by Martin Newland SOME 300 delegates gathered at the University Church of Christ the King, London, on Saturday to hear the prominent feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether address a conference on the major problems facing the Church today.
Dr Ruether, a Lecturer at Evanston Theological College, Illinois, was in London at the invitation of the Catholic Renewal Movement, which through its activities hopes to "give a voice" to the forces for structural and pastoral change in the Church.
While Ms Ruether criticised "delicatessen Catholicism", which relied on a "pick and choose" approach to the faith, she exhorted the Church to abandon its "anti-pluralistic" mentality, and to recognise that conflict born out of pluralism is potentially "creative". Two other aspects of Church life which challenge Catholics are the growing awareness of women's rights in the Church and the problems posed by Third World Christianity, Ms Ruether told 'delegates.
On the former topic she deviated from her prepared speech to comment on the recent pastoral by the US bishops on the role of women in the Church and society. Among other things Ms Ruether attacked the bishops' inability to develop the notion of women's "partnership" with men, and the fact that the pastoral constantly spoke of "motherhood as a vocation", but omitted to speak of "a vocation to fatherhood".