Feminist theologian Mary Daly dies

Feminist theologian Mary Daly dies January 3, 2010

Another theologian in Catholic circles passes away this week, this time the controversial feminist theologian Mary Daly who taught at Boston College for 33 years. I received the following message from Daly’s colleague Mary Hunt via a bulletin from Feminist Studies in Religion:

With a heavy heart, yet grateful beyond words for her life and work, I report that Mary Daly died this morning, January 3, 2010 in Massachusetts. She had been in poor health for the last two years.

Her contributions to feminist theology, philosophy, and theory were many, unique, and if I may say so, world-changing. She created intellectual space; she set the bar high. Even those who disagreed with her are in her debt for the challenges she offered.

When I return from vacation at week’s end I will post more. But I want WATER colleagues, of which she was a stalwart one, to know this now. She always advised women to throw our lives as far as they would go. I can say without fear of exaggeration that she lived that way herself.

May her spirit soar and her ideas endure.

Mary E. Hunt
Hoechenschwand, Germany

UPDATE: NCR has more on Daly’s death here.

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  • In anticipation of wildly uncharitable comments, here is your first and last warning.

  • Kurt

    In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.

  • David Nickol

    I just read this interview with Mary Daly, and visited her website. I would have to say I was shocked by what I read. It’s one thing to try to put things St. Paul said into perspective for a man of his time and culture. It’s another thing to completely dismiss him as a misogynists, hateful, macho a–hole. (Her words, not mine.)

  • We have lost a brilliant mind and a most courageous woman. May we never forget her work and radical spirit.

  • David – I agree.

  • Michael Demers

    May she rest in peace. I have read a lot of Mary Daly’s work. You should know that she left the Catholic Church a long time ago. She was not “another feminist theologian in Catholic circles.” She was not even a Christian by any stretch of the imagination. Mary Daly was a godless lesbian feminist and a true Amazon.

    • Yes, I know she left the Catholic Church long ago and eventually did not even identify as Christian. By “in Catholic circles” I was referring to her career at Boston College (a Catholic university) and her influence among some Catholic theologians. I did not mean to suggest that she was Catholic.

  • May she rest in peace. What were her areas and topics of study?

  • Melinda MT

    When I was a victim of abuse – having been stabbed by my other’s lover and left for dead, rejected by my church at the time because the man who attacked my mother and I was black and we are white, left to fend for ourselves by the police, hiding and eventually having to flee the city we lived in to save our lives once we were released from the hospital – Mary Daly’s work bcame a beacon for me, turned me into a fighter instead of a victim – it was a difficult time for me and for the world –
    now I have come home to the Catholic church and no longer agree with Ms Daly’s ideas however I will always be grateful that she was there [in spirit] for me when everyone else had abandoned me to my pain and grief – so before you condemn whole cloth a woman who simply went with her conscience however incorrectly formed it may have been -think about how God can use anyone – ANYONE – to further his plan – regardless of whether they agree with Him or not –
    and then ask yourself – when was the last time you reached out to someone in terrible distress to ease thier pain and suffring with deep encouragemen? With Love? Or simply turned away to let a Mary
    Daly or a Matthew Fox take your place?

  • Kurt

    I respectfully disagree with much of Professor Daly’s thinking of her mid-life and late life. But I remember when she was a moderately progressive Catholic homemaker writing for Commonweal. While I regret the intellectual path she took, I also regret anything in the Catholic world (particularly the reality of the sin of sexism in the Church) that may have been a cause of her travelling that path.

    May she rest in peace, united with the one, true God.

  • Gabriel Austin

    I found it hilarious [and I wrote to tell her so] that the president of Boston College [a school in the Jesuit tradition] did not know what to do with her when she refused to have men in her classes.

  • ben

    The radical character of Chirstianity is revealed in a special way by events like the death of Mary Daly, when we pray and make sacrifices for our sister in baptism. Death of the body presents such a beautiful and grace filled opportunity for the prodigal daughter to return home. Let us pray that our prayers make the journey easier for her.

  • What were her areas and topics of study?

    She began as a liberal feminist Catholic theologian but gradually came to a post-Christian approach to feminism and then finally embraced woman-centered paganism. There is almost too much wrong with her later thinking to be able to list it all here, but I recognize the importance of some of her early critiques of patriarchal religion and Catholicism in particular.

  • Requiescat in pace

  • alex martin

    May God have mercy on her soul.