The Table
Current and past WOW Leadership Circle delegates, including Marilyn Hatton from Australia, who will be joining me in Ireland.

Current and past WOW Leadership Circle delegates, including Marilyn Hatton from Australia (front, left), who join me (front, center) in Ireland next week.

An “International Network of Church Reform Movements” conference will take place next week, from Monday 13th April to Thursday 16th April, in Limerick, Ireland. Hosted by Fr. Tony Flannery, the participative conference will bring together 36 leaders of the Church Reform Movement, from 12 different countries. Fr. Tony, an Irish Redemptorist priest and writer was banned from ministry by the CDF in 2012 for what it considered heretical views on the Eucharist and priesthood, joined the “Catholic Tipping Point” tour in the U.S. in 2014, and will be a speaker at the WOW 2015 conference. I am honored to represent WOC (and WOW) at this event, and to share our concerns and efforts with the international community.

Many familiar names in the reform movement will join me, including Marilyn Hatton, WOW Leadership Circle member from Australia, Deborah Rose-Milavec of FutureChurch, Jeannine Gramick of NewWays Ministry, Astrid Lobo Gajiwala from India, Helmut Schuller from Austria (also part of the Catholic Tipping Point tour in 2013), and Martha Heizer of We Are Church International, excommunicated last year for celebrating mass in her home without a priest.

​Fr. Tony’s writes on his blog: “The main focus of the event will be to get to know each other, with the aim of supporting Church Reform, both at the level of structures of authority and at the grassroots. This is the first time that this group will come together, so a lot of it will be sharing experiences and ideas on Church reform. Some of the topics expected to be discussed throughout the week include sharing perceptions of the reform agenda of Pope Francis, the future of parishes and communities, women’s equality and how to communicate with the Vatican.”

In advance of this meeting, I shared my hopes and “burning issues” with the group:

As I have recently moved to Rome to enhance our international networking and presence, I am interested in learning more about the mechanisms of the international reform movement, and how/if they relate to efforts in the US, and women’s ordination efforts worldwide. For me, it is important to discuss the need for more public voices in support of opening all ministries to women, and explore the ways in which that outward solidarity may be harnessed to speak more loudly to power. (Again here I will mention the WOW conference in Philadelphia, as an opportunity for this group, and others to offer a public endorsement of this work.)

As a feminist living in Rome, I am interested in speaking about accessible forums or channels for change (what has been tried, what hasn’t, what works, what doesn’t), and where we might find or cultivate sympathizers and allies at the Vatican.

I am looking forward to traveling to Ireland, and sharing my experiences at The Table! Stay tuned… (Meanwhile, starting tomorrow in Boston, Catholic Organizations for Renewal, a U.S. based network will gather to discuss church reform issues as well!)

Read More: Catholic reform leaders from around the world to meet in Ireland next week (The Tablet)