A wide public opinion campaign started, centred on the "purple stole actions" . Women (and men) attend ordination ceremonies wearing purple stoles to exhort the institutional Church to overcome the discrimination that is practiced against half of its membership. Special "purple stole liturgies" are celebrated across the world on different occasions as in the World Day of Prayer for the Ordination of Women in the Catholic Church (March 25th, Feast of the Annunciation): the day of Women Deacons (April 29th, Feast day of St. Catherine of Siena): or Feast day of the Apostle to the Apostles (July 22nd, Feast day of St. Mary Magdalene). During the Special Assembly for Europe of the Bishops' Synod in Rome, (October 1999), an international group of women and men celebrated such a "purple stole action" in front of St. Ignazio, with great media success.
In Germany, the first official preparation course for women deacons has begun in 1999 with fourteen women. Members of IMWAC are among those who undergo this preparation. In Austria, an autonomous mutual training programme for presbyteral ordination of women has started.
In France, Cardinal Lustiger has - unwillingly - become an instrument of the Holy Spirit in support of IMWAC and "purple stole actions": for Lent 2001 he has asked those adults and young persons who were to be baptized at Easter, and also all others who would wish to do so too, to wear a purple stole with the inscription "Be confident; He is calling you" ! Elfriede Harth, spokesperson IMWAC
To commemorate the Pope's proclaimed Day of Vocations, - May 6 - OCW prepared a booklet of stories of six members called to ordained priesthood. Copies of this booklet were forwarded to the Pope and to the Australian Archbishops asking that the stories be read in a spirit of pastoral care and that the ban on discussion, dialogue and study of women's ordination be revoked. Judi Vassarotti, OCW.
Over these years many events have been organized - meetings, lectures, articles in the mainstream press. Purposely we have never become an 'organization' with statutes, formal leadership, etc. We have organized lectures by Jacques Gaillot, Leonardo Boff, Thomas Plankensteiner and Lavinia Byrne; all of them have pulled large audiences and much debate. The media are particularly friendly to us - a lot of the journalists who cover religious issues in the mainstream press also signed the petition! In 2000 and 2001 we organized a vigil in a church (with permission from the Cardinal!) in order to pray for the ordination of women. Although media interest was again overwhelming, numbers actually present were disappointing.
A public opinion survey carried out by a reputable institution found that 71% of Portuguese saying they were catholic were in favour of women's ordination! Ana Vicente, We Are Church, Portugal.
Following the example set forth by Jesus, who included women in his earthly ministry, WOC seeks to reclaim Christianity's early tradition of a discipleship of equals. WOC's mission is to support and affirm women's talents, gifts and calls to ministry.
WOC works to create a church environment that is inclusive of all people, free of all forms of domination and discrimination and includes the full participation of women in church leadership roles. We produce a quarterly newsletter, 'NEW WOMEN/NEW CHURCH', and undertake prayerful protests around the country. WOC also sponsors the Young Feminist Network (YFN) which supports young adults seeking to integrate their faith and feminism in today's church and world. Erin Hanley, WOC communications Director.
The referendum was very successful and We Are Church Austria ever since has upheld these goals until they will be part of canon law and general church practice. WACA has some 2,000 members (individuals and organizations), conducts regular meetings, prayer and discussion groups, annual purple stole demonstrations on ordination day, also issues a bimonthly paper 'Wir sind Kirche' and regular press communiques on church events on local and world levels. Hubert Feichtlbauer, WACA spokespserson.
Initially WOSA began an overt campaign for ordination with public debates and placard signs outside churches. We discovered that Catholics here are too nervous and conservative to openly and publicly support us, so we started a covert campaign with the newsletter! This has proven to be a far more effective campaign tool and our readership is growing. Dina Cormick, WOSA-WAC.
First contacts were made at a church meeting in Aachen in 1986, and already by March 1987 the group Maria von Magdala was founded in Munster (Westfalia). There we articulated our identity and our aims.
Since September 1993, we are an officially registered organization.
We meet twice a year at different places for a weekend. We hold services, work on a topic and plan our next activities. In the meantime, several regional groups have been formed in Germany and there are also contacts with interested groups and individuals abroad.
Our aims are:
All women who are willing to work toward the goals of the organisation are welcome as members of the organisation.
For further information: Susanne Mandelkow, Dorffelder Strasse 110, 59227 Ahlen, Germany.
The training process contains three elements: working in the practical side of diaconate ministry, spiritual assistance and spiritual exercises, as well as six weekend seminars per year. The training is financed by donations and from the womens' private means.
With theological doubts about the women's diaconate being removed, the church will today have to 'repeal the exclusion of women from diaconate for the sake of the credibility of her saving mission'. This will 'set a necessary example for a redeemed co-operation of women and men in its structure and offices'.
For one and a half years I have been part of the first 'Diakonatskreis' for women (1999 - 2002). I am well aware of the fact that there will be no ordination at the end of the training. Going my way, I am confident that I am one of many who prepare the way for the strengthening of a diaconate-based church.
For further information: Angelika Fromm, Fritz-Kohl-Strasse 7, 55122 Mainz, Germany
Netzwerk Diakonat der Frau, c/o Katholischer Deutscher Frauenbund, Mauritz-Lindenweg 65, 48145 Munster, Germany.
During the ordination ceremonies for diaconate and priesthood, women as well as men wear the purple stole as a symbol of hope for a changed church without the hierarchy of offices and where women, too, can work according to their calling.
The colour purple has long been the colour of the women's movement, but it is also an ecclesiastical symbol of changing one's ways, of repentance and of new beginning.
In Germany, this symbol has meanwhile become widely known and even some clerics are prepared to support it!
For further information: Angelika Fromm, Fritz-Kohl-Strasse 7, 55122 Mainz, Germany.
BASIC was founded in 1993. Its first initiative was to launch a petition calling for 'all ministries and offices in the church to be equally open to both men and women, and for all sexist structures and regulations to be abolished'. 22,000 signatures were collected and were sent to all the Irish Bishops.
In 1995 BASIC held a seminar 'Women - Sharing fully in the Ministry of Christ' at which the main speakers were Mary McAleese, now President of Ireland, and Reverend Enda McDonagh, the now retired professor of Moral Theology at Maynooth. Three hundred people attended. The proceedings have been published, under the same title, by Blackwater Press.
BASIC then produced a short pamphlet 'Women - called to be priests - 7 Questions for reflection, discussion and discernment', launched by Dr. Gabriel Daly, OSA. 50,000 copies were distributed, largely outside churches around the country.
Then in 1998 BASIC commissioned an oil painting by renowned Polish artist Bohdan Piasecki: 'THE LAST SUPPER'. It features Jesus celebrating his last Passover meal in the company of men women and children. It was reproduced on the cover of the National Catholic Reporter for Holy Week 1999 accompanied by an article from Sr. Joan Chittister OSB. BASIC has since sold thousands of prints and postcards of the 'LAST SUPPER' to all parts of the world.
As a member of WOW, BASIC was chosen to host the First International Conference to be held in Dublin in June 2001. The group has almost 180 members, with a few abroad. Members keep in touch through the newsletter published three times a year.
BASIC has celebrated the World Day of Prayer for the Ordination of Women (March 25, Feast of the Annunciation) since inception in 1994. It is also affiliated to the European Network of Church Reform Groups.
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CNWE aims to:
CNWE is a national movement that operates using a federated model of local groups as well as individual members where no local group exists. A National Work Group is chosen at the Annual General Meeting to facilitate and support the work of the organisation. The NWG chooses from within the group a co-ordinator, secretary and treasurer. Local groups arrange regular programs and inclusive ritual and organise actions such as 'Purple Stole' and 'Women in Black' vigils. Each year a differenct local group is responsible for planning the annual conference.
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Contact: Naoko Iyori, e - mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Slowly but surely there have been small changes in attitude to women's ordination and your conference is important in affirming Catholic Women around the world. We look forward in hope and prayer to the day when the institutional church places women and men side by side and employs the fullness of human gifts and abilities in all facets of church leadership, management, operation and ministry.
You may like to know a little about us. We began, as did many grassroots Catholic organizations, when twelve women met in June 1994 to discuss the Pope's letter on ordination of men alone. The group organised a public meeting in August 1994 at which there was standing room only. Two hundred and fifty people attended and made suggestions with respect to future action. As a consequence, a Pilgrimage of Hope was held on 18 September 1994 when a few hundred people met at the Christchurch Cathedral and walked away to pray elsewhere, symbolising the exclusion of women by the institutional church. The Pilgrimage was accompanied and filmed by two television crews, giving national attention and causing ongoing debate.
We look forward to the day when it will be possible for us to walk back again.
Meanwhile, we exchange newsletters with you, our international friends, and hold several main event a year with liturgies which include and embrace all those present in the love of God our Mother and Father.
We pray that your voices and your prophecies will be heard afar. Blessings and peace to you all. Sheryn Gillard Glass <email@example.com> on behalf of Catholic Women: Knowing Our Place.
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