Catholic or Feminist

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Art by Emily Audet. Click for full image. 

 

I remember asking my mom when I was young why women could not be priests (as shown in the illustration above). She told me that in the past, women were seen as less powerful than men and were not allowed to hold leadership positions in the Catholic Church and that now male priests had become a tradition within the Church. This answer was suffice for me when I was younger, but as I have grown older, I have become increasingly aware of and uncomfortable with gender inequality in the Catholic Church.

Today, I identify as Catholic, as I have all my life, but at times, it is difficult for me to reconcile my religion with my personal beliefs. Illustrated above are four specific instances from throughout my life where I remember feeling most uncomfortable being a feminist in the Church. I do not want to make suggestions on how the Catholic Church could decrease gender inequality because I am not entirely sure what I think about this issue. Rather, I just want to share my experience as a Catholic feminist, which is in no way emblematic of the experiences of other Catholic feminists.

As a Catholic, it is hard for me to hear a religious teaching that really resonates with me and that I feel very connected to, only to realize that the lesson’s intended audience is male. Because of this, I feel that I have to have a guard up whenever I enter a Catholic space. This is challenging in itself because I want to be able to trust the beliefs and direction of my religious leaders. Currently, however, I cannot entirely trust and follow the teachings of religious leaders in the Church without diminishing my value until I am lesser than males, which is something that I am unwilling to do. My experience as a Catholic feminist involves me always trying to realize what is inherent to the religion and what is our patriarchal society’s influence on the Church. Consequently, I have had to select the parts of the religion that I feel are true and choose to believe, instead of embracing all of Church’s teachings wholeheartedly.

  Emily Audet  emily
  Staff Blogger Scr ’17
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One Response to “Catholic or Feminist”

  1. I actually chose Catholicism because of feminism. I went to 9 years of Catholic school and every year had a well-qualified female teacher who I believe was a strong role model for me and helped me become the feminist I am today. It was also much more progressive in feminism than when I switched to public high school. More generally, most every leadership position that is not clergy (read, those who worked most closely with the congregation) was filled by a woman at my church. I grew up wanting to be a leader like all the accomplished woman at my church. I also found it much easier to talk with Mary and many of the female saints, who I found that I generally identified more easily with as a female. I could have never chosen a religion that did not celebrate so many strong females.

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