Research is at the heart of the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research (WICR). Since 1983, WICR has grown to become a small but global network of volunteers spread around the world. Our focus has been the provision of academic and educational resources to Christians in general and Catholics in particular: laypeople as well as clergy; academics as well as non-experts; from the first as well as the developing world.
We have been doing so by means of a series of videos, books, websites and online courses. While our original focus was producing educational material on Christian spirituality, since 1998 we expanded our mission to providing both scholarly research and more accessible summaries about those controversial topics which are the least discussed by authorities in the Catholic Church. They include questions to do with:
- Ordained ministries for women (e.g. traditional arguments against women in holy orders, the position of modern scholarship);
- Church authority and governance (e.g. collegiality, the meaning of ordination, the integration of expertise in ecclesial decision-making);
- Christian sexual ethics (e.g. the meaning and purpose of sexuality; sexual orientation and LGBT; family planning and artificial contraception; and so on);
- the relationship between science and faith;
- the interpretation of the Bible.
One of our websites, www.womenpriests.org, which brings together the historical evidence about the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood, has grown to become the largest online library on that topic in the world.[pullquote]One of our websites, www.womenpriests.org, which brings together the historical evidence about the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood, has grown to become the largest online library on that topic in the world.[/pullquote]
Catherine of Siena Virtual College
In 2007 we founded the Catherine of Siena Virtual College (CSVC), which offers affordable university-level online courses on leadership and the role of women in society. Under our direction more than 1,100 students enrolled, mostly women (90%), and from developing countries. Such a rapid growth has meant that it became difficult for our small team to provide an adequate infra-structure to do justice to its great potential. For this reason, in September 2014 we decided to hand over the management of CSVC to Roehampton University, London.
CSVC has been the latest of many success stories achieved by WICR on a budget which is a fraction of similar think-tanks. Thanks to a wonderful network of generous volunteers, we have managed to punch far above our weight.
If nothing else because of the sheer number and global reach of its membership, as well as because of its worldwide network of parishes and educational institutions, the Catholic Church exercises a very large influence in many parts of the world. As a consequence, our research and educational material supporting reform from within on issues concerning gender equality, a more enlightened sexual ethics, and more democratic and accountable structures of church governance can have a very significant impact. And with your help, it will.