According to Catholic teaching and tradition, only men can receive the sacrament of Holy Orders.
Early Christian guidelines are given for the justification; however, these are also not certain.
Other Christian churches and communities have permitted and introduced the ordination of women in the course of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The legend theory is currently the attitude of the official Catholic Church.
It is apparently weakly justified and is refuted by newly accessible documents.
Their most eager representatives are characterised by the fact that they are often not interested in a discussion - they «know» about it. The numerous evidence to the contrary is ignored.
Martinus Polonius hasn't just invented the story in 1277 - that would be early medieval fake news. What use could the Dominican and Bishop have of such an invention? For him the Popess was no instrument for church criticism.
The real reason why large parts of historical science and theology today want to see Pope Joan as legend is another: It is ultimately about the question of the ordination of women in the Catholic Church. Popess Joan questions the dogma according to which only men can be ordained. The means of choice seem to be avoiding the issue, refusing to discuss it and denying its existence.
All authors of recent decades who have spoken out in favour of the Pope as a historical reality are either researchers outside medieval history or theologians who are at the end of their careers or cannot otherwise be punished:
Joan Morris was a Catholic theologian. She wrote her groundbreaking book only a few years before her death.
Elisabeth Gössmann is a Catholic theologian and has received five honorary doctorates.
Peter Stanford is a journalist.
Friedrich Spanheim was a theologian, but a Protestant. Thus he was protected from persecution in the Protestant areas of the 17th century.
If you are interested in the question of women's ordination, you will find further information via the following links:
Woman Ordination Conference
Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research
Réseau Femmes et Ministères
Image «Zeno Chapel»: Mosaic of the Mother of God flanked by two saints. To the left of Theodora Episcopa, the mother of Paschalis I, with the angular nimbus of the living persons. © M. E. Habicht
Bild «Theodora Episcopa»: Detail from the Mosaic. Public domain