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Silence, language, and Christian feminism

Professor Tina Beattie, Professor of Catholic Studies at Roehampton University, delivered a lecture entitled “Listening to the Essence of Things”: Theology, language and meaning in the context of Laudato Si’ and Querida Amazonia on 19 February 2020 at The Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin. She spoke about five key points to a packed audience:

  1. Being and belonging – She compares and contrasts Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio and Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’. She maintains that while the former refers to the autonomous man the latter refers to a more relational interdependent reality.
  2. Silence and beholding – Inspired by Pope Francis’ new vision in Laudato Si’, Professor Beattie draws attention to ‘The Little Garden of Paradise’ painting, depicting Mary the Mother and Jesus the Child within a walled garden, and a modern interpretive version to illustrate the difference between a superficial ‘looking’ and a contemplative ‘beholding’.
  3. Speaking and communicating – Professor Beattie says Querida Amazonia, the latest post-synodal apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis, is worth reading and inspiring in many ways but that it has problems, for example, she maintains that Francis’ reasons for not ordaining women as deacons or priests comes close to “heretical” on a theological level.
  4. Silencing and violating – She critiques the maternalisation of the Marian image, created by Church fathers, saying that “the maternal romance hides a deadly and terrible reality”. She goes on to relate statistics regarding abuse over ‘botched’ abortions, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  5. Language and maternal self – Professor Beattie gives the example of the “feminine genius” as a stereotypical use of language that keeps women in their place. She wants a discourse based on learning from women and their experiences, recognising their equal participation in their communities and their environments.

Listen to the lecture above ».