The Role of the Popes in the Invention of Complementarity and the Vatican’s Anathematization of Gender

In: Religion and Gender
Mary Anne Case
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This article examines the origins and uses by the Vatican of the theological anthropology of complementarity, arguing that the doctrine of complementarity, under which the sexes are essentially different though not unequal, is an invention of the twentieth century untraceable in earlier centuries, but developed by, among others, the Popes from Pius XII through Benedict XVI, in part as a response to feminist claims, including those recently anathematized by the Vatican under the term ‘gender.’ After exploring some difficulties with the application of the doctrine of complementarity as Catholic orthodoxy, the article concludes by compiling preliminary evidence as to the extent Pope Francis will continue his predecessors’ approach to complementarity.

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