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Editorial: Gaining Momentum

  • December 15, 2022

At this liturgical moment when Catholic eyes, hearts and minds focus on Mary as the mother who delivered our Lord and Saviour into the world, it’s fitting to also direct attention to the Canadian women behind Momentum.

The group’s name identifies its mission — particularly if appropriate stress is placed on the “Mom” in momentum. As Register correspondent Anna Farrow notes in a superbly reported story this issue, the grassroots organization that originated in Montreal is already reaching across Canada to make welcome a special group of women within Holy Mother Church. They are the women who face, as Our Lady did when she said her magnificent “yes” to God, the challenge of being mothers outside marriage.

Their goals, Farrow reports, are far removed from politico-doctrinal-hierarchical debates about the proper role of women in the Church. Much more immediately, they are focused on making sure that spouseless daughters of the Church feel they and their children are safe and supported; that they are recognized, not treated as immaterial, within its family circle. 

Some have conceived children with what we might call “anti-Josephs”: immature men seduced by the fraudulence of perpetually lighting out for greener pastures. Some are widows who’ve endured the pain of spousal death. Some have married and started families only to discover their husbands have “discovered” they are women. In those and other circumstances, they have been left bereft of partners for life, fathers for their children. The response of their parish communities is not necessarily openly sanctimonious disapproval. In some ways worse, Farrow writes, it is far more often unpremeditated disregard.

“Widows are invisible,” Jane Devlin puts it plainly. 

It seems fair to ask: What, and who, is to blame for the absence of their presence among charitable Catholics? Or more pointedly: How could a Church so historically courageous on the front lines of, say, the fight against abortion overlook the specific spiritual care of these women? They are, after all, mothers who chose to bear their children and were then forced by circumstance to raise them alone. 

Yet the women of Momentum appear to have little time for such speculations. 

They are, if this word hasn’t had all meaning wrung out by over-use, survivors. They have survived catastrophes striking the heart of a most profound, essential human act: raising children so they can mature as morally nourished adults. Their survival has deepened in them understanding of the immortal words of the poet Philip Larkin that “what will survive of us is love.” 

It is understanding transformed into loving support for each other, into a loving desire for new things within the institutional Church, yes, but more vitally for loving amendment of all of us, their fellow Catholics. What a liturgical moment this is to start to share such understanding, right now when our eyes, hearts and minds are focused on Mary’s magnificent “yes.” 

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