Margart A. Farley, prominent Christian ethicist and Yale Divinity School Professor, to deliver Fairfield University's Anne Drummey O'Callaghan Lecture on Women in the Church


Image: M FarleyProfessor Margaret A. Farley's keen intellect and prophetic voice has served the Roman Catholic Church for decades - as a scholar of the first rank, as a mentor for theologians, as an activist for global women's health, and as a member of her own community, the Sisters of Mercy.

One of the foremost theological ethicists in the world and the first woman to teach full-time at Yale Divinity School, she has delved into whether gender matters, medical and sexual ethics, the environment's perilous state, assisted reproduction, and divorce and remarriage. Delivering Fairfield University's Ninth Annual Anne Drummey O'Callaghan Lecture on Women in the Church, on Wednesday, October 7, Dr. Farley will challenge her audience with a renewed vision of women's engagement in the Church, a vision that will draw on both her theological expertise and her personal encounters with women across the globe.

Dr. Farley's talk entitled, "Agenda for Women in the 21st Century Church," is free and open to the public. It will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Quick Center for the Arts. A reception and book signing will follow the lecture, which is sponsored by the O'Callaghan family, Fairfield University's Center for Catholic Studies and the Department of Religious Studies at Fairfield. For information, call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2364.

Dr. Farley, the Gilbert L. Stark Professor Emerita of Christian Ethics at Yale Divinity School, will turn her attention, in this lecture, to the question of the relevance of the institutional church for issues faced by contemporary women. She will identify, she says, not only problems but possibilities, giving primary attention to possibilities for women - and men - in the church understood as 'world church.' Clues to this agenda will be drawn from considerations of women's stake in a developing theology of church; women's responsibilities in a church as 'world church;' and women's prophetic task in the church's work for justice. "I will discuss the meaning of 'church' as 'world church,' and the prophetic tasks of women within this church - in standing in solidarity with women across the world, especially those suffering from poverty, the AIDS pandemic, (and other crises)."

Last year, Dr. Farley received the prestigious Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for her most recent book, "Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics" (Continuum, 2006), in which the notion of justice serves as a key to understanding, and re-thinking, human sexuality and the Christian moral tradition. The recipient of eleven honorary degrees as well as the John Courtney Murray Award for Excellence in Theology and a Luce Fellowship in Theology, Dr. Farley is a past president of both the Society of Christian Ethics and the Catholic Theological Society of America. She has served on the Bioethics Committee of Yale-New Haven Hospital and on the Ethics Committee of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. Professor Farley directs and co-directs two projects relating to women, theology, and response to HIV/AIDS in Africa. She is also co-director of the Yale University Interdisciplinary Bioethics Project.

The lecture series - named in memory of the late Norwalk resident - is designed to acknowledge the advanced role of women in the church and provide a forum to converse on other important religious issues. She served as youth minister and director of religious education at both St. Jerome and St. Joseph parishes in Norwalk. Active on numerous catechetical boards and committees of the Diocese of Bridgeport, she was chair of BRED, the professional association of Bridgeport Religious Educators. She was particularly interested in church history and was passionate about the role of women in the church.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 3, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 46