Rosemary Radford Ruether

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Rosemary Radford Ruether (born November 2, 1936) is an American feminist scholar and Catholic theologian.[1]

Ruether is an advocate of women's ordination, a movement among Catholic religious persons who affirm women's capacity to serve as priests, despite official sanction. Since 1985 Ruether has served as a board member for the pro-choice group "Catholics for Choice".[2]


Ruether was born in 1936 in St. Paul, Minnesota,[1] to a Roman Catholic mother and Episcopal father. She has reportedly described her upbringing as free-thinking and humanistic as opposed to oppressive.[3] Ruether's father died when she was 12 and afterwards Ruether and her mother moved to California. Ruether attended several Catholic schools staffed by the Sisters of Providence from St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN, who, in conjunction with her mother's friend group, offered Ruether a strong feminist and activist foundation that informed her later work.[4] She pursued a college education at Scripps College from 1954-58. She entered with an intention to study art, but one professor, Robert Palmer, influenced her decision to switch to classics. Palmer's passion for classical Greek and Roman culture introduced Ruether to the philosophies and histories of the era. She received an MA in classics and Roman history, and later a doctorate in classics and patristics at the School of Theology at Claremont.[5]

Ruether participated in civil rights activism during the 1960s in Mississippi and Washington D.C. She worked for the Delta Ministry in Mississippi where she was exposed to the struggles of African American communities and the realities of racism. She became immersed in black liberation theology literature during her time of teaching at the Howard University, School of Religion. She dedicated her time to the peace movement in Washington D.C., and she often went to jail with other radical Catholics and Protestants because of marches and demonstrations.[5]

Despite her radicalism, Ruether remained in the Catholic Church alongside other religious activists. Her first book, The Church Against Itself (1967), criticizes the doctrine of the church and the church's views of sexuality and reproduction.[5]

She is married to the political scientist Herman Ruether.[1] They studied their different interests alongside each other after their marriage during Ruether's last year of college.[5] They have three children and live in California.[6]


Ruether holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Scripps College (1958), an M.A. in Ancient History (1960) and a Ph.D. in Classics and Patristics (1965) from Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California.

She is Visiting Professor of Religion and Feminist Theology at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University. Her first appointment was as professor at Howard University in Washington D.C. from 1965 to 1975.[7] She was Carpenter Professor of Feminist Theology at the Pacific School of Religion and Graduate Theological Union, and retired from her long-term post as Georgia Harkness Professor of Applied Theology at the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.[8] Ruether is the author of 36 books and over 600 articles on feminism, eco-feminism, the Bible, and Christianity.[9]

In 1977, Ruether became an associate of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP).[10] WIFP is an American nonprofit publishing organization. The organization works to increase communication between women and connect the public with forms of women-based media.

On January 22, 2000 Ruether received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Theology at Uppsala University, Sweden.[11]

Selected writings[edit]

  • The Church Against Itself, New York, 1967, Herder and Herder.
  • Gregory of Nazianzus. Oxford: 1969, Oxford University Press.
  • The Radical Kingdom, The Western Experience of Messianic Hope, New York: Paulist Press, 1970 ISBN 0809118602
  • Faith and fratricide: the theological roots of anti-Semitism. New York 1974, Seabury Press, ISBN 978-0-8164-2263-0.
  • "Courage as a Christian Virtue" in Cross Currents, Spring 1983, 8-16
  • Sexism and God-Talk: Toward a Feminist Theology, Beacon Press (1983) ISBN 0-8070-1205-X
  • Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing, Harper-Collins (1994) ISBN 978-0-06-066967-6, ASIN 0-06-066967-5
  • In Our Own Voices: Four Centuries of American Women’s Religious Writing (ed. with Rosemary Skinner Keller), Harper-Collins (1996) ISBN 0-06-066840-7
  • Women Healing Earth: Third World Women on Ecology, Feminism, and Religion. New York, March 1996.
  • Introducing Redemption in Christian Feminism (editor), Continuum (1998) ISBN 1-85075-888-3
  • Christianity and the Making of the Modern Family, Beacon Press (2001), ISBN 978-0807054079
  • Fifth chapter of Transforming the Faiths of our Fathers: Women who Changed American Religion, edited by Ann Braude. (2004) ISBN 1403964602
  • The Wrath of Jonah: The Crisis of Religious Nationalism in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Augsburg Fortress (2002) ISBN 0-8006-3479-9
  • Integrating Ecofeminism Globalization and World Religions, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (2005) ISBN 0-7425-3529-0
  • Goddesses and the Divine Feminine: A Western Religious History, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2005, University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-23146-5
  • America, Amerikkka: Elect Nation & Imperial Violence, Equinox (2007) ISBN 1-84553-158-2
  • Women and Redemption: A Theological History. Fortress Press. Minnesota, (2012).
  • My Quests for Hope and Meaning: An Autobiography. Wipf & Stock. Oregon (2013).
  • Feminism and Religion in the 21st Century: Technology, Dialogue, and Expanding Borders (ed. with Gina Messina-Dysert), Routledge (2014). ISBN 9780415831949.


Also see biographical information in Emily Leah Silverman, Whitney Bauman, and Dirk Von der Horst, ed., Voices of Feminist Liberation: Celebratory Writings in Honor of Rosemary Radford Ruether (London: Equinox Press, 2012).

  1. ^ a b c "Rosemary Radford Ruether". Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. 2001. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  2. ^ Hunt, Mary E. "The Life of 'Scholar Activist' Rosemary Radford Ruether." National Catholic Reporter, October 15, 2014. Accessed January 4, 2016.
  3. ^ "Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology".
  4. ^ "The life of 'scholar activist' Rosemary Radford Ruether". National Catholic Reporter. 2014-10-15. Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  5. ^ a b c d "Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology: Rosemary Radford Ruether". Retrieved 2018-05-08.
  6. ^ Website of Claremont School of Theology
  7. ^ LaRosa, Patricia. "Finding Aid for Rosemary Radford Ruether Papers, 1954–2002" (PDF). Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  8. ^ "Website of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary".
  9. ^ LaRosa, Patrician. "Finding Aid for Rosemary Radford Ruther papers" (PDF). Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  10. ^ "Associates |  The Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press". Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  11. ^ "Honorary doctorates - Uppsala University, Sweden".

External links[edit]