Facing Catholic Bishops, Women Must Stand Tall For Our Rights

Masha Novoselova | Miguel Reveriego | ‘Sister Act | Vogue Germany April 2008

The April 28 UniteWomen.org events are over. About 50,000 women and men gathered around America to stand for women’s rights. My leadership role in the PA rally caused a bit of a breakdown here at Anne of Carversville.

Sensual Rebel went quiet but not because I was silent. The experience cost us some new readers with our daily posts dropping 15-20%, but my voice developed in other important ways. Returning to Sensual Rebel for the first time in weeks, I share my April 28 thoughts — just a little late — unlike my dear friend Lisa Catherine Brown, who got it together better than I did.

From the Unite Against the War on Women Rally in Harrisburg, PA April 28, 2012


When I was sexually assaulted at age 15, the worst part wasn’t the sordid violence against my body and spirit or the terror that his 6-year-old daughter sleeping next to me, would wake up to a memory she might never forget.

The worst part of my sexual assault was being dragged to face my attacker in the presence of Father Ben, his good friend and glass of port buddy. I begged not to go, sobbing on the floor of my aunt’s kitchen until she told me I had no choice but to stand up and get it over with.

I soldiered off to face the man who destroyed my innocence, a liar who flung his arms open wide, fell to the floor and cried “Why me, why me?” 10 years later he was run out of town, when a strong-voiced, napping older woman woke up to find him in her bed instead of delivering her furniture. You note that I didn’t say the sexual predator was arrested.

My scars from that sexual assault lasted years, but not because of my attacker. The day after swearing on Father Ben’s bible, that I was telling the truth, I found myself next to my attacker at the communion rail. After Father Ben shared the body of Christ with this perverted man, he paused in front of my outstretched tongue and Corbett-style closed eyes, and then moved on. leaving this Rush Limbaugh slut girl shamed for decades.

It wasn’t 21st century secularism or feminism that destroyed my relationship with the Catholic Church. It was one of their own – the so-called moral leaders of women – that hung a scarlet letter of guilt around my spirit. I wore it for decades until one day I ripped the metaphorical duct tape from my voice, saying to the morality police that I am silent no more.


A decade later, another dose of Catholic morality came my way. Speaking on a televised panel for women’s rights after Roe vs. Wade was law in America, a man in the audience decided that I deserved to die for supporting Roe. My life became a constant terror with a never-ending stream of bloody, butcher knives; dead, decapitated animals; vile letters and my hanging rope, and I spent months in police protection.

When my stalker jumped onto the hood of my car on a dark October night, flinging his masked face across the windshield, I again found my voice in a blood-curdling scream. I floored the accelerator in sheer terror, sending the masked man rolling off the hood and onto the pavement. Getting to a safe place, I called the police, sobbing into the phone “I may have killed him; I don’t know.”

I wore the fear of this experience also for decades, before ripping the metaphorical duct tape from my voice a few years ago, when I began writing. Since then I have been silent no more.


There are many forces driving the War on Women in America but at the lead of this drive are the Catholic bishops of America. They have called on 67 million Catholic to engage in a “great national campaign”, a “Fortnight for Freedom” period of pre-July 4th civil disobedience.


Catholic bishops demand their religious freedom to dictate our rights as women, claiming the freedom to dictate contraception coverage in Catholic hospitals and universities, when American nuns and the professional Catholics running most of those institutions say the Obama compromise mandate works for all.

What American values are the bishops insisting be given to them? They demand full control of women’s reproductive health at a national and state level.

Their demand for religious freedom allows them to let dangerously ill, pregnant women die in one out of six Catholic-owned emergency rooms in America today. These so-called moral guardians of women’s bodies and dignity have assumed the power to dictate whether American women live or die.

Standing in Harrisburg on April 28, I took a solemn vow to say to Governor Close Your Eyes Corbett and Catholic bishops in PA that our eyes are wide open and we are silent no more.

We are ready to fight and to call on Catholics to choose the side of America’s women, girls and nuns, too. The nuns are under terrible attack by the Catholic bishops and new rules from the Vatican. Bishops are moving also against Catholic universities and not without major pushback.

Many of us will counter-protest their “Fortnight of Freedom”, reading the laws outside PA churches. Join us by contacting me here.


Since I began writing Anne of Carversville in 2007, I’ve watched the erosion of women’s rights in America. Drawn into international women’s rights and in particular the brutal flogging of 40,000 women a year in Sudan, I heard the same anti-anti-woman rhetoric building in America.

My Sudanese activist friend confirmed this reality in Harrisburg.

It’s imperative that we elect pro-woman, pro-choice, candidates to public office in America. Call me dedicated now as the co-administrator of such a Facebook group, representing progressive, pro-choice Pennsylvania women of either party. Alas, today we are all Democrats.

The critical question in the next election is whether our elected officials obey Catholic bishops and other religious leaders in America or their oath to protect the rights of citizens. Even Justice Scalia is on record saying that the US Constitution never put freedom to worship as the highest law of the land. America is not a theocracy, even though Rick Santorum has openly stated that he wants one for our country.

I personally want to work with artists and entertainers to expand the “Last Rights” readings I launched at Independence Hall in March. We can learn to act up in ways that are fun, while still educating citizens about the assault on women’s rights in America, all the way to election day. Again, contact me about brainstorming new “Last Rights” events at Contact Anne.

Closing the UniteWomen.org event in Harrisburg on April 28, I shared these words for Governor Close Your Eyes Corbett and all his cronies – male and female — who are waging this radical, repulsive war on women’s bodies, spirits and self-respect in Pennsylvania:

We will NOT kneel before Catholic bishops or America’s male-dominated morality police ever again.

We will NOT turn over our rights as citizens to your demand that women obey God’s higher law
We will NOT go quietly into the night on women’s right to full equality in our laws
We will NOT hand over our daughters to die in your emergency rooms
We will NOT let you take away our rights to family planning
We will NOT sit down
We will NOT shut up

Our eyes are WIDE OPEN in Pennsylvania
And we are SILENT NO MORE!!! ~ Anne Enke


via mnn