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Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ at the Synod on Synodality, October 2023 (CNS/Lola Gomez)

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ says the Church’s position on female priests is not set in stone and should be discussed further, at the same time warning of triggering “a huge backlash”. Source: CNA. 

Speaking to the official Swiss Catholic portal on May 17, Cardinal Hollerich, who is the Archbishop of Luxembourg, said the prohibition against ordaining women was “not an infallible doctrinal decision” and could be changed over time with arguments.

“The way I see it, most bishops are in favour of a greater role for women in the Church,” the Jesuit cardinal said. “I am in favour of women feeling fully equal in the Church. And we will also work toward this. I don’t know if that necessarily has to include ordination to the priesthood. You can’t tie everything to the priesthood alone. That would be clericalisation.”

When asked whether he thought Pope Francis would introduce female priests, Cardinal Hollerich replied: “It’s very difficult to say. The Pope is sometimes good for surprises.” 

“But I would actually say no. Shortly before the Synod, there was a ‘dubia’ from a few cardinals. They asked whether John Paul II’s rejection of the priesthood of women was binding for the Church. Francis replied very wisely: ‘It is binding, but not forever.’ And he also said that theology would have to discuss this further.”

The cardinal, who has previously courted controversy on doctrinal matters, emphasised the need for ongoing discussion. 

“It means that it is not an infallible doctrinal decision. It can be changed. It needs arguments and time,” Cardinal Hollerich said. 

At the same time, the Jesuit cautioned against pushing too hard for changes, noting that “if you push too much, you won’t achieve much. You have to be cautious, take one step at a time, and then you might be able to go very far.”


Cardinal Hollerich urges caution, dialogue on women’s ordination (By AC Wimmer, CNA)