The Vatican dismissed reports over the weekend that Pope Francis could nominate two Irish women as cardinals.
Irish and Irish-American media reported the pope had considered naming both Trinity College Professor Linda Hogan and former Irish President Mary McAleese as cardinals.
But a Vatican spokesman on Sunday called those reports “just nonsense,” and said it wasn’t a realistic possibility that women would be named cardinals at the February meeting of the Sacred College of the Cardinals.
“Theologically and theoretically, it is possible,” said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi. “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.”
The pope has spoken frequently since his March election of reassessing the role of women in the church, and Catholic leaders have speculated since then about the possibility of women cardinals.
In addition to the two Irish candidates, the Italian minister for integration, Cecile Kyenge, has been mentioned as a hypothetical candidate.
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