Spanish Catholic women are protesting en masse this Sunday, complaining that the men running the Church “call us to fix the flowers, but not to make the important political or economic decisions”.
– “Time to say ‘Enough is enough'”
Marifé Ramos, co-ordinator of the group “Women and Theology” and spokeswoman of the group of women, religious and lay, who are organising the protest today outside cathedrals all over Spain spoke to the Público newspaper February 29 about the reasons behind the demonstrations.
“First, it’s a matter of promoting [women’s] visibility” in the Church”, the theologian explained.
“Women have been carrying out a great deal of work within the Church for many centuries, in parishes and in other lay and religious groups and, until now, the response has been disproportionate in terms of our speaking out andvoting on decisions within the Church.
“It’s time to say ‘Enough is enough'”, Ramos insisted.
– A new “feminine and feminist” culture for the Church
The new “feminine and feminist” culture the women protesting today are seeking for the Church “consists in looking for our place within the Church, leaving behind the places where we’ve been”, the theologian continued.
“The first step is to foster dialogue with the different groups that make up the Church. That what we’re saying gets heard”, Ramos said.
The protesting women “still have not received an answer” from the Spanish bishops as to their demands, the convener of today’s demonstrations lamented.
That silence is another reason why the fed-up Catholic women are pushing for the creation of a “women’s secretariat” at both local and Vatican level, similar to already exisiting Church departments dealing with everything else from evangelisation and mission to Catholic education and interfaith dialogue.
“All this to seek the visibility and the defiance of women’s work”, Ramos explained.
“They call us to arrange the flowers, but not to make important political or economic decisions. This is what should change.
“Women theologians, for example, should have more voice, at least 50% with men. There is no proportion between women theologians who finish their degrees and those who have a position in the [Catholic] universities”.
– “What we’re trying to do is to recover the message of Jesus of Nazareth”
Ramos also spoke to the fear the Spanish Catholic women’s “revolt” has generated – not only among the laywomen cautious about stepping into the limelight for the first time but also among the country’s Conference of Male and Female Religious, for example, which has been pressured to withdraw its support of the protests.
“There are women who have contacted us because they believe that we are undermining the Church itself”, Ramos acknowledged.
“But on the contrary; what we’re trying to do is to recover the project and the message of Jesus of Nazareth, changing archaic customs that prevent us from moving forward”.
Lamenting the “retreat” in women’s rights the Church has suffered through since the promises of the great modernising Second Vatican Council (1962-65) – and the existence of anti-women’s rights “strongholds” in some circles of the Church even today – Ramos said today’s actions are designed “to stop the backwards slide”.
Today’s protests are only “the first step and the important thing is that we generate sympathy to the reasons behind the revolt”, the theologian explained.