Maria José Rosado Nunes /Sister Zeca – Brazil

Linked with Religious Ideology and Social Control: Abortion and the Catholic Church., and with

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

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).

She says: “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 /Sister Zeca – Brazil

She works for Católicas pelo Direito de Decidir CDD /Catholics for the Right to Decide (named in the Letter to President Hu Jintao, and on

She says also: “For me, Beijing was deeply moving. I experienced that meeting as a singular historic moment. Thousands of women from all over the world, gathered in a distant Asian country—distant at least relative to Brazil, where I come from. The variety of colors, faces, languages, ways of dressing and behaving—Should we hug? Should we kiss? Should we put our hands together as if in prayer and bow our heads? Countless ways of greeting one another. We were different. Even in our ways of thinking and expressing our ideas and dreams about feminism”. (full text).

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: walking down that street or going all the way round the church square. The advice was pretty obvious: take the longer way.

Sister Zeca, as she was known, took 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 the 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.

Maria José, 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 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 an organization called Catholics for the Right to Decide CDD, which defends women’s rights, especially when it comes to their reproduction and contraceptive choices.

Catholics for the Right to Decide CDD was created in Latin America in 1987. CDD, founded in Brazil in 1994, has carried out an important work with health professionals from public hospitals that practice abortion on rape victims. “For being Catholics, many of them refused to have it done”. (1000peacewomen).

Development Includes a Commitment to Women’s Rights and
Reproductive Health
, Religious Reflections on the Millennium Development Goals, Prepared for the 2005 World Summit, 15 pages, 14-16 September 2005.

Currículo Lattes:

  • Nome: Maria José Fontelas Rosado Nunes;
  • Disciplina: Gênero e Religião – Questões Teórico-Metodológicas;
  • E-mail;
  • Currículo: Doutora em Sociologia (Nouveau Doctorat) pela École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales de Paris, França.

Maria José F. Rosado-Nunes: Socióloga, doutora pela École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris (1991); Mestra em Ciências Sociais pela PUC/São Paulo (1984) e pela Université Catholique, Louvain la Neuve, Bélgica (1986). É Professora da Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, pesquisadora do CNPq e membro dos Conselhos do NEMGE/USP e da Revista de Estudos Feministas, entre vários outros. É autora de artigos e capítulos de livros em obras nacionais e internacionais, algumas das quais receberam prêmios, como o da UNESCO (1995), Jabuti e Casa Grande & Senzala (1998). Seu campo de interesse é o cruzamento das questões de gênero e religião. Fundou e dirige a ONG Católicas pelo Direito de Decidir. Em 2005, foi indicada pela Associação Mil Mulheres pela Paz, juntamente com outras 51 brasileiras, para receber coletivamente o prêmio Nobel da Paz. Bolsa ASHOKA como empreendedora social (maio 2007). (CNPq).


a chinese website about the subject;

condoms for life.

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