Women Cardinals?

Last Sunday at Mass the priest said that there were women Cardinals in the past and that there may be women Cardinals in the future. Is that true - were there women Cardinals in the past?

Maybe he’s talking about this…


Seriously now, no. I suggest writing to the Bishop about this so that the priest may be corrected.

I believe the answer is no, but to my knowledge there is nothing in doctrine that would prohibit this. There have definitely been cardinals who were not priests.

Interesting point Mark. I always assumed Cardinals were Bishops. But would the Church give a woman such rank in the Church?

Under modern canon law (which is an issue of discipline, not doctrine) a cardinal must be a priest or bishop. And in the modern era there have indeed been several cardinals who were not bishops, like Avery Dulles. Now, I highly doubt that any pope would elevate a woman to the cardinalate, and I think there’s no evidence that any pope ever did, but like I say, I don’t think it’s a conceptual impossibility.

Beat me to the punch line…there are no women in the major leagues!!!

I would have settled for an NFL cheerleader but it may not be appropriate for a Catholic site :smiley:

Mark, have Cardinals always voted who succeeds the Pope?

I assume that the priest meant that there have been female deacons and that there will be again. Both points are arguable but commonly-heard. The inclusion of cardinals in that category is so novel and puzzling that one must assume the priest misspoke.

IIRC, the pio-benedictine code required that they be priests or bishops, but John XXIII’s motu proprio Cum Gravissima subsequently required that all cardinals be bishops, meaning that a candidate for the cardinalate who wasn’t yet a bishop would have to be ordained such first. While that’s on the books, it serves as a de facto exclusion of women and married men.

Of course, a Pope could dispense from that requirement, or do away with it entirely, which would theoretically allow women to be cardinals. The Church can’t ordain a woman to the episcopacy, but (pace John XXIII) the fundamental nature of the cardinalate doesn’t demand holy orders; there have been lay cardinals in the past, and, mutatis mutandis, there could be again.

Canon Law: Can. 351 §1. The Roman Pontiff freely selects men to be promoted as cardinals, who have been ordained at least into the order of the presbyterate and are especially outstanding in doctrine, morals, piety, and prudence in action; those who are not yet bishops must receive episcopal consecration.

It seems this is a tacit “women ordination” speech since only the ordained can become cardinals.

With all respect, I wish people would stop giving out this advice. Bishops are not complaints desks!

Christ supplied us with a dispute resolution process (Mt 18:16-17), and it’s a good one. It should be followed. Catherine, don’t write to your bishop just yet. First, speak to the priest. If that doesn’t resolve things (which it probably will; as I said above, I think he probably just misspoke), email him and cc three relevant people as witnesses. Only at that point—when you have talked to him privately and talked to him with witnesses—should you write to the bishop, with documentation of his response.

Not only is that how Jesus told us to do it, it’s common courtesy, to say nothing of common sense. If someone goes over your head, you’re going to be pretty ticked if they have a legitimate beef, let alone if the whole business is a misunderstanding.

I’m going to take one more run at this, and I’m going to try to be subtle about it:

Stop telling people to write to the bishop as a first resort!

Christ, courtesy, consideration, and common sense all counsel that your first resort is the person you have a beef with; your bishop is the last stop before Rome.

There is nothing that says that a Cardinal must be ordained. It is current discipline but not doctrine.

The cardinalate is not part of Holy Orders.

**Go Cardinals!

By, the way, there have never been any female Cardinals in baseball!

Just as there have never been any males who gave birth to a beautiful baby!

Will we ever stop trying to demean our God given gift’s in order to fulfill selfish needs!!!**

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Pecatoribus!



Simon, normally I agree with this point. But if a priest is preaching heresy like women ordinations, the Bishop should be involved right away as a corrective action. Mass abuses is one thing, faulty theology is another.

Thank you. Not only are bishops not a complaint desk, but they aren’t encyclopedias or history professors, either. We live in the internet age (which should be perfectly obvious to anyone using this forum); countless resources are available that can answer this question. Google it, for goodness sake! I would, myself, if I cared enough, but I don’t. I will assume, however, that there has never been a female cardinal. It doesn’t even make sense to suggest that there might have been.

You’re not complaining to the Bishop as a resource. The Bishop would be a source of discipline and teaching to the priests. If the priest is teaching heresy, you need the Bishop to correct this, not Google. Its the Bishop’s role.

You’re not complaining to the Bishop as a resource. The Bishop would be a source of discipline and teaching to the priests. If the priest is teaching heresy, you need the Bishop to correct this, not Google. Its the Bishop’s role.


For a priest to suggest that there might have been female cardinals at one point is not heresy in need of correction, but historical misinformation in need of correction.

Thanks so much to everyone for their replies. They were great to clarify it for me.

The priest in question is not very approachable so I don’t think I’ll be going down that line!!!
Also, he didn’t mean female deacons as he said “women cardinals” many times in the sermon on Sunday.
I think he was suggesting women priests but didn’t want to say it too openly.
I don’t think I’ll be going to that Church again. I’ll find another one as I’m tired of all the things I hear preached from the pulpit there.

Ask your priest which seminary he attended. Episcopal?

It’s not true but perhaps they would have one more games if it was

My earlier suggestion stems from my misnomer that Cardinals are always ordained people, which MarkThompson has proven that they are not. To suggest that there were ordained women in the Church in the past is not only historical misinformatin, its heresy.

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