Some of the strongest women I know are Catholics who disagree with their church, but refuse to give up on it.
There are the nuns, of course, including Sister Simone Campbell. I met her and her merry bus of truth tellers last year after they rolled into Cleveland during their four-day, nine-state tour to educate Americans about the real Paul Ryan plan.
The Republican congressman may have held his own in the vice presidential debate with Joe Biden, but he was no match for Campbell. Her fact-laden fight for those living in poverty left Ryan’s sham of a plan in ruins.
Many Catholic women — nuns and laywomen — are activists in their communities, which is how I’ve met so many of them over the years. Any reporter or columnist who covers vulnerable populations knows to seek out Catholic charities serving those neighborhoods. Talk to the women who keep them running and you’ll soon understand more than you even knew to ask about the people they serve and the political leaders who’ve failed them.
The Catholic women I know best are dear friends who’ve shared my politics for decades. My friends Maura and Sue come immediately to mind. Both were born and raised in Buffalo, NY, and then moved away to build grownup lives somewhere else. They never knew each other until they met several years ago through me, their non-Catholic friend in Cleveland. Within minutes, they were talking about the Catholic parish of their childhoods. Like many lifelong Protestants, I envied their immediate bond born of a shared religion.
Women such as Maura and Sue are the face of the Roman Catholic Church’s future. They bow their heads in earnest prayer, contribute time and money to their parishes, and ask themselves regularly what Jesus would do.
They also believe in empowering other women. When it comes to what is possible in the Catholic Church, they refuse to accept the notion of never.
I’ve met countless Catholic women like Maura and Sue. They reject the argument that women never will be ordained. They do not believe the only way to change the church is for women to leave it in droves. They are determined to change the church from within. They celebrate success in its smallest increments.
Such Catholic women are virtually fearless. They also are capable of healing the world.