"In fact, Mary of Magdala was one of Jesus’ most influential apostles—and she was not a prostitute, said Distinguished Professor of Theology Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus on April 14.
Mary kept vigil at the cross throughout Jesus’ crucifixion, discovered the empty tomb after Jesus’ resurrection, and was then commissioned to “go and tell” the good news.
However, in the year 591, Pope Gregory I mistakenly characterized Mary Magdalene as a repentant prostitute, a characteristic which has overshadowed all her important apostolic acts ever since.
“Making her a prostitute has allowed her leadership role among the disciples to be generally forgotten,” said Sister Johnson, adding that the Pope’s error also allowed prostitution in general to become framed as “an evil expression of female lust” rather than exploitation of women’s bodies.
Even now, more than a millennium later, “for those who prefer a Church with an exclusively male hierarchy, it is easier to deal with her as a repentant sinner than as an apostolic woman who had a voice and used it,” Sister Johnson said.
Telling the true story of Mary Magdalene can not only vindicate her from eons of baseless rumors, but—more importantly—also reclaim the role of women in the Christian Church, Sister Johnson said."
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