Skip to main content
Toggle Banner
You can make an impact in the fight for reproductive freedom.

Every Woman Knows the Story: the Dallas Bishops’ Meeting

June 14, 2002

The following statement by Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, was issued as the meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Dallas drew to a close.

Dallas, Texas– “Every abused woman knows the story: first they beat you up, then they shower you with love and apologies and promise they’ll never do it again. This, unfortunately, is usually followed by another beating.

Will the bishops’ apology prove to be true to form? The history of self-centered arrogant disdain with which bishops have approached their critics and the victims of clergy sexual abuse cannot be erased by the modest, even touching, show of civility seen in Dallas.

The deeply ingrained clerical culture of abuse that shapes the behavior of many bishops and cardinals is unlikely to change even in the face of the public humiliation they endured in Dallas.

It is clear that the policy which will be approved leaves too much power in the hands of the bishops and too little in the control of the faithful. It concentrates too much on procedures for the future and too little on correcting past errors. It leaves untouched the past or future crimes and misdeeds of bishops and cardinals. Until those bishops who have engaged in morally egregious misconduct are moved by personal conscience or a brotherly push to resign, the stain on the soul of the church cannot be washed clean.”


Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women’s well-being, and respect and affirm the moral capacity of women and men to make sound decisions about their lives. Through discourse, education and advocacy, CFFC works in the United States and internationally to infuse these values into public policy, community life, feminist analysis, and Catholic social thinking and teaching.