Christian mysticism in relation to Catholic teaching on the issue of gender.
Mysticism is a broad concept in a diversity of traditions. Our study focuses on Christian mysticism in the Catholic Church tradition). This concept is shortly a special relationship with God that translates into observable behaviours that impact on the other people. Mysticism itself is for everyone regardless of their perceived spiritual connectedness with God. In other words everyone can be a mystic. However, in the Catholic Church it would seem that the decision regarding who is a mystic is done by the leadership of the Church which comprises of all-male clergy. As a result, those who have been considered mystics in the Catholic Church were predominantly male with significantly few women. Mysticism cannot but be seen through the lens of gender. Gender equality in the Catholic Church or lack of, is then a yardstick through which mysticism should be scrutinized. This analysis should be done by studying the Catholic Church’s teaching on gender from the past eras to the present. An attempt should be made to look at the esteemed doctors of the church who have influenced the Church’s attitudes towards women. Not only should these attitudes be explored, but also their influence on the discipline of the Church or the way the Catholic Church carries its mandate in as far as gender is concerned. The Church’s mandate includes but not necessarily limited to its laws (canons). The mandate is also found in its declarations which are found in the Church’s documents. These will be analysed to arrive at a conclusion whether the Catholic Church has established gender equality in its teachings and practices. The analysis should also compare the teaching on gender and its translation into observable, real formal equality and substantive equality when it comes to gender. Formal Equality means the same formal legal rights and status while Substantive Equality means the same material and effects between men and women in the Catholic Church. Gender equality then or lack of, will be used in exploring the subject of mysticism in the Catholic Church. This study will attempt to explore how gender equality in mysticism can impact on the Church’s endeavour to establish gender equality so that there is authenticity in its teaching and practice. That alignment is necessary to bring to life the scriptural dimension of the Church.