For some Catholics, feminism is the other f-word. It is seen as an ideology that is antithetical to the core values of the Catholic faith. Certainly among those who are more traditional, there are a myriad of reasons for this aversion, including a commitment to traditional gender roles and a general skepticism toward egalitarianism. But even among progressives, there is sometimes discomfort with the word. In speaking with some leading Catholic women in the pro-life progressive movement, I have seen a reticence to embrace the word and articulate a pro-life feminist vision. It was seen as inextricably linked to the movement for “abortion on demand and without apology.”
But in many ways, the divide over the term is generational. For Millennial Catholics, there is no shortage of young women (and men) who freely and happily identify as feminists. The reason is perhaps that they are neither bogged down by the baggage of past skirmishes, nor inclined to define feminism narrowly and associate it with a particular strand of feminism. Instead, feminism is seen as a belief in the fundamental equality of men and women and a commitment to ensuring that this belief shapes our society and its social structures—politically, culturally, and personally.
Millennial Catholics are poised to embrace a feminism that reflects an authentic commitment to both this belief in equality and the core values of the Catholic faith….
What might this Catholic feminism look like?
It would be personalist. It would be premised on a belief in the fundamental dignity, worth, and equality of every single person…It would be focused on human flourishing. It would be centered on fostering an authentic freedom, in which each person can reach their full intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual development….It would be shaped by a commitment to the common good. Social justice would be the goal and solidarity the driving force.