Welcome to the Women's Justice Coalition

We are a coalition of organizations working for reform and renewal within the Roman Catholic Church in a variety of ways. Catholics Speak Out, a program of the Quixote Center, coordinates the coalition.

We agreed to sponsor an annual action project to help move the cause of women's equality forward. Our goal is to build a broad grassroots movement to demonstrate that large numbers of Catholics support equality and justice for women.

What we stand for

    To affirm the equal rights of women and men in the church,

    To share decision-making with women and men equally,

    For our liturgical ministries to reflect the equality we proclaim,

    For inclusive language, the language of hospitality, to be the norm for our preaching, our liturgy, and church documents,

    To acknowledge that the Holy Spirit calls women, as well as men, to ordained ministry.

The basis of our call for equality

The call for equality is rooted in the church's baptismal formula: "Each one of you is a child of God because of your faith in Christ Jesus. All of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. In Christ, there is no Jew or Greek, slave or citizen, male or female. All are one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3,27-28
It has been 40 years since the Second Vatican Council decreed, "with respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language, or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent.
" (Pastoral Constitution on The Church in the Modern World: 29: Dec. 1965)

While we have seen many tangible gains for women in other religious institutions and civil societies, our Roman Catholic leaders have failed to practice what they preach.

What do we mean by "injustice?"

  • At the 1994 Synod on Consecrated Life and Its Role in the World, Vatican officials barred representatives of religious orders from participating either as speakers, observers, or decision makers. Only a few, handpicked "reliable" nuns were invited as guests. Yet, most of the bishops making decisions about the future of consecrated life had never experienced life as a member of a religious community. (New York Times, Oct. 29, 1994, Reference)
  • In 1992, the average salary range for full time lay ministers was $13,000 to $20,000 per year. By 1997 salaries increased by 15-37 percent, but remain inadequate for meeting their needs and those of their families. This constitutes "the greatest negative influence on long term commitment to parish ministry." (Fr. Philip Murnion, National Pastoral Life Center). (Source)
  • In 1996, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious noted: "as long as jurisdiction (the power to govern) is tied to ordination, a very limited number of roles with authority will be open to women. The relationship of jurisdiction to ordination creates a glass ceiling for women in the church." (LCWR Benchmarks study)
  • Despite providing extensive reports of sexually abused nuns and novices by priests and even prelates, Vatican authorities ignored the issue. Nuns who reported sexual abuse to their bishops were ignored. A number of heads of religious congregations who reported rape and sexual harassment to their bishops or Vatican authorities lost their jobs. Some even received death threats. (For more information, see the March 16, 2001 issue of the National Catholic Reporter)

What injustice costs

The lack of female and, for that matter, lay representation in the decision-making councils of the church, has cost the church dearly. The bishops' addiction to power and their lack of accountability to the people is directly linked to the victimization of untold numbers of children by repeat sexual offenders. Millions of Catholics have left the church for other denominations or for no church at all. In the United States, only 47 percent of Catholics surveyed in 2004 reported they had attended mass during the past seven days, down from 67 percent in 1967. (Center for Research on the Apostolate, Georgetown University, Source) In Europe, many churches are functionally museums. In Central and South America, Catholics are leaving for charismatic and evangelical denominations.

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