Catholic and Feminist: The Surprising History of the American Catholic Feminist Movement

By Mary J. Henold | Go to book overview

3
no cakes in hands
unless ideas in heads

You have raped us of our rights
and preached that it was in the name of God.
These are the ashes of your canons,
of your instruction sixty-six.
The color of our caste is pink,
but the color of our mood is ash.

— Elizabeth Farians, “Pink and Ash”

In 1970, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) released a revised version of the Roman Missal, a book that includes prayers and guidelines for Catholic worship. This missal, which included new instructions for liturgical ministers, contained the now infamous “paragraph 66,” sanctioning female lectors for the first time but only if they proclaimed the readings standing outside the sanctuary gates. Deeply offended, a Catholic feminist named Elizabeth Farians decided to hold a “liturgical ceremony” at which Catholic feminists burned a copy of the offending section of the missal. They then gathered the ashes, placed them in a package with the above poem titled “Pink and Ash,” tied it with a pink ribbon, signed it “Woman,” and mailed it to the head of the NCCB.1

Elizabeth Farians had had enough. Like several of the early Catholic feminist writers, she was a theologian by training and wrote extensively about women in the church and the ways that religious institutions perpetuated sexism. But in the midsixties she became increasingly involved in

-63-

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Catholic and Feminist: The Surprising History of the American Catholic Feminist Movement
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Origins 13
  • 2 - Demythologizing Ourselves 35
  • 3 - No Cakes in Hands Unless Ideas in Heads 63
  • 4 - The Spirit Moving 83
  • 5 - The Love of Christ Leaves Us No Choice 117
  • 6 - Making Feminism Holy 137
  • 7 - A Matter of Conversion 167
  • 8 - Sustained Ambivalence 197
  • Epilogue- 1980–1986 233
  • Notes 245
  • Bibliography 273
  • Index 287
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