Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Pope Francis to Visit Ireland, by Joe Little RTE, Aug. 25-26, 2018, "The priests' association also said Archbishop Martin had reassured it some months ago that the August gathering would welcome everybody.."
My response: At the heart of the Irish culture is hospitality. There is room at the table for everyone- always a kettle on the boil to make a cup of tea for anyone walking through the door!
At this Meeting of Families in Dublin, I hope that LGBTI families, advocates of women priests, like Mary McAleese, and We Are Church Ireland are present in the circles welcoming Francis to Ireland. All are equal members of the Catholic family.
Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

Pope Francis' visit to Ireland will be the first by a pope in nearly 40 years
Pope Francis' visit to Ireland will be the first by a pope in nearly 40 years

Pope Francis has said he will make the first papal trip to Ireland in nearly 40 years, visiting Dublin for two days later this year.

He will be in Dublin on 25 and 26 August for a church meeting on families.

The announcement, which was widely expected, has been warmly welcomed by Catholic bishops in Ireland.

The decision of the 81-year-old pontiff to visit Ireland for the three-yearly World Meeting of Families had been flagged last year by the event’s host, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

...The priests' association also said Archbishop Martin had reassured it some months ago that the August gathering would welcome everybody.

However, the association said that two recent incidents seemed to contradict this.

Firstly, it criticised the World Meeting's removal of an image of a same-sex couple from an official booklet.

It also criticised this month's deletion from an official video of Los Angeles Bishop David O'Connell's conciliatory words to "all types of families," including gays and lesbians rearing children.

The World Meeting has responded that the bishop's words had been included inadvertently and that the same video still includes "powerful testimonies .... on the LGBTQ issue".

Organisers of WMF2018 have emphasised that its spirit is in keeping with Pope Francis's view that "every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration".

Women's Ordination Worldwide World Day of Prayer for Women's Ordination

Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW): Founded in 1996, WOW is an international network of groups whose current mission is the inclusion of women in all ordained ministries in the Roman Catholic Church. Founded on the principle of equality, WOW opposes all discrimination. ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’. (Galatians 3:28)
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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

"An Everlasting Love" by Bishop David Bennett, Wales, UK

"One favourite patient I got to know had been in and out of hospital several times, and all staff on the Medical / Surgical ward had grown quite attached to her and her husband.

This lady came to mind as it is the anniversary of her departing for ‘home’. In spite of terminal cancer and the resulting pain, this lady never once failed to give us a smile or a hug. Mindful that all cancer patients have to be carefully touched and handled, some receiving even a slight hug could be extremely painful for them. Whenever her husband came to visit, she truly did perk up and glow. He was a nice man, very polite and as friendly as his wife.

It is quite natural for us to get quite attached to such lovely people and it was always a pleasure to care for her. I and others admired their expressions of love to one another.
Daily he brought her fresh flowers and a smile, then sat by her bed as they held hands and talked quietly. When the pain was too much and she cried or became confused, he gently hugged her in his arms and whispered until she rested. God Bless him he spent every available moment at her bedside, giving her small sips of water and stroking her brow. Every night, before he left for home, he closed the door so they could spend time alone together.

When he was gone, we’d find her sleeping peacefully with a smile on her lips. On this night however, things were different. As soon as I entered, the day nurses advised she had steadily taken a turn for the worse and wouldn’t make it through the night. Although all present and on duty in charge of this ladies immediate care were sad, I knew that this was for the best. At least this lady who became a special friend wouldn’t be in pain any longer. I checked on her first. When entering the room, she aroused and smiled weakly, but it was her breathing which was noticeably laboured and I could tell it wouldn’t be long.

Her husband sat beside her, smiling too, and said, “My love is finally going to get her reward.” I cannot deny that a lump came in my throat and tears came to my eyes, no matter how hard I tried to stop them, after all we have emotions and are not exempt from them, so I asked if they needed anything and departed quickly.

I offered care and comfort throughout the evening, and about midnight this lovely warm lady passed away with her husband still holding her hand. I consoled him and with tears running down his cheeks he said, “May I please be alone with her for a while?”

I placed my hand gently on his shoulder, I had no reason to speak and closed the door behind me. I stood outside that room, discreetly blotting my own eyes and missing a lady who had become my friend too, knowing I would also miss her welcoming smile. I could feel the pain of her husband in my own heart.

Suddenly from this room came the most beautiful male voice I have ever heard singing. It was almost haunting the way it floated through the corridor. 

I witnessed other nurses had stepped out into the long corridor to listen as he sang “Beautiful Brown Eyes” at the top of his lungs. When the tune faded, the door opened and he called to me. He looked me in the eyes then hugged me close saying, “I sang that song to her every night from the first day we met. Normally I close the door and keep my voice down so as not to disturb the other patients. But I had to make sure she heard me tonight as she was on her way to heaven, she had to know that she will always be my love forever. Please will you apologise to anyone I have bothered. I just don’t know how I will make it without her, but I will continue to sing to her every night. 

Do you think she will hear me ?” I nodded my head “yes”, still unable to speak. He then hugged me again, patted me on the back thanking me for being their friend. He turned to the nurses present offering his appreciation to them, then slowly turned and walked down the corridor, his back hunched, whistling the song softly as he went. May both now be in tune with each other.

God Bless them both for the wonderful times they shared a part of their life with me, which has enriched my people skills, and my empathy in Ministry life too."

Many waters cannot quench love. Rivers cannot wash it away. If a man tried to buy it with everything he owned, he couldn’t do it.

Oratory of St Luke the Physician
Wales. UK.

"Is Pope Francis Resisting Change in the Catholic Church- Mary McAleese Thinks So, Calls it 'Empire of Misogyny'"

Does the Catholic Church have a deep-rooted misogyny problem? Former Irish president Mary McAleese — and a number of other advocates for greater inclusion of women in the Catholic Church — think so.
During the Voices of Faith conference in Rome, Italy on March 8, McAleese made waves when she openly criticized the Church. There are an estimated 1.2 billion Catholics in the world.
"The Catholic Church is one of the last great bastions of misogyny," McAleese told reporters prior to her talk. "It's an empire of misogyny."
She also called for more women in leadership roles within the church.
"There are so few leadership roles currently available to women. Women do not have strong role models in the Church they can look up to," said McAleese, who served as President of Ireland from 1997 to 2011.
For the first time in its five-year history, the conference — held on International Women's Day — took place at the headquarters of the Jesuit religious order instead of at the Vatican because church authorities objected to a number of speakers including McAleese, who has long supported LGBT rights and the ordination of women as priests. This only lends credence to McAleese’s claims.
"How long can the hierarchy sustain the credibility of a God who wants things this way, who wants a Church where women are invisible and voiceless in Church leadership?" McAleese said during her address, adding that many women "experience the Church as a male bastion of patronizing platitudes, to which Pope Francis has added his quota."
"Start the process. Get it going. Put the fuel in the engine. Hit the button." McAleese challenged Pope Francis to commit to "real, practical action on behalf of women.”
Pope Francis did not attend the Why Women Matter conference nor did he celebrate mass for those attending. While he has said that he supports greater inclusion of women in Vatican jobs, and has appointed women to key positions within the Vatican's family office, he does not want women priests.
U.S. cardinal Kevin Farrell, a senior Vatican official who is reportedly responsible for attempting to block McAleese's inclusion in the conference, said it was "not appropriate" for McAleese and a number of other speakers, including Ugandan lesbian Catholic activist Ssenfuka Joanita Warry, to be taking part in the conference.
Is public opinion swaying in a different direction, however? The Tablet, one of the world's leading Catholic publications, called for change within the church in a recently published editorial. Amarách Research for Claire Byrne Live conducted a poll last week, finding that 78% of people agree with McAleese.
"The time is now for change in the Catholic Church,” McAleese remarked, and it seems that there are some within the church — like Archbishop Diarmuid Martin — who agree.
"[McAleese's] challenge to the internal culture of the Church today was brutally stark," saidMartin.  "Some may find it unpleasant or unwelcome. I must accept the challenge with the humility of one who recognizes her alienation."

"Pastoral Responses to the Worldwide Eucharistic Famine" with Fr Joe Healey, Future Church, Roman Catholic Women Priests are Prophetic Witnesses to a Community Model of Priestly Ministry Now

Tomorrow, March 21-22, Fr. Joe Healey will give an online presentation entitled "Pastoral Responses to the Worldwide Eucharistic Famine." To register, go now to . In some regions of the world, they are called Base Christian Communities (CEBs) and in other parts, Intentional Eucharistic Communities (IECs). 
My response: I agree with Fr. Joe that  there is room for a parish based model and a community based model as we chart the presence and future of worldwide Eucharistic Communities. Celebrating Eucharist does not depend on ordination. Whenever we gather to remember Jesus, share the Bread of Life and Cup of Everlasting Joy, we celebrate a valid Eucharist because of the love and communion we share as the Body of Christ sharing the Body of Christ with one another..  Roman Catholic Women Priests are  prophetic witnesses to the full equality of women in a renewed, local grassroots community model that is propelling a paradigm shift from clericalism to a community of equals celebration of Eucharist today in the contemporary church. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

From the perspective of many theologians today, the priesthood of the Faithful needs to be underscored and promoted among Christians. Jesus never intended for his Church to become a religion as such. Rather, he offered a simple commandment of loving God most often expressed through loving our neighbor. It is a new humanism given not to one culture but to all of humankind guiding us to a highly ethical way of life shown less in abiding by established laws and more in how we care for one another. The ultimate goal of Christianity is to bring the whole of humankind into a kind of fraternal unity.
In the early Church, there was no distinction between clergy and laity. This emerged and developed over centuries. We need to return to sharing in Christ's unique priesthood: the ordained ministry is there to keep the unity in faith and serve as collaborators to the bishops, while the common priesthood of the Faithful is there to spread the Gospel message and live as Christ in today's world. If understood in this way, according to the French theologian, Fr. Joseph Moingt, the problem is not of ordaining women or not, of allowing priests to marry or not, but of foreseeing a new way of living together within the Church."
Jesus introduced the Eucharist as a simple meal to be shared among his friends. He never intended it to be a highly ritualistic ceremony that could only be celebrated in the presence of an ordained minister. There is room within the structure of the Church for both the parish model and for small Christian communities. But as we witness more and more parishes closing and fewer people called to the ordained ministry of priesthood, in our capacity as baptized people, Christians could well be celebrating the Eucharist among ourselves in small communities.

By joining or beginning a Small Christian Community, we could indirectly change the structure of the universal church. No one with power ever willingly gives it up. But a reform movement can find grounds for moving beyond Christianity as a religious institution and toward the humanness of the Gospel message: love of God and love of neighbor. We may not be able to change the clericalism of the hierarchy, but we could, by our teaching and example, educate the Faithful to better understand their own call to priesthood and, as a follower of Jesus, to live as Christ in the world today.

To learn more about joining or beginning a Small Christian Community, we invite you to go to . To get started on creating a community of your own, go herenow. We welcome your participation in Fr. Healey's presentation and in helping create the movement of more small gatherings of Christians in home settings.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Sarasota United for Responsibility and Equity (SURE) Nehemiah Action Assembly- March 19, 2018 in Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

From left to right Marie and Bridget Mary attended SURE Action Assembly
In a packed Municipal Auditorium, members representing 19 Congregations and faith traditions assembled to hold elected officials accountable on their actions for the well-being of Sarasota- specifically on the issues of out of school suspension and affordable housing.  Sarasota United for Responsibility and Equity was founded in 1998 when clergy from diverse congregations recognized the need to unite with one another to form a powerful enough voice to press for necessary change in the community. 

Marie Scott from our Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community has attended SURE meetings and given us reports on a regular basis. Tonight, I was blessed to join such a massive Assembly speaking truth to power and demanding justice from our local and state leaders. This is an awesome example of prophetic action that unites all religions and faith traditions. 

Three years ago, SURE won a commitment from Commissioner Paul Caragiulo to champion an effort to get a Comprehensive Treatment Court funded to help those living on the streets with mental illness into housing and services rather than incarceration. This secured 2.4 million for the court to run over the course of the next three years. It started March 1, 2017 and already had helped 80 people off the streets into housing. 

This assembly takes its inspiration from the fifth chapter of  the Book of Nehemiah in the Hebrew Scripture which describes how the prophet organized a "Great Assembly" to hold the money lenders who oppressed the people  accountable. During this assembly, the money lenders agreed to restore all they had taken from the people and they followed-through on their promises. 

At the SURE Nehemiah Action Assembly different leaders presented updates on Sarasota Suspension Program which shows no improvement, but in fact on the increase. Dr. Todd Bowden, Sarasota District Superintendent and School Board Members was asked to take specific action steps such as visit Duval County Schools with other District Administrators and SURE representatives to see their Restorative Strategies Program. He agreed to take this step and reports data to SURE, the School Board and others. He did not agree to write a full implementation plan.

Currently, all law enforcement agencies in Sarasota County and municipalities have implemented Civil Citation for juvenile misdemeanors since 2015. 69% of eligible youth are receiving Civil Citations instead of an arrest record that limits their possibilities far into the future. 

Florida continues to arrest too many youth for non-serious offenses. In recent years Florida arrested more of our youth than California or Texas. Shockingly over the last five years, Florida arrested 20, 845 children between ages of 5 and 12 years old.

This year SURE negotiated a compromise bill with Rep. Sprowls and Rep. Ahern, from Pinellas County (HB 1197).  The companion bill (SB 1392 ) was filed by Sen. Brandes. Their bill passed the house and Senate nearly unanimously and will now go to the Governor to be signed.
The bill will expand access to juvenile civil citations. 

The next topic SURE tackled this evening was affordable housing. While some affordable housing has been built for households make $45,000, virtually no housing has been built for those making less than $37,000 /year. We are facing a crisis that is only growing with no relief on the horizon.

While a zoning change for units of  900 sq ft or less was made  requiring only 1 parking space represents an improvement, the other recommendations were not supported.

Neither Commissioner, Alan Maio or Paul Caragiulo supported SURE's Opportunity Fund Recommendation. (1) targets households making 60% AMI or less ($37,000), 2) dedicates 10 million of dedicated annual revenue, 3) have an oversight board of 5 community members, 4) projects maintaining affordability for at least 30 years.
This was a very disappointing response.  While both men agree --Sarasota is facing a crisis and it deserves a committed response from the County Commission. 

The meeting ended with Rev. Paul Werner praying that we would continue to speak truth to power and usher in the beloved community where the weak are protected.

SURE is one of the best bets we have going to hold elected leaders accountable. 

ARCWP. IN CARTAGENA JUNE 16-19 / 18. Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea

Being in Cartagena de Indias in the Assembly of the Ecumenical Collective of Biblists, in which we take advantage to advance in our biblical-theological formation and to meet again with several Catholics / as Romans, religious, theologians / of different denominations: Presbyterians, Mennonites, Reformed Pentecostals, come from several cities: Medellín, Barranquilla, Buenaventura, Bogotá, Sincelejo, Neiva and Cartagena.
photo assembly, final photo assembly.
It was a beautiful Assembly, where in its Board, today it has gender equality: 3 women, 3 men.
We honor the memory of Jesús Chaparro, who died two years ago, being the president, a human being, great capacities as leaders, biblical theologian and excellent teacher, leaving deep traces among his students, classmates and friends.
We have been reflecting, investigating, doing hermeneutics from the Popular and Community Reading of the Bible, the texts of Genesis 12: 11-13; 20: 2-7 and 

20:12. What lessons does this text have about the lie of Abraham? Liar, manipulator. Why did Sarai lend herself?
The CEDEBI Team analyzing the lie of Abraham and Sarai

The final photo that could not miss.
We visited Ignacia Jinete and the companions in her pastoral ministry, exercising her ministry as a nurse.
Nacha, healing Mrs. Eustacia (107 years). She fell down, and Nacha closed the wound with auto-sanguin, an ancient method used by slaves ...

Lorenza Ramos and Ignacia Jinete, son of two mothers and grandmothers, work in pastoral and catechesis in their communities, homes, children and grandchildren.
Ignacia (Nacha Jinete) nurse and Rosiris Murillo (theologian)