Women feel like they do not count

— To be Christ we have to follow His Way, not have his male body


Supporters of the Women’s Ordination Conference demonstrate to advocate and pray for the ordination of women as deacons, priests, and bishops into an inclusive and accountable Roman Catholic Church, near the Vatican in Rome on Oct. 6, 2023.

By Virginia Saldanha

The publication of Pope Francis’ interview with CBS Television anchor Norah O’Donnell has sent shock waves through reform-minded women and men throughout the world.

When asked specifically about women deacons in the Church, Francis said, “If it is deacons with Holy Orders, No. But women have always had, I would say, the function of deaconesses without being deacons, right? Women are of great service as women, not as ministers… within the Holy Orders.”

The pope’s response is reminiscent of the caste mindset in India. Dalits or former untouchable people cannot enter temples because they are Dalits! Women doing ministry cannot be ordained ministers because they are women.

Women are shocked firstly, because the synodal process which Pope Francis himself initiated to gather voices from every person in the Church, has not yet concluded, and yet he gives a definitive answer to the question of ordination of women deacons in the Church.

“What is the point of synodality if the pope shuts down a major question in an interview talk show? How banal. Why waste our time with a process that gets settled in a sound bite?” asks noted Jesuit moral theologian, James Kennan.

The US-based Women’s Ordination Conference expressed “great disappointment at Pope Francis’ failure to recognize the depth of women’s vocations and the urgency of affirming their full equality in the Church. For centuries, women have served in the tradition of Phoebe [Rm 16:1]. Women of every generation have experienced and expressed their vocation from God to serve the Church in ordained ministry.”

“Women do all the work but are denied the recognition and authority that is their due”

Astrid Lobo-Gajiwala of Bombay archdiocese said, “What angers me is how the pope continues to trivialize the vocation of women to the priesthood. A vocation is a call from God. By denying women ordained ministry the pope is asserting that God can never issue such a call to women. And the reason? They do not have male body parts.”

“His remarks about women’s ministry are humiliating and typical of a patriarchal mindset. Women do all the work but are denied the recognition and authority that is their due. How can we reconcile his closed mind on this issue with his call to synodality? Women’s role in the Church has been one of the key issues across the world. Why bother with creating a commission to study the issue of women deacons when the outcome is already fixed?” she asked.

Raynah Braganza Passanha of Pune diocese asks, “Why we are waiting for the Church to throw crumbs our way? Expectations always bring disappointment.”

She suggests, “It is time to challenge ourselves to make real what we have been asking for since no one is listening. If we are serious about what we believe is our right, we need to make it happen. Maybe we need to think of moving out of this limited mindset and evolve a model that is inclusive, a Christ-like, Jesus-inspired community.”

Jesus proclaimed his Mission in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and set free the oppressed.”  His ministry involved working with the least, the lost and the oppressed.

Women have been anointed in Baptism and Confirmation with the Spirit of the Lord. Women, as Pope Francis admits render valuable service in the Church, yet the grace of the sacrament of Ordination is withheld from women because we are deemed second class to men. Is subservience our lot in the Church, because Pope Francis feels that women are not worthy of representing Christ?!

“Women with vocations to ministry deserve to be treated on the same basis as their brothers”

It is disheartening that in the 21st century, the Church has failed to recognize women’s equality with men. Something that Jesus had already given to women in his time. This equality was exercised in the early Church.

Women responded with dedication and love following Jesus through the streets of Palestine, ministering to him, mourning at his crucifixion, and the first to meet him at his Resurrection. Yet, the leadership in the Catholic Church in recent centuries has kept women from any leadership and decision-making, claiming that Jesus did not ordain women!

“Women with vocations to ministry deserve to be treated on the same basis as their brothers, and that includes sacramental ordination. If the Church is supposed to be a sacrament of God’s love to the world, the persistence of misogyny in its structures and practices is a scandal and undermines the Church’s witness to the Gospel,” points out Irish theologian Ursula Halligan.

Francis’ response begs the question, what really is ordained priesthood? Theologically men become ‘other Christs,’ but do they really? The sex abuse scandal and its handling have debunked that idea for many across the world, making the institution lose a lot of its credibility.

To be Christ we have to follow His Way, not have his male body!

Ultimately, ordination seems to be all about power. A power that is used over people. Women entering into that space would disrupt that power and even expose its misuse. Is this the real fear?

Complete Article HERE!

Pope writes preface for book by LGBT-rights activist Fr James Martin

Pope Francis has written a preface for a new book by one of the Catholic Church’s most prominent apologists for the global gay rights movement.

By Simon Caldwell

The book by Fr James Martin, a Jesuit and media personality in the US, who is also editor at large of America: The Jesuit Review, is a meditation on the raising of Lazarus, which some critics say is presented in a way that can be seen as a metaphor for the encouragement of people with same-sex attractions to “come out” and “embrace” their sexuality.

In his preface to Come Forth: The Raising of Lazarus and the Promise of Jesus’ Greatest Miracle, which was published in Italian today and will be available in English from the autumn, Pope Francis describes Fr Martin as the “author of many other books that I know and appreciate” and a writer who has “the perspective of a person who has fallen in love with the Word of God”.

He praises Fr Martin’s book as “always fascinating and never predictable”, adding that the author is able to make “the biblical text come alive”.

The Pope said the book illustrates how the faithful can “practically feel the profound meaning of what Jesus does when He finds Himself before a dead man who is really dead, whose body gives off a nasty odour”.

“Jesus isn’t scared of coming close to sinners – to any sinner, even the most brazen and undaunted,” the Pope writes.

Rather, Jesus’s only concern, he says, is that “no one goes missing, that none are deprived of the possibility of feeling the loving embrace of His Father”.

“As I read the careful arguments and exegeses of the biblical scholars he cites, it made me wonder how often we manage to approach Scripture with the ‘hunger’ of a person who knows that that word really is the Word of God,” continues the Pope.

“The fact that God ‘speaks’ should give us a little jolt each and every day. The Bible truly is the nourishment we need to handle our lives. It’s the ‘love letter’ that God has sent — since long ago — to men and women living in every time and place.”

He added: “Rooting himself firmly in the Ignatian tradition, Father Martin brings us directly into the story of this friend of Jesus. We’re his friends, too — ’dead’ as we sometimes are on account of our sins, our failings and infidelities, the despondency that discourages us and crushes our spirits. Jesus is hardly afraid to get close to us — even when we ‘reek’ like a dead body that’s been buried for three days.

“No, Jesus isn’t afraid of our death, or our sin. He waits just outside the closed door of our hearts, that door that only opens from within, that we lock with a double bolt whenever we think God could never forgive us.”

The Pope’s praise for Fr Martin’s book comes a week after the pontiff caused controversy by telling the Italian bishops there was too much frociaggine (faggotry) in seminaries, and suggesting that candidates for the priesthood should be screened for their sexual preferences.

The backlash prompted the Vatican to issue an apology and to clarify the Pope’s inclusive approach to people with same-sex attractions.

“The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he apologises to those who felt offended by the use of a term, as reported by others,” the Vatican statement said. It was reported that the Pope also, in a gesture that some interrupted as an attempt to mend fences, sent a sympathetic response to a young man who reached out to him after being rejected from seminary for being gay.

Fr Martin is a controversial figure for many Catholics because he has openly championed gay rights causes for years, including public speculation on whether St John Henry Newman was a homosexual just two days before he was beatified in 2010.

He repeated the same claim on the eve of the canonisation of the English saint in 2019, saying that St John Henry’s “relationship with Ambrose St. John is worthy of attention. It isn’t a slur to suggest that Newman may have been gay”.

In 2017, Fr Martin brought out a book on LGBT issues in the Church, called Building a Bridge, which included a preface by Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna who praised his adoption of secular ideological categories to understand same-sex attraction as “a necessary step for beginning a respectful conversation”.

Fr Martin later said on Facebook that the preface by Cardinal Zuppi was “a huge vote of confidence by an important prelate” for ministry to LGBT Catholics.

Fr Martin was subsequently offered a place by Pope Francis at last year’s Synod on Synodality in Rome.

Following the publication of Fiducia Supplicans, the Vatican declaration in December 2023 that provided for the non-liturgical blessings of same sex couples, Fr Martin was much involved in the subsequent media storm, especially on social media, and declared that “I will now be delighted to bless my friends in same-sex unions”.

Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, has stressed that the document does not imply an endorsement of sexual activity which the Church has traditionally held to be morally impermissible.

He did, however, last week respond to claims that the document was being used precisely for that purpose by dismissing such abuses as minor compared to clerical sex abuse.

The cardinal told the Spanish media outlet Alfa&Omega that when it came to Fiducia Supplicans being misused and wrongly interpreted, while “the most serious cases can be reported to the local bishop, I don’t believe we have to go on a witch hunt”.

Complete Article HERE!

‘Denigration of my humanity’

— Gay priests reflect on pope’s use of homophobic slur

Fr. Bryan Massingale, left, and Fr. Greg Greiten are pictured in 2017 photos.

by Katie Collins Scott

Fr. Bryan Massingale first admitted to himself he was gay at age 22 but came out many years later as a priest after hearing stories of LGBTQ Catholics from regions of the world where people face imprisonment, torture and death because of their sexuality.

He’d listened to delegates living in fear of such realities while attending a 2019 meeting of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, a coalition of organizations from multiple continents.

“I knew I couldn’t ask them to continue to do their difficult, courageous and heroic work without taking a risk myself,” Massingale, a theologian at Fordham University in New York, told NCR. “I was moved to make a public declaration on my sexuality as a way of saying I need to also be willing to take a risk for a better church.”

The priest said the work needed to build up a better church was on his mind following the news that Pope Francis reportedly used a derogatory term when referring to gay men.

“I was shocked and saddened that a pope would speak this way,” said Massingale. “Because if what he said was true, this went beyond simply reaffirming traditional beliefs about sexuality and was an insult. Sexual slurs dehumanize people and are a denigration of my humanity and of the humanity of other sexual minorities.”

Pope Francis prays with Italian bishops in the Vatican synod hall during the general assembly of the Italian bishops' conference on May 20. (CNS/Vatican Media)
Pope Francis prays with Italian bishops in the Vatican synod hall during the general assembly of the Italian bishops’ conference on May 20.

Italian media quoted unnamed bishops who claimed that amid a closed-door meeting with the Italian bishops’ conference May 20, the pope, as he strongly reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s prohibition on gay men entering seminaries or being ordained priests, jokingly said, “there is already an air of faggotness” in seminaries. After a flurry of news and negative reactions, the Vatican issued an apology May 28.

“The pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he extends his apologies to those who were offended by the use of a term that was reported by others,” said Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni, who did not confirm or deny that Francis had used the term.

The alleged slur was most personal for gay priests, and in the days following the media firestorm, Massingale and Fr. Greg Greiten, a pastor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, described their thoughts and emotions about it — and about the gifts and pain of being an openly gay priest.

There is research that indicates around 30-40% of U.S. clergy are gay. Some say it’s a much higher percentage, with the majority choosing not to share their sexual orientation publicly.

Greiten came out to parishioners in 2017 during a homily, saying at the time he no longer wanted to live “in the shadow of secrecy.”

“I wanted and needed to be honest and authentic about who I am,” he told NCR in an interview May 29.

The immediate reaction to Greiten’s disclosure was a standing ovation, with one parishioner saying after Mass she “could care less” and loved him “for the person he is.”

Gregory Greiten
Fr. Gregory Greiten distributes Communion at his 25th anniversary celebration May 20, 2017.

For Massingale, too, responses from “those in the pews were absolutely, overwhelmingly supportive.”

The negative repercussions came from church officials, including bishops, the priests said.

Massingale recalled at least two occasions where, on account of being openly gay, a bishop told him he could not give a talk in his diocese and said several times he’d been disinvited from delivering an address. In one case he was not allowed to speak at a local seminary.

“How it was reported to me was the bishop was concerned that it would be giving a bad example to seminarians,” said Massingale.

‘I was shocked and saddened that a pope would speak this way. Because if what he said was true, this went beyond simply reaffirming traditional beliefs about sexuality and was an insult.’
—Fr. Bryan Massingale

Greiten said the biggest fear for him was always local church leadership. “In other places people have been removed for being public about their sexual identity, and I know gay priests who’ve gone into deep depression because a bishop was so horrible to them,” he said. “I was worried but I was ready because I wasn’t lying anymore.”

Greiten said he has not felt accepted or supported by Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki — who in 2022 issued a sweeping policy on so-called gender theory — but the priest declined to share specifics on record so as not to jeopardize his ministry position.

“Speaking up and being open in the context of the church has its consequences,” he said.

In 2016, Fr. Warren Hall was banned from ministry by then-Archbishop John Myers of Newark, New Jersey. The archbishop claimed it was due to the priest’s advocacy work; Hall said it was because he was gay.

Massingale and Greiten both told NCR they appreciated the pope’s apology following his reported slur.

“I accept the fact that he did not intend to speak maliciously,” but it is important to draw a distinction between “the intent of this word and the impact of this word,” said Massingale. “And the impact of this word can only be negative.”

‘Speaking up and being open in the context of the church has its consequences.’
—Fr. Greg Greiten

The vice president of the Italian bishops’ conference said the pope’s comments were taken out of context and that Francis “is not homophobic and never was.” Vatican reporters also noted Italian is not the Argentine pope’s first language and that he regularly uses slang and speaks informally.

Greiten said the pope “is a very smart individual” and thinks it’s unlikely he didn’t understand the word fully or how he used it in a particular context.

It is language that ultimately reinforces “the horrific attitudes, stereotypes and discrimination directed toward the LGBTQ community from the hierarchy in the Catholic Church,” he said. “It is never OK. It is never a joke.”

Greiten added that it is “extremely painful and hurtful” for LGBTQ individuals like himself, “who have been on the receiving end of these offensive comments and attitudes for years while growing up.”

The pope previously has affirmed the church’s ban on gay men in seminaries, although the head of the bishops’ conference denied that in the May meeting Francis gave an absolute “no” on gay men entering seminary.

Pope Francis speaks to visitors in St. Peter's Square during his general audience May 29 at the Vatican. (CNS/Lola Gomez)
Pope Francis speaks to visitors in St. Peter’s Square during his general audience May 29 at the Vatican.

Early in his papacy Francis’ famous “Who am I to judge?” statement was in regard to the sexual orientation of priests and marked a decided shift in the Vatican’s discussion of LGBTQ individuals.

Massingale told NCR the recent episode with the pope shows the need for a frank discussion about gay men in the priesthood.

“It is a fact there are now and have always been many, many gay men who have served the church as priests and bishops faithfully, generously and well,” he said. “So I think we need to have an honest conversation about where this fear and suspicion of homosexuality in the priesthood is coming from.”

The bans on gay individuals in the seminary and in the priesthood are not working, “they are not effective,” said Massingale. “The only thing it’s doing is driving people to be dishonest in the process of seminary formation. That is not healthy for the young men in formation or healthy for the church.”

Fr. Bryan Massingale speaks during a June 8, 2022, online dialogue on "After Buffalo, After Uvalde, After Tulsa: Broken Hearts, Broken Nation, Faithful Action." The panel was sponsored by Georgetown University's Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life. (CNS/YouTube)
Fr. Bryan Massingale speaks during a June 8, 2022, online dialogue on “After Buffalo, After Uvalde, After Tulsa: Broken Hearts, Broken Nation, Faithful Action.” The panel was sponsored by Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life.

Greiten agreed. The emphasis on silence around sexuality means seminarians “are not fostering integrity in their formation,” he said, adding that in his own life the secrecy was destructive.

Both Greiten and Massingale said they believe there is a fear and a mistaken belief that gay men are less capable of honoring the vow of celibacy than straight men.

“Show me the studies that are going to back up that belief,” said Greiten. “It’s not true.”

“Of course gay men and straight men can be a cause of scandal in the church when they fail to live up to their obligations,” Massingale said. “But that’s not about sexual orientation.”

If there’s a need to speak about priests leading holy, authentic lives versus those leading double lives, “that’s great, let’s have that conversation,” said Greiten. “But that’s a different issue than someone just being a gay candidate.”

In terms of the lasting impact of the pope’s word choice, a lot will depend on what occurs going forward, according to Massingale, who hopes the pope, “who has demonstrated a historic openness to the LGBTQ community,” will meet with gay men who are priests.

“So in that way the pope can know our trials and our joy, our struggles, and our hopes and dreams,” he said. “I think in that way we can move from this very unfortunate incident and make it an occasion of grace and an occasion of healing.”

Massingale also affirmed the ongoing work of the church.

“My belief is that this is all part of the birth pain of a new church coming to be,” he said. “Every church body that is moved to a more accepting or more open attitude for sexual minorities has gone through a messy and confusing period of turmoil.”

Massingale listed the Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian and Methodist churches as examples.

“In all those churches, gay clergy have been at times attacked and maligned,” he said. “Yet that was also part of the process by which the church came to a deeper understanding of human sexuality and of the truth of the Gospel.”

Complete Article HERE!

Pope Francis Tells Gay Man Rejected From Seminary to ‘Go Ahead With Your Vocation’

— The 22-year-old from La Spezia in northern Italy reportedly told the Pope about his belief he has a calling to the Catholic priesthood and how he was not accepted into seminary after revealing his sexual identity.

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience on May 8, 2024.

By

Pope Francis has reportedly encouraged a 22-year-old gay man to continue to pursue a vocation to the priesthood after he was not accepted into a Catholic seminary.

According to the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, the Pope responded to an email from Lorenzo Michele Noè Caruso, telling him to “go ahead” with his vocation, just days after the Vatican issued an apology for the pontiff’s use of a slur in reference to seminarians who identify as gay.

The Pope’s handwritten note was sent June 1 as an email attachment. According to news reports, it condemned clericalism and worldliness and said: “Jesus calls all, all.”

According to Il Messaggero, Pope Francis told the 22-year-old that “some people think of the Church as a customs house, and this is terrible. The Church should be open to everyone. Brother, go ahead with your vocation.”

Caruso told Il Messaggero that he had sent a lengthy email to Pope Francis on May 28 in which he wrote that he wanted to draw attention to his story and the stories of many who, “like me, live at the margins of the Church, often forced to hide themselves to be included by the community or forced to pay the high price of refusal for being sincere.”

The 22-year-old from La Spezia in northern Italy reportedly told the Pope about his belief he has a calling to the Catholic priesthood and how he was not accepted into seminary after revealing his sexual identity. He also asked the Church to reconsider its prohibition on admitting homosexual people to the seminary as stated in a 2005 instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education.

“This letter gave me hope,” Caruso said. “Now the seminary remains a not-dismissed dream.”

The Pope, in his note, also said he was struck by an expression Caruso used in his own email: “toxic and elective clericalism.”

“It’s true!” Francis continued. “You know that clericalism is a scourge? It’s an ugly ‘worldliness.’”

He added that “worldliness is the worst thing that can happen to the Church, worse even than the era of concubine popes,” attributing the quote to “a great theologian,” by whom he likely meant Jesuit Father Henri de Lubac.

The pontiff has frequently quoted or paraphrased Father de Lubac on spiritual worldliness.

“My whole story,” Caruso said, “has been studded with these responses, when a religious person discovered my sexuality, no matter how much he had appreciated my person and my faith up to a minute before, he would retreat, saying things like, ‘There are so many ways to decline a vocation.’ I was effectively denied the possibility of having a priestly vocation. ‘Continue,’ urges Pope Francis.”

Complete Article HERE!

Pope Francis’ F-word exposes Catholic Church

By The Rev. Irene Monroe

Pope Francis sent global shock waves when the news broke that he used the highly offensive F-word “frociaggine,” meaning “faggotness” in Italian. In a closed-door conversation at the Italian Bishops’ Conference in May, a discussion about whether to admit gay seminarians in preparation for the priesthood, the pontiff replied, “There is too much frociaggine in seminaries.”

The news of Francis using this particular homophobic and eyebrow-raising epithet hurt deeply many out-and-proud Catholic LGBTQ+ people hoping for full inclusion and acceptance by Pope Francis. “I imagine people like me are eating their optimistic words,” Nina Girgenti of Boston told me. But Nina’s optimism was not unfounded.

During the Catholic Church’s World Day of the Poor in Torvaianica, a run-down seaside town just 20 miles south of Rome, a community of transwomen, many of who are sex workers, received VIP seats as Pope Francis’ guests at the monthly lunch gatherings. Francis called for the decriminalization of homosexuality, lauded by LGBTQ+ advocates as a milestone that would help end harassment and violence against us, despite the pontiff still stating publicly that homosexual acts are a sin – though not a crime. During World Youth Day, Francis announced that the Church was for everyone. “There is space for everyone, and when there isn’t, please, let’s work so that there is. “ The Vatican also agreed to baptize transgender Catholics and allow them to be godparents.

The pope’s PR machine has come out with many incredulity-provoking excuses and tepid apologies for his gaffe. But this faux pas suggests “even if intended as a joke, the pope’s comment reveals the depth of anti-gay bias and institutional discrimination that still exist in our church,” Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, said in a press release in solidarity with gay priests.

Church needs its gay priests

“The truth is that the church simply could not function without those countless gay priests, bishops and maybe even popes who currently serve and have served over the centuries,” Duddy-Burke said. I agree. The reality here is that the Catholic Church is a gay institution. And that is not a bad thing!

The homosocial and homosexual milieux of gay priests have been part of the life and operations of the Vatican and Catholic Church for centuries. Their strength to come out now as a formidable force within the hallowed walls of the Vatican is laudable on the one hand and a liability on the other hand – especially in terms of casting a gay suspicion on all priests as well as the potential to expose priests who want to remain in the closet.

“If they were to eliminate all those who were homosexually oriented, the number would be so staggering that it would be like an atomic bomb; it would do damage to the church’s operation,” said the late Richard Sipe, a former priest and psychotherapist who has been studying the sexuality of priests for decades. Sipe points out that to do away with gay priests “would mean the resignation of at least a third of the bishops of the world.”

The problem in the Catholic Church is not its gay priests, and its solution to the problem is not the removal of them. Years of homophobic church doctrine have made the Church unsafe for us all and have created a down-low culture.

Eugene Kennedy, a specialist on sexuality and the priesthood and a former priest, wrote in his book, “The Unhealed Wound: The Church and Human Sexuality,” that the Catholic Church “had always had gay priests, and they have often been models of what priests should be. To say that these men should be kept from the priesthood is in itself a challenge to the grace of God and an insult to them and the people they serve.”

Can we trust Pope Francis?

Once again, Francis is rocking the world and continuing to command attention with his liberal-leaning pronouncements. But the pontiff is a complicated, if not confusing, figure to LGBTQ+ people. On the surface, Francis displays a pastoral countenance to his papacy that seemingly extends to our community.

In 2013, responding to a question about a possible “gay lobby” in the Vatican, Francis said, “If they accept the lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?” Supporters and activists of the “gay lobby” in the Curia state emphatically that this brave and visible group is essential to the running of the Vatican as well as protecting themselves from the Church’s hypocrisy in scapegoating them for many of the social ills of the Church.

But Pope Francis is the consummate flip-flopper of our time. He doublespeaks on issues. He embraces the LGBTQ+ community, then he doesn’t. His pastoral demeanor cloaks the ironfisted church bureaucrat that he is. It’s not enough for Francis to say he embraces our community – privately or publicly. He must also do it.

Complete Article HERE!