It is hard to over-estimate the challenge that feminism poses to Roman Catholicism. Pope John Paul II's call for a 'new feminism' has led to the development of a Catholic theological response to the so-called 'old feminism'. The New Catholic Feminism sets up a dramatic encounter between the orthodox Catholic establishment and contemporary critical theory, including feminist theology and philosophy, queer theory, and French psycholinguistics, in order to explore fundamental questions about human identity, personhood and gender. From the naked bodies of Eden to the 'gay nuptials' of liturgy, it argues that the strange and volatile world of Catholic sexual symbolism cannot be 'tamed' to meet the ideological agendas of either feminist theology or conservative Catholicism. Only through a radical re-evaluation of the sacramental significance of the sexed human body might the Catholic Church provide a redemptive response to the sexual politics of contemporary society.
Tina Beattie is Senior Lecturer in Christian Studies at the University of Surrey Roehampton, where she also convenes the MA programme in Religion and Human Rights. A leading Catholic and Marian theologian, she is the author of Woman: New Century Theological Studies (2003); Eve's Pilgrimage (2002); God's Mother, Eve's Advocate (2002); The Last Supper according to Martha and Mary (2001); and Rediscovering Mary (1995).
"The centrality of gendered, sexual bodies to the life of faith and traditional theology's repression of such have long been the focus of feminist theology. Beattie's book takes the conversation to new levels with her exploration of the crucial role of the psychological - desire, pleasure, fear, terror - in the workings of faith and theology." - Mary McClintock Fulkerson, Associate Professor of Theology, Divinity School, Duke University