Female cardinals not “realistic.” A Vatican spokesman moved to quash speculation at least two women would be among the cardinals Pope Francis will name in February, saying such a move is “not a realistic possibility.” Irish media had reported Francis could name Linda Hogan and Mary McAleese as cardinals. Both are associated with Trinity College in Dublin—Hogan as a professor of ecumenism and McAleese, past president of Ireland, as a former professor. Some Italian media speculated Cecile Kyenge, the Congo-born Italian minister of integration, could be a candidate, as well. Kyenge is a graduate of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan. The Vatican’s chief spokesman, Federico Lombardi, did his best to stifle the speculation, calling the notion “nonsense,” and adding, “It is simply not a realistic possibility that the pope will name female cardinals for the consistory in February.” He conceded, however, such a move was “theologically and theoretically” possible. “Being a cardinal is one of the roles in the church for which, in theory, one does not have to be ordained as a priest. But to move from that point to suggesting the pope will name female cardinals for the consistory is not even remotely realistic,” Lombardi said.
Evangelicals stand by dismissed American Bible Society chief. A group of leading evangelicals expressed concern over the recent dismissal of the American Bible Society’s new president after just six months on the job. Doug Birdsall became president and CEO of the nearly 200-year-old nonprofit in March after leading a global gathering of evangelicals for the Lausanne Movement’s Cape Town 2010 meeting. Weeks before his Nov. 8 inauguration ceremony at the American Bible Society, he was dismissed by the board, which cited significant differences in how to achieve the organization’s goals. A group of Birdsall’s friends—including Tim Keller, pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church; David Wills of Generous Giving; and Peter Ochs of First Fruit Inc.—released a letter criticizing the dismissal. Birdsall declined to speculate on reasons for his dismissal, saying he was in the middle of planning several projects for the Bible Society, including a $500 million capital campaign, the organization’s upcoming bicentennial and a project to target the Bible to 125 million people under 28 years of age. The organization was in negotiations to tear down its 12-story headquarters in Manhattan and build a 30-story tower so it could host like-minded organizations. Under Birdsall, the organization also was designing a Bible museum to host what he believes is the second- most-valuable Bible collection outside the Vatican.