Catholics Media and Culture

Catholics Media and Culture

“Pope Joan” film stirs Catholic controversy

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.

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posted June 23, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Link goes to an official Church document explaining why only men can be priests.
As for calling “no man father” as suggested by the article, I refer you to read Matthew chapter 23 in context along with Acts 7:2, 1 Corinthians 4:14-15, 1 Thessalonians 2:11, Acts 22:1, Titus 1:4, and Exodus 20:12 and you will see Jesus is not really saying we should not literally call anyone else “father,” but rather we should not place anyone else above God. is a good resource for those who would like to get the real story on what Catholics believe and why we believe those things.

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posted June 23, 2010 at 4:44 pm

The one thing you do well in this op ed piece is to be honest about your total ignorance on all things Cathoilc which itself is a fact made evident to such a degree that it would be shameful not to admit your presumption and ignorance. Amazing that people who know so little about a subject get paid to write about it.

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posted June 23, 2010 at 6:17 pm

I’m sure the same people who spent their money on seeing The Da Vinci Code will be equally willing to spend it on a movie about a Popette. But for the record The Catholic Encyclopedia has a fairly good explanation as to why the whole girly pope story can’t be true:
“Between [Popes] Leo IV and Benedict III, where Martinus Polonus places her, she cannot be inserted, because Leo IV died 17 July 855, and immediately after his death Benedict III was elected by the clergy and people of Rome; but owing to the setting up of an Antipope, in the person of the deposed Cardinal Anastasius, he was not consecrated until 29 September. Coins exist which bear both the image of Benedict III and of Emperor Lothair I, who died 28 September 855; therefore Benedict must have been recognized as Pope before the last-mentioned date. On 7 October 855, Benedict III issued a charter for the Abbey of Corvey. Hincmar, Archbishop of Reims, informed Nicholas I that a messenger whom he had sent to Leo IV learned on his way of the death of this Pope, and therefore handed his petition to Benedict III, who decided it (Hincmar, ep. xl in P.L., CXXXVI, 85). All these witnesses prove the correctness of the dates given in the lives of Leo IV and Benedict III, and there was no interregnum between these two Popes, so that at this place there is no room for the alleged Popess.”

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posted July 26, 2010 at 4:14 am

Creo que la gente está muy cerca de mentalidad no debe discuss acerca de esta película, hombros abre los ojos y comprender que lo que la iglesia no siempre dicen la verdad , pensar en ello

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