FOCUS newsletter 
August 2015
Quotable Quote 
I just hope that eventually God will hear my prayers for change, not just for me, but for the many Catholics who are losing faith.   

In This Issue
FutureChurch Teleconference with Sr. Elizabeth Johnson  

Order resources 
Take action



Celebrate Priesthood Sunday on October 25, 2015 by honoring our retired priests and making sure their future is secure

Download our NEW!
Priesthood Sunday Packet

Purchase our NEW! Advent Resource and Restore the Women of Advent today!
Order our NEW! #ReclaimMagdala resource

Available soon as part of our Re-Imagining Mary of Nazareth Project Pre-order your copy of Our Lady of Guadalupe feast day Packet

Events you should know about 
Gender, Gospel and Global Justice



 SEPTEMBER  18 - 20, 2015
Women's Ordination Worldwide will sponsor a unique event featuring world class speakers from around the globe discussing women's equality in the Church.  Do not miss this wonderful opportunity!  Register 


Call To Action Conference is right around the corner!  Love Radically.  Live Faithfully.

NOVEMBER 6 - 8, 2015
This year's conference features Sr. Joan Chittister and other world-renown speakers. Register

FutureChurch Calendar of Events 
September 15, 2015
8pm ET 
Sr. Elizabeth Johnson teleconference
Will the Real Mary Please Stand Up? 
September 18-19, 2015
FutureChurch to Women's Ordination Worldwide conference, Gender, Gospel and Global Justice.  Deborah Rose-Milavec presents lecture on the fallacies of complementarity.   
September 20, 2015
FutureChurch at action for World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia
September 21 - 24, 2015
FutureChurch supports reform efforts during Pope Francis's visit to the United States

October 2 & 4, 2015
Screening of Radical Grace in Cleveland Ohio with Q & A with Sr. Chris Schenk.   
October 4 - 25, 2015.
FutureChurch to Rome to report on the Ordinary Synod on the Family.
October 8 - 17, 2015
FutureChurch leads its fifth pilgrimage to Greece following in the footsteps of early Christian women leaders. Dr. Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ will be our Educational Director.
November 6-8, 2015
FutureChurch heads to CTA Conference
November 12, 2015
FutureChurch celebrates 25 years in Cleveland Ohio with Fr. Michael Crosby and Chris
The Church: Presence and Possibility

November 13, 2015
FutureChurch celebrates 25 years in New York City with Dr. Natalia Imperatori-Lee's lecture, "Our Catholic Church: What Will I Tell My Daughter."

November 15, 2015
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Presentation to The Epiphany Group on the Synod on the Family process and results 
December 2, 2015
FutureChurch celebrates 25 years in Fairfield, CT with Professor Paul Lakeland lecturing on "The Future of Ministry."  He is FutureChurch's 2015 Trivison Award winner.


2015 Family Synod

Good News for the Synod 
With less than two months before the 2015 Synod on the Family opens, there is some good news.  Pope Francis has made two "Francis" appointments in the United States.  Read more  
Catholic Women Speak Up in Time for the Synod  This year, a new effort has been launched to make bring women's voices forward in the lead up to the 2015 Family Synod. Catholic Women Speak: Bringing our Gifts to the Table, is an extraordinary effort to make women's experience and reflections on a variety of topics related to the 2015 Family Synod available to synod delegates, auditors, experts and to Catholics everywhere.  Read more 

If Pope Francis Has His Druthers 
If Pope Francis had his druthers, the Church would change its treatment of those who are divorced and remarried.  On August 5, 2015 he shot a warning to pastors - don't treat them like they are excommunicated. Do just the opposite. Read more

Cardinal Burke is Out: Cardinals Kasper and Danneels are In
Pope Francis is weaving hope into the Synod process. Robert Mickens reports on his role in shaping the outcome. 
Via a Vatican source, Mickens learned that Pope Francis will NOT be inviting Cardinal Raymond Burke back to the synod floor. Read more 

Synod process "shows Church doesn't have all the answers
The process of conducting the questionnaire for the Synod of Bishops on the Family has shown that the Church may have no solution to some of the problems, remarked Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois to his staff or priests and laity in the Archdiocese of Paris.  

During a consultation process a wide variety of views were presented according to Vingt-Trois.  "Fifty years ago we thought it was natural that children were baptized, but today that's not taken for granted."  Regarding marriage, he noted that the dialogue showed that lifelong marriage is no longer a fundamental value, which for him means, "the situations we face are not automatic."  

"We have to accept that insoluble situations exist, and deal with the fact there is not a solution."  Vingt-Trois suggested, "Our mission is to hold people's hands and help them walk." (The Tablet, 4 Jul 2015)
Kasper describes how penitential pathway might work in practice
In a nine-page essay in the German theological monthly Stimmen der Zeit, Cardinal Walter Kasper attempts to demonstrate how it would be possible theologically to allow remarried divorcees to receive the Eucharist.  Each case would have to be considered individually and each person would work with a confessor. (The Tablet, 4 Jul 2015) 

Cardinal Angelo Scola suggests the practice of determining nullity in marriages must be more flexible
Writing about a pilot program in the Archdiocese of Milan for divorced and remarried people, the cardinal suggests that once a person has undergone this process, she/he could perform services and hold offices in the Church for the benefit of the Christian community.  (The Tablet, 4 July 2015)
African theologians, bishops cry out for more expansive synod discussions
At a July meeting in Nairobi, African theologians and bishops called for a broader focus that brings to the synod floor the concerns of the African Catholic Church.  At the conference, "Gospel of Family: From Africa to the World Church," the participants brought up a diverse range of unique family topics they said are facing the church on their continent but had not been adequately discussed at the 2014 synod including gender-based violence, the missing presence of fathers, crippling poverty, corruption in government and church spheres, etc. Read more

500,000 Catholics want nothing to change
More than 500,000 people, including five cardinals, have signed a petition asking Pope Francis to reinforce Church teaching on marriage and the family at the synod of bishops in October. It has since been signed by five cardinals, 117 bishops and hundreds of civil leaders, in addition to the thousands of university students it was aimed at. The cardinals who are signatories are Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal Jorge Medina of Chile, Cardinal Ricardo Vidal of the Philippines, Cardinal Alexandre Josť Maria dos Santos, Mozambique, and Cardinal Jānis Pujats of Latvia. Read more
Catholics Fight to Keep their Parishes Open

Some victories, plenty of pain and lots of questions

Funeral of Carmen Villegas in front of the closed Our Lady Queen of Angels Parish
St. Thomas More, St. John Neumann, St. Luke and St. Jerome fought for and received reprieves from earlier plans to merge their communities with other parishes.  
Other parishes in the Archdiocese of New York are working through the appeal process.  
What Pope Francis should know about parish closings as he travels to New York and Philadelphia
As Pope Francis travels to the United States in just a few weeks, there are a few things he should know, or rather, a few people he should meet in order to understand the suffering and loss caused by parish closures and mergers in the United States, but especially in New York and Philadelphia where he has planned stops. Read more 
The Cost of Closing Parishes
Hearing the stories of "last rites" at Our Lady of Peace (NYC), a funeral on a sidewalk at Our Lady Queen of Angels (NYC), the court order to clear out Catholics who have carried out an 11-year vigil at St. Frances X. Cabrini in Scituate, or the decimation of the oldest Black Catholic Church in Philadelphia (St. Peter Claver) will break your heart and leave you wondering why those in leadership would, en masse, restrict themselves to such a few debilitating options. Read more
When the Pope Comes to Town
Church-4-All Initiative
A serious pastoral crisis exists in our Church. 

As Pope Francis sojourns to the United States, we anticipate this will be a great opportunity for him to send a clear message to our Church, and especially to its leaders, about what the Gospel really calls us to in these times.
A whole generation of Catholics who were raised Catholic have left the Church.  The most common reasons are over disagreements with Church teachings on women's leadership, sexuality, etc.  In order for our Church to regain its vitality, we need to honestly discuss the lived realities of all Catholic families and take actions for justice. Until individuals and families who are marginalized are fully embraced, not just with rhetoric but in practice, we have not fulfilled the Gospel call of justice. Church structures which perpetuate these cycles of patriarchy, clericalism, and exclusion will not lead to significant, long-term change.
Pope Francis has given us a new moment to change the Church. As he travels to the United States, we As the Body of Christ, we must undertake every opportunity to call for and cultivate transformation.   Learn more
Stemming the Priest Shortage

In four short years half of active diocesan priests in the U.S. -- nearly 9000 of 17,900  -- will reach retirement age.   New vocations will not come close to replacing those retiring.  Fewer and fewer priests will be called to serve greater and greater numbers of Catholics thus creating an unprecedented strain on the community, resulting in greater numbers of parish mergers and closings.  FutureChurch is urging U.S. bishops to 
  • return to the early Church's practice of ordaining both married and celibate priests
  • restore our early practice of  ordaining  female and male deacons
  • invite priests who left the active ministry to marry, to return.
Please sign our open letter to U.S. Bishops asking them to open ordination and stem the priest shortage today. 
Ireland:  Commission to consider married priests and female deacons
Bishop Leo O'Reilly of Kilmore, wants to set up an episcopal commission to explore the ordination of married men and female deacons.  A diocesan pastoral plan states that the Bishop of Kilmore with liaise with the Irish bishops' conference "to explore the establishment of a study the possibility of ordaining married men to the priesthood as well as appointing women deacons."  
Of Kilmore's Diocese's 77 priests, 52 are aged 60 or older. (The Tablet, 20 Jun 2015)
Up to 10 bishops in England and Wales would like to ordain married men
As many as 10 bishops in England and Wales are so short of priests that they would welcome the change for the Church to discern whether ordaining married men would be the way forward.  
The Bishop Emeritus of Portsmouth, Crispian Hollis, recently wrote that he is increasingly convinced that the Church  in Britain "will have to move towards the ordaining of married men...sooner rather than later."  Citing the priest shortage crisis he noted that six to ten diocesan bishops in England and Wales (out of 22 dioceses) would welcome the chance to discern the way forward on ordaining married men. (The Tablet, 04 Jul 2015)  
Where are the Women?  


The prayer for the Jubilee Year of Mercy is beautiful, yet in one area, it falls short. Pairing Mary Magdalene with "the adulteress" and claiming that she too sought happiness "only in created things" reinforces a centuries-long - but historically and biblically incorrect - view of Mary as a prostitute or public sinner. We ask Pope Francis to issue a statement publicly correcting record on Mary of Magdala. 
Sign our petition asking Pope Francis to correct the record on Mary of Magdala and making an important contribution to the role of women in the Church. 

Mary of Nazareth and the Feast of the Assumption
Like many Catholic women, I have struggled with some of the imagery surrounding Mary of Nazareth.  Was she a doormat?  A "yes" woman?  A docile, passive type - who obeyed rather than questioned?

As a youngster, I loved Mary and without question and absorbed all the stories about her.  But as I grew into young adulthood, her flawlessness started to trouble me. Read more

Women Deacons:  Building for the future
FutureChurch developed the first phase of its educational and outreach program for women deacons in 2010.  That effort has helped spark new conversations and raised consciousness about the possibility of women entering the permanent diaconate.

This year, we welcome Luke Hansen, S.J. to FutureChurch.  Luke will serve as a program intern expanding and strengthening our Women Deacons initiative through education and advocacy from the grassroots level to our bishops. 

To learn more or contact us about our initiative, please contact or 

LCWR:  Avanti
Avanti! This Italian word for "forward!" seems to have been the unofficial theme of the 2015 Assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. To applause, LCWR President, Sharon Holland, IHM urged her fellow sisters "Avanti" several times in her presidential address. Read more

FutureChurch celebrates
25 years of working for reform in the Catholic Church

Thanks to the vision and efforts of co-founders, Sr. Christine Schenk and Fr. Louis Trivison, and so many reform minded Catholics along the way, we are celebrating 25 years of working for the rights and responsibilities of all the baptized in the Catholic Church.
Oct 2 & 4, 2015 (Cleveland)- Screening of Radical Grace followed by Q & A with Sr. Chris Schenk.  Get tickets

November 12, 2015 (Cleveland) -
The Church: Presence and Possibility with presentation by Fr. Michael Crosby, and a panel with  Sr. Chris Schenk and young Catholics talking about the future of the Church. Get tickets

November 13, 2015 (New York City) - Our Catholic Church: What Will I Tell My Daughter and Should She Stay?"  Lecture with Dr. Natalia Lee- Imperatori.  Get tickets

December 2, 2015 (Fairfield, CT) - The Future of Ministry - Lecture by 2015 Trivison Award winner Dr. Paul Lakeland. Get tickets

Quarter Century Club
Support the work of FutureChurch today.  Become a Quarter Century Club member and help us expand our initiatives and programs.  Become a member 
Events you should know about

Gender, Gospel and Global Justice



 SEPTEMBER  18 - 20, 2015
Women's Ordination Worldwide will sponsor a unique event featuring world class speakers from around the globe discussing women's equality in the Church.  Do not miss this wonderful opportunity!  Register

Call To Action Conference is right around the corner!  Love Radically.  Live Faithfully.

NOVEMBER 6 - 8, 2015
This year's conference features Sr. Joan Chittister and other world-renown speakers. Register

Catholic Women Speak: Bringing Our Gifts to the Table is a resource you will not want to miss.

Purchase your copy today from Paulist Press. 

FutureChurch is also offering a copy of this resource for a donation of $125 or more as part of our 2015 Pentecost campaign. 
About Us
FutureChurch provides opportunities for all Roman Catholics to participate fully in the life and leadership of the Church. 

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Facebook: @FutureChurch
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