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Women for Faith & Family Purposes

  • To assist orthodox Catholic women in their effort to provide witness to their faith, both to their families and to the world.
  • To aid women in their efforts to deepen their understanding of the Catholic Faith.
  • To aid faithful Catholic women in their desire for fellowship with others who share their faith and commitment.
  • To serve as a channel through which questions from Catholic women seeking guidance or information can be directed.


Women for Faith & Family and the
Affirmation for Catholic Women

In September 1984, six St. Louis women gathered around a dining room table to discuss their concern that the US bishops, who had announced their intention to write a pastoral letter on the subject of "women's concerns", might not receive an accurate picture of Catholic women. The women were concerned about the impression given in the media that most Catholic women feel "alienated" from the Church, and dissent from Church teachings on issues ranging from abortion to ordination. They were aware that feminist theology had influenced many women and Catholic leaders. They wanted to do something positive to overcome this distorted image of Catholic women.

The result of the women's discussions was an eight-point statement of fidelity to Church teachings on a wide range of issues. They began to circulate the statement, called the Affirmation for Catholic Women, among their friends and colleagues, inviting them to reproduce the Affirmation and to help collect signatures.

Women for Faith & Family was formed to assist in distribution of the Affirmation, to foster greater communication among faithful Catholic women, and to be helpful in communicating their concerns to the bishops and other Church leaders. (See WFF Purposes above.)

The response to the Affirmation was overwhelming. Within a few months, 4,000 signatures had been received, and a copy of the Affirmation with a list of the signers was sent to the Bishops' Committee on Women.

By June 1985, 10,000 signatures were given to His Holiness, Pope John Paul II in Rome by WFF director Helen Hull Hitchcock. (Click here to see picture, Pope receives first list.)

In August 1985, a list of 17,000 signatures of Catholic women was given to the Bishops' Committee on Women, and WFF was invited to give testimony based on letters received from women at the Committee's hearing in Chicago. (See "The Bishops and Women" section.)

Affirmation effort spreads...
In 1985 and 1986, the Affirmation effort was extended to Canada, Australia and Holland, to provide this opportunity to women to give evidence of their fidelity to the Church. Similar efforts were begun in New Zealand and the United Kingdom in 1987 and 1988.

In October 1987, testimony based on approximately 10,000 letters from women was prepared for the US bishop-delegates to the Synod on the Laity.

WFF's testimony, along with a list of names of Affirmation signers was presented in Rome to Cardinal Edouard Gagnon, then president of the Pontifical Council on the Family. Cardinal Gagnon received the women's names on behalf of Pope John Paul II at a public press conference during the Synod. That list included about 30,000 from the US, plus Mother Teresa of Calcutta and all her Missionaries of Charity. About 10,000 additional names came from Holland, Australia, New Zealand, England and Canada.

The story was featured in daily newspapers in Rome.(Click here to see front page of Avvenire, October 24, 1987).

In October 1994, an updated list of more than 40,000 names of US Catholic women was presented to Pope John Paul II in Rome.

In January 1999, a list of more than 2,000 of the most recent signers was received by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith outside his offices in Rome. (Click here to see picture: Cardinal Ratzinger receives new list).

(Click here for 1997 picture of WFF - St. Louis Staff)

The Affirmation for Catholic Women, still in circulation, has been translated into at least seven languages in addition to English. (FrenchSpanishItalian, Polish, GermanDutch and Chinese.)

May I sign the Affirmation?
Yes -- if you are a Catholic woman who upholds the teachings of the Catholic Church!

New signatures continue to be received regularly. As Catholic women become aware of the challenges to their faith, both from the secular culture and within the Church, they recognize the need for their strong and forthright witness.

Affirmation signers are Catholic women of all ages, all states in life (single, married, mothers, religious), all educational and economic levels, and represent a broad political spectrum. Signers include homemakers, students, professional women (doctors, nurses, lawyers, university professors, teachers, writers, etc.) They include women whose work is in their homes, and women with full or part-time employment outside the home. About 10% of the Affirmation signers are women religious -- many from "troubled" orders.

The strong and sustained response to the Affirmation for Catholic Women is without precedent. No petition of disssent in the post-conciliar era has attracted such a response -- not even the highly publicized statement of dissent from Humanae Vitae in 1968, or Call-to-Action's "We are Church" statement in 1996-7. This is particularly significant because of the explicit nature of theAffirmation, and the "grass-roots" means of gathering signatures.


The Bishops and Women: Women for Faith & Family Archive

WFF Activities

  • WFF publishes a quarterly magazineVoices, which is known for its accurate reports on issues affecting Catholic women and Catholic families -- and the meetings of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. It also features articles and columns -- many by women -- that give a truly Catholic perspective on current events and issues. The letters column provides a forum for readers' insights and comments. Voices articles are posted on the web. (Read about Voices Staff & Editorial Board)
  • WFF's web site continually adds new material to provide information, Church documents and resources for family prayer, devotions and activities to aid families in deepening their understanding and appreciation of the Catholic faith. About Medicine and Morality, an online "magazine" on bioethics issues, is a unique feature of the WFF web site.
    Our Liturgical Calendar of the Church Year and "Breaking News" are popular features.
  • WFF publishes leaflets and other materials as devotional resources for individuals and groups.
  • WFF publishes Family Sourcebooks (Lent/Easter; Advent/Christmas) to help strengthen the "Domestic Church".
  • WFF sponsors occasional conferences and special events, and participates in pro-Church, pro-family and pro-life activities with like-minded groups. WFF has presented the Faith & Family Award in recognition of outstanding service to the Catholic faith and to families.
  • WFF issues occasional statements on issues of concern to Catholic women and famlies. Subjects of these statements are wide-ranging -- from feminism and the role of women in Church and society, to the liturgy, to education and current national and international social issues, especially moral, ethical and religious issues.
  • WFF Testimony to the Bishops of the Church for the Synod on the Laity - 1987 
  • WFF was represented at a women’s congress in Rome in December 1996, at the invitation of the prefect of the Pontifical Councll for Laity, as reported in Voices Spring 1997 - Vatican Conference on Women: International assembly confers on challenges to women, Church
  • WFF has NGO (non-governmental organization) status from the United Nations, represents Catholic women and family interests through statements, attending UN meetings, and reporting on events. See WFF's Statement on CEDAW.
  • Day of Recollection -
    • 2008 - 20th Anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignitatem, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women with Bishop Robert Hermann
    • 2009 - Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) with Bishop Robert Hermann
    • 2010 - The Family – Cradle of Faith
      On Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Familiaris Consortio, The Christian Family in the Modern World with Bishop Robert Hermann

How can I be a part of WFF?
We warmly invite you to join thousands of other Catholic women in this simple means of taking a stand for the Catholic Church, her teachings, her tradition and her authority by signing theAffirmation for Catholic Women . You are free to reproduce the Affirmation. We hope you will send it to friends, make it available to women in your parish or community, school, home-school or prayer or bible-study groups! You may reproduce information and articles found on this site for your own use. (The site is copyrighted, so please ask permission for reprint for any other purpose.)