Tradition and the other : the authority of tradition within the context of a contested ecclesia : a Catholic foundational theology.
This thesis addresses the fundamental problem of whether and how the church's tradition can be understood as revelatory given its patriarchal nature and its implication in relations of power. It is therefore concerned with how feminist Catholics are to be accountable to tradition. In addressing this problem the thesis follows three basic movements. The first juxtaposes contemporary discourses that are concerned with revelation, on the one hand, and rupture, on the other. However, by an investigation of the apophatic tradition in theology and its relation to the cataphatic, it suggests that this juxtaposition is both necessary to theology and that it has a long theological pedigree. Therefore the second movement, in seeking mediating paths with which to respond to this rupture in knowledge, proposes a dual mediation that maintains an unreconcilable tensiveness between a path of transformative interpretation and a path which continues to probe that which is unsaid. The third movement looks at how this is expressed in the theology of tradition and the church. By highlighting the distinction between tradition as the whole life of the church and the Tradition which is ultimately Other, it points to a fundamental tension between that which is witnessed to in discourse and is therefore implicated in relations of power and that which, while witnessed to, is ultimately uncapturable but nevertheless accompanies all discourse. In this context, the thesis concludes, the church is both the privileged witness to the Other, but its witness is a wounded witness. While it is in the church that we encounter the Tradition, the challenge that we face is to find ways to allow that which is Other to break through our limited and necessarily wounded discourse.