Creating Communities of Justice and Peace: Sacramentality and Public Catholicism in the United States


  • Rosemary P. Carbine Whittier College



feminist theology, womanist theology, public Catholicism, public church, sacrament, sacramentality, Vatican II, nuns


This essay situates women’s religious leadership in the contested site of who and what counts as the authoritative face and practice of public Catholicism. It examines political praxis by U.S. Catholic women religious as a refreshing resource for a constructive feminist theology of the public church. Drawing on Vatican II theologies about the church’s social role, feminist and womanist theologies of sacramentality, and the Nuns on the Bus tours between 2012 and 2014, this essay argues that the U.S. public church bears sacramental significance when it re/creates the public, when it prophetically witnesses to an alternative political reality or creates (or births) a new world that better signifies a more interconnected, interdependent U.S. body politic rooted in solidarity. Examining concurrent activism by U.S. nuns and US Catholic bishops’ shows that what makes the public church public consists in the ability to imagine and create communities of justice and peace.

Author Biography

Rosemary P. Carbine, Whittier College

Rosemary P. Carbine holds master’s and doctoral degrees in Theology from the University of Chicago Divinity School, and is currently Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Whittier College. She specializes in historical and constructive Christian theologies, with a focus on comparative feminist, womanist, and Latina/mujerista theologies, theological anthropology, public/political theologies, and teaching and learning in theology and religion. She has co-edited and contributed chapters to three books, The Gift of Theology: The Contribution of Kathryn Tanner (Fortress Press, 2015), Theological Perspectives for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: Public Intellectuals for the Twenty-First Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), and Women, Wisdom, and Witness: Engaging Contexts in Conversation (Liturgical Press, 2012). She has published numerous articles in major scholarly journals and in anthologies such as Awake to the Moment: An Introduction to Theology (Westminster John Knox Press, 2016), Questioning the Human: Toward a Theological Anthropology for the 21st Century (Fordham University Press, 2014), Frontiers in Catholic Feminist Theology (Fortress Press, 2009), Prophetic Witness: Catholic Women’s Strategies of Reform (Crossroad, 2009) and Cross-Examinations: Readings on the Meaning of the Cross Today (2006). Carbine has served as co-chair of the Feminist Theory and Religious Reflection Group within the American Academy of Religion, and as co-convener of the Women’s Consultation on Constructive Theology in the Catholic Theological Society of America. More recently, she is a founding member of the Feminist Studies in Religion Forum sponsored by Harvard Divinity School.


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How to Cite

Carbine, R. P. (2016). Creating Communities of Justice and Peace: Sacramentality and Public Catholicism in the United States. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion, 29(2), 182–202.