Dr. Phyllis Zagano joins FutureChurch to discuss her new book, Just Church Catholic Social Teaching, Synodality, and Women(Paulist Press). Dr. Zagano also address the news that Pope Francis has opened up full voting membership in the October 2023 Synod Assembly to women and takes questions from the community.
Dr. Zagano is Senior Research Associate-in-Residence and Adjunct Professor of Religion at Hofstra University. On August 2, 2016, Pope Francis appointed her to the Papal Commission for the Study of Women in the Diaconate, which convened in Rome November 2016. Visit her website to learn more about Dr. Zagano’s extensive body of work and for study and teacher guides of some of her recent books.
Excerpt:Catholic Women Preach meets a sacred yearning to have and hear the voices of women in the church through the unique perspective of their own preaching. This book was born out of the good work of organizations like FutureChurch and Catholic Women Preach that answer a call to lift up the voices of women in the church — one of the primary themes emerging from the synod on synodality called forth by Pope Francis. The timing of this is not a coincidence.
In 2018, groups including FutureChurch and the Women’s Ordination Conference organized a petition with nearly 10,000 signatures advocating that women religious superiors should be able to vote in synods. The Women’s Ordination Conference also staged a peaceful protest outside that year’s meeting of the synod, which was focused on young people.
“This is the result of sustained advocacy, activism and collaboration and witness from the grassroots,” Kate McElwee, executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference, told NCR.
Deborah-Rose Milavec, co-director of FutureChurch, said: “I have a great sense of hope and see that this could really open the doors for lots of important conversations in the church that we haven’t been able to have for several decades now.”
FutureChurch welcomes Pope Francis’ decision on April 26, 2023 to open the vote to Catholic women and to significantly expand participation and voting at the upcoming October Synod in Rome to include lay women and men. While previous Synods have involved a small group of Catholic women and men as auditors, those who had input but no voting privileges, this change opens the doors to lay women and men to participate and vote alongside episcopal members.
“This momentous change will redefine how authority works in the Church, moving beyond the solitary reliance on the episcopacy to include the deliberative voices of Catholic women and all the baptized,” said Deborah Rose, Co-Director of FutureChurch. “The inclusion of lay women and lay men as deliberators and voters in this critically important decision-making body holds the promise for urgent and necessary changes in the way the Church engages those members who have been excluded and the world.”
“At FutureChurch, we recognize that this critical structural change could not have occurred without the devotion and commitment of thousands of reform minded Catholics who have spent their entire lives working for justice and inclusion within the institution,” said Russ Petrus, Co-Director of FutureChurch. “Catholics across the country and around the world have tirelessly led the work of reform, justice, and inclusion by signing petitions, writing letters, meeting with bishops and priests, engaging in actions, and offering faithful witness to the Gospel for our times.”
Over the past several years, FutureChurch has joined Women’s Ordination Conference and other reform organizations in a campaign to open the vote at the Synod to Catholic women called the “Votes for Catholic Women.”
“While reform is often slow going and painful, today we can celebrate a visible sign of progress and structural reform in the Church which will, in turn, help us make progress on opening ordination to all who are called and other important issues of inclusion and justice within the Catholic Church,” said Todd Ray, Chair of the Board for FutureChurch.
Excerpt: “It’s church changing. It is paradigm changing, it is literally restructuring one of the most important ways that the church makes decisions and looks at pastoral issues within the church,” said Deborah Rose, co-director of Future Church, an organization seeking greater involvement of laypeople.”
“There will be times we are disappointed because he won’t follow through as he has decreed,” she added. “Nonetheless, what he has done is open a dam and opened a door, and I think there’s no going back.”
Authors Professor Joan Taylor and Professor Helen Bond offer a look into the lives of Jesus’ female disciples based on their exciting new book, Women Remembered: Jesus’ Female Disciples (2022). While many of the women in Christian Scriptures have been dismissed, stereotyped, or misrepresented, Professor Taylor and Professor Bond present some of the latest findings and recover the stories of the women who have helped shape our faith.
Helen Bond is Professor of Christian Origins at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on the social and political history of first century Judaea, the historical Jesus and the canonical gospels. She’s published widely on characters in the New Testament (including Pontius Pilate, the High Priest Caiaphas, Barabbas and Herod’s wives), and has more recently turned her attention to Mark’s Gospel.
Joan Taylor is Professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism at King’s College London. She works on the history, literature, art and archaeology of ancient Judaism and Christianity, with a special interest in material culture, women’s experience, and historical figures: John the Baptist, Jesus, Mary Magdalene and others. She also writes poetry and fiction.
Image CreditSculpture: “Divine Servant,” by Max Greiner, 1990. Pittsburgh, TX. Photo by Carol M. Highsmith, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
FutureChurch’s Russ Petrus developed the following prayers of petition for Holy Thursday in the Spring of 2020 as the COVID pandemic closed churches and made foot washing – and important element of the Holy Thursday Mass – unsafe. We welcome you to pray them alone or with your communities:
Leader: That we may be faithful to Christ’s example of service, we pray:
Wash us, O God, of sexism, homophobia, transphobia and all forms of exclusion — that our Church may be a place where all share equally at Your banquet table, knowing themselves to be wonderfully made in Your divine image and likeness, we pray: Wash us, O God, and make us servants to one another.
Wash us, O God, of nationalism, xenophobia, racism and all forms and systems of prejudice and oppression — that our lands may be spaces of bountiful welcome, sanctuary, refuge, and opportunity we pray: Wash us, O God, and make us servants to one another.
Wash us, O God, of consumerism, materialism, wastefulness, and other habits and mentalities which exploit and desecrate our common home — that Mother Earth may thrive, feeding, sustaining and providing for all creation, we pray: Wash us, O God, and make us servants to one another.
Wash us, O God, of ignorance, hardness of heart, self-doubt, fear and everything that keeps us from walking in solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable among us, we pray: Wash us, O God, and make us servants to one another.
Wash us, O God, of feelings of despair and helplessness in this time of pandemic — that we may reach out to one another in tender care and seek new and creative ways to be in communion and solidarity with each other, we pray: Wash us, O God, and make us servants to one another.
Pour your abundant love over us, O God, like flowing water;
that we may be refreshed in faith and hope.
May those who have died bathe in the light of your eternal presence;
Give those who are sick to drink deeply of your healing energy;
and immerse all who provide for our basic human need in your protective care.
We make these prayers, and all the prayers we carry with us, in Jesus’ name. AMEN