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Pope says he believes ban on female priests is forever

Pope Francis speaks to journalists on his flight back to Rome from Sweden on Nov. 1, 2016. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Ettore Ferrari/Pool

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) Pope Francis said he believes the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women becoming priests is forever and will never be changed, in some of his most definitive remarks on the issue.

He was speaking Tuesday (Nov. 1) aboard a plane taking him back to Rome from Sweden, in the freewheeling news conference with reporters that has become a tradition of his return flights from trips abroad.

A Swedish female reporter noted that the head of the Lutheran Church who welcomed him in Sweden was a woman, and then asked 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.

Francis was referring to a 1994 document by John Paul that closed the door on a female priesthood. The Vatican says this teaching is an infallible part of Catholic tradition.

The reporter then pressed the pope, 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.”


RELATED: Supporters of women as priests see hope in pope’s openness to deacons


Francis has previously said that the door to women’s ordination is closed, but proponents of a female priesthood are hoping that a future pope might overturn the decision, particularly because of the shortage of priests around the world.

The Catholic Church teaches that women cannot be ordained priests because Jesus chose only men as his apostles. Those calling for women priests say he was only following the norms of his time.

In August, Francis set up a commission to study the role of women deacons in early Christianity, raising hopes among equality campaigners that women could one day have a greater say in the 1.2 billion-member church.

Deacons, like priests, are ordained ministers and must be men. They cannot celebrate Mass, the Catholic Church’s central rite, but they are allowed to preach and teach in the name of the church, and to baptize and conduct wake and funeral services.

The church barred women from becoming deacons centuries ago.

Scholars debate the precise role of women deacons in the early church. Some say they were ordained to minister only to other women, for instance in baptismal immersion rites. Others believe they were on a par with male deacons.

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Philip Pullella

29 Comments

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  • So he appeals to Pope John Paul on this point but disregards Pope John Paul when it comes to Familiaris Consortio which had reiterated the Church’s teaching that the Divorced and Remarried may not be admitted to Holy Communion?

    What a sad and ridiculous joke Pope Francis is turning the papacy into 🙁

  • How many Catholic bishops do you know who are “faithful to a wife” and with children? (1 Timothy 3:2 TNIV)

  • That’s right. A bunch of dusty, barren old fools who lust after power and control feel threatened by women. Puh-leeze!

    Violet’s link is first rate and ought to be read. The Vatican knows they don’t have a leg (or something) to stand on when trying to oppose women’s ordination. If a huge corporate entity such as the RCC, with all it’s resources, which is extremely heavily invested in minimizing women, can’t find find a scriptural excuse to keep women out, it’s only because there is absolutely nothing there.

  • What a long comment you have sent me Bill. Yes, it is remarkable that the Catholic Church disregards so much of the Bible. I don’t see much basis for “confession.” But as to whether the Gospel intends to have the bread be “flesh,” I would have to say that in the context of the Pagan beliefs of the times?? it may be so. It may be an upgrade to whatever “dying young lord” traditions the Pagans had. Originally perhaps there was actual cannibalism that gradually was reformed to be merely symbolic. Jesus as the “one and only” sacrifice of the Book of Hebrews may have been an urgent reform by Yahwists if there was still human sacrifice going on in the backwoods. The Vatican understands that there were gender specific roles in the Pagan liturgies of the first century, and they have no wish to allow women to once again participate at the altar, not even in the gender equal role of a woman priest. This is why they deny it in terms of Bride and Bridegroom — reflecting the Pagan sacred marriage ceremony.

  • Bill – 1st Timothy and Titus are not believed to be even written by St. Paul but someone else using his name for prestige. No part of the bible is more important than the Gospels for anyone who wants Jesus to consider them his followers.

    “Those who listen to my teachings and act upon them. These are my mother, my brother, my sister.”

    “Do not do unto others what you do not prefer.”

    This is the greatest commandment “You must love the Lord, your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”

    Those who teach against the Great Commandment to treat all others the same as they wish to be treated break this highest commandment, and prove themselves idolatrous since they value someone else’s teachings above Jesus Christ’s. Anyone who speaks discrimination based on flesh commits the grave sin of hatred of neighbor against the human dignity of that person.

  • Amen Sister.

    I was enraged when I first read about this statement from Francis.

    Then in prayer, God calmed me down, and reminded me that the war is always at its worse, and bloodiest, directly before the peace comes and the war ends.

    This just means we must fight more and more aggressively until the war is won. No time for depression or to faint in faith. We are on the side of the Gospels on this issue so God is on our side. We must act now with faith and trust in our Just God, and not wither in the least!

    Peace Sister and God Bless You Violet!
    Nora

  • Historically, the stories of the Flood and Adam and Eve were adaptations of stories from earlier traditions. Adam is given authority in the story because it is a patriarchal story.

    People who have leadership skills are capable of being leaders regardless of gender. I do believe that each person has the ability to be a leader in some aspect or in some circumstance of his/her life. Also, each person has the ability to be creative. The servant-leadership style exhibited by Jesus is the best kind of leadership.

  • Great to hear from you Nora! I have a slightly different view.

    I think Francis opened the door a bit. Using NCR which has the more complete quotes — he says this teaching “remains.” That could mean “endures;” however it could mean, “it is the status quo.” At this point one might assume he means, “it is a done deal.” However — then he says,”it goes in that direction.” So not a done deal, but instead, a process that has a direction. This is an enormous step forward to define the teaching not as a done deal, but as a process, perhaps a process of discernment. But then he closes by reverting to form, essentially back to women are merely complementary (the “Marian dimension”). So he is still mired in that and he sets limits on how far the process can go. But overall, better than before.

    Nora, thanks for all your efforts and may blessings be upon you. (Because of Civil, I am not posting at NCR.)

  • No. Quite the opposite. The Word is Jesus Christ which makes the Gospels supreme over some unknown person claiming to be St. Paul in order to get the church to follow his ideas which contradict the Great Commandment of Christ. We are here to spread the Gospel of Christ not the Gospel of other men. We know a piece of scripture is not inspired by God when it contradicts what has been commanded by Christ. The Holy Spirit does contradict himself in the form of Jesus Christ. No one including St. Paul or those pretending to be him has the right to contradict the clear teachings of Christ.

    From the church, men only, (so not the whole church was allowed representation) put together the New Testament, long after Jesus, and the original 12, and the other male and female disciples went to heaven.

    Those who decided what will go into it were only men along with the Emperor of Rome, who only converted to Christianity, as a matter of political safety rather than of faith. They picked these letters more because they attacked women’s roles in leadership not because the Holy Spirit told them to and the Emperor did not want women in leadership.

    Our Church thrived, originally, because men and women and slaves were treated the same in church, and women led churches and were presbyters (priests), deacons, elders and apostles in the first 100 years of the church.

    So these letters of 1st Timothy and Titus, are from an agenda of men not the Holy Spirit. Even those who specialize in St. Paul studies agree these are extremely unlikely to be St. Pauls. It was not uncommon for people to use a famous name to get their words more noticed.
    St. Paul did not appreciate people writing the churches claiming to be him either as we see Galatians has St. Paul telling them. “Look this is my signature, not another one, this is my writing.”

    You want God’s Word? – I suggest you stand by what is written in the Gospels, and anything that contradicts those teachings, do not follow because that is what Jesus Christ told his followers to do, and He alone is the Word. No one is perfect except Jesus Christ which means all other people make mistakes whether they want to or not.

  • No that is absolutely wrong which explains why Genesis never states that it is true.

    “God created “Man”. Male and Female he created them.”

    One equal creation not two. God does not give Adam more authority than Eve. It is only thru sin and the Fall that women become subject to men and this is a consequence of sin so when sin is cleared away by Jesus we go back to equality, or we claim Jesus Christ has accomplished nothing.

    Also, by the way, are all gentile men less than Jewish men, if Jesus has not cleared away sin, so no Gentile blooded men can be acceptable priests either, if this is your standard.

    Jesus is the true savior who freed all equally, or he is not. He can’t be both, or a partial savior.

    Jesus, nor the original 12, ever ordained anyone to priesthood, other than the royal priesthood, which all believers in Christ are equally a part of, so if you are thinking ordination to priesthood is somewhere, in the bible, as coming from Christ or the 12, it is not there.

  • Now you need to let me educate you.

    Even those who are experts in the study of St. Paul agree St. Paul never wrote 1st Timothy or Titus. So there go all of your bishops can’t be girls nonsense verses.

    Even if St. Paul did write them (which he didn’t, but instead someone else using his name for its prestige, as was common back then) St. Paul would have been wrong, in what he wrote, because what this scripture teaches, contradicts, directly, the Great Commandment of Jesus Christ which demands we all must not treat anyone any differently than we wish to be treated ourselves. There are no exceptions for gender, race, ethnicity etc. to this commandment. Anyone who teaches against the Great Commandment sins while they do because Jesus Christ told us we MUST hold this Commandment above all other laws and teachings, except the law to love God above all. This is stated in various ways, from Christ, himself, directly, in all four excepted Gospels. In the Gospel of John we are even told that we can’t love God unless we treat all others with love, and how we wish to be treated ourselves.

    St. Paul does not trump Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ trumps all, including St. Paul.

    The Corinthians verse you are using is an error on St. Paul’s part because Christ does not teach this about gender or marriage.

    All Christ ever states in the Gospels is that a man shall leave his family and cling to his wife and the two become one flesh so there is no more man and women but one body, and all of its parts are equal in worth, and in their humanity, and sacredness. Our own Pope just recently stated, clearly, that we are misinterpreting what St. Paul meant in Corinthians and that women are not subject to their husbands.

    The Holy Spirit does not teach against what He spoke clearly, previously, thru Jesus Christ in the Gospels.

    Also the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be himself alone: I will make him an help meet for him. —

    Even the verse you gave here does not indicate that one person is above or has more authority over the other. If my friend helps me do something, that does not make me or him/her superior or inferior.

    However, because the man was unhappy without woman, this unhappiness indicates incompleteness. So for the creation “Man” to be complete, woman was necessary and created from his flesh and is one with his flesh. Again, God tells us man and women are the complete creation “Man” which is why Genesis states God created “Man”, male and female he created them. God does not describe man and women as separate but equal creations but instead as one complete creation. Which is why, to this day, “Man” is synonymous with “People” or “Humankind” not just half of humankind.

    There is nothing in the Gospels or writings of any of the original apostles stating women cannot be priests, bishops, cardinals or popes and St. Paul is not among the original 12. In fact, there is nothing in any of the Gospels or writings of the original 12 indicating Jesus or the apostles ordained anyone anything at all. None of them indicates there is in existence a priesthood outside of the Royal Priesthood which includes all christian believers, male and female, equally.

  • Actually, anyone who chooses to uphold teachings of an unknown person’s work over Jesus Christ’s teachings, in the Gospels, because they hope it will support their sexist beliefs in our church, is not only not a Christian since the definition of Christian is a person who follows Jesus Christ’s commands and Gospel over all other people’s teachings, but a blasphemer against the Holy Spirit Himself. Better a Heretic who appropriately refutes erroneous traditions, than a blasphemer against God Almighty.

    You need to realize that 2nd Timothy which is probably written by St. Paul is not referring to the letter he is writing, which is what you are using as scripture, as Paul did not consider his letters scripture. St. Paul is referring to only the written scripture that he knew of which existed at his time which is the Jewish Law scriptures (Torah) and books of the Jewish Prophets. Even the Gospels were not yet written when Paul wrote the letter you are quoting.

    We have changed traditions and even doctrines, in our past, because they were flawed, and we must change the ban against women priests as well because it breaks the Great Commandment of Jesus Christ, making it highly flawed and grave sin to continue in our church.

    John 14:23

    Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

  • The Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John dispute your words so I am really secondary in calling your beliefs erroneous and false.

    What kind of Christian ignores that, in every Gospel, Jesus Christ, himself, has ordered no one treat anyone, any differently, than they want to treated themselves, or support those who teach these things, but considers himself a better christian because he disputes those who follow what Christ’s Gospels actually commanded?

    I speak against 1 Timothy and Titus because they speak against the Great Commandment of Christ and have no authenticity in even being St. Paul’s.

    If our church be not followers of Jesus Christ’s Commandments than we are not Christians or saved.

    Salvation comes ONLY thru following Jesus Christ himself, not the person St. Paul, not the person St. Peter but Jesus Christ, and both St. Peter and St. Paul would agree with me, not you. Neither one of these men considered themselves anything outside of Jesus Christ.

    A comparison – Dialogue from the garden to your argument:

    God tells Adam and Eve “Do not eat from the Tree of Knowledge or you shall surely die.” The devil asked Eve, in front of Adam, did God actually say this? and Eve responded “Yes – God did tell us that.” Then the devil said “Surely you will not die but will you will become like Gods yourselves if you eat of this tree.”
    Eve ate, and so did her husband because knowing what God said did not prevent them from acting against what God said, or cause them to have faith in what God said.

    Comparatively, Jesus tells all our Church, and all its leaders, that they should never treat anyone any differently than they wish to be treated themselves. He tells us this is the most important commandment and those who break it prove they do not love God or their sisters or brothers.
    Jesus further states that those who break this commandment and do not follow Jesus’ Teachings, will be denied by Jesus. He will not claim to know such people.

    Yet our bishops continually treat women less than themselves, by refusing to ordain women the same as themselves. These men treat women differently than they would wish to be treated based on some unknown person writing and pretending to be St. Paul.

    It is not I who resemble Adam and Eve, by ignoring Gods commands in our treatment of women, but our hierarchy, and people like you, who do this, by supporting unequal treatment in our ordination practices.

  • No this time it is a man, named Bill, who was convinced to believe that sexism, a form of hatred, is really a Godly thing not an evil hatred.

    So saith Satan “Thats right Bill, Jesus was just kidding when he commanded you to treat everyone, including women, the same. So if you treat women less you won’t really go to hell even though all of the Gospels say Jesus will deny people who reject Jesus’ commands. So go ahead and support sexism and the diminished human dignity of your sisters – Jesus won’t care at all.”

  • Actually, I think the problem here is that you have never actually opened an actual Gospel, or you think, erroneously, that the letters to Timothy are Gospels and they are not.

    It is I who are protecting our Brothers and Sisters from the sin of sexism which is no less evil than the sin of racism. The Gospels back me and contradict both you and the letters to Timothy. Obviously you already know this or you would back your beliefs with the Gospels but you can’t because there is nothing in the Gospels to support your hatred and abuse of your sisters in Christ.

    Better a heretic who speaks against a sinful man-made Catholic Tradition in order to bring Justice to our church than a blasphemer who speaks against the commands of Jesus Christ, himself.

  • Actually, some folks just read the plain, clear translation and accept it, and follow it.

    No one honestly seeking the truth, interprets a clear statement of “Do not treat anyone any differently than you prefer to be treated yourself.” as you can treat some groups of people the exact opposite of how you would like to be treated and much less than yourself. You and our hierarchy are the ones with the agenda. Not me. Sexism is sin. Sin is always evil no matter who supports it.

    No Pope, or Bishop, or all Bishops put together, nor any saint, can make sin righteous. This is why Catholicism has built into its beliefs “Primacy of Conscience”. So if a Pope or bishop demands you do, or support, harm towards another, in good conscience, Catholics can refuse to follow this command.

  • I am not deceiving anyone. These commands and teachings are clear and brightly present in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I don’t need to twist anything as Christ’s commandments are not at all vague. Our brothers and sisters can pick up a copy of the Bible, as can you, and read for yourself what I have stated above.

    I believe maybe it is you who need to go to another faith in Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church does not state that every word in the bible is Jesus’ word but merely that the scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Even the church admits that the letter you are citing is not likely written by Paul. You seem to prefer the Evangelical, fundamentalist way of treating the bible. The Catholic Church recognizes a deeper meaning than face value, and takes into account that the person who wrote the scripture had an effect on the scripture writings.

  • Why is it every time a traditionalist fails to come up with a real argument they revert to nonsense? This response of yours makes no sense.

    I fear this means you are just going to send back more of the same unfounded nasty responses so I will bid you peace and farewell for the day Bill.

  • Well then you should read one. The Gospels disagree with your argument and they are definitely, all four of them, in the Bible.

  • And here come the credentials since we don’t have a legitimate argument to support our beliefs.

    Most other people on the planet believe that those who do follow the Great Commandment of Christ, first and foremost, are the actual Christians. Not the people who twist those commandments to exclude those they wish to abuse and deny equity in or out of church.

    The Gospels don’t agree with you. This means Jesus does not agree either. This is a problem your argument will not be able to overcome. I suggest you examine your conscience and ask yourself why you are so desperate to mistreat your Sisters in Christ.

  • Well, as I have said previously, all I do is pick up the bible and read the Gospels as they are clearly written. So that is not a very nice way to speak of the Gospels. I will pray God have mercy on you Bill.

  • Actually, I have read, the whole new testament, several times, and almost all of the old testament. I read the bible regularly still. Considering your answers, I have probably read a great deal more of it than you.

    This is probably why you don’t understand that Gospels are supposed to be paramount to all Christians. The Gospel passages are given special attention, in Catholic Churches, by the fact, that only the ordained can read them at mass.

    Again, if you are not Christian or Catholic but a mere follower of what St. Paul says above all others, then the scriptures you are quoting aren’t even his. However, even if they were, St. Paul never wrote that anyone should uphold the words of his letters over anything Jesus Christ taught himself.

    St. Paul, St Peter, or any other original disciple, or apostle or St. Mary, Jesus’ mother would never support placing your faith on the words of any person above those of Jesus Christ.

    “My sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”
    (John 10:27).

    Why do you call Me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)

  • Ahh – no I didn’t. I am beginning to think the problem is that you don’t read with much comprehension Bill.

    By the way Pastor means Presbyter, or anyone leading a church, as many women did, in the early church while they presided over Eucharist and acted as priests in every other way. Ordained priests came hundreds of years later.

    No one was called Bishop in the time of the apostles. They used the terms: Presbyters, elders, deacons and apostles and women were in all of these groups.

    Again, you don’t seem to understand that the bible is a much bigger book than the tiny letter you are relying on and even it does not state a women can’t be a priest.

    FYI – the following below this paragraph is also a corruption and not written by St. Paul and scholars agree it was added to Corinthians later since within the same letter St. Paul tells women specifically to Prophesy in church and one cannot Prophesy without speaking in church. It also does not fit in the place where it has been placed. Take it out and the section about the gifts makes much more sense.

    1 Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the Churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak: but they ought to be subject, as also the Law saith.
    35 And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the Church.
    We also know the above is not St. Paul because St. Paul went on constantly, in every letter, how Christ saved us all from the Law so now we are not under the Law but are risen and free.

    28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

    You need to realize people did sometimes corrupt writings. The Gospels are a good source to get information because they concur on what Christ said and taught while being written by different groups of people, in different places.

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