Chapter 13: Between Institutional Oppression and Spiritual Liberation: The Female Ordination Movement in the Catholic Church and its Utilization of Social Media
Lyndel Spence [+]
University of Sydney
The female ordination movement within the Catholic Church is a dynamic and forceful example of the paradoxical binary of institutional oppression and individual liberation operating within the contemporary religious sphere, as it campaigns for a more inclusive and accountable Catholic Church. The members of this movement are thereby placed in a precarious condition of both being excluded from the institutional Catholic Church, and belonging to a renewed, yet institutionally unrecognised Catholic community. Drawing on feminist theology and a feminist epistemology, this chapter highlights the results of qualitative research conducted with members of this progressive religious movement, providing insight into their experiences of both repression and liberation. Further, through critical discourse analysis, this chapter explores the effectiveness of social media in connecting women across the world who are facing institutional religious repression and who are seeking support from likeminded faith believers. Social media are used by groups involved in the female ordination movement to subvert the dominant attitudes towards women within the Catholic Church and to provide an alternative form of religious expression for disaffected Catholic women. These groups are thereby able to mobilise women into a solidary international religious formation which empowers women who have experienced suppression or subjugation from the Roman Catholic Church.