The Italian Almanac

Dario Fo

Italian News - July 23

Nobel prize winner Dario Fo has nearly completed a play on the role of women in the early Christian Church, asking why they were airbrushed out of official history.

The issue of women's place in the Church over the ages reached a broader audience with the phenomenal success of US writer Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code which claims Christianity turned its back on Christ to deny sexuality and defuse the power of the "eternal feminine." Fo's The Gospel And Women explores the leading place of women in early Christian communities and asks why the gospels that were approved play down their role and denigrate them.

"A careful reading of the apocryphal gospels brings out important facts like the playfulness of the Church - and also rather disrespectful comments about women," said the irreverent and sometimes controversial leftwing playwright. "I don't understand why the Church, which gave such great space to poor people and derelicts, got rid of women," Fo said, noting that "this happened when the Church became an Imperial Church."

Fo pointed out that women "took an active part in the management of the early Church, helping keep everything together on the organisational front." "There are even texts that speak about women priests," he said, adding that "Jesus always addresses women with great sweetness, with great tenderness."