Pope Francis has said that he trusts the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women becoming priests is forever and will never be changed.
He said this aboard a plane heading to Rome from Sweden, in the freewheeling news conference with reporters that has become a tradition of his return flights from trips abroad.
The question of a female priest arose when a female reporter noted that the leader of the Lutheran Church who welcomed him in Sweden was a woman, and then asked the Pope if he thought the Catholic Church could allow women to be ordained as ministers in coming decades.
“St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this, and it stands, this stands,” Francis said.
Pope Francis was referring to a 1994 document by Pope John Paul that shut out the door on a female priesthood. The Vatican stated that the teaching is an infallible part of Catholic tradition.
Not giving up, the reporter then pressed the pope further, asking: “But forever, forever? Never, never?
Francis responded: “If we read carefully the declaration by St. John Paul II, it is going in that direction.”
Before this time, the Holy Pontiff had stated that the door to women’s ordination is closed, but Proponents of a female priesthood are hoping that a future pope might upturn the decision, chiefly because of the shortage of priests around the world.
The Catholic church teaching has that women cannot be ordained priests because Jesus in his infinite wisdom only chose only men as his apostles. Those calling for women priests say he was only following the norms of his time.
Pope Francis in August had set up a commission to study the role of female deacons in early Christianity, raising hopes among those campaigning for equal opportunity that women could one day have a greater say in the 1.2 billion-member Church.
Just like ordained Ministers, Deacons must be men but they cannot celebrate Mass, the Catholic Church’s central rite, but they are permitted to preach and teach God’s words in the name of the Church, and to baptize and conduct wake and funeral services.
The Church had centuries ago barred women from becoming deacons.
Meanwhile, scholars have been debating the exact role of women deacons in the early Church
Some argue they were ordained to minister to other women only especially in baptismal immersion rites while others say they were on a par with male deacons