Speculations about women being elevated to the rank of Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church were squashed today by the Vatican, whose spokesman flatly ruled out the idea of Princesses of the Church.
Based on Pope Francis' recent comments on developing a 'theology of women', and the fact that Cardinals don't technically have to be ordained; wishful thinking among liberal Catholics led to the hope that the Pope might include a woman among the ranks of Cardinals to be elevated in February.
One of the women whom various media outlets have suggested suggested was being considered is the theologian Linda Hogan, vice provost of Trinity College in Dublin; but the list also included Mary McAleese, former president of Ireland, and Sr Teresa Okure, a theology professor at the Catholic Institute of West Africa in Nigeria.
It appears that the rumor first started with an opinion piece in a Spanish newspaper by Juan Arias, a former priest who wrote that the idea of women as cardinals “is not a joke. It’s something that Pope Francis has thought about before: naming a woman cardinal.”
The specific list of names that have surfaced may be attributed to James Keenan, S.J., a Jesuit who teaches theology at Boston College who is reported to have solicited and made suggestions on his Facebook account.
The Vatican has made clear, however, that all the speculation and suggestions have no basis in reality. According to the Irish Times, Vatican Spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi has responded to the rumors with this statement:
“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. 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.”