Why you shouldn’t believe those reports about a woman cardinal—UPDATED WITH VATICAN REACTION

Photo: Fr. Yiu Sing Lucas Chan

This report is gaining traction, from the Sunday Times of London:

An Irish woman is being tipped internationally to be the Catholic church’s first female cardinal. If speculation in the Washington Post and Catholic media proves correct, Linda Hogan, 49, the vice-provost of Trinity College Dublin would be eligible to cast a vote in the election of the next pope.

The professor of ecumenics at Trinity, once a Protestant stronghold, has not commented on the speculation.

Another report elaborates:

A native of Callan in Kilkenny, Hogan has published work on gender, ethics and religion.

She graduated from St Patrick’s College in Maynooth in 1993 and has lectured at the University of Leeds and at the Jesuit-owned Milltown Institute in Dublin.

The report says her name was first floated by Fr James Keenan, a New York Jesuit attached to Boston College, on his Facebook page.

Former President of Ireland Mary McAleese is also a possibility for the role.

However, having qualified in canon law, she has publicly criticised the Vatican’s silencing of six Irish priests.

However: there’s less here than meets the eye.  

It’s worth noting that the only source cited for these reports is Fr. James Keenan, SJ, who posted on Facebook his personal suggestions for a woman cardinal; he included Hogan prominently on his list of contenders, along with Sister Teresa Okure, a theology professor at the Catholic Institute of West Africa in Nigeria, and Maryanne Loughry, associate director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Australia.

Google around, and you’ll find multiple reports today on the Linda Hogan rumor from a variety of news outlets; virtually every one goes back to the Keenan Facebook post as the source for Hogan’s name. There’s no one from the Vatican. No one in a position to know is quoted.

This amounts to little more than wishful thinking and an educated guess.

Could Linda Hogan soon be Cardinal Hogan? If the pope wants to rewrite Canon Law, sure. Anything is possible. But really: I’ll believe it when I see it.

Right now, the only one who has elevated her to the rank of cardinal is a Jesuit with a Facebook page.

UPDATE: Then there’s this, from the Vatican: 

The Holy See yesterday dismissed as “nonsense” weekend Irish media reports that Pope Francis might nominate two Irish women as cardinals.

Responding to reports in Irish and Irish-American media that Pope Francis might name both TCD ecumenics Prof Linda Hogan and former president Mary McAleese as cardinals at a future conclave, senior Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said: “This is just nonsense . . . It is simply not a realistic possibility that Pope Francis will name women cardinals for the February consistory.

“Theologically and theoretically, it is possible,” he added. “Being a cardinal is one of those roles in the church for which, theoretically, you do not have to be ordained but to move from there to suggesting the pope will name women cardinals for the next consistory is not remotely realistic.”


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