Catholic Moral Theology’s Contributions to Global Feminist Ethics
Nancy Rourke, Division of Humanities, College of Professional Studies
Abstract: I will present contributions of Catholic women and the Catholic tradition to feminist global ethical discourse, on two levels. First, on the level of method: Catholic theologians work in a context which is inherently global. Catholic ethical discourse engages communities of members all over the world and at all levels of education and of (ecclesial) power. The challenges of global ethical discourse are thus quite familiar to Catholic women and to Catholic feminists. We engage discussion partners who are often suspicious of our hopes as women, especially when we speak about bioethics and sexual ethics. As a result, Catholic women have developed methods of writing and teaching under hostile scrutiny, while also protecting our own survival. Second, on the level of content: Catholic theology itself offers an invaluable contribution to feminist ethical discourse. Catholic ethics has at times been harmful to women in practice. However, Catholic feminists argue that this is a result of the inadequate practice of good theory. Not one to waste good theory, I suggest a renewed application of understandings of God as Trinity and of natural law approaches to ethics.