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Pope Francis: “On the ordination of women in the Catholic church, the last word is clear”

Pope Francis: “On the ordination of women in the Catholic church, the last word is clear”

On the plane back from a visit to Sweden, Pope Francis appeared to confirm his belief that the ban on women’s priestly ordination in the Roman Catholic church is final.

According to the National Catholic Register, the comments “do not represent a change in position for the pontiff but appear significant in their finality.”

“Is it realistic to think that there might be women priests also in the Catholic church in the next few decades?” the journalist asked the pope.

“On the ordination of women in the Catholic church, the last word is clear,” Francis responded, before mentioning John Paul’s 1994 apostolic letter banning the practice, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. “It was given by St. John Paul II and this remains.”

“But really forever?” the journalist asked. “Never?”

“If we read carefully the declaration made by St. John Paul II, it goes in that direction,” Francis replied.

“But women can do many other things better than men,” the pope continued, before repeating remarks he has said in the past about the Catholic church having two dimensions: a Petrine, apostolic dimension led by the bishops and a Marian dimension, which he called “the feminine dimension of the church.”

During his visit to Sweden, Francis was greeted by Lutheran Archbishop Antje Jackelén, leader of the Church of Sweden.

Find the story of his remarks in the National Catholic Register here; our previous coverage of the Pope’s historic joint worship with Lutherans in Sweden here.

Image: Archbishop Antje Jackelén and Pope Francis

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JC Fisher

It occurred to me, shortly after I heard this, that there may (!) be a way out (beyond) this. Church unity would come, w/ ordained ministry organized into “Rites”. The Roman Catholic Church is already subdivided into Eastern, and Latin, Rites as it is. And as we know, Eastern Rite priests are permitted to be married (prior to their ordination).

Ergo, let the “Latin Rite” ordained priesthood stay as it is (male and celibate). Unity w/ Lutheran & Anglican holy orders (inc women, married persons—inc gay married persons!) could be achieved if they were understood as additional “Western Rites” (note, I’m not even addressing the question of the authority of the Bishop of Rome here, just the priesthood). Everybody wins: the RCC gets to claim “we never changed!”, Western Rites keep their inclusive ordinations.

Just an ecumenical possibility.

William Moorhead

JC – The fact that the Cubs just won the World Series prevents me from lamenting that your ecumenical possibility will never happen. But actually the question of the authority of the Bishop of Rome IS the issue. In my opinion we can dismiss “papal infallibility” as essentially meaningless, but the universal ordinary jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome makes Roman yearning for church unity fundamentally hypocritical. They have to renounce it. Full stop. Period. Otherwise there will never be visible unity among the “mainline” churches. Rome needs to pay less attention to their tendentious reading of Matthew 16:18 and more to Mark 10:42-45 & parallels. As must we all.

Gary Paul Gilbert

What hypocrisy when the guy has just spoken to the primate of the Church of Sweden, a woman!
Why negotiate with an organization which disrespects leaders of one’s own organization?

He says it is clericalism to demand the same access to ordination for women who are called as it is for men. This is the same guy who says civil unions are good enough for same-sex couples.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Anne Benedict

This is a paradox only as long as you believe that failure to ordain someone is disrespect.

The Pope speaks with and has warm relationships with a whole range of people whose beliefs he does not share.

John Donnelly

I would reply, lovingly, that the Pope did not say that he would decline “someone” who presented for Holy Orders, just ALL women who do so; a huge difference,right?

Rod Gillis

It’s their cross. Let them carry it.

Philip B. Spivey

“Never” is not in the vocabulary of the Holy Spirit. I think Pope Francis knows that. Otherwise he would have said, “Never, ever!”

David Carver

Sad to hear, but in my parents’ generation the Episcopal Church would have felt the same. (More recently than that if we count the very Anglo-Catholic Diocese of Quincy, who only departed for the ACNA several years back.) A lot can change in a generation; Let’s hope that holds true for Rome as well.

David Carver

I just realized that I’m terrible at math. My parents would’ve been at most 18 – IE, close to my age – at the time ECUSA began ordaining women. Not sure if that counts as their “generation”…

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