What many still do not realize is that making women truly equal in the church is about more than ordaining women. It’s about acknowledging that people of all genders are equal in the eyes of God, an acknowledgment that is essential for women to achieve enfranchisement and access to freedom and authority in their church. And if a church as large, powerful and influential as the Catholic Church says women deserve equal power, it would have an untold impact in countries, cultures and societies that treat women and other gender minorities as inferior.
Black and queer women suffragists understood well how crucial direct power and equality are. Any celebration of women heroes of the 19th Amendment must acknowledge the racism of many of its key leaders, like Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul, who were willing to silence and erase Black women in order to move forward their suffragist agenda.
The word “suffrage” comes from the Latin word for judgement or vote. In antiquated English, it also means a series of intercessory prayers. Today, Catholic women are embracing this dual meeting and aiming the suffragists’ “Votes for Women” campaign directly at the Vatican.