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Pioneering feminist theologian Mary Daly dies at 81

Mary Daly, a self-described post-Christian, radical feminist theologian known for pioneering women’s studies and battling administrators at Boston College, has died aged 81.

Daly’s death on 3 January was announced by Mary E. Hunt, director of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, in the Journal of Feminist Studies of Religion. Hunt said that Daly had "been in poor health for the last two years", Religion News Service reported. A cause of death was not released.

"Her contributions to feminist theology, philosophy, and theory were many, unique, and if I may say so, world-changing," Hunt said in a statement. "She created intellectual space; she set the bar high. Even those who disagreed with her are in debt for the challenges she offered."

Daly taught theology and feminist ethics at Boston College for 33 years, according to National Catholic Reporter, but her career there was not without controversy. She was briefly fired from the Jesuit-run institution in 1968 after the publication of her book "The Church and the Second Sex", reported NCR, an independent weekly newspaper. She was re-hired after students protested.

For years, Daly insisted that only females be admitted to her feminist studies classes. When Boston College insisted that she admit two males to comply with federal nondiscrimination laws in 1999, Daly resigned.

A pugnacious intellectual, Daly published a number of works exploring the limits of patriarchal institutions and gender-based religious language. She once wrote that the "revelation" that religions are sects built and ruled by and for men "continues to work subliminally, inspiring my humour and stoking the fires of my fury not merely against the Catholic church and all other religions … but against everything that dulls and diminishes women".

(c) Ecumenical News International