Papal Conclave Sends White Smoke, But Should Vatican Have Chosen A New Female Pope?

Patrick Frye

The papal conclave at the Vatican has issued white smoke, signaling that the cardinals gathered together for the papal election after Pope Benedict XVI resigned are finally finished. In 1939, Pius XII was elected within three ballots, but seven ballots on average have been required over the last nine papal conclaves. But should have the cardinals at the papal conclave also been considering whether a female pope is an option?

The idea of a female pope is not new. The legend of female Pope Joan first appeared in the 13th century, claiming that a woman pope rose through the ranks of the Catholic Church while disguised as a man. Pope Joan supposedly had her secret come out, with some versions of the story saying she was killed or at least exiled. Most historians think the medieval accounts are just legends, but some say it's plausible that a female pope might have put a claim to the title when the leadership of the Catholic church was heavily contested.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, women may rise to the position of under-secretary in the Vatican, but only two women currently hold that title. The Roman Catholic church contends that women may not be ordained as priests as stated in the Bible. But this statement is considered controversial through the worldwide church, not just the Catholic church.

There are approximately 600 million Catholic women in the world, but none will have a direct say in who the next pope will be. In 2008, the Vatican formally declared its policy of excommunication of women priests who completed ordination. Yet at the same time many liturgical type churches, including the Church of England, have begun ordaining women priests. While some churches, like the Catholic Church, try to make a distinction between the clergy and laity, others say that the New Testament calls Jesus Himself the High Priest and that all are equal ministers underneath Jesus.

People who argue against women pastors often refer to this one Bible verse, 1 Tim. 2:12-14:

"But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression."

Some people point out that if you look at the entire section in context, the pretext for this declaration was that the false doctrine was being spread through the local church. Supposedly, some of the women in that area were spreading the ideas. So Paul was attempting to stop this spread, thus the reference to Eve.

To put balance to Paul's personal opinion on the matter, people who argue for woman priests point to the Old Testament. Deborah was a female judge among 13 male judges. Huldah was the only female prophet mentioned in the Bible alongside dozens of male prophets. Going forward into the New Testament, Priscilla and Phoebe are presented as faithful leaders in the growing Christian church. Other women are listed as prophets. So, while the number of examples are few, the Bible does make mention of women serving as leaders under God.

As the papal conclave at the Vatican concludes, do you think the Catholic Church should have been open to a female pope?