The Laywoman Project: Remaking Catholic Womanhood in the Vatican II Era

The Laywoman Project: Remaking Catholic Womanhood in the Vatican II Era

by Mary J. Henold

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Summoning everyday Catholic laywomen to the forefront of twentieth-century Catholic history, Mary J. Henold considers how these committed parishioners experienced their religion in the wake of Vatican II (1962–1965). This era saw major changes within the heavily patriarchal religious faith—at the same time as an American feminist revolution caught fire. Who was the Catholic woman for a new era? Henold uncovers a vast archive of writing, both intimate and public facing, by hundreds of rank-and-file American laywomen active in national laywomen's groups, including the National Council of Catholic Women, the Catholic Daughters of America, and the Daughters of Isabella. These records evoke a formative period when laywomen played publicly with a surprising variety of ideas about their own position in the Catholic Church.

While marginalized near the bottom of the church hierarchy, laywomen quietly but purposefully engaged both their religious and gender roles as changing circumstances called them into question. Some eventually chose feminism while others rejected it, but most, Henold says, crafted a middle position: even conservative, nonfeminist laywomen came to reject the idea that the church could adapt to the modern world while keeping women's status frozen in amber.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469654508
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 01/30/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 248
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Mary J. Henold, John R. Turbyfill Professor of History at Roanoke College, is the author of Catholic and Feminist: The Surprising History of the American Catholic Feminist Movement.

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From the Publisher

Important and timely, this history of American Catholic laywomen breaks new ground, providing a unique perspective on women's experiences within the church. Henold gracefully demonstrates how laywomen—a population whose national presence and sheer size alone make them deserving of study—negotiated the dual transformations unleashed by the Second Vatican Council and the women's rights movement."—Thomas F. Rzeznik, Seton Hall University

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