- Created: 23 April 2012 23 April 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 23, 2012
In this presidential election year, Catholics and the institutional Roman Catholic Church have been making headlines, but not for reasons we support. As feminist Catholic women, we offer a Catholic story of civil participation, inclusion, and social justice.
A major story line of late has been the opposition of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," the recently passed health care initiative that will provide many more Americans with health coverage. Disputes rage about who will provide contraception and whether religious institutions will be allowed to limit health care choices for their employees. The Catholic bishops are leading a campaign against birth control and in favor of widespread exemptions to the law. Like a majority of Catholics, we women-church adherents part company with the bishops on this matter.
We would prefer that the millions of Catholic dollars spent by the bishops on lobbying for their positions be spent on housing, education, food, and jobs. Instead of cutting back on Planned Parenthood, we urge its increased support so that all women, especially those who are young and/or poor, have access to the reproductive services they need. Let it be known that the bishops do not represent the views of most Catholics, though as citizens they are welcome to speak for themselves.
We support the health care initiative as passed although we see no reason to exempt even those who work for religious institutions, for example housekeepers or janitors, since they, too, are capable of making their own medical decisions. We understand President Obama's effort to accommodate those with religious scruples. We favor even greater sharing of the health care costs. We feminist Catholics believe in the right to basic health care for all and think it should be universal just as public education is for all children. As citizens, we participate in civil society with respect for the diversity of opinions. We have confidence in the political and legal processes to find ways to live with our differences.
Another story line is the denial of communion and other punishments to Catholic persons because of their political views, sexual orientation, and/or choice of a life partner. We join all those who are scandalized when the Eucharist is used as a political football, as happened to a woman who was denied the sacrament at her mother's funeral. We proclaim our own Eucharistic tables open and welcoming to all who wish to join us in celebration.
We repudiate those who would fire employees in Catholic institutions simply because they exercise their right to marry in states where same-sex marriage is legal, as happened to a man in St. Louis. We deplore those who would disinvite theologians from speaking on Catholic campuses because they are pro-LGBTQ, pro-choice, or otherwise disagree with the conservative views of the bishops on social issues, as has happened to many of our colleagues. Feminist Catholics stand for academic freedom. We are committed to broadly based discussion even when there is deep disagreement. These are hallmarks of our tradition, and we honor them.
A third story line is how the so-called Catholic vote will go in the fall elections. We have no crystal balls, but we can predict with confidence that Catholic people will think for themselves. We will not simply rubber-stamp the candidates and the positions that the bishops and their lobbyists deem theo-politically correct no matter how many letters they send to the parishes or how fervently they urge voters.
Our voting guide will be a social justice agenda that begins with the needs of those who are poor and marginalized, with Earth as our shared context that requires our respect, and with the urgency of structural changes that will bring about the well being of all.
Let this new feminist Catholic story be told as we cooperate in the political process according to our rights and duties as citizens. Let the voices of feminist Catholic women resound in the public arena to correct the record and offer a glimmer of hope. Let us find a hearing among and be colleagues with those who seek to build a just and equitable society.
A Critical Mass: Women Celebrating Eucharist
8th Day Center-Women in Church and Society Committee
Greater Cincinnati Women-Church
Loretto Women's Network
National Coalition of American Nuns
Quixote Center/Catholics Speak Out
San Francisco Bay Area Women-Church
Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual
Women's Ordination Conference (WOC)
Bev Bingle, D.Min
Mary Ann Coyle, SL
Eleanor Craig S.L.
Mary Grace Crowley-Koch
Mary Ann Cunningham LC
Kathleen Desautels, SP
Sheila Durkin Dierks
Mary Ewert PhD
Susan A. Farrell PhD
Jeannine Gramick, SL
Luis T. Gutierrez
Erin Saiz Hanna
Christine Hassenstab, JD, PhD
Kathleen B. Hass
Ruth E. Hasser
Mary E. Hunt
Delores Kincaide, SL
Mary Ann McGivern
Grace Jones Moore
Lillian B. Moskeland
Susan Paweski SP
John Paul Pezzi
Patricia J Picket
Jeanne Audrey Powers
Rosemary Radford Ruether
Wanda Y. Russell
Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza
Sylvia Sedillo, SL
Donna Marie Shaw
Ruth Steinert Foote
Mary Sharon Sullivan
Margaret Susan Thompson, PhD
Diane S. Whalen
Barbara Zeman, RCWP