Feminism and Catholic identity: online diploma in Social Doctrine of the Church

13 June 2020
Ash Wednesday Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: Mary Brazell/Diocese of Parramatta.


An online Diploma will see 25 Catholic leaders gathering to discuss women in the Church and establish a “new feminism” for this era.

Around 25 Catholic leaders will be gathering online, from 11 to 25 July, to discuss the theme for the Sixth International Diploma in the Social Doctrine of the Church: “Women in public life: feminism and Catholic identity in the 21st century.”

As requested by Pope Francis, the event, organised by the Latin American Academy of Catholic Leaders, will seek to reflect on an authentic feminism that promotes the participation of women in public life.

The aim of the course is to present a proposal for a clear Christian identity on a new feminism that recognises the contribution of women both in the Church and in public life. This will involve a thorough analysis of the Church’s perspective on women, the study of philosophical anthropology of women, and the philosophical roots of gender and the history of feminism.

International qualification

Father Alexandre Awi Mello, Secretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, will hold the inaugural session of the course. He will present his doctoral thesis on the Virgin Mary, icon of women in the Church, starting from the thought of Pope Francis.

The qualification will count as an international certification, issued by the Latin American Academy of Catholic Leaders and four Latin American Catholic Universities: the Pontifical University of Mexico, the Catholic University of Costa Rica, the Catholic University of Tachira in Venezuela, and Finis Terrae University in Chile.

The academic team is composed, among others, of Brazilian Cristiane Kaitel, Doctor of Law at the Federal University of Minas Gerais; Adriana Sirito, coordinator of post-graduate training at UCA in Argentina; and the Mexican historian María Luisa Aspe Armella. She is one of the main representatives of women’s leadership in Latin America, and also served as director of the History Department of the Universidad Iberoaméricana and president of IMDOSOC (Mexican Institute of Christian Social Doctrine).

Teachers include: Flaminia Giovanelli, the first woman in the history of the Vatican to become Undersecretary of a Department; Marta Rodriguez, former head of the Women’s Section of the Department for the Laity, Family and Life; Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, Archbishop Primate of Mexico; Paola Binetti, Italian senator and neuropsychiatrist specialising in biopolitics; Austen Ivereigh, founder of Catholic Voices in the United Kingdom; Monsignor Thomas Wenski, Archbishop of Miami; Soledad Alvear, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile; Isabel Capeloa, Rector of the Catholic University of Portugal and first woman to preside over the rectors of Catholic Universities around the world; Alexandra Pelaez, Secretary of State for Education in Colombia; theologian Mario Angel Flores, member of the International Theological Commission.

Relevant inquiry

The academicians stress that the topic of a new feminism is particularly relevant nowadays. Reasons for this, they say, is that feminist movements have broken into public life, increasing demand for more space for women’s leadership, and the serious situations of abuse and inequality within society.

The teachers also say that they will be addressing these issues from an evangelical perspective, capable of discerning the positive and negative aspects of different feminisms; the recognition of legitimate complaints of unjust situations that violate the dignity of the human being, as well as the danger of ideological instrumentalisation that has sometimes occurred.

The hope, therefore, is that we will succeed in “developing the proposal for a new feminism in this changing era and in times of crisis,” they say.

With thanks to Vatican News and Francesca Merlo, where this article originally appeared.


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