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If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Women's Ordination Conference Writes to the Pope

Dear Blog Visitors:

I continue to be grateful every day for the fact that Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo ordained me to the presbyterate on December 10, 2006. I can only hope to honor him by continuing to articulate the plight of married priests around the world who want nothing more than a place at the table.

Just as I continue to be an advocate for optional celibacy, my work toward the ordination of women will continue as well. After all, a table is never complete, unless women are present.

I am encouraged by the scholarly work that continues to be done on the role women played in the early church. During the first century, we are certain that leaders of early communities consisted of bishops, deacons and deaconesses. The priesthood was a later development, when it became evident that communities had become too large for bishops to manage on their own. So, the priesthood evolved, in order to ensure that the Eucharist would be available for all the faithful. Recent evidence has convinced me that there were a few women priests. So, a strong argument can be made for an apostolic succession that includes both sexes.

Whether or not one subscribes to recent scholarship on the role women played in the early church, we need to be open to the idea of women priests for practical purposes. In short, we are facing the sad reality of a Eucharistic famine, and we need presiders.

A wonderful local example of women priests serving Catholic communities exists in my hometown of Rochester, New York. I am speaking, of course, of Spiritus Christi Church. In addition to Father James Callan, the other two priests serving the community are Reverend Mary Ramerman and Reverend Denise Donato. When the Spiritus Christi Community began several years ago, skeptics theorized that it would be a short-lived venture. Guess what? The community continues to grow. In addition to their primary location in downtown Rochester, Spiritus Christi also celebrates weekly liturgies in a church on Park Avenue in Rochester. Additionally, Spiritus Christi has expanded to Elmira, New York and Buffalo, New York.

Having been ordained a married priest, I am not allowed to receive Communion at my long-time parish. Therefore, there is a very strong possibility that I will become a member of Spiritus Christi Church, while at the same time, acting as officiant for weddings, funerals and baptisms via my certification through the Federation of Christian Ministries.

I was just thinking yesterday that if Hillary Clinton should be successful in ascending to the presidency, the Roman Catholic Church will stick out like a sore thumb, in terms of its failure to recognize the pivotal role women play in our church and in society in general. While women have excelled in business and government, the Vatican hierarchy continues to treat them as second-class citizens. Therefore, I see the letter that follows from the Women's Ordination Conference to Pope Benedict XVI as being extremely important.

The letter from the WOC is co-signed by other church-reform organizations, inclusive of the organization I represent as media liaison - namely, CORPUS.

Peace
Ray

An Open Letter from Catholic Organizations on the
World Day of Prayer for Women’s Ordination

March 14, 2007

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
00120 Via del Pellegrino
Apostolic Palace
VATICAN CITY

Your Holiness,

Every year on 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Catholics around the world organize events to bring attention to the fact that Catholic women are excluded from ordination. This year will be the 14th annual World Day of Prayer for Women’s Ordination, and we expect that there will be over 25 events around the world.

In honor of this day, we invite you to lead the way in presenting a fair and equitable model of how women should be treated in our world by taking the necessary steps to open all doors to women within the Roman Catholic Church, including admission to all ordained ministries. We also ask that you work to renew church structures in order to involve all members in governance. By acting justly within our own ranks, we, the body of Christ, can affect society.

On the same day that we celebrate Mary saying ‘yes’ to God, we are saying ‘yes’ to women’s leadership in the Church. Mary’s decision was conscious and deliberate, and it made her an active partner in bringing about the reign of God. By praying for women to be priests on this day, we embrace Mary’s spiritual power and her prophetic role in God’s plan of justice for the world.

Because Mary is a spiritual leader and some even call her a priest, on 25 March we will pray for women’s ordination to a renewed priestly ministry. We will also pray for the difference that women in church governance would make by addressing the issues of social justice that disproportionately affect women, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking, HIV/AIDS, genocide and more.

The exclusion of women and lay men from the full decision making and sacramental life of the Church is linked to these issues in that — while the impact has extremely different levels of intensity — the root cause is the same: male domination and sexism.

As this day of prayer approaches, we urge you to open the discussion on women’s ordination and the need for change in Church structures. To bring our beloved Church closer to the gospel values that Jesus modeled for us, we need all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, in women as well as in men, to be fully integrated into every aspect and ministry of the Church.


Thanking you for your time and consideration,

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Ireland
Call to Action, USA
Catholics for a Free Choice, USA
Catholics for a Free Choice, Canada
Catholic Network for Women’s Equality, Canada
Catholic Women’s Ordination, United Kingdom
CORPUS, USA
Dignity, USA
Interreligious Conference of European Women Theologians, Germany
Femmes at Hommes en Eglise, France
Housetop, United Kingdom
National Coalition of American Nuns, USA
New Wine, Great Britain
New Ways Ministry, USA
Phoebe, Japan
Purple Stole Movement of We Are Church, Germany
Quixote Center, USA
Roman Catholic Womenpriests Europe-West, Germany, France, and Switzerland
Roman Catholic Womenpriests North America, USA and Canada
Save Our Sacraments, USA
Sisters Against Sexism, USA
Southeastern Pennsylvania Women's Ordination Conference, USA
Women’s Ordination Conference, USA
Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, USA


CC:
Most Reverend Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
Most Reverend William S. Skylstad, President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Most Reverend David J. Malloy, General Secretariat, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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