Theologians Make Appeal to Make Women Cardinals

A group of American and European theologians have published an appeal to Pope Francis for female Cardinals. Their request will also be printed in two magazines, the German “Publik-Forum” and the Swiss “Aufbruch” (which basically means “Let us go into a new future”).

They argue that since Cardinald do not need to be ordained a Cardinal, the Pope can remove the Canon Law requirement of Episcopal ordination before becoming one. Since it was the case up until the 19th century that laymen were made Cardinals, this could be possible today. Neither Tradition nor Scripture are against this, they say.

Among the signatories are Swiss theologian Helen Schüngel-Straumann, Professor Margit Eckholt, Swiss Capucin priest Anton Rotzetter, Austrian theologian and philosopher Walter Kirchschläger, America-based feminist theologian Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza as well as the board of the Swiss Catholic Women’s Association.

I agree that from those points it would indeed be possible, but it just doesn’t feel right. I think it would cause confusion. It’s interesting that they appeal to something from the “baaaad misogynist past” in order to make their point. I believe, though, that lay Cardinals were an absolute minority and the exception. Never were there female Cardinals, which could be an indication that even though there could be lay Cardinals, they couldn’t be women. I may be wrong, but I do believe the laymen were ordained before they were “cardinalised”.

What do you think?

:hmmm: Cardinals elect the Pope.

But since they ARE Bishops and Jesus promised that when 2 or more Bishops would be together HE would be in their midst, we can be assured that the election of the Pope is NOT a political exercise but the choice of the Holy Spirit.

On the other hand what purpose would a female Cardinal fulfill?
What theological basis they propose for such position?


Pure agenda driving.

One of the absolute funniest quotes about theologians came from Fr. Benedict Groeschel in a talk he gave on the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love:

“They are not called the three theological virtues because theologians necessarily have them


Woman or women play a role in the Catholic Church, as mothers - good mothers, nuns - good nuns.
It would be funny to see a woman with a red hat

The idea you give of Jesus referring to Bishops being gathered instead of all Christians is new, but very interesting (i.e. Councils!) to me. Is that the common interpretation?

The theological basis: Well, none really. “Equality” and “non-discrimination” are the driving ideas, and they say they appeal to the remarks Pope Francis made about women needing to have important positions in the Church.

I shall remind myself of that one every time now! :slight_smile:

I admit, I find it very hard to imagine a woman in a Cardinal’s cassock and red hat… I don’t mean that in a discriminatory way, but it would just not seem right. Plus, it would give room to an feminised way of viewing clerical dress, i.e. “Look, they’re wearing dresses!”

I once watched something like this on tv and the answer given was that, the church is not a social institution or club per se it is a spiritual institution acting solely on the mandate given to them by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. So it is out of place, or rather outrageous for someone to request a socially acceptable norm to determine the Catholic faith. It is just like Rachel I think telling Jacob to give her a son and Jacob getting angry and asks her if he was God to grant such a request. (not so sure of the names of the people involved, Isaac Abraham or Jacob).
The point is that the church does not ordain female priest not because they don’t want to but because they were not given the power to. (either by Christ or by the Spirit)
I remember watching this on tv, during the period of Benedicts resignation.

In another thread we were discussing the Petrine office and the Keys to bind and loose.
Someone had posited that all the Apostles had the ability to bind and loose.

I was reading Matthew Chapter 18

18:1** In that hour, the disciples drew near to Jesus, saying,**
18:18 Amen I say to you, whatever you will have bound on earth, shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you will have released on earth, shall be released also in heaven. 18:19 Again I say to you, that if two of those among you have agreed on earth, about anything whatsoever that they have requested, it shall be done for them by my Father, who is in heaven.
18:20 For wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I, in their midst.”

Note the context, Jesus is speaking to the Apostles not a multitude. Therefore the whole passage constitutes direct instructions on the Apostles and by extension His Bishops.
The next verse after 18:20 Jesus responds to the question from Peter, how many times must someone forgive.

I don’t know if it is new, I doubt it. It is obvious who HE is talking to, and the words?
“that if two of those among you” (Apostles).

On what occasion do Bishops get together and pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit?

If you have a better explanation I am open to hear it.

I think that is a very good explanation, thank you! :slight_smile:

A more interesting suggestion would be to have non-Cardinal electors. Early on the Pope was chosen by the people and clergy of Rome, not the Cardinals. Only in 1059 was the election of the Pope reserved to the Sacred College. Thus for 1000 years the Pope was validly chosen with the active participation of the populace. Presumably women played at least some role in that.

In addition as late as the election of Pius X in 1903 the right of papal exclusion was exercised on behalf of the Austrian Empire. Indeed the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Spain and King of France have all claimed the right from time-to-time, although never exercised by a Queen/Empress regnant, While France and the HRE followed Salic Law, Spain and Austria each had female rulers who, presumably, could exercise the veto. In that aspect, at least, women have played a role in the election of the Pope. (Note in early times the selection of any bishop was often tied up with national politics - sometimes controlled by women.)

Therefore, there does not seem to be any insuperable barrier to have women participate in a papal election. So, if one is concerned about “women Cardinals” that issue can be avoided by simply providing for non-Cardinal electors which could include women.

So is the point simply to have a token woman in the Church hierarchy?



Not the same red hat, but… google [red hat society] and click on the “Images” link :slight_smile:

I suspect the point is, if we are serious that women can and should be part of all aspects of Church life except where there is an ontological reason (such as the inability to ordain), then since women are not for any sacerdotal reason fundamentally excluded from being electors, we should consider amending the law to allow it.

If tokenism is the driving concern, we should be ashamed of our hypocrisy. If we refuse to consider allowing them to participate simply because we haven’t in the past - and there is no doctrinal reason for the exclusion related to sexuality - we are hypocrites.

Yep, that’s what it sounds like. This spring there was that woman (sadly, I think she was a religious sister) who got on the media rounds saying that she didn’t recognize the choice of Pope Francis since there were no women electors.

Evidently, in some bizzaro feminist minds, the “solution” is to create a few positions in the College of Cardinals to be held by women, just for the sake of having a few women involved in the election of a Pope every few decades.

What are we if we add female cardinals for no theological reason rather only to have the token female in the hierarchy?

Should we set aside a specific percentage of electors for women like the EU has proposed doing for corporate board of directors?



I’m glad people on this forum are coming out for extensive participation by women in Papal elections - so that it is not a mere exercise in tokenism. Bravo!!

Unless, of course, what we are really seeing is an attempt to derail ANY participation by women in papal elections. And the reason for that is what? Bigotry? Misogeny? A sclerotic attachment to legalisms of the past? It’s clear that election by the College is simply a matter of law, and law can be changed. Wow, with that attitude you’d have had men oppose women getting the vote…oh, wait, that really happened. Well, you’d have had men oppose naming women as Doctors of the Church…oh, wait, that actually happened, too. Well, you’d have had men trying to limit women’s property rights…Rats, that too. WOW may, just maybe, there is hypocrisy and bigotry at work. (Let’s not travel down the racial history of exclusion). So sad.

Well, I didn’t see that “coming out for extensive participation” here, sorry.

Gender doesn’t constitute a qualification for being able to elect the Pope. It has no relevance. The Pope is currently elected by Cardinals, and I doubt that will change.

I do believe the theological reason is that women are part of the Church and should participate fully in those aspects that do not exclude them for some ontological reason, i.e., ordination.

I find it disturbing that when people who have certain rights which are barred for others, historically argue to preserve that bar with all sorts of specious arguments. We’ve seen it in spades throughout history - sex, race, wealth, you name it. Frankly, it gives “conservatives” a bad name as they always seem to be on the wrong side.

What exactly is the theological reason to exclude women from simple participation? I understand the reason for excluding them from actually being elected. Why can their voice not be heard in the election process?

. . . I already feel women are running the church.

Just one interpretation of the comments - an interpretation I don’t think was intended as evidenced by my subsequent paragraph. :smiley:

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