Did she or didn’t she…exist?
Based on a novel that is itself based on a legend that won’t go away, the new German film Pope Joan tells the story of a ninth century young woman who, frustrated by a lack of opportunities for women (the 9th century was, after all, pre-Title 9), allegedly disguised herself as a guy so that she could enter a Benedictine monastery.
As the story goes, she actually rose to the top job and was only discovered when she went into a labor while riding a horse during a procession. That would be a sure giveaway. I mean Catholics aren’t stupid.
In any event, this isn’t the first cinematic attempt to bring the story of Pope Joan to life. In 1972 Norwegian actress Liv Ullman played the role in a movie that is even more forgotten than the legend it purported to chronicle. By the way, would that make the current film “Pope Joan II”? Just asking.
Personally, I’d have no problem with a woman pope. Of course, if you were to ask me, I think there should be woman priests. But nobody’s asking me.
I guess the biggest problem I would have with a woman pope would be that the word pope is latin for papa, or father. So that would just seem kinda weird. And would we call a female parish priest father? It would be so confusing.
Come to think of it, I’ve never made a big issue of it but, as someone who understands very little, I’ve often wondered why we call priests “father” since in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is quoted as saying “Do not call anyone on earth you father. Only one is your father, the One in heaven.” For an explanation of that one, click here.
But I digress.
For the record, the Catholic Church says the legend of St. Joan is bogus, no more real than The Da Vinci Code (which, of course, some people have taken seriously).
One more digression: I never read the novel but I saw the film version of “The Da Vinci Code.” To me the plot had holes big enough to drive a Popemobile through. For one thing, if I understood the story correctly (and it’s always possible I didn’t particularly since I may have dozed off), wasn’t the big to-do about the discovery of DNA evidence linked to the bones of Mary Magdalene that supposedly proved that she and Jesus had a baby together. I understand the plot also involved the discovery of ancient documents suggesting such a relationship but, come on, in the age of CSI that’s not the same as DNA.
I could see how Mary Magdalene’s DNA might prove that she had a child and that could be controversial but how would that actually prove anything pertaining to a supposed sexual relationship with Jesus? Wouldn’t you need Jesus’ DNA for that? I don’t think Mary Magdalene having a baby would rock the foundation of the Church. I mean someone should have told that albino monk to chill.