Catholic Church Synod debate roles for Roehampton academics

Issues of women’s and families roles in the Catholic Church are high on the agenda for Professor Tina Beattie and Dr Clare Watkins from the Department of Humanities as they go to Rome ahead of the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to speak at events and launch a new book.

Posted: 9 September 2015

image for news story Catholic Church Synod debate roles for Roehampton academics
Dr Clare Watkins will begin her visit as a keynote speaker at the International Academy for Marital Spirituality conference ‘Faithful Voices, Discerning Hearts: Marriage and Family in Church and Society’ (10-12 September). The conference is concerned with bringing the voices of married life into discussions around the Synod and reflecting on them theologically.

Dr Watkins will argue that by putting families at the centre of Church thinking Catholics can learn much about what it means to live Christian lives ‘in ordinary’ today. She will say there is a strong theological reason for thinking ‘ordinary’ people living married and family life have an essential part to play in any theological or church discussion of these matters.

Dr Watkins will return to Rome in October for the closing discussions of the synod. She will represent Marriage Care, with which she is carrying out a research project to investigate couples’ and practitioners’ experience of marriage preparation courses provided by the organisation. Marriage Care specialise in helping couples build and sustain strong, fulfilling, healthy relationships.

Professor Tina Beattie will attend the official book launch of Catholic Women Speak: Bringing Our Gifts to the Table. The book is an anthology of Catholic women’s writings with 44 contributors including well-known women theologians, new theological voices and women telling their personal stories of faith and struggle. The book invites a dialogue and engagement with the Catholic hierarchy around issues of central concern to women such as motherhood, divorce, sexuality and contraception.

The book launch will include a roundtable discussion with speakers including Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland and Catherine Pepinster, editor of The Tablet Catholic newspaper.

The book is edited by the Catholic Women Speak Network, a forum for theological exploration and collaboration, administered by the Digby Stuart Research Centre at the University of Roehampton.

The Synod takes place in the Vatican during October, and will be discussing controversial issues around how the Catholic Church deals with marriage, divorce and same sex relationship in the 21st century.

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