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David Geiringer

Gender, belief and memory If accessing personal experiences in the past is a difficult task in general, then getting at the sexual and religious experiences of Catholic women is a particularly perilous pursuit. Both religious belief and sexual behaviour are widely considered to be private, intimate aspects of personhood. This may have been the case for matters of sex for

in The Pope and the pill
Catholic women religious in nineteenth-century England and Wales

Roman Catholic women's congregations are an enigma of nineteenth century social history. Over 10,000 women, establishing and managing significant Catholic educational, health care and social welfare institutions in England and Wales, have virtually disappeared from history. In nineteenth-century England, representations of women religious were ambiguous and contested from both within and without the convent. This book places women religious in the centre of nineteenth-century social history and reveals how religious activism shaped the identity of Catholic women religious. It is devoted to evolution of religious life and the early monastic life of the women. Catholic women were not pushed into becoming women religious. On the basis of their available options, they chose a path that best suited their personal, spiritual, economic and vocational needs. The postulancy and novitiate period formed a rite of passage that tested the vocation of each aspirant. The book explores the religious activism of women religious through their missionary identity and professional identity. The labour of these women was linked to their role as evangelisers. The book deals with the development of a congregation's corporate identity which brought together a disparate group of women under the banner of religious life. It looks specifically at class and ethnicity and the women who entered religious life, and identifies the source of authority for the congregation and the individual sister.

Sex, Catholicism and women in post-war England
Author: David Geiringer

On 25 July 1968, Pope Paul VI shook the world. His encyclical letter Humanae Vitae rejected widespread calls to permit use of the contraceptive pill and deemed artificial contraception ‘intrinsically evil’. The Catholic Church is now commonly identified as the antagonist in a story of sixties sexual revolution – a stubborn stone resisting the stream of sex-positive modernity. There has been little consideration of how Catholic women themselves experienced this period of cultural upheaval. This book is about the sexual and religious lives of Catholic women in post-war England. It uses original oral history material to uncover the way Catholic women negotiated spiritual and sexual demands at a moment when the two increasingly seemed at odds with one another. The book also examines the public pronouncements and secretive internal documents of the central Catholic Church, offering a ground-breaking new explanation of the Pope’s decision to prohibit the pill. The materials gathered here provide a fresh perspective on the idea that ‘sex killed God’, reframing dominant approaches to the histories of sex, religion and modernity. The memories of Catholic women help us understand why religious belief does not structure the lives of most English men and women today in the way it did at the close of the Second World War, why sex holds a place of such significance in our modern culture, and crucially, how these two developments related to one another. The book will be essential reading for not only scholars of sexuality, religion, gender and oral history, but anyone interested in post-war social change.

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Cara Delay

Irish Catholic women, for the first time, at the centre of public discussion and analysis. As always, lay Catholic women responded to the late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century transformations in myriad ways and, as they had done for over a century, made significant contributions to the new Ireland that was emerging. The Irish feminist movement flourished in the 1960s and 1970s and has become more visible again in recent decades, particularly in the fight for abortion rights. Through it, an unprecedented number of Irish women activists have called for

in Irish women and the creation of modern Catholicism, 1850–1950
David Geiringer

Later marriage was a life-cycle stage peculiar to both Catholic women and a particular historical moment. A distinctly ‘modern’ life cycle emerged in the decades after the Second World War – demographic statistics suggest that by the 1970s, British women were ending their period of childrearing at a considerably earlier stage than ever before. In the mid-nineteenth century

in The Pope and the pill
David Geiringer

The final chapter of this book looks at Catholic women’s sexual and religious development in the years that preceded their marriages. For all the interviewees bar one, this period did not involve any penetrative intercourse. For the vast majority, there was also little to no genital activity of any kind with a partner, while only six spoke of solitary masturbation. This

in The Pope and the pill
Abstract only
David Geiringer

that I’ve been brought up with, I now find it increasingly difficult to believe in them, towards the end of my life. 3 This moment of raw emotional expression encapsulated not only the experiences of many Catholic women, but also, in ways that might not seem immediately apparent, the questions that faced

in The Pope and the pill
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Carmen M. Mangion

in spiritual life which at one and the same time empowered and confined them’.1 This book argues that religious belief provided nineteenth-century Catholic women religious with the tools to transcend the normative boundaries of femininity and to redefine the parameters of womanhood. This is not to say that these redefined parameters were all empowering; women religious willingly accepted many of the strictures of the Roman Catholic Church that subjected them to its patriarchal structure and sometimes limited their actions. Yet women religious had more authority and

in Contested identities
David Geiringer

assesses the understanding of female sexuality that was constructed by these experts and the effect this had on Catholic women’s marital experiences. Second, June’s response epitomised the way that many of the interviewees conflated the Church’s teaching on contraceptive morality with its wider approach to sex. My question was about her experience of practising NFP, but her response

in The Pope and the pill
Cara Delay

6 Women, priests, and power From January 1879 through December 1880, Edward McCabe, the Catholic archbishop of Dublin, received eighty-three letters written by lay Catholic women.1 In their letters, Dublin’s Catholic women wrote of poverty, family, and politics. They requested McCabe’s assistance with making ends meet and mediating neighbourly conflicts. Many sought their archbishop’s help in negotiating their relationships with their priests.2 These women also, however, asserted their own wishes and desires, declaring that they were in fact central actors in the

in Irish women and the creation of modern Catholicism, 1850–1950