• James F Keenan SJ Boston College
Keywords: Declaration of Human Rights, Divini Illius Magistri, Gravissimum Educationis, Moral Agency, Moral Right to Education, Vatican II, Women Religious


With growing numbers of women religious, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America, their capacity for opening and staffing schools and hospitals makes for a very promising future for Catholic apostolic work. Still, many of these vocations are of women with rudimentary education and in many instances, religious and ecclesial superiors do not adequately appreciate and support the importance of an education, despite the fact that Vatican II and the Declaration of Human Rights explicitly insist on the right to an education. This essay analyses the data regarding the education of girls and young women to make the case that the church’s investment in the education of religious women will multiply significantly the impact of heeding and guaranteeing this moral right.

Author Biography

James F Keenan SJ, Boston College

Fr James Keenan, SJ, is the Founders Professor of Theology at Boston College. He was Consultant to the National Catholic Conference of Bishops for the Revision of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Institutions (1988-1995). He has been on the Editorial Board of Theological Studies since 1991, and on the Editorial Board of Asian Horizons since 2010, and the Board of Directors of the Society of Christian Ethics (2001-2005). His works include Goodness and Rightness in Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae, Virtues for Ordinary Christians, Jesus and Virtue Ethics (with Dan Harrington), Toward a Global Vision of Catholic Moral Theology: Reflections on the Twentieth Century, A History of Catholic Moral Theology in the Twentieth Century: From Confessing Sins to Liberating Consciences, Paul and Virtue Ethics (with Dan Harrington) and Ethics of the Word: Voices in the Catholic Church Today. He is the chair of the international committee, Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church. He has published over 250 essays, articles and reviews. He has been adjunct professor at the Gregorian University in Rome (2000, 2002), Loyola School of Theology in Manila (2001, 2003), and Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram in Bangalore (2007 onwards). Email:


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How to Cite
F Keenan SJ, J. (2018). AGENCY AND THE MORAL RIGHT TO AN EDUCATION FOR WOMEN RELIGIOUS. Asian Horizons, 12(01), 7-21. Retrieved from