A liturgy and love letter to people hurt by Roman Catholic teachings and overreach in the Supreme Court.

Angela Nevitt Meyer
8 min readOct 2, 2023
Presiding at Catholics’ for Choice Green Mass in a rainbow stole. Photography by Matthew D’Agostino.
Video version of my homily — recorded live at the Green Mass. Cover photo by Matthew D’Agostino.

Context: On October 1st, the Roman Catholic Church celebrated its longstanding Red Mass at St. Matthew the Apostle in D.C., honoring legal professions prior to the start of the Supreme Court Session on Monday 10/2/23. Justices and high ranking government officials often attend the Mass. While it could be interpreted as just a good will blessing, the incredible influence the Catholic Church actually has in U.S. politics is huge — especially where the Supreme Court is concerned.

6 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices are Catholic, one was raised Catholic but is a practicing Episcopal, one is Jewish, and one is Protestant. In the past year, with the exception of Catholic Justice Sotomayor issuing dissents (thank you!!), the conservative Catholic stronghold on our Supreme Court has obliterated protections for women’s comprehensive reproductive health and privacy in healthcare by overturning Roe v Wade, weakened LGBTQ+ rights, barred race-conscious admission practices, prevented student debt relief, and more.

Keep in mind: 64% of Catholics agree abortion should be legal in all or most cases and 1 in 4 women who have abortions are Catholic. Furthermore, many religions support abortion as a moral and important aspect of healthcare, believing it should have very few if any limits, including Conservative and Reform Jews, PCUSA, Unitarian Universalists, and United Church of Christ. Still others believe abortion should be legal, with only some limits, including Episcopalians, ELCA, and United Methodists. And other have “no clear position” on the matter. Using a limited vision of one heavily patriarchal religion’s ideas to universally ban a critical form of healthcare IS religious oppression and an overreach of church and state.)

For the above reasons, Catholics for Choice organized a counter witness Green Mass to protest this overreach of church and state. We joined in solidarity for all who are all harmed by these rulings, and pray for greater humanity to rise for the love and good of all. Below is my homily.

My dear friends, we gather today in a collective expression of LOVE for all people oppressed by the unholy marriage of church and state on display behind us.

We pray in solidarity with all people afflicted by inhumane laws and court rulings that strip us of rights and resources, add to our hardships, increase our poverty, destabilize our families, and force everyday Americans into situations of greater abuse, disability, housing and food insecurity, and death. We lament that the very foundations of our church and our government were built on white male imperialist Christian supremacy, and we acknowledge that their injustices run deep.

AS CATHOLICS, we are specifically here to provide a counter witness to the tradition of the Roman Catholic Red Mass, which started in the early 13th Century as a way of blessing ruling class courts before the start of a new term. Keep in mind, the courts of the Middle Ages were a place where nobles mitigated their needs and interests. The Catholic Church had its interests, too. They were not halls of justice for the common people then, and — despite our national dreams of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness with freedom of and from religion for all — they still aren’t.

The Catholic Church has a long history of blessing the state to do its bidding. In 1452, Pope Nicholas V issued a papal bull telling the King of Portugal to “subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ… and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery.” In 1493, Pope Alexander VI called for “barbarous nations [to] be overthrown and brought to the faith”. Pursuit of power is why we are standing on this land today, instead of descendents of the Piscataway, Pamunkey, Nanticoke, Nentego, Mattaponi, Chickahominy, Monacan, and Powatan peoples.

These, among other power moves by the Catholic institution, fueled the North Atlantic slave trade and the brutal decimation of indigenous populations across the Americas. For centuries, patriarchs used dehumanizing language to refer to any non-Christian, and those effects continue to plague us today. People in power have done and continue to do incredibly cruel things, all while sanctifying atrocities and calling them holy. And, they have done so complicit with national governments.

Today, church and state collaborate to control our uteruses and our lives.

That isn’t love. It is racism, sexism, and supremacy in action, taking God’s name in vain. Jesus would be turning tables and gathering the afflicted to him for healing, empowerment, and restoration of holy community where the practice is so simple yet so so hard:

Love God with all your heart and soul, and love your neighbor as you love yourself. (Matt 34–40)

This is why we are here, contrasting the high church regalia that consorts with halls of power with an open air gathering in green, where all are welcome in love, and where we share in Eucharist and Christ’s peace as Catholics for Choice. We wear green because it is the liturgical color for ordinary time, and also because it is the color of the marea verde, the abortion rights green wave that started in Argentina.

Today, we speak out for women and womb-bearers’ rights. And yet, our struggle for full human dignity is as old as patriarchy. When we are bold enough to seek and tell the truth, we can bravely go about the gospel work of love and liberation. It is a group project.

As Vatican II taught us, the church is the people. We choose to be the Church we want to see in the world.

So to all Catholics who feel frustrated, alienated, and harmed by all the many sins of the Roman Catholic patriarchy, you are not alone. Look up Catholic Organizations for Renewal. It’s an easy way to Google connections to active groups like Catholics for Choice, Call to Action, Dignity USA and New Ways Ministry for my LGBTQ+ peeps, Heal Our Church, and SO MANY MORE, including Roman Catholic Womenpriests, of which I am a part. Many of these groups will be at the upcoming Synod. Look for them!

Together we hold a vision for a Catholic church that honors, celebrates, upholds, and protects the dignity of every human being through inclusive liturgy, universal access to sacraments, solidarity and social action to help those harmed by all forms of injustice, commitment to dismantling of systems of oppression, and reimagined processes of contrition and reconciliation so we do the work of church with love for all.

We cannot forge a healthy church of the future until we grapple with our tradition’s sins of the past and present.

To this end, we must stand in the truth that we were all created in the image of God with inherent dignity and creative capability, and we belong in this work taking the best of our Catholic values and traditions with us.

YOU BELONG.

Love is seeing every human as our neighbor, knowing them to be equal in dignity and deserving of our collective care.

When it comes to reproductive liberation, we can learn from the Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color revolutionaries for reproductive justice who have been leading this work for decades.

Reproductive Justice means: the right to have a child, the right to not have a child, and the right to parent children we have in safe and healthy environments.

When we focus on the core tenets of reproductive justice, we begin to see beyond the pro-life / pro-choice binary our nation has been trapped in. Because instead of politicking around oppressive sexual virtues and a presumed hierarchy of humanity, we channel our energy into creating safe and healthy environments for all birthing and birthed people to thrive. Instead of infantilizing women, trans, and non-binary people, we recognize their full humanity and ability to make their own informed, morally complex decisions. (Trust Women!)

We start to care deeply about the dangers of pregnancy, and we invest in sex education and full spectrum healthcare, including contraception, abortion, and gender affirming care.

In my state of Indiana, we now have one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the nation. We also have the third highest maternal mortality rate in the nation, and Black women are dying at disproportionate rates.

PREGNANCY IS DANGEROUS, and it should always be opt-in. By design, extreme anti-abortion positions serve as punishment. They punish women for having sex. They punish women for men’s crimes of sexual force against them. They punish women for a lack of healthcare. They punish women for failed contraception. They punish women without comprehensive sex education. They punish women in abusive relationships. They punish women with dreams of higher education. They punish women with careers. They punish young girls and women of advanced maternal age. They say: we are willing to risk the death or destabilization of any pregnant person’s life rather than allow her a safe, legal abortion. That’s not love.

Access to safe, legal abortion is LOVE, and it is a moral good.

Womb-bearers make choices to have children out of love, and they also make decisions to terminate pregnancies out of love and great care- love for their current children, love of self and self-preservation, love for the idea of the prenate who they do not want to bring into an unsafe future. Forced birth isn’t love.

The right to choose or not choose pregnancy is Sacred. Choice is LOVE. Furthermore, when we can choose to parent in healthy environments at healthy times in our lives, we can diminish poverty, abuse, and increase our mutual thriving.

So today, we make ourselves seen and heard. We are engaging in radical community building and deepening our commitment to let our love for God be measured by our love for one another.

I will conclude with a love letter.

To every human who has been neglected, abused, blamed, and oppressed — we hold space for you. You are our neighbor, our equal in dignity. You are a spark of the divine, one of the infinite images of an infinite God, deserving of love, health, resources for your social and economic well-being, joy, hope, and self-determination. We offer you our hearts and our solidarity in social action.

To every person who has had an abortion, especially the 1 in 4 who are Catholic: you are beloved. Receive the blessing of God’s love, and be released of the pain that uncaring church teachings have had on you.

To our justices and religious leaders: May your consciousness be blessed and guide you in delivering justice for ordinary people, resisting the temptation to prioritize patriarchy and corporate wealth over love for the diverse people you have the great responsibility not to rule, but to serve.

Receive our love. Receive God’s love.

Become what you receive.

Catholics for Choice — Green Mass — 10/1/2023

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Angela Nevitt Meyer

Catholic priest (RCWP) all about Love & Belonging | Reproductive Dignity | 🌈 | Evolving Church | Healing Work | She/her