Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Pope's Theology of Women

As John notes, the pope’s interview is drawing headlines. And rightly so, for its refreshing and powerful statement of a social gospel. What I’m not sure about yet is what this means for women.  In the interview, the pope criticizes the church’s obsession with doctrine and imposition of rules about divorce, abortion, homosexuality, and contraception. In a little-noticed part of the interview, he says the church needs a deeper “theology of women.”  The church, he says “needs the feminine genius” and the full participation of the women’s role.  He says that Mary is greater in the church than any bishop or apostle.  On the other hand he talks about the distinct feminine element, the caregiving function of  women and the bread winner role for men, and women's separate role in the church, sounding more like complimentarianism.  Actions though, speak louder than words.  Last spring, as Slate reported, the pope endorsed his predecessor’s crackdown on so-called radical feminist nuns (80% of American nuns) for their focus on economic justice and serving the poor rather than the anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage message.

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