National Coalition of American Nuns

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The National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN), since its inception in 1969 has been an advocate for social and structural change inside and outside the Catholic Church. It represents from 500 to 2,000 U.S. women religious.[1][2] Membership is not restricted to nuns or Catholics.

The NCAN has long advanced the idea that women should be fully welcomed into the church including the priesthood. In 1972, the organization published a “Declaration of Independence for Women,” a document which outlined a five-year plan to achieve gender equality within and outside the Church. This declaration advocated for full equality for women, reformation of the economic and power systems, and simple living. In this document, members made a connection between slavery and the oppression of women in the Catholic Church: “Just as today we are appalled that organized religion once approved slavery, so within a few years will the present oppression of women in churches be recognized as immoral.”[3] Additionally, the declaration requested broad-based research programs in human sexuality to encourage fair judgement on the behavior of the human family, and called upon women to refrain from economic assistance to churches until 1976.

The NCAN's position on the issues of abortion, homosexuality, and women clerics have put it at odds with the U.S. Roman Catholic Bishops. Sister Donna Quinn, the coordinator of the NCAN, has been known for "escorting women through a gauntlet of protesters" at abortion clinics. Quinn calls herself "a feminist and an activist and proud of it."[4] Sister Mary Ann Cunningham of Denver, a NCAN board member, says they are an alternative to the church hierarchy's positions on public issues.[5] The organization supports the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.[6]

NCAN was founded by Margaret Traxler in 1969.[7] NCAN received notice when Sisters Traxler, Donna Quinn, Ann Patrick Ware, and Deborah Barrett appeared, in 1982, on the Phil Donahue Show opposing legislation that limited abortion.[7]

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  1. ^ National Coalition of American Nuns Supports Reproductive Justice
  2. ^ Matthew Archbold (March 18, 2014). "Nuns' Coalition Voices Support for HHS Mandate, Criticizes Those in Opposition". 
  3. ^ National Coalition of American Nuns, "Declaration of Independence for Women," (1972) available at the Women and Social Movements Database.
  4. ^ Stephanie Simon (April 20, 2012). "Vatican crackdown on U.S. nuns a long time brewing". Reuters. Retrieved April 6, 2014. 
  5. ^ Eric Gorski (October 27, 2006). "Nuns urge Catholic voters to challenge church". The Denver Post. Retrieved April 6, 2014. 
  6. ^ Eliza Thompson (March 20, 2014). "American Nuns Announce Their Support for Obamacare Contraception Access". Cosmopolitan. 
  7. ^ a b Donna Steichen (1991). Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism. Ignatius Press. p. 325. ISBN 978-0898703481.