The film SPOTLIGHT is scheduled to open on November 20 at the Charles Theatre. I am anxiously waiting to see this film about the BOSTON GLOBE's expose of Bishop Law covering up hundreds of priests in his archdiocese who raped children. Instead of doing what was morally correct, turning them in to the legal system, he rotated them to different parishes. One explanation is that there was a shortage of male priests.
During the meeting with the Catholic Workers, one of the priests spoke off-message. " In his effort to speak 'frankly' he spoke crudely, saying 'God did not make a penis to fit into the backside of a male,' telling us that 'a homosexual act is against the mind of God.'" This priest can serve mass, give homilies and represent the Church. Yet women remain second-class citizens during the Pope Francis era.
On Behalf Of Frank Cordaro
Saturday, November 14, 2015 7:24 AM
Report from Des Moines Catholic Worker's Nov 10th meeting with Bishop & Priest Presbyteral Council
In this posting:
#1 “Mass privilege not restored to Catholic group" by Kim Norvell, Des Moines Register Nov. 11, 2015
#2 ... the “rest of the story” by Frank Cordaro
#3 Statement by Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs, DMCW at the Nov. 10 Diocese of Des Moines Presbyteral Council meeting
#4 Statement by Jack Petsche, DMCW at the Nov. 10 Diocese of Des Moines Presbyteral Council meeting
"Mass privilege not restored to Catholic group" by Kim Norvell, Des Moines Register Nov. 11, 2015 http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/local/des-moines/2015/11/11/mass-privilege-not-restored-catholic-group/75614280/
The Catholic Worker House in Des Moines remains barred from celebrating Mass after the Des Moines Diocese denied its restoration request.
Volunteers with the organization met with the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Des Moines on Tuesday to state their case. The council of priests told the Catholic Worker House in May it could no longer hold Mass after it let a woman perform sacramental services.
Despite the denial, volunteers with the organization say they’re thankful they were given a chance to sit in front of church leaders and present their opposition to certain Catholic teachings.
Specifically, they said they spoke against the church’s views on the ordination of women, homosexuality, and open communion.
“We’re really, really grateful that the bishop and the priests truly listened to us and gave us true effort,” said Frank Cordaro, co-founder of the Catholic Worker House. The ministry operates four homes in the Des Moines area that provide food, clothing, and shelter to people in need.
In December, the Catholic Worker House invited the Rev. Janice Sevre-Duszynska to preside over a Eucharist service. Roman Catholic canon law dictates only men may become ordained priests and give the sacramental rite of communion or perform liturgy services. The reverend was ordained by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, an independent group not recognized by the Vatican.
Bishop Robert Pates said that the suspension of the celebration of Mass will continue, but that the council is open “to ongoing dialogue with Catholic Worker House representatives.” “The Presbyteral Council adheres to and goes forward in the spirit of Pope Francis in his commitment to fidelity to Church teaching while being open to ongoing conversation,” Pates said in a statement.
Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs, a volunteer, said the council was concerned the service was misrepresented to outsiders as a traditional Catholic Mass. It would not be recognized because a woman presided and communion was open to attendees of any faith.
“The language used to describe Janice and the spiritual practice held in our community was never intended to misrepresent or offend,” he said. “It just reflects our point of view that Janice and other women priests are legitimate Catholic priests, fully capable of celebrating Mass authentically.”
The Catholic Worker House plans to invite Sevre-Duszynska back to Des Moines for its 40th anniversary celebration in August.
... the rest of the story, by Frank Cordaro
The Des Moines Register story covered the basics. The DMCWers and the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Des Moines met Nov. 10th in what both sides called a dialogue. I'm quoted as saying "“We’re really, really grateful that the bishop and the priests truly listened to us!", which we are. And Bishop Pates said that even though the the suspension of the celebration of Mass will continue, the council is open “to ongoing dialogue with Catholic Worker House representatives.
. .The Presbyteral Council adheres to and goes forward in the spirit of Pope Francis in his commitment to fidelity to Church teaching while being open to ongoing conversation.” What the Register story did not cover was the human drama and content of our exchanges.
There were 12 men and one woman at the meeting. Seven priests, one bishop and five DMCWers. Both sides had equal time to talk. Each priest and the bishop had a chance to talk as well as each of the DMCWers.
Jack Petsche was the first CW to speak. He read a prepared statement.
(See statement below.) It's a wonderful, well thought out statement that 90% of young people below the age of 30 would agree with regarding equality between the sexes and the need for the Church to get it right about women.
Ed Bloomer spoke next. Eddie did not have a prepared speech. Instead he spoke form his heart, guided by a few notes. As is often the case when Ed speaks, all listen out of respect for the man, his many years of service to the poor and the humble and generous spirit in which Eddie lives at the Catholic Worker. Eddie basically said the poor deserve the Mass and to receive the body and blood of Jesus. Amen!
Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs went next. Aaron also had a prepared text to read. There is a reason Aaron is the editor of the via pacis and the “go to” guy in crafting our community statements (and editing my stuff)—he can write! Aaron's prepared statement squarely address's the substance of the Bishop's and Presbyteral Council's complaints about us, answer's their concerns as well as any "call-to-action"
reform-minded Catholic could, even though not a Catholic himself. A must read statement…see it below.
The next to speak was Julie Brown. And it was with Julie that the human drama in the room took on a Shakespearean edge. The Register story said that the DMCWers were "thankful (we) were given a chance to sit in front of church leaders and present their opposition to certain Catholic teachings…on the ordination of women, homosexuality, and open communion." The issue of homosexuality was not one of the issues we were intending to speak to. It was introduced into the discussion earlier by Fr. Mike Peters, a member of the Presbyteral Council.
Fr. Mike said himself that he was going “off topic” in bringing the issue up, but felt compelled to speak in defense of the Church's objective Truths regarding sex that can never change. Fr. Mike went so far as to say that if the Church is wrong on any of these objective Truths, including its teachings on homosexuality, then all of the Church's teachings are false, the Church is not the Church and his priesthood is a lie.
In his effort to speak “frankly” he spoke crudely, saying "God did not make a penis to fit into the backside of a male," telling us that “a homosexual act is against the mind of God."
Some would call what Fr. Mike said “hate speech.” I do know this—it was mean and hurtful speech! I could feel the pain, especially sitting next to Julie, who was raised by her father and stepfather, to hear Fr. Mike's words. No one on the priest side of the table; gay or straight, spoke out and called Fr. Mike on his homophobic statement or the wacko extreme theological perspective he expressed.
God bless Julie Brown! She held her own throughout Fr. Mike's presentation. She waited until it was her turn to speak. She started by making a powerful and strong statement in favor of women priests, not so much for the sake of women but for the sake of the Church who desperately needs women in leadership to correct a problem of leadership. Then she eded directly at at Fr. Mike and said that since Fr. Mike went off topic, she too was going to go off topic and speak to the issue of homosexuality.
She told Fr. Mike "You have no right to judge the acts of two consenting adults in sexual matters when you belong to a Church that covered up un-consenting sex between its priests and under-aged boys."
Then she looked around the room and said "How an organization can let a man like this preach every week to people is despicable.”
I was the last to speak. I started out by saying how proud I was with my fellow CWers and that I probably could add little to what they have already said. I don't remember much of what I said. I ended my time by asking my brother priests the question "What would a listening and non-judging Church do in our situation?”
Fr. Mike Amadeo ended the meeting asking the question where does our dialogue go from here, what's the next step?
Bishop Pates answers Fr. Mike Amadeo's question in the Register story that the council is open “to ongoing dialogue with Catholic Worker House representatives…The Presbyteral Council adheres to and goes forward in the spirit of Pope Francis in his commitment to fidelity to Church teaching while being open to ongoing conversation.”
Statement by Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs, DMCW at the Nov. 10 Diocese of Des Moines Presbyteral Council meeting
Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you to further a dialogue about the issues of women’s ordination and open communion.
I understand that our time is very limited so I will try to be as succinct as possible. I’m sure you have all read the statement issued by our community on these topics, which I support without reservation.
I also wish to express my full support for the comments made by my community members today, which I know come from a sincere and deeply felt desire to create a more just and loving world.
At the core of our dialogue today is a disagreement about the legitimacy of women serving in the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church. I think at this point both sides understand the position of the other fairly well, but let me add that not only does the Des Moines Catholic Worker community feel that human beings of any gender are equally capable of being called by God to serve as priests, but that the full inclusion of women in the priesthood and the leadership of the Church is not just legitimate but essential to the long-term wellbeing of the Church and thus to human society as a whole.
One reason I wanted to be part of this meeting is that one of my functions at the Des Moines Catholic Worker is to co-edit our newspaper. I am also often involved in crafting the language of statements made on our website, press releases, and other forums. I take the responsibility of accurately expressing the activities and viewpoints of our community very seriously.
Bishop, in your comments to Iowa Public Radio in August, it sounded as though you felt that we had misrepresented the Mass celebrated by Rev.
Janice Sevre-Duszynska at our community in December 2014. You felt that the very act of calling it a Mass in our newspaper was a misrepresentation, and that it was offensive. So I just wanted to clarify today that the language we used to describe Janice and the spiritual practice held in our community was never intended to misrepresent or offend, it just reflects our point of view, that Janice and other women priests are legitimate Catholic priests, fully capable of celebrating Mass authentically. We understand that you and others have a different viewpoint. We simply think the Church is wrong on this issue, and we are advocating for change, in solidarity with women we believe to have a true calling to service as priests. We have tried and will continue to try to be as clear as possible about this.
What I don’t think any of us understand is why you and others currently in the leadership of the Church choose to punish us, and others, for expressing these deeply felt convictions. Denying the Des Moines Catholic Worker the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the excommunication of women priests and those who stand with them, like Fr. Roy Bourgeois—these actions seem to us totally out of step with the moral leadership of Jesus Christ, and we feel that they are harmful to the Church. So we ask today that you and other leaders of the Church seek a different way of engaging with those with whom you disagree. Please make a sincere effort to hear our message today, and consider the possibility that it might be coming from a place of truth.
Finally, we ask that you, too, strive to be as clear and transparent as possible with regards to your point of view. In your remarks on Public Radio, Bishop, you emphasized not once, but twice, that the problem you and others had with Rev. Janice had to do with the need for ordained priests to undergo a six-year training period, as if her training was somehow the issue, when of course the real concern is that she is a woman. The conversation would be better served by being clear about this. Nowhere can I find in your communication with our community, or in your remarks to the Des Moines Register and Iowa Public Radio, or in the statement published in The Catholic Mirror, a straightforward presentation of the Church’s position on the ordination of women, let alone any kind of argument or justification for that position.
Having said that, I personally suggest as an alternative approach to the situation that you consider the Des Moines Catholic Worker to be an ecumenical space of worship, which it truly is. We welcome practitioners of any spirituality that we feel is positive and in accordance with our core values of unconditional love, forgiveness, justice, and service. I can’t imagine you would object, for example, to Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist or Methodist services being offered in our community. So it happens that we’ve held a service that we consider to be Catholic but you don’t. We’ve called it a Mass but you don’t believe to be an authentic Mass. Whatever names you or we assign to it, I can assure you it was loving and life-giving. How important is it, really, to fight to preserve the Church’s control over concepts of authenticity related to liturgical traditions like the right sort of bread, the right sort of wine, the correct clothing, the correct thoughts about transubstantiation, the necessity to exclude certain people from the ritual, or the gender of the priest? How does any of this bring us closer to the Kingdom of God? Aren’t we faced with far more urgent issues? Shouldn’t we be working together to address them rather than expending our energies in a battle over orthodoxies that offer us nothing in our struggle to face the enormity of the suffering in our world and to ensure a sustainable future for life on earth?
Thank you again for the opportunity to speak with you. I pray that our efforts here today will help us to find a way forward.
Statement by Jack Petsche, DMCW at the Nov. 10 Diocese of Des Moines Presbyteral Council meeting
The history of Catholicism is rife with instances where the Catholic Church plays a pivotal role in not only influencing but altering the course of history due to its stance on issues of morality and human rights. In part because of the scope of the Church and the integral role it plays in forming the moral fabric of its adherents, you are in a unique position to influence the world in a positive way. Often that means changing the status quo, when the status quo conflicts with compliance with equality and justice.
Now is a time when we must readdress and reexamine ecclesiastical law and liturgical doctrine if it promotes values and structures that are not in accordance with the loving, accepting and compassionate Jesus that is embodied in the hearts of the followers of the Roman Catholic Church. The issue of women’s ordination is not just about adhering to outdated canon but about the Church not only existing in a modern world with gender equality but influencing the moral landscape of humanity in a manner that not only doesn’t impede the pursuit of equal rights for women but strives for and expedites it.
It is long overdue that the Catholic Church, through liturgical doctrine, embraces ordination of women, and makes steps to revise the role the Church has played in the history of the oppression of women.
For the Catholic Church to sit idly by and preserve antiquated doctrine is analogous to promoting misogyny and widespread mistreatment of women. In this case, to do nothing and uphold the status quo is tantamount to promoting a theistic culture of tyranny.
As someone who has and is currently interested in converting to Catholicism in large part due to the practices of Dorothy Day, a Catholic woman who exemplified the works of mercy, not because of but in spite of ecclesiastical law. It is shameful that Dorothy Day lived in a time where she did not have equal status in the eyes of the Church. My hope is that the Church will change its stance on women’s ordination, so as not to quell the next Dorothy Day.
Phil Berrigan CW House
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