Feminist co-founder Rosemary Ruether dies at 85

National Public Radio reports that Rosemary Radford Ruether, whom the outlet describes as “one of the founding mothers of feminist theology,” has died at the age of 85. 

The news of Ruether’s passing was announced over the weekend. Ruether is said to have died on Saturday in California.

The cause of Ruether’s death has not been provided. It is only said that the death followed an illness that Ruether had been fighting for some time.

Reuther’s beginning

Reuther, in school, focused on the study of classics. She ended up earning a doctorate degree in classics and patristics from Claremont Graduate University in California.

After this, a defining moment of Reuther’s life took place in the 1960s when she went to Mississippi to align with civil rights activists. Reuther after that ended up teaching at Howard University’s School of Religion in Washington, D.C.

Reuther would later say:

I experienced what white America looks like from the context of Black people in Mississippi. That was the kind of defining moment for me; when one had to decide, are you going to be governed by fear, or are you going to go ahead?

It is this experience that appears to have motivated her scholarly pursuits.

“Feminist theology”

Although Ruether identified herself as a Catholic Christian, she spent much of her life challenging Catholic teachings.

NPR, for example, reports that Ruether challenged “her own Catholic church on teachings around abortion, birth control, and the all-male priesthood,” among many other things.

The statement from Reuther’s family on her passing further explains that Reuther, during her career, also focused on “ecofeminist and liberation theologies, anti-racism, Middle East complexities, women-church, and many other topics.”

“Rich beyond imagining.

The statement from Reuther’s family says that Reuther “was respected and beloved by students, colleagues, and collaborators around the world for her work.” Indeed, she personally mentored a large number of students over the years in schools across the country.

The family statement concludes: Reuther’s “legacy, both intellectual and personal, is rich beyond imagining. The scope and depth of her work, and the witness of her life as a committed feminist justice-seeker will shine forever with a luster that time will only enhance.”

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