Blog Post

New Book Details How Women Found Freedom in Church Teaching

Even as the war on women continues to be a talking point in the presidential campaign, a new book published by Catholic women describes the personal journeys of women who found truth, peace and freedom by embracing the same Church teachings society wants them to reject.

CNA/EWTN News is reporting that the book, entitled Breaking Through: Catholic Women Speak for Themselves was edited by George Mason law professor Helen Alvare as a response to the national discussion about how Catholic teaching on contraception and abortion is somehow "inhospital to women's freedom."

During a recent appearance at the National Press Club with several of her fellow authors, Alvare said the point of the book was "to get and keep a dialogue going.”

Ever since the birth control mandate brought the issues of religious freedom and Church teaching on sexuality into the limelight, Alvare said she saw a need for something more than legal action to protect the religious freedom of institutions and individuals. Catholic women also needed a way to show the public how Church teaching brought them "real freedom" and the book became the perfect vehicle to do so.

The stories in Breaking Through touch upon a wide range of topics from contraception to materialism, and recount the struggles of nine women who grappled with the demands of the faith in their personal lives that ended in their embrace of Church teaching.

One of the stories is that of Dr. Marie Anderson, medical director of the Tepeyac Family Center in Fairfax, Va., who says women need to break through “the culture’s definition of freedom” as the license to do whatever one wants.

Anderson related how she bought into this mindset as a young doctor but only found emptiness.

“I was unhappy. I was restless. I had lost my purpose in life,” she said.

In her practice, she saw the “unintended consequences” of a contraceptive mindset that “takes sexual activity as a given, both in and out of marriage.” In addition to physical ramifications such as infertility and sexually transmitted diseases, she also saw too many broken relationships and broken hearts.

“I realized that women were helping to break their own hearts, and that was probably the hardest thing,” she said.

She finally came to the realization that contraception was not fulfilling women and eventually re-embraced the Catholic teaching from which she had wandered. Even though the culture thinks Catholicism is outdated, she said, “the Church got it right from the beginning.”

Another co-author, Mary Hallan-FioRito, executive assistant to Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, writes about her 25 years working for the Catholic Church in areas including inner city schools and pro-life efforts.

“My own experience in the Church has been so vastly different from what’s being portrayed in the media,” she said.

What she finds most troubling is how, in the current political discussion, “so much of what the Church does for women is either belittled or is ignored altogether.”

Throughout the course of history, the Catholic Church has been “a consistent voice for the dignity and the equality of all women,” she said, adding that the Church opened many roles of "authority and influence" to women long before the secular world did.

And in many countries today, she reminds, the Church is still “the single largest educator of women.”

The authors are hoping the variety of stories will relate to women from all walks of life who are in need of both the encouragement and inspiration needed to live the faith in today's culture.

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