Gender and Catholic authorities

Marcel Delboy, Mission des ports et des gares. Association catholique internationale des œuvres pour la protection de la jeune fille [Mission for Ports and Train Stations: International Catholic Charitable Association for the Protection of Young Girls], between 1925 and 1935, Marguerite Durand Library—City of Paris.

Religions contribute to the production of gender identities within European societies. During the twentieth century, the democratization and secularization which emerged from the liberal revolutions of the nineteenth century transformed religious authorities. While Catholic authorities supported traditional gender relations, the models proposed caused tension with their lay counterparts, for example the model of priestly masculinity founded on celibacy. Catholicism also represented a paradoxical and relative space of subversion by offering women a place of fulfilment and independence at a time when they were side-lined from the civic space. The twentieth century was increasingly marked by a tougher stance on the part of religious authorities with regard to traditional gender norms, which conditioned the evolution of relations to the political, up through the very contemporary debates surrounding “marriage for all.”