Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Women in the church: a sensible proposal to the Pope

Much talk have been happening in Barcelona about the role of women in the Church. The debate rose again after the low profile given to this half of the humanity during the Pope´s mass at the Basilica of the Sagrada Família, where the main contribution of women was (or appeared to be) the nuns cleaning the newly consecrated altar, an image that went over the world.  

In this post, I would like to suggest an idea to the pope Benedict XVI. Something that he could very easily do and that would contribute significantly to the visualisation of women in the Church. 
I think that this sensible proposal, which is not the ordination of women, would be a revulsive that would help to change the actual unbalanced situation of women on places of power and responsibility in the Church: my suggestion is to nominate cardinal a woman.  

Please, notice that the cardinalate is a title, an office, and it is *not* necessarily linked with being bishop or priest. The main responsibilities of a cardinal is to contribute electing the new Pope and to assist the actual Pope on important matters for the Church and in its governance.
Even if the actual Code of Cannon Law (#351.1) says that the Pope will chose the cardinals between the men that are ordained priests, and that those that are not priests should be ordained bishops, this is not a divine law, but simply a human norm, that can be changed at any moment. We only need the pope to be willing to do so. 

In fact, a little bit of history helps here. Pope John Paul II accepted as a good idea the request of Cardenal Avery Dulles, jesuit, not to be ordained bishop. He just disregarded the very same Cannon Law that he approved and promulgated, showing how easily is to change human norms after good ideas. If we go even earlier, we find Cardinal Newman, who was given the red hat by Pope Leo XIII, and who was also not ordained bishop. Cannon Law at that time did not require this. And, if we even go further back in time, we have a bunch of cardinals who were not even priests, the last of which was Teodolfo Mertel, who died in 1899[1]. And I have even read that Paul VI was considering to nominate cardinal the catholic philosopher Jaques Maritain.  

All in all, there is no impediment at all for a women to be given a red hat, a cardinal woman. 
Moreover, within all the faithful catholic women in the world -religious and lay- there will surely be one or many with great faith and skills for the office and dignity of cardinal. Would it not be a good idea for the Pope to create this women cardinals?

Are you convinced by these arguments? Please take a moment to answer the survey at the side bar, and as always, you are very welcomed to post a comment below.

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