Three national Catholic organizations that advocate for LGBT equality were among the 30 church reform groups which have launched a campaign “A Church for Our Daughters” to promote the full equality of women in the Catholic Church.
Call To Action, DignityUSA, and New Ways Ministry joined with other organizations such as the Women’s Ordination Conference, Future Church, and 8th Day Center for Justice and Peace to circulate a petition on equality which will be delivered to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting in Huntington Beach, California next week. Each individual bishop will receive a copy of the petition by email.
The 15-point petition calls for a church, which, among other things:
“recognizes that all people are created in God’s image and equally endowed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the common good.
“opens its sacred sacraments to all, as nourishment and ritual without limitations based on gender or sexuality. . .
“celebrates and promotes a spirituality that recognizes an inclusive God, beyond gender, and incorporates language that is inclusive and representative of God’s feminine, masculine, and non-gendered attributes in liturgy, doctrine, and pastoral practice. . . .
“seeks to be fully inclusive and representative of women and to integrate their wisdom and insights in all areas of Church life including governance, decision-making, teaching, theological reflection, and canon law. . . .
“commits to reflect on its own participation in the oppression of women; to repent for unjust acts, systems, and teaching; and to renew structures of leadership to be more inclusive of the People of God at every level.”
You can read the full petition and sign it by clicking here.
New Ways Ministry’s Executive Director Francis DeBernardo explained the reason that the organization decided to be part of the campaign:
“Through the work of our mission to build bridges of justice, dialogue, and reconciliation between the LGBT community and the wider Catholic Church, we have encountered the painful and harmful sin of sexism at so many levels in our communities. LGBT people are now forming families in our country with the full support of our nation’s governmental institutions. This new reality is promoting healthier and holier lives for parents, children, and all of society. We want our Catholic Church to also become a place where children grow up without fear and shame about the beautiful way that God created them. To make this dream a reality, we need a church where our daughters will blossom and flourish.”
National Catholic Reporter columnist Jamie Manson observed that the campaign website’s suggestion to “Imagine a Church without women — our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, Goddaughters, neighbors,” is, unfortunately, not a hyperbolic statement for the the near future. Manson writes:
“In mid-May, a new Pew Research Center analysis of General Social Survey data found a significant decline in the number of women in the U.S. who attend church weekly.
“The study, which focused on the gender gap in religious service attendance, found that ‘between 1972 and 1974, an average of 36% of women and 26% of men reported attending religious services at least once a week — a 10-percentage-point gap.’ . . .
“A Church for our Daughters was initially inspired by another set of alarming statistics. According to an earlier Pew General Social Survey, Millennial Catholic women are more likely than their male counterparts to report that they never attend Mass. They are also more likely to leave the Catholic church than men in their age group.”
Manson quoted the coordinator of the campaign, who explained that even small steps by the bishop in regard to women’s equality can have an effect:
“Regina Bannan, chair of the action group for A Church for Our Daughters says that the campaign forces the bishops to look towards the future and confront the question, ‘Where are young American women?’
“She believes that many young Catholic women are doing social justice work or praying alone or in small groups. “We can bring them into church as well,” Bannan argues, if the bishops can find a way to support even a few of the elements of the A Church for Our Daughters declaration.
Next week, there will be two public events in California connected to the “Church for Our Daughters” campaign:
- Monday, June 13, 2016, 7:00 pm: “A Church for Our Daughters” Evening liturgy, St. Wilfrid of York Church , 18631 Chapel Ln, Huntington Beach
- Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 12:00 noon: March at U.S. Bishops’ Conference Urging Them to Create a Church for Our Daughters. Location: 21500 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach. Meet at Zach’s Too Beach Stand at the Corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Beach Blvd. **Please wear pink**