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Catholic Bishops Oppose Violence Against Women Act?

Mar 11, 2013 — Categories: ,

Dear U.S. Bishops: What is the matter with you? The headline "Catholic Bishops Oppose Violence Against Women Act" speaks volumes to women in the pews. It confirms what many Catholic battered women and rape victims have long feared or suspected: the church is not a safe place for them. They cannot expect to receive appropriate pastoral care and support from their priests. And sadly, they are probably correct.

Dear U.S. Bishops:

What is the matter with you?

The headline CATHOLIC BISHOPS OPPOSE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT speaks volumes to women in the pews. It confirms what many Catholic battered women and rape victims have long feared or suspected: the church is not a safe place for them. They cannot expect to receive appropriate pastoral care and support from their priests. And sadly, they are probably correct.

Once again, ideology has trumped good sense.

“Five key Catholic bishops are opposing the newly authorized Violence Against Women Act for fear it will subvert traditional views of marriage and gender, and compromise the religious freedom of groups that aid victims of human trafficking.”

It seems that the problem for the Bishops is that the final version of the Reauthorization of VAWA finally passed by Congress and signed by the President explicitly prohibits discrimination or denial of services to lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. It has nothing to do with marriage equality.

Fact: lesbians and transgender people are targets of hate crime violence.

Fact: lesbians and transgender people experience violence in intimate relationships just like everyone else.

Opposing this provision means that you support denial of equal protection of the law and of services to people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Your homophobia is showing and it is not a pretty sight.

In terms of the “religious freedom” concern expressed in your statement: it is a tiresome red herring. No one is interfering with anyone’s religious freedom. Catholic groups aiding trafficking victims are doing excellent work; they simply may not be able to receive federal funds to do it if they limit women’s reproductive choices.

The key provisions of the Reauthorization help to insure that all women receive the benefits of federal efforts to curb violence against women: lesbians and transgendered people, Native women on reservations, and immigrant women – the most vulnerable among us.

Finally at the risk of stating the obvious: to oppose VAWA (after the fact) in the face of the abysmal failure of the Catholic Church to respond effectively to the crisis of the sexual abuse of children and adults by priests speaks volumes.

Kudos to Catholic laity, religious and clergy who are on the front lines in addressing sexual and domestic violence in spite of the wrongheadedness of your leadership. You might learn something from listening to them.

And call me. I would be more than happy to remind you about who the Good Samaritan was.

Your sister in Christ,

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute
www.faithtrustinstitute.org

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Bishops and Violence Against Women Act

Posted by MaryElizabeth McIlvane at Mar 12, 2013 01:25 PM
Thank you for bringing this issue out into the light. It is more frightening if the next Pope is from the United States with violent Attacks on Women is an important international issue. Would the release of celibacy change this attitude? I doubt it as I believe an underlying factor is sexuality self-denial by the clergy feeds this destruction of a woman's humanity by the Church. Heaven help us!

Calling Catholic Bishops on the carpet

Posted by Catherine Thiemann at Mar 12, 2013 01:25 PM
Kudos to you, Dr. Fortune and FaithTrust Institute, for always ringing the clear bell of truth! Whether the Catholic bishops listen or not, your strong message gives courage to the rest of us.

What's right with the Catholic bishops?

Posted by Mary E. Hunt at Mar 12, 2013 01:25 PM
As you noted, nothing is right with this position. Luckily, the fact that the view did not prevail is a sign that the bishops are increasingly ignored especially by the very Catholics they purport to lead. Thanks for the shout out to lay Catholics who do the heavy lifting in shelters and safe houses, in legislatures and classrooms to eradicate violence.

Opposition to VAWA

Posted by Marian L. Shatto at Mar 12, 2013 08:51 PM
After the vote I wrote to my congressperson, Joe Pitts, PA-16, protesting his opposition to the Violence Against Women Act and asking for his specific reason for voting No. This is the heart of his reply:

"The Senate version denies conscience right protections to organizations that provide support services to victims of human trafficking. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) denied a grant award to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2011 after five years of the USCCB providing food, housing, clothing, medical services, counseling, legal assistance, education, and employment services to human trafficking services in over 44 states. HHS's grant solicitation application in that year indicated a new preference for grantees that would offer "the full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care," representing favorability to organizations that refer victims for abortion services. As a result, victims will no longer have access to successful programs administered by groups who refuse to compromise their pro-life beliefs.
  
"The reason why I voted against this bill, and in favor of the House substitute, was that this bill damages our human trafficking programs."

I have been formulating my reply to Mr. Pitts and appreciate Dr. Fortune's comments on this matter. I did a bit of research and learned that the alternate Republican bill that had been offered and voted down in the House did indeed contain such a "conscience clause." I find this push to widely extend conscience exemptions in federal and state programs to be very troubling. The ultimate result is the use of public funds to subsidize one very narrow religious view and to permit denial of services to those who need them. The constitutional questions raised are significant and need to be dealt with before such exemptions become commonplace, and therefore more difficult to roll back when it is determined that we are on extremely shaky ground with regard to the First Amendment.

VAW

Posted by Adela at Mar 13, 2013 04:39 PM
I am so glad you said this. Violence against women is a sin and the church is not being part of the solution. As a christian I refuse to follow racist, homophobic and sexist leaders. Jesus would not be happy with me if I did. He said "love one another".