Pope Francis again rules out women priests

Pope Francis has again rejected the possibility of female priests in the Catholic Church, citing a ruling of one of his predecessors.

During a press conference on board his flight back to Rome from the US, Francis said St John Paul II had decided “that cannot be done”.

“Pope St John Paul II – after long, long discussions, long reflections – said it clearly,” Francis said.

“Not because women do not have the capacity,” the Pope said.

Francis pointed to the feminine nature of the Church and to the role of Mary as being more important that those of popes, bishops and priests.

According to a National Catholic Reporter article, Francis’s answer on the papal plane is the latest in a series of controversial and sometimes unclear remarks he has made about the role of women in the Church.

The Pope has previously said that the door to ordination for women was “closed” and has spoken of needing to develop a special theology of women.

He has also said he has stayed away from appointing women to high-level positions in the Vatican bureaucracy for fear of promoting some sort of “functionalism” of women’s roles.

On the plane, Pope Francis was also asked about his decision to streamline the process for declaring the nullity of marriages.

He insisted the change was strictly juridical and not doctrinal.

It is not “Catholic divorce”, he said.

The annulment process needed reform because with appeals “there were processes that lasted 10-15 years”.

Francis’s return to Rome came only a few days out from the start of the synod on the family.

The question of finding some sort of process or “penitential path” to readmit to the sacraments Catholics who have remarried without an annulment is something still on the synod’s agenda, he said on the plane.

“It seems a bit simplistic to me to say they can receive Communion”, but it is an issue that needs further discussion, he said.


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