The Justification for the Social and Religious Oppression of Women by the Roman Catholic Church
Collins, Kelly A.
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Women have been limited in their ecclesiastical positions over the past few centuries, and have, at times, been regarded as inferior to men in their physicality, as well as their intellectual capabilities. The conditions which produced this oppression go back thousands of years, though I believe that one of the most significant powers in perpetuating the suppression of women's equality has been the Roman Catholic Church. Through the Biblical Canon, the commentaries of influential Christian writers such as the Church Fathers, Thomas Aquinas, Paul and Tertullian, and the Church's emphasis on the perfection of the Virgin Mary, women have been placed in subordinate roles in the home and society, and have been excluded from leadership positions in the Church. The subsequent three chapters will discuss the influence of the Church on in greater detail, though it is first important to mention the limitation of this discussion. When I refer to "the Church" throughout the paper, the reader must understand that I am referring to the Roman Catholic Church. Because the Roman Catholic Church has undergone very few reforms, and is the one Christian denomination that remains in its most original form relative to its founding two thousand years ago, I will keep this discussion limited to the oppression of women associated with the Roman Catholic tradition, and the various ways it has contributed to the subordination of women since its establishment as an organized religion. Though I realize there are hundreds of other Christian denominations in existence that do grant women more freedom in religious leadership roles than does the Catholic Church, I cannot adequately discuss them all in this particular paper.