Introduction: Catholic Literature, Academia, and Feminism

  • Jeana DelRosso


At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Roman Catholicism is once again making headlines. The sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic church in the past few years have brought both national and international attention to Catholicism in ways that have focused on some of the most sensationalistic aspects of the religion: priestly celibacy, homosexuality in the ranks (and the concomitant attempts by the media to make pedophilia a gay issue), secrecy and cover-ups within the hierarchy. We have heard countless stories of young boys abused by priests, of bishops moving the abusers from one parish to another, of victims finally demanding justice through dogmatic, legal, and occasionally violent means. What seems to be missing, if one looks closely, from all the media fanfare is the role of women in these proceedings. Indeed, women have been excluded from the cardinals’ meetings, have had no audience with the pope and, if the absence of such stories from the news is to be believed, have been neither the victims nor the perpetrators of abuse. Anna Quindlen offers one possible explanation for the dearth of reporting on women in this scandal, writing in Newsweek, “After all, the teachings about ordination and celibacy and the evils of desire had as their subtext a misogyny that would lead any reasonable person to conclude that sex with a female is the lowest form of sexual expression” (74). Quindlen goes straight to what she sees as the actual center of the church’s crisis: the pervasive sexism of the institutional church in which women are perpetual victims, disallowed from having an influence upon the doctrines and decisions that affect our daily lives.


Catholic Church Woman Writer American Writer Catholic Woman Magical Realism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 4.
    Thomas Woodman, “Sin, Sex and Adultery,” in Faithful Fictions: The Catholic Novel in British Literature, chapter ten (Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Nancy Tischler, A Voice of Her Own: Women, Literature, and Transformation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1987).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    David Plante, The Catholic (New York, Atheneum Books, 1986).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jeana DelRosso 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeana DelRosso

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations