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Role of women in early Christianity informs Catholic present

Media Contact

Abby Kozlowski

Women will vote for the first time at the Catholic Church’s Synod on Synodality which ends Oct. 29.

Kim Haines-Eitzen

Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Religions

Kim Haines-Eitzen, Cornell University professor of ancient Mediterranean religions with a specialty in early Christianity, says that the role of women in early Christian communities can help inform the present moment in the Roman Catholic Church.

Haines-Eitzen says:

“The early history of Christian communities shows that women held important leadership roles as deacons, presbyters or elders, patrons and co-workers alongside traveling preachers.

“As Roman Catholic Church leaders meet this month for the Synod on Synodality, some women—both nuns and laypeople—have been invited to join the workshop. And this development has led to renewed questions about the future of women’s leadership in the Catholic Church.

“But it is important, too, to reflect on the past and the ways that the earliest congregations depended upon women’s leadership. Their contributions to the spread and development of Christianity from its very beginnings remind us that the past has much to teach us about the contemporary moment.”

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