Considering how the Church has treated women throughout history, the Rainbow Sash Movement would have hoped that today's bishops would make a special effort to listen concerns of women. After all, St Augustine, one of the great doctors of the Church, argued that women were not made in the image of God, and another renowned theologian, Thomas Aquinas, defined women as "misbegotten males." Pope John Paul II, in an effort to apologize for our history, wrote that women have two vocations: virgin and mother. He forgot president, prime minister, or priest.
The Rainbow Sash Movement believes that the issue of women in the Church is the preeminent issue facing the Church today. It is on this singular issue we believe all other issues rest. The Universal Church is still locked into this feudal view of women.
We believe that the "Sense of the Faithful" has loudly spoken on this issue. In the mid-1960s, Pope Paul VI authorized a commission to make recommendations about the use of birth control. The laypeople on the commission voted 60-4 for change, while the clerics voted 9 to 6. Despite the majority of both clerics and laypeople in favor of change, Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, argued that this change would undermine Church authority, because it would look like the Church could not discern eternal truths.
Currently there is an attempt on the part of Conservative Bishops in the Catholic Church working with conservative Republicans to undermine women's health when it comes to reproductive choice. The bishops' leadership is unhappy about a new national policy that includes birth control under preventive health care: a designation that requires new health plans to cover it in full, without the co-payments and deductibles that keep many women from using it effectively. This policy, which was adopted last summer, and goes into effect next August, in our opinion is a long time in coming.
Birth control use is universal, even among Catholic women: 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women use birth control during their reproductive years. The attempt by the Catholic Bishops and Republicans to undermine this new benefit is soundly opposed by us. If they succeed, millions of women -- Catholic and non-Catholic alike -- will miss out on the promise of the new health care law.