Catholic Groups Issue Report Card on Status of Women
FutureChurch is part of a national coalition of Catholic justice organizations that issued a “report card” on the status of women in the U.S. Catholic Church. The coalition conducted a snapshot survey of conditions in 23 of the nation’s 178 Roman Catholic
dioceses and archdioceses. Although women's public visibility in Catholicism has risen, with men and women serving equally as lectors and acolytes at cathedral liturgies, women still face daunting barriers in Catholic education, diocesan advisory boards and employment settings and remain barred from any leadership positions as clergy.
One of the most distressing findings, because it is so easily correctable, was the failing grade Catholic seminaries and educational institutions received for not educating about biblical and historical women leaders in the Church. Equally lacking was any education about the scriptural and theological foundations for women’s
equality. Only 29% of seminary faculty members were women, compared with 37.5% of women faculty nationwide.
“One key recommendation is that the bishops make certain that seminarians and lay church members learn the full story about the roles of women in the development of the early church. The failure to learn our own history lies at the heart of many of today's disagreements,” said Professor Regina Bannan, a lead analyst of the study.
There are some bright spots. The bishops got an “A” for providing tuition assistance and scholarships for men and women preparing for lay ministry, and they are appointing more women to their pastoral councils. The coalition has sent its study to each bishop individually and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops asking that the bishops address the six recommendations in this report at their November meeting.
FutureChurch’s Women in Church Leadership project was one inspiration for this initiative. The full report with more statistics is available online at http://womensjusticecoalition.org