Daily Telegraph wonders if Pope Francis’ imaginary woman cardinal may become the first woman pope

The crazy speculation about Pope Francis appointing a woman cardinal ,with some even suggesting the dissenting Linda Hogan as the first such cardinal, has reached new heights of absurdity with Cathy Newman suggesting in The Daily Telegraph that Pope Francis’ imaginary woman cardinal may become the first imaginary woman pope:

‘The Archbishop of Canterbury had better get his skates on. Because if he’s not careful that bastion of illiberality – the Catholic Church – will steal a march on the Anglicans in its attitude to women. I refer of course to the suggestion that Pope Francis may be about to usher in the first female cardinals.’

‘It’s hard to over-state how momentous such a change would be. No woman has sat in the Holy See’s papal conclave since cardinals were given the job of electing the pope in the 12th century. It would mean that in theory, a woman could become Pope. And there’s even talk that an Irish feminist, Professor Linda Hogan (pictured above), could be in line for the honour.’

This is proof perhaps that Pope Francis is turning out to be a liberal. He’s insisted on the importance of women being “at the centre of Christianity”. And he’s proved remarkably progressive in other areas too, reaching out to the poor (unlike, some say, the Prada Pope who preceded him) and condemning “malice in speech or in action” against gays.’

Protect the Pope comment: Apart from this being a a farrago of ridiculous nonsense, Cathy Newman and the Daily Telegraph should be absolutely ashamed of themselves referring to Pope Benedict XVI as the Prada Pope who didn’t reach out to the poor. For example in 2009 Pope Benedict gave a personal donation to the Christians of Gaza after the destructive conflict between Muslim terrorists and Israel.  In 2011 Pope Benedict personally donated  $(AU)80,000 to famine relief in  drought-stricken Horn of Africa and directed that the Holy See’s development agency Cor Unum donate a further 60 million euros ($AU 80 million). Following a devastating earthquake in 2012 in northern Italy, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, made a donation to the dioceses in the region. The contribution of €100,000 will assist aid activities undertaken by the Catholic Church in the pontifical jurisdictions of Carpi, Mantua, Modena-Nonantola and Ferrara-Camacchio.  No doubt Pope Benedict made many such personal donations and directed the activities of Cor Unum to intervene to assist the poor. Cathy Newman and The Daily Telegraph should apologise and retract their slur against the reputation of Pope Benedict XVI.


34 comments to Daily Telegraph wonders if Pope Francis’ imaginary woman cardinal may become the first woman pope

  • Karla

    The article in the Telegraph is ignorant of Catholic teaching. I have been reading about women and the possibility of becoming Cardinals and what I have learned is that the Cardinalate is not a sacramental Holy Order, so it could be a possible that women could become Cardinals, but a woman Cardinal could never become Pope, as to be Pope, they would have to go through Holy Orders, which is a sacrament, unlike the Cardinalate, and therefore women are not eligigble, so to speak, to go through Holy Orders, and therefore even if a woman or women become Cardinals, they will not become Priests, or Bishops or become Pope.

    • Martin

      The Cardinalate is not itself sacramental, but Canon law requires that a cardinal must be a priest, and even prior to the 1917 code which stipulates this those few people who were “lay” cardinals were in fact in minor orders, which were never open to women.

  • Pat

    Have you seen the roll-call of allegedly ‘Catholic’ journalists who write for the Daily Telegraph? Say no more.

  • Ioannes

    It is six hundred years since a pope resigned. At the same time two others were deposed. If Francis appoints a woman cardinal (in defiance of Canon Law, not to mention tradition) then he will surely suffer the same fate. In order to head off a certain schism, the cardinals will have to get rid of him and elect someone else. The annals of the papacy show a fair sprinkling of anti-popes.

    • Libby Stockton

      600 years? Nonsense. It’s less than a year.

      • Liz

        I think he meant prior to Benedict, don’t you think?!

      • Ioannes

        Six hundred years before this one, numbskull. You knew perfectly well what I meant. By the way, are you still ironing the ironing board cover?

        • Same old, same old

          I wouldn’t want to put words in someone’s mouth, but I suspect what Libby was saying is that it would have somewhat diminished your point had you, correctly, started by saying “It is less than 12 months since a Pope resigned” before continuing with your equally misinformed rant.

          • Ioannes


            The point is that the Council of Constance in 1415 deposed John XXIII and Benedict XIII and accepted the abdication of Gregory XII. The fact that a pope abdicated in 2013 strengthens rather than weakens the point, but is a fact too well-known to justify drawing attention to. I was not to know that piddling grammaticasters and nit-pickers are not really interested in seriously engaging in debate. While you’re at it, look up “rant”. It does not mean “a point of view with which I disagree”.

          • Same old, same old

            Your point appeared to be that it is six whole centuries since a pope resigned and that if Francis were to appoint a female cardinal then this event – over half a millennium old – would be repeated. It would have been slightly more honest (although admittedly less dramatic) had you begun by sating “it is actually only a matter of months sine a pope resigned”.

            By the way, it is less than a century since the rules were changed to bar a woman becoming a cardinal – but let’s not let facts get in the way of a rant (and, yes, I stand by the word – although I did have to look up ‘numbskull’).

  • Rifleman819

    Deacon Nick ,
    As you know I spotted this the other day as you will know.
    Slipping standards even in the quality Press.

  • Patrick

    It’s about time this canard about “Prada shoes” was put to rest. They did not come from Prada, but from the Papal cobblers. The red signifies martyrdom; the Pope stands in the shoes of St Peter and his many successors who chose death rather than compromise the faith. I make absolutely no comment about the refusal of the present Pontiff to wear them!

    • Ioannes

      Red shoes, like other vestments, had their symbolic significance added much later. They originate from the ceremonial footwear of Roman senators.

  • Joseph Matthew

    I agree Rifleman819.The Telegraph is about as conservative as Mr Cameron.

  • “Daily Telegraph wonders if Pope Francis’ imaginary woman cardinal may become the first woman pope”

    My money’s on Dame Edna Everage.

  • Ioannes


    “It is less than a century since the rules were changed to bar a woman from becoming a cardinal”. So we had women cardinals before a rule change in 1917 barred them? So-called “lay cardinals” were in fact in minor orders; the last of these was appointed by Pio Nono and died in 1899. And since the minor orders were suppressed by Paul VI (Ministeria Quaedam, 1972) and the ministries of lector and acolyte which replaced them are reserved to men, even a reversion to pre-1917 rules (highly unlikely) would not create any loopholes.

    Of course you can always see the Pope behaving like a capricious Roman Emperor like Caligula who famously made his horse a consul – and we all know what happened to him.

    • Same old, same old

      So why was the rule changed?

      Th 1972 decision could also be reversed – even if it was relevant to the question.

      As a secondary point, some people on this site suggested that allowing same sex couples to marry was the equivalent of letting someone marry a dog. Now I notice that Caligua making his horse a consul is compared to the possibility of making a woman a cardinal.

      • Ioannes


        You’ve got it in one. Congratulations!

        • Same old, same old

          Yes. It makes me look at Caligula in a whole new light.

          One thing I have been incorrect about though. Each time I see a particularly grim statement on this site I always think to myself that it can’t be topped for its sheer bonehead, reactionary, nasty, unthinking medievalism. But I am constantly proved wrong.

          • Wake up England

            Same Old:

            Why do you post here? What are your motives?

          • Ioannes


            Anyone who uses ‘medieval’ as a pejorative epithet is obviously so ignorant of history that normally it’s not worth arguing with him. However, since you are persistent, I shall endeavour to enlighten you, without pinning much hope on being able to penetrate a painstakingly constructed carapace of ignorance. “So why was the rule changed?” Well, nothing to do with barring women, that’s for sure. No-one in 1917 was envisioning such a thing. Cardinals are Roman clergy (they have a titular church) and in the case of cardinal bishops are hierarchs of suburbicarian sees. This gives them the privilege of electing the pope. This being so, the less worldly Church of the 20th century concluded that this traditional link would be strengthened if those created cardinals were already priests. John XXIII went further and required episcopal consecration unless in exceptional circumstances, and the revised Code of Canon Law (1983) reflects this. Minor Orders were now seen as transitional, and the practice of Renaissance popes making their illegitimate sons (euphemistically called nephews, from which the term nepotism is derived) cardinals was quite correctly seen as an abuse.

            If you dispute any of the above facts, you are free to do so, provided that you supply the evidence. And before you describe anyone else as “unthinking” it might be of benefit to you were you to do some thinking yourself, instead of resorting to a string of meaningless epithets that serve merely to highlight your own ignorance and prejudice.

  • Same old, same old

    Well, wee can definitely cut all the flummery and just get down to the facts that you so desperately crave.

    The fact is that the Church apparently survived for the first 1900 years with a rule that didn’t automatically bar women from becoming cardinals. In 1917 it changed the rule in such a way as to make this impossible. The fact that they dressed it up in such a way as to be less an obvious only adds to the deceit.

    This was also a time when the Church was actively campaigning against female suffrage – mostly using along the lines of your Calgigula/horse/consul nonsense.

    In 1983 Canon Law was changed to close yet another loophole.

    The ‘fact’ is that all the rules can be changed back.

    • Ioannes

      I don’t “crave” facts – I merely deploy them in the service of argument. For a start, the cardinalate as we know it dates from the 12th century, so there is no 1900-year rule. Secondly, so-called “lay” cardinals were in fact in minor orders, so women were automatically excluded. Thirdly, there is not a scintilla of evidence for your preposterous assertion that the 1917 ruling that cardinals should be priests was deliberately intended to forestall the appointment of women. You seem to think prefacing a statement with the words “the fact is” automatically makes it true. I’m sorry to disillusion you. How old are you, by the way? I guess about 14, since I can’t believe an educated adult could write such drivel.

  • Same old, same old

    The 1917 rule change did indeed bar women from certain offices with the Church – offices that they’d never been appointed to, so I repeat “why the rule change?”

    Please don’t think of m as a drivel-writing 14 year old and pretend to me that this wasn’t exactly what was intended. This was at the same time as the push towards female suffrage (a campaign that the Church railed against for many years).

    It is the same motivation within the Church that I explained on another thread and led to the absurd situation in which women were barred from singing in the choir. This wouldn’t have been because they were female (oh, no no no, perish the thought) but because they weren’t of the right liturgical standing. And how could they become of the right liturgical standing? Well, they couldn’t. Because they were women.

    It’s the same garbage now that prevents them from becoming cardinals. Not discrimination (no no no etc) but because it’s in the rulebook and nothing to worry your pretty little head about.

    So, change the rules then. They stood for many centuries before being altered, just put them back as they were. In the meantime, I won’t be holding my breath.

    • Ioannes

      Still no evidence. Sorry SOSO, I happen to be an historian, and the only garbage I have come across is in your posts. I shall ask in vain for you to cite the rules which “stood for many centuries” because they don’t exist outside your fevered imagination. Mixed choirs were common in the 18th and 19th centuries and although Pius X wanted a return to men and boys and Gregorian chant, this was a reaction against the operatic settings which prevailed at the time. In a sense it was an overreaction, since mixed choirs did continue or were reinstated.

      It is clear to me and to others on this blog that you fail to heed the advice of Bob Dylan: “Don’t criticize what you can’t understand”. Your lack of even a rudimentary understanding is breathtaking, and your refusal to accept clearly demonstrable facts indicates that any attempt to engage you in argument is futile.

  • Same old, same old

    From the establishment of the conclave in the 12th century until 1917 the Pope was able to nominate whoever he wished to the position of cardinal. You may claim to be an historian (but then so does David Starkey), you’re certainly no mathematician.

    I make that 700-800 years until the rule change. Just in case you’re not sure then I had better explain that a single unit of a hundred years is also known as a ‘century’. Therefore 700 years equals 7 centuries. QED.

    It is also worth noting that the rule change in 1917 coincided with the clamour across Europe to bring about women’s suffrage – a move to which the Church was implacably opposed. It also followed the bizarre rules in the Church that barred women from singing in choirs, purely on the basis that they couldn’t be priests therefore couldn’t perform in the church choir. It was a rule that was enforced and reinforced in at least three different rulings so can hardly be classed as an oversight.

    It was not “a reaction to the operatic settings of the time” but a deliberate and sustained attempt to prevent women from attaining any liturgical or ecclesiastic position within the Church.

  • Ioannes

    Actually, David Starkey isn’t a bad historian. You must be the only mathematician on earth who thinks that 1900 years separates the 12th century from the present day (look back at your post of 11 November). You have no understanding whatsoever of Tra le Sollicitudine, in fact I doubt you have read it. “A deliberate and sustained attempt to prevent women …” If this is your take on it then you are an even bigger fool than I thought you were, which is saying a lot. You are entitled to your wrong-headed opinions and will probably go to the grave believing them, but it is not unreasonable to expect some evidence to back them up when you post on a public forum.

  • Libby Stockton

    If there was no rule preventing a woman from becoming a cardinal or the equivalent in the catholic church before 1917 then I too make that just short of 1900 years before it was changed to prevent it.

    It can’t be a coincidence that come 2014 when the Saudis liberalise their rules, the Vatican City will be the only ‘country’ on earth in which no woman are allowed to vote.

    You keep asking for proof from others but offer none of your own.

    I’ve read Tra le sollecitudini and it is there in black and white, a deliberate attempt to exclude women from activities with the church. Or at least ones that go beyond cleaning and other menial chores. It comes across like one of those proclamations from North Korea or the Taliban.

  • Ioannes

    Libby, Tra le Sollecitudine is a motu proprio about liturgical music. And you don’t seem to realize that the Vatican City State is not the same as the Holy See. It has no legislature, and so its citizens have nothing to vote for. Furthermore, it is totally illogical to say on the one hand “there was no rule” and then try to argue that “it [the rule] was changed”. Even if you then argue it was the imposition of a rule where none had previously existed (and the Church has never had written rules to cover everything – in fact there was no Code of Canon Law before 1917, but that didn’t mean there was no Canon Law) it was accepted long before 1917 that cardinals were clerics, even though some of them were in minor orders. The first cardinals were the seven deacons of the city of Rome; by the ninth century the term was used to refer to the parish priests of the Roman diocese; in 1059 they and the bishops of the suburbicarian sees were alone given the right to elect the pope; and in the 12th century began the now familiar practice of also appointing cardinals from outside Rome.

    So there was never a time when the term cardinal was applied to a non-cleric, and there was no need for a rule to exclude women, in 1917 or at any other time, since they were ineligible anyway. This is so patently self-evident I don’t see how you or anyone else can argue otherwise. Since you write “catholic church” (lower case) I assume that not only are you a non-Catholic but that you have a marked antipathy towards the Church, and this has adversely affected your judgement.

  • Same old, same old

    I wish people would stop this nonsense about the Vatican City and the Holy See not being the same thing. It definitely is so when it suits the church. Even if f the Vatican’s citizens have ‘nothing to vote for’, which I would dispute, as you claim then please don’t try to assume for it the status of a country.

    • Ioannes


      Try Googling Vatican City State. Even Wikipedia is better informed than you are. I am no longer prepared to engage in dialogue with those to whom truth is a foreign country, historical evidence is otiose and inconvenient, and far-fetched conspiracy theories, even when generated within their own imaginations, are axiomatically true, especially if they are prefaced with “the fact is that …”. The extent of your ignorance is breathtaking and you are literally incorrigible, since you wouldn’t recognize a fact if someone hit you with it. Your moniker is highly appropriate. You would be the archetypical pub bore (although I suspect most of your local hostelries have barred you by now). Goodbye.

  • Same old, same old

    If you ever demean yourself enough to present a fact rather than an opinion or prejudice then I would be more than happy to consider it.

    If there is nothing to vote for in the Vatican City then I can’t see why it warrants being a country. It definitely isn’t in the accepted sense of the word in Europe. There is no press freedom there, no freedom of worship, almost no transparency.


    You seem to suffer from the perennial problem of most jihadists of assuming that not to agree with you is to not understand.

  • Benedetto

    That’s one way of making the Holy Roman Catholic Church history. No women cardinals or priests or whatever. It will not benefit the church but it will divide it.

  • Here here Benedetto

    Here here Benedetto”

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