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Prochoice Catholic Magazine Conscience Spotlights World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada

July 22, 2002

Prominent Catholic women address young people attending Catholic gathering with advice, encouragement and insights into the contemporary church

Washington, D.C. — As hundreds of thousands of young Catholic women and men flock to Toronto to participate in World Youth Day 2002, Conscience, the prochoice magazine of Catholics for a Free Choice, features prominent Catholic women from around the world sharing advice, encouragement, and insights on what it means to be a Catholic woman today. The essays range from the personal to the political, from the mainstream to the iconoclastic. Some are upbeat and funny, others sad and angry—but all of them are from the heart. Five thousand copies of the magazine are being distributed for free through the Challenge the Church coalition and CFFC-Canada.

Rt. Hon. Clare Short MP, the UK secretary of state for international development, contributed a heartfelt plea for young people to receive adequate education about reproductive health issues. She writes, “We must challenge all those who, having lost the battle to deny services and freedom of choice to people in their own countries, are conspiring to deprive the poor of the world of the right to control their lives. And we must firmly challenge those who believe that keeping young people ignorant prevents them becoming sexually active. In this as in all other matters, it is the truth that sets people free.” Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguireaddresses the issue of injustice. She notes that, “Young people today, male and female, are courageous, self-sacrificing and committed to changing the world” and calls on them to act against “the spiritual violence being done to men and women’s consciences by the institutional Catholic church,” especially as it relates to the church hierarchy’s ongoing refusal to ordain women. Rigoberta Menchu, Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize recipient, speaks of the importance of respecting indigenous religious traditions as well as a Catholicism that protected her from the military in Guatemala. Noted Brazilian theologian and ecofeminist Ivone Gebara challenges the church to change its “patriarchal and masculine hierarchical structures” and calls on young people to be “critical of the institution and transform it into a meaningful place for themselves and others.” She concludes, “The task is great, but it is worth taking on.”

Elsewhere in the magazine noted Canadian author Joanna Manning offers her thoughts on what the festival means for the city of Toronto – which is footing the bill for much of the arrangements, despite the vast wealth of the Vatican. In a reference to the ongoing sex abuse scandal that has rocked the church throughout the world, Manning comments, “Let no one dare suggest that the church sell off its assets to pay the young victims of sexual abuse by priests.”

Notes to Editors:

  • To arrange interviews with the executive editor of Conscience and president of Catholics for a Free Choice,Frances Kissling, please call +1(202) 986-6093.
  • World Youth Day, a biannual gathering organized by the hierarchy of the Catholic church, brings together young Catholics between the ages of 16-35. The theme of this event is, “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world.”
  • Conscience is the national and international quarterly of Catholics for a Free Choice. The magazine offers in-depth coverage of the topics central to CFFC’s mission, including women’s rights in society and in religions, reproductive rights, sexuality and gender, feminist theology, social justice, church and state issues, and the role of religion in formulating public policy.