An exploration of John Paul II’s theological anthropology in the context of his theology of the body and new feminism, in engagement with the perspectives and experiences of some Irish Catholic women.

  • Grainne Doherty

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    In September 1979, John Paul II began presenting his theological anthropology – comprised of his Theology of the Body catechesis and his writings on the nature and role of women. Three weeks later, he came on a papal visit to Ireland. Speaking to a country where, at the time, being Catholic was almost synonymous with being Irish, and where the icons of Mary, and Cathleen Ní Houlihan were held up to women as models of true womanhood, John Paul II praised the Irish people for being semper fidelis, always faithful. The intervening 42 years has seen this “Catholic Ireland” undergo radical change. Rocked by revelations of various forms of abuse inflicted by both clergy and female religious, “Catholic Ireland” is now frequently presented as the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote, and of passing some of its most liberal forms of abortion legislation.
    Much of the commentary to date on such a transition has been a simplistic one: the secular debate has dismissed the Catholic church as now irrelevant – especially to women; while the religious debate has failed to take seriously the proclaimed disconnect that often exists between church teaching on such issues, and the lived realities of many of its members. Despite the contentious role John Paul II’s theological anthropology has played over the years in debates between the conservative and liberal wings of the church, its teachings and language have informed the papacies of his two successors and are still to the fore in the Catholic church today. But how does it speak to women who have lived within its theology for most of their lives? This research explores this question by contextualising John Paul II’s theological anthropology in the faith lives of some Irish Catholic women.
    Date of Award11 Apr 2022
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorClare Watkins (Director of Studies) & Tina Beattie (Co-Supervisor)


    • Feminist theology
    • Irish Catholicism
    • Women
    • Ecclesiology

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