JesusWithWomenIs the Pope serious?! Or has the Vatican PR machine merely given up being concerned about even attempting to prevent publicity gaffes in the current administration? Are the half a billion women Roman Catholics mostly silently compliant? How are the world’s three-quarters of a million nuns and religious sisters reacting?

Benedict XVI is, apparently, the first pope to ever publish a children’s book. His is called “Gli amici di Gesù -The friends of Jesus”. Here is the Pope’s list of Jesus’ 14 friends: Peter, Andrew, James the older, John, Thomas, Matthew, Philip, Bartholomew, James the younger, Simon, Judas Thaddeus, Judas Iscariot, Matthias, and Paul.

Yep! You got it… they are all males! No explanation. No apology!

The book went on sale on July 22, the Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene!
[As an aside, Mary Magdalene, the “apostle to the apostles”, surprisingly (or possibly not?) is only given a Memorial in the Roman Catholic Church, the lowest rank of liturgical days (Solemnity, Feast, Memorial). She does not even deserve a feast day!]

Now, yes, we are all reading Luke’s gospel together this year – including the Pope. Has he not noticed that in the Gospel according to Luke there are 24 times when Jesus meets a woman, talks about a woman, or has a woman in a parable? And for every single one of those mentions the image is a positive one.

So here is my book of “The friends of Jesus”:

Mary – mother of Jesus
Mary Magdalene – “apostle to the apostles”
Martha of Bethany
Mary of Bethany
Salome mother of James and John
Mary mother of James and Joses
Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza
Prisca/Priscilla (mentioned first on three out of five occasions)
Junia the apostle

Oops that’s my 14 used up!

I haven’t even got to Lois, Eunice, Pilate’s wife, Peter’s mother-in-law, the daughter of Jairus, the woman with the flow of blood, the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman, the woman accused of adultery, the Samaritan woman,…

Nothing actually very notable about Jesus in his day and culture having some male friends, what was revolutionary was Jesus’ relationship with women. Jesus’ disciples included women who travelled with him (and, take note, provided a lot of the funding!). It was to Martha that Jesus declared himself to be The Resurrection. Jesus let a woman of ill repute anoint him. In a culture where the testimony of women was not considered valid, Jesus sent Mary Magdalene as the first to proclaim his resurrection to men.

Ps. My list is copyright. If you get your book out before I do – please credit me. And that includes you, Benedict XVI, if you happen to be reading this, and are thinking about doing a “revision” or a “volume 2”.

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