Letter to Synod Fathers from Catholic Women

Letter to Synod Fathers from Catholic Women

October 1, 2015

Dear Synod Fathers in Christ,

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 evangelizing 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 colonization 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 evangelizing 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.

In Christ,

Note: Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.

Signature Count:


Maria Sophia Aguirre, PhD
Professor of Economics
The Catholic University of America

Joanne Angelo, MD
Pontifical Academy for Life

Ellen Barrosse
Founder, A Rose and a Prayer

Mary Ellen Bork, MA
Board Member, Ethics & 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
Director, Prolife Center
University of St. Thomas (MN)

Marjorie Dannenfelser
President, Susan B. Anthony List

Jane A. Driver, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School

Marguerite R. Duane, MD, MHA, FAAFP
Adjunct Associate Professor
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)

Mary Eberstadt
Author and Senior Fellow
The Ethics and Public Policy Center

Maggie Gallagher
Co-author of The Case for Marriage

Astrid Bennett Gutierrez
President, Hispanics for Life

Mary Rice Hasson, JD
Fellow and Director of The Catholic Women’s Forum
The Ethics and Public Policy Center

Marie Hilliard, MS, JCL, PhD, RN
Director of Bioethics and Public Policy
The National Catholic Bioethics Center

Sheila Hopkins
President, National Council of Catholic Women

Jody Vaccaro Lewis, PhD
Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception

Jeanne F. Mancini
President, The March for Life

Margaret Harper McCarthy, STL, STD
Editor, Humanum
Assistant Professor of Theological Anthropology
John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and 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
Director and Faculty Research Fellow
Stein Center for Social Research, Ave Maria University

Terry Polakovic
Founder and President
ENDOW (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women)

Gloria Purvis
Chairperson, Black Catholics United for Life

Diana Richardson-Vela
President & CEO, The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders

Karen Garver Santorum, RN, JD
Attorney and Author

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)
Board of Directors, National Catholic Partnership on Disability

Breda Shelton
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

Pia de Solenni, STL, SThD
Associate Dean, Augustine Institute

Mary C. Sommers, PhD
Cullen Chair in Business Ethics and Professor of Philosophy
Center for Thomistic Studies, University of St. Thomas (TX)

Teresa Tomeo
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

Rosie Vilegas-Smith
Founder and Director, Voces Unidas por la Vida

Valerie E. Washington
Executive Director, The National Black Catholic Congress

Additional Signers

Myra Addison, MS, MBA
Adjunct Professor of Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment, Integral Development Programs
The Catholic University of America

Julie Alexander
The Alexander House Apostolate

Mary Andrews, MD

Erika Bachiochi, JD
Legal Scholar
Author of Women, Sex & the Church

Amy Barrett, JD
Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame Law School

Sarah Bartel, PhD
Writer, Speaker, and Consultant to the Archdiocese of Seattle

Kari Beckman
Executive Director, Regina Caeli

Amy M. Belger, JD

Laraine Bennett, MA
Editor and Communications Manager
National Council of Catholic Women

Julie Blatty
Speaker and Spiritual Director

Beatriz Lopez Bonetti, MBA
Public Relations Director, School of Business & Economics
The Catholic University of America

Dorinda C. Bordlee, JD
Chief Counsel, Bioethics Defense Fund

Janice Chik Breidenbach, PhD
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Ave Maria University

Cristina Vollmer de Burelli
Executive Director, V5 Initiative

Rebecca Burgess, PhD

Anne Husted Burleigh

Sr. Deirdre Byrne, POSC, MD
Surgeon and Medical Missionary
Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts

Jill Cabes
Physical Therapist
MA Student in Theological Studies
Notre Dame Seminary (LA)

Marjorie Murphy Campbell, JD, JCL
Founder, NewFeminism.co

Rebecca V. Cherico, PhD
Adjunct Instructor
Villanova University

Grazie Pozo Christie, MD
Physician and Senior Policy Advisor
The Catholic Association

Meghan Cokely
Director, Office for the New Evangelization
Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Alison Contreras, PhD, FCPI
Caritas Fertility Care

Holly Taylor Coolman, PhD
Assistant Professor of Theology
Providence College

Sandra Lora Cremers, MD, FACS
Ophthalmologist, Visionary Ophthalmology

Melissa Curvino, JD

Glorybell S. Daboub

Faith D. Daggs, MD
Holy Spirit Obstetrics & Gynecology, A Geisinger Affiliate

Sarah Denny, MA, FCP
Speaker, Writer, and Fertility Care Practitioner, Women’s New Life Center

Therese M. Duane, MD, FACS, FCCM
Professor of Surgery
University of North Texas
Medical Director of Acute Care Surgery
Research, John Peter Smith Health System

Emily Duffy
Communications Director
Catholic Information Center

Dawn Eden, STL, STD (candidate)
University of St. Mary of the Lake

Mary D. Elkins
Event Coordinator, Archdiocese of Atlanta

Theresa Farnan, PhD
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy
Franciscan University of Steubenville

Maria Fedoryka, PhD
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Ave Maria University

Maureen Ferguson
Senior Policy Advisor
The Catholic Association

Mary Hallan FioRito, JD
Former Executive Assistant to the late Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago

Mary Frank, PhD

Angela Franks, PhD
Professor of Theology at The Theological Institute for the New Evangelization
St. John’s Seminary, Boston, MA

Jennifer Fulwiler
Radio Host
The Catholic Channel on SiriusXM

Laura Garcia, PhD
Scholar in Residence, Department of Philosophy, Boston College

Heidi M. Giebel, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, and Managing Editor, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
University of St. Thomas (MN)

Lisa Gilbert, MD
Family Physician

Gabrielle Girgis, PhD (cand.)
Politics, Princeton University

Diana C. von Glahn, JD
Producer and Host, The Faithful Traveler

Carol Golbranson
Executive Director, LIFEsocal
Shirley Gonzalez, MD, FAAP

Alexandra Greeley
Author and Editor

Alicia B. Grimaldi
Director of Publishing
The Witherspoon Institute

Arina O. Grossu, MA
Director, Center for Human Dignity
Family Research Council

Kimberly Kirk Hahn
Writer and Co-Founder
St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Maria Suarez Hamm
Director of Hispanic Family Life and Leadership Development, Office of Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns
Archdiocese of Washington

Susan E. Hanssen, PhD
Associate Professor of History
University of Dallas

Margaret H. Hartshorn, PhD
President, Heartbeat International

Mary Healy, PhD
Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture
Sacred Heart Major Seminary

Anne Hendershott, PhD
Professor of Sociology
Franciscan University of Steubenville

Lisa Hendey
Author and Founder

Kim Herman
Financial Advisor

Marybeth Hicks
Columnist, Author, and Speaker

Michele Hill
Business Owner

Elsa Rose Hoffman
Former Executive Director
Pure Fashion, Washington, D.C.

Laura Hollis, JD
Associate Professional Specialist, Mendoza College of Business, and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School
University of Notre Dame

April Hoopes
Writer and Editor

Cassandra L. Hough
Founder, Love & Fidelity Network

Pearl Huang-Ramirez, MD
Family Physician
Fertility Care Consultant

Leticia Ibarra

Adora Kassab Ibrahim
Lighthouse Real Estate Group, Inc.

Maja Ivankovic, PsyD
Assistant Director
Institute for the Psychological Sciences Center for Psychological Services

Carmel Kelly, MD
Assistant Professor, Clinical Medicine
Specialist in Family Medicine and Geriatrics

Elizabeth M. Kelly
Managing Editor
Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and

Elizabeth R. Kirk, JD
Resident Fellow, Stein Center for Social
Research, Ave Maria University

Sr. Hanna Klaus, MD
Executive Director
Natural Family Planning Center of
Washington, D.C., and Teen Star Program

Lisa Klewicki, PhD
Psychologist and Assistant Professor
Institute for the Psychological Sciences

Patricia E. Kolesar, JD

Elyssa Marie Koren, JD

Mary K. Korson, MBA
Associate, Commercial Real Estate Management

Kristin Kuhn
Medical Student, Texas Southwestern Medical School

Caitlin P. La Ruffa
Director, Love & Fidelity Network

Marie Lan Le
Vietnamese family ministry

R. Mary Hayden Lemmons, PhD
Co-director, Siena Symposium for Women, Family, and Culture
University of St. Thomas (MN)

Kerri Lenartowick, MA, STL
Affiliate Instructor of Theology
University of Dallas

Jennie Bradley Lichter, JD

Wendy Stone Long, JD
Attorney and 2012 New York Republican and Conservative Nominee for U.S. Senate

Rachel Lu, PhD
Writer and Adjunct Professor
University of St. Thomas (MN)

Jody M. Lueck, CPA
President, Fully Engaged Consulting, LLC

Katherine E. Lundstrom, MBA
President & CEO, Firm Foundations, Inc.

Marieann Z. Machida, JD

Maria McFadden Maffucci
Editor, Human Life Review

Maria L. Maggi
Senior Editor
Religious publishing

Anne M. Maloney, PhD
Chair and Associate Professor of Philosophy
St. Catherine University

Ann Manion
President, Women’s Care Center, Inc.

Connie Marshner
President, Connie Marshner & Associates

Monica McDaniel, JD

Meg T. McDonnell

Barbara McGuigan
Radio Host, The Good Fight
Ave Maria Radio, EWTN

Ashley E. McGuire
Senior Fellow
The Catholic Association

Amy McInerny, JD
Executive Director, NCHLA

Jennifer E. Miller, STD
Professor of Moral Theology
Notre Dame Seminary (New Orleans, LA)

Marie Miller
Singer and Songwriter

Monica Migliorino Miller, PhD
Associate Professor of Theology, Madonna University
Author of Authority of Women in the Catholic Church

Roxanne Miller
Advancement Director, Private School
Advocate for special needs children

Janet Morana, PD
Executive Director, Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries
Co-Host, The Catholic View for Women
Co-Founder, Silent No More Awareness Campaign

Melissa Moschella, PhD
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
The Catholic University of America

Maura Mudd
Board of Trustees, Susan B. Anthony List

Ines Angeli Murzaku, PhD
Professor and Founding Chair, Department of Catholic Studies
Seton Hall University

Ashley Mutschler
K-12 Educator
Pittsburgh Public Schools

Berni Neal
Board member, Catholic Leadership Institute
Board member, Thomas Aquinas College

Katherine Nikas, JD

Rosalie S. Nolan

Kate O’Beirne
Former Washington Editor, National Review

Elizabeth E. O’Brien
President, Collegiate Cultural Foundation

Anne Orban, MEd, NPDP

Camille Pauley
President and CEO
Healing the Culture

Faith Glavey Pawl, PhD
Professor of Philosophy
University of St. Thomas (MN)

Mary A. D. Petrino, DM, ASID, CID, LEED AP
Businesswoman and Certified Interior Designer

Nancy Piccione
Writer, The Catholic Post and ReadingCatholic.com
Diocese of Peoria

Karen Poehailos, MD, CFCMC
Vice President for Ethics and Standards
American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals

Julie Ponzi, MA

Allison Postell, PhD
Instructor, Philosophy Department
University of Colorado

Kerry Pound, MD
Physician, Salem Hospital

Monica Pourrat, MD, MPH

Kelley Proxmire
President, Kelley Interior Design Services

Mallory Quigley
Communications Director
Susan B. Anthony List

April Readlinger, JD

Martha Reichert
Acting President, ENDOW

Cathy Reilly, RN
Certified Fertility Care Specialist

Rosario Reilly
Founder, Aquinas Learning, LLC

Kathleen B. Rice

Monika Rice, PhD
Adjunct Professor, Catholic Studies Department
Seton Hall University

Michele Ritchie-Moore
Combat Veteran

Darla Romfro, JD

Mary Roque, JD

Rose Marie Rudolph
Executive Director, Behold Catholic Women’s Ministries
Ana Samuel, PhD
Research Scholar, Witherspoon Institute

Barbara Samuells
President, Catholics for Religious Freedom

Susan Selner-Wright, PhD
Associate Professor, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Chair in Philosophy
St. John Vianney Theological Seminary

Carrie Severino, JD
Chief Counsel and Policy Director
Judicial Crisis Network

Elizabeth Shaw, PhD
Lecturer, School of Philosophy Associate Editor, The Review of Metaphysics
The Catholic University of America

Serena Sigillito
Managing Editor
Public Discourse, The Online Journal of the Witherspoon Institute

Grace Simon, MDiv
The Evangelical Catholic

Elyse M. Smith, JD

Leigh Fitzpatrick Snead, MA
Contributing Editor, Altfem Magazine

Mariangela Carroll Sullivan, JD

Rosemary C. Sullivan
Executive Director
National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors

Catherine Szeltner
EWTN News Nightly

Rebecca Ryskind Teti, MA
Director of Women’s Programs
Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center

Mary Thompson
Senior Faculty and Ballet Mistress
Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre

Hilary Towers, PhD
Psychologist and Author

Susan Orr Traffas, PhD
Co-Director, Honors Program
Benedictine College

Dianne Marie Traflet, JD, STD
Associate Dean, Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology
Seton Hall University

Mary-Rose Verret
Author and Founder
Witness to Love: Marriage Prep Renewal Ministry

Mary Vigil
Director of Medical Services
Archdiocese of Washington

Evelyn Birg Vitz, PhD
Professor of French and Affiliated Professor of Comparative Literature, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and Religious Studies
New York University

Laurie Vuoto
Senior News Writer & Editor, Alliance Defending Freedom

Teresa R. Wagner, JD

Bernadette Waterman Ward, PhD
Associate Professor of English
University of Dallas

Mary Sheehan Warren
Corporate Trainer and Writer

Johanna Webber, JD
Wife of Assemblyman Jay Webber, NJ-26

Lisa Wheeler
President, Carmel Communications

Amina White, MD
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Sally White, MD

Susan Windley-Daoust, PhD
Associate Professor of Theology
St. Mary’s University of Minnesota

Elizabeth Yore, JD
Founder, Yore Children

Katrina J. Zeno, MTS
Founder, Theology of the Body for Everyone

Daniella Zsupan-Jerome, PhD
Assistant Professor, Loyola University (New Orleans)

Luanne D. Zurlo, MBA
Assistant Professor of Finance
The Catholic University of America