The histories of national laywomen’s organizations, including the National Council of Catholic Women, the Catholic Daughters of America, the Daughters of Isabella, and the Theresians, offer an opportunity to analyze how bishops and priests attempted to implement the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. In the 1960s into the early 1970s, chaplains and other priest advisors seemed eager to educate a national audience of laywomen about women’s role in the post-conciliar Church. Their writings and speeches stressed continuity with the past, indicating a significant gap between the idea of the empowered laity promoted by Vatican II and essen-tialist views of Catholic women’s nature. Clergy advisors, at times clearly nervous about the nascent feminist movement, highlighted how laywomen could fulfill the promises of the council from within the bounds of complementarity. Ultimately, these advisors were unable to look beyond gender and see laywomen as simply laity, placing significant limits on how laywomen were to view their role in the Church.


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pp. 151-173
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