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Jesus' own attitude to women is found in the story of Jesus at the house of Martha and Mary.In this story, Mary sits at Jesus' feet as he preaches, while her sister toils in the kitchen preparing a meal.In the history of the Catholic Church, laywomen and women in religious institutes have played a variety of roles and the church has affected societal attitudes to women throughout the world in significant ways.Women constitute the majority of members of consecrated life within the Catholic Church: in 2010, there were around 721,935 professed women religious.The church says that Christ appointed only male Apostles (from the Greek apostello "to send forth").The New Testament is instructive of the attitudes of the church towards women.
According to some modern critiques, the Catholic Church's largely male hierarchy and refusal to ordain women implies "inferiority" of women.
In late Antiquity, Saint Helena was a Christian and consort of Emperor Constantius, and the mother of Emperor Constantine I.
As such her role in history is of great significance; her son Constantine legalised Christianity across the Roman Empire and became a convert himself - ending centuries of mistreatment of Christians and altering the course of world history.
New feminism and feminist theology deal extensively with Catholic attitudes towards women.
The New Testament which deals with this era refers to a number of women in Jesus' inner circle - notably his mother Mary (for whom the Catholic Church holds a special place of adoration) and Mary Magdalene who discovered the empty tomb of Christ.