We are Catholic Women Speak

URGENT ACTION: Please sign our petition to the Synod bishops if you believe that women and men religious should have equal status in the Synod.
La pétition en français

Members of Catholic Women Speak campaign in Rome in support of #votesforcatholicwomen

Read Petra Dankova’s article “Votes for Catholic Women” here (translated from German)

Prioress Irene Gassmann and her Benedictine nuns from the monastery Fahr – Switzerland rally in support of #votesforcatholicwomen

Has your group or religious order joined the campaign #votesforcatholicwomen? Send us your photos and we’ll display them here: catholicwomenspeak@gmail.com.
Letter to Women Participating in the Synod – why can’t you vote?

Scroll through below for a selection of photos from our time in Rome.

Watch the videos of our symposium here. These will be edited and labelled more clearly, but you can watch selected sessions by scrolling through these unedited versions and following the running order listed beneath the videos.

PART ONE – 10.30 am to 1.05 pm

PART TWO – 2.05 pm to 6.30 pm

Catholic Women Trying to Speak

On the afternoon of Wednesday, 3rd October, some members of Catholic Women Speak joined Women’s Ordination Conference and Voices of Faith to stage a peaceful protest outside the Vatican as the bishops gathered for the start of the Synod. As they walked past in their red and black finery, we chanted a litany – a list of all the bishops’ names, followed by the words, “Let women vote”. The chorus was, “Knock, knock who’s there? More than half the Church.”

The reason for the protest is that the Synod rules have recently been changed so that non-ordained participants can vote, but it seems this applies only to non-ordained men. Two religious brothers will be entitled to vote during the final deliberations and decisions of the Synod, but religious sisters and other female participants will not. That was the reason for the protest.

Two Irish members of the Synod stopped to engage in warm and friendly conversation with the demonstrators – Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin. Others walked by, ignoring the protesters. After about half an hour, the Italian police arrived in force – two police cars with blue lights flashing, followed by a riot van, followed by two mounted police on horseback. The police demanded to see the women’s passports, and the organiser of the protest, Executive Director of Women’s Ordination Conference Kate McElwee, was manhandled and threatened with arrest.

Eventually, the police returned the passports and the demonstrators dispersed to a local bar to drink Prosecco and share a sense of solidarity. We invited the police to join us, but they declined.

Our programme is online. Please go to this link to see the full list of topics and speakers

Contributors to the Symposium – in order of appearance

Scroll down to find out more

Help us to promote women’s voices in the Church – donate here
List of Contents
List of Contributors

To order a discounted copy of the book from Watermead Shop, run by CWS member and contributor Alison Concannon Kennedy, please go to this link (orders for UK delivery only).

Meet some of the contributors and read extracts from the book by clicking on the images below

In collaboration with:

Towards a deeper, richer understanding of the Catholic tradition

We are creating a space for open dialogue, theological exploration and collaboration among Catholic women in the worldwide Church.

We seek to bring Catholic women’s voices into dialogue with others in the Catholic Church, with those in other churches and religious traditions, and with wider society, in order to participate in a deeper, richer understanding of the Catholic tradition and its relevance for our times

We do not speak with one voice

We believe in the creativity of struggle and acceptance that comes from learning to respect our differences. We regard these as vital aspects of the process of discovery and transformation that brings us together in our faith.

Diversity is a strength
Meet our members

We speak as women, not as “Woman”

We resist any attempt to develop a theology of “Woman”.

Find out why


A forum for dialogue

The purpose of the forum is to create an informed and honest space for dialogue around issues relevant to the lives of Catholic women in the Church and society.

Comments and contributions that are respectful, courteous and intelligent are welcome here.

Whatever your gender, you are welcome to join our conversation here.

Catholic Women Gossip About Gaudete et Exsultate

The following reflection is intended to stimulate discussion around some problematic issues that emerge when Pope Francis's apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, is read from a woman's perspective. It is written in a spirit of

Catholic Women Discuss the Charlie Gard Case

This Facebook discussion explores complex ethical questions about life support and end of life decisions, the relationship between health care and 'big pharma', and differences between attitudes to these issues in the US, Canada and

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We are a global network

We are the voices of Catholic women from many different cultures, perspectives and walks of life, 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.
Find out how
We are an online community of over 1000 women


Join our conversation

Two Catholic Churches – I’m Staying With One

Guest post from Lillian Vogl on CWS Member Rebecca Bratten-Weiss' Blog. Originally published on Patheos.com 11th October 2018. I’ve been noticing lately that there are two deeply different belief systems found among people who

Browse more articles here

News and events

Browse more news items here

Men and women, young people and adults, communicate differently. They speak different languages and they act in different ways. Everyone has something to contribute, because they have their life experiences, they look at things from a different standpoint and they have their own concerns, abilities and insights. The unity that we seek is not uniformity, but a “unity in diversity”, or “reconciled diversity”.

 – Pope Francis,  Amoris Laetitiae – The Joy of Love

Catholic Women Speak – The book

Paulist Press (US)


Alban Books (UK)


The book

The Catholic Women Speak network’s first major project was 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 of them were taken.


Review of Catholic Women Speak in Tui Motu InterIsland Magazine

Catholic Women Speak: Bringing our Gifts to the Table is, I believe, a significant contribution to the discussion around the role of women in the Catholic Church in the 21st century. It is not only well-researched, but is a lively and thought-provoking read. I thoroughly recommend it.

Daily Theology, ‘Review: Catholic Women Speak’

One of the strengths of the volume is the plurality of voices, which do not speak with a single, unified opinion on controversy. This is all the better, really, to reflect the complexity of women’s lives. I can easily see this book being valuable for pastors and pastoral associates, for parish book clubs, for academics to use in their classrooms when dealing with perennially hot-button topics.

Vox Nova, Jeannine Marie Pitas, Book Review: ‘Catholic Women Break Their Silence’:

For me, this book is a breath of fresh air. A thick wall of silence has been broken; masks have been removed. It is refreshing to see these forty-four women speak in such a courageous, vulnerable and self-revealing way. This book is a must-read for all who seek a better understanding of the real, lived experience of women in the Catholic Church today.

Read more reviews

Get involved with Catholic Women Speak today

Join a vibrant network of Catholic women who all support each other on their personal and spiritual journeys.

Join our online community

We welcome Catholic women to join our Facebook group to dialogue with us, and to support other Catholic women around the world working for a more inclusive Church.

Take part in our closed Facebook group

This private Facebook group is open to bona fide members who self-identify as Catholic women. It offers a secure and confidential forum for dialogue, awareness raising and theological engagement around issues of concern to women in the Church and society. If you wish to join in the conversation please contact us

Join a local group

Catholic Women Speak is a worldwide movement. Find out if there is a group in your area that you can join and support.

How to join a group

Even though we take full advantage of online communication, we know that this does not replace the value of meeting face to face in groups to support each other. Find out if there is a group near you for you to join.

Join our conversation

Whatever your gender, you are welcome to join our conversation here.

Join our forum

The purpose of the website is to create an informed and honest space for dialogue around issues relevant to the lives of Catholic women in the Church and society. Comments and contributions which are respectful, courteous and intelligent are welcome here.

Join online
Join local group
Go to forum
Sign up to our newsletter
Go to magazine

We are delighted to collaborate with L’Osservatore Romano in distributing the English translation of their Women Church World magazine through our website.

L’Osservatore Romano – Women Friends

Women Friends - April 2018 For many centuries friendship was considered to be a solely masculine fact, a “lofty” sentiment, cathartic, which uplifted the spirit: Achilles and Patroclus, Euryalus and Nisus, and also David

In collaboration with Voices of Faith

Catholic Women Speak and Voices of Faith work together to promote the representation and participation of women in the life of the Church. We do this through publications, media promotions, educational activities, networking and social media, and by organising events such as the International Women’s Day conference organised in Rome every year by Voices of Faith, and the symposia in Rome organised by Catholic Women Speak to coincide with Synods of Bishops in 2015 and 2018.

In collaboration with Catherine of Siena College

We work closely with the college which provides 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.

Support our work

Please support the work of the Catholic Women Speak Network - helping to create the space for authentic dialogue within the Church. Find out what your funds can help us achieve. Find out what your funds can help us achieve.
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