Mary’s Pence signed the following letter issued by Women-Chruch Convergence.
As a Catholic-rooted, feminist coalition, Women-Church Convergence (W-CC) resoundingly stands with those who have come forward to share their stories of sexual harassment, assault, and violence. We mark this #MeToo moment as a renewed call to listen to the experiences and voices of victims/survivors and enforce sanctions on those who abuse. While this is a painful dialogue, we pledge to transform this moment into an inclusive and unstoppable movement for safety, respect, and equality. #MeToo must become #WeToo.
Sexual assault is a pervasive crime that thrives in environments of unchecked patriarchal power regardless of identity or industry. In the #MeToo movement, we must refuse to replicate oppressive power structures. Therefore, we underscore the experiences of people of color, the LGBTIQA community, and those who risk economic and social consequences for their courage. Breaking one’s silence carries disproportionate risks for those who do not share in racial, economic, and gender privilege. We are working to create safe spaces for more stories to be told by attending to these structural problems as well as to the needs of those who have been harmed.
Sexual abuse in the hierarchies of Hollywood, Congress, and corporations echo the institutionalized inequalities within the Roman Catholic Church and its systematic sexual abuse and silencing. In our own tradition, the extraordinary deference and privilege accorded to ordained men has led to countless situations of abuse, and to the experience of the women being discounted, invalidated, or silenced. The subordination of women, reinforced by scripture or script, is a result of a culture that denies autonomy, moral authority, and equality to all people. Only through truth telling, trust, and equality across racial, cultural, gender, and economic lines will our society begin to act justly and so to heal.
Breaking the silence is a radical act. We recommit to dismantling power structures and cultures of misogyny wherever we see them. Our special role as people committed to feminist ministry and quality pastoral care compels us to work tirelessly for change.
#MeToo must become #WeToo as we share the responsibility to transform our church and society into safe and welcoming places where all enjoy the fruits of justice.