In what promises to be the most coordinated and powerful movement for women's equality in the Catholic Church thus far, under the global umbrella of the Catholic Women's Council, Catholic women and their allies across the United States and the globe gathered on March 8, International Women's Day, to declare that they will accept nothing less than full and unambiguous equality.
This was illustrated by a one-woman power house--Irish journalist Ursula Halligan. Halligan and Colm Holmes, spokesperson for We Are Church Ireland, sent a letter regarding women's equality in the Catholic Church to papal nuncio Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo for delivery to Pope Francis. When they received Okolo's reply, they were astonished. The nuncio had addressed his reply to Holmes, leaving Halligan's name off. His response made it clear that this work for full equality is more than necessary!
On March 8, Catholics in Dublin witnessed for International Women's Days and sang "No Woman, No Church" a modified version of Bob Marley's song "No Woman, No Cry".
Then Halligan hand delivered a letter to the nuncio. She didn't mince words.
The people of God – if it is to be truly the people of God – has to include women, and not as subordinate helpmates to men but as their full and equal partners. We are here today to ask you for nothing. Our dignity and equality are God given. They are not yours to give.
Along with We are Church Ireland, more than forty groups across Spain, Canada, Croatia, Kenya, South Africa, Germany, the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Austria, Switzerland, Australia, England, Ireland, and the United States (see photos below) gathered in front of their cathedrals and other symbolic places to send one message...
We are the change!
In Cleveland, FutureChurch was joined by Cleveland Catholics and Catholic women from Pittsburgh who brought their energy and love for the church to the witness. Together they shared their hopes and dreams for a new church where women's full and equal participation in all ministries and governance will become reality.
In Greece, FutureChurch's pilgrimage participants called for women's full dignity and equality from a location nearby the place where Lydia's housechurch helped establish Christianity in the gentile world.
Over 100 Catholics gathered in front of St. Peter in Chains in Cincinnati to witness. Led by Voices Speaking, they prayed and sang women into full equality. And at the end of the witness, they were treated to a rainbow that appeared in a cloudless sky.
A sign of good things to come?
We are all sure!
More about the Catholic Women's Council (CWC)
FutureChurch is one of a number of organizations joining the Catholic Women's Council (CWC) in order to create a worldwide movement for women's full equality in the Catholic Church. Over the next two years, CWC will organize actions, a pilgrimage, and a gathering in Rome in November 2021. Your organization can join too!
In the coming months until November 2021, all CWC members will embark on a pilgrimage, a time of study and reflection, of prayer and storytelling, of walking and talking together on real and virtual paths.
The concerns and abilities of women in different cultures and communities will be shared. We will unite our many different voices in a single vision of hope.The goal of local pilgrimages is to explore the understanding of equal dignity and equal rights in the Church.
This pilgrimage can take many different forms. We are creative! There will be meetings (in churches, community halls and coffee houses, wine taverns and in the open air), lectures, common prayers, conversations, artistic expressions, concerts, debates, dancing, bicycle tours, etc.We will share the ideas, actions and experiences of the pilgrimage through a newly created website so that we can learn about each other and be inspired by what other groups around the world are doing.
November 2021 in Rome
This global pilgrimage will end in November 2021 in Rome. We shall carry our experiences, reflections and skills to Rome, bringing our struggle for the equal rights and dignity of women to the institutional and spiritual home of our Church!
Catholic Women's Council invites all Roman Catholic associations, initiatives, networks, religious orders and ecclesiastical institutions to participate in the CWC if they agree with this statement and commit themselves to respect the values we profess, as well as to organize "pilgrimage" activities.
What joining CWC means for an organization/group:
· To participate in the pilgrimage to Rome with measures/actions appropriate to your culture and context and cooperate with the other members
· To agree with the CWC statement
· To announce on their own website and in social media that they are part of the CWC
· To share the events and actions they organise as CWC members on their website and in social media
· To give priority to this pilgrimage project in the coming months by:
o Organizing at least one action during this pilgrimage process
o Using the materials provided by CWC (alongside their own materials)
To join, please send us the details of your organisation and of your actions to Zuzanna Flisowska, General Manager of Voices of Faith at Zuzanna.Flisowska@voicesoffaith.org.
Catholic Women Strike: The U.S. "Sister" Coalition
March 8 was also the launch date of Catholic Women Strike--Maria 2.0, the U.S. coalition of Catholic reform organizations that will join forces with the Catholic Women's Council global movement. FutureChurch, along with Women's Ordination Conference, CORPUS, New Ways Ministry, DignityUSA, Call To Action, Catholic Sisters for Equality, SEPAWOC, Roman Catholic Women Priests, and Women's Ordination Worldwide will organize a variety of actions corresponding closely with the Catholic Womens Council actions.
Although different organizations and regions may take action in a variety of ways according to their situation, globally, we will speak with ONE VOICE in this effort to build true equality in the Catholic Church.
Women are the lifeblood of the Church. They lead and coordinate the vast majority of parish ministries around the world. Without their presence, vital work would be left undone, and pews would be empty. Despite their essential role, they are left out of any meaningful leadership and decision-making, including sacramental leadership through ordained ministry.
Thus we call upon the women of the Catholic Church to "strike" from their parishes starting in the month of May by abstaining from:
+ teaching religious education
+ staffing parish offices
+ participating in liturgical ministry
+ attending Masses
+ contributing financially to the Church
Our absence is intended to be noticeable, profound, and a nonviolent disruption of "business as usual."
NOTE: For those who are not comfortable with the idea of striking, we invite you to participate in a witness that will be effective in your diocese or region. In the resource there are many ideas for action, along with templates for prayers, media outreach, talking points, and planning your event/action.
We hope to see thousands of Catholic women and their allies respond. We know the time for change is now!
To learn more and/or join the global Catholic Women's Council CLICK HERE.
To learn more and/or join the U.S. companion effort, Catholic Women Strike CLICK HERE.
PHOTOS FROM INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY ACROSS THE GLOBE