The Roman Catholic Church will not be electing women cardinals into its ranks. Not soon. Not ever.
"This is just nonsense . . . It is simply not a realistic possibility that Pope Francis will name women cardinals," Fr Federico Lombardi, senior Vatican spokesman, was quoted by Irish Times.
Pope Francis greet cardinals and bishops during the general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican October 30, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
The Vatican official was reacting to reports that wildly insinuated Pope Francis is set to ordain two women as cardinals into the upcoming February conclave or meeting of bishops.
Reports were rife that Linda Hogan, TCD Professor of Ecumenics as well as Vice Provost of the college, has been nominated on a list of contenders by Fr James Keenan SJ, Professor of Moral Theology at Boston College.
Mary McAleese, former president of the college, was also reportedly nominated.
Fr Keenan also listed Maryanne Loughry, the associate director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Australia, and Holy Child Jesus Sr Teresa Okure, a theology professor at the Catholic Institute of West Africa in Nigeria.
Ms Hogan is a theology professor and founding member of the International Association for Catholic Social Thought. She is 49 years old and a married Irish woman.
"Theologically and theoretically, it is possible," Fr Lombardi said. "Being a cardinal is one of those roles in the church for which, theoretically, you do not have to be ordained but to move from there to suggesting the pope will name women cardinals for the next consistory is not remotely realistic."
Pope Francis will name 14 new cardinals in February, his first meeting of the College of Cardinals. Although the Pope is restricted by a Catholic canon law of 1917 to select only ordained men to become cardinals, the supreme pontiff still has the authority to overlook the law and select whoever he wants to rise among the ranks. The conclave is presently composed of 100 elderly males.
Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer to celebrate All Saints' Day in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican November 1, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
"Stay calm, no nomination of women cardinals are due," Fr Lombardi was quoted as saying last week.
Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, had earlier insinuated it was possible for a woman cardinal to be appointed by the Pope.
"One time somebody said to Blessed John Paul II, 'You should make Mother Teresa of Calcutta a cardinal.' And the Pope said, 'I asked her. She doesn't want to be one.'"
Apart from Ms Hogan, the other women candidates for cardinal were "two candidates from Brazil, three are African, one is Australian, another German and the ninth is from the Philippines," according to the Daily Mail.
"Were one of these women to be elected to the role by Pope Francis, they would become the most prominent and influential female in the Catholic Church, and could one day be elected to succeed the man who bestowed the honour upon them," the Daily Mail added.