Augustine, feminism and religious life today

Patricia Rumsey

When Pope Francis pointed to the need for a new, deeper theology of women, it was against a tradition from Augustine that cast women as unequal and the married as less holy than celibates, argues Patricia Rumsey. Where do we go from here??Patricia Rumsey is a Poor Clare nun and a visiting scholar in Christian Liturgy at Sarum College, Wiltshire.

Pope Francis has been widely quoted as saying that ?women are more important than bishops? (which, of course, women have always known ... 1).

However, very few bishops in the early Church ? if any ? would have agreed with him ? and although his stance was not as extreme as that of Jerome, Augustine would have been among the dissenters.

Feminist theologians on the whole do not give Augustine a good press; his concubine was cast off when his mother decided it was time for him to be respectably married; according to Willemien Otten:

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