NOW IS THE TIME: A CELEBRATION OF WOMEN'S CALL TO A RENEWED PRIESTHOOD IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
WOMEN'S ORDINATION WORLDWIDE (WOW)
FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
JUNE 29 - JULY 1, 2001
Among the aims of Women's Ordination Worldwide (WOW) are goals to foster dialogue and bring together people working for women's ordination in the Catholic Church. One of the ways it achieves this is through its hosting of international conferences
The Irish organisation Brothers and Sisters in Christ (BASIC) organised and hosted WOW's first international conference. It was held in Dublin, Ireland from June 29 to July 1, 2001.
Keynote speeches were delivered Sr. Joan Chittister, John Wijngaards and the Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin who replaced Aruna Gnanadason of the World Council of Churches.
Because of pressure from the Vatican Gnanadason was forced to withdraw from the conference. But the content of her address was delivered to the conference nonetheless.
Three hundred and seventy participants from twenty-six countries and six continents gathered in Dublin for this conference titled NOW IS THE TIME - A Celebration of Women's call to a Renewed Priesthood in the Catholic Church.
Keynote speakers were:
- Mairead Corrigan Maguire - Nobel Peace Prize Winner from Belfast
- Rose Hudson-Wilkin - Church of England Vicar from London, England
- Joan Chittister Benedictine Sister from Erie, Pennsylvannia, USA.
- John Wijngaards Theologian & www.womenpriests.org Webmaster.
Eleven resolutions for future actions to further women's ordination were voted on and approved by the Conference.
One resolution narrowly missing the 60% approval rate and was not approved. It called for Peter's Pence payment to Rome to be withheld and redirected to organisations supporting women's ordination. At the end of this document is a full list of all the resolutions which were approved. The list starts with a call to the Pope to revoke the ban on the discussion of women's ordination.
Withdrawal of Aruna Gnanadason of World Council of Churches
Aruna Gnanadason from the World Council of Churches was to have been the key-note speaker on the first evening of the conference (a Friday.) She was forced to withdraw because of pressure from the Vatican. The address she would have delivered is here.
Six representatives from countries with 'lesser heard voices' addressed the conference, sharing some of the realities of the position of women in both state and church.
- Velisiwe Mary Mkhwanazi from South Africa
- Theresa Trujillo from Mexico and the United States of America
- Yury del Carmen Puello Orozco from Colombia & Brazil
- Apollonia Lugemna from Uganda
- Naoko Iyori from Japan
- Kornélia Buday from Hungary
Sister Myra Poole, SNDDN Forbidden by the Vatican to Attend
Myra Poole who at the time had been a Notre Dame sister for forty two years and who, for the past three years has been the International Coordinator for WOW (Women's Ordination Worldwide), was forbidden by the Vatican to attend the conference.
She was told that if she attended this conference she would be expelled from her Order. After much prayer and reflection, she arrived at the Conference on the Saturday afternoon. She was met with acclamation from all the participants.
Sister Joan Chittister, OSB Forbidden by the Vatican to Attend
Sister Joan Chittister, OSB of the Benedictine Order in Erie, Pensylvania, and honoured worldwide for her contributions to Spirituality and Theology was likewise warned by the Vatican not to attend this conference.
One hundred and thirty-five sisters of the Benedictine Order signed letters of support for the monastic practice of personal responsibility and Joan's decision to attend. Joan's firm position was/is that Benedictines do not adopt a hierarchical approach to obedience, but have a monastic charism that sees discernment and individual responsibility as the basis of an adult obedience."
She received a huge standing ovation for her talk.
Soline Vatinel, spokesperson for the WOW conference, declared that, 'It's success had exceeded our wildest dreams.'
The packed timetable included prayers, talks, discussions, drafting of resolutions. The conference concluded with a very moving and spiritual Liturgy of Thanksgiving.
Resolutions to the Member Organisations of WOW Passed at the WOW Ecumencial Conference in Dublin, Ireland, June 30 to July 1, 2001
All of us, people of God, have gathered from twenty-six countries and five continents for the inaugural WOW ecumenical conference in Dublin, June 29 - July 1, 2001. As followers of Christ we answer the call to radical discipleship and seek justice so that all may participate in the sacrament of Orders.
Conference members wholeheartedly celebrate the freedom of speech and the primacy of conscience proclaimed by the teachings of Vatican II. We consider any obstruction of these to constitute a violation of human rights and an obstacle to the Holy Spirit in guiding the churches into the fullness of truth.
Conference participants hold that vocations are not restricted by gender, race, marital status, sexuality, educational background or life opportunities.
1. That this conference calls on the Pope to revoke the ban on the discussion of women's ordination.
2. That this conference calls on each member organisation of WOW to pursue dialogue with local bishops , religious , priests and laity on the subject of women's ordination in the context of retrieving the discipleship of integrity.
3. That this conference calls on the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church to restore the diaconate to women as was the practice in the early church.
4. That this conference encourages women who feel called, to study for the diaconate and the priesthood and resolves to support the establishment of suitable training courses where they are not available to women at present.
5. That this conference resolves to promote the cause of women's ordination by drawing constant public attention to the issue, through regular demonstrations by each member organisation, by an annual world day of prayer for women's ordination on the 25th March and by a world conference within three to five years.
6. That this conference calls on ministers in all the churches to adapt the language used in liturgy to reflect the equal dignity of all Gods' people. Images of God need to reflect both the female and the male.
7. That this conference salutes Ludmila Javorova, our sister priest, and the women deacons ordained by courageous bishops in the underground Roman Catholic Church in Czechoslovakia and asks that the Vatican join us in recognising the validity of their orders.
8. That this conference proposes that WOW through its member groups create avenues for the financial support of those who lose their position as a result of their stand on the ordination of women.
9. That this conference calls on WOW through its member groups to encourage those women and men who have been punished for their support of women's ordination to tell their story publicly and expose the Vatican's actions.
10. That this conference proposes the setting up of a rapid response email system by WOW in order to support the networking of women's ordination groups.
11. That this conference proposes that the purple stole/ribbon be adopted as the international symbol for women's ordination.