Women are the backbone of the Catholic Church. We hold 80% of lay ecclesial ministry positions (including women religious) and I venture to say we do the lion’s share of the volunteering. Without women, parishes simply would not be able to operate. Period. Yet, we are excluded from Church governance and sacramental ministry. Why--why—do we accept this treatment?
Sociologists have studied ad nauseam the myriad ways cultural messaging tries to shape and control women. We are expected to sacrifice, to accommodate, to be silent. To be the caretakers, the harmonizers, the peacemakers. We are warned about being too loud, too ambitious, too demanding. And above all, we—unlike the boys—are expected to follow the rules, especially when those rules don’t serve us.
What if we stopped behaving?
Want to see the gears of the Catholic Church come to a grinding halt? Imagine all female staff going on strike. And all female volunteers following suit. And all the men who are down for the cause doing the same. Now imagine all the women parishioners who give to their local parish or school or Archbishop’s appeal diverting all of their families' donations into a fund to pay the wages of the workers who are on strike. And now imagine all those staff and volunteers using their newfound free time to pester the shit out of the bishops—the same bishops who would begin to feel the squeeze from stressed priests who can no longer keep their parishes running without the support of women. What would happen then? Would we be taken seriously?
The truth is women already have the collective power to create change in the Church. It is up to us to stand together as one body in the Spirit and use it.
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