Review by Choice Review
This volume by Helman (Boston College) really is, as the subtitle suggests, an "exploration of official documents." Helman's collection of 14 Vatican documents, statements, and encyclicals--about or addressed to women--is an incredibly useful addition to the study of women and Catholicism. Her succinct introduction to the women's movement--and religious women's role in it--situates these documents. Helman arranges the documents by decade since the Second Vatican Council. This mapping allows readers to see changes over time in the Vatican's thinking on women. The real value of Helman's work is that it excerpts the documents themselves. This responds to students' need to actually read the documents. But Helman also manages to provide helpful context--historical and literary--for each document. Thus, Women and the Vatican is a resource for those who need access to primary documents and for those who want a historical overview. Its only shortcoming is that Helman's tone occasionally betrays her own frustration. She seems to have difficulty using the word "feminism" to describe Pope John Paul II's complementary approach to feminism. Overall, this book offers a much-needed emphasis on what the Vatican actually says about and to women. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers. K. A. Dugan Northwestern University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.