The buzz surrounding Pope Francis I is still strong around the Vatican, even after almost a week of the leader of the Catholic Church's appointment. His position as a Jesuit, combined with some more "modern" practices make him a revolutionary Pope in the eyes of those in high standing with the Church. But while looking for information on the new Pope, I stumbled across an article on CNN that really caught my eye. Take a look at it here:
The premise of the article is that there was a female pope at one point in history. A female pope? How could that even happen? Well, after pulling off a Mulan-esque disguise, Pope Joan supposedly worked her way up through the ranks of the Church and became Pope while disguising herself as a man. Rumor has it, she went into labor during a papal procession and was killed by the angry mob surrounding her.
Although this story is thought to be nothing but myth, it brings up an interesting point. Could a woman ever become the pope? In today's society, no. A woman cannot be a priest, and it is almost guaranteed that a pope will be selected from those who rank as Cardinals, who are a "step above" a priest. However, there are pushes within the Catholic Church to allow women to be ordained as priests. Should this happen, and should a woman rise through the ranks of Cardinals be elected pope, what would it mean for the Catholic Church?
The ideas that the Catholic Church supports, particularly the opposition to birth control and abortion, could be radically scrutinized or even altered with a female pope. A woman's standing within the Church and within society itself could skyrocket, shifting the power dynamic with far-reaching global implications. Female empowerment could reach
new heights, and the feminism movement receive a huge boost in popularity. Women could be treated more equally to men, especially because the Catholic church has a heavy influence on the lives of millions of people worldwide.
However, it could also go the total opposite direction. A female pope could stand behind the ideas of the men who have proceeded her, which could lead to a huge step backwards for women's rights. Another shift in the power dynamic would occur, but instead it could stunt the growth of advocacy for women's rights. The slow but steady climb toward equality for women in all aspects of life could halt as we know it, considering, once again the wide influence of the Church.
Perhaps it's better that there is no female pope yet. Maybe the world still has some growing up to do before a woman can step in and take charge. However, hopefully someday, there will come a time when a woman can step into the papal robes and the world can change for the better, whatever that may mean. Her decisions would hopefully not be incredibly
shocking, but her presence would be revolutionary.
Natalie Hamil is a Writing, Literature and Publishing major at Emerson College. She enjoys skimming bookstore shelves, watching the sun rise, and wearing bright/patterned pants.