Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Schaefer, Jame

Second Advisor

Massingale, Bryan

Third Advisor

Omar, Irfan A.


This dissertation responds to the dearth of scholarship in first-world, Catholic theology, particularly in the United States, that adequately and actively engages theologies of third-world women who highlight the disproportionate effects of environmental degradation on women, humanity's interconnectedness with all creation, and the spiritualities of third-world women that shape their relationship to and care for the earth. I contend that greater intentional dialogue with these theologians, particularly third-world, Christian ecofeminist theologians, could expand first-world, Catholic theology's appropriation of ecofeminism, develop a more comprehensive understanding of the disproportionate effects of environmental degradation on women, especially in the third world, and deepen understanding of spirituality and social action from a third-world, ecofeminist perspective.

As an interdisciplinary project, I adapt the "boomerang pattern of influence" model, developed by political scientists Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, for theological discourse. This model comprises practical and intellectual dimensions for engaging dialogue among first-world, Catholic theologians and third-world, Christian theologians on third-world, ecofeminist concerns. To further explicate this model, I orchestrate an intellectual dialogue between third-world, Indian, Protestant theologian Aruna Gnanadason's ecofeminist theology and first-world, German, Catholic theologian Johann B. Metz's concept of the mystical-political dimension of Christianity. By integrating their theological approaches, I demonstrate how Metz's dimension provides a conduit for dissertationing first-world, Catholic theology to third-world, Christian ecofeminist theology, as articulated by Gnanadason, and especially deepens our understanding of the relationship between spirituality and social action from an ecofeminist perspective.

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