Monday, February 18, 2013

Goddesses in the Dust: Time for a Female Pope

An archaeologist unearths the divine feminine, one archetype at a time...

Hey Catholic Church, listen up -- 2000 years is long enough for old white guys to be running things - it's time for someone of another gender or ethnicity to have a shot......

Time for a female pope. 

Seriously, have you taken a look around? In many institutions women have begun to fill places of power traditionally the purview of men: Prime Ministers, Secretaries of State. But we have a ways to go. (Hillary in 2016 anyone?)

Yes, having been raised Catholic I'm aware of the fact that women are not allowed prominent roles in the Church hierarchy. This is a grimly outmoded paradigm, as half of humanity is not represented in the institution's leadership. Goddess knows there are a lot of hard-working, smart nuns toiling away in obscurity and ministering to the needy who would do brilliant justice to filling that pontiff's hat and are as deserving as the red-cloaked cardinals who patrol the Vatican.

Supposedly there once was a female pope - Pope Joan. 

Born in 9th century Germany of missionary parents, a young girl named Agnes (also known as Jutta or Gilberta) grew up exceptionally bright, impressing those around her with her intelligence. At age 12 she traveled to Athens to study scripture, eventually forced to disguise herself as male to evade those of the time period who considered learned women to be unnatural and threatening to the status quo. Cloaked in the genderless clerical garb, she moved to Rome and rose through the Church ranks, becoming Cardinal first, and then Pope John Angelicus from 855 - 858, when her reign came to a sudden and - by some accounts - brutal end. 


While mounting a horse to ride in a procession, she went into labor and gave birth to a son, but accounts differ as to what happened next: some say the crowd tied her feet to the horse's tail and stoned her to death as she was dragged along the street. Other stories say she was banished to a convent and her son eventually became a Bishop. The Church naturally dismisses the story as a myth, but until recently all subsequent Popes would never set foot on the street where Pope Joan supposedly gave birth. 

Today, the image of a female pope appears in a card of the Tarot deck. It is considered a very positive card which represents wisdom, nature, pregnancy, the mother - and it also represents the hidden face of a man's life. 

Orthodox Judaism similarly prevents women from rising up within its institution. Recently Israeli police arrested two women for donning prayer shawls and worshipping at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. 

Rabbi Susan Silverman, who is comedian Sarah Silverman's sister, stated, "Theologically, I oppose the ultra orthodox ownership of Judaism. From a democratic point of view, it is simply a distortion that there is one group of citizens who rules the rest."

Note to the Papal conclave: as you get ready to blow smoke up the Vatican chimney for the 267th time, a word of advice: The leadership of healthy institutions should mirror their community. How long can you continue to pretend that 51% of the global population does not exist? It's time for a change. If you're not ready for a female Pope, then strengthen the institution from the ground up, and start, at the very least, by allowing women to serve the Church as priests. That way you'll have a shot at surviving the next 2000 years.

30 comments:

  1. Yeahhh! Get this up on Facebook, or Move-on.com and lets get the Church to pay attention.
    I attended Immaculate Heart College in Hollywood. Cardinal McIntire refused to support the college with church funds after the sisters stood up and protested the Vietnam War, uniforms, and segregation. It's about time women united on all fronts.

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    1. is the Catholic Church on facebook? haha! (i would post it there but i'm not on facebook myself)

      boo hiss to the old cardinal and props to the immaculate heart sisters for standing up for what they believed in - goddess bless them all.

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  2. I very much doubt that we will have a female pope any time soon.

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  3. I applaud your post today! Women need to be heard and represented as the powerful section of humanity that they are!

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    1. even if it means getting arrested by the israeli police haha!

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  4. Dear Amanda, stopping by briefly while on skiing vacation.;)
    Very intriguing post, I recall one of my friends once read a book about the female pope, she said it was superb. I agree, many women are great leaders and can do an incredible difference in all aspect of life.
    I really love the top image, it is very evocative and provocative.;)
    Hope all is well with you, have a great week.;)
    xoxo

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    1. zuzana - the image is from the film based on the book pope joan that came out a few years ago -

      enjoy your ski vacay!!!

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  5. Yes, time for a woman to dress up as pope. I'm not Catholic or indeed religious but it's ludicrous how these old men keep women under their holy thumbs. Thanks for your birthday wishes to my son. Apologies for not being around your blog for so long. Shall now try to catch up! Incidentally, love your blog's photo header.

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    1. yep - time for a woman to rock those red shoes!

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  6. Haa haa.... this is too funny, but honestly, a woman could do it just as well if not better!!! I am not into politics, but Clinton or Rice should be the next President! I enjoy your posts a lot! Have a great weekend!

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  7. I’d vote for a female pope, birth control, divorce, gay marriage and free choice… Agnes was a fascinating historical character. I hope the latter story was the true ending.

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    1. me too Sarah, the other ending is just too horrible (but so appropriately Medieval)

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  8. Amanda, it seems these words should have a much wider audience.

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  9. I wholehaertedly agree with you.

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  10. Wow, wow, wow! I had never heard of Pope 'Joan' (I'm so surprised they didn't teach me about her in Catholic school!!!) and my mind is blown! This is one of those moments that I am so sad that my father has passed on. He had a masters in Theology from Yale and I would have love to have discussed this with him. I'm off to google... x

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    1. I would love to have known your father's take on the Pope Joan story - fact or fiction?

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  11. What a great post! I love learning about Pope Joan, though I mourn for her too. Such an amazing story, and all the references to it. It is truly time for women to take their place in leadership in every walk of life that they wish to. I am reading A Room of One's Own for the first time and coming to appreciate Woolf for her voice in the wilderness for women writers not that long ago, when men still ruled at "Oxbridge" (and still do, I warrant).

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    1. I need to read that, too, Ruth - will put Woolf on my library list...

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  12. Pssstttt have you gone into hiding ;)


    Haha!

    Pigs will fly first me thinks and then it'd have to be a boar


    but it's interesting how he's run off to be cloistered with nuns ... obviously had enough of the brotherhood!



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    1. Is that where he's going post-Vatican?


      Who, me hiding?!? (No, just trying to finish my manuscript!)

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    2. apparently, have a read here

      http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/pope-live-cloistered-monastery

      re hiding I was meaning about this post and your telling the catholic church to listen up ;)

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  13. Nice to find your blog...a female pope sounds divine!

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  14. Can you imagine being in charge of a whole bunch of old men in red robes? I smell a rat...two weeks notice and I've got a headache too. Things are shaking up and does woman want the job of pope? Wouldn't they have to call her Mama or Mope?

    If the Catholic Church is imploding, I can't wait to see what we can manifest out of the ashes of that smoke signal...it would have to be someone with balanced masculine/feminine - or both - a hermaphodite? They used to be revered. That's the answer...Mope Hermaphrodite!

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  15. amen)))

    without change, and as you rightly point out - a leadership reflecting the populace, there is no future in such antiquated structures. it simply is the truth. time will tell.

    xo
    erin

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  16. First off, if Hillary should win in 2016, hope will be restored. If there should ever be a female pope, I'll believe there may really be a god after all.

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