April 2000

Dear Senator,

I was distressed to hear that some members of the Senate have sponsored a resolution critical of the See Change Campaign. As you know, the See Change Campaign calls for a review of the "statehood" status of the Holy See at the United Nations.

Catholics Speak Out is one of many Catholic groups endorsing this campaign. We signed on for several reasons. First of all, no other religious denomination in the world is granted the status of a "state" at the United Nations. Although the Holy See controls a few acres of land in the center of Rome, we do not believe that it can fairly be called a "state" in the way that term is used for other UN members. It is simply not fair to other religions to grant only Catholicism (in the structure of the Holy See) statehood status.

Second, although the Holy See does a great deal of good at the UN in peacemaking roles, it also puts forward points of views on the role of women and women's reproductive health that are frequently not in accord with majority Catholic views, views that have the support of many prominent Catholic theologians. For example, 79 percent of US Catholics support US aid for international family planning, compared with 80 percent of all Americans. There is no real difference. Yet the Holy See opposes family planning at the UN as if it were "the" Catholic point of view.

Third, church history teaches us that the church is freer to be prophetic and challenging on social issues when it does not have the official status of a state, and avoids excessive entanglements with the secular realm.

For the record, Catholics Speak Out (CSO), is part of a movement of Catholic organizations worldwide encouraging reform in the Roman Catholic Church. In particular, we work for equality and justice within the church and we promote dialogue between the laity and hierarchy on a wide range of intrachurch issues.

Since we signed on to the See Change Campaign, some people have begun to claim - apparently for politically partisan reasons - that this is an anti-Catholic campaign. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was begun by Catholics and is supported by Catholics worldwide. We believe that the Holy See can continue to work at the UN as a non-governmental organization without being accorded its questionable role as a "state."

Yours sincerely,

Sr. Maureen Fiedler, SL
National Coordinator