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What if John Paul II Was a Feminist Theologian? | Catholic Life

What if John Paul II Was a Feminist Theologian?

This morning I was thinking about how anyone who can accept MacIntyre’s Dependent Rational Animals (as many of my most conservative young male Catholic can and do) should accept the fact that they can accept feminist theology.

And as I was thinking about what feminist theology really is1 I realized that John Paul II was not just influenced by phenomenology, he was also influenced by feminism2. It is everything but stupid to compare him to Mary Daly and conclude that he was not a feminist. It makes far more sense to compare him to his tradition, to Augustine and Aquinas and past popes.

Off the top of my head I thought of a few ways that John Paul II differed from many of his predecessors:

  • He believed that women were created in the image of God as much as men
  • He believed that women could teach the highest of truths as Doctors of the Church
  • He believed that a woman’s orgasm was important for the completeness of the marital act

And suddenly I was greatly amused at those who spend their time trying to say that John Paul II did not mean it when he called for a new feminism. Not only are their arguments poorly founded, but they may be missing a far larger bear walking in these woods: what if John Paul II was not merely calling for a new feminism, but subtly incorporating it at the highest levels of Catholic theology?

So now I must re-read Love and Responsibility and Mulieris Dignitatem and Familiaris Consortio and Evangelium Vitae as well as the new translation of John Paul II’s theology of the body with all of this in mind. I am not sure that I will be convinced that John Paul II wrote feminist theology, but I am quite certain that I will thank God once again for how much the Church has changed in a few short years. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you read Casti Connubii?

1. Feminist theology is simply taking feminist philosophy and combining it with theology, just as we have done with many other great philosophies in the past.
2. And I am aware that this is something of a highly scholarly “no duh” for those who are familiar with John Paul II’s incorporation of the work of Edith Stein, but that does not mean that it is obvious to most readers of JPII. And I am a bear of very little brain who quickly forgets such things.

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4 Responses to “What if John Paul II Was a Feminist Theologian?”

  1. That Married Couple 17. Jun, 2010 at 5:27 am #

    Interesting! I’ve only read Mulieris Dignitatem, so I can’t wait to hear your review after rereading all those!

  2. practicinghuman 17. Jun, 2010 at 7:29 am #

    Hmmmm, I’m thinking that I may need to read Love and Responsibility given some of the reflecting I’ve been doing as of late. My thinking has me musing on the freely given gift of obedience.

  3. Sarah 17. Jun, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    This post is SO interesting! Have read Casti Cannubii, studied writings *about* TOB, and am now reading L&R for marriage prep (with a follow-up of reading the actual TOB, cover to cover). Will read with an eye towards feminist philosophy now (among other angles).

  4. Christine 17. Jun, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    Interesting point! I started reading L&R a few years ago, but put it down after a few chapters (as you know, it’s no easy beach read). I’ll have to consider picking it up again.

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