“In the short span of three weeks, Cardinal Joseph Tobin has made startling statements regarding the role of women within the Catholic Church in a pair of interviews reported in high profile left-leaning publications – The New York Times (NYT) and Jesuit America Magazine.
Nicholas Kristoff kicked off the NYT interview by zeroing in on a favorite term, ‘gender,’ in what amounted to a slight against Catholicism. ‘One area where the Catholic Church seems to me antiquated is gender.’ Kristoff continued, ‘If Jesus trusted women like Mary Magdalene, if Phoebe could be a leader of the early church, then why can’t women be priests or cardinals today?’
Tobin, who was made cardinal by Pope Francis in 2016, chose not to use this as an opportunity to explain Church teaching to Kristoff and the few million NYT readers. Instead, he expressed empathy for those who have a problem with the Catholic priesthood. He suggested the male priesthood is a ‘stumbling block,’ and then went further, saying, ‘I know for some women this sort of stumbling block takes them away from the church.’
Speaking to America Magazine, Tobin expressed an even deeper degree of empathy with women who disagree with church teaching. He said he has become ‘more and more aware of how women have been given a lot of reason to abandon the church’ because of the ‘disrespect’ they experience within the Church.
Developing the idea that women are hurt by being deprived of participation in the diaconate, Tobin suggested the Church’s culture is tinged with misogyny, closed-mindedness, and male privilege.
‘The overarching challenge of clericalism … is not simply a potentially misogynistic mindset, but … a closed mindset. It’s a closed mindset that believes in certain privilege and entitlement,’ he said.
Cardinal Tobin’s Case for Women Cardinals
When asked by the NYT, ‘So will we see women cardinals soon?’ Cardinal Tobin delivered perhaps his biggest stunner, ‘I don’t believe that there’s a compelling theological reason why the pope couldn’t name a woman cardinal.’
In the America Magazine interview, Cardinal Tobin went still further and aligned himself with left-leaning Hofstra University professor Phyllis Zagano, a well-known advocate for women’s ordination to the diaconate. She has spoken at events sponsored by organizations that promote women’s ordination to the priesthood.
When pressed for a concrete example of Pope Francis’ fresh ‘new way’ when it comes to the role of women within the Catholic Church, Tobin referred to the commission created by the Pope, tasked with looking at the question of women in the diaconate.
‘For me, what was significant was not simply that he named this commission but who he put on it. Here from North America, we’re delighted that Phyllis Zagano, who is a very erudite woman and also a very clearly spoken woman on the issue, was named to it.’
The Catholic Church has long held women’s ordination is an ontological impossibility because Jesus ordained only men. Their masculinity is essential to their priesthood and their ability to act in the person of Christ (in persona Christi).”