Pioneering feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether dies at 85

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Feminist and liberation theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether has influenced generations of men and women in the causes of justice for women, the poor, people of color, the Middle East and the Earth. The scholar, teacher, activist, author and alumnus NCR The columnist died on May 21. She was 85 years old.

Theologian Mary Hunt, a longtime friend and colleague of Reuther, announced the death on behalf of the family.

“Dr. Ruether was an academic activist par excellence. She was respected and loved by students, colleagues and collaborators around the world,” said Hunt, co-founder and co-director of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER).

“His legacy, both intellectual and personal, is rich beyond imagination,” Hunt said in an email announcement. “The breadth and depth of her work, and the testimony of her life as a committed feminist in search of justice, will forever shine with a luster that time will only enhance.”

A classic by training, Ruether was outspoken in his liberal views on everything from the ordination of women to Palestinian statehood. She has written hundreds of articles and 36 books, including the systematic review Sexism and discourse on God in 1983 and the ecofeminist primer Gaia and God in 1992.

In more than 50 years of teaching, Ruether influenced thousands of students, first at the historically black Howard University from 1965 to 1975, then at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary as the Georgia Harkness Professor of Theology. applied from 1976 to 2002. professor at Harvard Divinity School, Princeton Theological Seminary, Yale Divinity School and Sir George Williams University in Montreal.

Although she taught many Catholic students, Ruether enjoyed the greater academic freedom of non-Catholic employers. After losing a job offer at a Catholic school in the 1960s because of an article she wrote for theWashington Post Journal titled “Why a Catholic Mother Believes in Birth Control,” she learned her lesson: “Don’t work for a Catholic institution,” she said AwarenessCatholics for Choice magazine, on whose board she served for many years.

She did, however, attend Catholic schools in her youth and was influenced by the nuns who taught her. Ecumenical from birth, she was the youngest of three daughters of a Catholic mother and an Episcopalian father who died at the age of 12. She was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1936, but grew up in Washington, DC and California.

A strong student, she was a lecturer at La Jolla High School and chose Scripps College, an all-women’s school in Claremont, California, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in classics in 1958.

His MA in Historical Theology (1960) and Ph.D. in Patristics (1965) are both from Claremont Graduate School; his thesis was on the church father Gregory of Nazianzus. Her academic accomplishments are all the more notable as she was also raising three children while in college, after marrying political scientist Herman J. Ruether in 1957.

After becoming involved in the civil rights movement in Claremont, she volunteered in Mississippi after “Freedom Summer”, as part of the Delta Ministry Program. This early commitment to racial justice set her apart from some white feminists of this era who did not initially address issues of class and race. His book Women Healing The Earth in 1996 highlighted Latin American, Asian and African theologians and activists.

Ruether’s feminist writings have criticized historical and contemporary patriarchy around the world and in the Church, especially among the clergy and hierarchy. She was a supporter of the Women’s Ordination Conference and the Women-Church movement, which champions women-led liturgical communities outside of the patriarchal church, and a board member of Catholics for Choice.

“My Catholicism is the progressive, feminist wing of the liberation theology of Catholicism. It is the Catholicism that I belong to, that I am connected to all over the world,” she said. Awareness.

In his 2013 autobiography, My quests for hope and meaning, she wrote, “I have been privileged to have strayed down this path and found myself led by whatever combination of instinct and divine grace leads to exploring mile after mile a particular path of thought and of life. … It’s as much a direction I was led as it is a direction I consciously chose. Like so many other travelers on this path, we can only say to ourselves: “we have to go, we can’t do otherwise”. “

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