Apologetics and Women

This is just something I’ve wondered about for a while. Why aren’t there really any women Catholic apologists out there? I mean professional ones. In fact, the only female apologist I know of is Michelle Arnold, and as far as I know, she hasn’t written any books or been in any formal debates or anything like that. Has anyone else heard of any other apologists who are women?

I wonder why this is? Is it just because we ladies tend to not like confrontation?

I’d really like to see more female apologists someday, I think it would be a good thing for the Church overall. It would certainly take the wind out of the sails of those who say that Catholicism is an oppressive patriarchal system if some of the Church’s best defenders were women. :wink: :thumbsup:

As the husband of a Secular Carmelite (for these past 20+ years), I must mention that two (of only three) female Doctors of the Church are Carmelites. The first (St. Theresa of Avila) was more of a mystic, but the second (St. Thérèse of Lisieux) was an apologist for the common man/woman. She was named a Doctor of the Church because of her “Little Way,” her teaching that ordinary persons may achieve - not only salvation - but spiritual perfection (meaning a complete aversion to all sin, both mortal and venial).

But, even though I can present St. Thérèse of Lisieux as a modern female Catholic apologist, she died (at a young age) in 1897. That is “modern” in Catholic terms, but is “ancient” to many.

I agree that the Church is not well represented by modern Catholic theologians who are women and are held in high regard by the Church. And I agree that it would be better if more women were part of the discussion.

It’s especially hilarious when you’ve had a Protestant tell you only a couple hours earlier that Catholics worship Mary.

Four women doctors actually, the fourth is Hildegard of Bingen.

Thank you for that! It is good to know that the Benedictines have a female Doctor, thus named in October of 2012 by Pope Benedict-16.

The third, of course, was St. Catherine of Siena, a Dominican.

It would be really great if a Jesuit female could be named Doctor. Oh, wait…

But maybe a Franciscan? A Poor Claire, perhaps? (any of whom I would nominate, were I in a position to do so).

Well, I think perhaps they are overlooked, not non-existent.

Rosalind Moss worked at CA for many years, but she answered a vocational call to the religious life and is no longer on staff at CA.

Frank Sheed and his wife Maisie Ward founded a publishing house and more importantly the Catholic Evidence Guild, the original lay apologetics powerhouse in England.

I think there are female apologists if you look for them, each contributing in their own way.

There are four female Doctors of the Church.

St. Teresa of Ávila - Carmelite
St. Catherine of Siena - Dominican (TOSD)
St. Thérèse de Lisieux - Carmelite
St. Hildegard of Bingen - Benedictine (OSB)


How about Joanna Bogle, Sarah Christmyer and Mother Angelica?

I also found a few other women who may not qualify as apologetics, but have put their faith out there e.g. Lorraine Murray (author of Confessions of an Ex-Feminist), Rosalind Moss (Home at Last: 11 Who Found Their Way to the Catholic Church), Ronda Chervin (The Ingrafting: Conversion Stories of Ten Hebrew Catholics) - source: frcoulter.com/books/apologetics.html.

I am sure others will come up with more females who are apologists and faith movers and shakers.

I’d LOVE to be a professional Apologist someday. :smiley:
I’m working on building up my skills right now. :stuck_out_tongue:

Pia de Soleni, Janet Smith, Jana Bennett, Christine Dalessio

Of course, as other posters pointed out above, there have been great women apologists in the past and there is no reason why women can’t be apologists, but I think you hit the nail on the head in bold above. In my experience, women like to argue less than men. Apologetics involves arguing a lot. Therefore, less women are interested.

I’d add that women have been (and continue to be) something much more important to the Church than apologists, evangelists. Of course, mother’s evangelize their children, we all know that. But even down through history, you’ll see wives evangelizing their husbands and female friends evangelizing each other (and male friends too). Remember, apologetics is just a means to evangelization and it is neither the only nor the best one. Peter Kreeft, one of the best apologists around, compares apologists to trash men. They clear the garbage out of the way for evangelization. I love apologetics, but we must always keep first things first.

I believe Alice Von Hildebrand is a current living theologian if not an apologist per se. She has written lots of books.

Peggy Frye is also an apologist at Catholic Answers.

Not to generalize, but I also think that many (not all, but many) of women qualified to be apologists have several children (sometimes 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc). So while they could be apologists if they chose, their devout Faith is telling them to focus on rearing children.

God Bless

She is the first one I was thinking of!

Mother Teresa certainly vigorously defended the Church’s position on abortion and contraception, and so could also be considered an apologist.

Thanks for everyone’s contributions. I agree with them all. They are great.

Just to add a few more. Some people might not think of them as apologist, but I do. They are a new breed of apologists.
For example, when is the last time you had a purely cerebral discussion on abortion or abortion related issues where you had a nice polite, and purely logical discussion where both sides welcomed all that was contributed. Many of the “apologists” below deal with the real world positions and motivations that people have. God bless them all.

**Janet Smith **
has some great contributions on contraception.
Click here to check out the accompanying PowerPoint presentation.

**Patty Schneier **
Prove it, God … and He did!
As a lifelong Catholic, wife, and mother of three, Patty Schneier struggled with the Church’s teaching on contraception – as many men and women do today. Her discovery of Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” revealed to her the fullness of God’s plan for sex and marriage, and led to a dramatic renewal of her marriage and her faith. Patty now speaks around the country about the challenges… More]

**Pam Forrester
**My Conversion to the Catholic Church
Originally published in Surprised by Truth 3

**Lila Rose **
on exposing Planned Parenthood with her ground breaking investigative reporting on

**Leah Darrow **
gives great talks on chastity and the false and harmful influence of “Reality TV.” She said not to be fooled by the slogan “You only live once” YOLO. Rather, you only die once. You live each day.

**Kristine Franklin a former Fundamentalist

Abby Johnson exposing Planned Parenthood.

Jane Brennan
Feminism Misunderstood: One Woman’s Journey to Peace
Jane Brennan
Jane Brennan, a former member of NOW and former Planned Parenthood volunteer, shares her heart-wrenching story of abortion and subsequent years of depression to her final conversion to the Catholic Church.“There is always hope.” Claudia - Black Mountain, NC

Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God (formerly Rosalind Moss)
The Making of a Jewish Nun
Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God
Here is the incredible faith journey of a singularly inspiring woman. e… More]

**Alveda C. King -
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Silent No More Awareness Campaign
An effort to make the public aware of the effects they say abortion brings to women, men, and their families.

Hey that’s awesome! Who knows what God has in store right? :thumbsup:

Good points. Evangelizing does seem more of a friend to friend, heart to heart enterprise, which more women are probably drawn to.

I like that analogy by Kreeft also, really puts things in perspective. :slight_smile:

To the many names listed I would add Johnnette Benkovic and Chantal Epie.

Thanks everyone else for all the input! There was some names I hadn’t heard of before and am looking forward to reading more of. Especially Alice von Hildebrand. Her stuff looks pretty good.

:smiley: This most certainly does not describe the the women I know, including myself! Nor does it describe many of my other female friends or acquaintances. I personally love debate and I have no qualms about necessary confrontation (though I prefer debating in person as opposed to online). Interestingly, in my own experience, I have not noticed an overwhelming male presence within university debate societies. Regarding specifically Catholic apologists though, it may be some Catholic women are too busy raising families, as another poster suggested. Now this might be true but this does not mean that women as a whole are adverse to apologetics or debate.

To me, apologetics can be a very important part of evangelization! When speaking with intellectuals, sometimes you have to defend the faith with reason before they are able to accept it on an emotional or spiritual level. For instance, in the book Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis describes himself as accepting Christianity on an intellectual level before he was able to fully surrender to God. For him, that was a key step to conversion.
Anyway, apologetics has always been a subject I find fascinating…I’d love to one day be known for my defence of the faith :slight_smile:

Well, I think that apologetics is actually a rather flawed enterprise. It’s necessary, but I think it’s unhealthy for it to be anyone’s main preoccupation. Certain kinds of geeky men are drawn to argument in an excessive way, and these (I’m one of them) tend to be interested in apologetics (if they are believers). Women are less prone to this particular disorder.


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