A source from the Bishop’s Conference of Portugal has explained to CNA that the Patriarch of Lisbon, is not in favor of women's ordination even though “he was not accurate in commenting on the priesthood during a recent interview.”
The source clarified that the reports claiming that the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Jose Policarpo, 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 wasn’t great, but to conclude that he was supporting the ordination of women is an exaggeration and even a distortion of what he said.”
The cardinal addressed the issue of priestly ordination in two questions during an extensive interview for the May 2011 edition of a magazine published by the Portuguese Order of Lawyers. His answers are reprinted below in their entirety:
Question: Women cannot occupy positions of responsibility in the Catholic Church. What is your opinion on this?
Cardinal Policarpo: Your statement is not accurate. Look, since the time of St. Paul…The problem that has recently emerged is that of priestly ministry. If we set that aside, there were periods in which women have been absolutely decisive; we need only think of the role of the monasteries, where the abbesses had great responsibilities. The problem posed today has been accentuated by the fact that non-Catholic churches have ordained women for priestly ministry, which has, so to speak, created controversy. The position of the Catholic Church is very much based on the Gospel. She does not have the autonomy that, for example, a political party or a government has in general. She has her faithfulness to the Gospel, to the person of Jesus and to a very strong tradition that we received from the apostles. Already in Jesus’ times there was a very beautiful complementarity between the role of women and the role of men. It was not a coincidence that Jesus chose men for the priesthood and gave women a different kind of consideration…I think this is a false problem. One time I was with a group of young people here in the diocese and as we were talking, a young girl asked the question: Why can’t women be priests? I decided to risk an answer and I said: You are right, but in order for others to study the question we need to know if there are any female candidates…Which of you would like to be a candidate? None of the girls looked up. I have known and know responsible women in the Church who do not want the ministerial priesthood. One time, during an international conference in Vienna on the new evangelization, this question was raised, and I said at this time there is no Pope who has the power for that. That would cause tensions, and it would only happen if God wants it to happen and if it is His will, it will happen. One time I asked an evangelical minister in Denmark about this question, and he said all women are part of the work of charity, with their tenderness and dedication; but with regards to presiding at the Sunday service, the pews have become empty as soon as women began presiding. I don’t know why. The Holy Father John Paul II, at one point, seemed to settle the issue. I think the issue can’t be settled like this, theologically there is no fundamental obstacle; there is a tradition, so to speak…it has never been any other way.
Question: From the theological point of view there is no obstacle…
Cardinal Policarpo: I don’t think there is any fundamental obstacle. There is a fundamental equality for all the members of the Church. The problem is from another perspective, from a strong tradition that comes from Jesus, and from the ease with which other reformed churches went in this direction. This has not facilitated a solution to the problem, if the problem has a solution at all. What’s certain is that it is not something for our lifetime, for today, the time in which we are living. It is one of those problems that is best left untouched…it causes a whole host of reactions.