Is it wisdom, madness, folly or vanity to embark on a thesis which tries to prove that there is some kind of theological mediation point to be found between the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church and those within the Institution who espouse the ideals of Christian feminism? Certainly, it would not be usual to introduce a thesis with an extract taken from a Book that tends to be viewed as fatalistic. Yet, it is relevant here because it reflects a hope born out of the ambiguous position pertaining to the role of women in the Catholic Church today. Furthermore, consideration of the quotation will explain the feelings of confusion, hope and excitem ent one m ight be likely to experience in the pursuit of such a task. This onerous proposal comes from a feeling that it is worthwhile to remain within the Institution despite the rough justice meted out to women who have been so very loyal to the Church throughout the centuries.
Yet, is it fair to ask of women who feel betrayed by the Institution to remain within its restrictive structures? Perhaps not, but it might be worthwhile to point out that if they leave there will be no-one interested enough to effect liberating change. Those who decide to stay in the Institution should remember that they can set about their task w ithout having to pay lip-service either to blind faith or to subservient obedience. Em anating from this request the present thesis aims to find a theological common denominator which would make both the women in question and the Church authorities feel comfortable. Inevitably, at this stage, one might begin to enquire as to how one might find suitable data to fit into the above scheme. A response to this question centres on the need to consider three areas of discipline. The first calls for an account of some contemporary Christian feminist thinking in relation to the teaching of the Catholic Church (Christian feminism). The second requires some understanding of the official position of the Church's more problematic teachings in relation to women (official Church teaching). The principle concern, however, is to find a theology which will act as a mediating agent between the two positions. Somewhat surprisingly, this takes the shape of one particular aspect of Marian theology (ecclesiatypology) which will be referred to below. Marian theology, then, becomes a major focus of the thesis.