If you’ve heard that being a feminist is anti-Catholic, think again.
In today’s world, being a Catholic can be controversial. Especially when it comes to women’s rights.
Feminism has a history of advocating for things that the Catholic Church contends with, whether it be outright support of abortion, or just the connotation that mothering isn’t valuable work.
So it’s not uncommon for a Catholic to cringe at the word “feminist.”
But in 1995, St. Pope John Paul II actually issued a call for women to rise up in the name of feminism – a call for a “new feminism.”
And if feminism is good enough for a Pope who’s also now a canonized saint, well, it’s good enough for me.
Here’s three good reasons Catholics should be proud to sport the (new) feminist label:
I started this blog to help women like myself.
Women who may not have always felt like they fit within the Church, or fit the image of a “good Catholic woman.”
Women who have been attracted to feminism, but who want to know how to reconcile it with their Catholic faith.
Women who have a sense that the strength, power, and influence of women is untapped — both in the Church and in the world.
Are you bored of Catholic resources talking about the feminine genius
… but only in terms of women getting pregnant?
Are you frustrated with hearing people talk about chastity and NFP
…as if it’s blissful and full of frolicking fun?
“The violence which so many individuals and peoples continue to experience, the wars which still cause bloodshed in many areas of the world, and the injustice which burdens the life of whole continents can no longer be tolerated.”
You would think those words were spoken yesterday. Terrorism, shootings, and other acts of violence seem to overtake our news these days. But this call to action was actually made over 20 years ago, by St. Pope John Paul II (JP2) in his 1995 address for World Day of Peace.
In that same address, JP2 advocated for a particular solution – the advancement of women.
“The work of building peace can hardly overlook the need to acknowledge and promote the dignity of women as persons, called to play a unique role in educating for peace,” he wrote. “I urge everyone to reflect on the critical importance of the role of women in the family and in society, and to heed the yearning for peace which they express in words and deeds and, at times of greatest tragedy, by the silent eloquence of their grief.”
Most people probably wouldn’t get so worked up over water bottles. But as a young feminist, when my grandma told me to let my younger brother carry the heavy case of Aquafina, I was livid. “Seriously?!” I thought, “why does she think I’m so dainty and weak?!”
Feminism was in my blood from the beginning, it seems. In Kindergarten when a boy tried to chase me around the playground, I ran for a bit and then stopped, paused, and confronted him. “Why are you chasing me?”
“Uh, I dunno…” he muttered.
“Well, I’M going to chase YOU then.”
I was never one to be mistaken for meek and mild.
Can you be both faithful to the Catholic Church and be a feminist?
If you look at the literal meaning of feminism, then the answer is emphatically yes, but when you look at the modern feminist movement, that confident “yes” turns into a blur of uncertainty and conflicting perspectives. The purpose of this post isn’t to give you a definitive answer, but instead address some of the common points of discussion.
Background of Feminism
A quick Google search defines feminism as the “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” A lot of feminists will simply say it is gender equality. In the United States, we can see “waves” of the feminist movement. This isn’t to say there weren’t women speaking out before that, but rather to point out that these were established movements.
1. The Catholic Feminist podcast
Hosted by millennial Claire Swinarski, this weekly podcast features strong Catholic women on topics ranging from refugees, to eating disorders, to women’s rights. It’s like having a coffee date with your new best friend who has all the best connections and insights. (She’s even interviewed Audrey Assad!) Be “inspired, informed, and intentional” and definitely hit ‘Subscribe’ on this one.
Don’t miss these episodes:
- How Women Can and Should Utilize Leadership Skills
- How To Talk About Politics On Social Media Without Losing Your Friends Or Your Soul
- How Catholics Should Respond to the Refugee Crisis
Find The Catholic Feminist Podcast on the website or iTunes.