What do (Catholic) women want?

Sigmund Freud is remembered for many reasons, but one of his most quoted remarks is this: “The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’”

I believe that prayerful Catholic women hold great power with God, and as they awake to that intercessory power and mobilize their great intelligence, piety, and love of family and marriage, they will overcome and conquer the Evil Empire that abuses them and their families throughout what was once the Catholic West.

A peaceful rebellion by Catholic women against their treatment could go a long way toward reestablishing in law the rights of women, single and married, that are found in Scripture. St. John Paul II wrote a letter on this topic in 1988. In it he stated that there are two dimensions of women’s vocation, virginity and motherhood, each of which fulfills the female personality. Their full meaning is seen in Mary as a virgin who, without loss of her virginity, becomes the mother of the Son of God (in his humanity).

Women participate in a special way in the great mystery of human fertility, our share in the creative power of God by bringing new human life into existence. Because of the mother’s role in bearing and raising the children, who in the nine months before birth literally absorb the energies of her body and soul, men owe a special debt to women. No program of equal rights is valid unless it takes the demands of motherhood into account.

Even before Christianity, the Jewish tradition gave to women a dignity lacking in the pagan religions surrounding it. They shared with men the privilege of being made in the image and likeness of God. The Incarnation of Jesus Christ, however, has raised the dignity of women – and the sacrosanct character of both marriage and virginity – even further. More than any other religion, Christianity bestows upon women a special dignity. And by reestablishing the indissolubility of marriage intended by God from the beginning, Christ greatly improved the status and well being of women.


Christ also opens to them, as to men, celibacy for the kingdom of heaven as a vocation that results from a special grace. It is a form of spousal love that is a way to devote all of the body and soul’s energies during one’s earthly life exclusively for the advancement of the kingdom. Both marriage and apostolic celibacy, however, rightly understood and faithfully lived, signify a sincere gift of the person, and point to the ultimate calling of the human creature to the total happiness and communion within the three divine persons of the Holy Trinity.

There are many occasions in the Gospel where Our Lord dealt with women with great love and understanding. One of the most important of Christ’s recorded conversations was with Martha after the death of Lazarus her brother, when he told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. . . .He who believes in me shall never die.” And to the Samaritan woman at the well, he revealed his Messianic status. The presence of the women at the foot of the Cross demonstrated that, in this ultimate test of fidelity, the women proved stronger than the apostles. Their great love overcame their fear. Jesus seemed to reward the women by allowing them to be the first at the tomb to discover his Resurrection.

Whether as single women, consecrated religious, or wives and mothers, all women are called to holiness. Happily, no matter what their specific vocation, they can find many role models among the canonized saints. Above all, they have the example and support of the Blessed Mother, who was preserved from Original Sin because of her unique vocation to bring into the world Our Lord and Savior. On the Cross, Jesus gave her to us as our mother, and she generously distributes to us the graces her Son gained for us.

The question of what women – particularly women who are serious Catholics –should want is especially important as we approach next year’s fateful elections, in which the makeup of Congress, the presidency, and likely also the Supreme Court lies in the balance. Next year may determine whether our country can embark on the long road back to the original tenets of the Founding Fathers.

Here are some suggestions of general political goals to pursue with a direct connection to the healthy flourishing of women’s lives: 1.) a ban on legal abortion and end to funding of Planned Parenthood; 2.) a ban on legal pornography; 3.) tax exemptions for working mothers so they can pay attention to what is most important, which is not their work in the workplace but their work at home.

Women among you will likely have other suggestions, given your experience as faithful Catholics who know you have been mistreated by an evil government. It is time for you to stand up for your rights as citizens, as mothers, as spouses, and as workers. Only in this way can America flourish once again as a Christian country. I would like to hear your suggestions on what else must be done.

Fr. C. John McCloskey (1953-2023) was a Church historian and Non-Resident Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute.