This article will outline a feminist interpretation for responses of the Roman Catholic Church to particular events in modern history, and sketch feminist proposals for solving the resulting problems of the Church today. The first section interprets the Church's initial response to scientific and philosophic discoveries and movements of the late Renaissance and the Enlightenment period as responsible for the feminization of the image of Roman Catholicism in the secular mind. The second section interprets the Church's response to liberalism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as confirming for the secular, and increasingly popular, mind this feminine image of Catholicism. The third section depicts Vatican II as a contemporary attempt to create a more masculine image for the faith by moving the Church's sphere of action from the feminized private sector to the public world characterized by masculine rationality and technology. The final section sketches some ways in which modern feminist scholarship and its perspective can be a major and necessary contributor to the eradication of this feminine view of religion through the elimination of public/private dualism.
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