At the closing of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI addressed all women, saying “the hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which woman acquires in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is under-going so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid mankind in not falling.”
That statement was made in 1965 – before the formation of the Women’s Liberation Movement, and before the second wave of feminism swept the country with activism for women’s rights in politics, work, family, and sexuality. Though many successes and accomplishments for women over these past five decades can be traced to these movements, we Catholic women find it much more difficult than ever to reconcile our Faith with the feminist movement.
Among the many Democrats seeking their party nomination for president is Senator Elizabeth Warren. For the moment, set aside the fiasco about her claim of Native American ancestry. In the coming months, Warren will be portrayed as a personable champion of middle-class women. She has a personal history to which many women can connect: She grew up in Oklahoma in a struggling middle class family, was married at 19, became a mother to two young children while finishing college and law school, divorced after ten years of marriage, and then remarried.
Her career accomplishments are what many women can only dream. She practiced law from her home, and eventually taught law at several universities. Her interests in consumer protection and bankruptcy led to her first book, The Two Income Trap, which became somewhat of a sensation after Dr Phil invited her to appear on his show. Suddenly, Warren had an American television audience, mostly women, to whom she could advise on matters of debt, mortgages, taxes, and bankruptcy. And just as suddenly, thanks to these appearances on daytime television geared toward women, Warren was catapulted from professor to potential senator.
As Pope Paul VI predicted would happen for women, Warren achieved a role of particular influence and power. With her roles as mother, wife, and career woman, feminists might recognize success in their campaign for equality – but they don’t; this is not enough. Feminism has morphed into a third wave, some say even a fourth wave – but whichever wave it is, the movement is filled with rampant discontent and anger. Today’s feminism is defined by #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, the Women’s March and pussyhats, issues of gender and intersectionality, and a much more radical position than ever before on abortion and reproductive issues.
Elizabeth Warren is one of its strongest advocates. Though she is a mother, she holds a radical pro-abortion stance. She voted against the Born Alive Bill, and is an advocate of abortion on demand with no restrictions – all the way through the ninth month of pregnancy. She believes that churches and religious institutions should be required to cover abortion and birth control on their insurance plans. She argues for federal and public funding of abortion and clinics like Planned Parenthood. No Catholic woman should be comfortable supporting an agenda so dismissive of human life.
In his Letter to Women, Pope John Paul II writes “as a sign of solidarity and gratitude” the intention to uphold the dignity of every woman. Not only does he touch upon the grave sin of abortion and how it is an attack on the dignity of a woman, he also points out that “before being something to blame on the woman, it is a crime for which guilt needs to be attributed to men and to the complicity of the general social environment.” That’s infinitely more pro-woman than the feminist encouragement to “Shout Your Abortion.”
Not quite a decade earlier in his apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women), Pope John Paul II discusses a woman’s distinct gifts and her “feminine genius.” He emphasizes that women have a unique and important role in society, and explains why “woman is the representative and the archetype of the whole human race: she represents the humanity which belongs to all human beings.” Elizabeth Warren is so staunchly pro-abortion that she simply does not represent the humanity of all human beings.
In addition to her pro-abortion agenda, Warren also indicates she will promote federally funded sex education in schools, inclusive of the LGBT agenda. Not only does she show a fundamental disregard for religious freedom, she has a habitual preference for bigger government control rather than the recognition of individual freedoms. This is a violation of the Principle of Solidarity in Catholic social justice: She ignores the freedoms and responsibilities of each individual, and believes that human concerns are best delegated to big government and the power of the State.
It’s an exciting time for women in politics, but we women must carefully discern whether particular female influence and power has actually been of benefit to society. As Catholic women, we deserve to be represented by those who recognize our feminine genius. We also should expect that women in politics will model and defend feminine dignity, as well as the dignity of all human life. No matter how Elizabeth Warren will be presented during the coming campaign year, the truth is that her political platform proves she is not pro-woman – she is simply pro-abort; and her agenda is an obstruction to fully embracing our Catholic Faith.