January 2014 Edition 
Francis appointments good news by Sr. Chris Schenk
Is Pope Francis leaving women behind? by Deborah Rose-Milavec
Should lay people have a role in choosing their bishops?
The next generation of Catholic leadership
Vatican appeals could keep Staten Island churches open
Pope Francis shakes up Vatican Bank
International news
Popes, bishops, priests and deacons can protest all they like that ordination is about service. Lay people know it is also about power and access...Women simply are not permitted to fashion many lines of the narrative at the level where decisions are made and leadership is exercised.  
(From Contra MSW by Tom Roberts)


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 artmcgrath@aol.com.


February 1, 2014 Hartford, CT:

You can't quench the Spirit: faith and the future of the Church


Sr. Christine Schenk 12:30-4:00 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.


February 15, 2014

Teleconference with Sr. Sandra Schneiders


Moving beyond patriarchy: a presentation on biblical interpretation as a tool to promote and enhance the full personhood of womenTo join the call email liz@futurechurch.org 


March 20 - 27, 2014: Rome and Ostia  

A Pilgrimage to Archaeological Sites of Women Leaders in the Early Church


Only two openings left!

For more information call Liz: 800-206-TOUR (8687) or email: liz@206tours.com


April 12, 2014: Teleconference with Anthony and Theresa Padovano 


The Value of Marriage for the Priesthood  

To learn more email liz@futurechurch.org


April 24, 2014:Lima, OH

Sr. Chris Schenk addresses Serra Club


Lima, Ohio 5:45 pm. For info, email cschenkcsj@gmail.com 



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


Only 2 spots left!


For detailed info
 click here



17307 Madison Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio 44107



FutureChurch raises awareness about the need to engage Catholic families at the Synod on the Family

FutureChurch, along with other reform organizations, is urging our bishops to include theological experts representing the diversity of our Church, including theologians with families, women theologians, and moral theologians specializing in issues of gender and sexual morality at the upcoming Synod on the Family in October 2014. Experts with families will bring a valuable perspective to the Synod's deliberations on pastorally supporting and serving the world's families.

Do your part to make sure Catholic families are heard and engaged at the Synod on the Family. 

1.  Send a letter to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops urging him to include theological experts who have families as advisors at the Synod on the Family.  CLICK HERE

2.  Tweet a photo of your family to PopeFrancis@Pontifex asking him to make sure Catholics with families are represented at the Synod on the Family.

(sample tweet: PopeFrancis@Pontifex "Will #mycatholicfamily be represented at the Synod on the Family?") CLICK HERE

3.  Upload a photo of your family to My Catholic Family to raise awareness so Catholic families are heard and engaged at the Synod on the Family. CLICK HERE

The Survey on the Family
In November, FutureChurch and other reform organizations launched an online survey on the family in preparation for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family.  By its close on December 15, 2013, over 16,620 people had completed it! 


A short report summarizing the quantitative data was sent late December to Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, President of the USCCB.
A full report written by an independent research analyst will be available to the public in early February and sent to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Kurtz and other Catholic leaders.

Related articles
Bishops must consult grassroots on family synod by Josh McElwee Read more

Hopes and dreams for the 2014 Synod on the family by Maureen Fiedler Read more 

Chairman of Commission of Cardinals says they will recommend the creation of a new high-level Vatican dicastery, the Congregation for the Laity

In an unusually candid interview with a German newspaper, the chairman of the Commission of Cardinals advising Pope Francis has said that: 
  • The Commission will recommend the creation of a new high-level Vatican dicastery, the Congregation for the Laity.
  • The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith should "be a bit more flexible" in discussions of pastoral care for Catholics who are divorced and remarried. Read more
Francis appointments good news for global and local Church by Sr. Chris Schenk

The new Cardinals appointed by Francis show his intent to at last equalize papal electors by appointing more people from the developing world. This is good news for the global church. My sister of St. Joseph friend who ministers in Nicaragua was ecstatic to learn that both Haiti and Nicaragua - the 2 poorest countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, will also have cardinals. She writes: "The present archbishop of Nicaragua is like Francis. [He] smiles and prioritizes pastoral presence, appreciates religious and ALWAYS wears blue jeans under whatever church garb he's attired in.   Thanks be to Ruah - (the holy spirit) She's doing some marvelous things these days."


Taken with new appointments at the Congregation for Bishops, we can reasonably expect to see more pastoral, moderate leaders being appointed in the U.S. and worldwide. In mid December, Francis removed ultra conservative cardinals such as Raymond Burke and Justin Rigali and replaced them with his own team of less ideological prelates such as cardinals-elect Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Archbishop Beniamino Stella and cardinals Braz de Aviz and Donald Wuerl from the US.


Already we may be seeing at least one new 'Francis bishops" being appointed. On Thursday the Vatican announced the new Bishop of Pueblo, CO, Msgr. Stephen J. Berg. Ordained in 1999 at age 48 for the Fort Worth diocese Berg brings rich pastoral experience to his new role. Between 1999 and 2012, he served five parishes as pastor. This is a very different sort of appointment compared to past bishop appointees who often had little parish experience but lots of administrative time spent in Rome.


Related articles 

Pope With the Humble Touch Is Firm in Reshaping the Vatican in NY Times Read more


Cardinals: continuity and change by Tom Reese Read more    


Where are the African-American cardinals? by Heidi Schlumpf 


Francis uses red hats to offer lesson on global church by John Allen Read more   


Preparing a generation of 'Francis bishops' 


Wuerl named to bishops' panel; Burke not confirmed Read more


Cardinal for our times in The Tablet Read more  


Local Haitian faithful cheer naming of cardinal Read more  

In his expansive march for reform, is Pope Francis leaving women behind? by Deborah Rose-Milavec  

When it comes to the hopes of Catholics for expanding women's roles  in the church, many are wondering how far Pope Francis will go.  Whether Catholics argue for a new openness under Francis or an alignment with his predecessors depends on how much emphasis they place on the broader scope of his reform agenda.

Rhetorically, Pope Francis has aligned himself with his predecessors in significant ways.  Like John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Pope Francis has  affirmed women are equal to men in dignity and called for expanding women's roles in the Church.  And like John Paul II and Benedict XVI, he has also signaled that the discussion of women's ordination to the priesthood is a closed matter. 


Further,  in response to speculation, Fr.Federico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See Press Office, commented that while it would be theoretically possible for the Pope to appoint women to the College of Cardinals it was not remotely possible at this time. 
In an interview on December 14 Pope Francis extinguished those hopes rationalizing the ongoing exclusion of women from decision-making saying, "I don't know where this idea sprang from. Women in the Church must be valued not 'clericalised.' Whoever thinks of women as cardinals suffers a bit from clericalism."  

Many Catholics looking for more expansive roles for women in the church may agree with Tom Roberts of the National Catholic Reporter when he expresses genuine admiration for the brilliance of our Pope's leadership without failing to point to the shadow cast on the current landscape for women.


If the sweep of teaching in the tradition holds the key to unlocking a future for women in the church it will only be discovered by the consistent pronouncement of an alternative tradition, a woman-driven narrative, strong enough to erode the layers of history that has kept the key hidden.


The reality in the church today, in this 21st century version, is that women are excluded from any significant decision-making roles in the institution, particularly at the Vatican level, which is to say, at the global level.


Popes, bishops, priests and deacons can protest all they like that ordination is about service. Lay people know it is also about power and access. I don't see that changing even in the era of Francis. He might already have done a great deal to diminish destructive clericalism, but the reality remains that the group of eight cardinals serving him as advisors for governing the universal church are all men; all those who will receive red hats in the coming months will be men; all of those who will be newly entrusted as the leaders and chief teachers in dioceses, bishops, will be men. Women simply are not permitted to fashion many lines of the narrative at the level where decisions are made and leadership is exercised.


Well said, Tom Roberts.  With the promise of reform under Pope Francis, we cannot leave women behind. 


Related Articles 
Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano begins a monthly series on 'theology of women' Read more

Women resistant to Pope Francis' call for new theology by Megan Fincher Read more

A theology of gifts would open doors for women in the church by Susan Olson Read more

Did the Pope say "yes" to Women Deacons by Phyllis Zagano Read more

The Pope's most powerful phrase in MSNBC Read more

Does Pope Francis Have a Woman Problem? by Barbie Latza Nadeau  Read more

Pope Francis's progressive statement opens questions on abuse cases, women by Jason Berry Read more 

Pope Francis assured mothers that breast-feeding their babies in public, even during a papal Mass in the Sistine Chapel, is OK. 
Read more 
Should lay people have a role in choosing their bishops

Pope Francis says that he wants a special kind of bishop for our church-he wants "shepherds who smell of their sheep." Let us take our Holy Father at his word: Who knows how the sheep smell better than the sheep themselves? No one. So then why not let the sheep make a modest proposal and ask that we laypeople have a significant say in the choice of our bishops.

This proposal is not as radical as it may seem. Once the office of bishop was clearly established in the early church, that office was filled by the choice of the local people and priests, and ratified by the neighboring bishops as a sign of the unity of the church. Even unbaptized persons were eligible to be chosen for bishop, as we know from the story of St. Ambrose, who was acclaimed by the clergy and people as bishop of Milan while he was still a catechumen. 
Read more 

Related news
From Albany Bishop Search: Recently Voice of the Faithful sent a letter and proposal to Pope Francis outlining a demonstration project for restoring wider lay participation in the selection of a diocesan bishop. The effort would have national bishop conferences conduct demonstrations, report on the results, and then submit them to the Vatican for development of "best practices." Read more  

The Next Generation of Catholic Leadership


Studies and statistics suggest that young, progressive Catholics have lost interest in the church. But one visit to a monthly potluck of young adult Catholics in Washington, D.C., may leave you questioning that theory.


Born out of the 2012 Call to Action national conference, the idea for the gathering was created when Kate Conmy, Margaret Johnson and Katie Jones, three D.C.-area members of CTA's 20/30 young adult communities, began to dream up new ways to build community among young adult Catholics. Read more  


Related news
The gender politics of the new domesticity Read more  

Vatican appeals could keep Staten Island Roman Catholic churches open

Staten Island and other New York City Roman Catholics whose parishes are merged or closed under the "Making All Things New" pastoral planning initiative have the option of appealing the decision to the Vatican rather than passively watching as the doors of their beloved churches are chained shut.

Most lay church members aren't aware that Canon law based on Vatican II provides laity with the right to appeal a decree that calls for a parish to be closed or merged, said Sister Kate Kuenstler, a canon lawyer who will be speaking at a Call to Action presentation on Jan. 26 in Manhattan.  Read more

Related articles

Ex-parishioners hope to save old Pennsylvania church Read more    

Pope Francis shakes up Vatican Bank, sets financial cap for sainthood
Pope Francis on Wednesday (Jan. 15) took his biggest step yet at cleaning house at the scandal-ridden Vatican Bank, replacing most of the institution's advisers with fresh faces.

Among the new appointees: Vatican Secretary of State and Cardinal-designate Pietro Parolin; Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn from Vienna; Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto; and veteran diplomat Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, a close friend of the pontiff's. Read more

UN subjects Holy See to tough questioning on child abuse 

Vatican officials faced a "grueling" questioning on Church sex-abuse policies on January 16 when they appeared before a UN committee on implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Read more

Related articles
Retraction: Vatican now confirms almost 400 priests defrocked for sex abuse by John L. Allen Jr. Read more

Vatican representatives testify before UN committee Read more

Pope will be tough on paedophile priests, says sex abuse crisis authority Read more

Pope Francis laments Church scandals, harm caused by corrupt clergy  Read more 
International news

A conference in India of women religious and others on the impact of the Second Vatican Council has led to the establishment of a national Christian women's forum.

The Indian Christian Women's Movement was launched on January 11, the final day of the four-day conference on "Paradigm Shift in Vatican II and Its Impact on Women."

"We were challenged to change our patriarchal mindset, to develop a feminist way of thinking, to create gender sensitivity, promote the use of inclusive language, break boundaries and move into a new way of being and doing," said the statement from the conference participants, 113 women and seven men.  Read more