This chapter situates the controversies about sex and gender in the Roman Catholic Church within the context of ongoing debates about the nature of the Church, the dynamism of the tradition, and the authority of the magisterium. It argues that underlying many of the most contentious of these disagreements, including those about reproductive rights, same-sex relationships, and gender-based violence, one can discern fundamentally different theological understandings about the nature of the human body, the relationships between the sexes, and the malleability of sexuality. Having examined these underlying theological controversies, this chapter considers the contours of the contemporary debates about reproductive rights and same-sex relationships. It notes moreover that these controversies are not abating. Rather, the positions are becoming more polarized and the divisions more intractable.
Dorian Llywelyn SJ
The mother of Jesus is the most important female figure of Christianity. Mary appears in a small number of biblical passages, but the vast Marian phenomenon includes Christian doctrine and a range of cultural expressions. Interest in Mary emerged early in the Eastern Mediterranean, and spread into the West. With slightly different emphases, Catholics and Orthodox Christians share a number of beliefs concerning Mary and pray to her, but most forms of Protestantism reject Marian devotion. While Catholic attention to Mary diminished in the global North following the changes wrought by the Second Vatican Council, it has remained strong in other parts of the world, especially in Latin America. Shrines such as sites where Mary is believed to have appeared draw millions of devotees annually. Contemporary Mariology, the academic study of the figure of Mary, includes considerations from almost all the liberal arts.