The story of Catholic Women Speak in Commonweal magazine.
Welcome to the Catholic Women Speak Network (CWSN)—a forum for dialogue, theological exploration and collaboration among Catholic women in the worldwide Church. This website is intended as a resource for those who want to discover more about the many ways in which Catholic women contribute towards the theological and pastoral life of the church, from the perspectives of different cultural and religious contexts.
CWSN is an online community of nearly eighteen hundred members, comprising Catholic women from many different cultures, perspectives and walks of life. We are united by a shared belief that the church will benefit from greater inclusion of women’s perspectives and theological insights in the interpretation of doctrine and the development of pastoral practice. We seek to use our voices in dialogue with the Catholic hierarchy, with women in other churches and religious traditions, and with wider society, in order to participate in the development of a deeper, richer understanding of the Catholic tradition and its relevance for our times.
We believe that women have a crucial role to play in seeking just and peaceful solutions to the challenges facing our world. These include the vast threat of an environmental catastrophe, the many forms of violence, exploitation and injustice that inflict untold suffering upon the human family, and a rapidly changing vision of our sexual and gendered relationships and roles. We recognize that the Catholic faith is a vital part of the human story with much wisdom to offer and resources to share, even as we know that women have yet to come into the fullness of our human dignity in the Catholic Church’s institutions, theology and practices as equals made in the image of God.
We do not speak with one voice, nor do we deny our differences and disagreements. We regard these as creative aspects of the process of learning and growing towards one another in faith. We speak as women not as “Woman”, and that is why we resist any attempt to develop a theology of “Woman”. Rather, we say that, unless women are fully included in the Church’s theological anthropology, our understanding of what it means to be human will be diminished and distorted by the absence of half the human race. It is not possible to reflect meaningfully on what it means to be male and female, made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), unless women are full participants in the process of theological reflection and doctrinal development.
We invite you to share with us and learn with us through the discussions, resources and links provided here. Comments are welcome, but these are moderated and only those which conform to high standards of respect, dialogical engagement and theological understanding will be published.
Forum discussions among members of CWSN take place in a Facebook group that is open to bona fide members who self-identify as Catholic women. To ask to join the group, please go to this link. We also have a Facebook group that is open to the public, which you can access here. Our Twitter username is @rc_women. We are in the process of establishing a list of regional representatives who can provide advice and support for those wanting to set up parish groups, study events or other activities aimed at enabling Catholic women to feel more fully included and represented within the church. Please go to this link to see the list of representatives so far. If you would be interested in acting as a representative, please email us.
The Network’s first major project has been to edit an anthology of Catholic women’s writings that was published to coincide with the opening of the October 2015 Synod on the Family. 300 copies of the book were made available free of charge to Synod participants and displayed on a table in the Synod Hall, and we understand that nearly all of them were taken. To find out more about the book, please go to this link or click on the link at the top of the page. Here, you can access information about contributors and a list of contents, read extracts from the book, and find Italian and Spanish versions of some of the essays. The book was launched at an international gathering at the Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome on Thursday, 1st October. To see photographs of that event, please visit this link. Download the programme here.
CWSN works in close collaboration with the Catherine of Siena College – an online learning environment for the promotion of higher education in the fields of theology, religion, gender and social justice, intended particularly but not exclusively for women in the global South who would not otherwise have access to university education. Both the Network and the College are administered by the University of Roehampton in London, under the umbrella of the Digby Stuart Research Centre for Religion, Society and Human Flourishing (DSRC).
Read reviews and interviews relating to the Network and the book here.
Make a donation to the Catholic Women Speak Network.