The Vanishing Role of Women in Church Readings

Response to my April 12 article “A Woman’s Place Is in the Church” was overwhelming. Maureen Dowd cited it in her New York Times column. Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, critiqued it in an op-ed. But one of the questions most often asked in e-mails from readers concerned the last paragraph, which asserted that Bible stories about women have slowly disappeared from the Sunday lectionary. Regular women who go to mass only on Sundays rarely have the opportunity to hear stories of women from the Bible. If they don’t see or hear themselves reflected in church, I argued, they will leave: and they’ll take their children with them.

People wanted to see proof. Which stories have been left out? Over what period of time? A good place to start is this article from a 1996 issue of Liturgy magazine, by Ruth Fox, OSB, which explains how women have been revised out of the readings.