Tuesday, May 22, 2018

John Cooney:A Historical Overview of Ireland's Upcoming Vote on Legalization of Abortion Amendment to Constitution

John Cooney 
In January 1983 I returned to Dublin after six wondrous years in Brussels as  Irish Times European Correspondent and was appointed News Focus and Opinion Editor, a position which thrust me into a managerial role in this newspaper’s coverage of the most bitter and divisive ideological event in Irish history. 
Although not unaware of how in 1979 during his historic visit Pope John Paul II pleaded with the people of Ireland to defend traditional Catholic values against secular permissiveness, I was more familiar with the CAP – the common agricultural policy – than with PLAC, the Pro-Life Amendment Campaign, which was launched on April 27th1981 in Buswells Hotel, just a stone’s throw from Leinster House. This campaign had secured political support from Fianna Fail’s Charles J. Haughey and Fine Gael’s more liberal Garret FitzGerald over three general elections held in 1981-2.  Indeed, in a much publicised radio interview FitzGerald launched “a Republican crusade” to remove sectarian features from the Constitution and laws of the land. 
In the first quarter of 1983 I readjusted to the climate of tribal religious polemics with which I had become familiar as Religious Affairs Correspondent from 1972-1976.    
A decisive moment came on April 28th, 1983 when after intensive lobbying of politicians by PLAC the Dail voted in favour of a Fianna Fail alternative wording to the Fitzgerald’s Government proposal in spite of a warning from Attorney General Peter Sutherland that its adoption would present dangers to the lives of women. In Fine Gael only Alan Shatter and Monica Barnes voted against the Fianna Fail wording. In the Seanad there was eloquent opposition from Mary Robinson, Michael D. Higgins, Catherine McGuiness, Brendan Ryan, John Robb, Shane Ross and Katherine Bulbulia.   
This vote thrust the issue into the public domain when September 7th was announced as the date for holding a constitutional referendum. With the approval of editor Douglas Gageby, we devised a three-fold strategy to open the daily opinion column to all sides of the debate; secondly, to assign Peadar Kirby to travel around the country to report on grass-roots opinion and, thirdly, for Seamus Martin to monitor each day’s radio and television head-to-heads. 
This approach, of course, was in addition to comprehensive daily news coverage under the direction of News Editor, Conor O’Cleary, who confided to me his frustration with Religious Affairs Correspondent, the late Pat Nolan, who was distinctly “a Bishops’ man”. However, my administrative duties, which included running the paper’s “Keep up with the Changing Times” advertising campaign on radio and television, prevented me from taking up Conor’s invitation to contribute critical daily comment on the unfolding “moral civil war”.
Today in the final phase of a no less divisive campaign than in 1983 – and after successive battles to legalise condoms, the decriminalisation of homosexual activity between consenting adults, the removal of the constitutional prohibition of divorce and, in 2015, the recognition of same sex marriage - three exceptions to my enforced neutrality come back to mind. 
During my Brussels days I had become friendly with the Rev Ian Paisley, after he was elected a member of the European Parliament in 1979. This paid a special dividend when he agreed to an interview in which he sided with the views of the mainstream Protestant church leaders that abortion was not a matter to be dealt with in the Constitution but was rather an area of responsibility for legislation or prohibition by elected representatives in the Dail. 
Second, as pulpits in Catholic Churches throughout the land thundered the simplistic but misleading message that to vote against the amendment would be a vote for abortion, I highlighted publication by the Dominican review, Doctrine and Life, of a book of essays, Abortion and the Law, exploring the complexity of the legal and moral issues.  In these essays concerned liberal Catholics urged Cardinal Tomas O’Fiaich and Archbishop Dermot Ryan of Dublin to issue a statement recognising the right in conscience of Catholics to vote against the amendment.            
My third contribution came on August 22nd when a balanced statement was published by the Episcopal Conference at its meeting in Maynooth, which, while supporting the amendment, nonetheless recognised the right of Catholics to vote against it. 
However, this united front was thrown into confusion when Archbishop Ryan and Bishop of Kerry, Kevin McNamara, issued unilateral statements insisting that Catholics must vote for the amendment. In an opinion piece I criticised Ryan and McNamara for acting like authoritarian pre-Vatican Two prelates who did not accept pluralism and religious freedom.
Thirty-five years on, numerous episcopal statements in favour of retaining the Fourteenth Amendment show a conservative majority which reflects the confessionalism of Ryan and McNamara and shows starkly that they have not learned humility from the horrendous revelations of clerical child abuse scandals.
Unlike 1983, in 2018 PLAC does not have a leader with the seductivee charm of the late Senator Des Hanafin. Young people have abandoned church attendance in droves, and the alliance of Bishops and Fianna which was exploited ruthlessly by Haughey has been broke by the party’s present leader, Micheal Martin. 
I shall vote for repeal of a clause that should never have been put into the Constitution. However, sharing the reservations of many that the proposed legalisation of abortion up to three months smacks too much of abortion on demand, I consider that is a matter for another parliamentary day.

Pope's Message to Gay Sexual Abuse Survivor Cruz: “God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say."

If the Pope Believes God Loves LGBT People, He Should Say So
He said he talked to the pope about being gay, and that the pope told him to essentially not worry about it. “You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter,” Cruz told El Pais and other publications over the weekend. “God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say."

My Response: I agree. Pope Francis should proclaim this message to all LGBTI and move the church toward living God's all-embracing love for everyone. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP #womenpriestsnow, https://arcwp.org, sofiabmm@aol.com

A victim of clerical sex abuse in Chile spent three days in Rome with Pope Francis. He says the Pope told him it’s OK to be gay. So far, the Vatican is saying nothing.

700 Families Separated Due to U.S. Immigration Policy- Catholic advocates denounce US plan, We Must Challenge Injustice and Human Rights Violation, National Catholic Reporter


My response: The separation of children from their families is a human rights violation. Our oneness as a human family connects us all. We cannot crucify our sisters and brothers by doing things like separating families at our border and call ourselves people of any faith or no faith. Anywhere we find injustice, we must speak out and take action to remedy the situation. This is what the religion of prophets, mystics and Jesus of Nazareth taught. 

We need to pass immigration reform legislation now and  fix this mess as well as reach out to the countries from where people are fleeing drug violence with supportive policies that address the root issues. It is our duty to contact our legislatures to make our voices heard. 

..."shortly after a New York Times article documented around 700 cases of family separation since October 2017, HHS admitted it had lost track of nearly 1,500 unaccompanied minors who were placed in foster care; several of those minors were discovered being trafficked."

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, https://arcwp.org

#women priests now

Carrying out 100-percent policy splits up families, including asylum seekers

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Central Americans wait to present themselves for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing April 29 in Tijuana, Mexico. (CNS/David Maung)
Calling a new policy that will lead to the separation of more families at the border cruel and unjust, Catholic advocates and asylum experts condemned a plan they say will cause immigrants added pain and trauma without deterring them from seeking refuge in the United States or addressing the root causes of migration.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced May 7 that the Department of Homeland Security will refer 100 percent of illegal border crossing cases to the Department of Justice, which will begin prosecuting 100 percent of those cases. Asylum seekers are not excepted from the policy, although it doesn't apply if they turn themselves in at ports of entry.
The policy isn't being presented as a family separation effort but will necessarily split up more families. Children cannot accompany parents to criminal jails while the parents wait to be prosecuted or serve a sentence of up to six months for the misdemeanor of illegal entry.
So far this fiscal year, nearly 36 percent of migrants apprehended at the southern border were unaccompanied minors or family units, and the vast majority of those children and families came from the violent "Northern Triangle" countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
"Government officials are responsible for the foreseeable results of the actions they take and what flows from that," said Camilo Perez-Bustillo, director of advocacy, leadership development and research at the Hope Border Institute in El Paso.
The new policy was piloted in the El Paso sector July to November 2017 before it was applied to the whole nation; during that time period, apprehensions of family units actually increased, although not as dramatically as in other sectors during the same time period, even though overall apprehensions were down.
Officials have recognized that increased family separation will result from the policy. Assisting anyone, even one's own minor child, to enter the U.S. illegally, is considered smuggling.
"If you're smuggling a child, then we're going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law," Sessions said in his announcement. "If you don't want your child separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally. It's not our fault that somebody does that."
Some Catholics pushed back against officials' claims that they are only following the law; in the past, people seeking asylum usually had those cases processed before officials decided if prosecution was necessary.
"I can't imagine where this idea of following the law, which is supposed to be a matter of justice, can take precedence over the injustice of essentially putting children in a jail of their own where they have no access to the parents who love them enough to risk their lives to come all the way to the United States," said Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a professor of religious studies at Manhattan College.
Legally, immigrants are allowed to seek asylum whether they come to a port of entry at the border or cross between ports and end up in Border Patrol custody, multiple advocates pointed out. And while crossing between ports of entry is technically illegal even for asylum seekers, that doesn't mean the law requires 100-percent prosecution, said Ashley Feasley, director of policy at the U.S. bishops' conference Migration and Refugee Services Office.
Feasley pointed out that even aside from humanitarian and child welfare concerns, the government is spending an estimated $620 per night detaining the average separated family rather than using its discretion to divert those resources to combatting real threats.
When families are separated, children are taken under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement while the parents are placed in the custody of the U.S. Marshals.

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Central Americans wait to present themselves for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing April 29 in Tijuana, Mexico. (CNS/David Maung)
As documented in a Joint Complaint on Forcible Separation of Families in Customs and Border Protection Custody from several immigrant rights organizations, during this separation it can be very difficult for parents to learn where their children are and even more difficult to communicate with them. This can complicate court cases when some family members have documents or information that others need, said Feasley.
While the families can be reunited after the parents are released, there's no government mechanism to ensure that this happens, Feasley added, leaving the burden of navigating multiple agencies to social services providers, attorneys and extended family. In some cases, parents are even deported before being reunited with their children.
Increasing advocates' concerns is the worry that HHS isn't keeping children safe. In late April, shortly after a New York Times article documented around 700 cases of family separation since October 2017, HHS admitted it had lost track of nearly 1,500 unaccompanied minors who were placed in foster care; several of those minors were discovered being trafficked.
The fact that the administration implemented a policy that will increase family separation right after those pieces of information became public is "really disturbing" said Perez-Bustillo.
"There's no reason to assume that we know what happens when children are separated in this way. What does it mean if you're one of those children that they have 'lost track of?' " he asked. "What does that do to your emotional and psychological health and development? What are the lingering effects of this? How do you ever undo that damage? And then let's multiply it as the policy is intensified."
Gerald Gray, a clinical social worker who serves as a consultant for the Hope Border Institute and has decades of experience working with refugee survivors of torture, described this form of indefinite and uncertain separation as a form of "forced disappearance" which he also called torture.
"It's an induced pain, it's not for the benefit of the person who's disappeared or their caretakers, and it's not wanted," said Gray. "It's not as if this is a medical procedure. It's an attempt to terrify, usually whole communities, certainly families, and put them in great pain, sometimes unending pain. I can't say more about its nature as torture."
Forced disappearance, like others forms of torture, often results in depression and post-traumatic stress disorder — manifesting in children through symptoms such as developmental regression, difficulty maintaining interpersonal relationships, and emotional issues such as aggression and suicide, Gray said.
Although parents might also be traumatized by the separation, effects are especially severe for children, particularly if that trauma is compounded by past traumatic experiences, said Gray. "We know in clinical work with torture that those sorts of collection of traumas last for years if obtained during childhood."
Against the common good
Family separation is also damaging from a theological perspective, said Imperatori-Lee. "It's kind of the destruction of the domestic church. We talk about the family as the first place where children learn about God and children learn about God's unconditional love."
Because, in Catholic teaching, families are the "basic cells of civil society" added Boston College theology professor Kristin Heyer, "policies that separate families at the point of detention not only traumatize minors and parents themselves, in violation of their human dignity, they also threaten the common good."
Christianity calls people to recognize others' human dignity and face migrants' real struggles, Imperatori-Lee added. "The church should be not just a place of comfort but a place where we confront our discomfort. We sit there in the pews and stare at a crucified body. The least we could do is turn our attention to the people who are being crucified in our midst today."
Imperatori-Lee and others expressed concern that the government was taking the opposite approach, trying to deter asylum seekers instead of recognizing that they flee from genuine threats.
"The deterrent factor is once again in complete violation of Catholic social teaching which holds that people have a right to migrate," said Imperatori-Lee, "… They're leaving genuinely violent, dangerous, life-threatening circumstances. So to deter that is essentially to condemn people to death."
The desperation migrants experience may mean that the policy is not even effective as a deterrent, Appleby pointed out. "The forces that are driving families to come to the U.S. are much stronger than any deterrence policies that the admin could employ. When you're facing death … you're going to take your chances."
"One thing we know, is that when conditions are bad enough, nothing will stand in the way of people fleeing and seeking safety, especially for members of their family," said Perez-Bustillo. "… It's like the incentives don't work in that context."
A more effective and more humane tactic would be to focus on addressing root causes, many of which can be traced to U.S. policies such as the war on drugs, free trade, supporting corrupt governments and being the source of guns and gangs, advocates said.
"Until we address the root causes in these countries, in the Northern Triangle, the violence, the economic depravity and the political corruption in these countries, you're not going to solve the problem," said Appleby. "The problem is that Washington doesn't have the patience for that. Politicians want an immediate fix."
"This could be the opportunity for those deeper questions to be asked, and for issues to be reframed, and for the focus to be on what are the causes that produce these flows and how U.S. policy contributes," Perez-Bustillo concluded. "Hopefully we can take that path. But the administration seems committed to a very different path, which means intensifying the current pattern of serious human rights violations."
[Maria Benevento is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Her email address is mbenevento@ncronline.org.]



 Although I did not participate directly in this meeting, as a secretary in the Celam, I can testify to the many echoes that were recorded in the corridors and walls of our offices about what was said and concluded there.
The following expressions of my Bishop Gerardo Valencia Cano, although unknown to the missionaries and in general to all the people within the Church, impacted us and made us rethink the action in the Missionary Pastoral as such:
"From my first contacts with the Indigenous cultures, I had the concern that the missionaries were forced many times to intuit or improvise our pastoral action for lack of greater anthropological knowledge; I have had the impression that our pastoral work often fails due to lack of adequate planning ... "Bishop Gerardo Valencia Cano. 
Gerardo Valencia Cano., Bishop of Buenaventura, being president of the DMC (Department of Missions of the Celam) convened the meeting after an exhaustive preparation, which took into account the analyzes extracted from the data thrown by the surveys sent to all missionary bishops on the occasion of said preparation, the reports and contributions requested to each of them on the conditions of missionary work in their respective jurisdictions, the opinions of social scientists who, during the development of their anthropological investigations, knew and valued the work carried out by the different churches in the different national territories, the expectations, doubts and programs that arose in the so-called mission territories about the future of the communities entrusted to their pastoral work.With all that material collected through the work prior to the realization of that First Missionary Encounter of Latin America, this event was held in Melgar from April 20 to 27/68
Melgar-Colombia, name of the town, where the meeting was held, turned out to be a one hundred percent prophetic act . Its importance was not understood at the time but by a minimum group of missionaries who put it into practice in their respective fields of action. His analyzes and conclusions were collected in a beautiful document that after his impression was subjected to the punishment of living in perpetual darkness because his light compromised too clearly the need for a profound change in the missionary action.
After a careful and long preparation, the presented document was elaborated with the intense work, during eight days, of 18 Bishops and Missionary Prelates of Latin America, together with more than forty specialists in the different sciences and disciplines (AG 26) related to the pastoral missionary
Brief summary for an approach to such an important document:
In Education , showed the urgent need to discover pedagogical models that allowed the conservation and dynamization of different cultural identities, so as to correct the disintegration that produced the sole teaching of values, and organization of national society. Impossible to ignore, the contributions, comments and suggestions of anthropologists,  José  de  Recasens and  Gerardo Reichel- Dolmatoff.
In Liturgy, he  visualized the different expressions of the "Seeds of the Word" present in the religious rituals of the Afro and indigenous communities. He showed the need to enrich the Roman rituals with the autochthonous traditions, not only in the matter of songs, gestures and celebrative matters, but also in the very conception of the fair and fraternal sharing proposed by the memory of the Eucharistic supper. In this space, the role of present advisors as the one of Josep Camps was decisive .
In Evangelization, he  courageously addressed the dilemma of evangelizing from the enlightenment of faith in a loving, fraternal, egalitarian, libertarian and just God that is present in all cultures, evangelization that allows to respect in that way the norms and rites of religions. own of each culture. This presentation by the theologian Noel Olaya Perdomo , was taken up by  Buenaventura Klopemburg when he gave his presentation on the religious syncretism in Brazil, specifically referring to the Christian elements of Voodoo and Candomblé.
In Spirituality.  The paper by Gustavo Gutiérrez   emphasized Jesus' preference for the poor, his total commitment to justice, and the immediate urgency to create just, supportive, free, happy and fraternal Christian communities in the style of the acts of the apostles. Second Galilee with his presentation on the small Christian communities that through the method of seeing-judging-acting gathered around the prayerful reading of the word to analyze from the poor the cause of injustice, reaffirmed the spiritual line of commitment to the poor and the urgency to create spaces where it would be possible to live the project of the Kingdom of God.
In politics / economics, it was clearly formulated that fidelity to the gospel requires always seeking consensus, organization based on the participation of all, privileging authority as a service from and with the poor. No to the absurd and inhuman accumulation of wealth. Yes to the fair and equitable distribution of goods.
In inculturated apostolic forms,   Monsignor Samuel Ruiz , Bishop of Chiapas, presented in his presentation the need to open up to priestly forms that privilege service as the essence of the priestly exercise. In this way, it would be possible that starting from their own cultural condition of service and their essential status as head of the family, the Church could approach a solid and authentic evangelization between different cultures.
The challenge to the formation of the native clergy was open, without violating their customs and ethnic culture . Situation, which has not yet become present among us, due to the presence of foreign clergy. In our environment "the lack of autochthonous vocations is mainly due to reasons of intellectual nature, 68%, and of affective order such as celibacy, absence of the family, etc. 62% ". (1)
In ecclesiology , the definition of the Church was privileged as the meeting of a community of communities in which there are diversity of cultural forms, of celebration, with fidelity and respect for the authority that serves the people of God, guiding them towards full communion of services until reaching the full brotherhood and humanity of the sons and daughters of God.
The liturgical manifestation of the Encounter , presented a radical change within the known liturgical structure, not without having previously argued the why of each moment.
It was based on the readings of the Word of the day, explaining and making known the history of the first Christian communities, who gathered in the houses of the believers offered their homes and in them the news and events that affect the believers were heard, friends and family absent from the first Christian communities. The Nicene Creed was intoned, as the creed of the Universal Church. The bread was shared, which was distributed to those present, by the lay missionaries present.
The absence of other moments of the Liturgy, were open to the expressions of the different customs, and cultures of the ethnic groups of Latin America. The above was the definitive beginning to become aware of Western-Greco-Roman decolonization, recognizing the identity and culture of our peoples.
This document has suffered ignorance and forgetfulness, censored by one of the attendees present, who being sent as a special observer guest,  Bishop Sergio Pignedoli , his comments taken to Rome, were nefarious, who "scandalized", commented: "It has been a celebration made without following the canons established by the Church. "
We present these brief comments in view of the celebration of the "50 Years Medellín 1968", emphasizing the contribution that the missionary bishops made in that meeting, towards the construction of a poor Church, of the poor, with the poor , with all the evangelical sense that Pope Francis presents and challenges us today.
Those who read the documents of Medellin can well recognize the influence of Melgar's document, in its worrying diagnosis, and suggestions for the new Evangelization starting from the "seeds of the Word" present in Latin America.
They ask me, for the photographic memory. If there was and well collected by the professional camera of the official photographer of Celam; Brother José Arnaiz, Marianist. I do not know of any publication that has been made, I suppose because of the pressure, condemnation and censorship that was present at those moments.
* Roman Catholic Presbyter .
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Monday, May 21, 2018

Healing Service for Geri Rausch in Ft. Myers, Dotty Shugrue ARCWP



In Norse mythology Geri, is one of the wolves who  accompanies the god Odin, the supreme god and creator, the god of victory.
Reflection from “Women who Run with Wolves”

Beloved  Holy  One,  along  this  journey  of  healing  may  your  loving  compassion break through  the  darkness  and  shine  through  onto  the  road  that  lies  ahead.  

Thank  you  for  the  gift  of  sight  planted  deep  within  our  hearts  so  that  we  may  see  in  others  the  comfort  you  send  each  of  us  along  our  journeys  of healing.  
Thank  you  for  protecting  each  of  us  from  the  destruction  of  our  brokenness.  Through  your  grace  and  mercy,  grant  us  wisdom  to  persevere.

PRESIDER:    We  gather  together  embracing  the  healing  presence  of God.   And we celebrate God with us    

READER:    We  gather  together  in  service  to  one  another  as  Jesus
serves.  And we walk together on our journey of life. 

PRESIDER:    We  come  with  our  faith  and  with  our  doubts.

READER:  We  come  with  our  hopes  and  with  our  fears.
PRESIDER:   We  come  as  we  are  because  it  is  God  inviting  us  to  come.

READER:  And God has promised never to turn away.   


Healing the woman with an issue of blood is one of the miracles of Jesus as told to us in three of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. In this passage Mark gives a fuller account of this particular miracle.  Actually, Mark is the Gospel writer who tells us the most about the miracles  that happened to the people who believed in Jesus.


READER:  A reading from the Gospel as told to us by the apostle Mark  
(Mark 5:25–34)


PRESIDER: Geri, please come forward 

Geri, open your hands and receive this Holy Water.   This water poured on your hands holds the Spirit of Life as it cleanses your whole body both within and without.  Let us now wash our hands uniting ourselves with Geri on this new journey before her.


The oil used in this service is the Holy Chrism  used in the reception of sacraments.
Geri, you were anointed in Baptism .  May this Holy Chrism remind you again, you are a daughter of God, an original blessing so greatly loved by all here present.

PRESIDER:   Geri, receive this sacred oil that blesses your hands that  as you reach to heal others you too may be healed.

PRESIDER:  Geri receive this small stone representing the solid foundation of your faith. 

May the solid foundation of your faith in God sustain you.
May the Light of  Christ  shine  in  you  strengthening you, 
May  the Spirit of Life heal you,
And may the healing grace of God continue to be shared with you through your family and friends who stand here with you today


Individuals are invited to share prayers of faith and support for Geri



Loving Jesus, we give you thanks for your continual healing of mind, body and spirit.  We give you praise for the hands of Jesus, our brother, whose power continues to heal us.  And we give you thanks as we go forth and become the compassionate hands of healing for one another.

In  mercy  and  in  love  may  we  go  forth  to  receive  and  become
the  healing  hands  of  the Cosmic Christ  as we journey this path with Gerri in faith.

SONG;  “Peace”  sung by Jan Phillips

Pope Francis: The Church, like Mary, is Woman and Mother, Time for Vatican to Treat Women and Men as Spiritual Equals by Affirming Divine Feminine Rising Up in Love in Women Priests' Movement


My Response: Both women and men are called to reflect the tenderness of the divine, as Mary did. It is time for the Vatican to affirm women and men as spiritual equals and listen to our experiences in the international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement. Since 2002 we have been providing a new example of equality and mutuality in grassroots ecclesial communities where all are welcome to celebrate sacraments in a gathering of gifted, diverse people. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, #womenpriestsnow, sofiabmm@aol.com, https://arcwp.org

The Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, was observed for the first time on Monday; the movable feast is set for the first day following Pentecost. In his homily during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said the first virtue of a mom is tenderness.

By Vatican News

“The Church is feminine,” Pope Francis said in his homily on Monday, “she is a mother.”

When this trait is lacking, the Pope continued, the Church resembles merely “a charitable organization, or a football team”; when it is “a masculine Church,” it sadly becomes “a church of old bachelors,” “incapable of love, incapable of fruitfulness.”



Pope institutes new celebration of Mary, Mother of Church

That was the reflection offered by Pope Francis during the Mass celebrated in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta for the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. The feast is being celebrated this year for the first time, after the publication in March of the decree Ecclesia Mater (“Mother Church”) by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Pope Francis himself decided the feast should be celebrated on the Monday immediately following Pentecost, in order “to encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety.”
The “motherliness” of Mary

In his homily, Pope Francis said that in the Gospel, Mary is always described as “the Mother of Jesus,” instead of “the Lady” or “the widow of Joseph”: her motherliness is emphasized throughout the Gospels, beginning with the Annunciation. This is a quality that was noted immediately by the Fathers of the Church, a quality that applies also to the Church.

The Church is feminine, because it is “church” and “bride” [both grammatically feminine]: it is feminine. And she is mother; she gives life. Bride and Mother. And the Fathers go further and say that even your soul is the bride of Christ and mother.” And it is with this attitude that comes from Mary, who is Mother of the Church, with this attitude we can understand this feminine dimension of the Church, which, when it is not there, the Church loses its identity and becomes a charitable organization or a football team, or whatever, but not the Church.
No to a Church of old bachelors

Only a feminine Church will be able to have “fruitful attitudes,” in accordance with the intention of God, who chose “to be born of a woman in order to teach us the path of woman.”

The important thing is that the Church be a woman, that has this attitude of a bride and of a mother. When we forget this, it is a masculine Church. Without this dimension, it sadly becomes a church of old bachelors, who live in this isolation, incapable of love, incapable of fecundity. Without the woman, the Church does not advance—because she is a woman. And this attitude of woman comes from Mary, because Jesus willed it so.
The tenderness of a mom

The virtue that primarily distinguishes a woman, Pope Francis said, is tenderness, like the tenderness of Mary, when she “gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger.” She cared for Him, with meekness and humility, which are the great virtues of mothers.

A Church that is a mother goes along the path of tenderness. It knows the language of such wisdom of caresses, of silence, of the gaze that knows compassion, that knows silent. It is, too, a soul, a person who lives out this way of being a member of the Church, knowing that he or she is [like] a mother [and] must go along the same path: a person [who is] gentle, tender, smiling, full of love. "