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Wanted: women of spirit in our own time

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The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is meeting in Dallas this week under scrutiny from Rome and with a cloud hanging over its head.

What shall we think about such a time as this when the women religious who have built, carried, led and staffed every work of the church from the earliest days of this nation to this present time of turbulence and transition are being accused of being unorthodox, unfaithful, and unfit to make adult decisions about what they need to hear and who they want to have say it?

The problem is that in the face of opposition they have also been unafraid.

Women priests offer differing approaches to valid ordination

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In 2002 seven Roman Catholic women were ordained in Austria on the Danube River by an independent Catholic bishop, Romulo Antonio Braschi. Later unnamed Roman Catholic bishops ordained some of these women priests as bishops. These women bishops, in turn, have been ordaining other women deacons, priests and bishops. From this beginning there has developed a movement, Roman Catholic Womenpriests (RCWP), which presently claims four women bishops and 45 women priests in the United States, as well as others in Europe and Canada. This movement has shaped a thoughtful ecclesiology defining itself both as in valid succession in the Roman Catholic tradition and also as a valid reform that is reclaiming the authentic discipleship of equals of the earliest church based on the redemptive mission of Christ.(1)

Speak up for our women religious

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U.S. women religious, whose leaders meet in Dallas next month, find themselves in a terrible position. On one hand, they can defend their approach to religious life. Through decades of prayer and work together, they have discerned that approach, articulated in their Vatican-approved charters, as God's call. The process has drawn them deeply into social apostolates through which they have become a powerful representation of Catholic life throughout U.S. culture and the wider world.

Archbishop Wuerl: 'New Vatican norm means no disrespect for women'

WASHINGTON
The Vatican's decision to declare the attempted ordination of women a major church crime reflects "the seriousness with which it holds offenses against the sacrament of holy orders" and is not a sign of disrespect toward women, Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington said July 15.

The archbishop, who chairs the U.S. bishops' Committee on Doctrine, spoke at a news briefing in the headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops hours after the Vatican issued new norms for handling priestly sex abuse cases and updated its list of the "more grave crimes" against church law, including for the first time the "attempted sacred ordination of a woman."

In such an act, the Vatican said, the cleric and the woman involved are automatically excommunicated, and the cleric can also be dismissed from the priesthood.

Noting that women hold a variety of church leadership positions in parishes and dioceses, Archbishop Wuerl said, "The church's gratitude toward women cannot be stated strongly enough."

"Women offer unique insight, creative abilities and unstinting generosity at the very heart of the Catholic Church," he said.

Anglicans expect exodus to Catholic church

LONDON -- The largest Anglo-Catholic group in the Church of England is expecting an exodus of thousands of Anglicans to Catholicism after a decision to ordain women as bishops without sufficient concessions to traditionalists.

The Church of England's General Synod on Saturday (July 10) rejected a compromise proposal by its top two bishops that would have allowed individual congregations to “opt out” of having women bishops. The vote came after nearly 12 hours of debate.

The move was an embarrassing setback for Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and his chief deputy, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, who had hoped to head off a defection of traditionalists over the issue of women bishops.

The rejection of the two archbishops' plan effectively leaves the church on the same path to the eventual consecration of women bishops -- but not until 2014 as “the earliest possible time.”

Anglicans reject compromise over women bishops

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LONDON -- The Church of England's General Synod on Saturday (July 10) rejected a compromise proposal by its top two bishops that would have allowed individual congregations to “opt out” of having women bishops.

The move was an embarrassing setback for Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and his chief deputy, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, who had hoped to head off a defection of traditionalists over the issue of women bishops.

Vatican officials, US women religious meet

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A Vatican doctrinal investigation of the largest leadership organization for U.S. women religious appears to have been complicated by the group’s support last March of health care legislation opposed by the U.S. bishops.

In meetings with Vatican officials last April, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious repeatedly fielded questions from Vatican officials about its support for the legislation despite the fact that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had argued the bill would allow federal funding for abortions.

The Leadership Conference, along with a number of other Catholic groups, including the Catholic Health Association, disagreed with the bishop’s interpretation of the legislation, saying it did not allow for federal funding of abortions.

Last March, in the final days of a highly politicized health care debate in Congress, the Leadership Conference offered support to a Senate-backed House bill that eventually passed 219-212.

Women's empowerment key to society, nuncio says

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UNITED NATIONS -- Women's economic empowerment is essential for the economic development of families and society, Archbishop Celestino Migliore said July 1.

"Tragically, violence against women, especially in the home and workplace, and discrimination in the professional field, even on the pay and pension scale, are growing concerns," the Vatican's U.N. nuncio told leaders of the world body.

35 religious communities visited; 80 to go

WASHINGTON -- Visits to religious communities of women will restart in mid-September after a three-month summer hiatus, reported the Office of Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States.

Sr. Kieran Foley, assistant for communications for the process, told Catholic News Service that 35 congregations were visited during the first round of visits that started April 11 and ended June 4.

Women's ordination advocates protest at Vatican

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ROME -- A group of women demonstrated in Rome's St Peter's Square on Tuesday (June 8), saying they want "full and equal participation" in the Roman Catholic Church.

The small group held a banner stating, "Ordain Catholic Women," to the apparent curiosity of passers-by in the Via della Conciliazione, the boulevard that leads to the square, before they were asked to move on by police.

Tuesday's protest followed a media conference organized by groups campaigning for women's ordination in the Catholic Church, to protest against a Vatican celebration to mark the end of a "Year for Priests" proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.

"Our church urgently needs large numbers of male and female pastors to serve our parishes. Charisma should be important, not gender," said Angelika Fromm, a German representative from the International Movement We are Church.

Fromm said the past 12 months had been "a disastrous year," referring to the sexual abuse crisis that has rocked the Catholic Church.

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August 1-14, 2014

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