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After John Paul II, Does the Church Need a New Feminism?

Dane CC

Catherine Ruth Pakaluk - published on 11/17/14

What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.

So the great social problems of our day – mainline feminism included – arise from nihilistic atheism. Therefore, what the Church needs most is assistance in fulfilling her evangelizing mission – assistance in reminding a drifting humanity about God.

What does this have to do with women? Simply this: because they are oriented by nature and grace to persons – they are also oriented to the Divine Persons. They are, in themselves, a symbol of the Church who is the Bride of Christ. They are especially receptive to the Gospel message.

John Paul II develops this idea in Mulieris Dignitatem. He says that "Christ speaks to women about the things of God, and they understand them; there is a true resonance of mind and heart, a response of faith" (No.15). Women possess an acute sensitivity to all that pertains to the Divine Persons, and for all things related to the spiritual. John Paul also writes:

In "vocation" understood in this way, what is personally feminine reaches a new dimension: the dimension of the "mighty works of God," of which the woman becomes the living subject and an irreplaceable witness (no. 16).  

Considered in this light, the complete response to feminism is not a “new” feminism, but new public witness to the truths of the faith. This means, practically speaking, that it is for women to push back against the false ideology of a naked public square. It is for women to reclaim space for the sacred and to remind men about God. It is for women to say, with Our Lady, “Do whatever He tells you.”  

This is not a kind of feminism. But it could be a kind of women’s movement that we could all get behind.

Catherine Ruth Pakalukis an Assistant Professor of Economics at Ave Maria University, a Faculty Research Fellow at the Stein Center for Social Research, and a Senior Fellow in Economics at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture. Her research is focused in the areas of demography, gender, family studies, and the economics of education and religion. She also works on the interpretation and history of Catholic social thought. Dr. Pakaluk earned her doctorate in economics at Harvard University (2010). She lives in Ave Maria, Florida with her husband Michael and seven children.

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