Join us in Building a Civilization of Love

Our goal is to begin a conversation with our Bishops on paid family leave in the Catholic Church. By signing our petition, joining us in prayer, and spreading the word, we aim to build a civilization of love.

Much remains to be done to prevent discrimination against those who have chosen to be wives and mothers…This is a matter of justice but also of necessity…It will force systems to be redesigned in a way which favors the pro-cesses of humanization which mark the "civilization of love."

Pope St. John Paul II
Letter to Women, 1995

Why are we doing this? 

only 4 of 176

Only 4 of 176 Dioceses in the United States offer twelve weeks of fully paid maternity leave

only 31 of 176

Only 31 of 176 Dioceses in the United States offer fully paid parental leave policies

roughly 1 in 4

Nationally, an estimated 1 in 4 mothers return to work only 2 weeks after giving birth

In 2022, FemCatholic contacted all 176 dioceses in the United States. We were only able to confirm that 31 offer fully paid maternity or family leave policies.

Inspired by the writings of Pope St. John Paul II, we aim to start a conversation on family leave with the Catholic Church at large. We're also writing a petition to the US Bishops asking them to lead the way in progressing family policies in their dioceses.

Go behind the scenes with our podcast mini-series

Hear more insights about the research, the issue that inspired the petition, and join the conversation about how to better support women working for the Church.

Take action

Register for our upcoming webinar

We'll need content here for the zoom meeting (the link to the meeting), as well as any other content.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the goal of the petition? 

The goal of this campaign is to start a conversation in the Catholic Church at large about the importance of family leave. The petition specifically is an avenue to bring this issue before the US Catholic Bishops, asking them to further develop their diocesan paid family leave policies.

Where can I access the data collected by FemCatholic?

The comprehensive dataset prepared by FemCatholic's investigative journalism team is accessible to the public here. Findings from both qualitative and quantitative research were summarized in the full report here.

How did we collect the data? 

FemCatholic reached out to the 176 Roman Catholic dioceses across the 50 United States and Washington, D.C., to confirm their parental leave policies. We contacted every diocese at least twice, by both phone and email (unless we received a response on the first attempt). Out of those dioceses, 58 responded, confirming their policies. 20 dioceses declined to confirm or provide information, and 98 dioceses did not respond with the information we requested. Several of these 98 dioceses responded to various attempts but did not return information to us by press time.

The information presented here includes both the policies that were confirmed by diocesan representatives and the information that we gathered from former or current employees and diocesan websites. We have noted whether the parental leave policy is confirmed or unconfirmed. We obtained the financial information listed here in diocesan financial reports posted online or when quoted to us by diocesan representatives. The assets listed were for the central diocesan corporation, although many dioceses have separate financial statements for investment firms, schools, Catholic Charities, cemetery funds, and pension plans.

One of the barriers to gaining information about human resources policies like family leave is that Catholic dioceses are far from homogenous, and their financial structures comprised of a variety of foundations, incorporations and financial entities. Accordingly, the distribution of benefits across diocesan entities and agencies can vary widely. 

Some diocesan parental leave policies extend to schools, parishes and other agencies, while others apply only to the diocese’s central offices – known as the chancery, pastoral center or diocesan offices – and give individual schools or parishes the ability to opt into various policies or implement their own.  Several diocesan representatives cited this as a flexibility that allows each unique parish to respond to unique needs. Some parishes may have over 50 staff members; others run on two part-time employees.

The data in this spreadsheet represents those policies that apply to the dioceses’ central offices. 

We invite dioceses to continue to send us updated information about their policies, and we will update this spreadsheet to reflect the most up-to-date information we have. Please send updated information to

If I sign the petition, will you share my name publicly? 

Names on the petition will not be made public. They will be sent to the US Bishops to document the members of their dioceses that are asking for family leave policies to develop.

Want to know more? 

For media requests, questions, or to confirm diocesan policies in the dataset, please contact the FemCatholic team via out centralized mailbox:

We believe the Church cares about women; we believe the Church cares about families. We don’t have all the answers, but we can’t wait any longer to get the conversation started. FemCatholic is building the platform for women and for the Church to enter into dialogue that will lead to meaningful change."

Samantha Povlock
Founder, FemCatholic

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