Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza Comes to Campus

Warner Lecture: Women and the Church

Warner Lecture (1985)

On March 28th, 1985, feminist theologian Dr. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza came to campus at the invitation of CSB. Schüssler Fiorenza is the author of the book In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins, which was praised for its originality. As a part of the Warner Lecture Series, Schüssler Fiorenza’s speech was on “Women and the Church: The Discipleship of Equals in Patriarchal Structures.” Many people did not approve of Schüssler Fiorenza coming to St. Benedict's, as she is pro-choice and some of her statements contradicted the Catholic Doctrine about a woman’s place in the church. However, she did not mention abortion once and made her speech solely about equality in the church for women. Still, many came to protest the speech based on Schüssler Fiorenza’s stance on a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. Some of the signs the protesters held said, “Feminism is the instrument of the devil,” “Satan is at St. Ben’s,” and “Is St. Ben’s really a Catholic College?” There was resentment on both sides to these protestors. One pro-lifer, Lynda Gradert, condemned their actions. She said it was harmful to the movement to harass people, and she did not agree with their approach. Many other students were upset by the protests and voiced their opinions in The Cable, such as Theresa Traynor. Traynor said that a good college needs to provide the space for students to explore and question their beliefs and St. Ben’s was doing just that by inviting speakers with varying perspectives and backgrounds.

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza Comes to Campus