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From the Silent Revolution to Sexual Abuse Scandals

The Question of ‘Women’s Place’ in French Catholicism

Céline Béraud    École des hautes études en sciences sociale; Centre d’études en sciences sociales du religieux    



In reviewing the way in which the question of ‘women’s place’ has been handled in French Catholicism since the 1980s, the article unveils three configurations, which, from a chronological point of view, partly overlap. First, during the silent revolution, the existence of a stained-glass ceiling was little decried. This has not, however, prevented women from assuming a wide range of positions and responsibilities in the Church. The second moment focused on the liturgy. It was not until the third moment, when sexual abuse scandals shook the Church’s reputation and influence, that the stained-glass ceiling was openly impugned in French Catholicism. Thus, this article, which constitutes the first existing synthesis on the place of women within this context, endeavors to account for the absence of mobilization in favor of women even though this French specificity definitely erodes at the end of the period under scrutiny.

May 16, 2023
March 3, 2023
Jan. 31, 2023

Keywords: Sexual abuse scandalsGenderLiturgyFeminismCatholicismWomenOrdinationFrance

Copyright: © 2023 Céline Béraud. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.