Creative Project : What if the Pope was a woman ?
During a thinking about gender stereotypes, a group of communication students asked themselves about the image of women in different areas, especially in Religion. Here comes an utopia : what if the Pope was a women ?
There are historical reasons explaining why women couldn’t be a pope : The reason women can’t be priests (ndlr: furthermore pope) goes to the establishment of the sacrament of Holy Orders. Because Christ established the sacrament, no pope, council, or bishop can change it (subjective justification by the holy scripture). A woman is barred from becoming a pope, because the person chosen for the position would have to be ordained — and women are barred from becoming priests. According to the Roman Catholic Church catechism, Jesus Christ chose 12 men to be his apostles, and they in turn chose men to continue their ministries.. Therefore, the Roman Catholic Church argues it is bound by that precedent. Eastern Orthodox Catholics don’t ordain women for the very same reason. It has nothing to do with who’s more worthy or suitable for Holy Orders in the same way that the ban on non-Catholics receiving Holy Communion has nothing to do with any moral or spiritual judgment on the persons involved. It has to do with Sacred Tradition, which is considered as divinely inspired as Sacred Scripture.
Some questions are raised :
> What is the place of women in religion ?
> People are they ready to accept this feminization ?
The etymology of laïcité means “of the people” from the greek laikos, it was in opposition with klerikos which pointed out all the religious institutions. This concept seems to be rooted in our culture since the XIIIth century. But the term of laicus was already used during the Antiquity.
In the United States, religious beliefs are deeply linked with the government and the politics. The reason is the strong status US had at the time of colony : After Britons ran away from England and persecution, they founded a new nation they called New England. They arrived in territories that for them were still virgin soil, on which were living people that (still in their opinion) were not educated. These strong beliefs led them to finally consider America as a nation “upon a hill” (this is a quote from John Winthrop, a puritan writer, who used to refer to America as a “city upon a hill”), a country invested of a mission by god Himself.
This ideology finally gave birth to what is called the Manifest Destiny. Even if that could appear as a little extreme, it is still this common and popular creed that, for instance, provided guidance for the foreign policy America has had for a long time now ; indeed, this foreign policy could be considered a little intrusive…
This cultural particularity concerning the religion differs in other countries, especially between anglo-saxon and latin cultures.
This work isn’t focused on a religious text and holy scripture, like the Bible or the Old Testament, but on all productions similar to “marketing content” sponsored by the Catholic Church to defend its “historical patriarchal vision”, in spite of everyone’s progressivist thinking…
The case of Wikipedia : an “open encyclopedia”, the best propaganda tool to convey an ideology.
The difference between the two texts can shock, it is a good demonstration to highlight the two different visions of the Catholic Church, on the one hand we can analyse how English people see the place of women in the church and on the other it is a representation of “latin people’s thinking on the subject of women” (example of the french version).
There is less ambiguity in the English text : the posture can be interpreted as a defense of women’s place in the church contrary to the French text, a symbol of the patriarchal vision, with a justification of the “disappearance of women” because their “vocation”.
Same Wiki article but two different interpretations !
To understand the origin of the restriction of possibilities for women, we will now focus on the historical aspect of things.
Bible occurrences could be interpreted as “men superiority / patriarcat “: “The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.”
Women are absent from the major deciding positions of the Church.
Concerning a female pope, the rumor of “Pope Joan” states a woman in disguise who passed for a pope (Jean VIII) and ruled between a few weeks and a couple of years, depending on the sources. She was unmasked when giving birth during a procession, and killed. Several facts supported the rumor : the procession now avoided the street where she gave birth (but because it was too short for the volume of people following the procession), a statue had an unreadable text, looking like an epitaph, because Joan was believed to have been buried there, and afterward, new popes had to sit on a chair with a hole underneath, so that the fact they had male attributes could be verified, to avoid another mistake (but this is an explanation in a way to assert power through antique and forgotten symbolic ways). It shows the historical misogyny of the Church, and its fear of women.
More recently, in 2013, the “Comité de la Jupe” organized a 72 women conclave in Paris, to defend the constitution of a Parity Practise in Church Observatory. These women are as much theologians as religious women. They are here to study the possibility of reintroducing women in the elective process of the Heads of the Catholic Church.
Let’s ask ourselves about the dominant gender in the believers’ world.
Women are predominant. Christianity is short of men. Here are the facts:
· The typical U.S. Congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61% female, 39% male. This gender gap shows up in all age categories.
· On any given Sunday there are 13 million more adult women than men in America’s churches.
· This Sunday almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands.
· Midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants.
· The majority of church employees are women (except for ordained clergy, who are overwhelmingly male).
· Over 70 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties. Many of these boys will never return.
· More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only one out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church.
· Churches overseas report gender gaps of up to 9 women for every adult man in attendance.
· Christian universities are becoming convents. The typical Christian college in the U.S. enrolls almost 2 women for every 1 man.
· Fewer than 10% of U.S. churches are able to establish or maintain a vibrant men’s ministry.
Even though women are more numerous at church, the list of strong female figure of religion history is way shorter that of the male :
→ Deborah of the Old Testament was a prophetess and “judge of Israel”
→ Joan of Arc, first lady in the Catholic history to lead people with the help of god. There are other perception of her roles or vocation, but she was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint.
→ Since the XIXe century the cult of Marie increases and takes a more and more important part in the Church. Her character goes along with the “patriarchal vision’s”, so it might not be a good example, although we can try to graduate or change its interpretation by believers.
→ Mother Teresa, Saint Teresa of Calcuta, is a modern female figure of the Church. She was a missionary and a nun, and founded a congregation that vowed to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor”
→ Antoinette Brown was ordained a Congregationalist minister in 1852 and Julia Foote was ordained a deacon in the AME Zion church in 1894, two example of leaders religions but not in the Catholic Church (Protestant/ Evangelist Church)
The list is far from complete of course. The image of women in religion is well illustrated by the story of one of those women, Mary Magdalena.
According to the Bible, Mary of Magdalene is the “witness of the essential”.
In the Gospels, she is a disciple of Jesus who followed him during his last days, witnessing his resurrection and gave birth to an important figure of Christianity.
Mary Magdalene or literally translated from the greek as Mary the Magdalene or Mary of Magdala is a Jewish woman who, according to texts “traveled with Jesus as one of his followers”. Etymologically, Mary, Myriam, whose Egyptian root means “to love” is very popular in the first century of our era.
Mary Magdalene was a sinful woman who lived in Magdala. She was a woman of sinful life, commonly called a “prostitute”. Convinced of her sin by the Holy Spirit, she came to Jesus with an alabaster jar filled with perfume.
This is how this woman had been ardently touched by Jesus’ deep love. She prostrated herself at his feet crying. “These tears that watered Jesus’ feet were the expression of the sadness of the Spirit of God producing repentance to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Coming to Jesus’ feet, while crying, and then wiping them with her hair, was “a real proof of humility, repentance and faith.”
Mary Magdalene also kissed Jesus’ feet. This act represented the expression of her love for god, and then, she and she “anointed” them with perfume. The perfume is the representation of adoration and prayer. Through this gesture, she offered herself to God.
Moreover, the Bible reveals that Jesus delivered her from seven demonic spirits who enslaved her.
The truth is that Mary Magdalene really loved and served Jesus and she was part of the missionary team of the apostles around Jesus. Mary Magdalene “loved Jesus very much because he had forgiven her a lot”.
Representation of women in religion through Mary of Magdala
In Christianism, there is only one female figure who has as much importance as The Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. It’s Mary from the village of Magdala.
In the West, the character of Mary of Magdala has fed considerably the imaginary of people, especially men’s! She was described as a woman living an excessive sexuality that repented after she met Jesus of Nazareth.
A despised character
The amalgam between a woman with a free sexuality and the character of Mary of Magdala comes from a mistake between female characters in the New Testament. Thus, Mary of Magdala was confused with Mary of Bethany who anointed Jesus’ feet in John, the “sinner” in Luke, and the “adulterous” Fourth gospel. The link between a free sexuality and Mary of Magdala was constituted in the patristic and medieval times when a moralizing rereading of Luke consecrated this image of Mary Magdala as a sinner. This interpretation is based on Jesus’ healing from her seven demons. In an androcentric and misogynistic culture, this could only be equivalent practice of sexuality outside the control of men. This representation of Mary Magdalene reinforces the inferiorization of women in the West. They were associated with corporality and consequently with sin.
The artificial image of Mary Magdalene aimed to reveal the moral needs, but her story could not be read without being seriously distorted. The theology of Western Europe has mistakenly and unambiguously placed sin in the human body and especially in the body of woman.
Thus Mary Magdalene became the emblematic figure of this dualism which marked and always conditions the western gaze on the world and relations between women and men.
An exceptional disciple
The allusion to the seven demons refers more to a disease that nearly destroyed Mary Magdalene. Nothing in this biblical passage can presuppose any dimension of sexuality. In other words, she was cured of an illness that threatened her life.
Moreover, it is interesting to note that Mary Magdalene is first named in the list of women taking along with Jesus. The fact that she is first named suggests that she could enjoy a certain reverence and therefore authority as a disciple like the Twelve. The author of the Gospel of Luke describes the condition of disciples of Jesus. The following verse describes women in similar terms. Women thus appear as disciples in their own right.
The character of Mary Magdalene has an important place in some evangelical passages. For example, they describe that Mary Magdalene was present at the foot of the cross and at the burial. These passages reveal that in the early Christian tradition, Mary Magdalene, represents an important personage bond to Jesus at the point where Jesus was ready to take personal risks. Indeed, posting thus could lead to terrible consequences by being associated with a “seditious” character.
Knowing thig helps us establish the image of women in the christian religion, and makes us questions her role in other religions.
“Women constitute the great majority of members of the consecrated life within the church. Catholic women have played diverse roles, with religious institutes providing a formal space for their participation and convents providing spaces for their self-government, prayer and influence through many centuries. Catholic women have played a formidable role as educationalists and health care administrators, with religious sisters and nuns extensively involved in developing and running the church’s worldwide health and education service networks.
In religious vocations, Catholic women and men are ascribed different roles, with women serving as nuns, religious sisters or abbesses, but in other roles, the Catholic Church does not distinguish between men and women, who may be equally recognised as saints, doctors of the church, catechists in schools, altar servers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass, or as readers (lectors) during the liturgy.”
This text shows of Contradiction between the numbers of women believers and the restriction of theirs possibilities to influence the evolution of the Church.
In traditional Judaism, women are for the most part seen as separate but equal. Women’s obligations and responsibilities are different from men’s, but no less important (in fact, in some ways, women’s responsibilities are considered more important, as we shall see).
The equality of men and women begins at the highest possible level: G-d. In Judaism, unlike traditional Christianity, G-d has never been viewed as exclusively male or masculine. Judaism has always maintained that G-d has both masculine and feminine qualities
According to traditional Judaism, women are endowed with a greater degree of “binah” (intuition, understanding, intelligence) than men.
The role of women (wife and mother) are the most important. Women are exempted from all positive mitzvot (Torah’s commandment), because the woman’s duties as wife and mother are so important that they can’t be postponed to fulfill a mitzvah.
Different variants of Judaism exist. In the liberalist one, woman can be rabbi, the most important role in a synagogue. But they are still a minority.
Muslims believe that Adam and Eve were created from the same soul. Both were equally guilty of their sin and fall from grace, and Allah forgave both. Many women in Islam have had high status; consider the fact that the first person to convert to Islam was Khadijah, the wife of Muhammad, whom he both loved and respected.
The condition of woman in the Arab-Muslim context is marked by three factors: the religious doctrine on one hand, history of mentalities on the other hand, and more difficult to chase away, the crucial role of the imagination.
Accentuated by the Quran, the religious doctrine is shaped by the understanding promulgated in medieval times. The verses of the sur IV called “The women” codify the set of the links of woman with its social environment and, determine her report to the man, to the husband and to the family constellation.
Various calls for women’s freedom, liberation and equal rights have been heard all over the world. In some societies women have indeed lived under oppression, cruelty and injustice, and have been denied basic rights of humanity. Nor is it denied that some Muslims have deviated from the Islamic principles and teachings.
While, both the men and the women are equal in terms of humanity. Islam does not categorise women. The woman is not the source of sin nor the cause of the expulsion of Adam from Paradise as the scholars of previous religions claim.
Indeed, Allah illustrated in the verses that He created both sexes from one single source. There is no difference between the two sexes in terms of qualifications in humanity, and each one complete the other as the two genders of the species. Islam has abolished and abrogated all the previous unjust laws that demoted women as inferior in quality and nature.
The Prophet of Allah said: « Verily, women are the twin halves of men.
In all religions, virginity has a big role to play in the demise of women.
Virginity was for a long time a way for men to ensure the paternity of their children and a way of protecting the woman from a non-chosen or too premature sexuality. For the Fathers of the Church, the woman is the temptress, she is linked to Satan. This is why in the first centuries of Christendom the necessity was to exempt the mother of Christ, Mary, of sexuality and to assert her virgin purity.
In Christianity, Mary combines all the roles attributed to the goddesses in Antiquity: mother, virgin, warrior dominating plants and animals. Later on, the Christian virginity took a mystic turn, almost a prophetic dimension: the marriage of Joan of Arc was repeatedly checked on. At that time, in the Middle Ages, it was said that God can inspire and speak only to a virgin.
Concerning the hymen, some views can be conservative. You don’t find them in the Quran — no track, either in the prescriptions, nor in the judgments. For some people: “ Virginity is a matter of the tradition”. Originally, this practice represented a shape of control over the fertility of the wife and over her decency. It had no moral connotation. Today, it has changed a bit, we can read it as a will of making girls guilty, to protect the honor of the family.
In Christianity, some women want to keep their virginity too, they want to attest of their purity. There are virgins’ parties all over the world to testify for that practice.
Why do women are considered impure in religion ?
The rite of the bloody sacrifice explains why the feminine community is kept aside altars, meat and blood. It is certain that the blood of the women, the blood of menses, defloration or childbirth is a stain. But the impurity of this blood “ who is not in her place on her could not explain everything: the sperm also is a stain. The women are collectively taken away from the sacrificial sphere, as they are collectively taken away from these companies with bloody burst that are the hunting and the war.Now, the fear of the “ accumulation of the blood “ — the “regular” blood of the women being added to the “accidental” blood of the warriors or the animals — is a phenomenon usually observed in societies. In catholic religion, women are considered impure because of their periods and the fact that they are giving birth.
It is curious to notice that the Christian Churches seem preferred to talk about the inferiority of the women that on the impurity of their sex. Would it be to mark better their break with the Judaism ?
We established that women needed to upgrade in religion, need to fight for their rights. We can find, in History, women that already fought for their rights.
Parallel with “Suffragettes”, a strong feminist movement and its similarities with Women’s Ordination Worldwide
Suffragettes were members of women’s organizations in the late-19th and early-20th centuries who advocated the extension of the “franchise”, or the right to vote in public elections, to women. It particularly refers to militants in the United Kingdom such as members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). They are one of the first struggling movements to defend “women’s right” with huge means and a real strategy in order to be successful.
The term “suffragette” is particularly associated with activists in the British WSPU, led by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, who were influenced by Russian methods of protest such as hunger strikes.
1912 was a turning point for the British suffragettes as they turned to using more militant tactics, chaining themselves to railings, setting fire to post box contents, smashing windows and occasionally detonating bombs.
From 1908, the WSPU adopted the colour scheme of violet, white and green: purple symbolised dignity, white purity, and green hope. These three colours were used for banners, flags, rosettes and badges, and appeared in newspaper cartoons and postcards.
Type of campaign developed by “Suffragette” to make a promotion of their ideology and conviction, they used religion to show the central position of women in society. The interesting fact is the parallel drawn by the suffragettes with the Catholic Religion and most particularly the figure of MARY, the most influential figure of Catholicism in the XXth century.
And now their successors can be the Women’s Ordination Worldwide, because they defend their convictions with strikes actions against the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope Francis.
For example, we can speak about 50 members of gathered to protest Pope Francis’s visit in Washington. The women demonstrated while the pope led midday prayer at St. Matthew’s Cathedral to garner attention for their push to formally ordain female priests in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church does not allow women to be priests.
People nowaday are determine to change things, notably Pope Francis.
Intervention of Pope Francis on progressives’ items, “things will never change”: symbol of the hardiest of the fight against prejudice on the Catholic Church, above all toward women place.
We can see in this short video all the contradiction for the part of Roman Catholic Church, and furthermore the discourse of Pope Francis: progressives for almost items (like the question of the category LGBT, accepted by the doctrine of Francis), but absolutely conservatives for the question of women’s leaders in the organization of the Church.
We can resume the speech of Pope Francis by this: “While steeped in tradition, for thousands of years men have lead the Catholic Church. Pope Francis is saying that will never change, telling reporters on a flight to Rome — women will never serve as Catholic priests.”
This position defend by the Pope crystallize all the paradox of Catholic Church, still gangrenous by prejudice and sclerozed patriarchal visions in spite of the numerous women’s claiming.
In spite of this demonstration of progress, an evolution of the Church’s principles won’t be obtained two easily.
Reactions after the shift of Pope Francis about “women leadership in the Church”, and at the same time a demonstration of the opposition between a “Latin vision of the church” most conservative and an “Anglo-Saxon vision” more progressive.
Like it’s illustrated by this optimist sentence of a American women believers:
“It’s understandable, therefore, why many people initially reacted to the idea of Catholic women deacons with enthusiasm. If Pope Francis was willing to explore the issue, that felt like the possibility of an incremental step.”
The Rev. Wil Gafney, an Episcopal priest first ordained in the AME Zion Church, told that “Roman Catholic women deacons would mark a significant advance for women to live out their vocations more fully and for the church to experience the grace it is lacking by silencing the voices of half of its members.”
The Rev. Laura Brekke, who works in campus ministry at a Catholic college and is ordained in the Presbyterian Church, notes that: “working at a Catholic university, I have met multiple young women who have had a unique call on their lives to serve as priests, and yet feel that they are faced with the choice to leave the church home that they love, or deny this calling God has on their lives.” She adds, “It’s time for the Roman Catholic Church to re-evaluate the theology that prohibits females from sacramental authority in the church.”
To complete this subject, have look on this storify with some articles …
INTERVIEW & REACTIONS
We made a short interview in our school, which shows what people think about the place of the women in Religion. And more, in the society.
let’s see what they say…
In order to enhance the place of women in religion, we decide to set up a communication campaign. What if the pope was a woman ? Exposing and supporting this strong idea would lead to a broader influence of women in an environment that traditionally restrain them. Breaking the glass ceiling and opening ordainment for them, how is that for a change of mindsets ?
- Product positioning / Message of the campaign
- We believing in gender equality at the Vatican
- Let’s a woman to become the pope.
- “Believing in Woman Pope”
- To make people aware of the place of women in religion
- To make people follow the movement
- To get people involved in the project
- To create a real community around women’s rights
- Main target :
> the Christian/ Roman Catholic community
> All the hierarchy of the Vatican / the established Church
> The believers (young and old)
- Second target :
> Medias / journalists
> People supporting women’s’ rights
> Lobbies of women’s rights
4. Means / tools
- Integration of women in the structure of the Vatican-> cardinals (and priests)
- Shows / events / meetings in key places with explanation of the project (Lourdes, Vatican, Churches, Fatima…)
- Ad campaign “women can be anything now, why not pope” — BELIEVING IN A WOMAN POPE
5. Evaluation of the campaign
- People have heard of the campaign all over the world.
- It has been spread in all the media and people are writing about it in newspapers, TV or something else.
- Can become controversial.
- Female influencers take the cause (Emma Watson, Meryl Streep etc).
- There can be a group movement.
- Social network campaign with strong hashtags & stuff.
- Top Tweet World.
→ Profile / human qualities of the woman
- Proximity / kind
- Defends women’s rights