CSO History

Catholics Speak Out is the program at the Quixote Center that is focused on issues of church reform within the Roman Catholic Church. The program encourages Catholics to take responsibility for the Church by elevating the voices of lay people on issues of Church governance and mobilizing Catholics to speak out on issues of social justice within society and within the Church. In 2007 Catholics Speak Out was merged with the Quixote Center’s original program, Priests for Equality, taking over responsibility for disseminating materials from the inclusive language project (see below).

Priests for Equality

When the Quixote Center was founded in 1976 the goal was to establish a social justice center that would engaged in advocacy for impoverished people and demand fundamental equality for everyone, while maintaining independence from the Catholic Church hierarchy. Independence was important, because the first Quixote Center program, Priests for Equality, was engaged in advocacy for equality within the Church as well as society. Priests for Equality was launched with the Charter for Equality in 1975. The Charter called for the ordination of women, equal participation of women at all levels of church governance as well as participation of the rites of the church, including alter service and participation in the Deaconate. The Charter gained widespread support among priests initially. Over 2,000 priests signed publicly during the mid-1970s. In 1979 a new pope and sense of retrenchment within the Church hierarchy that felt under siege from the calls for reform post-Vatican II led to silence from many priests on the issue of women’s ordination in particular.

Inclusive Language Program

During the 1980s the focus of the program shifted focus to creating inclusive language materials for worship, beginning with the Inclusive Language Lectionaries. This was followed by an Inclusive Language New Testament, and over the course of the next 15 years a three volume Inclusive Language Hebrew Scriptures (The Torah, The Writings, The Prophets). In 2003 the Quixote Center entered into an agreement with the Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group to create a single volume Inclusive Bible. The new single volume with updated translation was published in 2007 under the Sheed and Ward imprint of Rowman and Littlefield.

Catholics Speaking Out and Women’s Ordination

The Quixote Center has remained committed to women’s ordination to the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church. The Center worked with the first woman ordained, Ludmilla Javorová who was ordained in the underground church in Czechoslovakia during the 1980s. In 2003 the Quixote Center sponsored a speaking tour with two of the women ordained on the Danube River earlier that year.

Catholics Speak Out has also used the power of grassroots mobilizing to gain media attention for issues pertaining to women’s ordination, doing a variety of signature ads that have been placed in the New York Times and National Catholic Reporter. Most recently, Catholics Speak Out mobilized a statement of support for U.S. Nuns facing a Vatican inquiry in 2010 and offered a message of support to Father Roy Bourgeois, who has taken up the mantle of women’s ordination and is facing dismissal from the Maryknoll order and possible laicization from the Vatican as a result.