The Globe's editorial tribute to her is running today under the headline "Requiem for a feminist." It is possible to be both a feminist and a Catholic. Though Daly was clearly more feminist than Catholic, a case could be made that she was really neither.
Was it feminism, really, to bar male students from some of her courses? Or was it just an arrogant, spiteful gender pride? According to her biography, Daly, who earned a Ph.D. in English in addition to her degrees in theology, was influenced by "thinkers ranging from Thomas Aquinas to French feminist Simone de Beauvoir to Virginia Woolf." Saint Thomas might blush to find himself in such company. A theologian in a church that calls God our Father and does the same for the patriarch Abraham, Daly was a sworn enemy of "patriarchy," to which she attributed most, if not all, of the ills of both the church and secular society. After her first book, The Church and the Second Sex, she moved from "reformist" to "radical, post Christian feminist." And, of course, the Jesuits at Boston College must have thought it a bright, broad-minded idea to keep on the faculty of an allegedly Catholic college, a theologian who was a "post-Christian feminist."
The Globe finds it "remarkable in hindsight that she taught at a Catholic university for more than 30 years." That begs the question of whether Boston College is either a university (it calls itself a "college," after all) or Catholic. Because the Jesuits at BC are not "into" cashiering a theologian who describes herself as a "radical lesbian feminist." They are more likely to force out someone who faithfully upholds and proclaims unaltered the doctrines and creeds of the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" that have come to us from Christ through the Apostles. That is exactly what happened more than 60 years ago when four BC professors who insisted on defending and proclaiming the dogma "Outside the Church There is No Salvation" were shown the door at broadminded, ecumenical Boston College. That started the theological battle that brought about the silencing and even the bogus "excommunication" of Father Leonard Feeney, a Jesuit who defended the fired professors and forced Archbishop and later Cardinal Cushing to take a stand on the controversy. That Cushing did, by putting Father Feeney and the Saint Benedict Center, where he lived and taught, under interdict and eventually driving them out of the diocese.
Now one can choose between the vision and dogma of Father Feeney and the crusade of Saint Benedict Center and the vision of the feminist dogma of Mary Daly. The difference is that one has the weight of history and church tradition behind it and the doctrine in question has been dogmatically proclaimed by three popes and two councils of the Roman Catholic Church. The radical feminism of Daly has no such pedigree to recommend it. Guess which one Boston College has chosen, again and again and again. The same one the Boston Globe has chosen, again and again and again.
That is why Mary Daly is praised on the editorial page of the Boston Globe and the successors of Father Feeney are not. Mary Daly may already have discovered that being praised by the Boston Globe doesn't help when one enters eternity. She may have discovered that Heaven has done to a "radical lesbian feminist" what she did to male students at Boston College who wished to enroll in one or more of her courses. Heaven is, by definition, a wonderful place. But it is also, by definition, exclusionary.