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Voices Online Edition
June 1996 Volume XI, No. 2

Women for Faith & Family 1995 Annual Report

Highlights ...
During 1995, in addition to maintaining its usual activities of providing information on a wide range of issues to members, chapters, media, bishops, Vatican officials, etc., through its annual conference, publication of Voices, news releases, lecturing, writing and research, etc., Women for Faith and Family: established the first diocesan-sponsored WFF chapter (Rockford, Illinois); aided in the formation of a new national pro-life, pro-family organization, the Ecumenical Coalition on Women and Society (ECWS); was active in planning for the UN Conference on Women held in Beijing in September; attended the International Symposium on the Family sponsored by the Pontifical Council on the Family in Rome; sent press representatives to the NCCB meetings in June and November; added a new staff member.

Annual Conference
For the first time WFF held its annual conference outside St. Louis, in Arlington Virginia. The conference, held in early November was entitled "The Role of Catholic Women in Evangelization", taking its theme from Evangelium Vitae and Tertio Millenio Adveniente, and the UN "International Year of Women".

Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan, pro-nuncio to the United States, accepted on behalf of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger the organization's "Faith and Family Award" ; Arlington Bishop John Keating addressed the conference, as did Cardinal James Hickey. Bishop William Lori, auxiliary bishop of Washington, DC, also attended. Other speakers included theologian Joyce A. Little, University of St. Thomas, Houston; Father John Rock, SJ, Wheeling Jesuit College; Sister Timothea Elliott, professor of Scripture at St. Joseph Seminary, Dunwoodie; Father Jerry Pokorsky, CREDO; Gerri Laird, Arlington Family Life Office; Donna Steichen, B.J. Kreider, Helen Hull Hitchcock; and three women representing the ECWS, Terry Schlossberg (Presbyterians Pro-Life), Faye Short (United Methodist Women), Diane Knippers (Institute on Religion and Democracy).

Beijing Activities|
In February, WFF director, Helen Hull Hitchcock, participated in an invitational meeting in New York organized by Cardinal O'Connor, which included about 25 representatives of national Catholic organizations. The meeting was a preliminary planning session for the UN conference on women in Beijing. The session included presentations from several people who had attended the Cairo conference, and an informal "round-table" discussion, led by Cardinal O'Connor, followed.

In an informal conversation the preceding October in Rome with Bishop Paul Cordes of the Pontifical Council on the Laity, Mrs. Hitchcock had been urged to attend the Beijing conference. Accordingly, WFF applied to the appropriate office at the United Nations for Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status, as required. The UN officials repeatedly denied credentials to WFF, maintaining that it was "not clear" that WFF was an organization concerned with "women's issues".

Eventually WFF's NGO status was granted; however, this notification was received only after the deadline for applying for a visa to the Chinese government had passed, so our representative was effectively prevented from attending.

Despite this, WFF maintained close touch by fax and e-mail communications with other NGO representatives who were also WFF members or members of the ECWS, and have continued to keep abreast of the international developments and issues raised at Beijing which affect women and families. We spoke at some length with several members of the Vatican delegation to Beijing, including Monsignor Peter Elliott, of the Pontifical Council on the Family, in Rome in October.

WFF continues to address these issues. WFF urged its members to pray the Prayer of St. Michael daily, as the Holy Father had done before the Cairo conference.

Scheduled Meetings
WFF director met with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and with other members of that Congregation, and officials at the Pontifical Council of the Laity and the Pontifical Council on the Family.

April Mrs. Hitchcock addressed about 250 people in Ann Arbor, sponsored by Thomas Monaghan of Domino; in Louisville she addressed the Knights of Columbus of Kentucky where she received the group's "Family Award". She also spoke to an assembly of girl students at a new Catholic school in Louisville.

May Mrs. Hitchcock was a faculty member at a week-long "Basics of Catholicism" seminar sponsored by the Jacques Maritain Center of Notre Dame.

June Mrs. Hitchcock attended a meeting in Bethesda, Maryland, of members of the Board of Women Affirming Life, a Catholic women's pro-life organization based in Boston. About 10 other board members attended the meeting to plan further activities of WAL.

Mrs. Hitchcock and Dr. Susan Benofy were press representatives of Voices at the NCCB meeting in Chicago.

WFF's revised Statement on Feminism, Language and Liturgy was released.

July Mrs. Hitchcock addressed a conference of the Biblical Witness Fellowship of the United Church of Christ.

September Sherry Tyree, WFF vice-president, addressed the foundational meeting of the new WFF chapter established in and by the Diocese of Rockford.

Mrs. Hitchcock attended the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars convention in Minneapolis. She had been elected to its Board of Directors.

October In Rome, Mrs. Hitchcock attended the Fifth International Symposium on the Family, sponsored by the Pontifical Council on the Family.

She also met with Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, prefect of the PCF, with officials of the Pontifical Council on the Laity and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and with faculty members of the Gregorian University, San Anselmo, and the Pontifical Biblical Institute.

November WFF conference (see above)

Mrs. Hitchcock and Dr. Benofy were again press representatives to the NCCB meeting in Washington.

Other Activities
In 1995 only two issues of Voices were published, instead of the customary four, owing to a combination of shortage of staff and financial resources experienced this year. A third issue, focusing on the liturgical issues discussed at the June meeting of the NCCB, was ready to print in mid-September, but was not issued because of time constraints involving the WFF conference.

Ad Hoc Committee. In October, WFF helped form and coordinate the efforts of an informal St. Louis-based coalition of medical professionals and leaders of pro-life organizations concerned with bioethical issues. The group is unofficially called the Ad Hoc Committee on Medical Ethics. The aim of the Committee"is to assist in addressing moral/ethical issues in health care from a point of view clearly consistent with authoritative Catholic teaching about the value of human life, especially within Catholic health-care and educational institutions".

Media. In October, WFF issued a news release strongly supporting the Vatican's Responsum ad Dignum, reaffirming the teaching on ordination to the priesthood. A number of national media interviews, both print and broadcast, were given in connection with this subject.

WFF issues timely news releases to Catholic and secular media, on issues both religious and secular which affect women, faith or families.

Liturgy Research, Documentation. WFF continued and considerably expanded a liturgical research project, entering summaries of works related to liturgy on a computer database, and collecting and cataloging books, periodicals, essays, and other documents on the liturgy. Documentation on these issues are prepared, when timely, to aid scholars, bishops and other Church officials.

Information, documentation, and commentary on matters of scripture and liturgical translation, ordination, and related issues were compiled and sent to bishops on several occasions.

Family Sourcebooks. The third in WFF's projected series of "Family Sourcebooks", Marian Feasts and Holidays, was scheduled to appear in 1995; however, it has been delayed. Eventually WFF plans to produce a fourth in the series, for Pentecost/Ordinary Time.

Office. Reorganization and expansion of the office was begun, as was cataloging a growing collection of books, periodicals and resource materials on theology, feminism, liturgy, family, education and catechetics, bioethics, Scripture, encyclicals, etc. New shelving and file cabinets were added, and a new fax machine was purchased.

Related Statement
United Nations Commission on the Status of Women ­ Beijing Platform for Action,
March 2,2005

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