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Catholic and Feminist: The Surprising History of the American Catholic Feminist Movement Hardcover – October 15, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


An example of feminist scholarship that deserves the name: professional yet personal, documenting assertions without hedging and offering a vision that balances the real and the ideal. . . . [Henold's] scholarship is careful, her writing style clean.--America

The relationship between feminism and religion is clearer now that Henold has written this important book.--Louisiana History

Superb . . . at tracing and analyzing the history of Catholic feminism in the United States. . . . Henold's research is impressive, relying on extensive archival research and a variety of fascinating oral histories. . . . An important contribution to the fields of religious history and women's studies and should be required reading in those areas for years to come.--American Catholic Studies

A splendid history of the American Catholic feminist movement. . . . Highly recommended for all seminary, academic, and public libraries.--Library Journal

A noteworthy and exciting contribution to emerging studies on post-Vatican II Catholicism in America as well as gender studies and religion. . . . Catholic and Feminist is an important historical study that exposes the debates over social reform, power, politics, and religion.--Church History

Compelling reading. . . . Provides a lively, cohesive narrative for non-Catholic feminists and readers from Generation O. . . . This concise, lively, carefully prepared volume will be useful to Catholics who want to know more about their own recent past and to students of American history, women's history, and religious history. . . . Highly recommended.--Choice

This book is carefully researched and engagingly written and tells a story that needs to be told. This should be required reading for any history of Catholicism in the twentieth century, as well as the history of feminism.--The Journal of Religion

Well-written and superbly researched. . . . [Catholic and Feminist] takes religion seriously and demonstrates Catholicism as an active and underappreciated force in the history of American feminism.--Maryland Historical Magazine

A sympathetic, well-constructed history. . . . Scholars of the American women's movement and the American Catholic Church will welcome this enlightening study.--American Studies

The first substantive history of Catholic feminism.--American Catholic

[Henold] is to be commended for taking several thousand bits of information and weaving them into an engaging and informative narrative without masking the complexities of interpreting a period of enormous change.--Journal of American History


In her stimulating and well-researched book, Mary Henold proves decisively that there has indeed been a vibrant movement of Catholic feminism since the 1960s. It has changed with the frustration of its original reformist goals, but it still impacts Catholics who continue to pursue a vision of an inclusive church on the inside and outside edges of institutional Catholicism.--Rosemary Radford Ruether, Claremont Graduate University and School of Theology

|Feminists are the hope of the Catholic Church. I applaud Mary Henold for her scholarship, her insight, and her vision. Catholic and Feminist shows the way that women can take the best of our traditions to shape our church and make it the moral anchor that we need.--Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

|Henold deftly interweaves cultural context, the history of the American feminist movement, individual experiences, and organizational histories, providing a multi-faceted approach that layers the story. For many people, scholars included, the label 'Catholic feminist' is still an oxymoron. Because the topic challenges stereotypes and provides new, interesting material on a little-known group of feminists, this book will appeal to a broad audience both inside and outside the academy.--Carol K. Coburn, author of Spirited Lives: How Nuns Shaped Catholic Culture and American Life, 1836-1920

|Catholic and Feminist captures the important story of how Catholic feminists in the 1970s and 1980s formed new relationships with a church that had given them both inspiration and pain in equal measure. Henold's writing is as animated and compelling as the women whose stories she documents. It is sophisticated yet accessible, thorough yet lively. This important study lays a fresh foundation for understanding the post-conciliar trajectory of American Catholicism.--Amy L. Koehlinger, Florida State University, author of The New Nuns: Racial Justice and Religious Reform in the 1960s

|This engaging study reveals the unexpected sources of modern feminism in Catholic faith, as well as the centrality of feminism to the faith of many Catholic women. Anyone who thinks they know the story of the American women's movement or of modern American Catholicism should read Mary Henold's book.--Ann Braude, director of the Women's Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School and author of Sisters and Saints: Women and American Religion


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (October 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807832243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807832240
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,500,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
No, "Catholic Feminist" is NOT an oxymoron... as Mary J. Henold (professor of history at Roanoke College) shows in this wonderful, enlightening 2008 book. She explains in the Introduction, "I choose to approach the subject of Catholic feminism... as a historian. From this perspective, Catholic feminist viability is a very straightforward issue. The historical records of the sixties and seventies ... provides more than ample evidence that Catholic feminists existed, that they articulated a strong connection between their faith and their feminist principles, that they formed organizations to forward feminist agendas, that such organizations were networked into a larger movement of Catholic feminism, and that this movement had connections with the much larger American feminist movement.... this study asks not just IF or WHY women were Catholic feminists, but HOW and thus analyzes the nature and significance of Catholic feminism as a distinct branch of American feminism." (Pg. 3)

She adds, "this book traces the first two decades of the Catholic feminist movement in America from the emergence of Catholic feminist writers in 1963, through the development of the first major Catholic feminist organizations in the seventies, to a major strategic and ideological shift that occurred at the close of the seventies. This entailed... an increased emphasis on establishing separate women's communities on the church's 'margins.'" (Pg. 9)

She acknowledges, "Reluctance to believe in the existence of Catholic feminists is understandable. The worldwide institutional Catholic Church is openly hostile toward feminism and feminists.
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