Frequently Asked Questions
Where Does Women for Faith & Family Stand?
Frequently Asked Questions
Where does Women for Faith & Family stand on . . .
1. The Pope and Church authority?
We express fidelity to the Holy Father and to the bishops in union with him. We adhere to the Catholic Christian faith as expressed in the Holy Scriptures, in the Creeds and the Councils of the Church, the tradition of the Church throughout the ages, and by the teaching authority of the Pope and bishops (the Church's Magisterium). We gratefully receive the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the authoritative compendium of Catholic teaching, as a great gift to all believers, and an antidote to confusion.
2. "Life issues" -- abortion, contraception and euthanasia?
We stand with all the Church's teachings on human life and its intrinsic worth. Abortion and euthanasia take innocent human lives; contraception offends the dignity of marriage and contradicts the unity of the couple and the life-giving purpose of the conjugal act, as expressed in Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae, in the writings of Pope John Paul II, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (§2331-2391) and other Church documents.
We stand with the Catholic Church in affirming the intrinsic value of every human being (CCC §1928-1938). If "feminism" merely meant upholding and defending the worth and dignity of women -- and the fundamental human rights of all people -- nearly every Christian would be a feminist.
Contemporary feminism, however, is a political ideology that claims that all female human beings have been oppressed throughout history by all male human beings; that women have been systematically excluded from influencing society and culture controlled by the "patriarchy".
In the prevailing feminist view, males alone have created the patriarchal social system, religion and even the language we speak. Feminists claim that, as victims of the patriarchy, women are an oppressed class, and that the so-called patriarchal system must be overthrown so that women can be liberated from the oppression and violence of men and can have "power" equal to men.
Virtually all feminist theories advocate abortion "rights" as necessary to achieve justice and freedom for women. Most "religious" feminists advocate a New Age spirituality, and call for the systematic destruction of "patriarchal, hierarchical" religion -- especially the Catholic Church, whose hierarchical structure and male priesthood are viewed as an Evil Empire -- the enemy of women.
Women for Faith & Family upholds the Catholic teaching that all persons are of infinite value, that injustice to any person is sinful. The only true liberation is through personal repentance from sin and redemption by Jesus Christ.
We affirm that men and women are equal, both sexes created by God in His image, each having distinct but complementary gifts and attributes. We affirm the teachings of Pope John Paul II that the social and ecclesial roles of women and men must conform to the natural law and the Divine Plan for mankind.
Accordingly, as our Statement on Feminism, Language and Liturgy* states we reject "ideological feminism, which denies the fundamental psychic and spiritual distinctiveness of the sexes and which devalues motherhood and the nurturing role of women in the family and in society ... often misrepresented as expressing the collective belief of women. As women, we are particularly concerned about the pervasive influence and the destructive effects on the Church, on families and on society of this feminism."
4. Women's Role in the Church's Mission?
“The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved” (Pope Paul VI – Address to Women at the close of the Second Vatican Council, December 1965).
Women's feminine nature, linked to their capacity for motherhood, gives them distinct spiritual and physical capabilities with which to participate in the Divine Plan for creation, such as the capacities for nurture, instruction, compassion and selflessness.
We affirm the genuinely ecclesial role of women within the family, the "Domestic Church", which includes the responsibility for transmitting the truth of the faith as teachers and catechists.
We affirm the vocations of women who have consecrated their lives to the service of God, His Church and humanity in religious and consecrated life, as this service extends their distinctive feminine gifts to the evangelical mission of the Church beyond the individual human family.
We support and encourage women who devote their talents and labor as teachers, scholars, writers, musicians, catechists, speakers, leaders, artists, members of movements or associations, whether voluntary or professional, which promote and defend human life and the moral and ethical precepts of the Catholic faith, and which increase knowledge of and authentic devotion to Christ and His Church.
We believe it is necessary for all Catholic women to discern prayerfully their particular vocation in the Church's mission, and to accept and exercise it with diligence and devotion, with wisdom and responsibility.
5. The ordination of women?
We welcome the clarification on the matter of the ordained priesthood contained in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
Our experience confirms Pope John Paul II's observation that one deviation from Vatican II's liturgical reforms is the "confusion between the ministerial priesthood, linked with ordination, and the common priesthood of the faithful, which has its foundation in baptism." Apostolic Letter on the 25th Anniversary of Vatican II's Constitution on the Liturgy
"We reaffirm the constant teaching of the Catholic Church that ordained priesthood is not a 'right' accorded to any member of the Church, but a state of life and a service to which, by Christ's will, only men, not women, may be called." Statement on Feminism, Language and Liturgy.*
6. Women in liturgy -- altar servers, "pastoral ministers", homilists, etc.?
The Statement on Feminism, Language, and Liturgy* says, "We ... oppose changing the constant practice of the Church in such liturgical matters as ... 'altar servers' and homilists, and repudiate the increasingly frequent practice of women saying parts of the Eucharistic Prayer with the priest or in his place or performing other liturgical functions reserved to ordained men."
In 1994, the Holy See permitted bishops the option of allowing women and girls to serve as "acolytes" [altar servers], but stated that this practice "is allowed but not required"; therefore it should not be regarded as mandatory. The ruling also emphasized that "the Holy See wishes to recall that it will always be very appropriate to follow the noble tradition of having boys serve at the altar. As is well known, this has also led to a reassuring development of priestly vocations."
The Vatican stressed that the ruling is a matter of discipline, and does not affect dogma. A disciplinary ruling can change at any time.
We share the concern of many Catholic parents that the admission of "altar girls" often has a negative effect on recruiting boys as altar servers. Also, in the perception of many believers the practice increases, rather than diminishes, confusion about the distinction of the priestly role from that of the laity.
The symbolism of women wearing clerical vestments and performing liturgical roles traditionally reserved to ordained priests is very strong, and should not be ignored.
There is much variation among the dioceses and parishes of the United States regarding female altar servers and other liturgical roles for women. Despite the clear teaching of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis regarding the ordained priesthood, and consistent prohibitions of women homilists, dissent and liturgical abuses persist, and much confusion remains.
7. Feminist Language?
We welcome the Holy See's Fifith Instruction on the Constitution on the Liturgy, Liturgiam authenticam , which gives directives for authentic translation of the Bible and liturgical books.
We object to "correcting" the language of Scripture and worship, an ideologically driven effort to change belief by changing the language of prayer. The opinion that so-called "inclusive" language involves justice or sensitivity to women, or is an example of authentic "inculturation", is mistaken. Changing the language used in the Church's liturgy in order to conform to a special-interest group's demands not only disrupts unity, but politicizes worship. It also has the effect of making sacred texts appear to be controlled and created by the people of a particular time and culture, rather than the "speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit" (CCC §81).
Therefore, "We oppose the systematic elimination from Scripture translations, liturgical texts, hymns, homilies and general usage of 'man' as a generic. The claim that the language is 'sexist' and that such changes are required as a sensitive pastoral response to women collectively is false. We believe that the symbolic effect of mandating such changes in the language and practice of the Catholic Church is negative and confusing, effectively undermining the authority of the Church and her hierarchy." (from WFF's Statement on Feminism, Language, and Liturgy*)
We support women who devote full time to caring for their families. We recognize the irreplaceable role of mothers, whose selfless work is a unique and invaluable gift both to the Church and to the world.
We recognize that women have the right to work outside their homes, whether from financial necessity or for other reasons. We support these women in their decision. Women can and have made vital contributions to society through such work. This work -- and many kinds of volunteer work -- can also provide opportunities for women to give witness of faith in Christ in their work places and communities.
In Mulieris Dignitatem, the pope said, "In the name of liberation from male 'domination', women must not appropriate to themselves male characteristics contrary to to their own feminine 'originality'. There is a well-founded fear that if they take this path, women will not 'reach fulfillment', but instead will deform and lose what constitutes their essential richness. It is indeed an enormous richness.
"The personal resources of femininity are certainly no less than the resources of masculinity; they are merely different. Hence a woman, as well as a man, must understand her 'fulfillment' as a person, her dignity and vocation, on the basis of these resources, according to the richness of the femininity which she received on the day of creation and which she inherits as an expression of the 'image and likeness of God' that is specifically hers."
Pope Paul VI, in his message to women, said, "You women have always ... had as your lot the protection of the home.... You are present in the mystery of a life beginning. You offer consolation in the departure of death. Our technology runs the risk of becoming inhuman. Reconcile men with life, and above all, we beseech you, watch carefully over the future of the race. Hold back the hand of man, who in a moment of folly might attempt to destroy civilization. Women of the entire universe, whether Christian or non-believing -- you to whom life is entrusted at this grave moment in history, it is for you to save the peace of the world."
* (The Statement on Feminism, Language and Liturgy, reissued with minor addition by Women for Faith & Family in June 1995, was originally issued jointly by WFF, the Consortium Perfectae Caritatis and the Forum of Major Superiors of Women - Institute on Religious Life, on April 18, 1989.)