Pope Francis said on Tuesday 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 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 Pope 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.”
My favorite part of this is where the reporter is incredulous at the fact that the Roman Catholic Church isn’t moving in a certain direction just because the media would like it to.
American media was hardest hit by this, as they have been desperately concocting a fictional version of Pope Francis that barely jibes with reality. Sadly, a lot of American Catholics buy into the myth. This is still the pope who, shortly after being elevated, excommunicated a priest for performing gay marriages.
The pontiff may wander afield on some issues, but he is often being misquoted by the English-speaking press, more often than not deliberately, I would posit.
For the moment, it would appear that this pope and the Church have no interest in becoming more like the Lutherans, no matter how badly the members of the media wish it so.