A feminist theologian’s advice during the hype over choosing a new pope

February 18, 2013

“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (an essay by Mary E. Hunt)
“Patriarchy will get unimaginable amounts of free publicity for the next month as the Roman Catholic Church reshuffles the papal deck,” writes feminist theologian Mary E. Hunt, co-founder of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER). A Roman Catholic herself, Dr. Hunt has long worked for change in the church. In this essay for Feminist Studies in Religion, she argues that “what is needed is a wholesale deconstruction of a hierarchical church and the reconstruction of a community that is based on radical equality.” She points out that as things now stand, the emphasis on male entitlement and male power—so visible in the proceedings and pageantry taking place over the weeks ahead—provides a symbolism that, in Dr. Hunt’s words, “has the pernicious impact of making the male-only power model seem holy. Ditto for the racist, heterosexist dimensions as well, not to mention the Euro-centrism and money assumptions that underlie the proceedings.” She suggests a fourfold strategy for feminists in dealing with the endless media hype. Her four points are well worth taking the time to read, ponder, and practice.  You might also want to take some time to read another related article and find out why Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne says the best choice for pope would be a nun.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.