Dear Friend, This morning in Rome Call To Action staff member Aaron Bianco participated in a conversation sponsored by Pax
Call To Action works for a Church in which women and girls are valued for who they are and the gifts they bring to the table. We believe that the Church would be enhanced and enlivened by recognizing the vocations of women as equal to those of men. Girls should be welcomed on the altar as servers, women should be valued as lay leaders and fully participate in decision making, and the call to the priesthood should be celebrated regardless of gender. We work in many different ways to restore the full participation of women in the liturgy, pastoral life and leadership of their communities.
Women and girls are eager to serve their communities and have immense gifts to offer, but Church officials are excluding half the Catholic faithful from full participation.
Women hold positions of leadership in all levels of our society, and have played an important role in the history of the Church. Yet their leadership is often unacknowledged and unofficial. We believe women deserve an official place at the table and an equal opportunity to be part of the decision making. This means equality in the parish– from altar serving to parish council, respect for their vocations, fair treatment as employees and an equal voice in theology departments.
Women are also conspicuously absent from the decision making of the hierarchy. The Church officials’ refusal to ordain women not only robs communities of the opportunity to have these wonderful women as pastors, but bars them completely from the rooms where most important decisions are made. The formation of church teaching, the election of the Pope, the final word on parish staffing and many more decisions are made without even a single woman present at the table with equal voice.
We believe that the call to serve God and the Church comes to people of all genders. In the early church, women served as priests and deacons and today they make up over 80% of lay parish employees, taking on many pastoral roles and filling the needs left by the declining number of ordained men. We support the ordination of women with local actions, national media advocacy and with our partners in the movement. Many of our members attend liturgies led by womenpriests and have spoken up in various ways for the equality of women in our Church. Roy Bourgeois, a former Catholic priest who was kicked out because of this support for women’s equality, talks about this issue.
Since 1994, the USCCB has said that it is acceptable for women and girls to assist as altar servers and that, “No distinction should be made between the functions carried out in the sanctuary by men and boys and those carried out by women and girls” (Guidelines for Altar Servers). Some Bishops, though, have begun to limit the ways in which women and girls can take part in the celebration of the liturgy. At all levels of parish life, women should be encouraged, not barred, from serving. Yet the culture or even explicit guidelines of some parishes do not welcome women to lay leadership such as parish council or opportunities to serve, such as eucharistic minister. This reinforces sexist attitudes and denies the important voices, experiences and gifts these women could bring to parish life. We offer support to individuals who have faced discrimination and would like to speak out. Please contact us if you are part of a parish that is limiting opportunities for women and girls.
For centuries women have felt called to serve their communities in vowed religious life. Answering the call to serve the world humbly, nuns have long worked outside the public eye but touched countless lives personally. U.S. Catholics remembered these personal encounters with the sisters when the Vatican rebuked the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in 2012. In a national effort coordinated by the NunJustice Coalition, CTA chapters across the country responded by hosting vigils and writing letters in support of the nuns. As the LCWR continues their dialogue with the Vatican, we continue to believe in a Church where the good work and humble leadership of women is celebrated rather than investigated. Click here to learn more about the NunJustice Coalition.
A large majority of the people employed by the Catholic Church are lay women. As Church Workers, these women do not have the same legal protections as other American workers. They can be fired for their reproductive choices, sexual orientation, a pregnancy or for exercising their right to conscience. For more information about the challenges and injustices faced by women working in Catholic schools, hospitals, charities and parishes, check out our Church Worker Justice campaigns.