Tension between Female Religious and Male Clergy in the American Catholic ChurchJeanine E. Kraybill
While female religious have grown to possess a sense of personal authority in issues impacting the laity, and have come to engage in social-issue-oriented activities, religious institutions have traditionally viewed men as the decision-makers. One Faith, Two Authorities examines the tensions of policy and authority within the gendered nature of the Catholic Church.
Jeanine Kraybill looks at the influence of Catholic elites—specifically within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious—and their opinions on public policy and relevant gender dynamics with regard to healthcare, homosexuality, immigration, and other issues. She considers the female religious’ inclusive positions as well as their opposition to ACA for bills that would be rooted in institutional positions on procreation, contraception, or abortion. Kraybill also systematically examines the claims of the 2012 Doctrinal Assessment against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
One Faith, Two Authorities considers whether the sisters and the male clergy are in fact in disagreement about social justice and healthcare issues and/or if women religious have influence.
“ With empirical detachment, Kraybill examines the recent Vatican investigation, backed by American bishops, of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for alleged heresies. The hierarchy’s attempt under Benedict XVI to reign in the leadership of mainstream sisters, on charges of feminism, gave short shrift to their true agenda, and sparked a media disaster for the bishops, which ended when Pope Francis halted the crackdown. Among the virtues of One Faith, Two Authorities , is Kraybill’s finding that the nuns were well ahead of the bishops in championing health care and other initiatives consistent with Catholic social teaching. She wisely points out that with women playing an ever-increasing role in administering parishes, time and truth are on their side. This work will be of natural interest to Catholic scholars.”—Jason Berry, author of Render unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church
“The pressures facing the Catholic priesthood today arguably are more intense than ever before. One Faith, Two Authorities is a deep, insightful analysis of the limited extent to which women religious are allowed to exercise authority in the Catholic Church today. Kraybill’s pathbreaking work will contribute to our understanding of gender dynamics in the Church hierarchy for decades to come.”—Laura R. Olson, Thurmond Professor of Political Science, Clemson University, and co-author of Religion and American Politics: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices
"Kraybill’s book succeeds in its effort to explain the importance of the doctrinal assessment, highlight tensions that are at play with respect to female religious and the hierarchy, and explore some of the implications of that tension in the lives of women religious and for the Church. It provides an important addition to the Religious Engagement in Democratic Politics series and should be read by anyone interested in the field of women religious and the Catholic Church’s relationship to the public square."
— Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought
"Kraybill argues that the male clergy rely on the institutional authority of their office and the Sisters rely on the personal authority they derive from their role as female religious and their closer relationship with the laity. At the end of her book, she moves beyond her data to offer a surprisingly optimistic conclusion about the current possibilities for the empowerment of women in the Catholic church. The bulk of the analysis offers a careful depiction of the kinds of negotiations engaged in by female subordinates in an explicitly hierarchical and indeed, patriarchal institution."
— Gender & Society
"The data are strong, the analysis is persuasive, and the book is well written and extremely accessible to academic and Catholic audiences.... Kraybill’s study is an excellent foray into these pressing questions for a church that prides itself on valuing tradition, while also meeting the needs of the current day."
— Contemporary Sociology
"One Faith, Two Authorities lays out its goals and accomplishes them succinctly and effectively.... (T)his is one of the most comprehensive case studies of women’s leadership in a religious organization in recent scholarship. Although women religious have almost always outnumbered (male) priests in the United States, the political authority of nuns is rarely an area of study. This book breaks new ground simply by engaging this topic."
—Journal of Women, Politics, and Policy