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We the Catholic People

We the Catholic people of the United States say enough is enough—the bishops do not speak for us or the millions who stand together in our shared belief that the use of contraception is a moral decision that should be made by individuals in accordance with their conscience.

As Catholics, our tradition of social justice informs everything we do and defines how we relate to family members, neighbors, coworkers and our fellow Americans. It requires us to stand with those who are the neediest—the hungry, the homeless, the jobless—and then help to fill their needs. In these tough economic times, when so many are unemployed or underemployed, it is more important than ever to work together to ensure that the basic needs of those who have the least are met.

Social justice is at the core of our Catholic faith. We are compelled by our religious tradition to work toward justice and equity for all and to create a society in which women and men, young and old, poor and rich are treated with the same dignity and respect and granted the same opportunity. It is because of this belief that we are called to stand up on behalf of the least among us to ensure that any public policy does not disregard or harm this vulnerable population—one that disproportionately includes women.

Our views on many important issues often diverge with the views of the Catholic hierarchy in the United States. The bishops are entitled to their viewpoint, just as we are to ours. Unfortunately, the bishops attempt to portray their views as representative of ours in public discourse. The bishops’ insistence on eliminating access to contraception does not reflect our view or the views of many of the 68 million Catholics in the United States. We have spoken with a near-unanimous voice: we believe that the use of contraception is a moral decision that should be made by individuals in accordance with their conscience.

We believe that eliminating access to contraception on the basis of who your employer happens to be or where you go to school is discriminatory and wrong. Should the bishops prevail in their campaign against contraception, the result will be a policy of discrimination and second-class healthcare for women, dependent on the whim of their employers. If we are compelled to build a society in which all are treated fairly and justly, creating policies that discriminate on the basis of gender can play no part.

We trust women and men to make the decisions that are best for them and their families. As part of our Catholic faith, we are called to inform and ultimately to listen to our consciences above all else on important matters. To deny another person’s conscience-based decision is to infringe upon that individual's religious freedom.

We stand together to state loudly and clearly to all that Catholic people diverge from the bishops on many issues. They do not speak for us each and every time they lobby elected officials or attempt to influence public policy. Our voices as Catholic people are an important component of policy debates and discussion and should be afforded the same respect.

If you want to know what Catholics think about contraception, ask us—not the bishops.

A Critical Mass: Women Celebrating Eucharist
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Call To Action USA
Catholics for Choice
Chicago Women-Church
CORPUS
DignityUSA
Faithful of Southern Illinois (FOSIL)
Federation of Christian Ministries – Roman Catholic Faith Community Council
Greater Cincinnati Women-Church Loretto Women’s Network
National Coalition of American Nuns
New Ways Ministry
Roman Catholic Womenpriests USA
San Francisco Bay Area Women-Church
Southeastern Pennsylvania Women’s Ordination Conference
WomenChurch/Baltimore
Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual
Women’s Ordination Conference

Join us and sign on to this Open Letter.