Roman Catholic Women Priests

     October 15, 2019  

Francis, cardinals urge Amazon synod to consider new ideas, including married priests photo

Joshua J. McElwee, | Oct 7, 2019

Openness to new ways of thinking emerged as the primary theme of the Vatican's Synod of Bishops for the Amazon region on its first day of business, with Pope Francis and the cardinals leading the three-week event telling the participating prelates not to be resistant to new ideas.

Clearly enunciated among those new ideas: the possibility of ordaining married men to address the severe lack of Catholic ministers across the nine-nation region, and finding a way for the church to offer women there some kind of official ministerial work.

This article appears in the Synod for the Amazon feature series. View the full series:

                         Vatican photo                           

  • Francis, cardinals urge Amazon synod to consider new ideas, including married priests
  • Synod for the Amazon feature series
  • Mother of Jesus, powerful leader, teacher, presbyter and bishop in early church
  • 'It's our church, too': Conference to focus on need for women's leadership
  • Women in church leadership: 40 years after Sr. Theresa Kane's request to pope, Sisters see some signs of hope
  • Voices of Faith conference and campaign to overcome the silence
  • Women walking together, away from the church
  • Mass with Swahili hymns brings new vibrancy to Edmonton parish
  • RCWP Canada Bishop's Message: Living gratitude
  • Comments to the Editor
  • Despite moments of welcome, LGBTQ Catholics still on the margins
  • Liberation theology is reflection on the following of Christ from the viewpoint of the world’s poor and oppressed
  • New Canadian cardinal seen as key to Pope Francis's reform vision
  • Francis Comics
  • Comments to the Editor Form
  • RCWP Canada Website Links
  • Related Links

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RCWP Canada Bishop's Message

Living gratitude

As I write this we are about to celebrate Thanksgiving here in Canada.  We are definitely in the Autumn Season with harvesting of the fruits of the earth well underway – except perhaps where fields of grain still stand due to recent heavy rains and even snow.  As the days shorten and nights lengthen, the monarch butterflies, the geese and other migratory birds are gathering in preparation for their long journeys south.  Families will gather to feast in gratitude for the blessings of the past year and be prompted to share of their abundance with those who do not have adequate food, clothing or shelter.

Poet, Mary Oliver  offers us a simple way to live gratefully.  She invites us to be attentive to our experiences and what goes on around us, to find something every day for which to be grateful, to tell about it – sharing it deepens gratitude in us and offers it to another, and finally, to live with the recognition that all is gift.

As I seek to be attentive to what is going on around me in the Church and our country at this time, I experience a sense of gratitude for my place of privilege in both societies. Am I happy about what is going on in each of them? Not really.  But the fact that I have the opportunity to express my feelings and ideas for making things better for others is something for which I am truly grateful. 

I am watching the Synod on the Amazonian region and its people, being held in Rome this month.
The Synod flows from the concerns of Pope Francis expressed in his 2015 Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si, on care of our common home.  Key issues before the synod are care for creation, upholding the rights of indigenous peoples, and the pastoral response of the Church to local needs.  You can read the working document for the synod here.  

Among the 222 participants, there are 35 women consultants at the Synod.  I am encouraged and grateful to hear their voices. Sr. Teresa Cediel Castillo, M.ML is cited: “Women develop their own projects for education, healthcare, and other issues. They know that they are baptized, and therefore, prophets and priests. Women baptize children. If there is a marriage, women witness the marriage. If someone has need of confession, we listen to the bottom of our hearts.  We may not be able to absolve [according to the Church], but we listen with humbleness.”  These women are sacramental ministers responding from the heart of love – the heart of God -- to the needs of the people.  Would that the Church consider the ordination of such women to gather the community and celebrate Eucharist to nourish their faith rather than have to wait for a male priest to come around – maybe once a year.

When the final documents of the Synod are presented for voting, 187 men participating in the Synod will be allowed to vote; none of the women participating in the Synod will be allowed to vote.  Efforts to change that, as a matter of justice, are ongoing.   This is one action I can take for which I am grateful. So can you, if you wish.

In Canada, all citizens have the opportunity to vote in the upcoming federal election.   Along with this privilege is the responsibility to discern our choice by careful reading of party platforms, news reports and the like, having healthy dialogue with our candidates and their representatives and critically holding what we learn up to the light of the Gospel.  How does what our politicians propose reflect the light of truth and justice Jesus proclaimed to bring healing and hope to a broken world? 

Vatican II said (using an inclusive language translation of the Latin text) in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men and women of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs, and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts….”  That we can voice by our vote this mission of Jesus is truly something for which I am grateful.

I want to express my gratitude to each of you for your interest in and support of Roman Catholic Women Priests.  We are called to witness to the truth that God can and does call women as well as men to full and equal partnership in sacramental ministry to God's people. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Now, with a heart full of gratitude, I will go and prepare for our family Thanksgiving feast.

+ Jane

[Jane Kryzanowski, Regina, SK is bishop for RCWP Canada]

I found all of the articles in this issue of The Review (October 1, 2019) to be informative, deeply thought provoking and most worthwhile on many levels. Thank you.

[Judith Pellerin, Regina, SK]

I just watched a typically thought-provoking edition of Amanpour and Company on PBS (late here but almost always worthwhile) interviewing James Carroll about his article in The Atlantic on abolishing the priesthood. I have been a fan of James Carroll for many years. He has been a voice of sober second thought, and critical of Vatican policy since, I think, even before he left the active ministry but remained a staunch, married Catholic. Certainly an excellent author, I might add, a loyal supporter of Pope Francis.  Anyway, I recommend the article, along with all his writings. He has kept his finger on the pulse of the Church for sure.
Just a f.y.i. for an outstanding advocate.

[Roberta Fuller, Bethany, ON]

Some excellent articles!  Thank you.

[Catherine Walther, Toronto, ON]

Despite moments of welcome, LGBTQ Catholics still on the margins

Editorial Staff, | October 2, 2019

Popes, even the comparatively freewheeling Francis, don't cram into an already jammed calendar a half-hour, announced, private meeting in a formal setting with a U.S. priest who has been the cause of ecclesial apoplexy in some church quarters, unless the papal intent is to send a very clear message.

And at least one unmistakable message in the September 30th meeting between Francis and Jesuit Fr. James Martin was, if not in so many words: "This priest is okay, so stop messing with him."

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Liberation theology is reflection on the following of Christ from the viewpoint of the world’s poor and oppressed photo    

Mike Rivage-Seul, | September 29, 2019

The liturgy of the word of the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time provides us with a virtual catechism of liberation theology – Christianity’s most important theological development in the last 1500 years, and the West’s most important social movement of the last 150 years.

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New Canadian cardinal seen as key to Pope Francis's reform vision

Megan Williams, | October 5, 2019

Michael Czerny, who is a Czech-born, Montreal-raised social justice advocate, will be Canada's fourth cardinal.

Among the 13 Catholic cardinals Pope Francis will create this Saturday at St. Peter's Square is a Canadian few expected would become a "prince of the church."

Yet his elevation to the high-ranking all-male group is also a resounding confirmation of the direction the pope is steering the Catholic Church in.

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Mother of Jesus, powerful leader, teacher, presbyter and bishop in early church

     Book Review:  Mary and Early Christian Women: Hidden Leadership by Ally Kateusz


Image from Kateusz, Ally, Mary and Early Christian Women, Springer International Publishing, Kindle Edition. Used under Creative Commons licence.

     Roberta Fuller, Special to The Review | October 15, 2019

Have we forgotten that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was a Jewish mother?  This is a facetious and foolish question to focus your attention on a serious and scholarly work well worth reading.

Ally Kateusz commenced by pointing out that history - certainly manipulated history - has painted two Marys as caricatures, one as a whore and sinner or Mary Magdalene, whom recent scholarship has redeemed to her rightful place as First Apostle.  Then Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who has been depicted as a submissive virgin is emerging from new research as a strong and determined leader in the prophetic movement of followers and disciples of Jesus.

New archaeological evidence further confirms the work of Dr. Dorothy Irvin (The Hidden Tradition: Women's Ministry), that Sr. Christine Schenk built her work upon, by literally unearthing artifacts that depict in one instance, a man and a woman standing on either side of the altar of the original St. Peters Basilica in Rome, each one holding a raised chalice.  This signified a liturgical act performed by priests.  Kateusz cites other new findings from approximately 430 C.E, that illustrate men and women standing while both hold their arms in the orans position, again on either side of the altar, suggesting that they once again shared parallel roles.

The author explained that these artifacts, having been previously buried, had been neither destroyed to get rid of evidence portraying the ordination of women, nor were they censored as was easy for smart scribes to do with written texts.

There is of course, controversy regarding the role of these sculptured figures regarding whether they actually depicted priests or perhaps, merely deacons and assuredly, other examples most probably do indeed represent deacons.  For instance, she eluded to Christian communities in the East where reference was made in a document, Didascalia Apostolorum, to a pair of male and female deacons who supervised the offerings and where, she stated, the female deacon symbolized the Holy Spirit while the male deacon symbolized Christ wherever Aramaic was spoken.

This is a fascinating book because its main focus is on Mary, the Mother of Jesus, illustrating her multi-roles as a powerful leader, teacher and notably, as a presbyter or high priest and bishop in the nascent church.  Additionally, research showed other early Christian religious women inside the two iconic basilicas of Christianity, Old St. Peters in Rome and the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.  Furthermore, Ally Kateusz searched extra-canonical gospels, extracting much supporting data, hidden from public view.  Finally she took academics visiting Rome to see a mosaic in the San Venantius Chapel in the Church of the Lateran baptistery which depicts Mary adorned in what appears to be a pallium - itself a symbol of episcopal authority granted new bishops.  The mosaic shows Mary's arm raised as if celebrating the Eucharist, but most of the red tesserae (small tiles of glass or stone used in mosaic construction) fashioning the cross on Mary's pallium were deliberately removed, and then this mosaic was purposely obscured by a massive altar-piece, in accord with a decree issued by the Holy Office in 1916, to ban all images depicting Mary in priestly vestments!

This book is jam-packed with long-concealed information now revealed despite the modes of silencing the past that Dr. Ally Kateusz has unveiled.

She has produced an amazing collection of both new and old facts enhanced by the new discoveries that prove beyond a doubt that early church women from Mary on down, served as clergy.  Dr. Kateusz has divulged the redactionary analysis of Mary's liturgical leadership.  In other words, she has shown how scribes censored texts about women and their liturgical roles even although women were exceptionally involved in the spread and growth of Christianity.

Do not miss this book, Mary and Early Christian Women: Hidden Leadership.  It is full of recently discovered, revolutionary facts about the real, ``secret`` (unknown) Mary, Mother of Jesus, one surprise after another.  All those who have read or reviewed this wonderful Book of Revelation so far have little hope that the Vatican, having secreted evidence for eons of ages in their campaign to exclude women from the priesthood through the argument of tradition, will be willing to discuss these new findings today.

Best of all, you can access this book for free. (Free Electronic version at:
Palgrave Macmillan)

[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]

'It's our church, too': Conference to focus on need for women's leadership

Heidi Schlumpf, | September 23, 2019

Women's inroads as leaders in the church and society is to be celebrated, but there is still much work to do so that churches, businesses and governments can benefit from the gifts and talents of half the human race.

So say speakers tapped to share their wisdom on the topic of women's leadership at the second Women of the Church conference, scheduled for October 18-20 at St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana.

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Women in church leadership: 40 years after Sr. Theresa Kane's request to pope, Sisters see some signs of hope

YouTube video photo      

Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans, | October 3, 2019

On an October day four decades ago, Sr. Theresa Kane, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and head of the Sisters of Mercy in the U.S., stood before 5,000 other sisters gathered to greet Pope John Paul II at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. She spoke of the sisters' "profound respect, esteem and affection" for the pontiff.

Then Kane uttered these memorable words: "Our contemplation leads us to state that the church in its struggle to be faithful to its call for reverence and dignity for all persons must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of our church.

Read More and/or View historic video of Sr. Teresa Kane

Voices of Faith conference and campaign to overcome the silence

Voices of Faith, | April 7, 2019

Of the 185 voting members attending the Synod on Amazonia to decide the future of the Catholic Church, not a single one is a woman.

Voices of Faith photo

Women continue to be excluded from voting in the Catholic Church. Women continue to be treated as guests in their own home.

Watch some or all of four hours of video of the October 3rd Voices of Faith conference in Rome, and/or join the campaign to call for change at #OvercomingSilence

Women walking together, away from the church

Phyllis Zagano, | September 23, 2019

The Vatican released the participants' list for the upcoming Synod for the Pan-Amazon Region the other day. All 185 synod votes belong to men.
. . .
It was not always like this. Years ago, the abilities, intellects and legal authority of women were respected.

Until the late 19th century, there were abbesses who held absolute ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the people and lands of their territorial abbeys. These abbesses had the same authority as bishops. They gave priests faculties to hear confessions, to celebrate Mass, and to preach. They appointed chaplains and parish priests; they oversaw church legal proceedings; they ensured proper elections of religious superiors. You name it, these abbesses oversaw whatever is on your bishop's legal plate today. For 700 years, successive popes recognized, even increased, their authority, especially in France, Italy, Spain and Sweden.

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Mass with Swahili hymns brings new vibrancy to Edmonton parish

Kyle Greenham, | August 29, 2019

As the sound of drums, tambourines and Swahili hymns reverberated through St. Andrew's Church, Edmonton, AB, Elizabeth Muturi and fellow parishioners swayed their arms and hips, dancing down the aisle with the Book of Gospels raised behind them.

For Muturi, who grew up attending Mass in Kenya, the sight and sounds were a dream come true.

"It's so touching to see this come to fruition," she said. "Even to see our priest willing to learn to some Swahili — it is exciting. I have to thank God, because it's all by the power of the Holy Spirit."

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Francis, the comic strip                                                                                           Francis Comic Strip Archive                
by Pat Marrin | October 3, 2019
National Catholic Reporter
Used with permission

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