The Agency of Women in the Catholic Church: A Critical Examination of Rosemary Radford Ruether and Pope John Paul II

Alexandra Potamianos

Abstract


The North American Women’s Rights movement, beginning in the 1960’s, has long

asserted that society and its governing institutions “have a problem with women.”1 Throughout its three successive waves, the movement has fought for voting rights and, later, reproductive, workplace and education privileges.2 The most recent third wave has brought to the forefront issues within the feminist campaign of universalizing the category of women.3 The movement’s failure to provide agency for all women has led those of color, for instance, to critique the mainstream group. Further, the women’s rights movement in North America has illustrated the complexity of female agency in contemporary society. With each wave new issues are brought to the fore and women fight for their ability to speak, act and move through traditionally male spaces, while simultaneously critiquing institutions like the Church, that have often been constructed as being in opposition to these goals. Many feminist theologians, like Rosemary Radford Ruether and Rita Gross, have sought to claim female agency by resisting dominant interpretations of biblical texts that give men status. 


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Potamianos