July-August 2014 Edition 

Please support
our work!

For a limited time, give $100 or more and receive a copy of Fr. Tony Flannery's book, "A Question of Conscience" as our way of saying THANKS!

Support the LCWR as they prepare to meet
Synod on the Family
Catholics in Cleveland march
Did You Celebrate the feat of St. Mary of Magdala?
Pope Francis, Priest Associations on married priests
Save Our Parish Communities
Association of U.S. Catholics Priests meet in St. Louis, FutureChurch there
Other news
Call to Action Conference and more!

There is no reflection here [Instrumentum Laboris] of the "ordinary theology" or "lived religious experiences" of the faithful that might give a twenty-first-century context to old teachings about the family as a "domestic church."  

~Young Adult Catholic Alana Harris speaking on the family (Darby Fellow, Oxford) The Tablet, 12 July 2014

Pope Francis' Catholicism: Reform from the Ground Up

Friday, September 19th 
6:00 to 10:00 EDT
Windows on the River
2000 Sycamore St.
ClevelandOH 44113
Join for an exciting evening with
Sr. Maureen Fiedler as our keynote speaker and Dr. Jennifer Haselberger as our Trivison Award Recipient!  



August 12 - 16, 2014

FutureChurch at Leadership Conference of Women Religious annual assembly.

September 9, 2014

FutureChurch Teleconference Series features Fr. Michael Crosby "Repair My House: A Blueprint for Reform in the Catholic Church."  Sign up today! 

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.

Join us for a great evening!


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. Learn more at catholictippingpoint.org.


October 26, 2014

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


November 1, 2014 at 7pm


All the way from Ireland!

See Fr. Tony Flannery in Cleveland!  


As part of the Catholic Tipping Point Tour, Fr. Tony Flannery will be visiting Cleveland! Join us for a discussion about reform in the Church today! 


Independence Middle School Auditorium

7733 Stone Road

Independence, OH  44131


Join us for a great evening!



November 7 - 9, 2014


FutureChurch goes to Call to Action conference. Participate in our workshops and visit our table of resources. 


November 10-12, 2014


FutureChurch attends the USCCB Fall Assembly to present signatures from our "Open Letter from the People of God to the USCCB" on optional celibacy.  Make sure you sign the letter today! 







November 1, 2014 at 7pm


Independence Middle School Auditorium

7733 Stone Road

Independence, OH  44131


Go to future church.org for more details!





women deacon


17307 Madison Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio 44107



Support the LCWR as they prepare to meet for their assembly from August 12 - 16, 2014

In a recent essay in Harper's Magazine, Mary Gordon reflects on the long history of leadership by American nuns, their stature among Catholics and the attempts of male Church leaders to contain them at various points in history.   She argues that Pope Francis looks too much like his predecessors when it comes to the treatment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Gordon contends that if he is serious about "shifting the Church's attention" away from the culture wars to a Church that focuses its attention on the poor (work led mostly by nuns), he should remove the mandate.

Molle Wilson O'Reilly critiques Gordon's assertion and argues that Pope Francis is letting things play out between LCWR and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) "'no matter how unequal the stakes' because he is not an autocrat."

While no one would argue that Pope Francis should act like an autocrat, he has a responsibility to see that justice is being served in the halls of the Vatican.  There are "unequal stakes" and ultimately LCWR bears all the risk as these tensions play out.  Their canonical status is at stake if they do not conform to CDF demands. Thus, justice requires that Pope Francis step in and ultimately remove the mandate.  

The NunJustice Project, a coalition of seventeen reform organizations, has written an open letter to Pope Francis asking him to review Cardinal Mueller's actions and to remove the mandate.  If you have not yet signed on to the "Open Letter to Pope Francis" or taken other actions proposed by the NunJustice Project, please do so today.  

The NunJustice Coalition has also recently released a prayer service and prayer for LCWR and Sister Elizabeth Johnson to show solidarity and support as they face ongoing pressure and censure from the CDF. Download it and share it with your parish or community!


Conflict with Vatican shadows upcoming LCWR assembly by Thomas C. Fox (NCR print edition, August 1-14, 2014)


Synod on the Family: Experts to be invited, married couples observe, and the process revised

With Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri as Secretary General, there is fresh air blowing through the Synod of Bishops and real hope for new reforms at the Synod on the Family.

A shift in emphasis toward hearing the faithful

On July 25th, reminding Catholics that the Synod's preparatory questionnaire demonstrated "a desire to hear from the grassroots," Cardinal Baldisseri described a new process for the synod that is "designed to increase discussion."  The Cardinal reported that the questionnaire, submitted by about 90 percent of the world's bishops' conferences and about 800 Catholic organizations or individuals, formed the basis for the working document for the extraordinary assembly.

Amazingly, he suggested that the bishops "must recognize that the faithful perceive the truth about the Gospel and its values and their input cannot be ignored."  His words align beautifully with the recent findings of the International Theological Commission in Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church which also stated, "The sensus fidei fidelis is a sort of spiritual instinct that enables the believer to judge spontaneously whether a particular teaching or practice is or is not in conformity with the Gospel and with apostolic faith" (49). 

A change in the synod process

One of the biggest changes to the synod process this time, according to Cardinal Baldisseri, is the requirement that those who vote submit their presentations two weeks before the meeting opens.  A summary of their submissions will now serve as the opening document as opposed to a rephrasing of the Instrumentum Laboris (working document) as in prior synods.  

During the first week, instead of reading their remarks, they'll summarize them (3 - 5 minutes).  The working document will be revised to reflect their discussions.  

During the second week, instead of making propositions for the pope, they'll work in language groups, moving from one theme to the next, amending the summary report.  This amended summary report will likely be used as the working document for the 2015 synod which will be titled, "Jesus Christ reveals the mystery and vocation of the family." 

Married couples invited and a question of who will be invited as experts

Cardinal Baldisseri indicated that around 190 voting members are invited, along delegates from other Christian churches, observers and experts appointed by Pope Francis.  The list of invitees will include married couples as observers "who will be encouraged to address the assembly."  Other unknown but important invitees include the voting members who will be named by the Pope and a dozen or more expert advisers.  Those invited include:
  • the presidents of national bishops' conferences
  • the heads of Eastern Catholic churches
  • Vatican officials 
  • three priests chosen by the Union of Superiors General
  • a dozen or more voting members will be named by the pope
  • a dozen or more expert advisers
  • a dozen representatives of other Christian churches
  • up to 30 observers, more than half comprised of married couples 

Working document: 

On June 24, 2014, the Vatican issued the Instrumentum Laboris 

(working document), a summary of responses from the world's Bishops meant to aid in the work of the Synod.  


The working document contained some encouraging insights (and many disappointments) and, in the past, had been used to begin the discussions.  But already, Cardinal Baldisseri has indicated it will not be rephrased and used as the opening document.  Instead, the submissions of the voting members (to be sent two weeks before the start of the synod) will be summarized and used as the working document.  

Keep speaking up

Under Pope Francis, there may be some movement toward reform at least in terms of pastoral practice.  And Cardinal Baldisseri seems to be his agent for making those changes possible.  But we need to continue to do our part to make sure Catholics with families are heard and their wisdom and faith are taken seriously as leaders grapple with the serious breakdown between what they teach and what Catholics uphold and believe rooted in their faith and experience.  Remember to send a letter to Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri at the Synod of Bishops urging him to engage theologians with families and women theologians in all the work of the Synod.  

Stay up to date on what is going on at the Synod on the Family! CLICK HERE


Obstacles riddle synod on the family's path National Catholic Reporter Editorial

Fall synod to review state of family by Catholic News Service

Synod document cites cultural and economic threats to family by Francis X. Rocco

In The natural order still applies by Charles E. Curran, he suggests that natural law and not the senses fidelium, is still likely to dominate the discussions (Tablet, 12 July 2014).

Presentation of Instrumentum Laboris June 2014 press conference (see report at bottom of our page on the Synod)

In Orsy highlights a third way for remarried divorcees the distinguished theologian Profesor Ladislas Orsy recommended the Church adopt a proposal once put forward by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion.  He was referring to an argument made by then Professor Joseph Ratzinger in 1972 describing "good spiritual housekeeping" practices of the Eastern Church tradition.  The proposal from Ratzinger argued that Communion could be given to those in second marriages provided the first marriage had broken down irrevocably, penance had been performed and the second union was filled with a spirit of faith. (Tablet, 14 June, 2014).

In Reformers vs Conservatives the Tablet reports, the criticism within the College of Cardinals for Cardinal Walter Kasper's proposal that divorced and readmitted Catholics should be allowed Communion was a victory for the forces of conservatism, according to the church historian Alberto Melloni.  Those supportive of Pope Francis' reforms would be helped, Melloni believes, if the Vatican were to publish the bishops's conferences' summaries of reponses to the questionnaire on the family that will be considered by the synod in October.  He points out that this happened during the synod in 1985 (Tablet, 21 June, 2014).  

Vatican document for synod on family balances mercy and cultural blame by Joshua McElwee

Archbishop Kurtz on bishops' meeting, Francis, family synod by Joshua McElwee and Brian Roewe

In the Tablet letter, Humanae Vitae and Pope John Paul I, Gerald O'Collins, SJ reminds us that Pope John Paul I (then Cardinal Albino Luciani) and the bishops of 14 neighboring dioceses wrote in their Book of Prayer that when examining consciences, married people should ask three questions: 1) In agreement with my spouse, have I given a clear and conscientious answer to the problem of birth control?  2) Have I prevented a conception for egotistical motives?  3) Have I brought a life into the world without a sense of responsibility? Nothing was asked about any methods used to prevent what together they would judge to be an "irresponsible" pregnancy.  O'Collins asks, "Could one dare to hope that the October synod might simply quote the three questions along with what Vatican II taught and leave matter at that? (Tablet, 21 June, 2014)

Catholics in Cleveland march in support of Catholic teachers

When Bishop Richard Lennon and the Archdiocese of Cleveland issued contracts for Catholic elementary teachers that not only redefined their status as "teacher-ministers" but generated a list of prohibited behaviors that more than doubled the list in the Cincinnati contracts, Catholics marched. 

On July 4, 2014, Catholics marched in Lakewood, Ohio handing out flyers asking, "What is the Catholic Teacher 'Morality' Clause?" Listing some of the prohibited behaviors from the contracts such as co-habitation, public support for same-sex unions, etc., the groups asked that Catholic values like diversity, inclusion and dialogue be respected and upheld.  

They also asked those who are interested to join them on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/Northcoastsocialjustice/. 

To learn more about the contracts across the United States visit our FutureChurch webpage.


Transforming Catholic school contracts' morality clauses in a time of Pentecost by Jocelyn A. Sideco

Marching in Pride parade is an Internal union matter, Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association head says  by Sarah Boesveld


Did you celebrate the feast day of St. Mary of Magdala?   
What happens when Catholics today re-imagine Mary of Magdala?  Women and men learn that women's roles as witnesses and leaders were central to our faith tradition then and are central today!

On July 22nd, the feast of of St. Mary of Magdala, parishes and communities around the world told and re-told her sacred story and celebrated her leadership as an "apostle to the apostles."

Pope Francis, Priest Associations and other leaders on married priests

Pope Francis is rethinking mandated celibacy for priests.  In a July interview with La Repubblica, he pointed out that celibacy was adopted 900 years after the death of Jesus Christ and pointed out that the Eastern Catholic Church allows its priests to marry.

The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests passed a resolution at their assembly in June calling for the ordination of married men to the priesthood.  The proposal states:


The AUSCP applaud the reported openness of Pope Francis to consider requests from episcopal conferences for the ordination of married men (viri probati) as priests to meet the pastoral needs of the people the bishops serve, and accordingly that the AUSCP ask the Bishops of the United States to make such a request in response to the pastoral needs of our Catholic people often expressed by them in their concern about having priests available to serve them.


Expected Outcome(s): Communication urging our Bishops in their 2015 meetings to place on the agenda the possible ordination of married men to the priesthood.


To read all their proposals CLICK HERE.


The Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland 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."  

In Austria, Bishop Helmut Krätzl, a former auxiliary in Vienna, has warned that the Eucharist is in danger of "drying up."  In two interviews on the occasion of his diamond jubilee as a priest, he called on bishops to take up the Pope;s request "to make courageous suggestions" in order to stop this from happening, writes Christa Pongratz-Lippitt.  "We are silently accepting a scarcity of the Eucharist, which is already to a  certain extent perilous because we are not prepared to change admission to the priesthood.  In my mind that is irresponsible." (Tablet, 28 June 2014)

Take Action!

Ask our U.S. Bishops to take up the issue of the priest shortage and address optional celibacy.  Download and Sign our Open Letter to the USCCB asking them to follow the guidance of Pope Francis and take action!


One man, two vocations by Chris McDonnell

Writing for The Tablet, McDonnell, secretary of the Movement for Married Clergy states that Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood, Bishop Seamus Cunningham of Hexham and Newcastle and Bishop Tom Burns of Menevia have all indicated their support for ordaining married men (Tablet, 19 July, 2014)

Save Our Parish Communities

Canon lawyer, Sr. Kate Kuenstler continues to work with parishes in the Archdiocese of New York and Philadelphia on appeals.  Sr. Chris Schenk and Sr. Kate remain committed to outreach and speaking engagements, including a caucus at the upcoming CTA

conference in Memphis.  For more information write infer@futurechurch.org.


Five parishes fight archdiocese on closings

Five Catholic churches slated to close at the end of the month, together totaling more than 13,000 parishioners, have filed appeals with Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

Though their chances of winning are minimal, and the process is costly and lengthy, some parishes already are preparing for a second step: sending their cases to Rome.

Any appeals will not delay parish mergers, set to take effect July 1. So, as they prepare to shut their doors, a few parishes are also hiring lawyers familiar with church law, holding meetings, and raising money.

By Tuesday's deadline to file appeals with the archbishop, the archdiocese had received letters from the five parishes, in Montgomery, Delaware, and Bucks Counties. Church law allows Chaput 30 days to respond. Parishioners can then appeal to the Vatican.

"We're ready," said Ralph DiGuiseppe, a parishioner at St. Ann Church in Bristol Township, Bucks County. "The appeal process is being formulated now. So, if this request is turned down, we'll file the appeal to Rome."  Read more

Vatican denies final appeal for Friends of St. Frances X. Cabrini

The Friends of St. Frances X. Cabrini, Inc. have run out of appeals.  

Last week a decision was handed down by the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura - the highest judiciary authority in the Catholic Church save for the Pope himself - upholding the decision by Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, to deconsecrate the St. Frances X. Cabrini church.  

"We were shocked," said Jon Rogers, spokesperson for the Friends of St. Frances, on learning the verdict, "especially knowing that similar appeals made in other parts of the country had been so successful." Read more

Local Catholics Worry About Future of 46 Parishes

Catholics across the Delaware Valley are finding out this weekend whether the Archidiocese of Philadelphia will close their parish. Bad news is expected for parishioners of nearly 50 local churches. Read more

Nuncio welcomes "rebirth" of Catholicism in Ireland

The Papal Nuncio in Ireland has spoken of the rebirth of the Church in the country and a renewed enthusiasm among young Catholics for their faith.  But Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, revealed that only two Catholic priests in Dublin are under age 40.  He anticipates greater lay involvement across parishes (Tablet, 7 June, 2014).

Tests of Faith: Parishes targeted for closure plot their next moves

Sunday morning the vestibule of Notre Dame de Lourdes Church in Ridley Township resembled more of a polling place than a worship site, with parishioners seated behind folding tables soliciting worshippers to sign petitions to save their parish.


They learned from their pastor, the Rev. Karl Zeuner, at 5:15 Mass the night before that their parish is among three in Delaware County ordered by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, on the advice of his Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Committee, to close by July 1.

They were told that their parish would merge with Our Lady of Peace Church 1.4 miles away in the Milmont Park section of Ridley Township. Several of them convened over dinner immediately after Mass and reached the consensus that they were not going down without a fight.


"If you take the emotion out of it and simply look at the facts, it doesn't quite make sense. I have to question the motives," said Notre Dame Parish council member Kathleen Hamm, who noted that Notre Dame had nearly three times the number of baptisms than Our Lady of Peace had in the last year and is financially solvent, while Our Lady of Peace is in debt. Read more


Church in UK may close due to shortage of Catholic priests 

A Catholic church that has served a town for almost 150 years may have to be closed - because of a national shortage of priests.

St Francis de Sales in Wolverton was built to cater for Catholic families who came to the town after the opening of the railway works.

But now, following an instruction by the Bishop to reduce the number of priests in Milton Keynes from six to four, a question marks hangs over the future of the tiny building.


Diocese spokesman Rev Paul Hardy said: "We have been told we must lose two priests. They will probably move to areas elsewhere in the country where there are simply not enough priests to cope. Read more


Association of U.S. Catholic Priests meet in St. Louis, FutureChurch is there

Just prior to the June 2014 Assembly, the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests issued a statement in support of LCWR.  As they met in St. Louis for their third assembly from June 23 - 26, 2014, FutureChurch was invited to attend as a vendor (see Deb posing next to life size cut out of Pope Francis) which also created the opportunity to hear all the guest speakers. 

Guest speakers included Sr. Diane Bergant, Fr. Michael Crosby, Fr. Donald Senior with Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco and Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis presiding at mass. 

The assembly voted and passed all the proposals presented including:

  • Address difficulties with the 2011 Missale Romanum Translation
  • Ordain Married Men to the Ministerial Priesthood 
  • Open Selection of Bishops to Participation of the Laity
  • Affirming, Promoting and Engaging the Catholic Common Ground Initiative 
  • Establish Immigration Working Group of AUSCP 
  • Issue Statement Supporting Workers Pensions 
  • Increase AUSCP Membership 
  • Foster a Dialogue with the Bishops of the AUSCP Members

See AUSCP website for full details.

Other news 

Ecumenism hurt by Anglican decision for Women Bishops???
If you agree that holding women down is a boon for ecumenism, you'll be interested to learn that this is the claim of some in the Catholic Church.  According to Christopher Lamb and Ruth Gledhill of The Tablet, the Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley, co-chair of Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, has said there would be concern in the Holy See as a result of the move by the Church of England to ordain women as bishops (Tablet, 19 July 2014). 
Is Pope Francis at odds with the Holy See? by Paddy Agnew

Some updates on the Council of Cardinals meeting by Vatican Information Service  4 July 2014 (VIS) - The Council of Cardinals, gathered at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, will conclude its meetings this evening. The next sessions have been scheduled for 15-17 September, 9-11 December and 9-11 February 2015.


With regard to the themes considered, as well as those indicated in recent days (the Governorate, the Secretariat of State and the Institute for the Works of Religion), the Council resumed its reflections on the dicasteries of the Curia. The Laity and Family were studied in particular depth, especially in terms of the contributions and roles that should be assumed by laypeople, married couples and women.


Decisions were not made, but more detailed proposals were offered that will subsequently be inserted into the overall framework of the new configuration of the Curia.


Other themes on which there has been an exchange of opinions during the meetings include the nunciatures and their work, and the procedures for the appointment of bishops.


With regard to the working atmosphere and approach, the participants have expressed great satisfaction. The overall tone has been described as "free, frank and friendly" (the "3Fs"). The Pope participates naturally in the dialogue, promoting a climate of free expression.


There are still no texts that may be considered as drafts of the new Constitution, since the work proceeds in the form of partial contributions, generally presented by individual Cardinals charged with the task of studying specific matters. 

Call to Action Conference, November 7 - 9 2014 in Memphis

Have you registered yet for the 2014 Call to Action Conference?  Now is the time!  This will be a fantastic conference with lots of great speakers!  Register today!

2014 Ohio Fair Trade Expo

The Ohio Fair Trade Expo showcases socially and environmentally conscious consumerism with speakers, workshops, family activities, an educational program for Girl Scouts, and a fair trade marketplace. The marketplace is comprised of 25+ fair trade vendors selling clothing, artisan crafts, food, and drink products.


Fair Trade is an alternative way of doing business that promotes equal, just, sustainable relationships between consumers and producers. This includes paying fair wages in local communities, engaging in environmentally sustainable practices, and promoting healthy working conditions.


Saturday, October 25, 2014 

9am - 4pm


John Carroll University

Dolan Center for Science and Technology

1 John Carroll Blvd. 

University Heights, OH 44118


Visit OhioFairTrade.com to learn more.