Ratzinger, feminist?

Not quite

Good. The Vatican document On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World (released July 31), rejects “an outdated conception of femininity” as passivity. The letter to the bishops of the world, written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, advocates the equal dignity and active collaboration of men and women in the church, in society, and in the home. While no evidence of women’s theological collaboration appears in the document, Ratzinger states that the goal of his letter is to serve as “a starting point” and an “impetus for dialogue.”

Fortunately, dialogue is different from monologue. The first step must be to listen and acknowledge that critical differences can arise among those engaged in a “sincere search for truth.” Participants who disagree with one another can still be “men and women of good will.” Much as I disagree with many of Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope John Paul II’s ideas on sex and gender, I readily grant their sincerity, faith, and idealism. It is a cynical misunderstanding to see the Vatican’s positions on sexuality as a last-ditch effort to maintain control by refusing ordination to women, rejecting homosexuality, condemning contraception, or disallowing divorce. No, Cardinal Ratzinger and the pope along with their followers truly believe in the central importance of the essential complementarity of the natures of women...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

Sidney Callahan is a psychologist and the author of Created for Joy: A Christian View of Suffering.