Cardinal Jose Policarpo of Lisbon has issued a statement clarifying remarks he made on the ordination of women during an interview with the Portuguese Order of Lawyers.
In the statement published on July 6, Cardinal Policarpo said, “Reactions to this interview have forced me to look at this issue with greater care, and I realized that I provoked them, above all because I did not take into sufficient account the latest statements of the Magisterium on this issue.”
The cardinal said that review led him to clearly explain his position “as bishop and pastor of the People of God.”
Cardinal Policarpo’s statement comes after a source at the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference—who asked to remain unidentified because of the sensitivity of the situation—told CNA the cardinal does not in fact support the ordination of women, although “he was not accurate in speaking about the priesthood during a recent interview.”
The source clarified that the reports claiming that the Patriarch of Lisbon is a supporter of women’s ordination are based on “deliberately selective excerpts from an interview that in itself was unclear.”
Cardinal Policarpo, who was elected president of the Bishops’ Conference of Portugal in 2011, “tried to explain Catholic teaching on the priesthood to a secular media outlet unfamiliar with Catholicism,” the source added.
“The outcome of the interview was not great, but to conclude that he was supporting the ordination of women is an exaggeration and even a distortion of what he said.”
In his July 6 statement of clarification, the Portuguese cardinal quoted Blessed John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, in which the pontiff stated: “I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.”
“Not conferring the apostolic priesthood on women through priestly ordination is a tradition that is rooted in the New Testament, in Jesus Christ himself and in the way in which he laid the foundations of his Church,” the cardinal continued.
“The issue of the ordination of women to the apostolic priesthood has emerged recently, especially in Western countries, because of various factors,” such as “movements promoting women” or “an understanding of the ministerial priesthood as a right and a power.”
“The difference in ministries does not diminish the dignity of the mission” women have, and the impossibility of being ordained “does not mean a minimizing of women, but rather it is intended to complement the differences between males and females, which is fully realized in the relationship between Christ and Mary.”
Cardinal Policarpo concluded, “we are invited to adhere to the Magisterium of the Holy Father, in the humility of our faith, and we will continue to study in depth the relationship of the ministerial priesthood to the priestly nature of the entire People of God and to discover the feminine way of building the Church, in the decisive role of the mission of women.”
“During this year in which I celebrate the 50th year of my priestly ordination-- a great manifestation of God’s kindness towards me--I wanted to issue this clarification to the faithful of my diocese. It would sadden me if my words were to cause confusion in our adherence to the Church and the teaching of the Holy Father,” the cardinal said.
“I believe I have clearly shown you that communion with the Holy Father is an absolute part of the exercise of my ministry,” he said.
The full statement in Portuguese can be found at http://www.patriarcado-lisboa.pt/site/index.php?id=904