"2000 years of popes-- sacred and profane"
By BILL KELLER
"A scholar or devout Roman Catholic would probably not have had so much fun, for example, with the tale of Pope Joan, the mid-ninth-century Englishwoman who, according to lore, disguised herself as a man, became pope and was caught out only when she gave birth. Although Norwich regards this as “one of the hoariest canards in papal history,” he cannot resist giving her a chapter of her own. It is a guilty pleasure, especially his deadpan pursuit of the story that the church, determined not to be fooled again, required subsequent papal candidates to sit on a chaise percée (pierced chair) and be groped from below by a junior cleric, who would shout to the multitude, “He has testicles!” Norwich tracks down just such a piece of furniture in the Vatican Museum, dutifully reports that it may have been an obstetric chair intended to symbolize Mother Church, but adds, “It cannot be gainsaid, on the other hand, that it is admirably designed for a diaconal grope; and it is only with considerable reluctance that one turns the idea aside.”
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
The history of the papacy is full of scandal. If a movie was released today on its sordid past, it would be triple X-rated! No wonder, the growing acceptance of women priests is shaking up the Vatican!
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests