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Joan Morris

Joan Morris

lecturer, journalist, film producer, theologian

champion for women’s rights in the Church


Hove, England, 14 April 1901 -
London, 21 August 1988

Joan originally studied art in England, France and Italy; she decorated several Churches. Having become a world traveller from youth, she exercised herself to perfection in several languages. She spent ten years in the United States where she studied at the University of Notre Dame and attained a Master's degree in liturgical research which led to her study of other branches of ecclesial history and to research into the role of women in the Church.

She toured the United States showing the films she produced. Her Pentecost film ( which includes references to the 15 nationalities and their religions present at Jerusalem on the first Pentecost) was shown to the Bishops at the Second Vatican Council and subsequently was taken round on tour to many countries of the East and the Far East, giving Joan the opportunity to interrogate women on their position in society and religion.

Joan became a prolific writer. She contributed several articles on iconography to the New Catholic Encyclopedia; her book on "Modern Sacred Art" was one of her earliest, published in 1938 (Macmillan). Her detective work into history produced "The Lady was a Bishop" (Macmillan), the same republished under the title "Against Nature and God" (Mowbrays) and the Italian "Storia Nascosta di Donne" (Ecumenia, Bari). The much contended history of the existence of a woman-pope is discovered in her later work "Pope Joan" (Vrai Publishers).

Her longstanding membership and leadership of the St. Joan's International Alliance have been responsible for its ongoing vitality. She has bonded it together by her long years of editorship of the "Catholic Citizen" until in 1986 ill health forced her to resign.

Joan was a militant feminist, but one who firmly stayed within the Church, and who saw the ordination of women as an important objective. She compared her own calling in the Church with that of St. Catherine's; the latter's life task had consisted in persuading the Pope to move from Avignon to Rome - for the life of the Church. The task in hand today is to persuade the Church to move from the first millennium into our own millennium - so that the Church may continue to have life.


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