From Pope Joan to … Anne

Quel lien entre la figure légendaire de la papesse Jeanne et la théologienne Anne Soupa, qui a fait acte de candidature au siège épiscopal de Lyon ?

What is the link between the legendary figure of Pope Joan and the theologian Anne Soupa, who applied for the Episcopal See in Lyon? No. If only once again – certainly, in a less romantic way – the question of the place of women in the Roman Catholic Church is raised. 

A few weeks ago, Anne Soupa, a recognized theologian, applied for the Episcopal office in Lyon. Since then and in France alone, more than fifteen thousand people have supported its initiative. The courage of this act is only one of the possible responses to the permanent scandal of the place of women in the Catholic Church, they who constitute the vast majority of the lifeblood of the communities. The denunciation of such a scandal once again underlines the age-old resistance of male clericalism and its desire to save at all costs an omniscient power at the expense of the service and pastoral needs of the baptized while the model of the priesthood, versusTridentine, is out of breath in a very large part of Roman Christendom. The personal and media gesture of Anne (Soupa) easily refers the historian to the legendary papess Jeanne who would not have been satisfied with a cathedron but would have squarely occupied the pontifical throne (1) .

La papesse Jeanne (illumination, 1450), Ms. 033, f. 69v, Spencer Collection, New York

Without knowing how and why this legend was born, perhaps at the end of the 10th century, it was around 1255 that Jean de Mailly clearly mentioned it in his Universal Chronicle. Of German origin, Jeanne is said to have studied and traveled across Europe. Disguised as a man, she would have become a notary at the pontifical court, then a cardinal, elected pope in 855 before giving birth publicly in 858 and perhaps dying as a result of her childbirth; unless it has been stoned or simply laid down. This amazing story would not have lived until the 16th century if the faithful themselves had not believed in it, sometimes slyly diverting the meaning of symbols. For example, the presence of two curule seats during the election of the pope, mark of the collegiality of the curia, was transformed for one into a pierced chair which, since the usurpation of Joan, would have enabled a cleric to verify the presence of male attributes of each new pope. “Duets habet and bene pendentes”the auditor would have cheered in a very carnivalesque and joyfully anticlerical scene. Similarly, the detour undertaken by the procession during the pontifical coronation between the Lateran and the Colosseum was interpreted as avoiding the place where Jeanne had given birth to her child while she was on horseback.

For its part, the Church supported for a long time, especially through Dominican literature, but hollow the existence of Pope Joan. It allowed him to make this episode an exemplum, a sort of story with moral value by vilifying the cross-dressing. She also drew an argument from it during successive crises of the papacy, especially during the Great Schism of the end of the 14th century with the simultaneous presence of several popes. If unworthy candidates could therefore access the throne of Peter they could also be deposed. In turn, the Lutherans used this figure to denounce the excesses of the Roman institution and its discredit while Calvin for his part stressed that Joan had ended the apostolic succession. It was only then that Rome, aided by the scholarship of the Jesuits, proved at the end of the 16th century that Joan had never existed.

Far be it from me to use the figure of the Pope in my turn to support positive denunciation and above all the claim of Anne Soupa. His fight deserves much better than that even if History can be of some help to him in this field. It will be noted simply that since this announcement, it is radio silence on the side of the French episcopal conference which never reacts when a problem disturbs it. Only a few second knives have tried laboriously to explain that the ecclesial and hierarchical structure of the Church came from the will of God herself. Will that they know better than anyone, probably thanks to their ordination. It is therefore always and again the place of women in real positions of responsibility that is posed in the face of rules written by and for men. Even if still very timidly,

In fact from Anne to Jeanne, a personal pronoun was lost. This “I” which resonates in the nave and in the choir not only as a legitimate claim but as an imperative pastoral necessity and an urgent theological rereading.

Alain Cabantous

Source: DE JEANNE À… ANNE – Saint-Merry

Simone de Beauvoir: 100 Women of the Year

Find out why TIME chose Simone de Beauvoir as one of the 100 women who defined the last century

Simone de Beauvoir was born in 1908 into an upper-class Catholic family. While studying for the competitive agrégation exam in philosophy, which she passed in 1929, she met Jean-Paul Sartre, the great love of her life. In 1949, she published The Second Sex and revolutionized feminist thought. She won France’s highest literary prize in 1954 for her novel The Mandarins and, in 1971, wrote the text of the Manifesto of the 343, a French petition to legalize abortion.

At 16, I stumbled upon an image of de Beauvoir sitting in Café de Flore in Paris with a stack of books. “She’s a famous author,” my mother told me. I went to the library and borrowed The Second Sex, expecting an erotic book that would answer my burning questions. The first few pages were a disappointment. This wasn’t a book about love or sex, nor a treatise on pleasure. But I kept going.

It was a revelation. De Beauvoir exposed a long-hidden truth: that there is no female nature. She consulted biology, history, mythology, literature, ethnology, medicine and psychoanalysis to question the roles assigned to women. The book told me that I control my destiny. If there is no fixed female essence, then we too are only what we do.

The Second Sex provided me with weapons to understand, to defend, to respond and to persuade. It gave me the desire to write, an exercise in reclaiming the self. De Beauvoir knew: “Freedom is an inexhaustible source of discovery, and every time we give it a chance to develop, we enrich the world.” —Leïla Slimani, translated from French by Gretchen Schmid

Slimani is the author of The Perfect Nanny and Adèle

Simone de Beauvoir, Paris. 1948. Photographic color print, 25 x 36 cm. AM1992-154. Repro-photo: Georges Meguerditchian. © IMEC, Fonds MCC, Dist. R © CNAC/MNAM/Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NYImage Reference:ART400886MN-Grand Palais/ Gisèle Freund

This article is part of 100 Women of the Year, TIME’s list of the most influential women of the past century. Read more about the project, explore the 100 covers and sign up for our Inside TIME newsletter for more.

Source: Simone de Beauvoir: 100 Women of the Year | Time

Actress Adele Haenel accuses Manager of sexual harassment as #metoo Strikes French cinema

French actress Adele Haenel has accused a manager of raping her when she was a teen working on her very first feature film. Haenel, today 30, maintained in a meeting with French press outlet Mediap…

French actress Adele Haenel has accused a manager of raping her when she was a teen working on her very first feature film.

Haenel, today 30, maintained in a meeting with French press outlet Mediapart on Monday she had become the goal of”permanent sexual harassment” from director Christophe Ruggia if both worked with her debut film, The Devils, once she was 12 to 15.

She stated he forcefully kissed her neck and could touch her on the thighs and chest.

The celebrity, who has won two César awards — the French equivalent of the Oscars — included that she wouldn’t make an official complaint to the authorities but that she’d determined to come forward if she’d learned that Ruggia was likely a new film with teens.

She enticed the French judiciary method of not being intense enough on sexual abusers.

The French Society of Directors has provided its service to the celebrity and voiced its”respect and fame” at a statement issued on Monday. Additionally, it has expelled Ruggia.

Asked about the event on Wednesday, the French Minister for Justice Nicole Belloubet, stated that Haenel was incorrect to discredit the machine and encouraged her to submit a complaint.

Source: Actress Adele Haenel accuses Manager of sexual harassment as #metoo Strikes French cinema |