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Cardinal Joseph Tobin speaks to the 'LGBT Pilgrimage' at his cathedral in Newark. Fr. James Martin / Facebook
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Francis-appointed cardinal: Pope could ‘name a woman cardinal’

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January 11, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – 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).

Pope St. John Paul II wrote in his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, “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.”

Because only a baptized man can validly receive sacred ordination (CCC 1577), and the diaconate is a part of the sacrament of holy orders, only men are permitted to be ordained deacons. Many scholars point to women in the early Church as non-ordained deaconesses, but some argue that they were actually ordained in this role.

Missed opportunities 

Tobin also missed other sterling opportunities to make strong statements in the NYT interview regarding the beauty and profundity of church teaching when asked about homosexuality, abortion, and family planning.  

Perhaps he was trying to steer clear of creating controversy, but nonetheless, Cardinal Tobin’s stance on the issue of gays has been clearly displayed since the beginning of his tenure as Newark’s Archbishop. 

Last year, the Cardinal personally welcomed homosexuals on a so-called “LGBT Pilgrimage,” to his Newark Cathedral.  

When asked by the New York Times if he should have used the event to call the “LGBT pilgrims” out of sin, Cardinal Tobin replied: “That sounds a little backhanded to me.” 

The “LGBT Pilgrimage Mass” was a significant gesture, reported the New York Times,  “because of the symbolism of a cardinal welcoming a group of gay Catholics, some of whom were married to same-sex spouses, to participate in the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the center of a cathedral, no questions asked.” 

Immediately following the event, Vatican advisor and pro-LGBT Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin delivered a congratulatory message to the Cardinal on his Facebook page, saying, “Bravo!”

Unsurprisingly, Cardinal Tobin is one of the top Vatican and United States church officials who has praised Fr. Martin for his pro-LGBT book, Building A Bridge.  

Cardinal Tobin is one of a growing group of prelates and influential clerics who act as if they are intending to undermine magisterial teaching and to defy natural law by supporting homosexual relationships.  

He is also fully supportive of Pope Francis controversial, divisive, Amoris Laetitia, which the Pope and some Prelates have interpreted as allowing “remarried” divorcees (without an annulment and not living in sexual continence) access to the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion.

A small but growing number of bishops are saying that such a reading is causing “rampant confusion” within the Church, that it will spread “a plague of divorce” in the Church, and that it is “alien” to the Church’s entire faith and Tradition.  

Cardinal Tobin seems to dismiss all his detractors with a biting, terse statement capping his America Magazine interview: “My favorite definition of heresy is an unwillingness to deal with complexity. It’s a desire to simplify into one bite-sized morsel.”

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