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Combining the idea of a priest’s spiritual marriage to the Church and Pope Paul VI’s title for Mary as Mother of the Church, Pope Francis joked with a group of seminarians: “If you don’t go to Our Lady as Mother, you certainly will have her as a mother-in-law! And this isn’t good.” In the midst of the many changes after Vatican Council II, Paul VI had observed the need to prevent misunderstandings, such as viewing Our Lady as a mother-in-law rather than a mother, or diminishing Marian devotion. Therefore, Paul VI wrote his 1974 encyclical, Marialis Cultus, describing three aspects of a sound Marian devotion and providing four guidelines for a fruitful renewal of Marian devotion. The fourth guideline in particular addressed an anthropological perspective on Mary in response to the movement for women’s equality. While keeping the three aspects in mind, this paper will focus on the four guidelines to analyze the writings of six American women from a Catholic context to see if their writings fulfilled Paul VI’s criteria. Because three of these women are feminists and the other three fit into the category of New Feminists, this paper will first define what is meant by “feminist” and “New Feminist.” Then, it will present the criteria used for the evaluation and introduce the authors. Next, this study will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their recent Marian writings according to Paul VI’s criteria, to understand how these two types of feminism impact Mariology and Marian devotion. The paper will conclude by answering the question: Are these Feminist and New Feminist perspectives on Mary a renewal or retrieval of pre-Vatican II Marian devotion?


Copyright © 2014, Mariological Society of America



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