Professor Tina Beattie
Professor Tina Beattie has been a friend and supporter of the Centre for Marian Studies from its beginnings and so we are delighted that she has agreed to become an honorary fellow. She was one of the four founding trustees who signed the trust deed of the CMS in 1995. Since then her career has flourished as she has gone on to become a well-known theologian and a Professor of Catholic Studies at Roehampton University, from where she recently retired to take up a life-long ambition to write fiction. She continues to support women’s voices in Catholicism through the organisation Catholic Women Speak, which she founded, and the Catherine of Siena College.
Tina’s work on Mary is epitomised in her ground-breaking book, God’s Mother, Eve’s Advocate: A Marian Narrative of Women’s Salvation which drew on her doctorate research. The classic dichotomy between Mary and Eve as representing perfection and sin respectively is discarded in the book in favour of another equally ancient theme: that of Mary as the agent of Eve’s redemption. Here Tina shows herself to be a Catholic feminist with a deep desire to engage with the patristic tradition, but at the same time with psychoanalytic theory, such as the work of Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva. With these ancient and modern dialogue partners, an analytical development of the book that follows through in Tina’s later work is the identification of the female body as a symbol of salvation, in contrast with a one-sided emphasis on the male (Christ’s) body and the association of the female body with impurity. Tina’s other important contributions to theological thought include New Catholic Feminism: Theology and Theory; The New Atheists: The Twilight of Reason and the War on Religion; and Theology after Postmodernity: Divining the Void.
Tina is an advocate of the important contribution of women’s voices in Catholic thought and debate. As such she is a spokesperson for women’s ordination and a critic of some Catholic moral policies concerning sexuality and reproduction. This has sometimes been controversial in the ecclesiastical context, but Tina has not been afraid to speak out and suffer criticism, even ostracization in some quarters. Nevertheless, she is a frequent and stimulating contributor to public debate in, for example, ‘Thought for the Day’ and The Tablet, of which she is a director. As a public figure, theologian, advocate of women’s rights, and creative Mariologian, she is an excellent choice to represent the Centre for Marian Studies as honorary fellow.