New “Catholic Women Strike” Initiative Includes LGBTQ Equality in Demands for Church

A new initiative launched by the Women’s Ordination Conference and partner groups is calling on Catholics to engage in a month of “coordinated, global, prophetic demonstrations” for women’s equality in the church, a call that includes LGBTQ equality, too.

Catholic Women Strike (CWS) launched its organizational phase on Sunday, March 8, which was International Women’s Day. The initiative encourages Catholics of all genders to partake in “a month of coordinated, global, prophetic demonstrations or witnesses demanding women’s equality in the Roman Catholic Church through strikes, redirecting resources, and radical acts,”  beginning in May 2020. You can find more information about CWS here.

The partners involved in CWS, which include New Ways Ministry, DignityUSA, and other U.S.-based church reform groups, have adopted a platform that includes LGBTQ equality in its requests for the church:

“To remove all barriers to ministry and governance for women;

“To reform church teaching on sexuality to reflect the complex reality of lived experience, primacy of conscience, and pastoral needs of the people of God;

“To transform church teaching and practice to end all oppression of LGBTI+ people, persons of color, impoverished people, and all currently on the margins in the wholeness of their personhood.

“To create structures and processes that bring the expertise of all Catholics — and especially women — to call our entire church to a just reckoning of clerical sex abuse and cover up.”

Kate McElwee, executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference commented in a media advisory:

“Women are the lifeblood of the Church. They lead and coordinate the vast majority of parish ministries around the world. Without their presence and labor, vital work would be left undone, and pews would be empty. Despite women’s essential role, we are left out of decision-making structures and sacramental leadership through ordained ministry. This injustice cannot continue.”

Sister Jeannine Gramick, SL, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, commented:

“Although I love the fact that Pope Francis is trying to redirect the barque of Peter to the spirit of Vatican II, he has much to learn about women. Just as women cannot be defined, or confined, by stereotypical roles in society, neither should they be so limited in the Church. When half of the Church’s population cannot be major decision makers or preside at the Eucharist in their parishes, dioceses, or at the Vatican, something is seriously wrong. Such a scandal must stop! So we call for “Catholic Women Strike” to proclaim that the Holy Spirit must be allowed to breathe in the Church. Pope Francis is a humble and prayerful man who can admit his mistakes. I pray that his grandmother Rosa will whisper in his ear that the rightful place for women in the Church is any place that a man could be.”

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry’s executive director, said:

“We encourage all friends of New Ways Ministry and LGBTQ Catholics to peacefully support Catholic Women Strike efforts in whatever way is possible for them to do.”

Catholic Women Strike is inspired by the German grassroots movement, Maria 2.0, which last year made international headlines when it called for women in that country to boycott liturgies and volunteer duties for one week. Maria 2.0 has continued to organize for gender equality since then. CWS’ website explains:

“The initiative is named for Jesus’s mother, the Virgin Mary, who in German is known as Maria.  ‘2.0’ signifies the need for a Church reboot so that positive change can happen. Throughout Church history, Mary is held up as the  Church’s ideal for women — silent, submissive, and obedient. This narrow version of a role model is unhelpful to women and is not true to the person of Mary.  Maria 2.0 leader Barbara Stratmann points out: ‘2.0 stands for a new beginning. Reset everything to zero. We are no longer like that.'”

Bondings 2.0 has previously reported (e.g. here, here, here, and here) on the intimate link between LGBTQ equality and women’s equality given discrimination within the church in each case is based on a harmful gender complementarity framework.

But these movements intersect in transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming Catholics, too. The Women’s Ordination Conference recently featured the story of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests’ first non-binary priest, Rev. Kori Pacyniak, in its newsletter. But on the whole, trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people remain too marginalized within the women’s movement in the church. Catholic Women Strike is an opportunity to enflesh this intersection more robustly in common efforts for a reformed and renewed church. As we begin preparations to strike, redirect resources, and act radically in May, let us consider how we can make our groups and our efforts more inclusive of LGBTQ people, too.

For more information on Catholic Women Strike, click here.

For tips on how to be more inclusive of transgender people in Catholic spaces, click here.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, March 10, 2020

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