Will Pope Francis appoint a female cardinal? Not as crazy as it seems
Irishwoman shortlisted as a potential nominee by prominent American priest
That question may not seem as fanciful in the months ahead, with a trail-blazing new pope leading the way for the world’s Catholics.
Pope Francis has often said he wants to see greater roles for women in the church, and progressive Catholics are arguing that he could take a significant step in that direction by appointing the first women to the College of Cardinals.
Known as the 'princes of the church', historically it's an exclusively male group that casts secret ballots in a conclave to elect each new pope.
But just last year, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who is known for his conservative outlook, was asked during an interview on Catholic television whether a woman could be named a cardinal. Dolan agreed that it was 'theoretically' possible, adding:
'You know, in fact, get this, and I've heard it from more than one person, that one time somebody said to Blessed John Paul II, 'You should make Mother Teresa of Calcutta a cardinal.' And the pope said, 'I asked her. She doesn't want to be one.'
If Pope John Paul II could consider it, it seems likely that Francis could do likewise, assuming he that finds a woman willing to say yes.
Speculation began last month when an article in a Spanish newspaper written by Juan Arias, a former priest who writes from Brazil, claimed that the idea 'is not a joke. It's something that Pope Francis has thought about before: naming a woman cardinal.'
Arias quoted an unnamed Jesuit priest (Francis is himself a Jesuit) who said: 'Knowing this pope, he wouldn't hesitate before appointing a woman cardinal… And he would indeed enjoy being the first pope to allow women to participate in the selection of a new pontiff.'
Those comments are how the speculation began. The the Catholic media in Italy wrote that in the months since Francis' election, he has demonstrated that he's a dramatic departure from his more conservative predecessors.
Responding to the building momentum Father James Keenan, a fellow Jesuit at Boston College, started a post on his Facebook page recently by reportedly soliciting nominees for the first female cardinal.
According to the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) one of the top names on Keenan’s list is Linda Hogan, an accomplished professor of ecumenics at Trinity College Dublin (TCD).
Hogan was appointed to the position in September 2011 and also has overall responsibility for education and research at the university. She coordinates strategic planning, research, undergraduate and postgraduate education, quality and the student experience.
The TCD Professor reportedly teaches on a range of modules including Ethics in International Affairs; Human Rights in Theory and Practice; Gender, War and Peace and Ecumenical Social Ethics.
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