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Pope, in press conference, says John Paul’s teaching on women’s ordination is definitive

November 02, 2016

Pope Francis fielded questions from reporters during his return flight from Sweden to the Vatican on November 1.

Asked about refugees, the Pope praised Sweden’s tradition of offering a haven to those fleeing violence. He called for generosity in welcoming refugees, spoke of the importance of integrating them into society, and distinguished them from migrants, who “must be treated with certain rules, because to emigrate is a right, but it is a very regulated right.”

When asked about women’s ordination, Pope Francis said, “On the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the final word is clear, it was said by St. John Paul II and this remains.” When asked whether the ban on ordination of women is “forever,” the Holy Father replied that the statement by St. John Paul “leads in that direction.”

Pope Francis went on to explain that the Church is not discriminating against women by adhering to the male-only priesthood, but recognizing that women have a different role—and in many ways a superior role. He remarked that “women can do so many things better than men.” He remined reporters that the Church has a Marian as well as a Petrine dimension, and that the role of the Virgin Mary is more important than that of St. Peter. “Much more,” he emphasized.

Pope Francis also discussed his ecumenical initiatives, his relations with the charismatic movement, his recent meeting with the president of Venezuela, secularization, and human trafficking.

As he reflected on secularization, he spoke about the experience of France, citing the worldliness of clerics in the French court, a “Tower of Babel” mentality with respect to culture, the legacy of the Enlightenment, and “spiritual worldliness” in the Church.

 
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  • Posted by: marianjohn7861 - Nov. 06, 2016 5:35 PM ET USA

    "...women have a different role—and in many ways a superior role. He remarked that “women can do so many things better than men.” Risking repeating myself, when asked about equality for women, my sister said "why should we lower ourselves?"

  • Posted by: DanS - Nov. 02, 2016 10:53 PM ET USA

    "Leads in that direction" is not exactly definitive. Seems like His Holiness uttered it with regret.

  • Posted by: Bernadette - Nov. 02, 2016 7:28 PM ET USA

    Well, praise be to Jesus Christ, the Pope has said something right and making sense. I'm wondering just how his hopes for full communion with the Lutheran ecclesial community will play out. Will he be as clear about other issues that separate us esp. those concerning the Holy Eucharist.

  • Posted by: rjbennett1294 - Nov. 02, 2016 6:07 PM ET USA

    Francis will change his mind. He always does.

  • Posted by: jeanneg117438 - Nov. 02, 2016 6:03 PM ET USA

    What the Pope says at a press conference just doesn't matter. It is not doctrine it is not teaching. I guess it is better when the Pope supports Church teaching in a press conference than when he questions or misstates it, but it really doesn't matter. Casual remarks to reporters is not how doctrine develops or is promulgated.

  • Posted by: loumiamo - Nov. 02, 2016 11:52 AM ET USA

    Seems to me Francis was Not as clear as he should have been. His reply to the question as to whether or not ordination is forever closed to women, he should have given a simple Yes. Instead, he came up with "leads in that direction." His connotation is clear, "leads in that direction [unless we change course]". Francis just keeps on giving, and as it seems to always be, it's just another difficulty presented to us by his Society of Jesus.

  • Posted by: fenton1015153 - Nov. 02, 2016 10:25 AM ET USA

    I wonder if this also includes the Diaconate. If women cannot be priests then logically they should not be Deacons. If women wish to serve there cannot be a more noble choice than for them to become a nun. I have great respect and admiration for the nuns that influenced me and taught me. God bless the religious.

  • Posted by: feedback - Nov. 02, 2016 7:27 AM ET USA

    It's very encouraging that this time Pope Francis gave clear response based on the Church's infallible teaching which definitely closed the issue and further discussion of women ordination over two decades ago. Perhaps he observed in Sweden's Lutheran church the practical results of widespread ordinations of women and "sexual minorities."