In an interview with the New York Times's left-wing columnist Nicholas Kristof, the head of the archdiocese of Newark, N.J., Cardinal Joseph Tobin, said he saw no reason why Pope Francis could not name a woman as a Cardinal of the Catholic Church, something that has never happened in the 2,000-year history of the Church.
Kristof, who rejects the virgin birth of Christ and the Resurrection, asked Cardinal Tobin, "One area where the Catholic Church seems to me antiquated is gender. 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 a cardinal by Pope Francis in 2016, said, "Those are two different questions. Regarding priests, it really is a stumbling block for people, and especially in this country and in this culture, as all areas of life are opening up to women that this particular ministry in the Catholic Church is not. So I understand the consternation."
"I have eight sisters," said Card. Tobin. "I know for some women this sort of stumbling block takes them away from the church."
"As for cardinals, most are bishops but not all of them," he said. "As recently as the 19th century there were lay people who were cardinals."
Kristof then asked, "So will we see women cardinals soon?"
The head of the Newark archdiocese said, "Maybe my theology isn’t sophisticated enough, but I don’t believe that there’s a compelling theological reason why the Pope couldn’t name a woman cardinal."
"Pope Francis has promised to find a more incisive role for women in the church," he said. "There are isolated incidents of women being appointed to fairly influential posts in the Roman Curia. I think it’s got to be more than that."
It is a matter of Catholic faith that priests, bishops, cardinals, and Popes must be male because they represent Jesus Christ, who was a man, and because all the apostles were men. In his 1994 letter, Ordinatio sacredotalis, Pope St. John Paul II declared that "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."
Further, the Church has declared that Pope St. John Paul II's letter on ordination of men only to the priesthood is "founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied to the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magesterium" of the Church. This teaching "is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith."
Simply, the teaching will never change because it was established by God Himself.
There are an estimated 1.3 million Catholics in the Newark archdiocese.