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Vatican called Portuguese cardinal to explain statement on women's ordination

August 10, 2011

A Portuguese cardinal was called to a meeting at the Vatican in July, and asked to clarify statements in which he suggested that there was no major theological barrier to the ordination of women.

Cardinal José da Cruz Policarpo raised eyebrows in Rome when he told a reporter that there is “no fundamental obstacle” to women’s ordination. A week later, the Patriarch of Lisbon issued a public statement affirming the Church’s teaching that women can never be ordained to the priesthood.

Now a Portuguese newspaper has revealed that after Cardinal Policarpo made his first statement, he received a letter from Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asking him to clarify that statement. Cardinal Policarpo also received a message from the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, calling him to a meeting at Castel Gandolfo to discuss the matter.

These two messages from the Vatican persuaded the Portuguese prelate to issue what was, in effect, a retraction of his earlier statement and an affirmation of the binding statement by Pope John Paul II, in his 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, that the Church does not have the authority to ordain women. In his second public statement, Cardinal Policarpo said when he said there were no theological impediments to women’s ordination, he had not “taken into due consideration the latest declarations of the magisterium on this subject.”


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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Aug. 11, 2011 11:59 AM ET USA

    Weird as this may sound, could it be that God allowed this man to come to prominence in the Church that the thoughts of his heart might be examined by the Church for the good of his immortal soul? Like I said, I know it's weird.

  • Posted by: kmbold - Aug. 10, 2011 7:10 PM ET USA

    So how did this cardinal reach his exalted position in the first place?