Good Shepherd Companions – Building Bridges of Faith, Hope and Love
eport from the President
Executive Committee Meeting, by e-mail, December 2013
Winds of change?
(We note with sadness the recent death of Clelia Luro, the wife of Bishop Jeronimo Podesta and friend of our current pope.)
When we met in Mahwah NJ at the end of May this year, we were rejoicing in the election of a new Bishop of Rome. There were clear signs that the institution was going to be reformed and seven months later even the sceptical remain hopeful.
In the area of ministry, however, there is little sign of seismic change. Indeed, Bergoglio has said that the question of ordaining women had been ‘resolved’ or ‘closed’ by his predecessors. As to the ordination of married men or the relaxation of mandatory celibacy for the western rite secular clergy, we have no signs of imminent change as yet. Perhaps an effective synod of bishops (replacing the farcical charade of recent decades) may actually lead to bishops’ conferences petitioning Rome to make their own arrangements for the ordination of married men. But that remains to be seen.
In the area of lay ministry, we have at least seen Francis telling women religious that they need not get too upset when a rude letter comes from the Inquisition, but we are still awaiting a resolution of the discussions with the USA’s Leadership Conference of Women Religious. As for the secular laity, we can expect that this will continue to be an area where ecclesiastical ministry quietly expands – chaplaincies, parish administration, baptisms, funerals, Eucharistic ministry etc. Nothing about the new papacy suggests that IFRCM should shut up shop.
Amending the 1983 Code of Canon Law to enable laity to be made cardinals or allowing women to become clerics and thus admitting women to a place in Church governance has been mooted in the press but is surely not a way forward.
On a more personal note, I am gratified by the publication in the US by the St Barnabas Missions with co-sponsorship of FCM-RCFCC of a version of my table liturgies booklet. This emphasises the influence in the great variety of early Christian ritual meals the lay, Jewish, domestic table fellowship of of Jesus and his companions – non-paschal, but celebrating the breaking in of God’s Rule. This is not to deny the rich tradition of the Pauline, Corinthian and Synoptic emphasis on the Passover Seder leading to the clerical sacrifice of the Mass with one alter Christus and the rest of the baptised reduced to passive recipients or even mere spectators. If such table celebrations become more widespread among the Catholic laity, preferably in my view as a prelude to a meal, then we shall have achieved something.
We must hope for a good attendance at our Tri-ennial Conference in London next October where our concerns can be discussed further and proposals made. The membership of our UK member, Catholics for a Changing Church will be encouraged to attend.
 Paul Bradshaw, Eucharistic Origins (London: SPCK Alcuin Club, 2004) and Geza Vermes, The Authentic Gospels of Jesys (NY, London etc: Penguin, 2003) pp 301-307
 Brant Pitre, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist (NY: Doubleday, 2011)