“Thank Yourself, Catholic Charities Runs It”

The lie that the church “hates” women and wants to keep them down is an an old one and a lazy one and a convenient one, and — unsurprisingly, it’s the lie the media and folks with an agenda will run with. Reality, of course, is quite different and can’t be explained in a slogan or with a bumper sticker:

The hundred-or-so inhabitants were all ecstatic over the new [Catholic Relief Services supplied] well . . . but the happiest, the leader told me, through the translator, were the little girls.  Why? I inquired.

“Because up to now everyday was the same for them, as it has been for centuries of our women.  The girls are the ones designated to walk the daily two-hour trek to the river, to fill up the buckets with water- – enough for their hut and family – – and walk two hours back.  Each day,  the men go out to the fields; the boys go off to school; the women stay in the village to care for their families . . . and the young girls ‘take the walk.’  They’ll do it until they marry and have a baby.  The survival of the village depends on them.  But this means,” the chief wrapped-it-up, “that they can never go to school.  If they did, who would get the water? But now” he pointed radiantly to the jubilant girls, “they can go to school because we have good water right here because of our new well.”

Episodes like that occur all over Ethiopia, as well as other impoverished, thirsty countries throughout the third world, because of CRS “fresh water projects.”  Villagers benefit; crops flourish; livestock fatten; all the people drink; but the girls are the happiest because they’re free and can now improve their lives.

When it comes to the health of women, their babies, and their children, the Catholic Church is there, the most effective private provider of such care anywhere around.

Another example:

We bishops of New York sponsor an agency called Fidelis, which provides health insurance to low-income folks.  I’m told we’re the largest such private provider in our state.

A recent physician survey of Fidelis showed that we got the highest ratings of anybody else in the area of – – guess what? – – supporting healthcare for women and children.

Here’s another illustration:

A couple years ago, I visited India, and travelled to particularly poor areas.  At one stop my host-brother-bishop asked me to visit a convent nearby.  “The sisters will appreciate your stopping-by,” he told me.  “They’re scared, and they might be harmed, run-out-of-town, or even put in jail!”

“Whatever for?”  I asked.

 “A couple years ago, they opened a residence for young girls.  Nearly a hundred of the girls, all Delats (“untouchables”) from the surrounding villages, live there, and go to school, learn handicrafts and skills, and are loved and cared for by the sisters.

“And that’s earning them threats?” I wondered aloud.

“Yes it is,” the bishop explained.  “Seems as if the wealthy people depend upon these young girls to clean their houses, cook, and baby-sit their own infants.  Now they’re losing this cheap labor source.  They’re mad.  They don’t like this social upheaval.  As one of them yelled at the sisters, ‘You take these girls, who will prepare my tea!’”

You getting a pattern here?  I could go on and on:  if you want to see creative, daring, lifegiving healthcare for women and their children, look at what the Church is doing.

And now understand why Catholics rightly bristle when politicians and commentators characterize the Church as backwards and insensitive when it comes to women’s health.  Yes, the PR experts advise them that this tactic is a proven ploy to take the attention off the current urgent issue of religious freedom.  The marketers advise them that, if they can reduce the issue to one of contraception, stereotyping the Church as opposed to women’s rights, they have a chance of clouding the towering issue of the First Freedom.

But the Church should not be the ones on the defensive here.  We’re on the offensive when it comes to women’s health, education, and welfare, here at home, and throughout the world.  We hardly need lectures on this issue from senators.

We just want to be left alone to live out the imperatives of our faith to serve, teach, heal, feed, and care for others.  We cherish this, our earthly home, America, for its enshrined freedom to do so.  Those really concerned about women’s health would be better off defending the Church’s freedom to continue its work.

A couple of years ago I visited a woman’s prison. The warden asked me if I wanted to visit the expectant and new mothers’ healthcare center. It then dawned on me that, of course, some women would enter prison pregnant. I was so happy to see the expectant moms, getting good health care for themselves and their unborn babies, and to see the moms with babies under two getting classes in childrearing and parenting skills, with the babies receiving tender care right next to their moms. When I told the warden how grateful I was to see such excellent care for these women and children, he replied, “Thank yourself. Catholic Charities runs it.”

For now, anyway. If only the bishops and the church would do good stuff like this, and shut up about their politically incorrect consciences and teachings, the world would just love them, right? But then, with the fickle love of the world assured to them…what would remain as a sign of contradiction?

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Roz Smith

    Actually part of the beauty of the respect for women in the Catholic Church CAN be put on a bumper sticker: Nuns made a habit of executive performance. They were the first women to run major institutions such as schools and hospitals.

  • Mark

    My wife Greta often gave speeches to womens groups and as the founder of a company long before the feminist movement, she had the ability to speak with authority. I found these notes she often used which are not complete, but are the gist of what she presented. She loved the Catholic Church and found only when she was in union with the Catholic Church did she find true peace and joy in her life. Few women I have met have come close for she not only had a hugely successful career, but also lovingly raised 6 children and worked in many parish volunteer groups including starting 4 of them to success. She was also a wonderful loving wife. So when she spoke, people listened and she would get in the face of those trying to sell distoritions or dissent as some have seen here.

    Greta’s rough notes:
    The Catholic Church loves and respects women. Proof? Those who follow Catholic Church teaching find amazing joy and peace in their lives as they become less so that Christ can become more in them. Women find this far easier to do than men as easily seen in how many stay within and loyal too the Church their entire lives. Catholic Church teaching unites God’s wonder in creation and natural law giving only women the unique privledge of carrying life from creation at conception into the world and the love to raise these children to adults. Men cannot do this by nature in both the creation of life and the natural good given essentials of being a mom. Dads are trying hard to improve, but they will never match a woman united with Chirst in this mission so essential to God. From the first acceptance of birth control, which the Church tried to help them avoid, this has been a disaster for women and their union with God and His Will, not theirs. Abortion was sure to follow along with everything else predicted by Pope Paul VI. (note: review each prediction and gain agreement that he was right before moving on)

    The secular humanist religion being forced on the country starting right after WWII turns everything upside down for women, and because of this on men and children as well. Women who argue against Catholic teaching often seem bitter and angry both toward the Church and authentic teaching, but also toward God’s creation and natural law so essential to that teaching. They view life in their womb as a disease that needs to be prevented. If the prevention fails, many turn to killing God’s Creation. Many others see this as freedom, but one has to ask freedom to become what in society versus what they already had. Because they turned from God and His Church united teaching on life itself, many have developed the same problem as their male counterparts in finding true peace and joy in their lives or in an ability to surrender to God’s will versus their own. With this lack of peace and joy, they often find their marriage no longer seems worthwhile and find themselves increasingly alone. You often hear groups of women in massive complaint about their life, their husbands or lack there of, or the lack of men who would make good husbands in between bashing their own children. They scream they hate to be around moms who are at home with thei kids and even worse have more than one or at the most two of them. All they talk about is their kids and husbands.

    As a growing number accepted the distortion of sex for recreation off limits to God and creation, many complain they cannot find men will commit and follow through to be good husbands and fathers. They are getting what they want without having to pay a price or make a committment. Why would they?

    Women all through history have been the strong postivie influence improving morals and values in both homes and communities. Women were sold the bad choice and many have swallowed the lie minority feminist lie and are paying a terrible price. They must die of this lie if they want to find peace and joy in life that can only be found in union with God’s will and the roles planned in creation.

    The feminist who lead the charge of the secular world relgion say that to choose the Catholic Church teaching and natural law means that women are doomed to being barefoot and pregnant. Only fools buy this argument and I and many others are living witness to that lie. (Usually have 10-15 women to give testimony that exposes the lie). All through American history, women have had a wide range of choices with strong postive impact. In fact, today, most “career” women find they have fewer choices working to make ends meet. As they do this, they have to sacrifice children and husbands and other choices women once dominiated. Few have time for pursuits that for generations led to women founding and leading large charitiable orgainizations. Few find time to become Benedictine Oblate or Third Order Dominicans or have quality time with their kids.

    Women in large numbers also in the past became religious with different focus such as spritutal, or within hospitals, orphanages, and Charitiable organization to help the poor. The feminist even had religious nuns who removed their habit and bought into the distortion of being a victim in the Church since they could not become priests. Women have evenbecome strong advisors to the Bishops and Popes and some have become Doctors of the Church. Women founded and staffed organizations such as the Red Cross bringing a strong womans touch into the lives of millions in need. Are these choices not better and more plentifly than a career and daily grind for a paycheck with diminishing value. Fewer women have a real array of choices before them now than in those “dreaded days of yesteryear” where supposedly women had no choice but barefoot and pregnant.

    (testimony of women. If possible have a religious as well as many other options that have always been avialable) (also have a few women tied to the daily grind with no hope and few options and little time for family or self) Expose the lie. It has been repeated so many times that many actually believe it.

  • Katherine

    “Yes it is,” the bishop explained. “Seems as if the wealthy people depend upon these young girls to clean their houses, cook, and baby-sit their own infants. Now they’re losing this cheap labor source. They’re mad. They don’t like this social upheaval. As one of them yelled at the sisters, ‘You take these girls, who will prepare my tea!’”

    Yes they just seem to hate it when they can’t treat people as things…

  • SKay

    Thanks for keeping Greta’s wonderful spitit with us Mark.

  • SKay

    Obama’s war on the innocent.


    Once evil is accepted as normal than there are no boundries.

  • ahem