Cardinal José da Cruz Policarpo, the Patriarch of Lison, Portugal, is making waves for a small part of a very long interview he gave to Oa, the journal of the Ordem dos Advocados, a lawyers' association.
The interviewer asked the cardinal about the role of women in the Catholic Church and the cardinal responded by talking about women in the priesthood. While stating that the Church bases its position on Jesus and apostolic tradition, he also said that he saw no theological obstacle to women's ordination. Referring to Pope John Paul II's absolute rejection of the notion of women priests, the cardinal said that while it appeared that he had settled the matter, "the matter isn't settled that way."
The cardinal also said that there is still a strong cultural tradition against women priests and that he knows many women who have very responsible positions in the church but are not at all interested in ordination. He said no pope can currently make it happen ("it would cause a lot of tension") but that women's ordination will happen "if God wants it to happen", though probably not in our lifetime.
Cardinal Policarpo is 75, the age at which most prelates retire, but he has been allowed to stay on in Lisbon another two years. He hold a doctorate in theology from "the Greg" and served for many years as dean of the Theological Faculty of the Portuguese Catholic University.
Now we are getting the usual institutional Catholic Church back-tracking with a spokesperson for the Bishops' Conference of Portugal, of which the cardinal is president, hurrying to assure the media that Policarpo in no way supports women's ordination. "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.”