Synod Campaign Recruits Biblical Scholars
Women Biblical Scholars
To date, 23 female biblical scholars have agreed to be on our list of available consultants as we approach U.S. and Canadian delegates to the International Synod on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.” Pope Benedict XVI called for the biblical synod to take place this October in Rome. Many thanked us for our work, recommended other scholars and offered their support. Three promised to represent our concerns to bishop delegates known to them. The women scholars are among the best-known experts in their respective fields and reflect a healthy diversity in age and academic specialization. We successfully sought international scholars from Canada and Australia with scholars from India and South America still being pursued.
Campaign Welcomes Pope to U.S.
For the papal visit to the U.S. Church, FutureChurch developed a special media kit with sample op-ed and letters to the editor designed to raise awareness about the invisibility of biblical women leaders in church proclamation and practice. More than 50 kits were downloaded from the FutureChurch website, and 21 people agreed to be local campaign contacts. At press time, media results tallied two op-ed pieces (one in the National Catholic Reporter), three radio interviews (one on a local NPR hour-long program) and seven letters to the editor (see Women are speaking, leading; does pope hear?). FutureChurch also was featured in cover stories in the New York Times and Cleveland Plain Dealer in related stories.
Postcards Pour In
Paper and electronic postcards to Synod Secretary General Nikola Eterovic are pouring in to the FutureChurch office and/or being sent directly from Catholics working to make visible women’s biblical leadership in church practice. In addition to the estimated 5,000 postcards already sent to local bishops during phase one of the campaign, we estimate an additional 3000 have been sent so far during this second phase when we communicate with the Vatican and U.S. synod delegates directly. One diocese told the FutureChurch offices they sometimes received between 30 and 40 electronic postcards per day. A vigorous email and paper postcard effort will continue through the summer with the goal of garnering 12,000 postcards by the time of the Synod. (See notice.)
An international electronic postcard has been added to the FutureChurch website. The Women and the Word campaign is in communication with international church reform leaders to collaborate in Rome at the time of the Synod and beforehand.
Holy Women of Holy Week
At least 61 Holy Week resource packets were sent this year to activists looking for ways to bring to visibility the invisible women of Holy Week. We were pleased at the response for the first year of this effort to put women back in the Lectionary during Holy Week. Next year’s resource will expand to include the Easter Season and Pentecost.
Magdala Celebrations Incorporate Hidden Women
Celebrations are now in the planning stages for the July 22nd feast day of St. Mary of Magdala. Most will incorporate some aspect of the Women and the Word campaign such as -distributing postcards to be sent to Archbishop Eterovic, distributing articles about the hidden women of the lectionary to participants, pastors and liturgy committees and incorporating these biblical women in their prayer services.
Meeting with Synod on the Word Delegates
Over the next several months, local campaign activists will seek meetings with U.S. and Canadian Bishop delegates [see box] to present a list of available female biblical consultants and the names and cities of all available postcard signers. We plan to discuss our four Synod requests: invite female biblical scholars, increase pastoral attention to Jesus and St. Paul’s inclusive practice, expand opportunities for female preachers, and restore stories of biblical women leaders to the Lectionary. Pope Benedict XVI ratified the selection of the U.S. Bishops who voted to recommend the delegates during the USCCB plenary meeting last November in Baltimore. For the past several months, bishops have been studying the Synod’s working document and making suggestions for its final agenda.
Delegates to the Synod on the Word
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, IL President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference
Bishop Gerald Kicanas Tucson, AZ Vice-president of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Houston, TX
Archbishop Donald Wuerl Washington, DC
Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, PA (alternate)
Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Washington (alternate)
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Ottawa, ON
Bishop Ronald Fabbro, C.S.B. London, ON
Bishop Luc Bouchard, St. Paul, AB
Bishop Raymond St-Gelais, Nicolet, QC