Sign the Petition

Dear US Bishops,

In 1963, Pope Saint John XXIII wrote in his encyclical Pacem in Terris that, "women are gaining an increasing awareness of their natural dignity. Far from being content with a purely passive role or allowing themselves to be regarded as a kind of instrument, they are demanding both in domestic and in public life the rights and duties which belong to them as human persons."

In recent years, we have seen this ever-increasing awareness impacting how companies and organizations around the world adopt policies that reflect the intrinsic dignity of their employees — including paid family leave.

This development gives us great hope but there is much work to be done.

As women living in the United States, we have been discouraged to see that our country is the only industrialized nation in the world to not guarantee paid family leave with legislative policies. Organizations who choose to provide this pro-family benefit, do so as an active choice in alignment with their values and mission.

As Catholics, we know Church teaching supports that “women must be accorded such conditions of work that are consistent with their needs and responsibilities as wives and mothers” (Pacem In Terris).

As bishops, you have been entrusted with great responsibility and called by the Holy Spirit to care for the people of God in your dioceses. We know that you believe and teach how men and women were both created in God’s image and likeness and with equal personal dignity (CCC 2334).

While both men and women share the same dignity, in the Theology of the Body we also see how men and women are different and how that difference is present in parenthood. “It is the woman who "pays" directly for this shared generation, absorbing the energies of her body and soul. Therefore, it is necessary that the man be fully aware that in their shared parenthood he owes a special debt to the woman. No program of "equal rights" between women and men is valid unless it takes this fact fully into account” (Mulieris Dignitatem).

It saddens us to know that the vast majority of women who work for the Catholic Church in diocesan departments, offices, and ministries are facing these challenges. Only 4 out of 176 dioceses in the US offer paid leave for the duration of the time determined by the Family and Medical Leave Act to be a medically appropriate minimum for a woman and child to begin their life together (12 weeks).

There is an urgent need to identify and confront the contradictions that exist in diocesan human resource policies between what our Church believes and teaches regarding human dignity and the policies organized solely according to the criteria of efficiency and productivity. We must let ourselves be inspired by St. Pope John Paul II’s words and be open to allowing “systems to be redesigned in a way which favors the processes of humanization which mark the "civilization of love"” (Letter to Women).

We are asking that you prayerfully consider reviewing and improving the policies in the dioceses and structures for which you are responsible, with a focus on whether the dignity of women is upheld including offering paid family leave. Do the policies and structures reflect Church’s teaching about human dignity and allow for the co-responsibility of lay women in your diocese?

There is an increasing number of lay women who have discerned a call to serve the Church in diocesan departments, offices, and ministries. Our dioceses are blessed by their talents, dedicated work, and significant contributions. Unfortunately, at this moment in time, many diocesan policies do not reflect the type of environment and family support which they deserve and that will allow women to contribute to the life of the Church and sustain family life.

This is not just a matter of justice, but also an opportunity to give witness to the world. Throughout history, the Catholic Church has been the greatest defender of life, human dignity, and family values. We are imploring you to take the lead in creating in your dioceses the conditions that support the women working alongside you on mission. We offer you our prayers and help as you discern how to build a civilization of love.

In Christ,

The FemCatholic Team

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