FutureChurch began in 1991 after the American bishops approved the rite for Sunday Services in the Absence of a Priest. We felt then and are now more convinced than ever that this is the worst possible solution to the priest shortage. It violates all the liturgical norms that were adopted to implement the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy such as receiving bread consecrated at the same Mass, receiving Communion under both species, and administering Communion outside of Mass only for the sick.
We asked the American bishops in 1991 to preserve the Eucharist as the center of Christian life by opening the priesthood to all the baptized, including married men, women, married deacons and resigned priests. As the shortage continues worldwide, people are denied the full celebration of the Eucharist as well as their right to daily mass. Presently, 27% of parishes in this country do not have priests. It is estimated that this is true for over 50% of the parishes around the world.
Many parishes and houses of Religious in the United States do not have daily Mass because there is no priest available for long or short periods of time. This problem will only worsen as the number of Catholics continues to increase disproportionately to the number of ordained clergy. Recently, bishops in Brazil, Asia and Italy have called for the ordination of married men and women to address this crisis.
The Vatican and Pope John Paul II have issued several documents explaining why the Catholic Church believes that women cannot be ordained. This is now called a "definitive teaching." Such teachings have changed throughout the centuries and can change in the future. (cf. Rome Has Spoken, Crossroads, 1998)
FutureChurch supports the 1997 statement from the Catholic Theological Society of America that there are serious doubts about the Church's current position on the ordination of women. We agree with the theologians that "further study, discussion and prayer regarding this question by all members of the Church .is necessary if the Church is to be guided by the Spirit in remaining faithful to the authentic Tradition of the Gospel in our day."
Nevertheless, just as do the theologians, FutureChurch works with an attitude of respect for present Church teaching. We seek women's full inclusion at every level of decision-making in the church from Rome to the local parish. FutureChurch has never addressed or advocated for "gay marriage" or any 'pro choice' position.
FutureChurch brings theologians, bishops and other scholars to Cleveland for educational programs for its members and all interested Catholics. In addition, we prepare and distribute educational and advocacy resources regarding the priest shortage, women in ministry and the history of our church for use by concerned Catholics across the United States and internationally.
Over the years FutureChurch has maintained a fruitful exchange with our local Bishop, Anthony M. Pilla. From time to time, members of our Leadership Council have met with the Bishop to present our concerns, to clarify any misunderstandings and to offer support. We encourage our members nationally and internationally to be in similar conversation with their local bishops.
In making our needs known to our bishops, members of FutureChurch are following the Canon Law of the Church which states "(Christ's faithful) have the right, indeed at times, the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the church." (Canon212. par.2)
FutureChurch has grown to over 5,000 members, locally and nationally. Among its members and donors are committed parish leaders, priests, religious and bishops. Together with concerned laity, we continue to serve the Church in a spirit of consultative collaboration with the Church in all its members.