Alvaré Key Organizer of Conference Examining Challenges of Contemporary Feminism

Professor Helen Alvaré is one of the organizers of an October 3 conference marking the twentieth anniversary of Pope John Paul's apostolic letter "Mulieris Dignitatem" in which the pontiff addressed challenges of contemporary feminism with a theological reflection on the meaning, vocation, and role of women in the church and in society.

The event is jointly sponsored by Ave Maria School of Law and The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and will take place at the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. A multidisciplinary panel of scholars will reflect on how themes emerging from the document and current issues affecting women come into play within various legal contexts.

Many of the issues that women faced 20 years ago are still present in greater complexity today, Alvaré told Zenit, a news agency distributing Catholic news to several million subscribers worldwide. "I think in particular the question of the meaning of 'service' for women, as mothers and as single women, is far from fully explored or harmonized with women's opportunities 'in the world,'" Alvaré said.

Congress Marks 20 Years of "Mulieris Dignitatem", Zenit, September 22, 2008. By Irene Lagan.

"Alvaré said it takes time for a document like 'Mulieris Dignitatem' to be 'received' and fully appreciated: 'Like so many documents of John Paul II, "Mulieris Dignitatem" was prescient when written, and very deep in its analysis of women's situation in the world, their essential gifts and essential dilemmas. 'Even 20 years after its promulgation, it's fitting to explore it in depth.'


"The conference's multidisciplinary panel of scholars will reflect on the nature and significance of the motherhood and consecrated life for contemporary society, the meaning of equality, and societal attempts to redress the disorder between men and women.

"In light of analyses about the human person that emerge from 'Mulieris Dignitatem,' scholars will address how these themes and current issues such as pornography, domestic violence and abortion legislation figure into American Constitutional law, international law, canon law and family law, including pornography, domestic violence and abortion legislation.

"While some would struggle to see the relevance of a highly theological text to the study of law, acting dean and associate professor of Ave Maria School of Law, Eugene Milhizer, explained that human law is inseparably linked to natural law: 'The American legal culture is steeped in a superficial and partial account of the obligatory nature of the law, namely, that only human -- or positive -- law has full validity and is binding because it comes from a lawfully established human power.'"