Equality for women in the Catholic Church

Spanish women quit Church en masse in protest over Catholic “sexism”

More than sixty Spanish women are planning to formalise their withdrawal from the Catholic Church in protest at what they are calling the Church’s “sexism” and “patriarchal morals”.

Driving the news

On Monday November 25, the International Day for the Erradication of Violence against Women, the women are planning to hand over a formal “declaration of apostasy” from the Church, Spanish paper eldiario.es reported.

To present those documents, the women will go together to the dioceses they involuntarily belong to by virtue of their address – Madrid, Getafe and Alcalá de Henares – and hand in their baptismal certificates and a copy of their national identity cards.

The women know the gesture is symbolic, since in 2011 the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled that the Church is under no obligation to delete apostates’ names from their records.

The most the women can hope for is that their dioceses make an annotation next to their names in their registers, to indicate that they have formally left the Church.

But still, the women are certain that their protest is worth it.

Go deeper

The inspiration for the Spanish women came from their sisters in Argentina who decided to walk out on the Church last year after priests and bishops there fought hard against a legislative move to liberalise abortion.

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“At first we created the group to support our Argentine sisters, but then we thought ‘why not here?’. So we started to learn how to do it”, Montse, one of the organisers of the Spanish group, told eldiario.

The Spanish group learnt how to formally quit the Church and spread the instructions in a WhatsApp group with the name “I didn’t choose to be baptised, but I choose to quit”.

“We’re leaving because we are atheists or non-believers, but also because we are women”, Elena, another of the apostates, added.

Why it matters

The Spanish women have written a collective ‘Declaration of Apostasy’ that they’ll hand into their dioceses on Monday.

In that document, they explain their gesture as a protest against the Church’s stance on feminism, abortion, divorce and LGBT+ rights.

In their “declaration”, the women also denounce the Church’s “sexual [and] reproductive control over our behaviour and our thinking”.

That’s in addition, the women say, to the Church’s “resistance to a change of economic model”, since the capitalist economy “bases its model” on the sexual division of labor between the productive and reproductive spheres, “the latter associated with women”.

“Everything that diverges from the heterosexual ecclesiastical marriage model is condemned” by the Church, the women decry.

“We cannot leave the path that [the Church] has traced for us as good mothers and submissive wives… The Church exhorts us to be pure, chaste and virgin”.

For the record

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do”, said Lucía, a member of the dissenting women’s group.

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“You put it off and put it off and in the end you forget about it… But doing it in a group is interesting and the feminist motives speak to me”.

“I’m just another number for them and I don’t want to be the woman that they want me to be”, added Manuela, another of the protesters.

“I respect whoever is a believer and whoever is willing to be part of the institution, but I refuse to accept that they use me to inflate the number of ‘affiliates’ they have as an excuse to continue wielding power”.

The sixty women planning to leave the Church Monday are part of a growing number of Spanish people becoming more and more remote from their Catholicism.

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Though more than two-thirds of Spaniards still define themselves as Catholics, the number of atheists, agnostics and non-believers in the country has now overtaken for the first time in history the number of practising Catholics.

Next on Novena:

“Catholic Spain” goes the way of the dodo

Spanish Church cashes in on 30,000 ‘expropriated’ properties

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