GUEST POST: Papal Ventures to a "Godless" Country: Australia 2008
by Glenys Livingstone
Sydney Australia is a pilgrimage that the head of the Roman Church had to make: duty required it, but if his past comments are anything to go by then perhaps he would rather have stayed at home. He has been quoted as having said once that Australia was a “Godless” country. I was delighted to hear this as a “Goddess” person myself. And many Goddess women here in Australia do think that this Place is a “Goddess” country … that the Great South Land Herself is playing a special role in these transforming planetary times – thanks in large part to Her indigenous care-taking inhabitants of past tens of thousands of years.
Meanwhile in the mainstream media, it looks quite different of course. It seems more that the Pope has invaded this territory – Sydney specifically. For the period of the 15-20 July, this city is experiencing all manner of disruption to usual transport services and almost unprecedented security measures. There was a move afoot by authorities to outlaw “annoying” conduct … a move that met with swift legal action by the Council for Civil Liberties and was overturned. (It was funny to hear the authorities and the Church in particular, going into denial about who was responsible for trying to make the rule!) Protestors are now allowed to wear T-shirts expressing their displeasure in papal-type opinions and to hand out condoms to the pilgrims.
As a woman who holds sacred space for the ritual celebration of Earth’s Seasonal Moments, a tradition that was specifically targeted for extinction for hundreds of years by this pontifical institution, I am quite disturbed by the loud fawning and bowing to a personage who should really be identified as a dictator. He is a political entity, whose regime has been especially deadly and abusive to women. Oh … that’s why! Silly me! I forget that this is not regarded as a crime, and indeed many texts on world religions barely mention the Inquisition: one text published 10 years ago did not reference it at all. This gynocidal effort of centuries – even millennia in different forms - has all been swept under their frocks, and they are free to continue to put the female eunuch on a pedestal where she can be kept an eye on. At this stage “Goddess” women (and men) have not been organised enough to gather a collective voice to express a remembrance of the pain and torture of our maternal lineage and the cultural domination of Europe. In 1986 when another pontiff came to town, there was a quarter page Protest Creed published in the Sydney newspaper by a Women-Church group and it catalyzed an Australian Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion that flourished for 20 years. But this time women as a specific group are apparently quiet – though perhaps we have just spread out and some are working magic and flaunting new integrity within many contexts.
Many Pagans sit around and argue with each other about how many women were murdered during the Burning Times … cringing that they might get the number wrong. But the scars on our psyches are clear, and the legacy of the atrocities is well assimiliated. I asked some Pagan groups what they might be doing to voice some protest during the papal visit. One told me that we wouldn’t want them protesting at our events so we should be quiet – and to remember how we (Pagans) had fed them to the lions. I had to admit that I had never identified with the Roman Empirical Pagans, who it seems to me were the precursors to the Roman Catholic Church Empire. It is a bit sad that even Pagans have more sympathy for Rome than for the Goddess women of their heritage. However another Pagan group … with a woman figuring more clearly in lead role (funny that!) responded that they had been giving the matter serious thought and had decided to gather and invoke the spirit of Monty Python - with a "Holy Grail/Life of Brian" night. So word has gone out and parties will be held. There are also Indigenous Australians who are voicing protest … not many will be supporting acts to the Pope Show: one T-shirt from an indigenous group read “I am a Collapsed Catholic.”
There is a hopeful side to all the Papal and Catholic parading – the “show and tell” for all to see. The absurdities and obscenities are on display … a coffin with a dead body in it as a centerpiece for their rituals, old decrepit men filling the stages mumbling overused prayers, being forced to apologize for pedophilia, trucking around in a ridiculous popemobile, and the local prelate in agreement with political entities on record as still advocating more babies … I wonder who will be making them? And how they might enforce that? These things are not going down well in the hearts and minds of ordinary people these days – of diverse cultural heritages. It certainly does not smack of any real Wisdom for these times. Australians will not be shy about responding when pie-in-the-sky is pressed in their faces. It will be amusing to watch.
This Pope may well be doing us all a service … playing his hand of cards, and bringing all the boys out from the closets. And what a sorry sight it is. I almost feel sorry for him – almost! I do not think that this Pope, who once headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the main tool of past inquisitory activity, will leave this “Godless/Goddess” country unscathed.
© Glenys Livingstone 2008.
Australian Glenys Livingstone is author of PaGaian Cosmology and holds a Ph.D. in Social Ecology from the University of Western Sydney, Australia. For more about her and her work, visit http://pagaian.org/
TAGS:news Pope Australia spiritual feminism women and religion Goddess Spirituality