Women cardinals

Brendan McGrath, in a comment (#41)on the America Magazine blog, "In All Things," has a novel idea. McGrath suggests that women be allowed to become cardinals (not exactly a new idea, but wait). McGrath observes that since this has nothing to do with doctrine, only church discipline, it would only require a change in canon law, entirely possible.

McGrath then goes on:

Better yet, (now we're novel) why not have ONLY female cardinals, such that popes would be elected solely by women? It's often said that many people who support women's ordination are sadly confused, and suffer under the mindset that the Church is denying power or equality to women, whereas the priesthood is not about power, but about service. Well, what better way for Holy Mother Church to demonstrate that to the world, than by having male priests and bishops surrender the power to select popes, and give that entirely to women cardinals? After all, men and women are different, and complement each other: what could be more complementary than a system in which women, in their unique feminine genius, become the ones who select the male pope, while the male pope selects the female cardinals? In fact, perhaps the cardinals (all women) could be put in charge of deciding who will be made bishop as well.

Let's also not forget that it is part of women's unique feminine genius to be nurturing, to create a home, etc. So how fitting and most profitable to the Church it would be if the bishops and male ex-cardinals could give their mansions to the female cardinals as the ideal home to live in? (That is, unless we were to do something else, such as selling those mansions before daring to close a single Catholic school.) That's not to say that the bishop could not live in that home too - after all, who's going to do the female cardinal's laundry? Surely not a nun, as it has often been, since that wouldn't be complementary: why, it should be the male bishop who looks after the female cardinal, or at least a male priest or brother. After all, the priesthood and episcopacy are about serving; it is the misguided nature of radical feminism that sees everything in terms of power which would say otherwise. And since bishops love nothing more than serving, why could they not serve the female cardinals by cleaning their bathrooms?

Obviously what I've said above is dripping with irony and satire, and as I look at it, I see that it may unfairly tar all bishops with the same brush; some are very much about serving, etc. But anyway, while certainly I used irony and satire, I am indeed very serious about making female cardinals, and I think it actually could be a very good idea to entrust the power of selecting popes and bishops entirely to an all-female college of cardinals.

If the teaching on not ordaining women is really not about power, and is really not about denying equality between men and women, then what possible reason could there be not to make female cardinals?

Food for thought.

Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Learn more here