Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Relevancy of Dom Helder Camara for the new generations and the Church of Francis

by Natasha Pitts (English translation by Rebel Girl)
November 21, 2014

The communion between Dom Helder Camara's life and his preaching is his greatest achievement against those who accuse him of having been a demagogue, says Professor Lucy Pina Neta, a historian at the Instituto Dom Helder Câmara (IDHEC), based in Recife, State of Pernambuco. In an interview given to Adital, she analyzes the socio-political and cultural context that permeated the actions of Dom Helder and made him a point of reference who has remained current for future generations.

According to her, Dom Helder's work has acquired greater dimensions, beyond the walls of the Catholic Church, especially through his work for the promotion of and respect for human beings. These actions made the priest leave an indelible mark in the service of others, in the defense of the fundamental rights of all, especially the lives of the needy, considered the quintessential manifestation of the presence of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel.

The historian points out that the bishop's work behind the scenes helped weave the plot that gave a new look and presence to the Catholic Church, articulating different social, political and cultural realities. Therefore, the image of the shepherd who is one with his flock in weaknesses and virtues, is what most inspires the social and pastoral actions of Dom Helder. For Lucy Pina Neta, he has made an important contribution so that today, Pope Francis can revive a more humane and authentically Christian Church model.

ADITAL: What does the figure of Dom Helder Camara represent currently, in and out of the Church? What are his most defining traits?

Lucy Pina: Don Helder is current. Although, to understand him, it's always necessary to read him in his socio-political-cultural and especially ecclesial context. This leads us to recognize how much of a visionary and prophet he was, from his early social activities until his last years. The coherence between his life and his preaching is his greatest achievement against those who accuse him of having been a demagogue. In the church, a recurring memory associated with his name is his [episcopal] collegiality, a model of democratic governance that has been rescued by the pontificate of Pope Francis.

The collegiality he upheld came from his training at Prainha Seminary [located in Fortaleza, Ceará] which he consolidated during his social and pastoral experience in all phases of his life and which acquired institutional form with the organization of the National Conference of Brazilian (Catholic) Bishops. [This evolution is obvious] if we think of the Church in Brazil and the work done during the Vatican II sessions [held between 1962 and 1965] with the Council fathers in South America, Asia, Africa and parts of Europe, when we perceive the dimension of the worldwide Catholic Church. This doesn't exhaust its representation at all, but they are clear examples of the collegiality I mentioned earlier, which I would classify as a hallmark, or rather, as the memory most persistently associated with the image of Dom Helder.

Beyond the walls of the Church, Dom Helder's work reached enormous proportions because of his commitment to the advancement of and respect for human beings -- understood as creatures created in the image and likeness of their Creator, irrespective of creed, color, race, nationality or any other sort of classification.

One aspect specifically of the training he received at Prainha Seminary, directed at the time of his studies by the Vincentian Fathers, stands out in Dom Helder -- the importance of social work.

These works produced an indelible mark in young Helder, as he himself said. "A priest doesn't exist in a vacuum. The priest only exists for the glory of God, serving others." This service is protecting human dignity, respecting their basic rights, fighting in defense of the neediest, in the love of Christ who lives in the poor, in the ever-present need to remember at all times, the living presence of Jesus.

In that sense, the memories of his work with the workers and Catholic teachers in Ceará, at the head of the Cruzada de São Sebastião and the Banco da Providência in [the State of] Rio de Janeiro, and all his efforts committed to helping the Capibaribe flood victims, the rural workers and political prisoners of Olinda and Recife [Pernambuco], are justified.

ADITAL: Could you talk to us about the importance of Dom Helder's actions during Vatican II?

LP: I don't think it would be possible to write the history of the Council without at least mentioning Dom Helder's name. Although he never spoke during the Council sessions, his work behind the scenes helped weave the plot that gave a new look to the Catholic Church. His efforts can be divided into three distinct and complementary phases: the pre-conciliar work as consultant to the Commission on Bishops and Governance of Dioceses, and in the organization of the Brazilian episcopate for the trip to Rome, providing personal documents and tickets so that the Church of Brazil might be present with as many conciliar fathers as possible.

Later during the Council, his work was labeled that of a behind the scenes coordinator. Between the conciliar sessions, Dom Helder promoted smaller meetings at the residence of the Brazilian bishops in Rome, Domus Mariae. His goal was to bring to the priests and bishops -- not just the Brazilians but all those attending these meetings -- the best elements to discuss the proposed new Church preached by John XXIII and subsequently Paul VI, corroborating the thesis that, as well as forming spirits, Dom Helder also formed minds.

It's clear that his work went beyond those meetings. He wove -- not alone -- a web of relationships that enabled the Bishops' Conferences of the five continents put their problems on the table and be able to build their solutions together. This is a subject that, of course, is not exhausted in these words...But in general, I think of these two traits -- collegiality and the ability to link different social, political and cultural realities.

ADITAL: What was the influence of the Pact of the Catacombs on his religious and pastoral life?

LP: The Pact [a document drafted and signed by 40 bishops participating in Vatican II on November 16, 1965, shortly before the end of the Council, which contained 13 items, with the signatories committing themselves to lead a life of poverty, reject all symbols and privileges of power, and put the poor at the center of their pastoral ministry, among other things] was translated into Dom Helder's life experience. In sum, the document speaks of the need for a poor and servant Church, starting with its bishops who should renounce the title of "Princes of the Church" and, as such, everything it represents -- palaces, official cars, bank accounts, to name the most frequent examples.

Therefore, the first image that comes to mind when we think of Dom Helder is a thin bishop, in a beige cassock, with a simple cross hanging on his chest. That brought him close to his flock; in him, the figure of church administrator is overshadowed by the increasingly apparent figure of a pastor who is one with his sheep in their weaknesses and strengths.

Another distinctive characteristic of this experience is how we call him "Dom". Like that, simply. He was once asked why people called him that. He replied that someone had whispered to us that "Dom" was an act of kindness, a gift from God, and that he was our gift. Maybe he was right. In the dark years of repression, he really was that light, that gift to the Church of Brazil.

If we think about it from the pastoral-social point of view, we fall into a broad field. Dom Helder, when proposing land reform to governments and even to the segments of the Church, didn't do it just to use a theme that was becoming popular, but as someone who had already experienced the practical achievements, having done so himself, whether with land of the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife, or allocating money from awards he had received worldwide for the purchase of agricultural areas, relatively close to the cities, and distributing them among the farmworkers. The Pact [of the Catacombs] became a sort of second rule of life!

ADITAL: How did Dom Helder relate to liberation theology?

LP: Honestly, I can't see Dom Helder as a liberation theologian. But I acknowledge that, yes, there are aspects of the model of Church that he lived out, wanted, and about which he wrote, that permeate liberation theology. But I couldn't tell you more on the subject.

ADITAL: Why is Helder's spirituality alive, meaningful and current today?

LP: There are two types of memories about Dom Helder -- an emotional one, generally associated with the group of people who lived with or close to him, which reinforces the nostalgia for the good shepherd, for his humanized sort of Church experience. This type of memory is important. It makes the generations that didn't live physically with him be interested and seek him.

Roughly speaking, it's as they did great word of mouth publicity for the best experience they'd ever had and therefore, curiosity arises and hence the always recurring interest in Dom Helder. The other memory comes precisely from this group that has drawn near because they've "heard about him" and has found consistency between the memories, the documentation and the life of Dom Helder.

His greatest asset for keeping current is that he was real, he was true, his sins were confessed, or rather assumed, his weaknesses were human, his love for the Church was translated into a love that sees Christ in one's brother. So his spirituality doesn't "fall out of fashion".

ADITAL: Is the arrival of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis, to occupy the so-called "Chair of Saint Peter" a boost to the recovery and strengthening of the ideas espoused by Dom Helder?

LP: Personally, I have high hopes! I think Francis, in his own way and in time, has shown that it is possible to revive, in part, the Church model that Dom Helder lived out in the second half of the last century. I'm glad for my generation, that packed Copacabana Beach [in Rio] to hear the words of the Holy Father, that is inspired by Francis for a poorer, more servant, more humane and warmer Church. I hope he lives for many years to be able to make the possible changes within the Church.

ADITAL: Is the book Novas Utopias, dictated by the spirit of Dom Helder and channeled by the medium Carlos Pereira, of the Sociedade Espírita Ermance Dufaux, in Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais) considered a work of the priest?

LP: For fans of Spiritualist doctrine and by the Asociación Brasileña de Normas Técnicas - ABNT.

ADITAL: Some historians and journalists have described Dom Helder not just as a popular figure but as an exhibitionist who liked being in front of the camera lens, as well as having amazing vanity. Where does that come from?

LP: Perhaps I'm not the one to answer that last question since I don't see Dom Helder that way. What I can say is that the censorship in the media caused him a lot of grief, that the misleading news articles hurt him and that not being able to answer them made him suffer. Despite that phase, his relationship with the media was respectful. He always knew the range of a microphone and a camera. So, when using them, he was very careful. But vanity is part of our human condition and some things they'd say about him, if they weren't true, he'd take them as anecdotes to teach something.

Friday, November 21, 2014

An unusual judgement

NOTE: Sadly, José Antonio Pagola has informed his readers that this will be his last weekly gospel column. After 34 years, he says he wants to use his time for other endeavors.

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
November 23, 2014

Matthew 25:31-46

The sources are unambiguous. Jesus lives turned towards those he sees in need of help. He is unable to pass them by. No suffering is alien to him. He identifies with the least and the helpless and does what he can for them. Compassion comes first for him. The only way for us to be like God: "Be merciful as your Father is merciful."

How can we be surprised that, when speaking of the Last Judgement, Jesus presents mercy as the ultimate decisive criterion on which our lives and our identification with him will be judged? Why would it be strange to us that he identifies himself with all the poor and wretched in history?

According to Matthew's narrative, "all nations" will appear before the Son of Man, that is, before Jesus, the merciful one. No distinction is made between "chosen people" and "pagan people." Nothing is said about different religions and cults. It's about something very human that everyone understands: What have we done for all those who are suffering?

The evangelist doesn't exactly linger when describing the details of a judgement. What he highlights is a double dialogue that sheds great light on our present condition and opens our eyes to see clearly that there are two ways to react towards those who are suffering -- either we take pity and help them, or we turn a deaf ear and abandon them.

The speaker is a Judge who is identified with all the poor and needy: "Whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me." Those who have approached a needy person to help them, have drawn near to him. Therefore they are to be with him in the kingdom: "Come, you who are blessed by my Father."

Then he addresses those who have lived without compassion: "What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me." Those who have turned away from the suffering, have turned away from Jesus. It's only logical that he now says to them: "Depart from me." Go your own way...

Our lives are being judged right now. We don't need to wait for any judgement. We are approaching or turning away from those who are suffering now. We are approaching or turning away from Christ now. We are deciding our fate now.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Women's Ordination Worldwide Third International Conference - 2015

Registration is now open for Women's Ordination Worldwide's Third International Conference, September 18-20, 2015, at the Marriott Downtown in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the theme "Gender, Gospel, & Global Justice". Invited speakers include RCWP Bishop Patricia Fresen, Sr. Teresa Forcades i Vila, Kristina Keneally, Asra Nomani, Sr. Mary John Mananzan, Kate Kelly, Tina Beattie, Jamie Manson, Christina Rees, Sr. Theresa Kane, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Barbara Blaine, Paul Collins, Mary E. Hunt, and Sr. Maureen Fiedler. Is that a cool line-up or what?

Anyway, the cost of the conference is $275 if you register before April 15, 2015. This does not include hotel accommodations which must be arranged and paid for separately. Click here to register online for this very special event.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Synod for this?

by José Arregi (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Redes Cristianas
November 19, 2014

A month ago the first phase of the Catholic Synod on the Family ended, which opened a year of ecclesial reflection until October 2015. Then the General Synod itself takes place. So we are still in synod, a Greek word meaning "journey together." That is being Church -- being companions in the journey, following Jesus together and freely. That is life -- a shared journey.

"Let everyone speak freely, and listen with humility," Pope Francis said on the eve of the opening. So be it. That's how I want to do it since what's true for the bishops must be true for all of us who are Church, traveling companions.

There were 253 participants, mostly bishops, coming from all over the world, staying in Rome for more than two weeks. Was it necessary? Weren't e-mail, videoconferencing, or online meetings enough? So many celibate bishops talking about the family, holding forth on issues that the vast majority of people, including long-time Catholics and priests, had resolved long ago ... Was it worth it?

In no way would I say that families are a minor matter. They engender and shape us. It would be worth gathering at the Vatican not just 200 bishops but thousands of men and women from every people and culture and spending whatever it takes to remedy the wounds that afflict them: unemployment and poverty, lack of housing, violence and gender inequality, fear of the future, the failure of love...

But those weren't the subjects that mattered most to the synod fathers. One barely heard voices demanding serious ecclesial reflection on the profound cultural changes that are affecting the traditional  family structures. No critical note on the issue of "gender", that is, the social construction of roles of men and women. No allusion to the decoupling of sex and procreation, a new and momentous event in the history of mankind. No reference to the serious demographic problem and, yes, hard damning judgments of the "anti-birth mentality." No hint of recognition of the holiness and sacramental value of homosexual love.

No hint of a possible rethinking of the traditional doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. No suggestion of the need to revise the doctrine of Paul VI's Humanae Vitae (1968), which prohibits under mortal sin any birth control measure or method other than sexual abstinence (they condemn anything that's not "natural", but take "unnatural" pills for the flu or cholesterol). And no trace of self-criticism at all.

Nevertheless, many have hailed this first synodical phase and the document that emanated from it as the prelude to a spring explosion, as the unstoppable beginning of deep doctrinal transformation. Let's hope it is, and that I'm wrong, and that I be given the grace to see it! But today I don't see it.

I do expect, though, that after the General Synod next year, Pope Francis will take three timid steps, namely: 1) An invitation to receive homosexuals with mercy (as if they were sick or sinners), 2) The possibility that some divorced people with new partners might take communion on the condition -- a humiliating condition -- that they confess their guilt for their marital failure and commit to not re-offending (Jesus didn't humiliate anyone this way), 3) Streamlining and cheapening the annulment process (a device not to recognize something very simple -- that wherever there is love there is a sacrament of God, and that there is only a sacrament while there is love). That will be all. Is so much baggage needed for this journey? Those are the bishops' problems, not the people's. The people are suffering for other reasons. Listen to the people, listen to life.

Life goes on striving in the little beating hearts of men and women today, believers or not. The Spirit and Love live in the marriages the bishops call "irregular", in the different types of families with their everyday joys and anxieties, in people who've failed in their love and remade their lives with another partner. They weren't, nor will they be, called to the Synod, but Life is guiding them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Women's Ordination: November 2014 Update

In a recent interview with "60 Minutes", the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, was asked about his position on women in the Church in general and women's ordination in particular. Here are the relevant segments:

...Norah O'Donnell: Should there be more women in positions of power in the Curia?

Cardinal Seán O'Malley: Yes. I think there should be. And hopefully, there will be.

Norah O'Donnell: When?

Cardinal Seán O'Malley: Well, I can't tell you what time, but hopefully soon, you know....
(Yeah, "soon", right...)

...Norah O'Donnell: The church says it's not open to the discussion about ordaining women. Why not?

Cardinal Seán O'Malley: Not everyone needs to be ordained to have an important role in the life of the church. Women run the Catholic charities, the Catholic schools, the development office for the archdiocese.

Norah O'Donnell: Some would say women do a lot of the work but have very little power.

Cardinal Seán O'Malley: Well "power" is not a word that we like to use in the church. It's more service.

Norah O'Donnell: But they can't preach. They can't administer the sacraments.

Cardinal Seán O'Malley: Well...

Norah O'Donnell: I mean, some women feel like they're second class Catholics because they can't do those things that are very important.

Cardinal Seán O'Malley: Well, they, but they're, they have other very important roles that, you know, a priest cannot be a mother, either. The tradition of the church is that we have always ordained men. And that the priesthood reflects the incarnation of Christ, who in his humanity is a man.

Norah O'Donnell: But in spite of that, does the exclusion of women seem at all immoral?

Cardinal Seán O'Malley: Well, Christ would never ask us to do something immoral. And I know that women in...

Norah O'Donnell: The sense of equality. I mean, just the sense of sort of the fairness of it, you know. You wouldn't exclude someone based on race. But yet you do exclude people based on gender.

Cardinal Seán O'Malley: Well, it's a matter of vocation. And what God has given to us. And this is, you know, if I were founding a church, you know, I'd love to have women priests. But Christ founded it and what he he has given us is something different...

Leaving aside the historical fact that while the Catholic Church is founded ON Jesus Christ, Christ DID NOT "found" the Roman Catholic Church in its present patriarchal and hierarchical incarnation nor did he ordain anyone, male or female, Cardinal O'Malley's restatement of the Church's policy of excluding half the Catholic population from the sacrament of Holy Orders and its weak theological and biblical underpinnings, demonstrates why more and more qualified women are seeking ordination through independent groups like Roman Catholic Womenpriests.

This Fall has seen two more women ordained to the priesthood -- internationally! -- and many more ordained to the diaconate. On November 1st, in Sarasota, Florida, the fourth Colombian Roman Catholic woman priest, Judith Bautista Fajardo, was ordained by ARCWP Bishop Bridget Mary Mehan. Meanwhile, in South Africa, Mary Bernadette Ryan (photo above) was ordained on September 28th by Bishop Patricia Fresen, herself a native of that country. Rev. Ryan received her doctorate in Theology in 2006 from the University of South Africa with a thesis on "Behind caring: the contribution of feminist pedagogy in preparing women for Christian ministry in South Africa." During the ordination ceremony, Bishop Fresen, as she has often done in the past, compared the struggle for women's access to the priesthood to her country's fight against apartheid, saying that "in South Africa, in particular, we know that the only way to change an unjust law is to break it. And that", she added, "is what we are doing today."

Many more women have been ordained to the diaconate over the last three months:

RCWP Western Region

On September 6, 2014, seven women were ordained to the diaconate by RCWP Bishop Olivia Doko in Santa Cruz, California:

  • Penny Donovan, a former member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who has worked as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. The San Francisco native, who asserts that she experienced the call to the priesthood as a young girl, says that "discovering RCWP in 2012, has been an unbelievable new journey."

  • Teresa Gregory, who hails from Idaho, served in the Roman Catholic Church as a lay person for 30 years, the last six of those years as the Parish Life Director of Our Lady of the Snows in Sun Valley, Idaho. She has served both in the Archdiocese of Seattle and the Diocese of Boise and received her Masters of Divinity from Seattle University in 1991. She is currently a building manager for the Blaine County School District.

  • Rosa Manriquez, from East Los Angeles, is a retired Roman Catholic sister of the community of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She is a member of Our Mother of Good Counsel/St. Agatha Church, where she has served as a lector and eucharistic minister, as a CCD teacher preparing young people for confirmation, and on church's parish council. A strong LGBT advocate, Manriquez is on the speakers' list of Gays and Lesbians Initiating a Dialogue for Equality (GLIDE), making presentations throughout Southern California and she also works with the Human Rights Campaign as a trainer and lecturer. She is on the board of the Catholic Church reform group Call To Action.

  • Donna Marie Shaw was born in Chicago, Illinois, but currently lives in California. She served as a nurse for over 25 years, incorporating holistic methods of health care into her service. She has a Bachelor of Religious Studies from Global Ministries University. She plans to minister in a new community which is now being formed in Simi Valley, CA.

  • Donnieau Snyder, PhD, is a psychotherapist from Modesto, California, who is a member of New Spirit Rising, an inclusive Catholic faith community in Fresno. Her ministry includes serving her faith community, religious education, working with homeless veterans dually diagnosed with mental health needs and substance abuse issues, as well as working with homeless teens and young adults.

  • Joanna Truelson, a real estate agent with Alain Pinel Realtors, is a founding member of the Namaste Catholic Community in Orinda, CA. She is a spiritual director and enjoys participating in international missions and pilgrimages.

  • Carol Giannini -- no additional information available

RCWP Eastern Region

On October 19, 2014, in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, the following women were ordained to the diaconate by RCWP Bishop Andrea Johnson:

  • Barbara Ann Beadles, from Silver Spring, Maryland, has an M.A. in Religious Studies from Catholic University. She has been involved in religious education since 1968 and has worked in parochial schools in Kentucky and Maryland. As pastoral associate, she has worked with adults in RCIA education and in sacramental preparation. Her particular interest is ministry with marginalized Catholics and as a hospice volunteer.

  • Norma (Keefe) Harrington has Master's degrees in Nursing and Theological Studies, with a specialization in feminist theology. She is a semi-retired hospice nurse. She grew up in Michigan but now lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where she is a chapter leader for Call To Action. She is affiliated with The Spirit of Life Catholic community.

  • Patricia Shannon Jones has a Master's Degree in Adulthood and Aging Studies from Notre Dame of Maryland University. She is a registered nurse and retired nursing home administrator in the State of Maryland. She has completed the Parish Nursing Certificate Program at the Ecumenical Institute (EI) of Saint Mary's Seminary and University, and continues to pursue courses in Pastoral Care at the EI. During her research career, she worked at multiple medical schools, ran her own clinical trials management company, and worked as a consultant with the University of Maryland Institute of Human Virology. She is currently director of the Immigration Outreach Service Center at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Baltimore.

  • Susan Marie Schessler holds a Master's Degree in Religious Studies from Providence College in Rhode Island. She was an elementary school teacher in New Jersey and Alabama before becoming the first Director of Religious Education in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. As DRE, she ministered in two parishes and was also on the staff of the Religious Education Center in the Archdiocese of Newark. While residing and participating in the work of Genesis Farm in Blairstown, NJ, Schessler served on the staff of the Northeast Center for Youth Ministry housed in Paterson, NJ. Realizing the call to serve the poor in inner-city Newark, Susan served as principal of an alternative junior high school founded and sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, NJ, before moving over to the public scholl system. Since her retirement from education, she serves as volunteer Director of Development with Future Potential Youth OutCry Foundation Inc./The H.U.B.B. (Help Us Become Better).

  • Kathleen Gibbons Schuck, who has a B.S. in Sociology from Rosemont College and is presently studying Theology at Global Ministries University, is founder and co-owner with her husband of 5 Decades In, a company that provides life coaching and business consulting services. Since 2012, she has been part of the Saint Mary Magdalene Community, an inclusive Catholic community which holds services in Drexel Hill, North Wales, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Over the years, she has also been active in parishes in New Jersey, Illinois, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania, chairing liturgy committees and serving as a greeter, lector and extraordinary minister.

  • Ann Searing is a former nun and member of the Daughters of Wisdom, where she taught for 17 year before she left the community to get married. She served with her husband, Rev. Jeff Johnson, as part of a pastoral team at the Athol Congregational Church UCC, in Massachusetts for 14 years. She also served as interim pastor of the Phillipston Congregational Church and of the Memorial Congregational Church of Baldwinville. She also served in a Roman Catholic parish as director of RCIA, a Eucharistic Minister, and a pastoral visitor of the sick. She has an M. Div. and D. Min. from Andover Newton Theological School. At present, she is a spiritual director and retreat leader.

  • Mary Steinmetz -- no additional information available

Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

In addition to the ordination of Judith Bautista Fajardo to the priesthood, four women were ordained as deacons on October 29th and November 1st, 2014 in Sarasota, Florida by ARCWP Bishop Bridget Mary Mehan. They are:

  • Janet Blakeley of Nokomis, Florida, who has a Master's degree in Clinical/Pastoral Counseling from Emmanuel College in Boston. Over her 80 years of life, Blakeley has served as a church musician, parochial school administrator, parish adult education leader, and as a spiritual director. She is presently a member of the Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota where she will be serving.

  • Sally Brochu of Nokomis, Florida, also has an M.A. in Pastoral Counseling from Emmanuel College in Boston. A certified chaplain through the National Association of Catholic Chaplains, she worked as Director of Pastoral Care for the Sisters of Charity Health System in Maine for 10 years. Brochu will also be serving at Mary Mother of Jesus Community.

  • Patricia Zorn's ordination to the ARCWP diaconate is really more of a transfer from one independent Catholic group to another. Zorn was originally ordained a priest in 2005 by Bishop Michel Joseph Pugin, a former Roman Catholic priest who left to join the Catholic Apostolic Church which evolved into the American Catholic Church in the United States. The Spring Hill, Florida resident had been pastoring Holy Angels Catholic Community, a congregation she founded in 2006 and through which she has been part of a loose-knit group called the Catholic Diocese of the One Spirit. She has a degree in Spiritual Counseling from the New Seminary in New York City.

  • "Nelly S." -- a "Catacomb" deacon about whom no additional information is available"

As can be seen, the women's ordination movement isn't waiting around for Cardinal O'Malley to found his own church or for the Vatican to come to its senses on this question. They are pursuing justice and opening a path for Catholic women to follow their calling to ministry now.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Creative searching

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
November 16, 2014

Matthew 25:14-30

Despite its seeming innocence, the parable of the talents carries an explosive charge. Surprisingly, the "third servant" is condemned without having done anything wrong. His only error was "doing nothing" -- not risking his talent, not making it bear fruit, keeping it intact in a safe place.

Jesus' message is clear. No to conservatism, yes to creativity. No to a sterile life, yes to the active response to God. No to obsession about security, yes to risky efforts to change the world. No to faith buried under conformity, yes to committed work to make way for the Kingdom of God.

The great sin of Jesus' followers could always be not daring to follow him creatively. It's important to observe the language that's been used among Christians over the centuries to see where we've often focused our attention: preserving the deposit of faith, preserving the tradition, preserving good customs, preserving grace, preserving vocations,...

This temptation to conservatism is stronger during times of religious crisis. It's easy then to invoke the need to control orthodoxy, reinforce discipline and rules, ensure membership in the Church,...All might be explicable, but isn't it often a way of distorting the gospel and freezing the creativity of the Holy Spirit?

For religious leaders and those responsible for Christian communities, it might be more comfortable to monotonously "repeat" the inherited ways of the past, ignoring the questions, contradictions, and approaches of modern people, but what use is all that if we aren't able to shed light and hope on the problems and suffering that trouble the men and women of our time?

The attitudes we should nurture today in the Church are not "prudence", "fidelity to the past", "resignation",...Instead, they have other names: "creative searching", "boldness", "ability to risk", "listening to the Spirit" that makes all things new.

The worst may be that, just as happened to the third servant in the parable, we believe we are responding faithfully to God with our conservative actions when we're disappointing His expectations. The primary task of the Church today can not be preserving the past, but learning to communicate the Good News of Jesus in a society racked by unprecedented sociocultural change.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The "dangerous remembrance" of Jesus

By José María Castillo (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Teología Sin Censura Blog
November 10, 2014

The assassination of the five Jesuits and two employees of UCA (Universidad Centroamericana in San Salvador), November 16, 1989, coincides on the same day and month with the fall of the Berlin Wall. It has been said that the events of that historic moment, not only in Europe but in Central America too, were "the ultimate metaphor of the triumph of freedom." And that, as Bertrand de la Grange, the Central American correspondent for Le Monde in those days, wrote, in November of '89 the world witnessed the "collapse of the Soviet bloc that condemned the armed struggle and accelerated the peace processes in Central America."

The coincidence (only a few days apart) between the murders at UCA in El Salvador, and the fall of the Wall in Berlin, represents the two sides of the struggle to achieve equality and freedom, two pillars on which human rights and peace in the world can be (and have been) built. To win this ideal, both those who fell at the Berlin Wall and those who were killed in El Salvador suffered and died.

Through opposite, and at first sight contradictory, ways, both groups died for the same cause -- the struggle for freedom and dignity. In the end, when it comes to achieving freedom, it doesn't matter whether oppression comes from the right or the left. In either case, they are stealing the greatest thing you can take away from human beings -- their dignity. And that's what was snatched both from the victims imprisoned by the Berlin Wall and the 4,000 or so Salvadorans who were killed in the two weeks of fighting between guerrillas, soldiers and civilians, starting November 11, 1989.

It's been said that was the offensive that opened the possibility for peace by making it obvious that the war could not be decided militarily. It was at this juncture, November 15th, that the Salvadoran army chiefs of staff decided to eliminate the "recognized leaders" that hindered them in their plan to continue to dominate the people. On the morning of the 16th, the UCA martyrs were killed.

The clear lesson all this leaves us is something that gives much food for thought: through the path of repression and domination, what we do is build walls and borders that divide us, separate and alienate us from one another. However, through the path of those who have given their lives because they can't bear inequality or lack of freedom, we take giant steps towards a world in which it will be possible to live in peace.

This is why I can assert that the ignorant fanatical stance of those who go on saying that all those who fought and died in Central America for the ideal of a more just, free and egalitarian society -- from Mons. Romero to the UCA Jesuits -- were just leftist political militants who were trying to impose a system of totalitarian domination, makes me very sad. Don't those who resort to these vulgar and hackneyed clichés realize that that whole process in Central America happened exactly at the time the Wall that separated the two blocs was going under and that this meant the end of the Cold War and the totalitarian system imposed by Communism?

So, can it be calmly asserted that Ignacio Ellacuría and the other Jesuits (like the peasants of El Mozote and so many thousands of dead in those months in El Salvador) were "the orphans of the Wall"? To those who dare take such a question seriously, I ask, "And what do we say about those who died to destroy the Berlin Wall forever? Were they enemies of justice and freedom too?"

Nothing troubles me more than people who don't think because they're incapable of thinking. Those who always think as others do are those who always live at the mercy of what matters to others, not what suits them. And this abounds a lot, now more than ever, to the misfortune of everyone.

I'm impressed by the freedom and consistency of Ignacio Ellacuría and those Jesuits. I myself saw it with my own eyes and felt it with my own hands when, shortly after the death of those martyrs, I had the great luck to be able to go to UCA to lend a hand -- for 16 years -- in the task of covering the vast void left by those witnesses to their deepest convictions, the convictions of the Gospel, the way of life etched in the "dangerous remembrance" of Jesus.