Pope Francis reaffirms ban on women’s ordination

This article appears in the Francis in the United States feature series. View the full series.

After an overwhelmingly positive trip on U.S. soil, Pope Francis held his more controversial comments until he was well over the Atlantic en route to Rome yesterday evening.

During a press conference on the papal plane, the pope was asked by Maria Sagrarios Ruiz de Apodaca, a correspondent from Radio Nacional de España, “Will we one day see women priests in the Catholic church as some groups in the U.S. ask, and some other Christian churches have?”

Here is Pope Francis’ response:           

[O]n women priests, that cannot be done. Pope St. John Paul II after long, long intense discussions, long reflection said so clearly. Not because women don’t have the capacity. Look, in the Church women are more important than men, because the church is a woman. It is “la” church, not “il” church. The Church is the bride of Jesus Christ. And the Madonna is more important than popes and bishops and priests. I must admit we are a bit late in an elaboration of the theology of women. We have to move ahead with that theology. Yes, that’s true.

For all his beautiful words about equality, dignity, and not being “afraid to do new things,” Francis still cannot seem to connect his ideals with the church’s perpetuation of inequality, disempowerment, and sexism.

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Putting women on a pedestal doesn’t make them equal.

Idealizing women does not allow them to offer their full gifts to the church or give them any decision-making power.

Women do not need a special theology, they only need to be treated with justice and equality in their own church.

Even after his remarkable visit, Pope Francis remains (in the words of Linda Pinto) a "holy conundrum."

[Jamie L. Manson is NCR books editor. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her email address is jmanson@ncronline.org.]


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