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The Crisis of Catholic Communications

David Gibson, longtime Catholic journalist and currently director of the Center on Religion and Culture at Fordham University, discusses his recent National Catholic Reporter article on the decision by the USCCB to shutter Catholic News Service and what it says about their financial priorities, their pastoral priorities, and the entire project of evangelization and communications.

David Gibson was appointed the director of the Center on Religion and Culture at Fordham in July 2017, coming to New York’s Jesuit university after a long career as an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He’s also a convert to Catholicism, and came by all those vocations by accident, or Providence, working at the English Program at Vatican Radio in Rome in the late 1980s. He returned to the United States in 1990 and worked for newspapers in the New York area and has written for a variety of magazines and periodicals. He is the author of two books on Catholicism: The Coming Catholic Church: How the Faithful are Shaping a New American Catholicism, and The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Battle with the Modern World. Before coming to Fordham, Gibson worked for six years as a national reporter at Religion News Service specializing in coverage of the Vatican and the Catholic Church. Gibson is a frequent media commentator and op-ed writer on topics related to the Catholic Church and religion in America.

2022 Mary of Magdala Virtual Art Tour with Dr. Christine Axen

FutureChurch begins its 2022 celebration of the Feast Day of Saint Mary of Magdala with a virtual art tour, comparing artistic depictions of Mary Magdalene in the East and West and two homilies that helped to shape those cultural and artistic imaginations.

The misidentification of Mary as reformed public sinner achieved official standing in a homily delivered by Pope Gregory I (540-604). Henceforth, Mary of Magdala became known in the west, not as the strong woman leader who accompanied Jesus through a tortuous death, first witnessed his Resurrection, and proclaimed the Risen Savior to the early church, but as a wanton woman in need of repentance and a life of hidden (and hopefully silent) penitence. The Eastern church, however, never identified her as a prostitute, and honored her throughout history as “the Apostle to the Apostles.” Dr. Axen’s presentation explores how these disparate treatments influence artistic representations of Mary Magdalene.

Dr. Christine Axen, Ph.D. is a medievalist with a specialization in French religious history and female religiosity in the Middle Ages. She received her doctorate from Boston University, and currently teaches art history at St. John’s University in Queens, NY. She also gives guided tours of the Met Cloisters, the medieval branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is interested in the depiction of women in medieval art, and the messages that art conveys about social order.


Opening Prayer
Closing Prayer

Dark Money in the U.S. Catholic Church


National Catholic Reporter’s Brian Fraga joins FutureCurch to speak on the web of “dark money” flowing from conservative and right wing sources to Catholic organizations in the United States. Several of these same donors have also funneled money to far-right groups that the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have described as white nationalist organizations. Some of those recipients worked to spread false information about election fraud and were involved in planning demonstrations that preceded the Jan. 6, 2021, assault at the United States Capitol.

Brian Fraga is a staff reporter at National Catholic Reporter. He covers news pertaining to the Catholic Church in the United States. He was previously a contributing editor at Our Sunday Visitor and has written for a variety of Catholic publications over the last decade. Brian was also a reporter for daily newspapers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Mexico.

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Fertile Ground: The Synod, Vatican II, and the Future of the Church

Sr. Maureen Sullivan, OP joins FutureChurch for another engaging four-week series exploring Vatican II documents as the foundation for the 2023 Synod. As we get more familiar with the documents of Vatican II and engage in the synod process, we make the Second Vatican Council a greater reality today.

Dr. Maureen Sullivan is a Dominican Sister of Hope from New York and Professor Emerita of Theology at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire. She received her master of arts in Theology from Manhattan College in the Bronx and her PhD in Theology from Fordham University, also in the Bronx. The Second Vatican Council, along with its impact on our Church, is at the center of her theological research. She has written two books on this topic: 101 Questions and Answers on Vatican II (2002) and The Road to Vatican II: Key Changes in Theology (2007), both published by Paulist Press.

Session One: Vatican II and Synodality

In this first session, Sr. Maureen provides a foundation, exploring Vatican II and synodality. Ongoing sessions will explore a number of Vatican II documents in depth and come to understand how Vatican II serves as the foundation for the upcoming Synod on Communion, Participation, and Mission. 



Session Two: Dignitatis Humanae and Synodality

In this second session, Sr. Maureen discusses the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Liberty – Dignitatis Humanae – and how it lays a foundation for the Synod on Synodality.



Session Three: Dei Verbum and Synodality

In this third session, Sr. Maureen discusses the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Divine Revelation – Dei Verbum – and how our understanding of Scripture and Tradition bolster a synodal vision of Church.


Session Four: The Legacy of Vatican II

In this fourth and final presentation, Sr. Maureen discusses the legacy of Vatican II as an unfolding reality that the Synod on Synodality continues today.




Women Erased: The Forbidden Call Screening and Conversation

FutureChurch hosted a special screening of THE FORBIDDEN CALL, a documentary short by AnaMichele Morejon. We were joined by AnaMichele and Diane Whalen, the film’s subject, for conversation and questions and answers following the screening. Because THE FORBIDDEN CALL is still in the festival circuit, we are unable to present the film itself. This recording, however, captures the conversation that follows.


Diane Whalen experienced a call to priesthood when she was very young and answered that call in whatever ways were available to her in parish ministries, as a Jesuit Volunteer, social worker, and spiritual director. She completed a BA in Religious studies, Masters in Social Work, MA in Ministry and D.Min in Spiritual Direction and continues her work of spiritual direction. She and her husband, Bill have been happily married for 45 years and have two adult daughters. Diane loves people and finds great joy serving Holy Wisdom Inclusive Catholic Community in Olympia, WA. Visit to learn more.

AnaMichele Morejon is a filmmaker from South Florida who is fascinated by stories of people who challenge the norm. A deep curiosity about the world motivates her creative work, which explores themes at the intersection of identity, belief, and modern culture. A recent graduate of Loyola Marymount University, AnaMichele currently executes online engagement strategy as an Assistant Producer for PatchWorks Films. Visit for more information about AnaMichele and her work.


Women Erased: Recovering Women’s Leadership in the Early Church

Professor Shaily Patel joins FutureChurch for this “Women Erased” series presentation. After sharing her thoughts on the ethical considerations that historians must take into account, Professor Patel offers 3 case studies for models of female leadership in the early Church.

Shaily Patel is assistant professor of early christianity in the Department of Religion and Culture at Virginia Tech. She earned her PhD from The University of North Carolina in 2017 and holds master’s degrees from Vanderbilt Divinity School and The University of Chicago. Dr. Patel’s research and teaching is dedicated to complicating easy assertions about the past, and about past Christians in particular. She teaches courses in New Testament, Christian apocryphal texts, orthodoxy and heresy, and demonology and exorcism. In each of her courses, she emphasizes the variety of early Christian groups and their respective beliefs. She locates early Christians within their cultural contexts, demonstrating how these multiple Christianities converge with or diverge from their Graeco-Roman origins.

Download the PowerPoint for this presentation.

View the opening prayer.

Women Erased: All About Eve with Carol Meyers

In this three-part series, Carol Meyers, Ph.D., debunks the myths that have been handed down to us about women in Ancient Israel. Using archaeological, sociological, and biblical scholarship, she helps us reconstruct what life was really like for these women and how to better understand the scriptures in light of this information.

Carol Meyers, Ph.D., is the Mary Grace Wilson Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at Duke University. She received the A.B. with honors from Wellesley College and the M.A. and Ph.D. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University. Meyers has published more than 450 articles, reports, reference-book entries, and reviews; and she has authored, co-authored, or edited twenty-two books. Her 2013 book, Rediscovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context, is a landmark study of women in ancient Israelite society. Meyers has worked on numerous digs since she was an undergraduate and has co-directed several archaeological projects in Israel. She has been a frequent consultant for media productions relating to archaeology and the Bible, including A&E’s Mysteries of the Bible series, DreamWorks’s “Prince of Egypt,” NOVA’s “The Bible’s Buried Secrets,” and several National Geographic documentaries. She has served as President of the Society of Biblical Literature and is currently a trustee of the American Society of Overseas Research, the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation, and the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem.

Part One: The Latest Word on the First Lady

Eve has a bad rap in Jewish and Christian tradition: seductress, first sinner, cause of male domination––the list goes on. But does she deserve it? This presentation will take advantage of the fact that we have just marked the 100th anniversary of the historic 19th Amendment to review some of the ways the suffragettes tried to deal with the problem of Eve in the Eden narrative. Then it will show how biblical scholarship of the 21st century rescues Eve from notoriety and even elevates her above Adam!


Part Two: Work and Worth – Women’s Household Activities in Ancient Israel

Women in the biblical period were just “wives and mothers.” Right? Not at all. Rather, they had important economic and social roles. Using archaeological materials as well as biblical texts, this presentation examines AND evaluates women’s contributions to everyday life. This approach shows that women had a greater role in Israelite culture than might otherwise have been imagined.

Part Three: Archaeology and the Hidden Religious Culture of Israelite Women

Who were the most important religious figures in ancient Israel? Most people would say that the priests were. But they would be wrong. The major arena of religious life for most people in the biblical period was the household, and the major figures in household religious activities were women. This lecture takes you into the Israelite household, largely invisible in the Bible, and presents an array of archaeological materials and fascinating ethnographic data to reveal women’s household religious activities.

Women Erased: Archaeology’s Testimony to the Witness of Early Christian Women

In her critically acclaimed book Crispina and Her Sisters, author Christine Schenk, C.S.J. explores the archaeological and literary evidence for women’s leadership in early Christianity. Schenk’s original research into visual imagery found on burial artifacts demonstrates that women were far more influential in the ancient world than has been commonly recognized.  Yet their paradigm-shifting witness has been all but erased from Christian memory.

Christine Schenk, CSJ has worked as a nurse midwife to low-income families, a community organizer, an award-winning writer-researcher, and the founding director of an international church reform organization, FutureChurch.  Her first book Crispina and Her Sisters: Women and Authority in Early Christianity (Fortress Press, 2017) received a first place in history from the Catholic Press Association and her most recent work, To Speak the Truth in Love: A Biography of Sr. Theresa Kane RSM (OrbisBooks 2019) received first place awards from The Association of Catholic Publishers and the Catholic Press Association. She writes a regular column for the National Catholic Reporter and is one of three nuns featured in the award-winning documentary Radical Grace.

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