Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Playing With Fire: From 'Clown Masses' to Excommunicated Parishioners

On December 27, 2011 in the article “Far From Rome” California Catholic Daily reported that Ms. Christine Fahrenbach, former co-director of the Lesbian and Gay Ministry at Holy Cross parish in Santa Cruz, was “ordained” a deacon in the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement on Sept. 18, 2011. The event took place in Santa Barbara. Fahrenbach was one of six women “ordained” on that day, an act that incurs immediate excommunication from the Catholic Church. One of the others was, or is, an RCIA instructor at Christ the King parish in Pleasant Hill, California named Maureen Mancuso. Ms. Mancuso's bio on the Roman Catholic Womenpriests "ordained" page may be found here.

In previous articles, published on May 16 and July 20, 2011 California Catholic Daily had documented the close ties between an East Bay group called “Women of Magdala,” which works for the ordination of women, and Christ the King parish.

The May 16 article reported that “Roman Catholic Woman Priest” Victoria Rue:

"celebrates a ‘Eucharistic Gathering’ in a ‘house church’ in San Francisco’s East Bay. The event is organized by a group called ‘The Women of Magdala.’ The Women of Magdala was organized in 2004 by parishioners from Christ the King Catholic Church in Pleasant Hill, whose pastor, Fr. Brian Joyce, celebrated a now infamous ‘clown Mass’ in 2002.

The July 18, 2010 parish bulletin of Christ the King carried this blurb for the group: ‘The Women of Magdala is a name adopted by a group of women and men here in our own neighborhood, including parishioners from St. Stephen’s, Santa Maria and Christ the King parishes. Welcoming both men and women to join, they meet at Christ the King at 7:15 pm on the second Monday of each month. The group’s mission is to promote an equal role for women in the Catholic Church through liturgy, education and example. This Thursday at the 8:00 am Mass they will help us celebrate Modern Women Prophets whom they also feature and quote on the flap of today’s bulletin.’”

The July 20 California Catholic Daily article “New High Holy Day” reported:

“A parish in the Diocese of Oakland plans a celebration this Friday of the ‘Feast of Mary Magdala’ sponsored by a group that, among other things, says its members are ‘deeply concerned about the exclusion of women from the priesthood.’

In a July 17 message of the bulletin of Christ the King Church in Pleasant Hill (also posted on the parish’s homepage), the pastor, Fr. Brian Joyce wrote: ‘On Friday of this week we celebrate what is fast becoming a ‘high holyday’: the feast of St. Mary Magdalen. We’ll have a special observance and homilist at the 8:00 am mass with reception after and then at 7:00 pm in the evening, here in church, Fr. Tom Bonacci will give a presentation on Mary Magdalen and the Gospel.’

The group behind the event calls itself the Women of Magdala, and its calendar of events confirms the group is hosting a ‘Feast of Mary Magdala Liturgy followed by a breakfast reception’ on July 22 at Christ the King parish.’ The Christ the King website directory still offers a direct link to the Women of Magdala’s homepage.”

The July 20 article further showed that all four women listed as contacts on the Women of Magdala webpage were or are prominent parishioners at Christ the King. Ms. Mancuso, the newly excommunicated “deacon” is also the webmaster for the Women of Magdala. Other examples of encouragement by Fr. Joyce for the Women of Magdala, and tolerance, to say the least, for the idea of women’s ordination include:

• The CTK bulletin’s pastor’s message of October 25, 2009, written by Father Joyce, dealt with the investigation of American nuns by the Vatican then underway. Fr. Joyce urged parishioners to “…read over the statement of appreciation and support in today’s fold-out and consider signing it at one of the tables hosted by our Women of Magdala…”

• The CTK Bulletin of December 5, 2010 invited parishioners to attend a December 8 talk given in the Church by Dr. Gary Macy, author of The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination, Female Clergy in the Medieval West. The bulletin blurb was headlined “Do Women get Included?” and described Dr. Macy’s credentials: “During his years in (the University of) San Diego, Dr. Macy published several books and over twenty articles on the theology and history of the Eucharist and on women’s ordination.”

• The CTK bulletin for December 26, 2010 publicized a three-session reading of The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination in CTK’s Ministry Chapel.

• The CTK Bulletin of August 28, 2011 publicized a three-part study session of Miriam Therese Winter’s “Out of the Depths, the Story of Ludmila Javorova.” Javarova was a Czech woman “ordained” in 1970.

This encouragement of the Women of Magdala has now led to an entirely predictable result. Three weeks after the August 28, 2011 bulletin announcement, Ms. Mancuso was “ordained,” and thus automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church. But, as if one excommunicated parishioner was not enough, the Christ the King parish bulletin of last Sunday, January 15, 2012 carried this blurb for an event to be held this Friday:

"Book discussion with Author Gary Macy & Dinner, San Damiano, 4pm, $35/person, contact Maureen Mancuso ....(sponsored by CTK Women’s Book Study.)"

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney

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