February 2014 Edition 
You Said it! The Survey on the Family, Catholic Voices, and What We Know So Far by Deborah Rose-Milavec
FutureChurch and 52 national and international organizations ask Pope Francis to expand the roles of women
Easter Treasures: Recovering the story of Mary of Magdala by FutureChurch trustee Rita Houlihan
The Francis Effect
FutureChurch continues to work Save Our Parish Communities
Sr. Chris Schenk to star in documentary Radical Grace
Other news
The magnificence of families can be found in their steadfast commitments to each other, however the families were formed, through marriage, cohabitation, divorce and remarriage, adoption, same-sex marriage.   

The strength and beauty of these families should be held up and celebrated as living examples of the Spirit alive in our world. 

A church hierarchy that can only celebrate one form of family leaves millions of people outside the door, marginalized from the power of an honest relationship with a family community and deprives the church of the gifts of millions of good people who do not feel that their talents and energies are welcome in the church.
~Survey on the Family respondent from Boston 

March 20 - 27, 2014: Rome and Ostia  

Follow and support us as we travel on a pilgrimage to the Archaeological Sites of Women Leaders in the Early Church


April 12, 2014:

3:00 pm EST

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 



Follow us and support us as we make our pilgrimage to Rome!


Rome & Ostia

A Pilgrimage to Archaeological Sites of Women Leaders 

in the Early Church

 with Sr. Carolyn Osiek   

and Sr. Christine Schenk




Just in time for the Lent and Easter Season!
Women and the Word

In collaboration with other reform organizations, FutureChurch offers

March 2014 marks the one year anniversary of the election of Pope Francis.  It has been a year of remarkable activity, media attention and excitement. 


As Catholics interested in working for a Church that is just, inclusive and accountable, this provides a good time to asses

s Francis' impact and promise.

"What has changed in the past year?"  "What needs to be done?"  "What seems to be neglected in the general upsurge of interest?"









or go to 


to learn more!






17307 Madison Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio 44107



You Said It!  The Survey on the Family, Catholic Voices and What We Know So Far by Deborah Rose-Milavec       

If you are a purveyor of Catholic news, you've noticed the flurry of stories cropping up from around the world addressing the Catholic response to the survey on the family. I've listed many of the links below if you've missed them.  These reports illuminate the realities of faith and family life and our calling as baptized Catholics to help shape Catholic teaching, practice and sacramental life in light of our collective wisdom and struggles.  
Pope Francis's call for an extraordinary synod on the family

In early October 2013, Pope Francis called for an extraordinary synod on the family because he clearly understands the disastrous effect rigid orthodoxy has had on the lives of ordinary Catholics that has left many people of faith discouraged and marginalized.  Tragically, churches have emptied and a whole generation has gone missing. In calling the extraordinary synod and in his day to day teaching, Pope Francis is sounding a clarion call in favor of mercy and opening his arms wide to those who have been left out or driven out under the weight of a punitive teaching authority.   

Innovations by some bishops, the status quo for others and the response of Catholics 
In response to Pope Francis's call for an extraordinary synod a handful of bishops in the U.S. and bishops' conferences in Germany, Switzerland, England, Wales and Belgium made the synod survey available online and through requests. Still, most relied on old methodologies that are dependent on the judgments and observations of a few and did not ask ordinary Catholics to share their lived experience and wisdom on divorce and remarriage, same sex relationships, cohabitation, contraception and other faith issues relating to family life.   
Those who did ask found Catholics eager to share.  When FutureChurch and fifteen other reform organizations offered a user-friendly version of the Synod survey online, over 16,500
 Catholics enthusiastically took the opportunity to voice their faith-filled opinions, experiences and concerns.

What Catholics said 

In an independent study, Dr. Peter J. Fagan at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine analyzed the responses.  To find the full report and corresponding English and Spanish responses to the free-text questions go to 

Highlights from the report show
the majority of respondents self-identified as lay persons (83%) ages 56 and above (70%) and mass-goers (53%).  On the issues, they mirrored their European counterparts and reflected many of the sentiments reported by Bishop Robert Lynch of the St. Petersburg diocese and the bishops of Japan, Germany and other regions pointing to the cavernous gap between the realities of Catholic's lives and the teachings of the church and the necessity of recognizing the Sensus Fidelum and restoring pastoral practices that create "a Church that is a refuge for those worn by the journey of life."

Respondents commonly asked, "Why must [the Church] shun people who are already hurting (33)?"  As I read through the responses, phrases like "welcome them" and "accept them unconditionally" were repeated over and over.  Respondents want, "honest communication" and "consultation with the laity."  These are not the words of some far-out faction, but of faith-filled and faithful Catholics who want everyone to have a place at the table.  As Fagan himself noted on the last page of his report, the "one near-universal hope" was that the Church would become in the words of Pope Francis, "a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel" (EG 114).
The Response from the Vatican
A short summary report and the quantitative data along with the comments and responses was sent to then Archbishop Baldisseri, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz and others at the end of December to meet the first deadline.  In February we received a letter from Cardinal-elect Baldisseri acknowledging receipt and thanking us.  We have not yet received acknowledgement of the Fagan report sent in February.  
By way of preparation, according to Vatican Information Service, the Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops met on February 24 and 25 to discuss the results of synod survey. They received a very high percentage of responses with observations from individuals and groups from all over the world included.  According to the VIS report, "It enables the voice of the Church to be heard in all her components and in a variety of contexts and situations, both with regard to the urgency of proclaiming the Gospel of the family with renewed zeal, and in relation to the challenges and difficulties connected with family life and the crises it may face."  The observations discussed by the bishops will be "considered in the drafting of the Instrumentum laboris from which the work of the Synod will proceed."   


Where we go from here
Pope Francis is creating a path toward reform that will no doubt lead to a change in pastoral priorities.  Yet, Australian writer, historian and former priest Paul Collins wonders how far Pope Francis can take the synod if his appointments to the Pontifical Council for the Laity (PCL) are clerics and lay persons of a "peculiar ecclesiology and pastoral style" and elites from "New Religious Movements." Since the PCL will be influential at the Synod on the Family, Collins says it is important to know who is being appointed and to lobby for diverse representation.   
Thus, the basis for our My Catholic Family campaign has been to make sure a diverse group of Catholic theologians are chosen to work at the synod. 


Take Action to make sure a diverse cross section of Catholic theologians with families, women theologians and moral theologians who specialize in gender are included in the work of the Synod! 

Send a letter to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops urging him to include theological experts who have families, women theologians and theologians with expertise in gender and morality as advisors at the Synod on the Family.  CLICK HERE

Cardinal Kasper to give speech on family to College of Cardinals Pope opens big week with sex, divorce on agenda Irish bishops won't publish details of Vatican-ordered survey

In an unprecedented collaboration, FutureChurch and 52 national and international organizations send a letter to Pope Francis asking him to expand the roles of women  
As the first anniversary of Pope Francis' election approaches, leaders from 53 organizations from the United States, Europe and Asia working towards renewal and reform in the Catholic Church and representing millions of Catholics around the world have sent a letter to the Pope asking him to appoint women to positions of policy and pastoral leadership, including as heads of offices in the Vatican Curia. 
The letter also urges the Pope to "end the use of Communion as a reward for doctrinal orthodoxy."  
A wide variety of reform groups from around the globe were represented including three national associations of priests.  
To read the letter and see the list of signatories CLICK HERE 

or go to popefrancis365.org.  

Easter Treasures:  Recovering the story of Mary of Magdala  by FutureChurch Trustee Rita Houlihan
What is in John 20:10-18 and why ask?  Verses 10-18 contain the core Resurrection news of our new Covenant relationship yet, unless you attend Easter Sunday mass in Canada you will not hear them on Easter Sunday or any Sunday.  What is in John 20:10-18? -- Jesus' commissioning of Mary Magdalene to announce the news of our new Covenant relationship with God and Jesus as parent and brother, his words of consolation - 'even though you cannot hold onto me, go tell the others - I will live in the communities of your brothers and sisters.   And we see an example of witness in Mary Magdalene's presence at the cross, the empty tomb, before the resurrected Jesus and on her way to announce this good news.  We all need to hear and experience this good news.
Coming in March is our 'Easter Gospel Project Fact Sheet' and guide for a thoughtful discussion with your pastor about how to include all of John 20:1-18 in your Easter Sunday celebrations. The Easter Gospel package will also contain a sample letter with a rationale and homily suggestions from a respected retired pastor and the USA's and Canada's Easter Sunday gospel texts.   
Meanwhile, for a good read and a reminder of the consolation of Jesus' presence read John 20:1-18 with a group of friends. Read it as a dialogue, with each person in a part.   For a taste of Easter energy, read and enjoy pages 211-223 in Sandra Schneiders', Written That You May Believe, 2004.  We will send a notice as soon as the package is ready.   Please plan to join us in this project - Our Easter Sundays will be complete only when we hear and receive the full Resurrection message. 
And remember, order our Expanded Holy Week packet today and recover the extraordinary leadership of Mary of Magdala, Apostle to the Apostles.


The Francis Effect
The CDF is beginning to lose its stronghold on power

The Congregation for the Doctrine on the Faith is beginning to lose its stronghold on power under Pope Francis according to Fr. Thomas Reese.  Read more 
Pope Francis: The Church needs better bishops; go find them
In another strongly worded message to the Catholic hierarchy, Pope Francis on Thursday (Feb. 27) told the Vatican body that vets nominees for bishops that they need to find him better candidates to send to dioceses around the world.  

"To choose such ministers we all need to raise our sights, to move to a higher level," Francis told the Congregation for Bishops, the critical department of the Roman Curia that acts as a clearinghouse for bishop nominees. "We can't do anything less, and we can't be content with the bare minimum."  Read more 
FutureChurch continues the work Save Our Parish Communities

On January 26, 2014, Sr. Kate Kuenstler and Sr. Chris Schenk met with representatives of Catholic parishes in Staten Island to advise them of their options when it comes to the Cardinal Dolan's plan for closing their parishes. 

In an article written by Maura Grundland, Chris and Kate said the future of the Catholic church should be about ministry -- not money and that Pope Francis has preached against the corporate style downsizing strategies that are being employed as part of the "Making All Things New" pastoral planning initiative in Staten Island and the entire Archdiocese of New York. 

They described how to file appeals and the factors that can make appeals successful. They pointed everyone to 'how to file an appeals' documentation on FutureChurch's website. 

Key points covered:  


"Making All Things New" is rapidly progressing into its next stage as the archdiocese announced last week that it has formed its Archdiocesan Advisory Group of 40 religious and lay representatives who will review recommendations from the 368 parishes that have been working in 75 parish clusters. The 33 parishes on Staten Island have been grouped into six clusters to determine their future viability.  Read more  


FutureChurch Emerita, Sr. Chris Schenk to star in documentary Radical Grace!

Radical Grace tells the story of Sr. Jean Hughes, Sr. Simone Campbell and our very own NunJustice organizer Sr. Chris Schenk. It follows them in their ministries and responses to the Vatican mandate.
The film is in the "rough cut" (this is like a rough draft) stage and the filmmakers are currently raising funds to finish it. 
When completed, this film will be a powerful organizing tool in efforts to renew the church and create justice for the sisters! Share this information with your community and encourage people to continue to advocate for the women religious who, for many of us, are our guiding example of justice in action. 

Support this project!  CLICK HERE!


Other news
Voices of Faith raise awareness of the need for fuller participation of women in the Church
Inspired by the desire of Pope Francis "to broaden the space within the Church for a more incisive feminine presence", Voices of Faith (VoF) will celebrate International Women's Day at the Vatican Cinema. The event, which will be streamed live on 8 March 2014 via the VoF website, will feature the voices of 11 women from six countries, each of whom will give witness of how their Catholic faith influenced their lives and work.


It's goal, Götz said "is to encourage and inspire further integration and participation of Catholic women's thoughts, ideas, and methods into Catholic institutions; namely, administrative and decision making roles within Catholic Institutions in an effort to impact positive change." Read more


New Spanish cardinal to be probed for 'anti-gay' incitement

Spanish prosecutors have opened an investigation into newly chosen Spanish Cardinal Fernando Sebastian Aguilar after a gay-rights group accused him of hate speech for calling homosexuality a "defect".  


African bishops speak out against raft of anti-gay laws


Recently the Ugandan and Nigerian parliaments both passed severe anti-gay legislation. Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has vetoed it; Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan signed it into law. Other countries, such as Cameroon and Tanzania, are proposing to pass similar legislation. These laws are not intended to render same-sex acts illegal - they already are, and punishable, in most African countries - but to persecute people on the basis of their sexual orientation.  Read more

New Ways Ministry launches twitter campaign aimed at stopping the new wave of draconian anti-LGBT laws in Nigeria, Russia, Uganda and other countries


New Ways Ministry and The Fellowship Global launched the #PopeSpeakOut Twitter campaign to persuade Pope Francis to speak out against the growing tide of anti-LGBT laws around the globe.  It offers a positive action that people can take to respond to the dangerous new wave of anti-LGBT laws and policies in countries such as Nigeria, Russia, Uganda, India, and Jamaica.  

Read more



When the law is a crime America editorial

Legionaries are Pope Francis' problem now


It's a measure of how bad things have become for the scandal-plagued Legionaries of Christ that the first question a journalist feels obliged to ask the religious order's new leader is, "Have you ever sexually abused anyone?"  For the record, the answer of Father Eduardo Robles Gil Orvańanos was, "I can promise, swear, whatever you want, that I haven't.  . . it would make no sense at all for us to put someone in a leadership position with something to hide."  



New Connecticut bishop reaches out to Voice of the Faithful


A new Connecticut bishop has reached out to Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), the lay organization formed in 2002 in the wake of the clerical sex abuse scandal.  


"One of the first things Bishop [Frank] Caggiano did after arriving here was to reach out to the Voice of the Faithful, and in four months he has had several conversations with the VOTF leadership," a spokesman for the Diocese of Bridgeport told the Darien Times. Read more 


Kansas City Catholics Demand Justice


Kansas City Catholics are asking Pope Francis to conduct a canonical review of Bishop Robert Finn due to the church's lack of response to his misdemeanor conviction has caused further spiritual harm to the diocese.


"Civil law has done what civil law can do. The church has done nothing in terms of calling Bishop Finn to accountability.  He continues as bishop as if nothing really ever happened," said Mercy Sr. Jeanne Christensen, a former victims' advocate for the diocese co-heading the appeal. Read more