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Title: We are what we eat : feminist liberation theology and the theology of the Eucharist
Author: Rafferty, Agnes
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 9768
Awarding Body: University of Winchester
Current Institution: University of Winchester
Date of Award: 2009
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From the perspective of Feminist Liberation theology women who partake in the present sacramental Eucharist of the Roman Catholic Church assent to and actively consume their own oppression within its patriarchal symbolic system which denies women a discrete subjectivity. Re-evaluating the place of women in the divine economy and claiming equal value to 'thefeminine' and 'the masculine' traits where women have a subjectivity in their own right challenges traditional Roman Catholic theology but is in keeping with new theologies in which the traditionally 'feminine' values are central. ! As the celebration of the Eucharist uses the religious symbolic to communicate beliefs a theme running through the study is how human attributes have been afforded different value with the 'feminine' values symbolised as the female, associated with nature and denigrated in the past, now being reclaimed as central to the ecosystem that maintains human life and an essential element in the fabric of the cosmos. In Section 1 I examine the Vatican documents of the Roman Catholic Magisterium in relation to women, priesthood and Eucharist. I found that the theology put forward was unable to accommodate women and that the theologies of male priesthood and .Eucharist were intimately linked. Missing from this theology was any positive attitude towards the earth with which the feminine and the female was identified, a positive attitude towards the body and a discrete subjectivity for women. Section 2 addresses these areas found missing in order to re-evaluate the embodied feminine searching out a positive view of the body as the home of the divine. Contemporary theories of the construction of subjectivity are considered as a counter to the mediated subjectivity demanded of women in a patriarchal outlook. I then argue that given the restricted role offered to women in the traditional family which mirrors the Roman Catholic model of God, a Eucharistic theology based on friendship might offer a more inclusive paradigm. Section 3 is concerned with how the feminine can be included in our understanding of the divine economy and evaluate Relational Theologies that are offering a model of interdependent relationality as indicative of the divinelhuman relationship which . respects the feminine traits previously maligned. I utilize the findings of the sciences in challenging the inferior place of the natural world in religious thought, claiming matter as embodying the divine; I then focus on Feminist theologies of Christology and Redemption in which the previously marginalised can offer a fresh revelation of Christ.. Relational theologies, including the emerging Quantum theology are put forward as a means of including the missing feminine in a theology of Eucharist. In conclusion I posit that applying the findings of Feminist Liberation theology to the Sacrament of the Eucharist challenges the theology of Eucharist and theological reflection on Christ, Redemption, and the theology of Atonement that underpins the sacramental celebration of the human/divine relationship. Alternative Relational theologies advocate a different model of the divine rooted in relationships based on interdependence which radicalises reflection on the nature of God. I propose that Feminist Liberation theology has the potential to afford a sacramental Eucharist where women are not required to assent to their own oppression but offers an expanded understanding of who we may become when we eat at the Eucharistic table.
Supervisor: Isherwood, Lisa ; Stuart, Liz Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available