Pope Francis rules out women as Roman Catholic priests
As he flew back to Rome from Sweden, Pope Francis on Tuesday said that the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching that women cannot be ordained as priests is likely to last forever.
He had gone to Sweden for a ceremony commemorating the year leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. He was embraced at an ecumenical church service by the primate of the Church of Sweden, Archbishop Antje Jackelen, who is a woman.
In a news conference aboard the pope’s plane, a Swedish journalist referred to Archbishop Jackelen and asked whether it was realistic to think that there might be female priests in the next few decades.
According to reporters who were on the plane, Francis responded, “On the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the last word is clear.”
He cited the apostolic letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, written in 1994 by St. Pope John Paul II. The letter said ordaining women was not possible because Jesus chose only men as his apostles.
“It was given by St. John Paul II, and this remains,” Francis said.
“If we read carefully the declaration made by St. John Paul II, it goes in this direction,” Francis replied. “But women can do many other things better than men,” he added, noting that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is of great importance in the church’s theology and spirituality.
Francis’s remarks are likely to cheer Catholic traditionalists, who are increasingly prone to accusing the pope of confusing the flock on doctrinal matters. But the same remarks will probably dismay other Catholics who have said they would like to see women eventually serve as priests.
Many Protestant denominations have ordained women as priests and bishops for decades. Among them is the Church of Sweden, a Lutheran denomination, which decided to ordain women in 1958.