Mary Daly Dies at 81

Mary Daly, the self-described "radical lesbian feminist" theologian, provocateur (provocateuse?) and prolific author who, in the overly polite words of The Boston Globe, "tussled" with Boston College (over many things, but particularly over her decision not to admit men to her classrooms) has died, at the age of 81. 

Tussled? Her explosive efforts to bar men from her classroom at the Jesuit school led to a suit filed by a male student in 1999, which eventually led the administration to attempt to force her to accept men into her classes, which led to her retirement. That story is told here in a BC press release of the time. Daly countersued, maintaining that she was forced out against her will. (Few things, as I recall from the time, could drive the faculty and students at BC to distraction as her case, but de mortuis nihil nisi bonum.) The Globe quotes Robert Daly, S.J., her colleague in the theology department: "She basically fairly clearly defined the outer limits of radical feminist theology," said Fr. Daly, who chaired the theology department during much of Mary Daly's tenure—and was not related to her. "People around the world are generally grateful for her having done that." 

Said Sr. Joan Chittister, O.S.B., an admirer: "Her legacy is a cloud of women witnesses and male theologians, too, who have now been released into whole new understandings of what the tradition really holds and really means for all of us, male and female. She was a great thinker, she was a great icon. She will be maligned by some, but history will see her very differently."  The Globe's obit is here.  NCR's lengthy take here. And NPR's take is here. Lawrence S. Cunningham of Notre Dame describes her as the "gold standard" of radical feminist theology.  RIP.

7 years 3 months ago
..."to be’ in the fullest sense is ‘to sin"-Mary Daly. Another tour de force for the Jesuits.
Anne Danielson
7 years 3 months ago
And why should we be grateful for radical feminist theology, when such theology is not consistent with The Word of God, from the beginning?
Anne Danielson
7 years 3 months ago
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive", despite the Seamless Garment, there is this common thread.

Only through Christ can we know the essence of Perfect Love.
Daniel Hickey
7 years 3 months ago
"Tussled" with the Jesuits indeed.  Mary Daly was a blight on Chestnut Hill. One just has to read her obituary to see what nonsense she spewed that passed for scholarship in her field.  To quote:
"I don't think about men. I really don't care about them. I'm concerned with women's capacities, which have been infinitely diminished under patriarchy. Not that they've disappeared, but they've been made subliminal. I'm concerned with women enlarging our capacities, actualizing them. So that takes all my energy."
"If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males.
Yes....What a great impact she had on rational discourse in a University setting. Her legacy is a farce.  
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 3 months ago
Reading these articles about Mary Daly made my day!  What a breath of fresh air, Mary Daly sounds like one of those prophets who can cut through great tangled knots of lies.  Thank you to the Jesuit universities who are brave enough to allow the Holy Spirit into their rooms.
7 years 3 months ago
 I just finished reading something about her at a feminist blog  :) Thanks for the post, Fr. Martin.
7 years 3 months ago
Sounds like Daly was a feminist first and a theologian second.
Bill Bordas
7 years 3 months ago
"Radical feminist theology." I must say I agree with Dan James' comment above. An individual who can spew the sort of drivel that is quoted here is neither much of a theologian in general or a Christian in particular. I am sorry for anyone's death, but I must say it represents no great loss to theology. Or to common sense and civil discourse.
Jeff Bagnell
7 years 3 months ago
If you could have told the Jesuits at BC in the 1950s that in 35 years there would be someone like Daly teaching "theology" on their campus, who would try to exclude males from class, they would have though you were insane.  
7 years 3 months ago
Dear Beth Cioffoletti: Should I understand this to mean that the sin of homoexuality is a gift of the Holy Spirit? Was Mary Daly just building up, sanctifying the church?
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 3 months ago
It could very well be that homosexuality is a gift of the Holy Spirit, Maria. I continue to be awed by the unique spirit and talents that homosexuals bring to the world, from music and art, to liturgy, to their very daring to step outside of normal modes of thinking.
Sorry, but I was not aware that homosexuality was a sin.  From what I understand, there are quite a few homosexuals serving as priests and nuns in the Catholic Church.
7 years 3 months ago
Matt: We are called to defend the Truth. This is not to be confused with judgement. And, it is high time someone started holding the Jesuits to a higher standard.
7 years 3 months ago
Please remember that we are commenting on an obituary of someone who has just passed away. Daly's loved ones will likely read this string of comments. Judgement of any of us is, ultimately, in the hands of God.
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