Fellow supporters from the worldwide movement for Catholic reform. Certainly not a comprehensive list. Apologies to reforming friends we may have omitted – do get in touch so that we can include you.
*Please note that we can’t necessarily endorse everything on all of these pages.
5 THESES ‘Not a group but an effort’ – they seek to succinctly articulate the change that is needed to renew our Church posting conversations, articles, and prayers exchanged among everyday Catholics. They aim to engage all of the faithful, including our bishops and decision makers, in five concrete actions, with the prayerful hope that through them they will bring new life to our beloved Church.
ACTA believes ‘that the reforms of the Second Vatican Council are the only way forward for mission to modern society. It is not a small chapel of selected followers; it believes in the Church as a “big tent”, with open doors.’
AUSTRALIAN WOMEN PREACH is a new weekly podcast starting 8 March 2021 will feature 30 Australian Christian women preaching the Gospel in lead up to Australian Catholic Church’s historic Plenary Council in October. An initiative of Women and the Australian Church (WATAC) and the Grail in Australia.
"We are Catholics who try to base our lives on Gospel values and care about the Church's continuity and its influence in the world. We are concerned that the hierarchical institution of our Church often fails to promote justice and resists positive change."
THE CATHOLIC WOMEN'S COUNCIL invites you to discover what dignity and equality mean to you as a Catholic, and how our skills, talents and expertise as women should be used to benefit the Church into the future. R&B will feed into their virtual Global Pilgrimage in March 2022.
THE CATHOLIC WOMEN'S ORDINATION is challenging institutional sexism in the Catholic Church. R&B grew out of CWO, and R&B is extremely grateful to their generous donation to support the inclusive synod.
DIGNITY USA envisions and works for a time when Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Catholics are affirmed and experience dignity through the integration of their spirituality with their sexuality, and as beloved persons of God participate fully in all aspects of life within the Church and Society, celebrating the wholeness and holiness of LGBTQI Catholics.
ENFLESHED started in 2017 to provide ‘engagement with the Sacred through collective, liberative, creative and nourishing practices and ideas’ free from ‘dogma, religious respectability, politics, or denominational ties’ – offering particular support for ‘queer and trans flesh’
LORD PATTEN, CHANCELLOR OF OXFORD UNIVERSITY has said “I do not see what is wrong with asserting that the Church, which has regularly changed some of its teaching should hold on to the essential message of the Sermon on the Mount, while being a little more like the world it serves and understanding the lives of those who are still practising Catholics. At least it should discuss more openly why so many faithful Catholics live patently good lives which are at odds with what is said by Church leaders about, in particular, the family, marriage, sex and love. Perhaps, as Pope Francis has suggested, they should spend more time healing the wounded members of their flocks than ticking them off.”
- First Confession, A Sort of Memoir
MOVEMENT FOR MARRIED CLERGY is a lay organisation founded in 1975 to promote a married priesthood, it has called for a national assembly to discuss celibacy and the possible ordination of so-called "viri probati" or married men of proven faith. It argues for both the ordination of suitable married laymen and for the welcoming back of priests who have left active ministry and may have married, but who are able and willing to return to service.
NODFFA RETREAT CENTRE, NORTH WALES, is focussed on the environment, but also on supporting carers with a place of welcome and peace. Sr. Mary Jo McElroy has been a Journey Guest – see her recording on Past Guests.
PARISHIONERS' CALL is a movement promoting a respectful and safe space for Roman Catholic parishioners to talk and act. Set up by Pamela Perry and Mary Ring, R&B owes a great deal of its spirit for reform to Parishioners’ Call.
THE PEOPLE'S SYNOD is an American forum for Catholics or ex-Catholics. They describe themselves as ‘A dialogue salon’ and don’t run shy of politics. They are very welcoming to people from outside the USA.
THE POLISH CONGRESS OF CATHOLIC WOMEN AND CATHOLICS - Kongres Katoliczek i Katolików : the idea The Polish Congress of Catholic Women and Catholics's idea is grassroots, the group was not set up by any existing organisation. The aim of the Congress is a new look at dialogue within the Church, at the way of making decisions and the role of individual states in the life of the community.’ Members have been Journey Guests. Please find a translation of the website here.
THE POLISH TEKLA FOUNDATION was set up by theologian and journalist specialising in Christian-Jewish relations, Zuzanna Radzik. Her first book portraying Mary as a rebel created a feminist storm. Members have been Journey Guests.
PRAYING EUCHARISTICALLY was set up by James Alison, a Catholic theologian, priest and author, through which he has been offering his presbyteral services during lockdown. ‘I’m seeking to provide a safe space from which, among others, gay and lesbian Christians, may pray as we are.’ Each week he gives ‘the basic text necessary for you to pray through the different steps of the Eucharist, from initial Blessing, through the readings, up to and including the consecration and consumption of the gifts, and final thanksgiving… I will provide also a video reading of the Gospel for the day… and a video homily of no more than 10 minutes.’ James will speak at the Synod.
PURPLE STOLE FOR THE DIACONATE FOR WOMEN : wearing the purple stole symbolizes equal rights for men and women in all church offices and tasks. The diaconate is a first necessary step to equality. Supported by Cardinal Reinhard Marx.
SCOTTISH LAITY NETWORK is a group working to find ‘new ways’ of being Church in Scotland through prayer, dialogue and discernment. ‘We are part of a worldwide rising. The laity of the Catholic Church want the equal respect, dignity and co-responsibility promised us by Vatican II. Have a browse through their YouTube channel here.
ST IGNATIUS CHURCH, BALTIMORE, USA is a Jesuit church in the USA that is trying to model Jesus’ message. A quote from a friend on their Facebook page: ‘A very welcoming parish that values women in leadership roles, is transparent about finances, is led by a wise pastor who is not afraid to speak the truth with love, and who is supported by a great staff and parish community. And the quality of the choir and musicians will make your heart soar.’
TOUTES APÔTRES (All Women Apostles) is a new French inclusive lay movement committed to the equality of women in the Church ‘whether in the governance of our parishes, our dioceses, the Vatican or as ordained ministers… Our gesture is neither the demand of a trade union nor a declaration of great principles, but a salutary act of disobedience to the Church’s dogma.’
VOICES OF FAITH is empowering and advocating for a prophetic Catholic Church where women’s voices count, participate and lead on an equal footing with men. Responsible for the wonderful ‘The Women the Vatican Couldn’t Silence: Mary McAleese and Sr Joan Chittister in conversation’ see below. Supported by the Fidel Götz Foundation.
WE ARE CHURCH GERMANY is 1,845,141 people, of whom 1,483,340 expressly declared themselves to be Roman Catholics, signed the five demands of the People's Church in Germany alone in autumn 1995. This was based on Lumen Gentium Art. 37 which states that believers "have the right and sometimes even the duty to communicate their opinions on the welfare of the Church to their spiritual pastors…"
WIJNGAARDS INSTITUTE FOR CATHOLIC RESEARCH focuses on producing pioneering theological research by coordinating leading academics worldwide to collaborate on reports tackling the Church’s officially uncomfortable, difficult, and disputed areas.
WOMEN'S ORDINATION CONFERENCE is a feminist voice for women’s ordination and gender equality in the Roman Catholic Church. Originated in the USA and currently celebrating 45 years. Kate McElwee, based in Rome, has been a Journey Guest – see her recording on Past Guests
WOMEN'S ORDINATION WORLDWIDE is an international organisation challenging global discrimination against women in the Catholic Church. Many members of the leadership team have been R&B Journey Guests: Kathy Schuck, Colm Holmes, Alicja Baranowska, Luca Badini.
WOMEN'S WISDOM IN THE CHURCH (WWITCH) is a group of women, mothers and teachers, who consider that God speaks to them through the signs of the times, and who seek the equality of Women in the Australian Church.
Sr Lucy, a member of one of the biggest Catholic Religious Congregation in Kerala, India (The Franciscan Clarist Congregation, FCC) has been dismissed unlawfully. Sr Lucy came out in protest against rape-accused former bishop of Jalandhar Franco Mulakkal. Sister Lucy has now appealed against her dismissal from the congregation to Catholic Church in Rome. This dismissal sparked wide spread protest and anger across India and around the world.
Please sign the petition
to mark your solidarity and support to Sister Lucy.
Well of Wisdom
*'Matters outside the remit of Synod 2020' refers to the Liverpool Synod 2020, not to be confused with Bristol Synod 2021
There are so many books but here are a few we’ve recently reviewed.
More to come when we have time!
A Question of Conscience
This moving and accessible book, which is the author’s own story, is a harrowing account of how an Irish Redemptorist priest (also a successful author and columnist, and founder member of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland) had his ministry cut short by the authorities of the Catholic Church. They objected to the views he was expressing in his preaching and in his writing. Over time, he endured a prolonged confrontation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (none of whom he was ever allowed to meet or speak to directly) which led to him being removed from his ministry.
As he tells his story, Fr. Flannery shares his own insights into where the Catholic Church is today and the many problems assailing it. He reflects on the increasing isolation of the laity from the leadership of the church, brought about largely by its rigid-as-ever position on, amongst other things, the celibacy of the priesthood, women priests, divorce and contraception which has driven many to either compromise their beliefs or leave the church altogether. This isolation is compounded (or created deliberately?) by the lack of any forum in which to have their voices heard. As Fr. Flannery found out for himself, this is the church which likes to say ‘We can’t hear you!’
A compelling and informative read.
The Curia is the Pope
John O’Loughlin Kennedy
This is an amazingly readable book and John’s style manages to be conversational and clear at the same time. He interweaves salient quotes from encyclicals with biblical quotes and references to show how out of step curial teaching is from biblical origins. Another strength of the book is to help readers understand how it happened- so at what point Roman emperors and Popes built their empires and created their own power structures.
An aspect that I found eye-wateringly shocking was the times bishops abdicated their own sense of authority and responsibility to rubber-stamp something the Vatican and Curia wanted, notably the forbidding of discussion on women’s ordination. It is helpful to have the explanations for this in print for the times we are in discussion with the hierarchy.
I was encouraged to see where O’Loughlin Kennedy’s writing chimed clearly with the words of Tony Flannery, highlighting where sacramental teaching on the Eucharist has moved so far from its biblical origins. We are encouraged to “leave aside the trivia and do what Jesus told us to do...sharing the Eucharist with all his disciples”.
What They Don’t Teach You in Catholic College
So why aren’t women allowed to be priests?
Anyone daunted by the prospect of burrowing into the dark and dusty labyrinths of Catholic theology to find answers to this increasingly topical question, will welcome this book, which leads the reader through accessibly written theological research, with a commentary that is energetic and indignant.
John Wijngaards, a former Mill Hill Missionary priest, begins with the story of a small but significant incident which happened to him when he was a young priest in Germany. It brought about a sudden realisation of what he calls his own ‘preconceived and ill-informed’ ideas about the status of women in society, which would eventually challenge his own vocation. Then, whilst working in Southern India, he saw first-hand the consequences of the Catholic Church’s resolve to prevent women from participating fully in the ministry of the church. Young novices were prepared only in the most rudimentary way for their work in the missionary field, consequently being able to provide little more than basic skills in cooking and nursing in the hospitals, schools, hostels and care homes where they would work. He was appalled at this failure to make good use of a valuable resource. If some of the sisters had been allowed to become priests, they would have been able to bring the sacraments to so many more people than the shortage of priests at that time allowed. He began to research why the Catholic Church was so determined to exclude women from any form of ministry. This research became a mission in itself. What he discovered, as he sets out so clearly in this book, was that the position of women in the church, from the time of Jesus onwards, was determined not on doctrinal grounds, as Catholics have always been led to believe, but on the prevailing cultural prejudices of the times. These, of course, viewed women as the inferior sex. John Wijngaards believes that it is these prejudices which the Catholic Church still clings to and asserts as the reason why women cannot be ordained.
His work and findings eventually led him to resign from priestly ministry in 1998 as he could not reconcile himself to the church’s position on the ordination of women. Today, his published work and the Institute for Catholic Research which he founded, lead the movement for women in the Catholic Church. All it needs now is for this book to be put on the curriculum in all Catholic Colleges!
Awakening: Catholic Women’s Ordination from the Public Square
Myra Poole and Pippa Bonner
‘Awakening’ is the story of the organisation ‘Catholic Women’s Ordination’ which has now been in existence for 28 years.
The seed of CWO’s creation was sown on November 11th, 1992 when the Church of England voted in favour of women priests. In the ensuing public celebrations, a young woman appeared with a poster proclaiming: ‘Roman Catholic Women Next!’ This was later pushed through the letter box of Cardinal Hume, then Archbishop of Westminster, an act which became the first of many protests characterising the work of CWO. The group was officially launched on 24th March 1993 and it has campaigned ever since for a re-examination of the whole idea of priesthood and for the ordination of women in a reformed Catholic church. At the heart of this book is the belief that change needs to occur through a process of awakening and reform. Awakening, for Poole and Bonner, is about achieving a change of consciousness through awareness, healing and spiritual growth. Consequently, the subject of every chapter is examined in this context. Renewal is seen as the only way women’s ordained ministry can be brought fully into the church, not just added on to the flawed system which already exists... [read more]
Rebel Saints for 21st Century Girls
The vibrantly coloured cover of this book will be an immediate attraction to its young readers. The hardback ‘annual’ size is also an inviting feature. Inside, the rebel saints of the title, all women, are each presented with a bold and original illustration alongside a short biography.
The most striking quality of the stories told by Moorhead is their honesty. The women she writes about are not romanticised ideals of saintliness. They are not the sweet-faced, obedient and passive individuals of Catholic tradition. These are women of strength, intelligence and resourcefulness. They are reformers and trail-blazers who challenged authority and went to enormous lengths to achieve their vision for the church. Many suffered personal tragedy and debilitating illness. Yet the depth of their spirituality is evident as they endured and overcame these obstacles... [read more]
Women’s Ordination in the Catholic Church
Feminist Theology 101
WATER (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual)
We at WATER are asked, “What is feminist theology anyway?” “There is no easy definition,” we say laughing. Feminist theology is a highly diverse “umbrella” term, and we revel in the diversity. Before attempting to answer to the question above, there are a few things you should know.
PGDip in Theology and Religions
University of Oxford
Admissions panels and assessors. All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).