20/30 Retreat Reportback

by John Freml, Springfield, IL

On July 11-13, Call To Action 20/30 hosted a summer retreat/workshop on the topic of small faith-sharing groups — what they are, how to start one, and how to facilitate meaningful conversation about spirituality with progressive Catholics. One retreatant, John, offers us this reportback.
Some of us came to the Walker House in Boston all the way from the West Coast. Others came from just up the road.

One of us was a college student from Nebraska, who came to Boston to learn how he could build a more inclusive and just faith community for other students on his campus. Several of us are Catholic school teachers, who came to learn how they could reconcile their consciences with the Catholic theology they are asked to teach. One of us is an organic farmer who is discerning her call to the Roman Catholic priesthood. One of us is a lawyer who is actively involved in parish life, but wants to make sure that all voices are heard in the church.

I came as a member of a new inclusive Catholic community that has just started in central Illinois, who wanted to learn more about how I can reach out to other young adults in their 20s and 30s in my area. Read more of this post

Celebration of Catholic Women’s Vocations – Mary Ruppert

At the close of Vatican II, Pope Paul VI spoke of “women impregnated by the Spirit of the Gospel,” and more recently Pope Francis has called for a “new theology of women.” There are thousands of Catholic lay women discerning how to share their gifts and responding to ministerial calls. In many cases, these women are well-trained and highly educated professionals who bring a wealth of life experience to their work in parishes, diocesan offices, faith-based non-profit organizations, hospitals, schools, and many other settings.

This post on Mary Ruppert is the third in a series which celebrates Catholic lay women’s vocations and profiles some of the many women who are enriching the life of church. Past profiles include Kate Burke (New Lectio Divina) and Rita Emmenegger (medical missioner) If you know a woman in ministry that you think should be profiled, please email me.

– Rhonda Miska

John Schofield and Mary Ruppert have been friends through L'Arche for eight years. (photo: Bethany Keener)

John Schofield and Mary Ruppert have been friends through L’Arche for eight years. (photo: Bethany Keener)

“It was a frustrating experience…at first. I wanted to do something.”

So describes Mary Ruppert her first experience of L’Arche – an inter-denominational Christian community which includes people with intellectual disabilities (called “core members”) – during a spring break service trip with Loyola University. She and her fellow students found themselves receiving hospitality, sharing meals with core members and assistants, and learning about L’Arche philosophy as well as helping out around the house. Compared the students who had gone to do construction and home repair over spring break, Ruppert felt like she wasn’t doing enough.

That all changed the last day of the service trip when the group met up with some L’Arche community members at a local church. Ruppert recalls, “this one core member saw us come in the door and his face just changed in an instant from stoic and serious to utter joy. A huge smile. He starts waving with two hands – like he didn’t have enough arms to wave he was so happy to see us. All we had done was walk in the door. I realized it’s not about what I can do, it’s just that I exist. I’m here.” Read more of this post

a priest’s witness that it does get better

At a time where the Catholic Church is under much scrutiny due to scandal, abuses of power, and upholding teachings that fracture rather then unite, this short video of Father Donal Godfrey has rekindled my faith that all will be well within the tradition I was raised in.

Many have asked me if Pope Francis’ perceived openness reflects the priest’s sentiment of “it gets better.”

Honestly, my feelings are mixed. The pope’s statement of “who am I to judge” is a welcome burst of hope filled fresh air; however what truly holds me, motivates me, and inspires me are the growing number of out and proud Catholics in the United States and around the world who advocate for LGBT equality on both sides of the church doors.

In the United States, over 70% of Catholics across the age spectrum support marriage equality or civil relationship recognition for gay and lesbian families—more than 90% support legal protections for trans* and gender variant individuals. Like Donal, there is a growing number of priests and religious women/men who are not only challenging the hierarchy, but challenging all of us to radically live gospel love, justice, and hospitality. Read more of this post

There’s More Than One Way to Objectify a Woman

While I was looking for podcasts to listen to at work, I came across The Catholic Underground. The word “Underground” gave me hope

The best women have to offer?

The best women have to offer?

for something subversive, a hope which remained sadly unfulfilled. Instead, I got the same old party lines rife with contradictions. (You can listen to the whole show here, but I can’t say I recommend it unless you have 75 minutes to kill and want to do so listening to three guys shoot the breeze and occasionally mention something relevant to Catholicism.)

One of the news items discussed is the Gates’ Foundation’s new technology that puts birth control on a microchip. The article I just linked is the one referenced in the show, and a link to it appears on the show’s page, but one of the hosts made sure to include the disclaimer that the website supports birth control “for all of the usual, silly, illogical reasons” that they’ve gone into before.

When it comes to Catholicism, there’s not much that raises my ire more than three men sitting around calling birth control “illogical” and “silly.” I could fill a whole post with a rant about that (I sort of already did here and here), but that’s not what I’m here to write about. Not exactly.

Later in the show, the hosts discussed brain research showing that when men view images of tools and images of scantily clad women, the same brain area lights up: the area associated with using objects to attain goals. (When men viewed images of attractive but fully clothed women, the brain response was more complex, involving more systems). The hosts used this as an opportunity to bemoan the habit of seeing women as “objects” rather than as full people. I concur that this is unfortunate, even sinful, and that spiritual people especially should avoid cultivating this habit.

Read more of this post

Progressive Catholic 101: Women’s Equality and Ordination

Post-Vatican II church reform has a rich history — and many of the young Catholics who read this blog may not know it all. The CTA 20/30 Leadership Team sure didn’t. That’s why we are excited to offer a series of Progressive Catholic 101 posts, recommended resource lists on some of the topics of interest to progressive Catholics. The first syllabus comes to us from Kate Conmy, Assistant Director of the Women’s Ordination Conference.
Ordination of women would correct an injustice
This 2012 National Catholic Reporter editorial is a brief and simple introduction to some arguments in favor of the ordination of women to the Catholic priesthood.

Background on Women’s Ordination: womenpriests.org
This website run by Dr. John Wijngaards, a former priest who resigned from ministry in protest against Pope John Paul II’s “Ordinaio Sacerdotalis” and “Ad Tuendam Fidem” which forbid further discussion on the ordination of women. The website is a clunky, but the content is really unparalleled online. Resources there include a a useful overview, a listing of Rome’s statements on the ordination of women, and a rundown of major scholars’ positions in favor of and against women’s ordination.
Read more of this post

“Big C”, “little c”, Hurt and Hope

nobleRecently, I returned to the Motherland. This trip did not take me far across land and sea, just a few hours from my Nebraska home to several very small and very Catholic towns in western Iowa to visit family over the 4th of July. Although this trip seemed familiar, it was also wrought with interesting changes from my previous visits. These changes ranged from my newfound status as a semi-adult at family events to my refusal of burgers and hotdogs as a vegetarian.

However, the most interesting change I experienced was my return to my “big-C Catholic” heritage as a self-professed “little-c” progressive catholic who isn’t the biggest fan of institutional Church systems and doctrine. For the first time, I approached the rituals and goings-on of institutional Catholicism as a semi-outsider. After nearly 5 months worshipping in an intentional community, I returned to a big-C Catholic big-M Mass. Armed with the tools of critical analysis, I half-expected to storm in and deconstruct every abusive, heteronormative, patriarchal, gender-binary-enforcing Euro- and white-centric aspect of the institutional church.

Read more of this post

The Confessions

A confessional. Via Wikimedia Commons.

A confessional. Via Wikimedia Commons.

On a spring evening at dusk, sitting next to the fire pit with a glass of wine, my mother told me what it was like to go to confession before the Second Vatican Council.

First of all, that is what it was. There was no “Reconciliation.” There was no “Reconciliation Room.” You went to confession. You went in the confessional.

You went once a month, every month. Mom’s impression was that this was church law. But it wasn’t, not really.

The minimum rate of going to confession was pegged to the minimum rate of receiving Eucharist. In other words, once a year around Easter. But in those days, things that seemed to be law had as much force as things that actually were law.

You went on Saturdays. Mom dreaded it. She hid in her bedroom, hoping her mother would forget. It was fruitless. Sometime in the afternoon, the shout came up the stairs from the kitchen.

“Krysia!” (For the uninitiated, “Krysia” is Polish for “Chrissy.”)  Read more of this post


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