Brasilien: Maria José Rosado Nunes

Mass is an offense against women since a man, to celebrate it, has to be apart from them. It constantly shows women as Eve, the one who brought disgrace, sin.

— Maria José Rosado Nunes

Maria José Rosado Nunes (1945) was the first Brazilian nun to publicly criticize the sexist attitudes of the Catholic church's progressive wing. In the beginning of the 1980s, she contested left-wing religious authorities who “used to fight against poverty and for social justice, but not against the prohibition of women's right to become priests and not for women's sexual and reproductive rights.” After leaving the church, she founded in Brazil an organization called Católicas pelo Direito de Decidir (Catholics for the Right to Decide).

Prostitutes of Barra do Mendes, a city in the hinterland of Bahia, used to live on Palha Street. To go from her house to the school, where she would give classes, the newly arrived nun Maria José Rosado Nunes had two options: walk down that street or go all the way around the church square. The decision was pretty obvious: take the longer way. Sister Zeca, as she was known, made a decision upon which she has based her life and that made her, years later, leave the church: saying no to any kind of discrimination against women. Zeca made friends among the women of Palha Street. Two years later, she moved to the countryside of Acre, in the North of Brazil. As a member of Pastoral of the Land, the church's progressive wing, she used to go inside the forest to meet and bring together the rubber plant workers. Two more years went by. Zeca, graduated in arts, decided to go back to school. She moved to São Paulo, where she got a master's degree in sociology. Invited by feminists to participate in lectures, Zeca has openly opposed to the Catholic church's attitude towards women. She has faced fierce bishops and religious extremists. In 1985, Zeca went to Europe to study for a post-doctoral degree from the School of High Studies of Paris, in France. When she came back to Brazil, five years later, she had left the church. Here, Zeca kept fighting and also continued her academic career. Nowadays, she is a professor of sociology of religion and gender at the Pontific Catholic University of São Paulo. In 1984, she founded the organization Catholics for the Right to Decide (CDD), which defends women's rights, especially when it comes to their reproduction and contraceptive choices.

Católicas pelo Direito de Decidir (CDD)