Jamie Manson, ncronline.org | Nov 1, 2019
In the final days of the Amazon synod, there was a small protest in front of the Castel Sant'Angelo. Seven members of Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) held a banner that read: "Empowered women will save the church; empowered women will save the earth."
The above article appears in the Synod for the Amazon feature series. View the full series
Books on my prayer table
There are two little books that have found a place on my prayer table over the past few months. One is Embers by Richard Wagamese (2016, Douglas & McIntyre, Madeira Park, B.C.). The other is Remnants by Ruth Blaser (2018, Cranberry Tree Press, Windsor, ON). While each has a unique style of reflective writing, they both draw on powerful images which provide a springboard for a deep dive into my centering prayer practice and allow me to be held in holy oneness with Creator.
Wagamese may be best known for his award-winning novel, Indian Horse, which was made into a must-see movie. In this work, Wagamese draws on his Ojibway heritage and experiences of Wabaseemoong First Nation in northwestern Ontario to share compelling reflections on the spiritual journey that touch embers laying still in the soul. I find a special resonance in the dialogue passages he creates such as the following.
ME: Why do I use a drum?
OLD WOMAN: To touch the earth.
ME: Then why do I sing?
OLD WOMAN: To allow the earth to touch you.
ME: What am I singing for?
OLD WOMAN: So that someday you might sing the one note that joins your heartbeat and the earth's heartbeat to the heartbeat of everything.
ME: You’re saying that drumming and singing, anything that leads me inward and then outward, are just like praying and meditating.
OLD WOMAN: You are getting wiser, my boy.
Blaser writes from her love of the land, especially a tract of old growth prairie grassland that is part of the Qu'Appelle Valley Watershed in Saskatchewan. Her name is on the Land Title to this quarter section as were her parents and grandparents before that. She is keenly aware that what she has inherited is a sacred trust and that she is indebted to those whose land this was long before her settler ancestors arrived and made their dwelling there. A holy reverence born of her deep connection and profound respect for this sacred space fills the pages. I can’t not help but feel connected with Creator when I read words such as these from her poem 'Raised':
Raised as I was
by infinite curvaceous hills
wild prairie grasses
and the long long line
where Earth and Sky meet
how could I not
be captivated by
the clear plain
My more than six decades
have been held in the thrum of
one ever changing
yet unturned place
have staked and raised
next to mine.
[Jane Kryzanowski, Regina, SK is bishop for RCWP Canada]
Melinda Gates' ministry is to emancipate women of the third world
Roberta Fuller, Special to The Review | November 15, 2019
Book Review: The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates
This is a Moment of Vision indictive of a woman who has just given another billion dollars to advance careers for women in technology but it is not, by any means, merely a story of 'throwing money around.'
Melinda Gates' ministry is to emancipate women of the third world, women imprisoned by the stark starvation of poverty. Yes, they are poor beyond concept but most of all, they are hungry for education and for opportunity, especially opportunity for their children. It may be education about Family Planning so that they can control their lives and give their already large, annually increasing families, a future. Whatever dilemma they face - and there are many, Melinda certainly has had a ministry of compassion.
Melinda spins some incredible stories such as the several women who offered their children to her in an African village, not for money but because they can't feed the children they already have and they know these children have no chance to learn nor to escape the meagre life they lead; for them, life assuredly is not fair.
Melinda Gates has spent many years working with women around the developing world. Her goal is to create an equal society where women are valued and recognized in all spheres of life. Her book is an eloquent and concise mission statement describing some of the most urgent task needed to move societies forward and of course, to empower women.
Her storytelling, with supporting and compelling data are vivid statements that both shook and capture the heart. One saga tells the tale of women on the margins, women in many places. She spoke with women lined-up at a Family Planning clinic in Malawi. Some had walked ten miles to get a birth control shot, some had walked with children and carrying infants or both. When they arrived at the clinic, they learned that the injections were out of stock. The clinic had aimed they had supplies of ontraceptives while all they really had was an overstock of condoms due to the HIV epidemic. One of the women Melinda interviewed told her that if she suggested use of a condom to her husband, he would beat her. Why? He would believe she was implying that he had been unfaithful and so he had HIV or even worse, that she had been unfaithful and had HIV. An unplanned pregnancy is devastating for women who already have too many children to cope with, or are too old, too young, too ill to bear children. Poverty is not being able to protect their family. Family Planning can help mothers protect the many clildren they already struggle to nurture.
Melinda organized one international summit after another. She donated funds to support the projects and the practical supplies and medically trained attendants. Gradually, at a glacier melting rate, the picture has slowly, ever so slowly improved but it is only the tip of this metaphorical iceberg.
Melinda Gates has inspired this tragedy into a tale of fortitude and hope. This situation is a challenging call for an inclusive connection. It is a powerful, poignant narrative that Melinda has met with empathy, money and love. This is her ministry. She has compared it to the moment of lift when an aircraft rises into the sky. Gender equity lifts everyone!
Equal access to education moves people toward empowerment. The author has written the story of a young girl named Sona. This is my favourite story! Sona lived in a community of untouchable-caste people in India. Caste is no longer legal in India but its stigma lives on. This particular group were the lowest-of-the-low, who were the 'garbage pickers.' They collected the garbage from nearby communities and spent their days sorting through it for anything they could recycle or sell. They were despised even by other untouchables. At the setting-up of a Family Planning clinic she attended with an older friend, Sona asked the speaker for a teacher. The leader explained that this was a Family Planning clinic but Sona didn't give-up. Like the widow described in Luke 18:1-8, who did not lose heart, but continued to bother the judge for justice, Sona pleaded her need for a teacher at every pause in the presentation. She asked repeatedly, perhaps fifty times over the length of the workshop. After it was over, the leaders discussed Sona's persistent pleas and then someone had an inspired idea. They went to the authorities and asked if this patch of land where the community resided could be registered to them. Certainly, no-one else wanted it; amazingly, the authorities agreed. Once it was registered, the community was entitled to a full range of government services, including a school. Sona attended school and so did all the kids in that village. This is a true story.
Melinda Gates has a ministry. There is no doubt in my mind that she is doing what Jesus preached. It is a ministry of generosity, compassion, and love for our neighbour. The book is a wonderful read: I recommend it highly.
Post Script: I read this book in my book club, or I might not have selected it. To my amazement, when we met to discuss it, I was sitting next to a woman doctor who had worked in one of Melinda's Family Planning clinics in Thailand and had met her personally there. I was so impressed that I mentioned this to a teaching colleague of mine from Rwanda. He said, "Oh, yes! Me, too." I couldn't believe my ears but sure enough, this is the story of his involvement and admiration for Melinda.
After the genocide, Melinda and colleagues helped to set up small farm coffee "plantations" with micro loans. The coffee crop grew and Melinda and her associates urged them to form a cooperative to market their harvested product. Then they helped negotiate a contract between the co-op and Second Cup. The contract stipulated that each of these individual coffee growers would be paid in dollars. Incredibly, now some of these farmers have bank balances of two and three thousand dollars, no mean accomplishment for people who had never had, nor handled any currency of any kind in their lives before! My friend, Christopher, who met Melinda there and worked with her organization, taught them banking and bookkeeping since they knew neither.
It is a small world, indeed, and Melinda Gates is making it a stronger, sounder one at that; six degrees of separation?
[Roberta Fuller, Bethany, ON, is a priest of RCWP Canada and serves as Servant Leader of St. Mary Magdalene, The First Apostle Catholic Faith Community at Pickering, ON]
NBC7 photoRCWP Bishop commends Bishop of San Diego diocese for support of ordaining women
Editor, Special to The Review | November 7, 2019
Appearing in an interview on NBC, Jane Via, Bishop for RCWP-USA Western Region, commended the leader of San Diego’s Catholic Diocese, Bishop Robert McElroy, for announcing that he is in support of ordaining women as deacons. "This is a controversial opinion that if realized would reverse thousands of years of religious doctrine", Alexis Rivas said in an accompanying article.
Bishop Via went on to balance a statement by Thomas McKenna, president and founder of Catholic Action for Faith and Families regarding the movement promoting the ordination of women. Bishop Via was quoted as saying, "What the church accepts as its theology of women becomes the social rationale in heavily Catholic countries for the oppression of women. ‘This goes so far beyond the church. It goes to the lives of all women everywhere...’"
View a 2:25 minute video of the interview and read an accompanying article
Mary Hunt sums it up: What does the Catholic Church's patriarchal structure have to do with the failure of the Amazon Synod?
Mary Hunt, rewire.news | November 6, 2019
Feminist liberationists have long claimed that discrimination against women is the model for favoring the power of elites over the rest with negative consequences worldwide. The Amazonian Synod only reinforced the claim. The mistakes were breathtakingly obvious and relatively easy to fix.
McAleese calls on Pope to do more for women
Voices of Faith video photo
Sarah MacDonald, thetablet.co.uk | November 8, 2019Former president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, has called for the “culture of deference” towards priesthood in a clericalised church to be stripped away and for women to insist on being listened to on equal terms.
Watch some or all of the 2 hour Voices of Faith video, "The women the Vatican couldn't silence"
Evangelical women do balancing act in public life
Jason Steidl, ncronline.org | October 30, 2019
As an evangelical teenager, I harbored a secret. When no one was watching, I'd sneak away and listen to Nancy Leigh DeMoss, a popular Bible teacher with her own radio show for women.
I knew it wasn't proper. I'd read 1 Timothy about women remaining silent in the church.
Irish priests call for celibacy rules to be relaxed and women to be ordained priests
John Walsh, constantcontact.com | November 15, 2019
Ending forced celibacy and ordaining female priests are among the reforms needed to address the shortage of Catholic priests in Ireland, an influential lobby group has said.
The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) warned that if the decline in the number of serving priests is not halted then members of the faith in Ireland face the prospect of being denied church weddings and christenings.
Nouwen committee to priestly ministry
Salt and Light photo
Today's priesthood stands on shaky ground. Just who and what is a Catholic priest? Since the Second Vatican Council, priests have struggled to come to terms with the implications of the council's focus on baptism as the central, core and foundational sacrament of the Christian life.
Women of the Church takes stock of Catholic chaos, urges women's leadership
Heidi Schlumpf, ncronline.org | October 24, 2019
Catholic women in the United States gathered to urge greater leadership roles for women in the church, even as bishops were discussing the possibility of women deacons at a synod in Rome.
. . .
The first conference, held in 2016, was organized by a group of faculty at St. Meinrad Seminary in partnership with the Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand, Indiana.
Proposed Amazonian rite centered on Christ, indigenous professor says
Junno Arocho Esteves, ncronline.org | October 24, 2019
Addressing concerns about a proposed Amazonian rite in the Catholic Church, an indigenous participant at the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon called on Catholics to soften their hearts and understand the needs of Catholics in the region.
The Latin Mass becomes a cult of toxic tradition
Zita Ballinger Fletcher, ncronline.org | November 5, 2019
One culture within the Catholic Church needing major reform is that surrounding the practice of the Latin Mass.
In a previous era, the Latin Mass was merely a uniform and standard way of celebrating the liturgy in the United States. In the wake of much needed reforms instituted by the Second Vatican Council, the Latin Mass has become a rallying point for change-resistant sects within the church. The ultra-conservatism practiced by these Latin Mass groups is radical and narrow-minded. They utilize the Latin Mass structure to wield control over believers — particularly women, who are reduced to a state of discriminatory subjugation in Latin rites. The stubbornly resistant, anti-modern practices of these Latin Mass adherents border on cultism.
WOW responds to the Amazon Synod conclusion that women’s ministry requires further study
WOW, womensordinationcampaign.org | October 27, 2019
Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) is disappointed but not altogether shocked to learn that the Amazon Synod has concluded some married men will get the green light to be ordained as priests while women’s ministry will remain marginalised and requiring of yet further study.
We are told that opening up the ordination of married men in the Amazon region is a recognition of sacramental leadership that emerges from the community. But the church community also includes women and it is women who are currently present in the majority of ministerial roles and are already recognized as leaders by the people they serve.
Why must the Church re-open a commission on women deacons when the historical evidence of women deacons is abundant and the call for women deacons, even within in the Synod Hall, is overwhelmingly clear. Why must the Church pursue the ‘creation of new ministries for women’ as if to treat women as a sub-group requiring exceptional paths and distinct categories for their work without confronting the fact that women live both priestly and diaconal vocations already and should be ordained. This blatant disparity in the treatment of male and female vocations and ministry is a reinforcement of age old prejudice and is a blow to the majority of Catholics who dared to hope that this time might be different.
Adding married men to sacramental ministry in the Amazon will further push aside the women the Synod recognised are currently doing the work. This reinforces prejudice and signals the supplanting of women whose spiritual leadership will be sacrificed in the name of God but is for the sake of men.
Kate McElwee: +39 393 692 2100; email@example.com
Miriam Duignan: +44 7970 926910; firstname.lastname@example.org
Therese Koturbash: +1 204 648 5720; email@example.com
On behalf of the seven of us who together brought Barmen Today: A Contemporary Contemplative Declaration to light, we want to thank you deeply for featuring Alana Levandoski's hauntingly beautiful song which she wrote inspired by Barmen Today. We are thrilled to have your mention of the Declaration, and, as you know from reading it, stand in solidarity with you.
[Susan Rau Stocker, One of the Seven]
Nora Bolcon's letter (The Review, November 1, 2019) set me thinking. If we are satisfied that the synod voted only for women deacons and not women priests, are women not like Lazarus' (Luke 16:21) who only got the scraps that fell from the rich man's table?
[Emil Kutarna, Regina, SK]
New addition to Homilies page of the RCWP Canada Website
|RCWP Canada Website Links
Are you called to be a priest?
Francis Comic Strip Archive
Downloadable books and book-length articles
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Code of Canon Law
Vatican II Documents
Vatican II Voice of the Church
Voices of Faith
Salt + Light Television
Sunday Liturgy Preparation -- St. Louis University
National Catholic Reporter
Global Sisters Report
Catholic Women Preach
Women's Ordination Conference
Women's Ordination Worldwide
Média indépendant, Présence - information religieuse
Independent Media, Presence - religious information
Femmes et Ministères
Women and Ministries