MicroMega 4/28: “Potere Vaticano. La finta rivoluzione di papa Bergoglio”

Tina Beattie, “Misoginia della Chiesa di Francesco”

This article by Tina Beattie was translated into Italian for publication in MicroMega, in a special edition on the Vatican and Pope Francis. Here is the original text in English:

In the early days of Pope Francis’s papacy, many hoped that he would bring about greater representation and participation of women in the church, but five years on it seems unlikely that he is going to make any significant difference in this area. He appointed a commission to investigate the possibility of women deacons,[i] but more than a year after it finished its work the report still has not been published. He has appointed a number of women to senior posts in the Vatican, but these are drawn from a small range of predominantly Italian Catholics who do not represent the diversity of Catholic women’s cultures and practices. I admire Francis and I welcome the changes he has brought about, but more and more women today are asking why so little is being done to address our concerns.[ii]

An Empire of Misogyny?

When former President of Ireland Mary McAleese described the Catholic church as “an empire of misogyny”[iii] at a press conference in Rome, her words reverberated around the world. Many women are leaving the church not because they have lost their faith, but because of the conflict between the institutional church and modern society around issues of gender and women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights. This is exacerbated by the sense of betrayal that many feel over the sex abuse crisis. One woman writer, reflecting upon the rapid decline of the church in Ireland, observes that

Irish women were betrayed in the worst way. Catholic priests, bishops, nuns and cardinals abused and neglected their children and babies. They shamed women for sexual and reproductive behaviour over which the women themselves had little control. They stole the joy of motherhood and betrayed women’s loyalty by failing to protect their families.[iv]

That quotation comes from a book of essays written by 60 Catholic women from 20 different countries. The book, Visions and Vocations, will be published to coincide with this year’s Synod of Bishops on “Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment”. It seeks to highlight the absence of women’s voices from the Synod, and to provide a resource for those who want to understand more about Catholic women’s vocations and experiences. It is edited by Catholic Women Speak,[v] a worldwide network of women who choose to stay and work for change within the church. Many contributors to the book tell of an ongoing struggle to remain faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the sacramental beauty of the Catholic faith, while battling with the extent to which women are still belittled and marginalised in church teachings and practices. Such experiences have led some to walk away and seek fulfilment elsewhere, but why do others decide to stay despite being fully aware of the conflicts and contradictions?

McAleese offers one possible response to that question in a quotation from her talk at the Voices of Faith conference on International Women’s Day in Rome on March 1st, 2018,[vi] which is reproduced in this journal:

Down the 2000 year highway of Christian history came the ethereal divine beauty of the Nativity, the cruel sacrifice of the Crucifixion, the Hallelujah of the Resurrection and the rallying cry of the great commandment to love one another. But down that same highway came man-made toxins such as misogyny and homophobia, to say nothing of antisemitism, with their legacy of damaged and wasted lives and deeply embedded institutional dysfunction.

That is an eloquent articulation of the paradox and ambiguity at the heart of the Catholic faith. No tradition in history has dignified the human more highly than sacramental Catholicism. The Catholic faith has inspired the greatest works of western art, music and architecture. The church remains one of the world’s largest and most effective providers of health care, education and social support to the world’s poorest people.[vii] Far from the unblinking eye of the CDF, Catholic health care providers have for many years been supplying condoms to those at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, and tending to women and girls experiencing the catastrophic consequences of unsafe abortion.[viii] Generations of women owe their education to the Catholic church, and therein lies another paradox. Many of those in the forefront of campaigns for women’s rights today are products of Catholic education. It was Catholic schools that opened their eyes to the ambiguity that McAleese describes – the co-mingling of misogyny and grace that constitutes the history of the church.

The Ambivalence Surrounding the Place of Women in the Church

The ambivalence with regard to the status of women in the church stretches back to the earliest texts of the New Testament. We see this if we compare the baptismal formula in St Paul’s Letter to the Galatians with that in the Letter to the Colossians. In Galatians 3 there is a clear affirmation that baptism removes all the hierarchical distinctions that divide humankind, and creates a new community of equals in Christ: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3: 28) In Colossians, the configuration is slightly different: “There is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!” (Col. 3: 11) The reference to sexual equality is elided in the Colossians version, possibly indicating some anxiety about the social consequences of affirming the full equality of women within the emergent institutions of the church.

Nevertheless, there is abundant evidence that women were highly active in the early church. All four Gospels record that women were the first witnesses to the resurrection, though St Paul writes them out of the story when he claims that after the resurrection Christ appeared to Cephas (Peter) and then to the other apostles (1 Cor. 12: 5). A recent British television programme explored the extent to which the significance of women’s participation in the first few centuries has been hidden within the historical record.[ix] The programme refers to a fifth century fresco discovered in a catacomb in San Gennaro, Naples, which depicts a woman named Cerula with her hands raised in prayer, surrounded by symbols of the Gospels usually associated with the role of a bishop. Such historical evidence demands further research and a willingness to engage with the questions it poses, not least with regard to historical precedents relating to the priesthood and women. Catholic teaching places great significance on tradition. If one could prove decisively that women were ordained as priests in the early church, it would be difficult to resist the movement for women’s ordination today.

Yet we should not be slaves to tradition. The question of what it means to abandon the old patriarchal hierarchies and to acknowledge the full equality of women poses new challenges to the church that demand new responses. This does not mean contradicting tradition, but it calls for recognition that a living tradition is one that is capable of undergoing repeated metamorphoses in order to adapt to the changing realities of different contexts and eras.

It should also be noted that, while the Catholic tradition continues to function as a custodian of patriarchy, it has preserved the memories of many women whose names would otherwise have been lost to history. From the women of the Gospels to the saints and mystics of the medieval and modern church, women have been acknowledged as agents of revelation, as evangelists, preachers and, more recently, doctors of the church. In 2016 the Feast of Mary Magdalene was elevated by Pope Francis to the same level as that of the other apostles, and for the first time she is referred to in the formal liturgy by her ancient title of “apostle to the apostles”. Four women saints have been recognized as doctors of the church since 1970 – Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Ávila, Thérèse de Lisieux and Hildegard of Bingen.

This cloud of female witnesses is a sustaining source of inspiration and encouragement for women who choose to remain. We belong within a vast community of the living and the dead and we refuse to surrender the living body of the sacramental church into the hands of a misogynistic cult presided over by celibate men obsessed with power and status. That description does not include the thousands of Catholic priests and monks who go about their vocations with a deep sense of humility, service and the holiness of everyday life, but it does describe the attitude of many in the curia – as Pope Francis himself repeatedly observes.

If we seek reasons for and possible solutions to the misogyny that continues to blight the evangelizing mission of the church, we must go beyond the historical record – important though that is. There are fruitful insights to be gained from psychoanalysis and gender theory, but it would be futile to look for one single explanation. Rather, we must circle around the problem, approach it from different angles, and ask what hidden promptings of fear and desire underlie the defensive androcentrism of church institutions.

The Symbolic Woman and the Female Body

Pope Francis repeatedly insists that realities are greater than ideas, and that the incarnation reveals God in history in many different cultures and contexts.[x] Yet when it comes to the female body, he sometimes seems more committed to the idea of woman than to women’s realities.

To illustrate this, we might consider his response to Swedish journalist Kristina Kappellin, when she asked him about women’s ordination on the flight back to Rome from Lund after his visit to Sweden in November 2016. Francis repeated in almost identical words a response he had given to another journalist on a previous occasion:

In Catholic ecclesiology there are two dimensions to consider: the Petrine dimension, from the apostle Peter, and the apostolic college, which is the pastoral activity of the bishops; and the Marian dimension, which is the feminine dimension of the Church, and this I have said more than once. I ask myself: who is most important in theology and in the mystic of the Church: the apostles or Mary on the day of Pentecost? It is Mary! The Church is a woman. She is ‘la Chiesa’, not ‘il Chiesa’ … and the Church is the spouse of Christ. It is a spousal mystery. And in light of this mystery you will understand the reason for these two dimensions. The Petrine dimension, which is the bishops, and the Marian dimension, which is the maternity of the Church … but in the most profound sense. A Church does not exist without this feminine dimension, because she herself is feminine.[xi]

This nuptial and maternal ecclesiology is not new – one finds it in the New Testament and throughout the Catholic tradition – but in its present form it owes much to the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, as interpreted by Pope John Paul II in his catechesis on the Book of Genesis given in general audiences between 1979 and 1984.[xii] This idiosyncratic reading of Genesis has given rise to the theology of the body movement which has been vigorously promoted around the world, thanks in part to the patronage of wealthy American conservatives.[xiii]  The purpose of this innovative theology is threefold: to assert the principle of complementarity as the church’s response to the challenge of feminism; to strengthen the arguments of Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae[xiv] with regard to the significance of marriage and the prohibition against artificial birth control, and to restore the Marian dimensions of the church that were neglected in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. Yet far from offering a genuine model of equality in difference, theology of the body is ridden with sexual stereotypes and essentialisms that are largely motivated by a resistance to feminism, women’s ordination, homosexuality, abortion, contraception and, more recently, what is usually referred to in magisterial documents as “gender ideology”.[xv]

The use of the word “gender” in the context of postmodern sexual politics refers to a discursive shift from feminism to a more multi-facetted approach to issues of sexual identities and rights, including those pertaining to people who identify as lesbian, gay, transgender or intersex. The assertion that gendered identities are to a certain extent fluid and non-binary has provoked a hostile reaction from the Catholic hierarchy. The following quotation from Francis’s post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia gives a clear sense of this concern:

Yet another challenge is posed by the various forms of an ideology of gender that “denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family. This ideology leads to educational programmes and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female. Consequently, human identity becomes the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time”.[xvi]

Aspects of gender theory invite critical scrutiny from the perspective of Catholic anthropology and ethics. However, Francis’s account is a crude caricature which can be found in numerous magisterial documents since the early 1990s, with little attempt to engage in a more informed approach to the issues. Gender theorists such as Judith Butler might not agree in all aspects with Catholic doctrine, but they are intellectuals of the highest order who merit respectful engagement rather than condemnation. Moreover, the appeal to an essential difference between male and female written into the order of creation renders incoherent the gendered ecclesiology of theology of the body, succinctly summarised in that response by Francis to the question of female priesthood.

In order to belong to the masculine Petrine dimension of the church, one has to be biologically male. The priesthood is sexed rather than gendered. However, the maternal feminine dimension of the Marian church is gendered rather than sexed. It is polymorphous, with no essential relationship to the female body. The symbolic maternal body of the Marian church is made up of many bodies of diverse genders. In a confused appeal to the grammatical gendering of nouns, Pope Francis assures us that the church is a woman, because the church is a feminine noun in Italian. In Polish – the native language of John Paul II – the noun for church (kościół) is masculine! To claim that the church is a woman, and that women are honoured by such a claim, is actually to render the female body superfluous in terms of language and sacramental significance. It is indeed to radically separate biological difference from fluctuating concepts of gendered identity.

From a sacramental perspective, only male bodies are necessary. When an all-male community celebrates Mass, all the gendered symbolic meanings that constitute the sacrament are present – priest and church, bride and bridegroom, mother and father, man and woman – because these are all roles that can be performed by men. However, when an all-female community celebrates Mass, the male body has to be present in the form of the priest. The church might be a woman, but it is not possible to constitute the church without a man being present. The man is essential and the woman is inessential – a point that has been made repeatedly by feminist philosophers and gender theorists.

The male body signifies the linguistic subject, the form, as it has in western philosophy from the time of Plato to the time of Kant and beyond. The female body is reduced to mute animality, necessary only for the procreation of the species. Female bodies are bearers of children, but only male bodies are bearers of meaning. No wonder then that the church is so preoccupied with controlling and promoting female fertility, because in the end women are only good for procreation. Beyond that biological function, there is nothing that a woman can do that a man cannot do equally or better. In seeking to affirm sexual equality while maintaining the masculine exclusivity of the priesthood, modern doctrine has embraced an ontology of sexual difference that comes precariously close to excluding the female body from the redemptive promise of the incarnation.

Throughout the Catholic tradition, the difference between male and female has been understood in terms of authority and subordination, form and matter, superior and inferior. Modern church teaching has replaced that hierarchical order with an ontological difference, and this raises the question of how the female body is redeemed, if the female flesh is not incorporated into the humanity of Christ. We might remember the patristic saying that what was not assumed was not redeemed.[xvii]

In attempting to equate motherhood with priesthood as the unique vocation of each sex, motherhood has become over-valorized in church teaching. We have seen that this ostensibly unique vocation and gift is not unique at all, because men are also spiritual mothers and the church is a woman. However, it remains true that biological motherhood is exclusive to women, so let me turn now to the issues this raises with regard to women’s rights.

Gender, Sexuality and Motherhood

References to “gender ideology” first entered church teaching at the same time as issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights began to feature in debates at the United Nations in the early 1990s. As the only religious body with permanent observer status at the UN, the Holy See has become a powerful lobbying point for religious and cultural conservatives opposed to rights-language associated with sexuality and gender.[xviii] It has repeatedly used its influence to attempt to block any resolution that might be seen as endorsing abortion or contraception or promoting sexual rights, even when the main purpose of the resolution is to do with wider issues of social justice, maternal well-being and the prevention of violence against women.

It is not possible to address here the complex questions that arise in the context of these debates and disagreements. However, despite abundant references to the positive aspects of procreation and motherhood in modern papal documents, there are few if any references to the physical and psychological risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth. In Francis’s poor church of the poor, there is still no acknowledgement of the fact that pregnancy and childbirth remain among the most significant causes of death and injury for poor women, with nearly 300,000 of the world’s poorest women dying every year from pregnancy-related causes, and many more sustaining life-changing injuries as a result of unsafe abortions or lack of obstetric care.[xix] When pregnant women die, their unborn children usually die with them, and their existing children are often left orphaned or abandoned. Maternal death remains a major cause of avoidable suffering among poor communities, but it is ignored by church teaching.

The hierarchy expends so much moral energy on opposing contraception and abortion, while doing nothing to acknowledge the traumatic consequences of denying women access to the means to control their own reproductive capacities, particularly in situations in which they are victims of sexual coercion, violence and rape. It is hard not to conclude that dying in childbirth is seen as part of the natural sacrifice of motherhood, attributable perhaps to that ancient curse in the Garden of Eden, in which pain in childbirth and domination in marriage are the punishment for Eve’s disobedience (Gen. 3:16). But let me push further, to ask how we might explain this hostility to the female sex that has been a feature of Catholic life for two millennia.

Women, Priesthood and Fear

I have already suggested that the exclusion of the female body from sacramental representation comes close to excluding women from redemption in the flesh of Christ. Consider, for example, the implications of the claim that, if a priest were a woman, “it would be difficult to see in the minister the image of Christ. For Christ himself was and remains a man”.[xx] If the men in the CDF cannot see the image of Christ in a woman, are they not implicitly denying that male and female are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27)?

How can such serious anomalies creep in to church teaching? We need to dig down beneath the mystification and obfuscation that are used to evade the question of woman priests, to ask what is really at stake. This is not a question of equal rights but of sacramental integrity. It concerns the exclusion of women from the gift and vocation of priesthood solely on the basis of biological sex. Seven sacraments are offered to men but only six to women. To ask why there is this unyielding resistance to female priests, we might be helped by anthropology and psychoanalysis.

A number of anthropologists and sociologists have explored the relationship between blood sacrifice and masculine bonding, as a form of substitution for the maternal bonds of childbirth. For example, Nancy Jay argues that the relationship between fathers and sons in paternal genealogies, including the Catholic priesthood, is sealed through the symbolic or real shedding of sacrificial blood, which replaces the maternal blood bond.[xxi] From a psychoanalytic perspective, Luce Irigaray suggests that female-centred religious rituals are focused primarily on fecundity, while male-centred rituals focus on sacrifice.[xxii] Drawing on Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, she argues that the maternal body, with its potent associations with sexuality and nature, is a source of fear and disgust in a western culture that has developed through the masculine rationalisation and control of the forces of nature.

Such theories are not immune from criticism, but they invite the question of what it would mean for a woman to say, “This is my body, this is my blood”. When male bodies bleed, it is always a sign of injury or illness. As René Girard has argued, there is a powerful symbolic association between sacrificial violence and the sacred.[xxiii] However, female blood has a wider range of meanings. Women must learn to read the signs of their own bleeding bodies, not only in terms of the wounding that is common to both sexes, but in terms of menstruation, childbirth and the menopause. Female blood is most commonly associated with a woman’s reproductive capacities. A female priest on the altar may be offering Christ’s body and blood as sign of erotic fecundity and not only of sacrifice and death.

If it is true that this fertile, bleeding body is a source of fear for a masculine order that seeks to control nature, we might ask if the majestic vision of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’,[xxiv] can possibly be realized without a transformation of the church’s understanding of women and motherhood. Pope Francis speaks eloquently of the suffering and fragility of mother earth, but that too remains a romantic fantasy if it is simply another projection onto the mute body of the suffering maternal other. There is no attempt in Laudato Si’ to address gendered aspects of ecology and socio-economic justice with regard to the feminisation of nature and the victimisation and exploitation of women.  Many women theologians and theorists have pointed out that, in the rise of scientific modernity, nature was both romanticised and demonised as a sexually dangerous female body that had to be controlled and tamed by the rational masculine mind. Such gendered insights would have much to contribute to a deeper understanding of the issues raised in Laudato Si’. There can be no reconciliation between culture and nature, no overcoming of the anthropocentrism which Francis sees as such a blight on modern western values (and really, it would be more accurate to speak of “androcentrism”), without overcoming the deeply repressed impulses that project onto women’s bodies all the forbidden fears and desires associated with the maternal relationship and with the power of nature.

This requires revisiting a primal fear that still haunts Catholic thought, long after it has been rendered anachronistic in terms of science. The gendered relationship between paternal form and maternal matter has constituted the scaffolding of the western soul from the time of Plato, and it found powerful affirmation in patristic and medieval theology. This philosophical dualism has shaped the Catholic understanding of gender at every level of existence – cosmological, ontological and sociological – drawing on both Neo-Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy. The order of being is maintained by way of descending hierarchies of gender, beginning with the paternal form beyond form of God the Father, and cascading down through the created order from kings, rulers, bishops and priests to husbands, fathers, leaders and lords. Women, children and animals are on the natural end of this spectrum, and being closer to nature/matter should be subjugated and ruled by men who are closer to the divine form. The copulative relationship between paternal form and maternal matter is the primordial building block of created being, and to disrupt that is to threaten the very order of being. If form is not in control of matter, chaos results.

While these ancient beliefs lack modern credibility, Platonism with its attendant dualisms retains a powerful grip on the western psyche. The disembodied abstraction of the form is associated with the rational, masculine mind, made in the image of God. The chaos of matter is associated with the female body, with its psychological intimations of dangerous sexuality and voracious maternal power. Such insights can be explored more deeply through Lacanian psychoanalysis. Lacan showed – in my view convincingly – how these philosophical dualisms continue to structure the western psyche through the symbolic order, and how they still shape our concepts of gender.[xxv]

There is a great deal more that could be argued and analysed in these claims, but I am sketching a possible framework within which to ask the question, is the Catholic church an empire of misogyny?  I suggest that the malignant influence of misogyny is a symptom rather than a cause of the problem. Hatred is a secondary characteristic that is usually a defence against fear and vulnerability, which leads me to suspect that the cause is not misogyny but gynophobia. It is fear of women that underlies misogynistic attitudes and behaviour, and which drives men to want to control women. While celibacy can be a beautiful vocation and an inspiring witness to faith, it can also be a form of gynophobia if it leads men to form closed communities as a way of avoiding contact with women. Gynophobia infects church teaching with an impetus to dominate women through various tactics of sexual and reproductive control and priestly exclusion, while the hierarchy hides from itself the ugly implications of this by draping it in the romantic language of maternal nurture and “feminine genius”.

Let me conclude by asking what resources the Catholic tradition might offer for going beyond this impasse, to a more fertile and creative symbolics of gender and sacramentality interpreted in the context of the story of creation, incarnation and redemption.

Embracing Difference, Celebrating Mystery

Catholicism has a rich internal coherence to its doctrines and devotions. At its best, Catholic sacramental life is attentive and responsive to the sonar soundings of grace that resonate deep within creation. The central mysteries of the faith are not open to rational scrutiny as such, but they make sense within the overarching narrative of salvation. As Pope Francis repeatedly points out, there is a plasticity to doctrine, which can bend and shape itself to different contexts and cultures.

The rigidity of the church’s resistance to female ordination has given rise to new doctrinal justifications which appeal to the mystery of revelation, but there is a difference between mystery and mystification. Mystery invites the praying believer ever more deeply into the heart of God – the source of grace – beyond all language and concepts, so that it opens into a world of inner freedom, beauty and peace. Mystification is not an invitation but an imposition. It seeks refuge in irrationality and authoritarianism to support doctrines that lack coherence and resist the transformative movements of the Holy Spirit.

Theology of the body is a theology of mystification. The living realities of human love and sexuality are negated by a celibate fantasy of married life. Yet while essential heterosexuality is the cornerstone of this theology, we have seen that, as soon as it concerns symbolic meanings rather than biological functions, the language of maternal femininity floats free of the female body. In fact, theology of the body is not a theology of sexual difference but a theology that erases the female subject. As Irigaray argues, in this linguistic order woman is the other of the same – a body inscribed within masculine language and culture, bearer of all the abjected fears and desires that must be repressed in the making of the masculine subject.[xxvi]

One might turn to Julia Kristeva to appeal for an understanding of a less dualistic, more fluid sense of gendered identity, in which those characteristics associated with masculinity and femininity, maternity and paternity, flow through the psyche in a continuous dynamic of self and other.[xxvii] If we follow that path, we find ourselves back at the source of the Catholic faith – the person made in the image of the Trinitarian God. We could say in Lacanian terms that the self of the symbolic (the masculinised dimension of language and the social order), the other of the imaginary (the feminised dimension of desire and yearning) and the Other of the Real (God), constitute the inner world of the Trinitarian self, rendering porous the rigid binaries of sexual difference and allowing for a gendered fluidity in our identities and relationships. British theologian and Anglican priest Sarah Coakley refers to “gender’s mysterious and plastic openness to divine transfiguration” so that “the ‘fixed’ fallen differences of worldly gender are transfigured precisely by the interruptive activity of the Holy Spirit, drawing gender into Trinitarian purgation and transformation. Twoness, one might say, is divinely ambushed by Threeness.”[xxviii]

This interpretation of the significance of gender would be consistent with the Catholic tradition, and it might unleash a revitalized sense of the sacramental potency and wonder of Catholic liturgical life. A woman priest would become a sign of the redeeming significance of the incarnation, in which Christ deconstructs the ancient dualities of good and evil that create the conditions for a world of shame, blame and conflict. Male and female, mother and father, God and creation, body and soul, then become not dualistic opposites but a harmonious and dynamic play of differences, constituting the fertile soil of sacramental imagination in which a life of grace seeds itself among us and invites us to dance to a different tune within the harmony and beauty of creation.

There are many riches to be explored and discovered within the traditions and sacraments of the Catholic faith. The sacramental life is the living water that flows beneath the arid deserts of misogyny, clericalism and abusive power. That is why so many of us refuse to walk away. All empires eventually collapse and yield to new life, not without struggle and pain – as we know so well in our postcolonial world – but in ways that allow new forms of human freedom and dignity to emerge. The same is true of this empire of misogyny, in which women are rising up to reclaim our bodies from colonisation and subjugation, to reclaim the language, the meaning, the sacramental significance, that constitutes our place of belonging in the world. Just as indigenous peoples today reclaim their natural rights to their land, so women are reclaiming the language and meaning of our own bodies – our place of indigenous belonging.


[i] Cfr. Donne diacono? Il Papa: , https://www.avvenire.it/chiesa/pagine/papa-diaconato-donne-studio

[ii] Cfr. L’Osservatore Romano, 01 marzo 2018, ‘Un manifesto per le donne nella Chiesa’, http://www.osservatoreromano.va/it/news/un-manifesto-le-donne-nella-chiesa.

[iii] Cfr. Catholic Church “an empire of misogyny”  – Mary McAleese, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-43330026

[iv] Colleen Hennessy, “Irish Women and a Church in Crisis” in Catholic Women Speak (eds), Visions and Vocations, Paulist Press, Mahwah NJ 2018, forthcoming.

[v] Catholic Women Speak, https://catholicwomenspeak.com/.

[vi] Voices of Faith, https://voicesoffaith.org/event/

[vii] Cfr. Robert Calderisi, Earthly Mission: The Catholic Church and World Development, Yale University Press, New Haven CT 2013.

[viii] Cfr. Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, Alfred A. Knopf, New York 2009.

[ix] Channel 4, “Jesus’ Female Disciples: The New Evidence”: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/jesus-female-disciples-the-new-evidence.

[x] Santo Padre Francesco, Evangelii Gaudium, 24 novembre 2013, https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/it/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html.

[xi] Sala Stampa Della Santa Sede, Bollettino, 01.11.2016, https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2016/11/01/0789/01764.html. See also Gerard O’Connell, ‘Pope Francis: Some Final Thoughts on the Flight Home’, America, Sept. 28, 2015, http://papalvisit.americamedia.org/2015/09/28/pope-francis-some-final-thoughts-on-the-flight-home/ .

[xii] Santo Padre Giovanni Paolo II, Udienza Generale, September 5, 1979 – November 28, 1984, https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/it/audiences.index.html#audiences. See also Fr. Roger J. Landry, Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, http://www.catholicpreaching.com/content/docs/TOB.pdf.

[xiii] Cfr. http://www.theologyofthebody.net/. See also Luke Timothy Johnson, ‘A Disembodied “Theology of the Body: John Paul II on love, sex & pleasure”, Commonweal, June 4, 2004, https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/disembodied-theology-body.

[xiv] Santo Padre Paolo VI, Humanae Vitae, 25 luglio 1986, http://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/it/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae.html.

[xv] Cfr. Tina Beattie, New Catholic Feminism: Theology and Theory, Routledge, London and New York 2006.

[xvi] Santo Padre Francesco, Amoris Laetitia, 19 marzo 2016, 56, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/it/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia.html, quoting Relazione Finale, 2015, 28, https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2015/10/24/0816/01825.html.

[xvii] Cfr. Megan K. DeFranza, Sex Difference in Christian Theology, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids MI, 2015.

[xviii] Cfr. Tina Beattie, “Whose Rights, Which Rights? – The United Nations, the Vatican, Gender and Sexual and Reproductive Rights”, Heythrop Journal, Vol. 55, Issue 6, 2014: pp. 979-1112.

[xix] Cfr. World Health Organization, “Maternal mortality”, http://www.who.int/gho/maternal_health/mortality/maternal_mortality_text/en/.

[xx] Sacra Congregazione per la Dottrina Della Fede, Inter Insigniores, 15 ottobre 1976, 5, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19761015_inter-insigniores_it.html.

[xxi] Nancy Jay, Throughout Your Generations Forever: Sacrifice, Religion, and Paternity, University of Chicago Press, 1992.

[xxii] Cfr. Luce Irigaray, Sexes et parentés, Les Éditions de Minuit, Paris 1987.

[xxiii] René Girard, Violence et le sacré, Éditions Bernard Grasset, Paris 1972.

[xxiv] Santo Padre Francesco, Laudato Si’, 24 maggio 2015, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/it/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html.

[xxv] Cfr. Tina Beattie, Theology after Postmodernity: Divining the Void – a Lacanian Reading of Thomas Aquinas, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2013.

[xxvi] Cfr. Luce Irigaray, Speculum de l’autre femme (Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1974); Beattie, God’s Mother, Eve’s Advocate: A Marian Narrative of Women’s Salvation, Continuum, London and New York 2002.

[xxvii] Cfr. Julia Kristeva, Étrangers à nous-memes, Les Éditions Fayard, Paris 1988.

[xxviii] Sarah Coakley, “Is there a Future for Gender and Theology? On Gender, Contemplation, and the Systematic Task”, Criterion, 47.1, 2-11, p. 11.