Catholics for a Changing Church

The women who have a deep love for the Church while feeling alienated, hurt and frustrated

Tina Beattie says that dialogue with a far more diverse range of voices is needed if those who speak for women in thePhoto by Wolfgang Schmidt Vatican truly represent what it means to be a Catholic woman in the modern world.

A survey of female voices from across the Catholic world reveals both a deep love for the Church and a deep yearning for change.

In late 2021, I suggested to the Catholic Women Speak (CWS) network – an online forum for dialogue – that we might circulate a questionnaire among our members to prepare a report for submission to the synod: 17,200 Catholic women from 104 countries responded.

The findings give a fascinating insight into the hopes and struggles of thousands of women in the worldwide Church. They challenge the homogenised view of Catholic women presented by both those dismissive of reformers and those who want radical change in the Church. In church teachings, women are romanticised for their maternal qualities and “feminine genius”, while our sex bars us from ordination.

By contrast, Catholic women are often represented as united in wanting radical reform across all institutional and doctrinal frontiers. The survey shows that neither perspective truly respects the many ways in which women identify as Catholic. Most come from somewhere along the spectrum of Catholic faith and practice, with at one end a minority resisting any reform, and at the other a minority impatient for revolutionary change.

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