|Georgia Walker, ARCWP with women released from prison in Kansas City|
Pope Francis' statement that contraception can be condoned in response to the Zika crisis is a positive pastoral response to a global epidemic. He said that "avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil."
Most Catholics would not agree that avoiding pregnancy is any kind of evil.
Sorely lacking in Pope Francis' statement is any awareness of women's experiences of contraception as a holy and life-giving decision!
According to statistics over 90 percent of Catholic women have used contraception during their child-bearing years.The reality is, avoiding pregnancy is a often a woman's most loving and responsible choice in light of her relationships and circumstances.
The Catholic Church teaches primacy of conscience in all moral decision-making, and this applies to artificial birth control. Women are free moral agents and obligated to follow their consciences in decisions that impact their bodies and well being and this principle applies to their reproductive choices to prevent pregnancy.
While I am a big fan of Pope Francis, an all male celibate clergy cannot continue to make decision that affect women's lives because their decisions do not reflect the lived experience of women in the church or in the world.
The Vatican needs to hear from the millions of women who practice contraception and get a reality check on family life, rape, violence and domestic abuse.
The recent Synod on the Family did not come close to achieving this benchmark because women did not vote on any of its decisions.
I applaud Pope Francis' stance on justice for the poor and oppressed, and I hope that he connects the dots between the Vatican's sexist policies that discriminate against women in the church and its fallout, injustice toward women in the world. A church that treats women as second class citizens does not reflect the example of Christ in the Gospels. It is toxic for everyone and every living being with detrimental social and political consequences not only for women, but also, plays a role in the depletion of earth's resources as a result of over population.
Going forward, Pope Francis should appoint women in top decision making roles so the church can learn from women's experiences, honor women as free moral agents and treat women as equal members of the baptized.
Until women are treated as equals, the voice of God will not be heard in our church or world.
It is time, Pope Francis, for justice to rise up for women in the Catholic Church!
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP