Catholic co-support after the fall of Roe v. Wade: safe spaces & resources to cope with religious trauma and conflicts of conscience

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

On June twenty fourth the Supreme Court of the United States ruling on Roe v. Wade eviscerated fifty decades of civil rights and the protection of privacy for women’s healthcare decisions and bodily autonomy. The ruling automatically triggered the end of reproductive rights in many states and signals a probable end to abortion care in Indiana. Additionally, Justice Thomas indicated that other civil rights cases should be revisited which, if overturned, would further impact women and LGBTQ+ people by removing federal protections for same-sex marriage and same-sex intimate relationships, and access to birth control for all.

These civil rights issues are of significant consequences and relate deeply to the fundamental principle of the primacy of Catholics’ consciences. In fact, these issues have been highly influenced by the US Catholic hierarchy and not in a good way!

Much like women’s ordination, critical reflection on bodily autonomy and human rights for women and LGBTQ people has been subjected to the loud and oppressive voices of patriarchal theology. It has demanded a prescribed way of being human, one that subjects women and LGBTQ+ people to a Catholic psyche created by ancient theologians who believed that women were ‘misbegotten’ males whose only purpose was to reproduce.

While I understand that many of our beliefs about gender, sexuality, and abortion are evolving, as people who have witnessed the injustices produced by gender inequality, we gather in this community as a prophetic model of a truly inclusive Catholic church, called to examine the related ills of what was considered ‘done’ theology. In reality, because the work of theology is never done, just as the work of God’s creation is never done, we are called to engage in brave, uncomfortable conversations.

How we choose to reflect, pray, and act today will matter for generations to come.

Nearly 1 in 4 women have had an abortion. Whether they know it or not, nearly everyone knows and loves someone who has had an abortion. Many, if not all of us, are coping with the trauma of having our rights and security stripped away from ourselves, our daughters, and our granddaughters, our wives, our sisters, nieces, aunts, and cis-female, trans, and non-binary womb-bearing friends. Please know you are not alone if you are grieving, angry or traumatized.

The institutional Church has not modeled an open, supportive space for these critical issues.

We do.

I am happy to facilitate safe spaces, small groups for those wanting to share their feelings, reflecting on how to cope spiritually and socially with the present moment and the future. I am also happy to facilitate separate safe spaces for those who feel conflicted theologically about reproductive rights and choices and would like a safe community to explore your feelings as well. We all deserve dignity and love in these serious explorations. Please let me know if you would like to participate in a group. My plan is to adapt the Mind-Body Medicine group model for these groups to foster inclusion, co-support, and stress relief.

If you need one-to-one spiritual care, please let me or Nancy know. We are both here for you.

In the meantime, I would like to share these resources:

Pray with this beautiful liturgy from the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis.
Learn from this resource from Catholics for Choice
Reflect with this article from Sr. Christine Shenk / NCR
Breathe with this meditation app that is free for the first year

I welcome your reflections and responses. While my vocal advocacy for reproductive rights is unusual in the institutional Catholic culture, my priestly silence would violate my calling as well as our congregation’s deeply valued culture of equality. Casting off and burning yokes is hard work in this uncomfortable and complicated time, but by the light of Christ and with Jesus as our guide, we can do hard things.

Love,
Angela

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