Saturday, April 9, 2016

Mary, Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Celebrates Liturgy for Third Sunday After Easter, Co Presiders: Lee Breyer and Kathryn Shea ARCWP, Music Minister: Mindy Lou Simmons



"We Gather here to Celebrate" by Mindy Lou Simmons





  Theme: Breakfast on the beach with….Jesus

 Welcome and Music Preparation

 Greeting and Gathering Hymn: “We Gather Here to Celebrate”

                                                                        Gathering Prayer
Presider: Let us pray as we come together to break bread and share our blessings in the names of God, our Creator – Jesus, our Liberator – and the Holy Spirit, our Sanctifier. All: Amen.

   Opening Prayer
All: God of life, wholeness and holiness, you who direct all creation to its evolving fulfillment in Jesus, the Christ – open our hearts to the message of the Gospel so that your peace may rule in our hearts and your justice may guide our lives. May we then be able to live in confident hope of our sharing in your resurrection.

Loving God, bless all of us gathered here and all those of our community who are not with us today. We ask this of you, our brother Jesus, and our Wisdom Sophia. Amen.

Penitential Rite and Community Forgiveness
Presider: Creator God, to you all hearts are open, no desires unknown, and no secrets hidden. We ask you to send your Spirit to us so that we may live ever more openly according to your will for us and that we may be worthy to be called your blessed people.
     All: Help us to hear your messages, to faithfully understand them, and to receive the strength to follow them.
Presider: Christ Jesus, we ask for the grace to be able, always, to acknowledge our need to grow in goodness and caring for ourselves, for others, and for our planet earth.
     All: We accept your love and understanding of the frailty of our human nature. Help us to extend your merciful and forgiving presence given freely to us as we share that with all those with whom we live.

Presider: And we join with you, Jesus the Christ, believing that the insight, direction, and strength of the Holy Spirit will lead us to deeper dedications to justice, equality, peace, and nonviolence.

All: (with an outstretched arm): God, the Father and Mother of love and forgiveness, through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, he bonded the world to you. He sent the Holy Spirit among us to give us the wisdom to love you – and the strength and compassion to love one another. Merciful God, teach us the virtues of pardon and peace so that we may – in turn – learn to forgive each other for our failures to care for one another, for our planet Earth, and for all of creation. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our brother and of the Holy Spirit, our healer and comforter. Amen.

Glory to God
All: Glory to God in the highest, and peace to all God’s people on earth. Creator God, heart of the universe, we thank you for the breath of the Spirit sustaining everything that exists, everywhere in the cosmos. Through the example and teachings of Jesus, you gave us the grace to realize that you are always present among us – and that we can experience you in our brothers and sisters. We give you glory and praise through Jesus the Christ, our brother, and the Holy Spirit, your Wisdom. Amen.

Liturgy of the Word

First reading: Acts 5: 27-32 40-41             All: Thanks be to God.
Psalm 30                              Responsorial: I Will Praise You, my God. #762
Second reading: Revelation 5:11-14           All: Thanks be to God.
Gospel Acclamation:          Celtic Alleluia (sung)
Gospel: John 18: 33-37                             All: Glory and thanks to our Savior, Jesus the Christ

Shared Homily/Community Reflection
Discussion starter: You’re sitting on the shore with Jesus and seven disciples; the conversation is
quite “different.” What do you want to say to Jesus? How would you respond to the question Jesus asked Peter? What effect, do you think, this experience would have on you? (It got Peter in trouble.)

Profession of Faith
All: We believe in God, the Creator of the universe whose divinity infuses all that exists, making everything, everywhere, sacred. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, who leads us to the fullness of humanity. Through him, we become a new people, called beyond the consequences of our brokenness. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Wisdom who keeps the Christ-vision present to all those who are searching for meaning and wholeness in their lives – and the Sustainer who heals and energizes us when our spirits may grow weary in our journeys. We say: Amen to courage, to hope, and to truth. We say: Amen to the partnership and equality of all people of different genders, races, and faiths. We believe in a world of justice and peace for everyone, everywhere, with no exceptions. In all of this, we surely believe.
Prayers of the Community
Presider: We are a people of faith. We believe in the power of prayer. We believe that we send blessings to those who are struggling and who need to experience hope and healing, to those who are grieving and need comfort in their loss. We bring the needs of people throughout the world to our merciful and gracious God.
After each intercession, the response is” Compassionate God, hear our prayers.

Presider: Healing God, you faithfully listen to our prayers. We ask you to strengthen us in our caring for one another and in our works for justice, equality, and peace in a world without violence. As always, we make this prayer in the names of Jesus, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit, our Wisdom. Amen.
Offertory Procession “Room at the Table”

Preparation of the Gifts
Presider: Blessed are you, gracious God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, grain that earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.
All: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: Blessed are you, gracious God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine that earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us our spiritual drink.
All: Blessed be God forever.

Gathering of the Gifted: All are welcome around our family table

ALL: Gracious God, we are united in this sacrament by our love of Jesus the Christ. We are in communion with all people everywhere who proclaim your healing power and mercy, especially to those who are marginalized and oppressed. May we love tenderly, do justice, and walk humbly with you in solidarity with our brothers and sisters. May we live as prophetic witnesses to the Gospel. We ask this through Jesus, the Christ. Amen.

Presider: God dwells in each one of us.            All: Namaste!
Presider: Let us give thanks to the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists.
All: With hearts full of love, we give God thanks and praise.
Presider: Sacred Spirit, we recognize your presence among us as we gather at our family table.
           All: Fill us with reverence for you, for one another, and for all your creation.
Presider: Let us lift up our hearts.
All: We lift them up to the Holy One, living in us and loving through us.

Eucharistic Prayer

Voice 1: Ever present and always caring, loving God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks. In you we live and move and have our very being. Your Spirit dwelling in us gives us the hope of unending peace and joy with you. Your gift of the Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, is the foretaste and promise of the paschal feast of heaven. We join together with all those who have gone before us and now live in the eternal now, as we sing…

ALL: We are holy, holy, holy X3, we are whole. You are holy…I am holy…we are holy.

Voice 2: We thank you, God, for the gift of Jesus in history – and the gift of Jesus in faith. You raised him up from among your people to baptize us in your Spirit. His life was moved by his vision of your presence among us. He burned with insight and truth, revealing you in his life well lived. He showed us, through his example, not only how we should live, but also for what we may die.

Voice 3: When his time had come, Jesus suffered for what he deeply believed and taught…his conviction that love is stronger than death. And then, as a model of this belief for those people in ages to come, he opened wide his arms and died. The Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, showed us that life is eternal and love is immortal. Jesus is with us today and will be through the end of time.

All: O God, let your Spirit of life, healing and wholeness come upon these gifts that we have gathered from the fields and placed on our table — this simple wheat and wine.  May she have them become for us the Body and Blood of the resurrected Christ, our brother.

(With an outstretched arm as we pray the consecration together. We remember the gift that Jesus gave us on the night before he died. He gathered with his friends to share a final Passover meal. And it was at that supper that he took bread, said the blessing and shared it with them saying: take this, all of you, and eat it. This bread is you; this bread is me. We are one body, the presence of God in the world. Do this in memory of me. [Pause]

In the same way, he took a cup of wine, said the blessing, and gave it to his friends saying: take this, all of you, and drink it. This wine is you; this wine is me. We are one blood, the presence of God in the world. Do this in memory of me.

Presider: Jesus, who was with God “in the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth,” is present to us now in this bread. The Spirit, of whom the prophets spoke in history, is with us now in this cup. Let us proclaim this mystery of faith.

All: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ lives in us and through us in the world today.

Voice 4: In memory of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we offer you, God, this life-giving bread, this saving cup. May all who share this sacred meal be brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit. And may that Spirit, that Wisdom, move freely in our lives as she did in the life of Jesus.

Voice 5: God, remember your church throughout the world, help us grow in love, together with Francis, our Pope, Bridget Mary, our Bishop, and all your family everywhere – especially those who live on the margins of church and society. Remember also all those, living and dead, who touched our lives and left their footprints on our hearts. We remember especially….(mention names, if you wish to do so.)

All: And we pray: it is through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, that all glory and honor is yours, Our Creator God, forever and ever. Amen (sung).

Presider: Let us join hands and raise our voices as we sing the Prayer that Jesus taught us.

All: Our Father and Mother …….. Amen.

All: Lord God, we have prayed that your kindom may come among us. Open our ears to hear it, our hearts to hold it, and our hands to serve it.

The Sign of Peace
Presider: Jesus, you said to your disciples, “My peace I leave you; my peace I give you.”   Look on the faith of those gathered here today and ….
All: … grant us your peace. O God, following the example of Jesus and with the strength of the Spirit, help us spread that peace throughout the world, to everyone, everywhere, no exceptions. Amen.

Presider: May the peace of God be always with us, and let us extend that peace to one another by holding hands and singing “Peace is Flowing Like a River.”

Litany for the Breaking of Bread
Presider: Loving God, …. All: you call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice in a world of non-violence.   We will live justly.

Presider: Loving God, All: you call us to be your presence in the world and to be bearers of healing and compassion everywhere in your name. We will love tenderly.

Presider: Loving God, All: you call us to speak truth to power. We will walk humbly with you.

Presider: This is Jesus, who liberates, heals, and transforms us and our world. All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love. All: We are the Body of Christ.

Pre-Communion Prayer

Presider: Lord God, as we come to share the richness of your table, we cannot forget the poverty of so many of our brothers and sisters.

Men: We cannot eat this bread and forget those who are hungry. O God, our world is one world and we are stewards of its nourishment.

Women: We cannot drink this wine and forget those who are thirsty. O God, the very earth and its parched people cry out for justice.

All: We cannot listen to your words of peace and not grieve for the world in conflict.

During Communion: “Face of God”

Communion Hymn “Song of the Body of Christ #324

Prayer of Thanksgiving after Communion
Presider: Eternal God, may this Eucharist in which we always share Christ’s healing love deepen our oneness with you and our unity with one another. We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Christ, and the Spirit, the Wisdom.   All: Amen.

Community Prayers of Gratitude and Announcements

Closing Prayer
All: May our hearts be glad on our journey as we dream new dreams and see new visions.  

May we all live and work for mercy, peace and justice, in our hearts for ourselves and our brothers and sisters – whoever they are and wherever they are.

May we learn to bless, honor, and hold in reverence the Earth and one another.

May we be the face of God to the world. Amen.

Closing Community Blessing
All: (with an outstretched arm): May our nurturing God bless us gathered here and all those in our community – in the name of the Creator, in the name of Jesus the Christ, and in the name of the Spirit, our Wisdom, as we minister to one another as the People of God. Amen.

Closing Community Commisioning and Hymn “Take the Word of God With You” #373
Presiders: As we leave here in the peace of Christ, let our service continue in all that we do.
All: Thanks be to God. Let it be so!

"Women in the Priesthood is About Equality"by Stephanie Dickrell, sdickrell@stcloudtimes.com

http://www.sctimes.com/story/life/2016/04/09/women-priesthood-equality/81904564/

Lesser than.
That's how three Central Minnesota women feel the Roman Catholic Church views them.
That's one reason Deacon Ruth Lindstedt chose to be ordained as a womanpriest Sunday.
Lindstedt, 72, joins 220 Catholic womenpriests worldwide, including the Rev. Bernie Sykora83, who in 2013 became the first womanpriest ordained in Central Minnesota. Both women live in Sartell.
The Roman Catholic Church has stood in staunch opposition to the ordination of women for centuries.
"They don't know what to do with us," said Rose Henzler, 72, of St. Cloud, who hopes to be ordained in 2017.
For these three and others, it's an issue that goes beyond their personal call to serve. It's a pursuit of equality.
Minnesota is one of the areas of the country that sees more support for the movement, said Jennifer O'Malley, president of Roman Catholic Womenpriests-USA. With Lindstedt, there will be five in the state.
"This isn't just about women's ordination, but it's about sexism within the church," O'Malley said. "Ordination of women is not just so that we can follow our call. ... It's a realization, that in the hierarchical church, we cannot be priests, which makes it easier to use religion as an excuse to oppress and abuse women."
O'Malley, who lives in Long Beach, California, was ordained in 2012.
"We are both following the call from our community and our God, and breaking down that barrier that says that women are 'less than,' " O'Malley said. "We're standing up for the global justice of women throughout the world."


For these women, the church's position on women stands in opposition with its stated mission.
"When the church talks about welcoming the marginalized, and this whole thing on justice, I'm sorry I just can't take it seriously, folks," Lindstedt said.
Their ordinations are a form of peaceful protest.
"From Mandela to Thomas Jefferson to Martin Luther King, (if there) is a law that is unjust, we must try to change it. If we can't change it, we must break it. That's pretty much where womenpriests are coming from now, on the side of justice,” Henzler said.
They recognize that it can be difficult for people to accept. It requires a change in their worldview.
"I know that members of my family who don't agree with me are afraid that what they believed all their life is not true, that there might be some other way of looking at something," Sykora said.
Taking a risk
Despite their drive to serve their community and faith, these women are taking risks with their social and their spiritual lives.
Sykora's brother, for instance, isn't supportive. She spoke to him recently."I said, 'You know I'm priest,' and he says, 'No, you're not,' " Sykora said. "It is very hurtful. In fact, I feel hurt by the church.
Upon receiving ordination, they are automatically excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.
In 2008, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith issued a penalty of excommunication for any women ordained as priests or any clergy that ordain them. The order is automatic and takes effect at the moment of the offense.
Excommunication is the most severe penalty the church doles out, barring people from all sacraments, including communion.
While this is concerning to them, women in the movement reject it as a punishment.


"The call to priesthood, the call from God, trumps that unjust law," O'Malley says.
In recent years, the RCWP has reached out to church organizations like U.S. Catholic Bishops to talk about the issue, but generally, they don't get any response, she said.
Locally, Bishop Joseph Kettler of the Diocese of St. Cloud affirms the church's stance barring women from ordination, but disagrees with assertions that women are treated as lesser than men in the eyes of the church. Kettler was not available for an interview with the Times, said Joe Towalski, director of the office of communications for the diocese. Instead, he sent this statement:
"The Roman Catholic Church reserves priesthood to men based on the example of Jesus who chose only men as his Apostles. This teaching about the priesthood has been constant and unchanging. The ordination of women who claim to be Catholic priests is not valid. This teaching about ordination, however, in no way diminishes the equal dignity that women share with men. Both women and men are called to holiness and discipleship. Both women and men bring invaluable gifts of service and leadership to their families, the Church and their communities.”
Women in the priesthood movement have not received any indication that Pope Francis would make any changes.
While the organization appreciates Francis' tone emphasizing mercy, members will continue to challenge him to address the women's issue in the church, O'Malley said.
"Until he does, he's not really addressing poverty and climate change, as women are disproportionately affected by all those issues," she said.
The Women's Ordination Conference had an event in Philadelphia in 2015, around the time Pope Francis visited the area.
"It was important to do it close to when Pope Francis was going to be there," O'Malley said, "to empathize the injustice, the sexism in the church."
The church's stance on women can have global implications, members say. The Vatican has a seat at the United Nations. It's a very influential voice throughout the world, O'Malley said.
"We saw that with Pope Francis on the environment, the conversation that spurred and impact that it's had. Imagine if Pope Francis said sexism in the Catholic Church is ending and ... the church will be open to women," she said.
There is support
Despite the unmoving position of church leadership, there is growing support for their cause, O'Malley said. She hears anecdotes and conversations confirming this, along with polls and surveys.
According to a 2015 Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Catholics and Family Life, many Catholics, cultural Catholics and ex-Catholics think the Catholic church should change its position on allowing priests to marry and women to be priests. However, fewer believe these changes will actually take place in the next few decades.
"We're also seeing a steady growth in women who are answering that call to be priests," O'Malley said.
However, she knows that Roman Catholic Womenpriests as a movement are still relatively unknown
"As people find out about us, they're really excited. The reaction we generally get is, 'It's about time,' or 'Why not?' " O'Malley said.
For younger generations, it's almost a nonissue. They assume equality is the way the church should work.
The three local women have received support from some in their families, including children.
"My daughter didn't quite know what to make of it," Henzler said. "But it's come to this point where her faith community has asked me to preach. ... My nieces and nephews are just ecstatic. 'You know grandma always wanted a priest in the family.' "
Lindstedt says her children are spiritual but not religious.
"What fascinates me is that now I'm taking this step ... I called each one of them and said this is happening, here's the date, and they said, 'Oh, yes, please we'd like to be there,' " Lindstedt said. Her kids will travel to St. Cloud from the West Coast, just to attend the ordination.
Sykora's sisters and children are also supportive.
A calling
The decision to seek the priesthood is not made lightly.
Women in the movement talk about it as a calling to serve God and their community. They also feel called to create equality and leave the world better than they found it.
Not every woman who's interested in religion, religious studies or theology is called to be a priest.
"We really think that God is calling us or our spirit is calling us to be priests, and we can deny or we can accept. For me, I couldn't deny it. I knew that this was something I must do ... to be who I was called to be," Sykora said.
And they dismiss the argument against ordination that relies on tradition.
"I don't care what they did two decades ago. I don't care that women weren't priests two decades ago. Anyone who uses that as an excuse is mind boggling," Sykora said.

"Tradition takes over instead of the possibility for true inclusion and love," Lindstedt said.
Still, as she approached ordination, Lindstedt considered her position.
"I even wavered during the course of studies," she said.
But it's not all about the job. It's about changing your perspective.
"Being a womanpriest is really quite secondary to opening up my heart to possibilities," Sykora said. "I could not, in my right conscience, do that within the Catholic church. Talking about ... up at the altar the men, the men, the men. It was too painful to go to church than to not go to church. That's when I decided to do something about my own personal spirituality."
Womenpriests have to reshape their thinking, she said.
"That's one of the more difficult things, to be open to a new idea of God — not that closed concept of the creator, the male, the father, the man with the long beard and white hair. Let's open it up and think about who God really is," Sykora said. "Not the king, not the emperor, not the father."
Many in the womenpriest movement see a correlation between the Roman Catholic Church treating women as inferior to men and how society treats women, Sykora said.
"That is so offensive, so sad, so hurtful to me, to think that something I have honored all of my life, and appreciated so much all of my life, now is guilty of some disrespect to a group of people," Sykora said. And it's such open disrespect that it validates those actions in others.
"They're not giving an example of equality and honor and respect," she said.
Becoming a womanpriest
The Roman Catholic Womenpriests hope to build the movement where the church is forced to deal with the issue.
"(The church) won't be ordaining womenpriests until women are ordained," Henzler said.
But they don't want to stop there. They believe the whole church needs a renovation.
One way is to change the language that is used. It should be inclusive, using pronouns such as they or their, not exclusive, such as him and his.
There are also so many connotations of God as being male in scripture and tradition.
For instance, the womenpriest movement uses a different sign of the cross. Instead of: "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit," they say: "In the name of God our creator, our brother Jesus and Sophia, Spirit of Wisdom and Love."
In the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church, Sophia, or Hagia Sophia meaning Holy Widsom, is an expression of understanding for the third person of the holy trinity. It is a feminine image.
"When you go to a church where there's a male giving the homily ... the woman experience has not often been talked about in a personal way, as it can be by those who have experienced it," Sykora said.
For example, some of the scriptures describe God as the tender mother.
"And it's been so ignored by our male hierarchy," Sykora said.


As an organization too, they quite literally try to practice what they preach.
"We try as much as possible to operate as a flat organization, so that everybody's role is honored. There are no top-down decisions," O'Malley said. "Everybody's voice has a value and everybody's role is just as important as somebody else's, ordained or not ordained."
Their approach is based on circles of relationships, or consensus-building. There isn't a strict hierarchy.
Yes, there are bishops, who are servants and leaders. But they're not unquestioned decision makers, nor do they have authority in judgments, Lindstedt said.
All of this is a process, of course, one that accounts for varied viewpoints.
For instance, the movement doesn't take a stance on particular issues.
People as individuals can decide but the group would need consensus to make a statement, which is difficult to achieve. But generally, there's a degree of openness, Lindstedt said, on issues such as divorce and remarriage, LGBTQ, abortion and more.
"The one word that Jesus never used was 'except,' " Henzler said. " 'Everybody's welcome, except ...' "
And if beliefs seem to come from a place of bigotry, hate or distrust?
Lindstedt said they are challenged to see beyond that to the individual and try to understand where it comes from.
"We need to be loving to that person," Sykora said.
To understand that hatred is coming form someplace, Henzler said. Maybe it comes from a place of fear, hurt or an experience. There's always a why, she says.
"I would say that I know that I am still learning about how to love more, how to listen more and allow my heart to expand more," Lindstedt said. "So if a person is coming from a place of hate or exclusion, rather than reacting, ... I need to learn more about being more loving.
Feeling fulfilled 
The women find fulfillment in their service.
Sykora lives in senior housing. She doesn't say Mass at the altar because she doesn't have the energy for it.
"But people in the community know I'm a priest and they respect me for it. And I'm involved in the community in a different way than if I wasn't a priest," Sykora said.
People come to her for advice.
"It's very rewarding. It's a very rich experience to be that for them. And we're so close to death in an environment like that that you get down to the nitty gritty," Sykora said. "You're down to the bare truth of things, the bare honesty. That is what is so beautiful."
For Lindstedt, the symbolism of the liturgy itself is so dear to her heart.
"To be able to take a role ... in convening people, to join in this celebration is really important, Lindstedt said.
The women ask each other an important question: If you were invited back to the traditional church, would you?
Lindstedt and Henzler would, but Sykora would have a hard time.
"This presumes there's some healing in other areas as well. Not just women standing at the altar, but acceptance of the fact that there is an inclusive welcoming of all," Lindstedt said.
Henzler would need to see drastic changes.
It's imperative, they say, for the church, the community and individuals to grow.


"It's a matter of a community effort growing to be something that is God-like," Sykora said.
Sykora said while considering ordination, her age was a factor. She wondered, was it really worth it?
But she decided her ordination could be empowering to other women.
Henzler and Lindstedt agreed.
"I never thought of myself as a feminist, however I've come to recognize more and more, to be a woman, it's an important contribution to the needs of the world," Lindstedt said. "Until women are fully incorporated into all aspects of life — and I don't care what culture we're talking about — then we will not see further progression in terms of peace, justice," Lindstedt said.
Follow Stephanie Dickrell on Twitter @SctimesSteph, like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sctimessteph, call her at 255-8749 or find more stories at www.sctimes.com/sdickrell

Sign Petition to Pope Francis to Reinstate Hans Kung as a Catholic Theologian


Like so many others, let's not wait until after he is gone



                            
April 9, 2016

To all who appreciate the lifetime work and dedication of Hans Küng:





We invite you to join with us in asking Pope Francis to reinstate Hans Küng as a Catholic Theologian. If you agree, please post this on your websites and promote it in your newsletters. Let's see if we can gather 50,000 signatures and perhaps, unlike similar acknowledgements from the past, see him reinstated during his lifetime.

Gratefully,

"What is Easter all about?" by Joan Chittister



"Easter designates the transformation of the Jesus who rises from the dead in Jerusalem to the Jesus who rises, if we allow it, in us. The Resurrection of Jesus is about coming to grips with the transformed and transforming presence of Christ then, now, and always. Once that happens, life is never again the same. Life begins anew.

To say, “I believe in Jesus Christ…who rose from the dead,” then, is to say I believe that the Resurrection goes on and on and on forever. Every time Jesus rises in our own hearts in new ways, the Resurrection happens again. Every time we see Jesus where we did not recognize him before—in the faces of the poor, in the love of the unloved, in the revelatory moments of life, Jesus rises anew. But that is not all. The real proof of the Resurrection lies not in the transformation of Jesus alone but in the transformation awaiting us who accept it.

To say, “I believe in Jesus Christ…who rose from the dead” is to say something about myself at the same time. It says that I myself am ready to be transformed. Once the Christ-life rises in me, I rise to new life as well. “Christ is risen; we are risen,” we sing at Easter. But it has a great deal more to do with life than with death. If I know that Jesus has been transformed, then I am transformed myself and, as a result, everything around me. Transformation is 
never a private affair. But it is always a decisive one.

Until we find ourselves with new hearts, more penetrating insights, fewer compulsions, less need for the transient, greater awareness of the spiritual pulse of life, Resurrection has not really happened for us. Resurrection is about transfiguration."

—from In Search of Belief by Joan Chittister (Liguori).
 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Pope Francis' Letter, "The Joy of Love" Affirms Primacy of Conscience But Offers No Changes in Church Teaching

Bridget Mary's Response to Pope Francis Letter:
"The Joy of Love"

While Pope Francis' Letter on "The Joy of Love" affirms primacy of conscience over church laws on divorce, remarriage and contraception, it fails to support marriage equality for LGBTQ.

 Departing from his predecessors, Francis does not blame feminism for the crisis in the family and in addition, condemns verbal, physical and sexual violence against women.

 While Francis expresses a more pastoral  approach he does not change the church rules.  One example, the ban on artificial birth control remains but  is not mentioned in the letter. 

I welcome Pope Francis affirmation of primacy of conscience. This approach provides a back door for the divorced and remarried to walk through that will allow them to receive sacraments. However, it does mean Catholics without annulments will have to seek the guidance of their priests before they can return to the sacraments. While this policy known as "internal forum" is an improvement, it does not allow the divorced and remarried to receive communion without a conversation with their priest.

 It fails to reflect the infinite love and compassion of God that embraces every family no matter what their status. The bottom line is "what would Jesus do to help all couples and families to celebrate the joy of love?" Would he open the table and change the rules? 

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests  affirms the spiritual equality of all the baptized and welcomes all to receive Eucharist and the other sacraments in our faith communities.  No exceptions!
Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, sofiabmm@aol.com, www.arcwp.org

Associated Press Article
VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis said Friday that Catholics should look to their own consciences rather than rely exclusively on church rules to negotiate the complexities of sex, marriage and family life, demanding the church shift emphasis from doctrine to mercy in confronting some of the thorniest issues facing the faithful.
In a major church document entitled "The Joy of Love," Francis made no explicit change in church doctrine and upheld church teaching on the lifelong bond of marriage between a man and a woman...
While Francis frequently cited John Paul, whose papacy was characterized by a hardline insistence on doctrine and sexual morals, he did so selectively. Francis referenced certain parts of John Paul's 1981 "Familius Consortio," the guiding Vatican document on family life until Friday, but he omitted any reference to its most divisive paragraph 84, which explicitly forbids the sacraments for the divorced and civilly remarried.
In fact, Francis went further than mere omission and effectively rejected John Paul's suggestion in that document for people in civil second marriages to live as brother and sister, abstaining from sex so they can still receive the sacraments. In a footnote, Francis said that many people offered such a solution by the church "point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of children suffer."
Similarly, in discussing the need for "responsible parenthood" and regulating the number of children, Francis made no mention of the church's opposition to artificial contraception. He squarely rejected abortion as "horrendous" and he cited the 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae," which deals with the issue.
But Francis made no mention of the "unlawful birth control methods" cited and rejected in "Humanae Vitae." Instead he focused on the need for couples in their conscience to make responsible decisions about their family size.
Francis made a single reference to church-sanctioned family planning method of abstaining from sex during a woman's fertile time. He said only that such practices are to be "promoted" — not that other methods are forbidden — and he insisted on the need for children to receive sex education, 
Francis condemned at length the "verbal, physical and sexual violence" many women endure in marriages. He rejected their "sexual submission" to men and the "reprehensible" practice of female genital mutilation. And he said the belief that feminism was to blame for the crisis in families today is completely invalid."