May 2014 Edition 
Please support
our work!
Catholics speak up for nuns!
Catholics speak out against new teacher contracts
Celebrate St. Mary of Magdala's Feastday!
My Call to the Priesthood by Jocelyn Collen
The Synod on the Family
Save Our Parish Communities
Urging bishops to find solutions to end the priest shortage
Get informed about women deacons
Other news
"Passion for all that the Church can be deepens our commitment to stay at the table and talk through differences. 
We want to be part of the universal Church rooted in the Gospel, a Church that hears the cry of the poor and is united in its response.  
At the same time, we cannot call for peace-making in Syria, the Middle East, in South Sudan, unless we too sit at tables with people who hold varying views and work patiently and consistently for a genuine meeting of minds and hearts."
~ Leadership Conference of Women Religious
(Statement on meeting with CDF 
May 8, 2014)


June 23 - 26, 2014

FutureChurch at Association of U.S. Catholic Priests meeting in St. Louis.  


July 22, 2014

Celebrate St. Mary of Magdala's feastday!  

Download a free brochure, prayer service, or organizing kit     


August 12 - 16, 2014
FutureChurch at Leadership Conference of Women Religious annual meeting

September 19, 2014

FutureChurch Fall Event Cleveland, Ohio 

"Pope Francis' Catholicism: Reform from the Ground Up" with guest speaker Dr. Maureen Fiedler SL and Trivison Award recipient Dr. Jennifer Haselberger, National Catholic Reporter's 2013 Person of the Year.


October 3 - 7, 2014

FutureChurch heads to the Synod on the Family in Rome to advocate for families and women. 


October 19 - November 21, 2014

FutureChurch and the Catholic Tipping Point sponsor Fr. Tony Flannery, founder of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland for an eighteen city tour in the United States discussing grassroots reform and the future of the Catholic Church.


October 26, 2014

Celebrate Priesthood Sunday!  Go online to get your organizing materials.


women deacon


17307 Madison Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio 44107


Catholics speak up for nuns!


On April 30, 2014, in a statement posted on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) website prior to a scheduled meeting with the Leadership Council of Women Religious (LCWR), Cardinal Gerhard Müller, accused U.S. nuns of not abiding to reform agenda imposed on them by the Vatican.  In addition, the document criticized renowned theologian Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ.

The LCWR posted their own statement in response to the meeting with Cardinal Müller noting the deepening distrust and tensions.  They affirmed their commitment to stay at the table saying they are "heartened by the by the attempt of both CDF and LCWR to find a way through that honors the integrity and mission of both offices."  


On May 15, 2014, seventeen reform organizations, including FutureChurch, issued an open letter to Pope Francis, urging him to retract the mandate and to apologize to Dr. Johnson. The NunJustice Project invited Catholics to sign a petition to Pope Francis, download a letter supporting nuns, tweet their support of the nuns to the Pope, and send him Spanish copies of Dr. Elizabeth Johnson's Consider Jesus and The Quest for the Living God.  


Help us make sure Pope Francis and LCWR know we support them.  Go to to take action!  




Cardinal seeks a truce in fight between U.S. Nuns and Vatican's Doctrinal office  

An academic look at the apostolic visitation 


Time to face facts: Pope Francis agrees with the doctrinal assessment of LCWR National Catholic Reporter


 LCWR on accusations: 'Communication has broken down'; 'Mistrust has developed National Catholic Reporter


 Honey I Shrunk the Church Religion Dispatches


 With Malice Toward Nuns New York Times


LCWR Nuns Respond, Acknowledge Severity of Vatican Mistrust Religious Dispatches

What do US nuns see in conscious evolution?  
  Margaret Susan Thompson 


Marx Hubbard responds to Cardinal Muller's LCWR comments
   National Catholic Reporter   
Catholics speak out against new teacher contracts

Catholics in Cincinnati are speaking up about the restrictive new teacher contracts in Cincinnati Catholic schools.  They question the redefinition of teachers as teacher-ministers, a strategy that some legal experts say could undermine teacher's ability to access civil courts when employers treat them unjustly or organize for better wages and working conditions.

The 2014-2015 teacher contracts require teachers to sign and initial sections agreeing with their newly defined status as "teacher-ministers."  Further they must agree to comply with a narrow body of Catholic doctrine and morals specified as: a) improper use of social media/communication, b) public support of or publicly living together outside marriage, c) public support of or sexual activity out of wedlock, d) public support of or homosexual lifestyle, e) public support of or use of abortion, f) public support of or use of a surrogate mother, g) public support of or use of in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination, h) public membership in organizations whose mission and message are incompatible with Catholic doctrine or morals.

Voice of the Faithful in Cincinnati organized a billboard campaign protesting the contracts asking, "Would Pope Francis sign the new teacher contracts?" Nuns on the Bus Ohio (NOTB), a coalition of women religious and allies issued an open letter supporting Catholic teachers writing,
"we pray that you will find a way to continue your ministry without compromising your integrity...may God show us the way forward together."   

Catholic Peg Conway, wrote a letter to Archbishop Schnurr rejecting the restrictive morality clauses on both the practical and spiritual grounds and Molly Schumate, a Cincinnati Catholic school teacher for 14 years will not sign the contract.    

Cleveland archdiocese goes beyond Cincinnati model in writing new contracts for elementary teachers  

Going beyond the Cincinnati model, Bishop Richard Lennon and the Archdiocese of Cleveland issued contracts for elementary teachers that not only redefine their status as "teacher-ministers" but stipulate a longer list of prohibited behaviors.  See pages 2 and 3 of the employment agreement for the list.


Catholic high school teachers in Cleveland will not be asked to sign this same contract since some high schools have teachers' unions and changes to the contracts would have to be negotiated.

Teacher contracts like the ones in Cincinnati and Cleveland are also being orchestrated in Oakland and Honolulu.  A strategic attempt to avoid law suits, the ramifications of the new designation "teacher-minister" could be profound.  According to Rita Schwartz, head of the National Association of Catholic School Teachers, ministers cannot be unionized.  She and Michael DeSantis, president of the union's local, the Cleveland High School and Academy Lay Teachers Association (CHALTA), said they are willing to help teachers who do not want to sign the new contracts and want to organize.

Mary of Magdala is perhaps the most maligned and misunderstood figure in early Christianity. In Christian art and hagiography, Mary has been romanticized, allegorized, and mythologized beyond recognition. Since the fourth century, she has been portrayed as a prostitute and public sinner who, after encountering Jesus, repented and spent the rest of her life in private prayer and penitence.    


Nowhere in scripture is Mary of Magdala identified as a public sinner or a prostitute. Instead, scripture shows her as the primary witness to the most central events of Christian faith. In the synoptic gospels, Mary leads the group of women who witness Jesus' death, burial, the empty tomb, and His Resurrection. The synoptics contrast Jesus' abandonment by the male disciples with the faithful strength of the women disciples who, led by Mary, accompany him to his death.


It was impossible to relate the story of the Resurrection without including "Mary, the one from Magdala."   John's gospel names Mary of Magdala as the first to discover the empty tomb and shows the Risen Christ sending her to announce the Good News of His resurrection to the other disciples. This prompted early church Fathers to name her "the Apostle to the Apostles."  


Celebrate the life of St. Mary of Magdala on July 22nd!  Celebrate the lives of women today who are leaders in our faith tradition!


The Next Generation of Catholic Leadership

My Call to the Priesthood
by Jocelyn Collen

"Body of Christ"
"Body of Christ"
"Body of Christ"

My sister, my brother, and I would play church at the bottom stair of our basement when we were very small.

We used Necco® wafers as our hosts. We all took turns presiding, made up our own Alleluia, and of course, used our long-handled basket for our imaginary collection.

We didn't think we were profound. We didn't think we were being sacramental. But, we knew we were not being irreverent. We knew, at ages 6, 4, and 2 that we were doing something important. We knew we were part of something greater than ourselves, and greater that our green basement steps. We liked playing church. We liked singing together, and standing up and down after we said Amen! We liked giving one another Eucharist.

That was my first call to priesthood. The Necco®  wafers just appeared to be created for the use of communion in our home.

I still want to be presiding at a Eucharistic celebration with my family and friends in a humble, familiar setting. A basement or a local church would do.

For the time being, I must find a Eucharistic table that is in the form of a side table with prayer cards, poems, a box of tissues, and a bowl of sea glass on top of it. My couch and easy chair are our basement step or pews. I share Eucharistic meals with the conversation as bread, and the tears, joys, desires, struggles, and passions as wine.

My office in campus ministry is my small church.  The undergraduates at Fairfield University come by to talk, to visit, to cry, to ask for advice, to interview for immersion trips or leadership positions, to share good news, to nap on my couch, and/or to discuss God's presence in their lives. Although our Eucharistic Food is not chewable, it is the connection that has been formed with the trust between the campus minister and the student that allows us to share together.

I am privileged to host our nourishing conversation. I am Blessed to be chosen as God's instrument here in Coastal Connecticut. I only pray that I may hear the inner workings of God and Sophia in my Sacred Space disguised as my office.  

Jocelyn Collen is a campus minister at Fairfield University and serves on the board of FutureChurch. 

The Synod on the Family and My Catholic Family Campaign

In April, FutureChurch visited officials at the Synod of Bishops office to present signatures from Catholics urging them to invite theologians with families and women theologians to work closely with bishops in developing their propositions for the synod on the family.

We continue our campaign to make sure the voices of Catholics are heard and engaged at the synod.  Without the engagement and input of Catholics with families and women theologians, the complex challenges families face cannot be adequately addressed. 

Please send a letter to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri at the Synod of Bishops urging him to invite theologians with families and women theologians to the synod.

New!  Want to learn more about how synods function?  CLICK HERE

Save Our Parish Communities

Despite increases in the numbers of Catholics in the nation and the world, dioceses nationwide are closing and merging parishes, mainly because there aren't enough priests.  

Archdiocese of New York


In late April, the 40-member Archdiocese advisory board of New York working with the Reid group sent its preliminary recommendations to local clusters. While its unclear how many of the Archdiocese's 376 parishes are slated to close, officials acknowledge that it is likely to be many more than the 21 suppressed in 2007 amidst significant parishioner protest. The final decision is expected in September.



Archdiocese moves toward large-scale parish closings   

Catholic Church closings motivated primarily by fiscal concerns, critics say  

Preparing for parish closures and mergers in New York City

Monongahela parishioners hold vigil, appeal to Vatican. Parishioners from St. Anthony's parish in Monongahela, PA have announced their intent to hire a canon lawyer and appeal Bishop David Zubik's decision to close their Church. Laura Magone was the last to leave the Church after parishioners held a 24 hour vigil. She announced the formation of a new organization: the Society for the Preservation of St. Anthony's Church. Bishop Zubik acknowledged the group's right to appeal but characterized the vigil as an "embarrassment" and a "scandal." (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 4/28/14)

1000 Holland parishes to close by 2025 Cardinal Willem Eijk warned Pope Francis at an ad limina visit last December that two thirds of Holland's 1500 parishes will close by 2025.   Elk cited "drastic secularization" and dwindling congregations and collections, though the number of priests has dropped by 25% in the past eight years. Currently there are standing at 743 priests for 1500 parishes. (The Tablet 12/4/13)


Priest numbers halved in Galloway, Scotland, In The Diocese of Galloway has released figures showing the number of priests has more than halved since 1990, with the fall in churchgoers nearly as steep. Across the diocese, which covers most of southwest Scotland, there is currently one priest for every two churches. In 1990 it had 55 priests for 53 churches. There are now 23 priests for 43 churches. The diocese has told parishioners that the situation is "no longer sustainable" and calls for "changes in mindset, in expectation and in structures", an indication that many long-standing churches may have to be closed. (Scotland Sunday Herald 12/11/13

Shortage of priests in Coalisland Parish an opportunity says Fr Byrne


Urging bishops to find solutions to end the priest shortage  
The Tablet recently reported a private meeting between Bishop Erwin Kräutler of Brazil and Pope Francis where a serious discussion of the ordination of "proven" married men (viri probati) took place. The Brazilian bishop told Francis about the desperate conditions in parishes driven by the shortage of priests in his diocese where there are 27 priests for 700,000 Catholics.  The Pope suggested that it was up to bishops' conferences to find solutions and that they should be "corajudos" or "courageous" in making suggestions.

The Association of Catholic Priests issued a statement saying, "the ACP and others have long argued that the ordination of proven married men (viri probati) could be a part answer to the Eucharistic famine about to afflict the Church, in Ireland as elsewhere."

Jamie Manson, commentator for the National Catholic Reporter questioned the "viri probati"  or "proven men" qualifier. Will former priests who left the priesthood to marry be invited back?  Will married men who believe the church needs equality in leadership be considered or will only those who already agree with current Church teaching be rendered "viri probati?"   

Manson doesn't let us forget how this new proposition can go wrong.  And most Catholic reformers know they can never stop working for quality in our selection processes and quality in our ministerial candidates whether they are male or female, celibate or married, or ordained or lay. 

Further, most Catholics believe mandatory celibacy can and must be been challenged on its own grounds, because, too often, it functions as an imposed oppressive system that is driving parish closings.  In his book, Freeing Celibacy, Donald Cozzens argues that celibacy is not essential to priesthood and when mandated, can induce harm in the individual and in the community.  He maintains both celibacy and marriage are gifts to the priesthood.

Bishop Kräutler
's conversation with Pope Francis is encouraging. It is one more point of light illuminating the edge of reform under this papacy.  In that light, FutureChurch is initiating a new campaign asking Catholics to urge their U.S. Bishops to open serious discussions about optional celibacy and women in the diaconate.  We think this is the time for our bishops to courageously search for creative and life giving solutions to the priest shortage.  

We will keep you updated when the campaign launches..


Bishops need to be courageous; Listen to people

Pope said married priests possible; media reports claim    

A step forward for married men is a giant step backward for women 


Get informed about women deacons 

The Massive Online Open Seminar (MOOS) on Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future will run June 9-July 8. The seminar is just what it sounds like--a chance for you to join with other folks around the world to read, think and talk about the possibility of restoring women to the ordained diaconate in the Catholic Church.

The seminar is free and registration is now open. It will feature authors William T. Ditewig, Gary Macy and Phyllis Zagano, with cameo appearances by other members of the Catholic Theological Society of America. A suggested course book, "Ordination of Women as Deacons in the Eastern Churches: essays by Cipriano Vagaggini" (Liturgical Press) is also featured in the seminar. The seminar will run June 9-July 8, 2014 on CourseSites, a Blackboard platform, and includes annotated bibliography, PowerPoint presentations, video lectures, and voluntary discussion board. The project is supported by Hofstra University. Read registration instructions here. 

Other news

Clerics accused of abuse to have new appeal process

Pope Francis is setting up a new commission to hear the appeals of clerics who have been found guilty of serious crimes, including the sexual abuse of minors, the Catholic News Service (CNS) reports.
The new commission will operate under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which handles sex-abuse complaints lodged against priests. Earlier this month, in testimony before a UN commission, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi reported that more than 3,400 priests have been disciplined by the Vatican because of sex-abuse charges. Read more

Swiss bishop allows lay appeal for women's ordination

The Bishop of Basel, Felix Gmür, has permitted the democratically elected Basel Catholic church corporations ("katholische Landeskirchen beider Basel"), which are officially only responsible for church finances, to formulate an initiative appealing for equality between men and women as far as ordination to the priesthood is concerned.  Read more

The church's wage gap

Meet Trish Vanni, a Catholic mother of three from Minnesota. She has worked for the church, holds a doctorate in theology, and carries nearly $100,000 in educational debt. She recently began an online campaign through GoFundMe to heighten awareness about Catholic women's ministerial debt and to raise funds to help pay her loans. When I heard her story, I made a contribution toward her campaign then began to investigate.  Read more