Pope Francis may have softened a little on some long-held Catholic beliefs, with quick instances being when he spoke positively on allowing contraceptives in some situations and when he said the church needed to apologize to gay people.
On Tuesday, however, he was stoic as he declared his belief that the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women becoming priests is forever.
Basically, female priests are never going to happen in the Catholic church. Pope Francis had been speaking aboard a plane taking him back to Rome from Sweden.
One reporter had pointed out that the head of the Lutheran Church who welcomed Pope Francis in Sweden was a woman. The Swedish female reporter had then tagged on a question to that statement asking pope Francis if he thought the Catholic Church could allow women to be ordained as ministers in coming decades.
Pope Francis stated definitively;
“St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this and it stands, this stands.”
By that statement, Pope Francis made reference to a 1994 document by Pope John Paul that shut the door completely to Catholic female priests. the Vatican retains its stance that the teaching against female priests is an infallible part of Catholic tradition and Pope Francis made that clear when he answered the reporter who kept on pressing him by asking “But forever, forever? Never, never?” with the response;
“If we read carefully the declaration by St. John Paul II, it is going in that direction.”
Pope Francis kept with previous statements he has made on the matter of female priests, proponents on female priesthood still hold out hope, however, that a future pope might overturn the decision. After the Pope’s statement on the matter, the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC), one group that promotes female priesthood, reacted with a statement; “Patriarchy Will Not Have the Last Word“.
In it, they said that they were “profoundly disappointed” by the pope’s comments and called the 1994 document the Pope referred to as “outdated, fallible and painful”.
The Catholic Church teaches against female priests basing their stance on the fact that Jesus willingly chose only men as his apostles. People with opposing views on the matter say that Jesus had merely been following the norms of his time. The church also bars women from becoming deacons.