Dr Geraldine Sharp's letter to Pope Francis
©2017 Geraldine Sharp.
As a direct result of the findings from 6-years of research into her book "Woman The Failed Male", the following letter was written by Dr Geraldine Sharp, to His Holiness Pope Francis and posted on 18th October 2017. It was copied to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and posted on the same date. As of TODAY no reply has been forthcoming. Formatting has been removed to be compatible with this web page and personal details are also excluded.
I have been heartened as you have applied sound practical sense to some less than perfect aspects of Christian doctrine. I also admire your position on the rise of 'populism' and your apology to gay people. I now ask you to lead the world religions in apologising to women about the ways in which they have been denigrated in patriarchal religions.
As a matter of courtesy I want to give you the opportunity to see what I have written about Christian and Catholic sexual theology, before my research is published. When I decided to do a PhD, I began by focussing on why Catholic priests experienced mental illness and breakdown. During my research I was obliged to deconstruct sexual theology and follow it from the Ancient World to the 20th century. What I uncovered sorely challenged my faith. Born and brought up as a 'cradle Catholic' I suffered for many years in my attempt to comply with all the dictates of the Church with regard to sexual theology and behaviour. I now realised that much of my misery had been 'man-made' not 'God-made'.
It became evident that some men with a sense of male superiority, and (sometimes) a hatred for women, had constructed woman as the site and source of sin, the vehicle by which evil had entered the world. These men may have reflected the 'common-sense' notions of their day. A patriarchal construction of women was supported and sustained by the Hebrew creation story and 'common sense' notions about man and woman in the Ancient World. Contempt for woman was evident in the Hebrew creation stories, the Greek medical and social discourses, and eventually found a home with the Fathers of the Christian Church. Misogynistic beliefs about women led to the development of a sexual theology, which cast woman as mother or whore, 'temptress' and as a threat to male sanctity.
Man was cast as co-creator with God, woman the mere incubator of man's "seed". These ideas about man and about woman were underpinned by the secular fantasies associated with semen. Semen contained the whole foetus in embryo; woman was a mere receptacle for man's 'seed'; man elevated himself to co-creator with God. Eventually with Aquinas, semen was elevated to a 'divine liquid'. My research exposed how the fantasies surrounding semen influenced the development of sexual theology. There is no doubt that Christian sexual theology has been (and continues to be) a vehicle for the oppression of women not only in the Christian church, but worldwide. Millions of women continue to be used and abused as a consequence of these beliefs. A sexual theology that relies for its legitimacy, on the fantasies surrounding semen, deserves to be re-appraised.
What I am suggesting, is that the three main world religions that rely on the Hebrew story of creation and the fantasies surrounding semen (constructed in the secular world), stop and revise their doctrines. The evidence for evolution, the much later discovery of the ovum, and a growing realisation of women's subordination, should have prompted a review of sexual theology. This has not happened. With a few notable exceptions, women's inferiority is demonstrated constantly, as women continue to be mere observers in the three main world religions. Religious beliefs support and sustain 'traditions' and 'cultures', which continue to subordinate women. Hence, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are culpable in the continued use and abuse of women worldwide.
Millions of women worldwide continue to suffer as a consequence of how they have been constructed in systems of religious patriarchy. Secular organisations such as the United Nations attempt to encourage all societies to treat women and girls equally with men and boys, but in many cases religious beliefs are in contradiction with basic human rights, justice and equality. Hence injustices against women and girls continue. Religions continue to have a significant influence in the world and have a responsibility to examine the impact of out-dated, unjust beliefs, doctrines and organisation. Hence, my call to the leaders of three main world religions, to be humble enough to re-visit the patriarchal construction of women in their doctrines and organisation.
Your Holiness, I have no intention of deprecating God or Jesus, but do feel that the Jesus of the 'sermon on the mount' has been betrayed by patriarchs and misogynists in the Church. The almost casual 'sorry' to women in the year 2000 did nothing to correct the abuses of centuries of misogyny. I humbly suggest that, you will be the first of the main religious leaders to revise a sexual theology that condemns women to an inferior status, a lack of freedom and often, every form of abuse; ask their forgiveness and make reparation.
Your Holiness, if you wish to reply to this letter please do so in the first instance to PRIVATE EMAIL ADDRESS SUPPLIED.
Signed by Dr Geraldine Sharp PRIVATE ADDRESS SUPPLIED. See my book at https://honora-publishing.org/