Nobody’s Disciple by Maeve Rhuad aka the Celtic Magdalen via Elizabeth Cunningham

Elizabeth Cunningham headshot jpegSince beginning her posts for FAR four years ago, Elizabeth has featured an excerpt from my chronicles each July in honor of my feast day on the 22nd.  At least I thought it was my Feast day. It has been brought to our attention that Pope Francis only recently elevated the 22nd to the status of a Feast. Before that, it was merely a Memorial of me as a saint, whether optional or obligatory I am not sure.  The only thing more elevated than a Feast day is a Solemnity.  (Needless to say my mother-in-law, aka the Blessed Virgin Mary, has one of those.)

You may not know me as Maeve, the Celtic Magdalen. Mary Magdalen, who she was (or is) should or could have been is a highly charged subject. Not very much is known about me, really, which is why  legends, novels, and films abound. I’m a storied woman, to borrow Natalie Weaver’s term. There are fourteen references to me in the Gospels. I am associated with the non-canonical Gospel of Mary (I believe the credit for that should go to Mary of Bethany whom many people conflate with me). Pope Gregory is largely responsible for my lugubrious image as a penitent prostitute. Continue reading “Nobody’s Disciple by Maeve Rhuad aka the Celtic Magdalen via Elizabeth Cunningham”

Francis: My Holy Conundrum by Linda Pinto

Linda PintoChicago enjoys a long history of women whose voices echo a call for dignity and equality.

Jane Addams was a pioneer American-settlement social worker, public philosopher, sociologist, author, and leader in women’s suffrage movement. In an era when presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson identified themselves as social activists, Addams outshined them as one of the most prominent reformers of the Progressive Era.

Ida Bell Wells was an African-American journalist and newspaper editor, a sociologist, and an early leader in the women’s as well as civil rights movement. Notably and disturbingly, she courageously documented lynching in the United States, showing that it was often used as a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites.

Frances Xavier Cabrini was an Italian nun, who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, serving the Italian immigrant population in Chicago. Despite the lack of support by bishops and clergy alike, her groundbreaking outreach to the poor and marginalized, earned her the privilege of being the first naturalized citizen of the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

More contemporary Chicago feminist prophets include Tina Fey, Jennifer Hudson and Chaka Kahn. And, I would be remiss not to invoke the names of the Holy Trinity of contemporary Chicago women saints….Hillary Clinton, Michele Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

So, now we focus on Francis, who I call my Holy Conundrum.

His words are, indeed, impressive….listen to what he says…..

The best wines come from every person who risks everything on love.

Things have a price and can be for sale, but people have a dignity which is priceless.

Let the church always be a place of mercy and hope where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven.

It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons working to make sure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare.


Let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change. We want change in our lives, in our neighborhoods, in our everyday reality. We want a change which can affect the entire world, since global interdependence calls for global answers to local problems. The globalization of hope, a hope which springs up from peoples and takes root among the poor, must replace the globalization of exclusion and indifference!

Makes one wonder….

Does Francis truly intend to inspire the church to become the open window of John XXIII, letting in the fresh air of the Spirit or does he represent an institutional dose of air freshener; hoping we would smell the roses rather than the stench of a clerical system which, at best isolates women and at worst, renders them invisible? Continue reading “Francis: My Holy Conundrum by Linda Pinto”

Supporting Gender Equality in the Church Results in Excommunication by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina Messina-Dysert profileIt is unnerving to think that excommunication is still a real threat in the 21st century. Within both the Catholic and Mormon Churches members continue to be bullied into submission with such threats. Today, speaking out against gender injustice seems to be a sure way for one to end up expelled from her or his community. Kate Kelly, a human rights attorney and Mormon feminist, has become the most recent in a long line to be rebuked for speaking out about gender discrimination and is waiting to learn her fate following a trial by LDS Church leaders. Continue reading “Supporting Gender Equality in the Church Results in Excommunication by Gina Messina-Dysert”

The Philadelphia Ordinations and Pope Francis in Rio by Alla Renée Bozarth

Alla Renée Bozarth, Philadelphia 11, Philadelphia ordinations

On July 29, 2013,  I read the feminist theologian Mary Hunt’s fine account of Pope Francis’ visit to Brazil, with commentary on his informal conversation with press people on the way back to Rome.

When asked for a statement about the role of women in the Roman Catholic Church, a question which indirectly refers to women in the priesthood and episcopacy, he reiterated the position that the door to the ordination of women is closed. In response, I was inspired to write in the way that most intensely felt responses come out~ as a poem.

As I wrote, I couldn’t help but hear an older poem, “Water Women,” in the background. Perhaps the fact that Pope Francis had been to Rio, the Spanish word translated into English as river, inspired this association. Perhaps it was reinforced because Mary Hunt, whose article had moved me, was the co-founder and co-director of the organization WATER (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual). I wrote the poem “Water Women” a few years after the historical Philadelphia Ordinations, in which eleven women put a significant crack in the stained glass ceiling barrier in the Episcopal Church by being ordained to the priesthood on July 29, 1974. That fait accompli event opened the doors to the ordination of women into all three Holy Orders. The Roman Catholic Women’s Ordination Conference began later that same summer. I wrote “Water Women” in response to a question asked of me and others in a small group of Roman Catholic and Episcopal feminists during a press conference, just as I wrote “Pope Francis in Rio” on the 39th anniversary of the Philadelphia Ordinations because of a press conference, this time with Pope Francis during his flight back to Rome.

Continue reading “The Philadelphia Ordinations and Pope Francis in Rio by Alla Renée Bozarth”

I Dream of Pope Francis by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina Messina-Dysert profileIt was just last week that I received an email from Pope Francis.  He wrote me having seen my interview with Tavis Smiley and said he sympathized with my appeal for a Church that serves the needs of the people.  Pope Francis requested that I come to the Vatican to meet with him to discuss the papacy and his efforts to redirect the Church’s attention.  Of course, I immediately accepted and began to create my agenda for our meeting: women’s ordination, same-sex marriage, reproductive justice, and…my alarm went off.  It was just a dream. Sigh…

Totally disappointed at the realization of its ridiculousness, I wondered why Pope Francis had invaded my dreams.  Could it have been prophetic as my good friend and colleague (jokingly) suggested?  Or perhaps I’m narcissistic enough to fantasize that I have such wisdom to share.   Either way, no other pope has ever occupied my thoughts in such a way. Continue reading “I Dream of Pope Francis by Gina Messina-Dysert”

Breaking the Stained Glass Ceiling? Conflict in Religious Histories by Meagen Farrell

Meagen Farrell, women's ordination

In attempting to research and write about the process and arguments in the development of women’s ordination in the Anglican Church of Ireland (which I first wrote about here on Feminism and Religion), I am frustrated by the polarization of language. While “objectivity” is fruitless, I strive for what Warren Nord calls philosophical fairness: when teaching about contested religious territory, to characterize each position in the terms they would choose for themselves.

How do I fairly label an historical debate on whether or not to admit women to the diaconate and priesthood? Using the phrase “women’s ordination” in my current Kickstarter campaign already puts me in a particular camp. The constraints of the medium require brevity. I have to make a choice. Continue reading “Breaking the Stained Glass Ceiling? Conflict in Religious Histories by Meagen Farrell”

Women’s Ordination and the Mormon Church by Margaret Toscano

Me April 2011 3Caroline Kline’s March 26 post, “Mormons Who Advocate Women’s Ordination,” marks a new direction in the Mormon feminist movement. As she describes, the website Ordain Women was launched on March 17 by a few dozen Mormon women and men who state: “As a group we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood.” By the end of March, 44 people (37 women and 7 men, including a Mormon bishop) have posted profiles with photos where they describe their relationship to Mormonism and why they think women should be ordained. I understand from the organizers of this site that a number of others have submitted profiles for posting and that the site has had close to 100,000 hits. On the corresponding Facebook page, however, only 363 people have given Ordain Women a “Like” sign.

While supporters may appear to be a small group in comparison to the 14 million Mormon (aka LDS) church members worldwide, it is a significant number for a grassroots movement like this. As a Mormon feminist who has publicly advocated for the ordination of women since 1984, this is the first time I have seen more than a handful of people willing to state publicly their belief that women should be ordained. In the past, women’s ordination has always been the dividing issue among Mormon feminists. All Mormon feminists want women to have more voice in the Church, more decision-making power, more visible authority and equality. Very few have wanted to be ordained into the male-priesthood structure of the Church, though more have claimed a private, spiritual priesthood.

And yet, as I have always argued, there is no way that Mormon women can be equal to Mormon men as long as they are denied access to priesthood ordination and offices because the priesthood structure controls all resources, discourses, and practices. In some ways this issue is even more crucial in the LDS Church than in other religious traditions because the Mormon organization is based on a lay priesthood where all active boys and men have priesthood. What this means is that grown women have less practical and religious authority than their 12-year old sons. Continue reading “Women’s Ordination and the Mormon Church by Margaret Toscano”

Pope Francis: A Fisherman for Our Times? by Dawn Morais Webster

Dawn Morais Webster, the Pope off to his summer palace, Castel Gandolfo. He tells the world he will now become just a “humble pilgrim.”

 A thoughtful non-Catholic friend, Mei Li, in largely Muslim Malaysia, wondered aloud in a Facebook chat after the election of Pope Francis: “How many people get to start anew like this?   A new name, a new life, a new kingdom here on earth. He could be what keeps thousands, maybe millions of people from getting AIDS. Even if my vote does not count, so to speak, I have to care what he teaches.”

Yes, believers or not, we all have to care.  The skeptics were right.  Picking a Pope from the ranks of the nuns was expecting the current crop of cardinals to cast their net further than they could. But Pope Francis may yet prove to be a fisherman who casts a different kind of net.

Countries of the South, where Catholics still fill the churches, rejoice at the selection of a Pope with whom they might claim a closer kinship. It is unclear whether he can ensure the success of a soccer team, or even whether his election proves that God is an Argentine.  But the fact that even the weary are tuning in is a good sign. Continue reading “Pope Francis: A Fisherman for Our Times? by Dawn Morais Webster”

Mormons Who Advocate Women’s Ordination by Caroline Kline

Kline, CarolineA couple of months ago, I came across the “Ordain a Lady” video by the Catholic Women’s Ordination Conference. Even though it was lighthearted, clever, and fun, it made me cry. Why? Because as a Mormon feminist, I had never seen such confident assertions on video for the need for women’s ordination:

“Woman priest is my call
Women preaching for all
Don’t listen to St. Paul
‘Cuz I can lead the way”

I felt chills run up my spine as I watched these women asserting their strength, their vision, and their truth. Amen, I said to myself. Indeed, “Justice doesn’t look like only male priests.” As this video circulated among various Mormon feminist email lists, several other women mentioned that this video brought them to tears too. Continue reading “Mormons Who Advocate Women’s Ordination by Caroline Kline”

Let the Walls Come Tumbling Down by Dawn Morais Webster

Dawn Morais Webster, the Pope off to his summer palace, Castel Gandolfo. He tells the world he will now become just a “humble pilgrim.”

If we want to see real change in the church, Catholics need a Rosa Parks moment.

Thousands fill St. Peter’s Square for the final blessing. A gleaming helicopter whisks the Pope off to his summer palace, Castel Gandolfo. He tells the world he will now become just a “humble pilgrim.”  But this humble pilgrim will be housed in an apartment behind the “Apostolic Palace,” be addressed as “His Holiness,” share a secretary with the new Pope, carry the newly created title of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and continue to wear his white cassock.  Sound like a humble pilgrim to you?

Speaking with Tavis Smiley recently, theologian Gina Messina-Dysert pointed to the resignation of this pope as probably the most progressive sign in the recent history of the Catholic church. She argued that an act so singular, it has not happened in more than 600 years,  suggests that the church can also break with other traditions.

Continue reading “Let the Walls Come Tumbling Down by Dawn Morais Webster”

What Happens When Women Are Not Ordained? by Meagen Farrell

Meagen Farrell, women's ordinationWhat is a vocation to the Christian clergy? A woman or man feels a calling from God, and that spirit is tested in the community of believers. After discernment through study, prayer, and service that person submits herself for ordination. Simple, right?

Of course, as readers of the F-word blog, you know it is not that simple. Though women’s ordination is a common practice in many Christian denominations, it is far from universal. The issue has caused division within the Anglican Communion and dissension in the Roman Catholic Church. Despite the controversy, the number of women in discernment (contemplating  or preparing for ordination) and the denominations ordaining them continue to grow. Continue reading “What Happens When Women Are Not Ordained? by Meagen Farrell”

I Stand with Fr. Roy Bourgeois by Gina Messina-Dysert

“The Vatican and Maryknoll can dismiss me, but they cannot dismiss the issue of gender equality in the Catholic Church.” – Fr. Roy Bourgeois 

While many have said it should be no surprise that Fr. Roy Bourgeois has been excommunicated from the Catholic Church, I was and am utterly astounded, not to mention deeply saddened.

I have been well aware (and an admirer) of Fr. Roy’s work for sometime; but came to know him personally about one year ago.  While I believed my expectations were unrealistic, Fr. Roy not only lived up to, but surpassed the superhero image I had created in my mind.  He is an incredibly humble and generous man whose utmost concern is honoring the dignity of every human being.  On a personal level Fr. Roy is a friend and mentor; on a social and communal level, I respect his activism, courage, and refusal to comply with demands that violate human rights.  In the face of continual threats Fr. Roy stood strong and now pays the ultimate price for following his conscience.  Excommunication means that he has lost his position and his home; his livelihood, status, and vocation have been taken away.  Fr. Roy is forced into laity and the job market at an age where he should be focused on retiring. Continue reading “I Stand with Fr. Roy Bourgeois by Gina Messina-Dysert”

IN THE NEWS: Fr. Roy Bourgeois to Speak at CGU

This week on November 1st and 2nd Fr. Roy Bourgeois will be at Claremont Graduate University to offer discussions on the topics of women’s ordination and the School of Americas Watch.

Fr. Roy is a Maryknoll priest, social justice activist, and founder of the School of Americas Watch.  Here on FAR we have had many discussions and posts about women’s ordination.  However we have had far less about the destruction caused by the School of Americas (SOA) now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).

Renamed in 2001, this institution is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers located in Fort Benning, Georgia and has been dubbed “School of Assassins.”  Continue reading “IN THE NEWS: Fr. Roy Bourgeois to Speak at CGU”

The Changing Face of Christ in the Catholic Church by Janice Poss

Yesterday, as I have done for the last six years, I attended another ordination, an ordination that as the others has been two thousand years in the making.  It was historic, it was Catholic; it was the new face of in persona Christi, the true ideal of Imago Dei.  It was also a retrieval of our roots, of the other side of God.  These ordinations make and bring God and Christ into integrated authentic wholeness and, therefore true holiness.

Yes, it was the ordination of two more women to the Catholic priesthood.  This movement is real and has been going on now since 2003. The changing face of God and Christ is in women, their determination in their discernment as a ‘priestly’ people in living out the Gospel messages with which we are all too familiar and need to be ‘lived’ to make them real and felt in our Church. Continue reading “The Changing Face of Christ in the Catholic Church by Janice Poss”

A Sea Change Towards Women’s Ordination by Mary Ellen Robertson

If I see a flaw in contemporary Mormon feminism, it’s that we haven’t ventured outside our own religious community to partner with other religious feminist activists. Working separately or in ignorance of the work already done by other religious feminists, we’re more likely to spend time reinventing the wheel than building upon the lessons learned.

Fortunately, there’s an exciting shift afoot.

Last week, Catholic and Mormon women came together for a dialogue on women’s ordination.
Hosted by Claremont Graduate University, this discussion brought together six women from  patriarchal religions to explore what happens when we call an all-male priesthood into question and examine the theological and cultural assumptions upon which an all-male priesthood rests. Continue reading “A Sea Change Towards Women’s Ordination by Mary Ellen Robertson”

Catholic/Mormon Dialogue on Women’s Ordination

The Catholic/Mormon Dialogue on Women’s Ordination at Claremont Graduate University will take place Wednesday, September 19, 2012.  It is an incredibly relevant topic today and particularly interesting with a Mormon/Catholic presidential ticket before us.

It makes sense to bring Catholics and Mormons together to dialogue about this issue.  Women’s ordination in both Churches is considered a taboo topic and one that if discussed in public can lead to excommunication.  Certainly the women who will stand publicly to address this issue and share their passion and conviction for the need to ordain women are courageous and committed to the recognition of the full humanity of every woman and every man.  Continue reading “Catholic/Mormon Dialogue on Women’s Ordination”

A Response to the Maryknoll Community on Women’s Ordination by Fr. Roy Bourgeois

This letter was written to to Rev. Edward Dougherty, M.M., Superior General and the Maryknoll Community on August 8, 2011 in response to the call for Fr. Roy Bourgeois to recant his stance on women’s ordination in the Catholic Church.

My Brothers,

I have been a Catholic priest for 39 years and Maryknoll has been my faith community, my family. So it was with great sadness that I received your letter of July 27, 2011 (Second Canonical Warning), stating I must recant my belief and public statements that support the ordination of women, or I will be dismissed from Maryknoll.

In my ministry over the years I have met many devout women in our Church who believe God is calling them to be priests.  Why wouldn’t they be called?  God created men and women of equal dignity and, as we all know, the call to be a priest comes from God.

My brothers, who are we to reject God’s call of women to the priesthood?  The Holy Scriptures remind us in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither male nor female. In Christ Jesus you are one.”  How is it possible for us to say that our call from God, as men, is authentic, but God’s call of women is not?   Continue reading “A Response to the Maryknoll Community on Women’s Ordination by Fr. Roy Bourgeois”

Pink Smoke Over the Vatican: A Review by Kate Conmy

Review: Pink Smoke Over the Vatican (2010)

Award-Winning Independent Documentary Film

Directed by Jules Hart

By Kate Conmy, MA.

Membership Coordinator of the Women’s Ordination Conference.

Last weekend I had the honor of joining over eighty Women’s Ordination Conference members and supporters in Claremont, California for a screening of “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” followed by a distinguished panel discussion.  WOC board member Miriam Todoroff of Pilgrim Place hosted the event, along with Rev. Kathleen Jess, ECC, with local support from Theresa Yugar. “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” has recently been made available for purchase, but for the past couple of years the film has starred in women’s ordination movement circles, drawing hundreds to cinemas, churches, universities, and homes for a peek at the controversial and moving film.

Fr. Roy Bourgeois has taken the show on the road, touring and speaking throughout the world (from Rhode Island to Rome) on women’s ordination and the important stories in the film. Fr. Roy’s involvement with women’s ordination is well documented, however, notably, “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican” is specifically mentioned in his First Canonical Warning from his Order, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, insisting that his public support and promotion of the movie was a Holy Offense. More than just good press, this is a testament to the power contained within this film. Continue reading “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican: A Review by Kate Conmy”

Pink Smoke, Call to Disobedience, and a Holy Shake-Up: Is it Time to Convene the Third Vatican Council? By Michele Stopera Freyhauf

This past August I wrote about the canonical warning that Fr. Roy received and the issue surrounding the exercise of conscience over church teaching.  For a more detailed explanation of the warning and the background regarding the ordination of women, please see my prior article.

October 17th (this past Tuesday), Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Erin Saiz Hanna (Executive Director of Women’s Ordination Council), Therese Koturbash (Coordinator of Canada’s Catholic Network for Women’s Equality), Nicole Sotelo (Call to Action), Miriam Duignan (Womenpriests), and about 14 other representativesof various other Catholic organizations from around the world went to the Vatican to

present a petition containing 15,000 signatures supporting full and equal participation of women as deacons, priests, and bishops in a renewed church. The group was not permitted in St. Peter’s Square because of their signs; they did not have the proper permit.  Access was also denied to the Women who wore albs/stole because their dress was considered a form of protest.  “We love our family, the Catholic Church,” stated Miriam Duignan of Women-Priests.  “We feel obliged in conscience to make our carefully considered reasons known.  In doing so, we fulfill our canon law duty to speak out, as our present Pope has encouraged us to do.”  Koturbash states “even though canon law invites our Church leaders to hear from the faithful, our leaders are silent when we try to engage.” Continue reading “Pink Smoke, Call to Disobedience, and a Holy Shake-Up: Is it Time to Convene the Third Vatican Council? By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

Interlocking Pieces and the Maleness of Jesus: Exegeting the “America’s Pope’s” Statement on Gay Marriage and Ordination of Women By Michele Stopera Freyhauf

On a 20/20 interview, posted August 21, 2011, Morley Safer interviewed the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan.  Dolan is also referred to as “America’s Pope.”  In this article, Safer calls him a scholar and a “passionate defender” of issues that he considered to be “settled questions.”  These settled questions? Gay marriage and women’s ordination.

Gay Marriage: Incest, “Necessary Attributes,” and Interlocking Pieces

Dolan makes an unbelievable comparison of gay marriage to the desire to marry his mother:  “I love my mom, I don’t have the right to marry her.”  He further compared gay marriage to his desire to be a shortstop for the Yankees, which is not possible because he does not have “what it takes.”  Both analogies Dolan uses give a clear indication that he does not understand what a committed relationship looks like for a gay couple.  Many in society share this ignorance.  In fact during my daughter’s health class, at a public school no less, she was told that sex was only between a man and a woman because they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.  Not only does this fail on words, it lays the foundation for bullying, repression of identity, sexual confusion, and problems for children who are members of a modern family.  Besides, last time I checked not all puzzles have interlocking pieces.   Continue reading “Interlocking Pieces and the Maleness of Jesus: Exegeting the “America’s Pope’s” Statement on Gay Marriage and Ordination of Women By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

Is it Right to Intentionally Lie Because the Church Says to? The Case of Fr. Roy’s Assertion of Conscience Over Vatican’s Mandate to Lie By Michele Stopera Freyhauf

Fr. Roy Bourgeois has many titles: Nobel Peace Prize winner, purple heart recipient, former missionary, member of the Maryknoll Fathers for 44 years, and ordained priest for 38 years.  He has long been associated with social justice and helping the oppressed and marginalized.  He was a peace activist during the Vietnam War and founded the School of Americas Watch.  He is found often marching and protesting in front of the School of Americas (now WHINSEC ), a terror training camp at Ft. Benning  where soldiers are trained in devices of torture.  This is where soldiers that were members of the death squads that existed in Latin America, especially in El Salvadorwere trained. This is also where the soldiers who killed the Jesuits, their maid, and her child as well as Monsignor Romero were trained.

Fr. Roy is and continues to be an important activist for peace and justice and a champion for the poor.   At the risk of being defrocked, Fr. Roy is also an advocate on behalf of another oppressed group – women in the Catholic Church. Fr. Roy, through his actions, is now among the group of the oppressed and stands in punishment of a crime considered “delicta gravioria” by the Vatican.  The brevity of his crime defined as “delicta gravioria” is shared with other offenders such as John GeoghanJohn Birmingham, Paul Desilets, Robert V. Gale, and others found guilty of pedophilia in the Sex Abuse Scandal that rocked the United States.  However Fr. Roy’s crime is not pedophilia; it is the public support of ordaining women. Continue reading “Is it Right to Intentionally Lie Because the Church Says to? The Case of Fr. Roy’s Assertion of Conscience Over Vatican’s Mandate to Lie By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”

The Vatican’s Spiritual Violence Against Women’s Ordination By Rosemary Radford Ruether

The Vatican has adopted what amounts to a “zero tolerance” policy against those Catholics who actively advocate for women’s ordination, particularly against anyone involved in the movement of Roman Catholic Womenpriests which, for the past three years, has ordained thirty-five women in the United States. This movement began in June, 2002, when seven women were ordained by some Catholic bishops in Austria. Later several of these women were ordained bishops by these same bishops. They, in turn, have ordained more women priests. From this has sprung an increasingly organized movement, which is developing the theological vision of church which they hope to generate and are laying down the formal rubrics for education and preparation for ministry of those aspiring to be ordained in their community.

The Vatican summarily excommunicated the initial seven women ordained in 2002. As more women were ordained it was at first silent and then decreed that anyone being ordained in this movement, as well as those supporting it, were automatically excommunicated. This saved them the trouble of addressing each of these women individually. However, they have escalated their campaign against women’s ordination in the last month in response to Maryknoll priest, Father Roy Bourgeois, who on August 9, 2008 in Lexington, Kentucky, concelebrated the mass where long-time friend, Sevre-Duszynska, was ordained. Father Bourgeois also preached the homily at this ordination mass, where he denounced the Church’s refusal to ordain women as a sin comparable to the sin of racism. “Sexism is a sin” he declared. Continue reading “The Vatican’s Spiritual Violence Against Women’s Ordination By Rosemary Radford Ruether”

“She stood up straight and began praising God”: Luke 13: 10-13 By Theresa A. Yugar

The following is a guest post written by Theresa A. Yugar, Ph.D. Candidate in women studies in religion at Claremont Graduate University.

The gospel story of the crippled woman healed by Jesus of her ailment in the Gospel of St. Luke epitomizes for me the values of a Feminist Liberation theological perspective. For women, Feminist Theology as a discipline has enabled us to claim our dignity and rights as women and “stand up straight” as this woman in the gospel does. In the context of a larger church tradition which has not always affirmed women, Jesus models in his ministry both compassion and respect for the wellbeing of women. For eighteen years, this nameless woman, carried “a spirit that had crippled her,” so much that “she was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight,” (13:11).  Not only does Jesus heal her of her infirmities, but he also defends her dignity as a “daughter of Abraham.”

On a very intimate level I identify with this nameless woman who approached Jesus humbly seeking healing and liberation from the physical ailments that bound her. In my own life I have also experienced the same sense of bondage that this woman in the gospel is healed of. Like many women, I grew up struggling to affirm the dignity I had as a human being. Even though the church I love and grew up in stated that they value both men and women equally, in practice this was not the case. For me and the un-named woman, the relevance of this gospel in relation to Feminist Theology touches on the core of Jesus’ ministry, which was the liberation of all people from the oppressive structures that burdened them.  Continue reading ““She stood up straight and began praising God”: Luke 13: 10-13 By Theresa A. Yugar”

This is What a Catholic Looks Like By Kate Conmy

The following is a guest post written by Kate Conmy, MA, Membership Coordinator for the Women’s Ordination Conference.  Kate celebrates spiritual activism, feminism, and human rights.  She currently works as the Membership Coordinator for the Women’s Ordination Conference and lives in Washington, DC.  She can be contacted at

In my last semester as a Religion student at Mount Holyoke College I sat in my Feminist Theology seminar with only one question for our guest speaker: “Why are you still a Catholic?” A question I rarely dared to ask myself as I spent most of my studies concentrating on Buddhism, traveling abroad to Dharamsala, India, interning with the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in Berkeley, even learning Tibetan; by most observable assessments I had swapped the pew I grew up in for a zafu.  But Mary Hunt reminded me in such a simple and smart way that Catholicism is about community building and justice seeking. She said: “This is what a Catholic looks like. We have a responsibility to speak this language.”

In that moment I realized I had been resisting something that has always belonged to me. Raised in a Jesuit-educated Catholic family in Upstate, New York I felt less confirmed within the church, and more convinced that we were celebrating a god that was too small. One of the great mysteries for me growing up in a church-going family was the personal and religious reconciliation the Catholics I knew negotiated, sometimes weekly to make sense of their faith.  The dissonance between what was practiced during Mass, and what Catholicism meant at the dinner table seemed an exhausting spiritual dance of ambivalence.  It wasn’t until I began to identify as a feminist theologian that my spiritual worlds converged in a moment of satori: ambivalence is a virtue!  The sisters and daughters of Mary Daly gave me permission to re-claim my Catholicism with all of my questions as an extraordinary action of faith.  Ambivalence means courageously engaging the sacred to foster critique, conversation and innovation in the pursuit of knowing God. Just as Carter Heyward writes, “To love God is to un-do evil,” I so strongly believe that God must manifest as an expression of creative justice whereby inclusivity, “right-relation,” and the elimination of discrimination are central on the path toward a higher liberation. I graduated feeling empowered by women, activists, and radicals who claimed their faith and the responsibility to speak a language beyond the binary in order to celebrate the wisdom of all human and divine goodness.  Continue reading “This is What a Catholic Looks Like By Kate Conmy”

Will Women Priests Change the Church? By Mary E. Hunt

The following is a guest post written by Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D., co-founder and co-director of WATER (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual).

A New Documentary, “Pink Smoke Over the Vatican,” starts the conversation…

Catholic women priests are an oxymoron for the Vatican. It considers them automatically excommunicated before the holy oil is dry on their hands. Other Catholics accept them as sacramental ministers and are delighted with the innovation. Still, others, myself included, want far deeper structural changes in the Catholic Church such that priesthood loses its baked-on charm and ministry becomes the expected task of adult members. This is an important theological conversation that the Vatican wishes would go away. Memo to them: it is just starting.

Read the full article by Mary E. Hunt on the online magazine Religion Dispatches.

Originally posted at WATER Voices –

%d bloggers like this: