Cdl. Dolan and Fr. Benedict Groeschel Affirm Me in My Okayness!

Cdl. Dolan and Fr. Benedict Groeschel Affirm Me in My Okayness! March 21, 2012

For 15ish years, ever since the publication of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, I have maintained that one implication of the document is that women can be created cardinals of the Church (since the office of cardinal does not require holy orders and it is *only* the sacerdotal office to which the Church lacks the authority to ordain women). When I say this, I invariably get chewed out as a subversive modernist.

However, the other day, Fr. Groeschel and Cdl Dolan noted exactly the same thing (go to the 3:50 mark):

I suspect we will see something like this in my lifetime. If not, in my children’s or grand-daughter’s lifetime. Should it happen, do not freak out that the Church is “abandoning the Tradition”. Cardinals are a bit of bureaucratic machinery for taking care of housekeeping in the matter of getting a new pope. They are not The Tradition. The Church could abolish the entire college of cardinals tomorrow (just as she invented it a thousand years ago) and it would not alter the Tradition a jot. You may as well say your parish finance council is apostolic tradition. Do not bind God to contracts he never signed.

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  • George R. Kadlec

    Although technically correct I am always skeptical of those who are so ready to follow the secular trends. I could see where female cardinals could represent many problems.

    There is the admonition in Timoth about women usurping the authority of men.
    It is 1 Timothy 2:12 “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

    A couple of G. K. Chesterton quotes:

    “Be careful not to be so open-minded that your brains fall out.”

    “I want a church that moves the world not one that moves with it”

    • Mark Shea

      Yes. Cdl. Dolan and Fr. Groeschel are famous for their zeal for following secular trends. Me too. Love them secular trends!

  • QC

    If the point is that it is doctrinally sound to say that lay people, including women, could hold bureaucratic positions or be electors of the Pope, then I would agree. However, I think it’s wrong to make them Cardinals.

    “Lay cardinals” were not actually laymen, strictly speaking. They always received the tonsure and were in the minor orders. The reason for this is that the cardinalature is by its very nature clerical.

    The cardinalature is not just an honorific title; nor is it just the electoral college of the papacy–the Cardinals were historically the clergy of Rome, and later the chief clergy of Rome. As the clergy of the first See, they were given special honor–which is why even in the very nascent Church during an interregnum, difficult questions were submitted still to the Roman clergy. Even today, when red hats are given to clergy outside Rome, those clergy are given parishes in Rome. For example, Cardinal DiNardo of Houston, Texas also presides over St. Eusebius Church in Rome. Yes, the College of Cardinals as an electorate is only 1000 years old, but their office as Roman clergy goes back to the beginning.

    By seeing the cardinalature as merely bureaucracy or even the electors of the Pope, misses the point. Lay people in the Roman bureaucracy (always subject to the bishop, in this case, the Pope), is fine. Lay people electors of the Pope is also theological fine–the election of a Pope can happen however the previous supreme authority legislates (it is very common for a sitting Pope to slightly modify the election law). In the past, lay emperors were given total say or a vote or veto power; theoretically other lay people could be given a vote, or the sitting Pope could choose his successor, etc.

    But bestowing the red hat on such lay bureaucrats or electors would deviate from what a cardinal truly is, which is Roman clergy. Emperors and whatnot who voted in papal elections, were not made Cardinals, for example.

  • Mark,

    I’m trying to understand the argument.

    A. Doctrine “X” is part of small-t tradition
    B. Since, A, it is reformable
    C. Therefore, it can be reformed

    This issue, as you have admitted, is one of prudential judgment. So, let’s grant that a woman can be made a cardinal. What, in the name of prudence, is a strong argument, in your opinion, for following prudence and not supporting women cardination (or whatever word works best there)? For example, when would it be more favorable to support women cardinals and when would it be less favorable? Also, doesn’t it seem appropriate that such a discussion would become heated (and need not require eye rolling), given that small-t traditions of Mother Church are nonetheless important to the lives and common piety of the faithful — albeit in a lesser and reformable way?

    Imagine a blog dedicated to imagining all the small-t traditions that could be reformed. I get where you are coming from, but what did you expect the combox to read like and who do you think your audience is? I hope you don’t roll your eyes to people in real life. I’m “manning up” and telling you that rolling eyes is not “manning up”. Men don’t roll their eyes — or at least they shouldn’t.

    • Mark Shea

      1, one, uno blog entries in which I mildly note that cardinals are not sacred tradition and speculate that it’s possible we will see lay (and female) cardinal in my lifetime does not make this “a blog dedicated to imagining all the small-t traditions that could be reformed”. Such hysteria is of a piece with the rest of the hysteria this little piece of speculation has engendered. I repeat: I don’t have a burning interest in lay or female cardinals. If the Church opts for it, fine. If not, fine. Personally, I would have no more difficulty with a woman cardinal than I would with a trained female accountant being put in charge of the parish finance council. But I also don’t much care if there is never a female cardinal, just as I have little interest in the parish finance council. My point is simply that those prone to hysteria should bear in mind that Sacred tradition and human tradition are not the same thing and refrain from confusing them. The massive hysteria from some in this thread suggests that this advice is badly needed. It ls not a burning issue for me. Rather, it simply amuses me to see Revered Conservative Icon Fr. Benedict Groeschel and Semi-Icon Cardinal Dolan (he’s an icon when he’s talking about the HHS mandate but still prone to being vehemently suspect of Untribal Sympathies in other matters) agree with me on something for which I am often Cast Out of the Tribe of Truly True Catholics. What amuses me is that Dolan and I get charged with “promoting” female cardinals and all that dangerous Thinking stuff, but Fr. Groeschel is quietly excluded from the charge of Confusing the Faithful. The complicated business of figuring out who is part of the Inner Tribal Circle and “safe” requires pretending Fr. Groeschel wasn’t the one who raised the issue, while the suspect and unreliable Dolan and myself are clearly “liberals” who can’t be trusted and who are “promoting” female cardinals and even female priests. Fr. Groeschel? He’s beloved and therefore this was a “lapse” or perhaps due to old age. At any rate, we will simply pass over his remark in silence lest there be a crisis in the simple tribal narrative of who is a “solid Catholic” and who is a sinister fifth columnist infiltrating the True Pure Church with their dangerous and disturbing demands to think and distinguish Sacred Tradition from conservative shibboleths and human tradition.

      So yeah. I roll my eyes at that. My single solitary post was very simple: 1) Cardinals are a human tradition, not a divine one. 2) The Church can therefore change or even abolish the college of cardinals just as she can have a parish finance council or not. 3) It is only the priestly office to which women cannot be ordained. 4) Therefore, it’s possible that the Church might create women cardinals. 5) I suspect such a thing could happen in the coming century. 6) If it does, don’t freak out that the Church is tampering with Sacred Tradition, because a cardinal is no more sacred tradition than a parish financy council member.

      I have nothing invested in it happening or not. I do have something invested in Catholics learning to distinguish Sacred Tradition from human tradition. And from the hysterical disgorgement of panic ocassioned by my rather simple observation, I think I have reason to be concerned.

      Get it. I. Don’t. Care. if we have or don’t have female cardinals. I’m not “promoting” anything but Catholics learning to distinguish between Sacred and merely human tradition.

      • I never said your blog was “a blog dedicated to imagining all the small-t traditions that could be reformed”. I said imagine one. This little, virgin post of yours on ce sujet is a microcosm for what it might feel like per post for the reader of such a blog.

        I’m glad that you are promoting “Catholics distinguishing between small-t and Big-T tradition”. However, I would be careful to casually say, “Cardinals are a bit of bureaucratic machinery for taking care of housekeeping in the matter of getting a new pope”, when it is in fact the infallible working of the Holy Spirit through those cardinals to select the Newest Vicar of Christ (Was Archbishop Dolan elevated to the office of “bureaucratic machinery?”). I get it that you are not supporting it, per se, but you are supporting it as a plausible and valid course of action (like one could the abolition of priestly celibacy). That’s cool. My question was really when do you think it would not be prudent for the Church to consider this as valid course of action?

        I guess, Mark, I would just hope for a little more grace on your part towards those who might have a visceral reaction to your *speculation*. Like:

        “Despite your insistence that I’m a modernist pig, I — like Fr. G. — really am just giving you orthodoxy straight up. Is there something with the Church’s teaching on reformable traditions with which you disagree?”

        Brother in Christ,


        • Mark Shea

          Given that I have been repeatedly denounced by panic-stricken readers in ways that do sound uncommonly like they think I am a modernist pig I do think it rather important that such readers realize they are confusing sacred tradition with human tradition. The fact is that *one* of the ways in which the Catholic tradition has chosen its bishops is with input from the laity. Just ask Ambrose of Milan. If the Church decided to do that again with the bishop of Rome, that would not be a violation of apostolic tradition. Which was my entire point.

  • That Hat Lady

    A woman CAN NOT be made a cardinal. Look it up: At various times there have been cardinals that had only received first tonsure and minor orders but not yet been ordained as deacons or priests. Though clerics, they were inaccurately called “lay cardinals” and were permitted to marry. Teodolfo Mertel was among the last of the lay cardinals. When he died in 1899 he was the last surviving cardinal who was not at least ordained a priest. With the revision of the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917 by Pope Benedict XV, only those who are already priests or bishops may be appointed cardinals. Since the time of Pope John XXIII a priest who is appointed a cardinal must be ordained a bishop, unless he obtains a dispensation. Dolan and Shea should lay off this promotion of women as para-clergy. It is dangerous and will only confuse the faithful.

    • Mark Shea

      Canon law can be changed. That was Groeschel’s, Dolan’s and my point. I’m amused that “Dolan and Shea” are charged with “promoting” this, while you cannot bear to face the fact that it was beloved Fr. Groeschel who raised the point. In the world of tribal conservative Catholicism, folk heros get a pass, while those who are dimly perceived as “suspect” get the blame for being evil fifth columnists bent on subverting the faith. In fact, however, Fr. Groeschel (who I think the world of, by the way) is pointing out the same thing as Dolan and me, that part of the Catholic intellectual tradition involves thinking and distinguishing between what is Sacred Tradition and what is human tradition. Your tribalism and imputation of bad faith only make that essential task harder. I’m not “promoting” anything except the idea that Catholics should distinguish Sacred Tradition and human tradition. Neither is Dolan. And neither is Groeschel, whom you politely exempt from “promoting” because you apparently can’t bear to think of a folk hero in such a bad light.

  • chi

    My first reaction to this article was to ignore it as it seemed to be seeking undue attention. However, nobody needs to be told that all the present cardinals are ordained members of the Catholic Church and in almost all cases, bishops. If this article is to seek political correctness, then it has failed for there are no women priests in the Catholic Church, let alone bishops. At this juncture I don’t think this article needs further attention. The Catholic Church and the entire Christian world for that matter are in deep problems of non-challance to the Faith and the consequential abandonment of Jesus Christ and His teachings that are meant for man’s salvation. These are serious problems that need discussion instead of cavorting with the non-existential matter of women cardinals.

  • Rob Fox

    You’re right, Mark. I think many would view the promotion of a female cardinalate as subversive, and I agree with them. I think you’re being accomodationist instead of promoting true female virtue. I’m fairly young to be accused of being ossified, but I’ll risk that accusation by saying this. By introducing women into the edges of the “sacerdotal office”, the Church has helped to create a crisis not just with regard to priestly vocations, but also with regard to what God established as truly feminine with all of the dignity and honor due to the feminine roll that women are called to. Mary is the model for the truly feminine, and she is bar none the most powerful human advocate we have, as Queen of Heaven and Earth. And yet, I don’t think she would have ever sought out the office of Cardinal. She is our Mother. Also, with the establishment of the Papacy under St. Peter, it was always the Apostles who chose the next pope, and I’m not sure how an “openness” to a female cardinalate would maintain the Tradition of the successors of the Apostles choosing the next pope. But, regardless, yes, your comments on and support of this issue are rather subversive and inflamatory.

    • Mark Shea

      My comments, which do not really “promote” the idea, but merely note it. But not Fr. Groeschel’s, who raised the issue. Fascinating how the tribe blinds itself to the transgressions of tribal elder folk heros and focuses its wrath on “safe” people who can be denounced as “liberal outsiders” when the internal pressure of panic requires that a victim be found and blamed as a subversive. I’m not “accomodating” anything. I hold no brief for female cardinals. I simply note the thing is possible and warn those who cannot distinguish between sacred and human tradition that if the change *is* ever made they are fools if they denounce the Church for “betraying apostolic tradition” when she has done no such thing. The nonsense that a female cardinal would somehow transgress against female virtue is rubbish. Women have acted in offices of governance since forever, and some of them have been saints.

      • Rob Fox

        I’m not suggesting that you are a “liberal outsider”. However, on this issue, Fr. Groeschel’s comments not withstanding, you’ve made a mistake by being “open” to the possibility of a female cardinalate. In spite of the rational and measured defense of existing canon law, and the connection that has been established between that law and Tradition, you’ve ignored that counter proposal. Changing canon law is not like flipping a switch, and you’ve given no rational or spiritual reason why it might be a good idea to do so in this case. That doesn’t indicate a prayerful understanding of Tradition and the connection to Church law. Given the current cultural wars that the Church is engaged in, it’s baffling that someone with your reputation would so casually raise this issue as though it were a viable possibility.

        • Mark Shea

          Talk to Sam. He’s got me pegged as a heretic eager to serve the devil. I haven’t ignored the counter-proposal. I don’t give a rational or spiritual reason for doing so because I’m not urging it be done. I’m merely noting that it can be done. I mention it not as a “viable possibility” but in order to point out the difference between sacred tradition and human tradition. I mention that I “suspect” it may be done within a century, but I have neither eagerness that it be done, nor a particular interest one way or another.

          • Alfredo Escalona

            And now you know what it must feel like to be Newt Gingrich, Mark. To engage in speculative thought experiments/exercises in thinking outside the box, and then to commit the “indiscretion” of verbalizing said thoughts, is a surefire way to get the rest of humanity riled up against you, sure to mistake the “possible” for the “prudent”. A supple mind risks much in such endeavors, and thank God for those who risk it… or we’d still be tending the fire in the cave. “In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas.” — Neither Augustine nor Baxter, but Marco Antonio, Archbishop of Split, in 1617, I think, said this.
            Me, I think the timing of this would be imprudent, but I ain’t gettin’ my panties in a bunch over it, either.

            • Mark Shea

              The difference, of course, is that I’m not running for president, but simply thinking out loud in a blog. 🙂

              • Alfredo Escalona

                As above, so below.

  • Patrick A. O’Flynn

    Since the College of Cardinals is the replacement, or substitute for the clergy of Rome and the suburban bishops, the original electors of the Pope; I would be more cautious in suggesting that a woman could be made a Cardinal. I am not opposed to the idea, but I think that a very through examination of all aspects of the matter and an extended period of theological and canonical reflection should be required prior to any authoritative statement being rendered.

  • Fr. J

    I would note in addition to my above posts that if the College of Cardinals was abolished it would be the Roman clergy who would elect a new Pontiff. I think it would be wise to leave the current situation alone. Those who are hyper about this may rest easy, there is no real chance that such a thing will happen.

  • Michael in Cincinnati

    In Acts, when the first replacement of an Apostle [bishop] was done, it was by brother bishops, who at the time were led by the “Servant of Equals,” St. Peter.
    If the office of Cardinal is abolished, then the bishops of the Church would elect a new Pope. We will need some more room. I guess they would need to hold the conclave in St. Peter’s and lock that down until the white smoke rises.

    • Mark Shea

      Yes. That is one way that bishops have been chosen. They have also been chosen by acclamation and election. See Ambrose of Milan.

  • Rebecca in ID

    oooh, long comment thread! This is so funny, just yesterday my 11-year-old dd was asking about what a cardinal is, and my dad and I were explaining as well as we could, and she asked whether a woman could ever be a cardinal. We looked at each other quizzically, then I said I’d have to look it up and find out! Anyway, I am a Catholic woman who takes the deposit of faith very seriously, have no interest in women becoming priests (know it’s not possible nor desirable), have no interest in having my four daughters serve at the altar (know it’s not a sin but don’t think it’s a great idea), but I have no problem with the idea that a woman cardinal would be a possibility, so here’s another vote in your support.

  • MiserereMeiDeus

    Sorry girls, close but no cigar.

    Canon 351 §1: Those to be promoted Cardinals are men freely selected by the Roman Pontiff, who are at least in the order of priesthood and are truly outstanding in doctrine, virtue, piety and prudence in practical matters; those who are not already Bishops must receive episcopal consecration.

    • Mark Shea

      Yes. Unless they change canon law. Which, you know, is possible since this is a mere human tradition and not Sacred Tradition.

  • Charles

    In fact, the cardinals represent the clergy of Roman. That is why they have titular Roman churches. In theory were all the cardinals and the Pope to die at once, the election of the Pope would devolve upon the Roman clergy. If a woman can be a cleric, then of course, she could be a cardinal. Even the much vaunted lay cardinals of the past were in minor orders. Now if a woman can be made a cleric, then she could be a papal elector. But that is so alien to the Catholic tradition, not to mention that it would be just one more stumbling block towards reconciliation with the Orthodox, that the idea can be considered a fantasy. There is the added problem that to be a papal elector also implies the potential of being elected.

    • Mark Shea

      Nobody’s talking about making a woman a cleric.

  • Jack


    Do you think conclaves would ever be secret again?

  • William Ryan

    There will not be any chance of women cardinals Intl the present make celibate elderly power obsessed administration have run the church into the ground.

    • Mark Shea

      Women are quite as capable of running things into the ground. Trying thinking in terms other than power.

      • Has anyone considered that the exclusion of women from every aspect of the Church hierarchy is a stumbling block even for orthodox Catholics? Because it is. That the election of women cardinals might heal more divisions than it would cause? Because I think it would.

        • Mark Shea

          You may be right. So far, all we’ve heard from are the hysterics against it.

          • I will confess I am already scheming about the Catherine Medici style havoc I will wreak on the college once elected.

  • Jason

    I have on numerous occasions pleaded with PewSitter to provide a means whereby we know the specific website to which one of their links is taking us before we actually click the link.

  • Veritas
  • Canisius

    Shea go back to Protestants please I have enough of your nonsense, if this happens the Church will not be what she claims to be …. perhaps though if something like this happens it will bring the violent purging that the Church so desperately needs,, we could clean the Church of feminists and homosexuals in one bold move…Amen

  • The Pope is the Bishop of Rome. Even if he is not ordained a priest at the time of election, he is to be ordained immediately. However, it has become a tradition of the Church for the selection of the future Pope to come exclusively from the Sacred College. Since the selection of the Pope comes from the College of Cardinals, it would seem unwise to open the College up to women, and others not eligible to become Pope.
    The Cardinal is a close advisor to the Pope. Yet, not only the Cardinals are close advisors to the Pope, nor do they have to be Cardinals to be close advisors. Take Sister Pascalina for example. She was not a Cardinal, nor did she need to be, but she was the closest advisor of Pope Pius XII.
    There are many women that I seek advice from as pastor, and would do the same as Bishop or Pope (which will never happen), and none of these good women are Cardinals. So, why open a door that will lead to more problems and confusion. We have enough confusion, without adding more.

  • dom

    Yes Father you’re right and the whole discussion is a non-starter in my opinion. It takes a long while of being in the Church to learn how we really operate, and many things not spelled out in laws explicitly become “second nature” this way.

    Like the old saying among canonists goes: exceptions do not make good law.

    I suspect this is one of those.

    Can we move on?

  • Steven P. Cornett

    Sounds terribly modernist, but then again it may be as likely the College of Cardinals could be eliminated at a future time. As you pointed out, the Church in the West did just fine with them for a thousand years, and the Eastern Catholic churches never had them at all.

  • Imrahil

    Now please note that I do not call you an enemy of the Faith or whatever. Nor Fr Groeschel or Cdl Dolan, of course! Only it appears that you… and they… are wrong.

    It is true that the Cardinalate is, in principle, man-made. But still, even in man-made creations, you cannot put away with the essence of the thing without destroying the thing itself. I do not deny that in doing so, you might at the same time establish a thing that happens to be called with the same name. But that would be another thing.

    Now you cannot make a woman a Cardinal in the sense that we understand the word Cardinal. Because while it is a “mere” decree of the Pope that all orders of Cardinals have to be bishops, it is in the essence of the Cardinalate that they are clergy. That is why they are called Cardinal Bishops, Cardinal Priests, Cardinal Deacons.

    Of course the Pope can, and has, dispense not even from the decree that they must be bishops, but also from holding the rank their order would assign. But then this was most about persons who were planning to reach these ranks in the future (or, well, presumed to do so, we might say in some rare cases), or other exceptions, having no canonical impediments against them for doing so (at least no indispensable ones – I can think of a prince-bishop-elect who was married and laid down his office before ever being consecrated, but I can’t at the moment think of a Cardinal) and done by way of exception. The last so-called Lay Cardinal was not only an administrative official of the Papal States but also was elevated to, I believe, the subdeaconate.

    Hence, taken as granted as should be that women cannot be made deaconesses, they cannot be made Cardinals. Without abolishing the Cardinalate and creating a new office with the name of “Cardinal”, that is. (And then we’d face the next problem that In Nomine Domini draws heavily on the fact that the Cardinalate represents the Roman suffragans and clergy. The idea to have the Pope elected henceforth by a “mere” electoral assembly is, well, a novelty.)

    Also, mostly Cardinalates are conferred either for high Curial offices, or to diocesan bishops. Of the curial office most are of as pastoral a nature as to require a cleric; I could only think of the Prefect of Economic Affairs, the Director of the Administration of the Patrimony of St. Peter, the Cardinal Governor, the Archivary and Bibliothecary, the President for Social Communications, as possible exceptions.

  • Imrahil

    replace dispense not even with dispense not only, and sorry.

    And, of course, you are okay. 🙂

  • Athanasius Gardner

    Why can a man be Mary in the pews, but a woman not be Jesus at the altar? (And please don’t argue by chromosomes!)

    • Mark Shea

      You’ll need to ask Jesus. He’s the one who created the priestly office and ordained only men. The priesthood is not a civil right. And the lay office is not a sacrament.

  • Athanasius Gardner

    And why is it that the only offices that women can be admitted to are the ones that have all the power and the ability to make binding decisions?

    • Mark Shea

      Tell that to Queen Elizabeth I.

  • Athanasius Gardner

    Sorry, that should be “cannot be admitted to”

  • Athanasius Gardner

    My question was about the Church. Elizabeth I held a purely secular office, even if she was crowned in a Catholic ceremony that she blasphemously rejected to the point of complaining when Oglethorpe elevated the Host. My question still stands. Why can I, as a man, with a Y chromosome, a penis and a pair of testicles, adequately symbolise the Marian bridal church as a lay man in the pew, but a woman, minus all those things, is held to be incapable of symbolising Christ the Groom at the altar? I know that Christ chose only men to be his twelve apostles (lets leave Paul and Mary Magdalene out of the argument for a moment). I also know that the historical argument against the proposition that a baptised female is valid matter for the sacrament of Holy Orders is the strongest argument that there is. But it also the weakest. Because Our Lord must have had a reason for doing what He did, if what He did was intended to reserve the ordained ministry for those of his followers of the male sex. We may never know what that reason was, but there must have been a reason, because we do not worship an Ockhamist God who issues arbitrary commands without foundation.

    • Mark Shea

      No. Your question was about, and motivated by, an obsession with power.

  • Athanasius Gardner

    There are also individuals who appear to be of one sex, but are in fact of the other. If any of these unusual individuals had a vocation to the priesthood, was ordained, was later consecrated to the episcopate, and then was a key link in one of the “bottlenecks” that occasionally occur in the apostolic succession, then…..

    • Mark Shea

      You can always spot the stink of desperation when people start with this kind of silliness.

  • Athanasius Gardner

    Alright. Lets forget about power. I shouldn’t have raised it. (I am an Englishman by the way, so I have no stake in the organised farce that you will laughably call an election in early November. Just like us, you’re stuck in FPTP, and a genuine blow against the culture of death, which I completely believe exists, however much I may struggle with certain current magisterial positions, would consist in abolishing the electoral college and your apallingly restrictive ballot access lwas. At least all we have to do is wave £5oo to get on the ballot paper!) You haven’t answered my question. Why can a lay male adequately symbolise Mary in the pew, but a woman can’t symbolise Christ at the altar? Given that this argument is new, since the old arguments that women are inferior and defective men, or that menstruation is unclean won’t wash any more, it is important that this new argument be robust. Otherwise we are exposing ouraselves to ridicule. Please answer my question, and don’t change the subject. I couldn’t give a toss about US politics.

    • Mark Shea

      Mary symbolizes the Church, we laity do not symbolize Mary, nor do we mediate the grace of Mary to the priest. That is why, I repeat, the lay office is not a sacrament. The priesthood is, mediating the grace of God to us. Not sure what that had to do with American elections. Good Queen Bess was not an American. 🙂

  • Athanasius Gardner

    I never said that the lay office was a sacrament. But if one reads Inter Insigniores and Ordinatio Sacerdotalis carefully then one will nonetheless discern that they antipate the argument I am making, and attempt to provide an answer along the lines that I have illustrated. A man and a woman can both be baptised. A man and a woman can both take vows and enter the religious life. But only a man can receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Why? Because Jesus only called men to be disciples. But why was that? There must be a reason. And the current reasons offered don’t stand up. That doesn’t mean that the current position of the magisterium is wrong, it just means that the reasons currently offered to justify its position don’t hold water. We address the first Person of the Trinity as Father because Christ has called Him that, and because by the grace of baptism we have ben taken up into the very life of the godhead. It is NOT because we are trying to make heroic statement of opposition to neo-pagan pantheism. The ancient Egyptians called Amun/Atum father repeatedly, because he sat on the primeval mound, masturbated, and ejaculated the cosmos without a mother goddess in sight. The revelation at the Burning Bush was God saying to Moses that he was the Creator, not that he was male.

  • alfred caulkin

    if cardinals must be part of the clergy, perhaps in order for a woman to be made a cardinal, she could be ordained a deacon -an office held by women in the early church. if you’re arguing that changes to tradition shouldn’t be made, then you must agree that female deacons should have never been eliminated, and ought to agree that they should be restored.

    • Mark Shea

      Deaconesses were never part of the ordained office. Nice try. My whole point is that you *don’t* have to be ordained in order to be a cardinal.

      • alfred caulkin

        well, i tried, at least. i tend to agree with your argument, more than mine.

  • Guest

    Rather late in this discussion, but with the Pope speaking to a theology of women, I suspect the move for female Cardinals could happen sooner then we think. Of course it is a theological possibility, because it is not an Apostolic Tradition but rather a human tradition. Canon law can be changed, and can be over numerous other issues. Women will never become Priests or Bishops (including the Pope), as for deacons, this will never be an ordination.

    Unlike some of your readers, my head will not explode if this happens. In fact, it wouldnt bother me. I do see it may cause some to lose the plot and say the Church has abandoned the faith, but these people have imposed their own interpretation onto the Magisterium they seek to defend. Their faith will be at risk because they havent grasped exactly what is or is not Apostolic Tradition.

  • Anthony

    Better to abolish the College of Cardinals than to appoint female cardinals. First of all the Pope would have to revise canon law, since current canon law states only the ordained can be appointed cardinals. Even if the law is changed to allow lay people to once again be cardinals, it would give the WO movement more ammunition once woman cardinals are appointed. It is not worth throwing this bone to appease feminists and their sympathizers.