What are our objectives?

Miriam Duignan

Miriam Duignan

Over the past century the position of women in most countries has greatly improved. But much needs to be done. Surveys by the UNESCO show that women are still seriously disadvantaged in more than half of the world. Even in more developed countries women still lack benefits routinely enjoyed by men. And in all this, established religions play a key role.

In actual fact, the opposition to women’s advancement in all religions stems mainly from deeply embedded cultural and social prejudices rather than from the tenets of the religions themselves. These prejudices have encrusted religious beliefs and practices in the course of time and are now, more often than not, considered part of sacred traditions. It is difficult for women to disentangle themselves from ancient ignorance and bias without seeming to harm the religions themselves.

Frequently the cure lies in disclosing the facts, whether these are anthropological, historical or biological facts, and presenting these facts to the religious leaders of our time. Liberation comes from overcoming ignorance and clearing away distorted traditions that present obstacles to genuine religion. This calls for academic appraisal as well as diplomatic and pastoral skills.

In our projects we work hand in hand with the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research to which we are associated as partners. That institute was founded by John Wijngaards, a Catholic theologian who pioneered a reform movement in the Roman Catholic community aiming at restoring to women their rightful place within the ordained ministries. While in India, Wijngaards initiated the Dharmavijayamu Campaign in which Hindus, Muslims and Christian worked side by side to bring about “the victory of justice” in rural villages. He founded the Jeevan Jyothi Institute in Hyderabad which provides theological studies to religious sisters. He wrote classic books such as Did Christ Rule Our Women Priests?, The Ordination of Women in the Catholic Church and The Ordained Women Deacons of the the first Millennium. He founded Catherine of Siena Virtual College for the empowerment of women which, before it was taken over by Roehampton University, was administered by the Wijngaards Institute.

We are associated to the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research, but remain a separate unit. Our legal carrier is a Charity established in the Netherlands as Stichting Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research (registered as No KvK 41056067)

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