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The program, which seeks to "reflect on an authentic feminism that promotes the participation of women in public life," will take the form of an online diploma in the Social Doctrine of the Church titled "Women in public life: feminism and Catholic identity in the 21st century."
According to Vatican News, the event "as requested by Pope Francis" and organized by the Latin American Academy of Catholic Leaders, "will involve a thorough analysis of the Church's perspective on women, the study of philosophical anthropology of women, and the philosophical roots of gender and the history of feminism."
Around 25 Catholic leaders, including Flaminia Giovanelli, the first woman in Vatican history to become undersecretary of a department, and Mexico's archbishop primate Cdl. Carlos Aguiar Retes will convene the online event from July 11–25 to address the "'new feminism" from an "evangelical perspective."
Academics leading the program will examine positive and negative aspects of different feminisms; identify legitimate complaints rising from situations of injustice that violate the dignity of the human being, and consider the dangers of "ideological instrumentalization" of feminist theory and praxis.
But critics argue that the project misleadingly disguised as "new feminism" is actually a relaunching of "old feminism."
"The project looks interesting, but the first thing I would expect is to find a definition of 'new feminism' and how it departs radically from first-, second- and third-wave feminism," distinguished anti-feminist academic Prof. Janice Fiamengo told Church Militant.
A Catholic theologian, who asked to remain unidentified, said he would expect to see speakers who had qualifications to lead the "new feminism," but "the speakers seemed to be old feminists and what they are talking about is re-energizing of "old feminism."
"What is on the tin is not what is inside. As first, second and third waves of feminism have failed to break the Church open, this is a new attempt to re-energize the first three waves of feminism at having another go at destroying fake patriarchy in the Church," the Catholic theologian cautioned.
Fiamengo, a professor of English at the University of Ottawa, Canada, told Church Militant she categorized feminism as "an alternative religion, with its own doctrines of creation, sin and salvation."
"As religions do, feminism offers an origin story in the form of a feminist version of the Garden of Eden. Here, women held power and exercised it benevolently for the good of all. At some point in all feminist origin stories, humankind fell from grace because of male sin, i.e., the patriarchy," the acclaimed critic of feminism explained.
"The religion of feminism then moves along its narrative arc from the archetypal myths of creation and fall towards the possibility of salvation and redemption from the patriarchy through the liberation and domination of women," noted the presenter of the Fiamengo Files on YouTube. "It also offers at least partial redemption for men through strenuous disavowal of and restitution for their masculine sinfulness."
"The assumption is that simply by virtue of being a woman, one brings gifts to the world that men do not possess. In contrast, male thought and action is consistently linked with satanic violence, predation and dehumanization, as revealed by the term 'toxic masculinity,'" remarked Fiamengo, author of Sons of Feminism: Men Have Their Say.
Feminism differs from most orthodox religions in making its 'Promised Land' a place that must be built in the here and now, not in an afterlife. It contains no injunction to 'Love your enemies' (or even your neighbor). It encourages all the negative aspects of fervent religious beliefs — irrational passions, a rigid worldview that refuses other perspectives, the demonization of non-believers — but none of the benevolence and self-sacrificing love that characterizes true Christianity at its best.
Church Militant has learned that most of the academics leading the "new feminism"' program are close associates of Pope Francis, including the British papal hagiographer Austen Ivereigh and Cdl. Retes, appointed by Francis.
Others on the team include Brazilian Cristiane Kaitel, Doctor of Law at the Federal University of Minas Gerais; Adriana Sirito, coordinator of post-graduate training at UCA in Argentina; Mexican historian María Luisa Aspe Armella, president of the Mexican Institute of Christian Social Doctrine; Marta Rodriguez, former head of the Women's Section of the Department for the Laity, Family and Life; archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski; Alexandra Peláez Botero, secretary of state for education in Colombia; and theologian Mario Angel Flores, member of the International Theological Commission.