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A trinity of Catholic opinion
By Mary L. Morse
The time has long since passed, if
indeed it ever existed, when Catholics
could be depended upon to think and act
as one on issues relating to religion and
Catholic women at the IWY Conference sharply differ in their opinions and
are most concerned with four issues—
ERA, abortion, lesbian rights and women priests.
At the Convention Hall, Catholics
were picking up information on Dignity,
the Catholic homosexual organization,
buying buttons that said "Ordain Women
or Stop Baptizing Them," and signing up
to support passage of the ERA. Across
town at the Astro Arena, other Catholics,
equally sincere, were pledging to oppose
ERA, federally supported child care, lesbian rights and abortion.
Three Catholic women attending the
conference offer diverse opinions on the
proposals under discussion. The women,
are Virginia Andary, who describes herself
as a career woman and wife from the
Northeast coast, Katherine Goldknopf,
Houston homemaker and university research administrator, and Edith James, a
Andary is a strong advocate of the
entire group of issues being considered.
Speaking from the "Catholics for a
Free Choice" booth at the convention,
Andary said she is in complete agreement
with the ERA.
"It has to be done," she said. "We're
out of the Constitution. It (ERA) will help
speed up getting equitable rights throughout the country."
On abortion, Andary said women
and their individual decisions must be
respected. "If we do not allow women reproductive freedom, then women will
get abortions anyway. They need to have
safe abortions and protect their families."
Andary is also in agreement with the
lesbian rights proposal because she believes
it is an individual decision.
As for women priests, Andary was
enthusiastically supportive, but noted that
a change in the church's stand on this issue
would probably come much sooner than a
change on the abortion question.
Goldknopf was interviewed as she
was feeding her year-old daughter, Jessica.
On the ERA, Goldknopf expressed herself
in absolute agreement. "I am interested in
seeing that women have true equality
under the Constitution," she said.
On the subject of abortion, however,
Goldknopf has reservations. "While I concede that each woman has an individual
conscience and responsibility to make her
own decision," she said, "the cases where
abortion is truly justified are only in those
in which the woman's life is equally at risk.
A society in which abortion is based on
convention or on matters of less severity,
is a society that has begun the almost unstoppable progress toward euthanasia and
elective sacrifice of less desirable individuals."
She does not feel that this is a prerogative of individual discretion but of
God's. "In many cases where the infant's
life is taken to save the mother," she
noted, "the woman has other children
and saving her preserves her family."
On the issue of sexual preference,
Goldknopf confessed that she had not
given the matter much thought, but could
see no reason why the resolution should
Jiot be passed. "While I do not condone
this lifestyle or the encouragement of
this lifestyle," she said, "I cannot help but
feel that they (lesbians) are entitled to
protection under the law as are other
The ordination of women priests,
she felt, is vital to the successful furthering of the evangelical mission of the
James, a long-time parishioner of St.
Vincent de Paul Church, is firmly opposed
to the passage of the ERA. She feels that
there is too much danger in how the
amendment will be interpreted. "I have
had experience with the Supreme Court
interpreting issues contrary to the way
I believe," she said. "We have a very liberal Congress which might interpret the
ERA against Christian principles."
As for abortion, or the woman's
right to choose, James is equally opposed.
"Women have always had the right to
choose," she stated, "but I don't want
to pay for it."
On being read the National Plan of
Action proposition on sexual preference,
James declared herself against its passage.
However, she said, homosexuals are human
beings and should be treated as such. We
must, nevertheless, "explain to them that
they are living contrary to the way Christ
James also opposed the idea of
women priests. "Men do a better job,"
Overall, James felt, men and women
should work hand in hand, complementing
each other. "We were made differently,"
she said, "and cannot be perfectly equal in
every way, but we should work together."
All three women have at least one
thing in common—they have elected to
remain within the Church and press for the
acceptance of their beliefs.
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PAGE 8 NOVEMBER 20, 1977 DAILY BREAKTHROUGH