Portugal’s Cardinal: Women priests in God’s time

There will be women priests “when God wills” according to the archbishop of Lisbon, Portugal, Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo.

The veteran cardinal, a one-time contender for the papacy, says there’s “no fundamental theological obstacle” to the ordination of women as priests in the Catholic Church.

Rather, he suggested, it has never been done from the time of Jesus, and while it will happen, it won’t be in our time.

Now is not the time to raise the question, he opined.

“There’s a fundamental equality among all the members of the church,” the cardinal said. “The problem lies in a strong tradition, which comes from Jesus and from the fact that the churches of the Reformation conceded the priesthood to women.”

Policarpo’s claim that there is no theological bar to women priests would seem to be at odds with various recent Vatican declarations.

When the Church of England allowed women priests, John Paul II “seemed to settle the matter,” with Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, one of the shortest documents of his pontificate; however Polycarpo said, “the matter cannot be resolved like this.”

More recently, Pope Benedict, in a letter informing Australian Bishop William Morris of the Toowoomba diocese that he had been removed from office, referred to the teaching on women priests as “infallible,” and that he was dismissed in part for raising the question of women’s ordination in a pastoral letter.

Policarpo, 75, a former dean of the theology faculty at the Portugese Catholic University, has been the Patriarch of Lisbon since 1998. Although reaching the usual retirement age for bishops, Benedict XVI recently confirmed him in office for another two years.


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