As it turned out I was able to meet briefly today with staffers at both the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and the Congregation for the Clergy. I wrote months ago to request a formal meeting but then Pope Benedict resigned. This changed many a schedule, so I was fortunate to have been able to connect with office staff members today.
The meetings were courteous and respectful.
At CDF I met with a female secretary to Archbishop Mueller who promised to deliver our packet of materials to him tomorrow. The packet documents some 19 thousand postcard signatures asking to restore the tradition of women deacons in the Catholic Church.
That's me, Sr. Chris Schenk,
At Clergy I met with a priest official who promised deliver our packet to Cardinal Piacenza. This packet documents 25,000 postcards asking to restore the tradition of permitting both a married and celibate priesthood. (The female deacon effort began a year later, hence the discrepancy)
The priest official said that both the former prefect, Cardinal Hummes, and the current prefect, Cardinal Piacenza had publicly confirmed the importance of celibacy to the ministerial priesthood. He did acknowledge however, that the topic will continue to be discussed. However he gave no indication that things would change anytime soon.
FutureChurch board members, staff, and pilgrims pose
with women deacons postcards in front of CDF
Both sets of postcard numbers include hundreds of international signatures as well as thousands of signatures to local bishops.
I was very pleased to represent the tens of thousands of Catholics who are exercising their canonical right "To make their views known on matters concerning the good of the Church" (canon 212). We will continue this effort into the future, hoping our new Pope Francis may be open to at least letting individual bishops make these decisions for their own dioceses.
Here are links to hopeful stories about Pope Francis and optional celibacy:
In pilgrimage news, yesterday we visited excavated Ostia, the main seaport for Rome dating from about the first century BCE until the 5th century CE. Sr. Lyn Osiek gave
an incredible history of the place, providing a context for the lives of early Christian women.
Sr. Lyn Osiek (black hat) gives great background on Ostia and NPR's Sylvia Poggioli (R) accompanied us, with her producer Jonathon Blakley.
(We'll let you know when the story will run)