporary society and into the future, the Church will need to transform the present culture of patriarchal authoritarianism and recognize the full baptismal equality of all Catholics. This was the thrust called for by the Second Vatican Council, and it is our hope that Pope Francis will once again let the fresh air of the Holy Spirit into the Church. With over one billion members, the Church and the faith of its people can truly be a global force for good in the world.

RCWP Canada calls for the structural changes necessary to ensure that the gifts of women are brought to all levels of church ministry and leadership, including ordination to priesthood. We also call for a restored focus on social justice concerns, such as violence, poverty, war, and the environment. Women and children are the primary victims of abuses of such basic human rights. Discussion concerning institutional reforms and moral issues need to be participatory, open and transparent.

As Catholics we draw upon a long history of faith and reason in responding to the signs of our times. RCWP invites all Canadian Catholics to join us in praying that Pope Francis I will call for an end to the sin of sexism so that we can truly be the Body of Christ – a community of believers where the equal dignity of female and male disciples of Christ is honoured. (Gal 3:28).

Members of RCWP Canada wish Pope Francis I well. We hope to be able to work with him and all others in leadership in the Catholic church in building a more inclusive, just and accountable institution. We pray that the new pope is given the grace to hear and to see needs of the whole People of God, taking to heart the commission of Jesus to his patron St. Francis of Assisi to “rebuild my house”. We commit with him to dedicate our lives to helping the Gospel flourish in today’s world.

Roman Catholic Womenpriests Canada are part of an international reform initiative within the Roman Catholic Church. Our mission is to prepare, support and ordain predominantly women who are called by the Holy Spirit and their communities to offer a renewed priestly ministry in vibrant grassroots communities where all are equal and all are welcome.

March 14, 2013

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