Pope Francis reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s doctrine that women are not able to receive holy orders.
The pontiff discussed the impossibility of female ordination in a Spanish-language book published in June, titled “El Pastor: Desafíos, razones y reflexiones sobre su pontificado” – or in English, “The Shepherd: Struggles, Reasons, and Thoughts on His Papacy,”
“The fact that the woman does not access ministerial life is not a deprivation, because her place is much more important,” the pontiff said, according to translations from Catholic News Agency. “I think we err in our catechesis in explaining these things, and ultimately we fall back on an administrative criterion that does not work in the long run.”
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“On the other hand, with respect to the charism of women, I want to say very clearly that from my personal experience, they have a great ecclesial intuition,” he added.
The Italian-language version of the book was released this week and brought to public attention Pope Francis’ reaffirmation of male-exclusive priesthood.
Many activists hoped that female ordination – which has been held as inadmissible for debate by the Catholic Church for over a millennium – would be discussed at the Synod on Synodality underway at the Vatican.
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The pope emphasized the church’s inability to change doctrine on the subject, but also questioned whether opening the priesthood to women would benefit the clergy.
“Lutherans ordain women, but still few people go to church. Their priests can marry, but despite that they can’t grow the number of ministers. The problem is cultural. We should not be naive and think that programmatic changes will bring us the solution,” Pope Francis said.
He added, “Mere ecclesiastical reforms do not serve to solve underlying issues. Rather, paradigmatic changes are what is needed,”
Pope Francis has been consistent on issues related to female ministry and church leadership since the early years of his pontificate.
In 2019, Pope Francis spoke to the International Union of Superiors General of Women saying, “We walk on a solid just path, the way of Revelation, we cannot walk a different road[…] that alters revelation and dogmatic expressions.”
The pope concluded sharply, stating, “We are Catholics, but if any of you want to found another church you are free to go.”
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