An Introduction to Feminism and The Church

| May 2, 2015

Many are surprised to learn that the organization I blog for and traveled to the United Nations with, C-Fam, is an organization grounded in Catholic teaching. Many believe that Catholicism and Feminism do not and cannot work hand-in-hand. While this is a complicated topic that cannot be simplified within a single blog post, here are a few reasons that the Catholic Church does, in fact, support feminism.

According to the Oxford dictionary, feminism is defined as, “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men”. How does the Church support these claims?

  1. Politically

“The Feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions.” -Pope Francis

Pope Francis stated the above quote at a press conference in response to the role that women should play in the Church. The Church admits the necessity for the unique perspective that women bring to the table in important decision-making. In short, the Church and political entities need women in authority and decision-making fields.

  1. Socially

I find this to be the broadest category among the three definitions of feminism as it has the ability to cover a very large umbrella of social causes. For now, I will give the example of Paul VI (Pope from 1963-1987) who showed the relevance of women in the Church as leaders, conferring the title “Doctor of the Church” upon Saint Teresa of Jesus and Saint Catherine of Siena. With this title, two of the most influential women of the Church were recognized as significant contributors to the history of the Church.

  1. Economically

In more recent news, Pope Francis called the fact that men earn more than women for the same type of work, “pure scandal”, according to The Washington Post. And is stated as saying in a “letter to women” that there is “an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses with regard to family rights.” Pope Francis demonstrates that The Church is in full support of improving women’s economic rights in the work force.

In the next several weeks, I will follow up with these topics and further discuss how they played out at the United Nations Headquarters at the CSW.