Skip to comments.The Fable of “Pope Joan” [Debunks Diane Sawyer on ABC]
Posted on 01/13/2006 6:59:11 PM PST by Salvation
|The Fable of Pope Joan
|One of the television networks recently ran a program about "Pope Joan." The television show was not very clear about whether this story was true or not. Is it?
Diane Sawyer, on December 29, indeed had a "special report" about "Pope Joan," which was broadcast on ABC. Of course, the program was preceded by much commercial hype. The "special report" focused on an interview with Donna Cross who has written a book on this matter. Like The DaVinci Code, her interview wove together bits of historical information with half-truths, fables and other kinds of fiction. Of course, Sawyer also interviewed a supporting former nun, and briefly interviewed credible historians who discredited the story of Pope Joan. In the end, no definitive conclusions were made, which left one wondering, "What was the point?" This author was also left with an upset stomach.
Two last points: The ABC "special report" mentioned a special papal chair (something that looked like a potty chair) used to verify the sex of the new pope; yet the story admitted there was never an "eyewitness" account of this test.
Disclaimer from me, however, since I did not view it.
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Did any of you see this special?
Good advice. Don't wait until Christmas time.
Unfortunately, the legend of Pope Joan will be with us forever. It appeals to those who dream about the ultimate achievement for women: wearing the Papal vestments!
How could it really be proved wrong?
The article mentions that John Hus made use of this fable, and obviously even he wasn't believed. Had there been any real credibility to this myth, it seems that Savonarola and Luther would have also made this claim as they criticized the papacy. The fact that they didn't would seem to indicate that they didn't believe it (and they were both willing to say anything to diminish the authority of the pope).
Pretty popular with the Sapphic folk.
I would say it can be proved wrong by the fact that, according to canon law, the Sacrament of Ordination requires proper Form and Intention among other things. If these requisites are not met there exist canonical "impediments" which render the sacrament null and void. Since the time of St. Peter ordinations to be valid required a MALE as a candidate for ordination. Thus, if in fact a woman was "ordained" this would be be an invalid and utterly meaningless act. Since there can be no female priests there can't be a "Pope Joan". I won't go into all the theology of ordination to holy orders but I have some first-hand personal (and very modern!) experience of this sort of blasphemous action. (and blasphemy according to word etymology means "bull" not sacrilege) Would anyone like to hear about it?
This has been totally debunked by a secular French historian, Alain Boureau, The Myth of Pope Joan, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Univ. of Chicago Press, 2001; originally published in French). Boureau is mostly concerned with the anthropology/ethnology of how this myth developed and flourished. He simply declares at the outset of the book that "of course" this story never happened, there's not a shred of historical evidence for it.
No historian anywhere believes there's a shred of truth to the story. It isn't even close.
That ABC airs a special when a major US academic publisher has this clear refutation of it in print takes a good bit of chutzpah. That the press has not lampooned ABC for this mendacity is, though not surprising, nonetheless shameful.
Regardless of whether it was invalid or meaningless, we still can't prove that there was or was not, a Pope Joan. Suppose the woman claimed to be a man at the time of ordination? It may be invalid, but who would know?...and no, I would not like to hear about it.
The fact that others knew or didn't know makes utterly no differnce to the fact that, imposter or not, such a being was no more a pope than my cat. Besides, if we waste time trying to test the validity of every Dark Age legend we'd be yapping away til the parousia.
**Good advice. Don't wait until Christmas time.**
LOL! Good advice again!
The truth will win out.
Until then, you might want to peruse this list of popes from the Prophecies of St. Malachy
Some people are staunch believers in this list. At this time I lean that way.
**it seems that Savonarola and Luther would have also made this claim as they criticized the papacy**
Thanks for the info.
Its a bunch of nonsense. Saint Malachy lived in the 12thc; this is a forgery from the 17thc. Don't waste your time with it.
I can't imagine anything here on earth, being the least bit important after we die, but I suppose it's always nice to find out if one was correct or not.