Hogan, now serving as Vice Provost at Trinity College Dublin, was described in the Sunday Times as ‘a woman, married, a feminist and only 49.’ The Sunday Times also featured one of the best visuals of the weekend, with a photo of Hogan in her Trinity robes superimposed over an image of the red-robed Cardinals meeting in the Vatican.
It’s not the first time that the idea of female Cardinals has been suggested. Several priests from the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) have suggested it in the past, with Mary McAleese and Nuala O’Loan among other women suggested for the position.
Many people might be surprised at the possibility of women Cardinals. But even as Fr Federico Lombardi, a senior spokesman for the Vatican, said:
“This is just nonsense . . . It is simply not a realistic possibility that Pope Francis will name women cardinals for the February consistory … ”
He also admitted:
“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 …”
Hogan is said to have been put at the top of the list of Cardinal nominations from the Professor of Moral Theology at Boston College, Fr James Keenan SJ.
An article about Hogan was posted on the Irish School of Ecumenics’ Facebook page yesterday, and it was interesting to see former and current students react to the news. As expected, many were excited. But they quite quickly dampened their enthusiasm with more measured assessments of the Vatican’s slowness and often seeming inability to make these kinds of changes.
This story about possible female Cardinals broke only a few days after news about a Vatican-sponsored survey, which promises to ask local parishes (including, it would seem, laity) their approaches to a range of issues including birth control, divorce and gay marriage.
For all those conservative Catholics fond of proclaiming ‘the Catholic Church is NOT a democracy’ such a survey may be cause for concern. (And I happen to agree with them – I think the empirical evidence confirms that the Church is not a democracy.)
But I see the survey as a sign of hope that the Catholic Church hierarchy – especially Pope Francis – might be open to listening to the Holy Spirit speaking through all the people of God.
This leads me to pose a cheeky question, albeit somewhat tongue-in-cheek: