Sr. Helena Burns, a Daughter of St. Paul, wants to educate men and women on Theology of the Body and Women. Photo courtesy of Sr. Helena Burns

Women unaware of their feminine power

By 
  • August 22, 2014

TORONTO - Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body holds answers women seek from the Church, but many are unaware of its teachings.

Sr. Helena Burns used to count herself among those who are blind to their true feminine authority, power and influence. She says she was a radical feminist before answering God’s call. Then she discovered Theology of the Body “in a real serious way.”

“Everything started to make sense,” she says. “Everything. All the Church doctrines (they are) all connected . . . I know what other women are going through; I know how their thought processes are. I know what they’re wrestling with.”

Burns, a Daughter of St. Paul, was raised in a Catholic family but outside of the home she says she was surrounded by a culture that promoted a radical feminist mentality.

“We’re always going to need a form of feminism in order to protect women’s rights,” said Burns, but “radical feminism for me is to deny that there is any significant difference between men and women and that women need to deny their bodies, their sexuality and their fertility in order to experience sexuality.”

The radical feminist mindset caused her to be angry. “How can you be at peace if you think your Church is oppressing you?,” she said.

“As a teenager, I got dragged to Mass with my family and stuff. But I was planning, absolutely planning, to leave the Church over... my perceived idea of its treatment and teachings about women. When I was converted more deeply to God, I decided not to leave the Church, obviously — I got my vocation — but I still did not understand the Church’s teachings on women and women related issues.”

Theology of the Body changed everything.

“If I am a feminist, I am a theology of the body feminist so there is no mistake what I believe,” said Burns.

On September 20, Burns is inviting young men and women ages 13 and above to her Theology of the Body and Women event at the Pauline Books and Media Centre in Toronto. She promises to explore what women really want and answer the question: “Why is John Paul II’s life-chang-ing teaching ‘Theology of the Body’ good for women in particular?”

She will also discuss why the priesthood is all male, and explore such questions as: Is God male? Is patriarchy evil? How to find your feminine identity in Christ? Does the Catholic Church oppress women?

At the heart of Burn’s presen-tation on Theology of the Body and Women will be teachings on feminine authority and power.

“Women have — and this is what I really want to stress — women have their own feminine authority, power and influence, and we don’t know what that is. We’re not using it.

“We want male power, influence and authority. We think that’s the only true authority when we have our own. But we don’t know what it is, we don’t know how to use it, and so we’re lusting after male power, authority and influence.”

She said that authority, power and influence “flows out of living who you are body and soul,” therefore men are called to be spiritual fathers and women to be spiritual mothers, regardless of whether they have children.

“Priests are spiritual fathers. We just don’t need a bunch of fathers. We need spiritual mothers. So Mary was par excellence,” said Burns.

“Actually the last three popes have said the same thing: that Mary is higher than the apostles. She didn’t need ordination because she is higher. Her call, her gift, everything is higher.

“When women hear about Mary, they need to apply that to themselves... She is not some freak, some unattainable thing; she represents all women, the newness of womanhood in Christ, the newness of femininity in Christ.”

Burns says, men should attend her event so they can better understand and help women.

“We’re called to collaborate,” she said. “We’re called to com-plementarity of the sexes. We’re not called to competition. The world only understands competition,” said Burns. “If something is different, then something has to be better than the other, superior to the other. But in God’s economy and in Theology of the Body, when something is different, it is called to communion.” 

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St. John Paul II's "Theology of the Body" may provide a solid foundation to resolve the most crucial issues of human sexuality, including the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

Luis Gutierrez
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