…being thoughts on Synod 2015 from various observers
Questions of Process, Yet Again
Robert Royal’s daily reports from Synod 2014, posted on The Catholic Thing (of which he is editor-in-chief), were required reading for anyone trying to understand the dynamics of that Synod amidst the reportorial and analytic fog: which fog, it now seems abundantly clear, was not always generated by the media. Letters from the Synod asked Dr Royal to reflect on that experience in light of Synod 2015, which he will also cover for The Catholic Thing, as well as contributing to this exercise in “theological journalism.”
Robert Royal is president of the Washington-based Faith and Reason Institute and the author of numerous books, including The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History and the forthcoming study, A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century. XR2
I went to Rome last October to observe what I expected would be external pressure and media spin on the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. As anyone who paid attention now knows, there turned out to be no need for external manipulation, because irregularities in internal procedures – what some have said amounted to “rigging” the process – led to the publication of an interim report that included highly controversial proposals on Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried, and passages that seemed to call for the Church to find value in same-sex relationships – perhaps even in homosexuality as such.
That report was released publicly at noon on Monday of the second week of the Synod, the mid-point of the event, before even the bishops themselves had seen it. Over the next twenty-four hours, it precipitated a backlash and 180-degree turn that is still ricocheting around the world as we face another Synod in just a few days. Several synod fathers objected – vehemently – that the interim report wildly misrepresented their discussions. Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of South Africa in particular remarked that the Church found itself, as it often does lately, trying to catch up with mistaken notions transmitted via the media, a situation he described as almost “irredeemable.” But it ought to be said: this time it wasn’t the media that had misunderstood. The way the Vatican set up the Synod not only didn’t help. It helped create the problem.
It was very difficult to assess how the Synod was going and how much the public briefings – not only the intermediate report – accurately reflected what was, and was not, happening. Because before the Synod even began, the Vatican decided that, unlike in past synods, there would be no daily summaries of what bishops had said during the sessions, which were all closed. (The opening session was televised and can be watched here, but that’s it.) That decision alone allowed the interim report to be written and publicised – by a small group, it appears – without any countervailing information.
In theory, the closed process was supposed to give the participants space to be candid, without having to worry about how their statements would be reported. But in fact, many participants seemed nervous about just what this “openness” meant. The Pope harshly denounced Pharisaism and Jewish legalism, with its 613 points of law, in a homily at a Mass just prior to the Synod, which made it appear to more than a few observers that people who would defend traditional teachings on marriage would somehow ipso facto be considered pharisaical – hardly an inducement to candour at an event where the boss would be present.
One also suspected at the time that the relatively closed process might have also been intended to “control the message.” In practice, this meant that reports had to rely on leaks by high-ranking Church officials to their various favoured journalists, which always accompany events in Rome, and which created a tough of war of claims and counterclaims – and little by way of fact or information to control them.
In sum, the worst of both worlds.
Something very similar seems to be in the works this time – perhaps even worse. In the upcoming Synod, there will be no interim report. Even the deliberations of the circuli minores, the small language groups that meet to refine the final report (and that played a major role in revising the disastrous interim report last time), will not be released publicly. And neither will the final report itself – or at least that’s what is being said, as the Synod is about to open.
In the firestorm after last year’s interim report, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, who will again preside, announced that the language group reports would not be made public – which led to another uproar in which synod participants, notably both progressives and traditionalists, accused the committee running the event of manipulation. After a nod from Francis, the language reports – which called for hundreds of changes (modi) large and small – were released, and were quite eye-opening about the degree of dissatisfaction with both process and result.
Presumably, as last time out, there will be daily briefings with cardinals and bishops chosen, no one knows quite how or why, to inform the press about developments. But in the digital age, all these restrictions and efforts to control the message seem hopelessly inadequate. Now that the press knows there will be large issues at stake, they’ll go into an aggressive mode, and in Rome they know how to do it.
Leakers and counter-leakers and counter-counter-leakers will inevitably try to shape perceptions. In Washington, where I live, we have leaks too – a drop here, another there. In Rome, they use a fire hose. During the General Congregations that preceded the election of Pope Francis, whole speeches from those supposedly closed proceedings appeared verbatim, next day, in the Italian press. One cardinal told me, after, that he was astonished that the intervention by Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida had somehow been transcribed and published, despite Vatican security efforts to keep everything private: “And what’s even more amazing, he spoke without a text. I was sitting next to him and he was just talking, without anything prepared in advance. Someone must have recorded him since there was no text to leak.”
The Vatican has a reputation for poor PR. In a way, it’s almost refreshing in an age when everything is calculated, pre-packaged, pre-spun. But as the new Synod is about to open, it’s not clear that there is no calculation, packaging, spinning going on. It’s just that it seems weak and ineffective, and likely to confuse people yet again, about what the Church wishes to do about what everyone agrees is the urgent need to help the family.
The Kasper Proposal and Vatican II: A False Analogy
In his address to the College of Cardinals in 2014, in numerous interviews since then, and in personal correspondence, Cardinal Walter Kasper often suggests that there would be nothing really new about the Catholic Church, after due deliberation and consensus-building, finding a “path” toward admitting a divorced and civilly remarried Catholic to Holy Communion after a penitential period, an “honest judgment of the person concerned about his personal situation,” and support from a sacramental confessor. In doing this, Kasper proposes, the Church would in fact be following the example of Vatican II. There, the cardinal argues, a consensus was “wisely built” around the Catholic affirmation of religious freedom as a basic human right, despite the initial concerns of those who either denied the right in itself, or thought that affirming it would turn settled Catholic Church-state theory inside-out. If they could do it, Kasper says in so many words, why can’t we?
The question is whether that’s in fact what Vatican II did.
And the answer, it seems to me, is, “No, that’s not what Vatican II did, not at all.”
Dignitatis Humanae, Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, was the product of three converging sets of concerns, brought to the Council from different sectors of the Catholic world. The American bishops wanted Vatican II to affirm the American constitutional separation of the institutions of Church and state as something more than a strange experiment to be tolerated, much as one tolerates the ways of energetic but unruly children. Western European bishops wanted the Council to disentangle the Catholic Church from the old altar-and-throne arrangements that, in their judgment, had been one factor in the Church’s precipitous decline on their continent. Bishops from behind the Iron Curtain wanted a ringing Catholic affirmation of religious freedom that would help bolster their resistance to communist persecution.
And then there were bishops like Karol Wojtyła of Kraków, who grasped that the dignity of the human person was the battleground on which “the Church in the modern world” was contesting with various dangerous forces for the human future; who thought that coercion of consciences violated that human dignity; and who believed that the act of faith must be free if it is to be true, because the God of the Bible wants to be adored by people who freely choose to do so.
Those converging concerns made it possible to assemble the broad coalition of bishops that eventually passed the Declaration on Religious Freedom by a very large supermajority during Vatican II’s fourth session. That was not the whole story, however. For that supermajority among the Council Fathers was also made possible by some serious historical and theological work in the decades before the Council, some of which was done by the American Jesuit, John Courtney Murray.
Murray’s intense study of the Church-state theory of Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) persuaded him that Leo was probing his way toward a new Catholic approach to political modernity (including constitutionally – or legally – affirmed rights like religious freedom), beyond the “Just Say ‘No’” stance taken by Pope Gregory XVI and, after the European revolutions of 1848, by Pope Pius IX. This rejectionism had, over time, crystallised – some would say, fossilised – into the view that the legal establishment of the Catholic Church as the official religion of the state was the desired arrangement (the “thesis,” in the theological jargon of the day), while other arrangements (like the American constitutional order) were mere “hypotheses” that could, under certain historical circumstances, be “tolerated” – even as Catholics in countries governed by the “hypothesis” worked for the day when the “thesis” of Catholic establishment could be….established.
The unfolding of modern history played its role in taking the Church beyond this “thesis/hypothesis” business, not least because the experience of the Catholic Church in the United States demonstrated that religious freedom and (in American constitutional terms, “no establishment”) could be good for the Church. Established local Churches in Europe were dying; the faith was prospering in the United States. European governments regularly interfered in the appointment of bishops and even cast vetoes against disfavoured cardinals in papal conclaves; in the late 18th century, when Rome made polite inquiries about episcopal candidates through Benjamin Franklin, the infant United States government informed the Vatican that the appointment of Catholic bishops was none of its business and that the Church was free to appoint whomever it liked.
But history is always contingent, things can and do change, and thus disentangling the Catholic Church from the notion that an established Church was a matter of settled doctrine required something more than the observation that things were looking pretty good on the other side of the Atlantic.
Father Murray provided that “something more” by arguing that those altar-throne alliances which seemed to be the tradition were in fact a departure from the tradition. The deeper, truer Catholic tradition on Church-and-state, he wrote, ran back to Pope St Gelasius I’s distinction between priestly authority and political authority; “established” Catholicism was a concession to political power that the Church ought not make, although it had done so under the pressures of royal absolutism; and there was indeed a path toward a different understanding of both Church-and-state and religious freedom.
That path, however, did not mean kicking over an ancient, settled tradition, for that is not how reform works in the Catholic Church. That path required reform-through-retrieval, the recovery of an element of the tradition of which the Church had lost sight: namely, Pope Gelasius’s distinction between, and affirmation of, “two authorities” in the world that should not be thought identical, or even too closely enmeshed with each other (a point underscored by Gregory VII in the Investitute Controversy). Murray and those who accepted his analysis of Leo XIII and Gelasius I wanted the Church to move forward by reaching back into its tradition and recovering something lost. It was, in other words, reform through re-form: reform through a recovery of the “form” given to the Church by Christ himself, who had distinguished sharply between what was owed to Caesar and what was owed to God (Matthew 22:21), thus giving the world the novel idea that religious and political authority were different.
Murray’s work located the concerns of American and European churchmen within a richer, deeper historical and theological context. When it was clear that the “thesis/hypothesis” approach was not the Tradition with a capital T – and after the concept of religious freedom was distinguished from notions of radical personal autonomy, enhanced by a richer theology of the dignity of the human person, and linked to the duty to seek the truth and adhere to it – the result was the Declaration on Religious Freedom of Vatican II.
It’s not easy to see how Cardinal Kasper’s proposal fits this historical template, no matter how often he argues that it does. The cardinal’s attempt to provide biblical, patristic, medieval, and canonical arguments in favour of his proposal have been seriously criticised, in the proper academic sense of the term, by responsible scholars (the standard reference here is Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, edited by Robert Dodaro, OSA [Ignatius Press]).
So has Kasper’s very approach to doing the work of theology, which some thinks eliminates any stable foundation, amidst the flux of history, for the Church’s reflection on the Gospel. Those interested in exploring this further, deep down in the (fascinating) philosophical weeds, can consult the article, “German Idealism and Cardinal Kasper’s Theological Project”, by Prof Thomas Stark, in the June 9, 2015 web edition of Catholic World Report; my own attempt to summarise the Stark critique briefly is available here.
In any event, and with all respect to a distinguished scholar-cardinal who has been kind enough to praise my own work on John Paul II and from whose books I have profited over the years, it does seem to me that Cardinal Kasper’s analogy between his proposal on Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, and the development of Catholic self-understanding that led to Vatican II’s affirmation of religious freedom, just doesn’t work. The “thesis/hypothesis” Church-state theory with its preference for Catholic establishment was not settled doctrine, but a time-conditioned theology mistakenly taken for doctrine. Further, Kasper’s proposal does not seem to embody the Catholic method of “renewal through retrieval,” or “reform by reference to ‘form’,” which made Dignitatis Humanae possible.
Finally, Vatican II’s teaching on religious freedom began from the premise that there are “sacred givens” in the Church’s doctrine – stable elements that can always be understood more fully, but which are, well, stable, because they are “givens” that were given by Christ himself. It is not at all clear that the Kasper proposal rests on any such “sacred givens,” and some have argued forcefully that it in fact contradicts one such given, namely, Christ’s own teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.
I think it’s unlikely that the Kasper proposal will play the role at Synod 2015 that it did at Synod 2014. But the issues beneath the Kasper proposal, some of which I’ve only touched on briefly here, will certainly be in play. More on that in the days and letters to come.
Distinguished Senior Fellow
and William E Simon Chair in Catholic Studies, Ethics and
Public Policy Center, Washington, DC
…for the Synod and the Church to hear
Allen H Vigneron has led his native Archdiocese of Detroit since 2009, having previously been Bishop of Oakland, California, auxiliary bishop of Detroit and rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary there, and an official of the Secretariat of State of the Holy See. Archbishop Vigneron earned the doctorate in philosophy at the Catholic University of America and is now the chairman of CUA’s board of directors. His answers to the questions posed to him and others by Letters from the Synod follow. XR2
1) In your pastoral experience in Detroit, how does the contemporary crisis of marriage and the family present itself?
The Church recognises that God established marriage and family from “the beginning” to be a marvellous source of blessings to the human race. In the liturgy we marvel that marriage was “the one blessing not forfeited by original sin nor washed away by the flood.”
One of the fruits of this original blessing is that the family is the first and most effective “School of Communion.” Here each member of the family – husband and wife and their children – grow in meeting the challenges that come from finding one’s personal happiness by contributing to the flourishing of the family’s good. Here, each learns from experience the ineluctable truth (which tragically escapes so many people today) that the way to find life is to spend it on others. Here, each learns to shape his or her energies-for-living into virtues for living excellently.
I can testify from my experience as a pastor that flunking in the School of Communion has grave consequences, not only for an individual or for one’s family, but for all the other communities of which the family is the basic cell.
Poor performance in the School of Communion translates into failure in the classroom and trouble at work – places where the virtues gained in family life are essential for success. Those who do poorly in the School of Communion are also poorly fitted for the responsibilities of citizenship in a democracy. There are many factors that can, on their face, be identified as causes for the blight in our communities, but at their root for the most part is the contemporary crisis of the family.
And ultimately, overcoming the crisis of the family in our time is not only about being happy in this world but also about gaining happiness in the life to come. Doing poorly in the School of the Family is a grave handicap in our efforts to answer Jesus’s call to become his disciples and to embark on our share in his mission.
2) What have you found to be effective pastoral strategies in addressing issues of chastity, marriage, and the family?
From personal experience I endorse three strategies which, when taken up as a “troika,” so to speak, work remarkably well to pull us out of the crisis of the family. These are: (a) articulating a clear and compelling case for God’s plan for the family; (b) presenting witnesses who can testify that they have experienced that this Good News is true and that responding to it bears good fruit in their lives; and (c) offering support in meeting the challenges that come from walking the Gospel way of the family.
About Teaching: We need to present without apology God’s mind about human sexuality, marriage, and the family as his plan for human flourishing. We are not advocates for a simpler past age; we are not the voices of nostalgia. We speak, on behalf of God, a word that God wants his children to hear because he loves them. We need to make his case with all the talent we can muster, to show that living our sexuality according to his design is the path toward flourishing in nature and in grace. St John Paul II left us a powerful resource for this effort with his teaching on the Theology of the Body. Yes, teaching God’s plan is challenging, and we need to take account of the many wounds in the hearts of our hearers. But fudging on what makes for healthy sexuality would be like a physician fudging on the facts of what leads to physical health – which is not a way to be of real service. True service sets out the facts and then helps people respond.
About Witnesses: Along with clear teaching people need to know that God’s plan works. In fact, personal witness is usually the most powerful way to present our Good News about the family. Hearing testimony to the blessings received as a result of sacrifices made to walk the way of Christ is essential for others to be able to embrace the Gospel truth. Witness makes the word “real” for our hearers.
About Support: Living the Lord’s Good News about marriage and family puts his disciples squarely at odds with the age. We are countercultural. Living out our commitment is not possible without mutual support. We walk the narrow way together, finding strength and encouragement from each other, and a hand up when we stumble. We need to let the Holy Spirit form our parishes into such supportive communities, and within these we need to encourage small cells of fraternity and communion.
3) What are your hopes for Synod 2015? How could it be most helpful to you in your responsibilities as chief shepherd of the Church of Detroit?
I hope that the Synod starts with Jesus Christ, ends with Jesus Christ, and keeps Jesus Christ at the centre of every hour of every day it meets. I hope that the members give clear and courageous witness to Christ’s teaching about marriage and family as Good News, a road map to get us to the flourishing that is God’s will for us. Ultimately, this is not the Church’s teaching, it’s Jesus’s. She holds it in trust, yes, but it is his message, his word which he learned from his Father. If Christ’s teaching about marriage and family is not the medicine for overcoming the hardness of the human heart about which he speaks in Matthew 19:8, and if he hadn’t been able to restore health to something as basic to human life as marriage, family and sexuality, then he wouldn’t be the one the human race was looking for. He wouldn’t be the one capable of doing the job that needed doing, and the covenant in his blood would not be eternal, but temporary – good for a time but not for all time. But Jesus is that one, the promised one whose coming we have expected from the first hour after the Fall, the one to crush the head of our Adversary through his cross and resurrection. Sure, there is a cost in embracing this word, but there is really no alternative; every other word is weak, counterfeit, false compassion, illusion. The Synod about the family is really the Synod about Jesus, about his lordship over our families, our bodies, our lives.
I hope the Synod is bold, bold with apostolic boldness, bold with the boldness that comes from confidence in the power of the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead. I believe this will open the members up to new solutions to the challenges we face. And these new solutions do not, I think, lie in conforming life in the Church to life as the world lives it. Rather than compromise, we need “to launch out into the deep.” Perhaps this will mean something as radical as a sort of “Second Catechumenate” for the formation of Catholics in order to prepare them to live their marriages in fidelity to the way of Christ amidst the challenges of our age. If not this, then we must find something comparably radical and innovative to carry us forward on the way.
In the Church of Detroit right now we are focusing all of our efforts on becoming the band of joyful missionary disciples that Pope Francis challenged us to become in Evangelii Gaudium. I need the Vicar of Christ and those gathered with him at the Synod to proclaim the Lord Jesus’s Good News about marriage and family with evangelising zeal and commitment. By the members of the Synod embracing their role as a band of joyful missionary disciples, we here in Southeast Michigan will be strengthened for our vocation “to be all in” with the New Evangelization, to have full confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit to heal and transform, to put uncompromising trust in the Lordship of Jesus over every time and place.
…being other items of interest
The following letter to the Synod, which is publicly presented for the first time here, is of particular interest for several reasons. It represents the voice of Catholic women, rarely if ever heard in the global media, who support the Church’s teaching on chastity, marriage, and family. It affirms that this teaching promotes women’s flourishing while offering protection and support to the poor and vulnerable. It reaches out in solidarity to women in the developing world, supporting their struggle against what Pope Francis has called “ideological colonisation” by the secularised West. And it urges a more effective, compassionate communication of the Church’s teaching, acknowledging that this has too rarely been done well. Finally, the Letter urges that the Synod look to women as messengers of the truth of Catholic faith and commits the signatories to intensified prayer and service in support of the Holy Father and the bishops of the Church.
LETTER TO THE SYNOD FATHERS
FROM CATHOLIC PROFESSIONAL WOMEN
October 1, 2015
Dear Synod Fathers,
In anticipation of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family (October 2015), we the undersigned Catholic women — scholars, professors, attorneys, physicians, writers, businesswomen, philanthropists, leaders of apostolate, members of religious orders, and others — wish to express our love for Pope Francis, our fidelity to and gratitude for the doctrines of the Catholic Church, and our confidence in the Synod of Bishops as it strives to strengthen the Church’s evangelising mission.
Pope Francis has highlighted the need for women to be an “incisive presence” in the Church, and an “effective presence” in the culture, the workplace, and wherever “the most important decisions are taken,” in harmony with women’s “preferential attention” for the family. And Pope St John Paul II observed that women “have the task of assuring the moral dimension of culture … a culture worthy of the person.” With these ideas in mind, we wish the Synod Fathers to know that:
• We see the teachings of the Church as truth — a source of authentic freedom, equality, and happiness for women.
• We give witness that the Church’s teachings — on the dignity of the human person and the value of human life from conception to natural death; on the meaning of human sexuality, the significance of sexual difference and the complementarity of men and women; on openness to life and the gift of motherhood; and on marriage and family founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman — provide a sure guide to the Christian life, promote women’s flourishing, and serve to protect the poor and most vulnerable among us.
• We stand in solidarity with our sisters in the developing world against what Pope Francis has described as “forms of ideological colonisation which are out to destroy the family” and which exalt the pursuit of “success, riches, and power at all costs.” We urge a profound attentiveness to the poor and a relentless search for just solutions that address the deeper causes of poverty while simultaneously safeguarding the vulnerable, strengthening the family, and upholding the common good.
• We believe that pastoral challenges can be met, in part, by communicating Church teachings more clearly, confidently, and compassionately, in language, tone, and generous personal encounters that welcome the “why?” of a searching heart. We believe that women should be prominent messengers of the truths contained in the Church’s teachings.
• We enthusiastically commit our distinctive insights and gifts, and our fervent prayers, in service to the Church’s evangelising mission.
And we pledge to accompany you, the Synod Fathers, and Pope Francis with our deepest prayers and gratitude, as you work for the good of families and the Church.
Maria Sophia Aguirre, PhD
Professor of Economics, the Catholic University of America
Joanne Angelo, MD
Pontifical Academy for Life
Founder, A Rose and a Prayer
Mary Ellen Bork, MA
Board Member, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Kathleen Eaton Bravo
Founder, Obria Medical Clinics
Sr. Sara Butler, MSBT, STL, PhD
Professor Emerita of Dogmatic Theology, University of St. Mary of the Lake
Teresa Stanton Collett, JD
Professor of Law and Director, Prolife Center, University of St. Thomas (MN)
President, Susan B. Anthony List
Pia de Solenni, STL, SThD
Associate Dean, Augustine Institute
Jane A. Driver, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Marguerite R. Duane, MD, MHA, FAAFP
Adjunct Associate Professor and Board Certified Family Physician, Georgetown University School of Medicine
Rachel Campos Duffy
Author & Political Pundit
National Spokesperson, The LIBRE Initiative
Wife of U.S. Congressman Sean Duffy (WI)
Author and Senior Fellow, The Ethics and Public Policy Center
Co-author of The Case for Marriage
Mary Rice Hasson, JD
Fellow and Director of the Catholic Women’s Forum, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Marie Hilliard, MS, JCL, PhD, RN
Director of Bioethics and Public Policy, National Catholic Bioethics Center
President, National Council of Catholic Women
Jody Vaccaro Lewis, PhD
Professor, Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception
Jeanne F. Mancini
President, The March for Life
Margaret Harper McCarthy, STL, STD
Assistant Professor of Theological Anthropology, John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family at the Catholic University of America
Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD
President, The Ruth Institute
Mary O’Callaghan, PhD
Public Policy Fellow, Center for Ethics and Culture, University of Notre Dame
Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, PhD
Chair of the Department of Economics, and Director and Faculty Research Fellow, Stein Center for Social Research, Ave Maria University
Founder and President, ENDOW (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women)
Chairperson, Black Catholics United for Life
President & CEO, The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders
Deborah Savage, PhD
Director, Masters in Pastoral Ministry Program, Professor of Philosophy and Pastoral Ministry, St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, University of St. Thomas (MN)
Elizabeth R. Schiltz, JD
Professor of Law and Co-Director, Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Law, Thought, and Public Policy, University of St. Thomas (MN)
Boards of Directors, National Catholic Partnership on Disability
Board of Trustees, The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Board of Directors, Catholic Charities Fort Worth
Janet E. Smith, PhD
Professor, Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics, Sacred Heart Major Seminary
Mary C. Sommers, PhD, Cullen Chair in Business Ethics and Professor of Philosophy, Center for Thomistic Studies, University of St. Thomas (TX)
Syndicated Catholic Talk Show Host
Catholic Connection/Catholic View for Women
EWTN Radio and TV
Nora Urrea, MBA, MMF
National Board Member, Catholic Association of Latino Leaders
Founder and Director, Voces Unidas por la Vida
Valerie E. Washington
Executive Director, The National Black Catholic Congress
[The signatories cited here are a partial listing of the 200 leading women who have signed this letter. The full list is available at: SynodLetter.com. Affiliations are cited for identification purposes only.]