Pontifical Council for Culture… winning the minds and hearts of women everywhere!

I have sometimes offered that, were I Pope, I would create two new dicasteries (while axing a bunch of others).  Firstly, there would be a Sacred Congregation for the Dusting of the Holy Doors.  After all, the major basilicas all have Holy Doors, to be opened in Jubilee years.  They get dusty.  This would be a great role for prelates from around the world who have proven their worth in their previous posts.  Secondly, We would create a Sacred Congregation for Thinking Stuff Through Before Doing It.  The brief of this SCTSTBD is pretty straight forward.

You will remember the guffaw inducing filmette that the Pontifical Council for Culture put out a while back?  That strange video about women?  It stirred a lot of controversy.  HERE

You would have thought that they had learned something from that episode.

But no.

And now we see this on page of the Pontifical Council for Culture….

Pont culture

What could possibly go wrong with this?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Sonshine135 says:

    Ah, the famous “many women”. They are the same “many women” that hang out with “those women”, “some women”, “several women”, and “quite a lot of women”.

    The Vatican is taking speech lessons from the Obama Administration – utilizing ambiguity to justify something that may or may not be true.

  2. MariaKap says:

    My first thought: Who at the Vatican has been watching 50 Shades of Grey.
    When you have to explain your symbolism….. it’s NOT working.

  3. AngelGuarded says:

    “Some complaints have reached the Dicastery concerning the above image.” Apparently not enough because then he (they) DEFENDS it! As a woman and a faithful Roman Catholic, I find that image utterly DISTURBING and it does not represent in any way how I “feel” or think about anything to do with my being a woman or a human or a Catholic or not a priest. When will women and men realize the ability to assist God by being the vessel in which his creation begins, lives, and, sadly ends, that of new life, has been the sole duty and responsibility of women and THAT is much more important and eternal than any other role of any man, even that of priest. Blessed Virgin Mother, pray for us!

  4. yatzer says:

    I was going to write the same thing MariaKap did, but she beat me to it.

  5. Someone please be the Garrigue says:

    Do people in the US also use the expression “[loud exhalation] You can’t make it up, can you…” ?

  6. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    I think they have completely lost it. Check out the image that Pont. Council on Culture wants to use as summary of their document on “Women’s Cultures”. Yup, dismembered, decapitated, naked female torsos, bound in ropes, that what’s come to –exactly whose??– mind when they think of “Women’s Cultures”?

  7. poohbear says:

    As a woman, this is offensive to me. That is is from the church saddens me. What is happening?

  8. chantgirl says:

    I’m ok with the pic if it is to be used as a starting point in the discussion of how ISIS treats women, or a discussion of the violence of porn, but for a document about women in Catholic Culture?!

  9. anilwang says:

    “many women, alas are still struggling for freedom…. actions unappreciated”

    This is undeniably true. But it is not unique to women. The exact same thing can be said about Men, Christians in the Middle East. Catholics under the gun from secular states, poor nations under the cultural of the population control elites of rich nations, etc.

    Using this as the motto for “Women’s Culture” as what sets it apart is disingenuous. What’s more, it denigrates true “Women’s Culture” which shines whether or not the above is true, which is shown in the light of many women saints within the Church.

  10. Woody79 says:

    This would only work in a Mel Brooks film. Then , again, maybe it’s comedy they’re shootin’ for in the Vatican these days.

  11. Lutgardis says:

    I guess it would be too much to ask them to promote a positive visual image of a woman who is freely taking action and having her words heard and her intellect expressed.

  12. churchlady says:

    Regarding – “their actions unappreciated”

    “When you do something good, almost instinctively born in us is the desire to be respected and admired for this good deed, to obtain a satisfaction. Jesus invites us to do these works without any ostentation, and to trust only in the reward of the Father ‘who sees in secret.'” (Mt 6,4.6.18) — Pope Francis, Homily on Ash Wednesday

  13. Joseph-Mary says:

    Not a good choice but from the new AmVatican it is about par.

  14. Gregg the Obscure says:

    As it is written “verumtamen Filius hominis veniens putas inveniet fidem in terra”.

  15. snoozie says:

    madonna’s latest stage costume.

    Yes…I’m offended. And disgusted. What on earth is happening to this Church????

  16. Someone please be the Garrigue says:

    “Women’s cultures” sounds like the petri dishes in the v.d. path lab.

  17. Quanah says:

    I showed the image to my students and asked them to say the first thing that came to mind. Answers from the young women in my class were: naked, rope, S&M, slave, trapped. One young man said: a shade of grey in the background. Even after reading that the title of the document is “Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference”, I still kept thinking the plenary assembly was about human trafficking not women’s culture because of the image. If an image is being used to promote the work of an assembly on women’s culture, why not an image that positively portrays that culture and the contributions of women to culture?

  18. Marine Mom says:

    1 Cor 3:16-17 “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, him will God destroy; for holy is the temple of God, and this temple you are.”

  19. jameeka says:

    I read the document and remain unedified.

  20. majuscule says:

    Makes me think that the accusation about a “bunch of celibate old men” being out of touch is true.

  21. vmanning says:

    This is little more than porn. I’d be ashamed to view the image with any of my children. And those who are responsible recognize that, thus the lame disclaimer. Any names to go with the deed?

  22. Emilio says:

    Not only is the spirit of 1968 back, but it’s desperately bent on making up for lost time. I read this thread, did a double take and wondered if I was in the Twilight Zone, only it’s not the Twilight Zone, it’s the pontificate of Pope Francis… Which seems to be FAST eroding the ROCK which was my perception of the Apostolic See. To echo the contribution of another commenter for another recent thread, it is as if we were witnessing the systematic banishment of truly erudite Gentlemen, and left with a pack of rogue bullies and thugs. I Would have expected the above perversion on the website of Lambeth Palace or of the Presiding Bishopette of the Episcopalian “church.” Would this be Cardinal Ravasi’s express doing?

  23. Kathleen10 says:

    In our pornified culture, this is probably how too many men actually view women. To have a nude female torso be promoted by a Pontifical Council is weird, really weird. It’s like Grandpa talking about his honeymoon, everybody’s uncomfortable. It’s not a great nude, a superb work of art by Michelangelo, [ehem… it seems to me that it’s a variation of the Roman copies of Aphrodite of Knidos… Praxiteles… ] it’s a female torso, the naughty bits, with rope tied around ala Fifty Shades. The timing is truly bizarre. Didn’t anybody around the Cardinal say, “um, Cardinal Ravasi…there’s this nasty book…”. Then Cardinal Ravasi gets complaints and still doesn’t remove it? LOL, there’s your sensitivity to women! (Oh what do they know!)
    The church is beginning to get really boring. Maybe it’s me. I’m bored to tears with admonitions and guilt trips over “the poor” and “mercy” and here we have “the plight of women” so we get feminist claptrap too. It’s too much.

  24. Pingback: 50 Shades of the Vatican | The American Catholic

  25. maryh says:

    That’s an insult. It’s called “Venus Restored”. It appears to be an attempt to copy the Venus de Milo, by a devotee of the Marquis de Sade called Man Ray. It’s supposed to evoke the idea of S&M, even without everyone being “prepped” by Shades. And the title suggests that Venus is restored when she’s headless, limbless, and bound. [Thanks… I think… for identifying the “artist”. Blech.]

    Even if women’s culture is completely based on dehumanization, which assumption is also an insult to both male and female Catholics, it would still be insulting to use an image of a dehumanized woman to represent a document on women’s culture. Could you imagine using an image of lynched blacks on the cover of a document about black American culture, or an image of death camp inmates to represent Jewish culture?

    I don’t buy the “celibate old men” excuse, nor naïveté. The head of this commission has serious explaining to do, as far as I’m concerned.

  26. Charliebird says:

    …no words to adequately describe the…sadness? discouragement? understanding if people decide “no, I don’t think I want to join the Church after all”?

    I have students who may be making that decision to become Catholic soon. Why are we at the point where I have to try to steer them away from Church websites?

  27. pgs says:

    Man Ray was a well-known photographer in the thirties best know for nudity, lesbianism, graphic pornography, etc. It’s difficult to believe that no one in the sizable staff (link below) knew who he was.
    A google search for Man Ray images will turn up some disturbing images. And an occasion of sin.

  28. Lin says:

    I, too, am offended and disgusted! But nothing surprises me anymore. It’s been a rough couple of years. Much prayer and fasting is required.

  29. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Let’s be fair. William Wegman’s Weimaraner “Man Ray” did a lot for art. Just not the man he was named for.

  30. Siculum says:

    Does anyone know who our perfect model of feminism is? She hasn’t yet been mentioned in these comments. Her name is Mary, and she is Our Lady, our mother, and the Queen of the Universe. God made her — a woman, no less — as the only creature ever created who was fit to carry God Made Flesh. Why does no one – especially at Culture – speak of her when talking about the image for women?

  31. MariaKap says:

    Siculum, Exactly right! That was pretty much the gist of my message to the Council in my email to them. Mary should be front and center as a model for Women’s Culture.

  32. jhayes says:

    “Venus Restored” is a recognized work of art which has been exhibited as a photograph by Man Ray by these U.S. Museums

    Rare States and Unusual Subjects: Photographs by Paul Strand, Andre Kertesz, and Man Ray (July 7 to September 6, 1987)
    The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), July 7 to September 6, 1987

    Perpetual Motif: The Art of Man Ray
    (December 2, 1988 to January 7, 1990)
    National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, (Washington),
    December 2, 1988 to February 20, 1989
    Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), March 19 to May 28, 1989
    The Menil Collection, (Houston), June 30 to September 17, 1989
    Philadelphia Museum of Art, (Philadelphia), October 14, 1989 to January 7, 1990

    You can see the original 1936 photograp by Man Ray here:

    In 1971, Man Ray authorized the release of an edition of replicas of the work he had photographed in 1936. The photograph in the brochure is of one of those replicas. You can see one here at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem:

    Some may want to argue that the art work is an inappropriate symbol for the cover of the working document on women’s cultures. My guess is that Cardinal Ravesi feels it will provoke the kind of “parrhesia” that Francis has been asking for.

  33. jhayes says:

    Forgot the link to the Israel Museum


    And there is a terminal “h” missing in one appearance of “photograph”

  34. Latin Mass Type says:

    ¡Hagan S&M!

    No, I don’t mean that! Just couldn’t resist.

    I’m feeling desperate–what with all that is going on here at home. In the Church. In the world.

    I get to go to Latin Mass tomorrow. Deo Gratias!

  35. jhayes says:

    Kathleen10 wrote: It’s not a great nude, a superb work of art by Michelangelo

    Not by Michelangelo, but it’s a cast of the Venus de Medici from the Uffizzi Gallery in Florence, cut down as directed by Man Ray and with ropes tied by him.

    To make the ten replicas in 1971, they bought ten plaster casts from an artist’s supply store.

    In close collaboration with Man Ray, Galleria Schwarz in Milan produced editioned replicas of ten of Man Ray’s objects in 1963-64 and in 1971. Corresponding from Paris, Man Ray commented on the relationship between replica and original: “I shall try to help you to realize replicas of the objects you wish to produce. In any case, these cannot be exactly like the originals, but we can preserve the spirit as in previous replicas.”16 In a letter to Arturo Schwarz, Man Ray directed the dealer-scholar-poet how to prepare the editioned replicas of Venus Restored:[fig. 11] “A cast of the Venus de Medici torso – could be in painted plastic to look like marble.”17 Schwarz responded: “The example I have is a cast made of plaster, of course. If you would like it to look like marble, why not use marble? I could have it sculptured in Carrara by a professional craftsman.”18 Allowing for flexibility in terms of materials, Man Ray replied: “A cast of Venus de Medici bought at Lorenzi’s, rue Racine, I think they can make it in synthetic stone, but you can get it in Italy I suppose. Or white plastic.”19 Finally, three-dimensional plaster casts (as opposed to the original half-plaster relief) were acquired at an artists’ supply shop for the Venus Restored edition, and Man Ray himself tied the rope to create the assemblages. This case demonstrates Man Ray’s flexible approach to the recreation of his ideas, as long they “preserve the spirit” of the original work.20 In his own words: “It is permitted to repeat oneself as much as possible. Nothing is more legitimate and more satisfactory. So long as you do not repeat others. Work until you have developed one single manner that is you, and no one else”; and also: “…only originality has the right to repeat itself. Only the artist who has created his own idiom can take pleasure in its repetition”.21


  36. moon1234 says:

    If you look into Man Ray’s “Art” work even just a little, you will immediately see occult symbols. They are not even hidden as so many normally try to. The choice of this “work of art” I think is sending a specific message to those who can understand what is being said. It is most definitely NOT about women’s culture.

  37. jflare says:

    “Do people in the US also use the expression ‘[loud exhalation] You can’t make it up, can you…’ ?”

    We also use “wonders never cease”….

    Well, they got our attention, I guess. Too bad my thirst thought, as others have stated, was to wonder why someone operating from the Vatican would want me to think of sex and bondage.

  38. catholictrad says:

    Could be they need a quality porn-blocker on the Vatican internet feed. Too much exposure to filth changes what is considered “normal”.

  39. JuliB says:

    I rarely send emails, but felt compelled to. I wrote”

    On the website it is written –

    “Some complaints have reached the Dicastery concerning the image above. While acknowledging the anger, Cardinal Ravasi has chosen not to remove the image as it speaks clearly for one of the central points of the document: many women, alas, are still struggling for freedom (bound with rope), their voices and intellect often unheard (headless), their actions unappreciated (limbless).”

    Um… no.

    Does the good Cardinal understand that there’s a soft porn S&M movie called 50 shades of grey just released in the US? He may have one intended interpretation, but the rest of us have another. In that case, he should take the darn image darn. It does way more harm than good and the Cardinal comes across looking like an arrogant idiot.

    Joining my Sorrowful Mother in weeping…


  40. HeatherPA says:

    Just another day in the Papacy of Mercy.

    St. Francis, pray for us.

  41. Marissa says:

    I sent an e-mail requesting them to take it down.

  42. majuscule says:

    I sent an entry to the Council for Culture after the video of the ditzy woman requested video or photos for their project.

    The picture did include ropes. I was trying to show women involved in family activities. We were branding calves that day. Women and men and children, working side by side.

    I did get an acknowledgement that they received it but I never heard any more. Maybe they scrapped the project.

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