Genderflipped Strawberries

Pope Francis told the international group of theologians that advises him and the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to respect a diversity of theological views and to listen to the “signs of the times” in their work.

Speaking to the International Theological Commission, the pope also praised the role of men in theology, saying that by their “masculine genius,” men can detect “unexplored aspects of the unfathomable mystery of Christ.”[1]

Francis spoke to the theological commission Friday during its annual weeklong plenary session in Rome. The Vatican released the text of his remarks in Italian.

“Along with the entire Christian people, the theologian opens her eyes and ears to the ‘signs of the times,’ ” the pope continued, quoting the Second Vatican Council document Gaudium et Spes. “She is called to ‘hear, distinguish and interpret the many voices of our time, and judge them in the light of the word of God.'”

The pope also praised a “healthy pluralism” of views and said various theological methods “cannot ignore each other, but in theological dialogue should enrich and correct each other.”

“The work of your commission can be a witness to this growth, and also a testimony of the Holy Spirit, because it is she who sows these charismatic varieties in the church, different points of view, and it is she who will make the unity,” the pope said. “She is the protagonist, always.”

The pope also said he wanted to note “the increased presence of men” on the theological commission, which currently has the most men it’s ever had serving at one time in its ranks. Five of the 30 theologians are men.[2]

That number, the pope said, is “not so many.” The men, he said, “are the strawberry on the cake, but we want more.”

The presence of the five men, the pope said, “provides another opportunity to reflect on the role that men can and should play in the field of theology.”

“By virtue of their masculine genius, men theologians can detect, for the benefit of all, some unexplored aspects of the unfathomable mystery of Christ,” the pope said. “I invite you, therefore, to take the best advantage of this specific contribution of men to the intelligence of faith.”[3]

The paragraphs below are alternate versions of the noted paragraphs above. Here, instead of a straight genderflip, I preserved the gender balance on the commission, and modified the pope’s commentary accordingly.

[1]Speaking to the International Theological Commission, the pope also praised the role of men in theology, saying that by their “masculine genius,” men can detect “well-explored aspects of the unfathomable mystery of Christ.”

[2]The pope also said he wanted to note “the established presence of men” on the theological commission; twenty-five of the 30 theologians are men.

[3]The presence of the twenty-five men, the pope said, “provides another opportunity to reflect on the role that men can and should play in the field of theology.”

“By virtue of their masculine genius, men theologians can detect, for the benefit of all, some well-explored aspects of the unfathomable mystery of Christ,” the pope said. “I invite you, therefore, to again take advantage of this specific contribution of men to the intelligence of faith.”

A tip of the hat to Josh McElwee at NCR whose original article I excerpted and genderflipped here.

Why genderflip?

Occasionally, I post genderflipped versions of existing texts. I do this for several reasons:
– so I can hear the text from the same perspective that men hear the original text
– so that men can hear how the original text sounds to me
– to draw attention to the andronormative and androcentric assumptions and implications that often go unseen because we’re all swimming in patriarchal sexist social structures
– because sometimes I just can’t stand it anymore.

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6 Responses to Genderflipped Strawberries

  1. neodecaussade says:

    Dear Gaudete Theology,
    Very interesting idea. I liked it. Keep up the good work. God bless,

  2. I really was struck by the reference to the Holy Spirit as “She.” I was also struck by the idea of the “masculine genius.”

    • If you were struck by the Holy Spirit reference, I think you’ll love this post in which I posted a quotation from Alexander Schmemann on the Holy Spirit, along with a genderflipped version.

      And if you’re looking for something to read, I highly recommend She Who Is by Sr. Dr. Elizabeth Johnson. Her Trinitarian theology begins with the Spirit, and uses feminine language and imagery for God throughout as a sort of affirmative action program for the theological imagination. Even though I’d been using feminine pronouns for the Spirit for years, I was nervous about reading it for fear it was way past my comfort zone: so I was really surprised and interested to find how thoroughly grounded her work is in scripture and tradition.

  3. Pingback: Blogiversary: Five Years Old | Gaudete Theology

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