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 Feminism Accused by the Vatican
 Robin Hindery, USA
 August 7, 2004

The Vatican, in a July 31 pamphlet addressed to bishops worldwide, accused feminism of trying to blur the differences between men and women and of threatening to destroy the traditional family structure.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, one of Pope John Paul II's closest aides, wrote the 37-page document. He referred to the "lethal effects" that feminism had produced in the drive for equality, which he said makes "homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent, in a new model of polymorphous sexuality."

Ratzinger wrote that recent approaches to women's issues have been fueled by a desire to provoke antagonism and bitterness among women, leading them to believe that "in order to be themselves, (they) must make themselves the adversaries of men."

While upholding the church's ban on female priests, the document also espoused support for the fair treatment of working women in other professions. In accordance with the Pope's record of supporting women who seek employment outside the home, the document said those who choose to work should be granted an appropriate work schedule and "should not have to choose between relinquishing their family life or enduring continual stress."

Critics of the document said the attack on feminism opened the door for religious conservatives to condemn any sort of advocacy for women. Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice in Washington, D.C., told Reuters the pamphlet could only have been written by "men who have no significant relationship with women and no knowledge of the enormous positive changes the women's rights movement has meant for both men and women."

The pamphlets reference to homosexual couples harkened back to a similar document the Vatican released last summer, which called for politicians to block or repeal any legislation that gave equal rights to same-sex relationships, claiming lesbian and gay people were going "against natural and moral law."

Robin Hindery is a correspondent for Womens eNews.

From Women’s eNews, August 7, 2004. Copyright 2004 Women's eNews. Women’s eNews is a nonprofit independent news service covering issues of concern to women and their allies.