December 2013 E-Newsletter
  (Newsletter Archive)
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In This Issue
Notable and Quotable
Voices of a New Generation
New Magdala Market Online Store
From the Director
FutureChurch's survey on the family - next steps
FutureChurch to launch campaign
Papal Leadership in the 21st Century
Women in Church Leadership
Fundamental Rights in the Catholic Church
Priest Shortage and Optional Celibacy
Parish closing and appeals news
Other Church News

Notable and Quotable 


Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women are equal in dignity, present the Church with profound and challenging questions which cannot be lightly evaded (104).

 ~Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 

We are at a crossroads for women in the church.

~Sr. Joan Chittister

Voices of a New Generation  

Older parish members often express great interest in this seemingly elusive population of young people. On their minds: How do we convince young people to stay here, to join us every week? How do we bring them into the regular work of this community? What are we doing wrong that they don't find us attractive or meaningful?


Though extraordinarily well-intentioned, I've come to believe these questions are the wrong ones. They express a desire to serve the spiritual needs of young adults on terms other than their own. They conflate offering hospitality, which is essential to any church, with someone taking us up on that offer. They represent a kind of focus on results, on numbers, which isn't an appropriate measure of the richness of a spiritual life.~ Chase Nordengren


read more

A Crowd Sourced Thanksgiving Prayer
by Kate Childs Graham

Upcoming Events
January 26, 2014 New York, NY:
Preserving Parish Communities in a Time of Fewer Priests
Canon lawyer Sr. Kate Kuenstler and FutureChurch's ED Emerita, Sr. Chris Schenk. Sponsored by CTA: New York City. For details and info email Art McGrath

February 1, 2014 Hartford, CT:

You can't quench the Spirit: faith and the future of the Church. Sr. Christine Schenk12:30-4:00 PM St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church, 285 Church Street, Hartford, CT  06103.Sponsored by Women of Hope: Vibrant Voices. For more info: 860-756-4034.


March 20 - 27, 2014: Rome and Ostia  A Pilgrimage to Archaeological Sites of Women Leaders in the Early Church

Only a few openings left! 

For more information call Liz tel: 800-206-TOUR (8687) or email:


April 24, 2014:Lima, OH
Save the Date!
Sr. Chris Schenk addresses Serra Club, Lima, Ohio 5:45 pm. For info, email 


August 14, 2014: Cleveland, OH  Save the Date! The Women You Never Knew:  The Women of Vatican II   9:00 am- 11:30 AM

FutureChurch Executive Director,

Deborah Rose-Milavec. At River's Edge 3430 Rocky River Drive, Cleveland, OH.




 Women Leaders in Early Christianity   




 Celebrating Women Witnesses! 





 A Million Voices     

(Continue discussion of women's ordination to the priesthood )



2014 Pilgrimage

March 20-27, 2014


Journey Of



Rome & Ostia

A Pilgrimage to Archaeological Sites of Women Leaders 

in the Early Church


with Sr. Carolyn Osiek   

and Sr. Christine Schenk


For detailed info


Read about 2013 pilgrimage



Women and the Word education/advocacy kit

(Free download) 
WATA Reflex Blue

Tools to make visible the rich traditionof women leaders in the Church

Info Here 
Download Here 


So All Can Be at the Table

women deacon

Send  an electronic postcard! 

mag market header
Magdala Market Online Store


To donate to FutureChurch or renew your membership, 
click here

We now have a monthly giving option that provides an easy way to manage your donation and saves on administrative costs for FutureChurch.

You can participate in the monthly giving program using your credit card or checking account.
If using your checking account please send an endorsed and voided check to

FutureChurch at
17307 Madison Avenue
Lakewood Ohio 44107



Mission and Vision 

Our Mission


FutureChurch seeks changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life and leadership


Our Vision


FutureChurch works for

  • Just, open and
    collaborative structures
    for Catholic worship, organization and governance     
  •  A return to the Church's early tradition of both married and celibate
  •  A return to the Church's earliest   tradition,
    modeled on the inclusive practice of Jesus, of recognizing both female
    and male leaders of faith communities    
  •  Regular access to the Eucharist, the center of Catholic life and worship, for all Catholics

Guiding Principle


Future Church's activities grow from a spirituality based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Eucharist, the Spirit-filled beliefs of the
faithful, and the teachings of Vatican II.  








Become a member of FutureChurch!






17307 Madison Ave., Lakewood, Ohio 44107






















From the Director
The Advent and Christmas seasons illuminate God's hopes and dreams for justice, peace and love in our world. They are also seasons for illuminating our own hopes and dreams as we fervently seek to know God's heart.

Is it outlandish to believe that one day we will see women take up their roles as full participants in the life and leadership of the Church?  Is it foolishness to believe that the prophetic voices of all our sisters and brothers will someday soon be heard without fear of reprisal?  Is it impossible to believe that our brother priests who are called to marriage could one day bring their gifts back to the center of our Eucharistic life?

Graced by God, we will consider ourselves blessed to be among those "holy fools" who dream, hope and work for God's vision of abundant life inside and outside the Church where "the baby shall play by the cobra's den (Isaiah 11)," where the "desert blooms (Isaiah 35)" and where all baptized women and men will share equally in the gifts, joys, sorrows and sufferings of life and leadership in our Church.   

It is already happening.  There has been progress on many fronts.  But there is so much more to do! Please remember to support this work as you make your end of the year donations.  We won't give up on God's dream and we hope you'll continue to stand next to us as we struggle for justice together.

May the hope of Advent and the joy of Christmas live forever in your heart!  

Deb Rose-Milavec

P.S. Many of you know that Sr. Chris Schenk is being featured in a film.  Help create the title by  entering your suggestion today!
FutureChurch marks the closing of the survey on the Family and begins next phase of work
In November, FutureChurch and 16 other reform organizations launched an online survey on the family that closely mirrored the original survey sent to bishops around the world in preparation for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family to be held in October 2014 in Rome.  The online survey created a forum for Catholics to speak for themselves on the complex issues of family life in the 21st century. 
By December 15th, the date for closing the survey, over 16,620 people had completed it. That is a testament to the faith of many Catholics who believe it is their responsibility to share their experiences at the intersection of family life and faith.

With the data collected, FutureChurch and the reform organizations are working with an expert to analyze the results.  Two reports will follow that meet the deadlines specified for the bishops.

1.  A short summary report of the quantitative data captured by the survey will be sent to Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, President of the USCCB by December 31, 2013. 

2.  From December 16, 2013 through January 31, 2014, the qualitative and quantitative data will be analyzed comprehensively.  A full report of the results will be completed by January 31, 2014 and sent to Archbishop Kurtz, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano and Archbishop Lorenza Baldisseri.   
At that time, the final report will also be made public.   

Archbishop Baldisseri comments on the purpose of the survey

Reflecting Pope Francis's new openness to dialogue, on November 28th, Archbishop Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops commented on the intent of the survey on the family that was distributed in preparation for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family coming up from October 5 - 19, 2014.


"It's not a survey as we understand it today, nor is it a referendum. The idea came from a desire to find out about people's individual and collective experience, directly from them, in order to gather statistical data, reflections and thoughts. This way bishops will get a clear picture of the situation without having to refer to books or sociological studies. Our questionnaire is much more than just a sociological study. It is also an ecclesiastical and spiritual reflection and the questions are open..."

Studies of US Catholics provide insight on synod questions

US dioceses solicit responses to synod survey

Will Pope Francis the listener hear the church? by Robert McClory

International reports on the survey

UK dioceses produce simplified version of Vatican survey

Results from the Association of Catholic Priests' Survey in Ireland


Results of the survey in Lisbon (in Portuguese)  


In Germany the 27 German dioceses were very reluctant to forward the questionnaire to the general faithful. Almost every diocese had a different approach for participation. But the first results which were published by some dioceses this week are quite astonishing and hopeful - in our sense. There is a big gap between opinion and actual behaviour of the people in the pews and the teaching of the Church. This is true even in the diocese of Cologne with a very conservative Cardinal Meisner (who has to retire this winter because of his age). 9 of 10 young persons don't bother about the sexual teaching of the church. 17 catholic professors of pastoral and moral theology are asking for a new sexual teaching of the church. The time given by Rome to answer the questionnaire was too short - but the debate about these important topics is now opened and should be kept open until the Synod of Bishops on the Family in October 2014 (Christian Weisner from IMWAC reporting).


FutureChurch to launch campaign asking, "Will your family be represented at the Synod on the Family?
Focusing on the rights of Roman Catholics to participate fully in the life and leadership of the Church, FutureChurch and other reform organizations will launch a new campaign urging our Catholic leaders to engage real families in meaningful ways in the work of the Synod on the Family to be held in October 2014.

During the campaign, Catholics will be invited a) to share photos and/or descriptions of their families asking the question, "Will my Catholic family be represented at the Synod on the Family?" and b) to take action urging Pope Francis and the Synod of Bishops to make sure real families are engaged in the actual work of the Synod.    

STAY TUNED!  More details to come!

Papal Leadership in the 21st Century 

Pope Francis, The People's Pope

When, on March 13, Bergoglio inherited the throne of St. Peter-keeper of the keys to the kingdom of heaven-he made the same request of the world. Pray for me. His letter of retirement, a requirement of all bishops 75 and older, was already on file in a Vatican office, awaiting approval. Friends in Argentina had perceived him to be slowing down, like a spent force. In an instant, he was a new man, calling himself Francis after the humble saint from Assisi.


Pope Francis: TIME Magazine's Person of the Year & First Pope from Latin America Resurrects Belief in the Catholic Church

Pope Francis releases his apostolic exhortation, "Evangelii Gaudium."

Pope Francis has issued his first Apostolic Exhortation on Tuesday, Evangelii Gaudium, translated into English as The Joy of the Gospel. The 224-page document outlines the Pope's vision for a missionary Church, whose "doors should always be open".

Read more



Some key points from the pope's Apostolic Exhortation  


Pope Francis: No more business as usual

Pope Looks East for Possible Church Reforms

Church leaders of independent Catholic communities from Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe have spent the last week in Rome with Pope Francis and Vatican officials discussing the lives of their Church including a subject of high importance to the Pope - the operation of their self-governing synods.


Pope Francis' text [Evangelii Gaudium] is a call for church reform at all levels, says Hans Küng

According to Kung, "He [Pope Francis] specifically advocates structural reforms - namely, decentralisation towards local dioceses and communities, reform of the papal office, upgrading the laity and against excessive clericalism, in favour of a more effective presence of women in the Church, above all in the decision-making bodies."  

Pope Francis replaces Conservative U.S. Cardinal on Influential Vatican Committee with a moderate  

Pope Francis has removed Cardinal Raymond Burke from the Congregation of Bishops and replaced him with Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, an ideological moderate with a deep knowledge of the Vatican but also with pastoral experience.  


Cardinal Burke still serves as the prefect of the Vatican's highest canonical court, but analysts say his removal from the Congregation for Bishops will sharply reduce his influence, especially over personnel changes in American churches.

Read more    




Preparing a generation of 'Francis bishops'

Wuerl named to bishops' panel; Burke not confirmed

Women in Church Leadership

We are at the crossroads for women in the Church
The 20th-century Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote: "The only task worthy of our efforts is to construct the future." My concern today is how to construct a new future for women around the world through the global outreach of the church.
Read more

Documentaries turn the camera on sisters
A growing number of films focusing on the lives of women religious are currently drawing viewer interest.
Read more 

Pope Francis knocks down speculation that he is considering creating a female cardinal
In remarks to the Italian daily La Stampa, Pope Francis took the opportunity to knock down speculation that he was considering taking the radical step of creating a female cardinal, saying he had no idea where the suggestion had come from. "Women in the church must be valued, not 'clericalised'," he said. "Those thinking about women cardinals are suffering a bit from clericalism." 
Read more

Keenan Speculates About Potential Female Cardinals  
Professor in Theology Rev. James Keenan, S.J., posted on his Facebook page earlier this fall asking for the names of women who would make good candidates for cardinals. "I think there are a lot of people, right now, who feel great joy over the papacy of Francis, and he's only been pope, what-eight, nine months," Keenan said. "There's been a little ambiguity about ... what is he going to do about the presence of women in the Church. He'll say, 'The Church is feminine.' Yeah, okay, fine. So where are they?"
Women in the Church: How Far Can We Go? by Fr. Peter Day
"We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the Church. We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman. The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions. The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised for various areas of the church." (Pope Francis, August 2013)

Dr. Phyllis Zagano releases new translation
Ordination of Women to the Diaconate in the Eastern Churches: Essays by Cipriano Vagaggini  
Available for the first time in English, these  documents by Cipriano Vagaggini, OSB. Cam., on the historical details of women ordained as deacons in the Greek and Byzantine traditions demonstrate that women were sacramentally ordained to the major order of deacon over the course of many centuries in many parts of the Greek and Byzantine East. Vagaggini introduces the conclusions to his study by noting that "in Christian antiquity there were different beliefs and tendencies distinguishing between ministry and ministry, ordination and ordination, with regard to the nature and significance of the respective orders or ranks." 

Download Women Deacons: Why Not Now? Education/Advocacy  resource  



Send an Electronic Postcard to Rome here! 


Circulate paper postcards  Download a template or order free postcards.   

Fundamental Rights in the Catholic Church

Catholic priest to sue church for unfair dismissal
A Scottish priest who says that his vocation was "destroyed" after he spoke out against sexual abuse is to claim unfair dismissal against the Catholic church at an employment tribunal.
Read more

Order "A Million Voices" Resource Kit to learn how to address common abuses of authority in the Church by CLICKING HERE

Priest Shortage and Optional Celibacy

One pastor, many parishes: Reorganizing resources considered as priest shortage continues

Since 1974, the 400-strong priests of the Syracuse diocese have declined steadily and heavily. This year, that number is nearly sheared in half to 214, said Danielle Cummings, spokeswoman for the diocese.


New FutureChurch educational resource!


Send Your E-Postcard to the new Vatican  Prefect at Clergy today!  Support Optional Celibacy   


Sign:  Open Letter to US Bishops 

Parish Closing and Appeals News  


What happens when a closed parish reopens its doors?
A determined group of Catholics scored a major victory when the closing of their parishes was overturned. But getting their churches reopened was only half the battle.
Read more


1,000 Catholic churches in Holland to close by 2025  

About 1,000 Dutch Catholic churches - around two-thirds of the total in the country -will be shut by 2025, Cardinal Willem Eijk warned Pope Francis at an ad limina visit on Monday. The decline will occur as the Church reorganises its parishes under the pressure of "drastic secularisation" and dwindling congregations and collections.  

Read more  

Church closures threat as priest numbers halved

Up to half the Catholic churches across swathes of Scotland face the prospect of closure as another diocese warns of a crisis of clergy numbers and falling congregations.

Read more

Parishioners return for first Mass at closed church since 2011

A Timely Heads Up for Local Catholics  


ICC appeal reaches pontiff   


For Artifacts From Closed Churches, an Afterlife on Staten Island


UPDATED Canonical Appeals for Dummies here.

Order the Save Our Parish Community packet here.  


Download Canonical commentary on Cleveland decrees by Sr. Kate Kuenstler here


Sign open letter to US Bishops here

Other Church News


The New Yorker profiles "radical" Pope Francis

Help Rename the Movie featuring Sr. Chris Schenk


Pope Francis may be forced to act on Legion of Christ  


Pope Francis' crackdown on order alarms traditionalists  


Controversial Theologian Hans Kung "Why I Don't Clng to This Life"  


Pope Francis Says He's Not a Marxist, Just a Follower of Church Teaching  


Reformer or Hypocrite? Understanding Pope Francis 


Minnesota Bishops Asks for Forgivness  



Cardinal Koch to meet Russian Orthodox Patriarch in Moscow