Pope Francis has once again shot down the progressive notion of women becoming Catholic priests or deacons, declaring that holy orders will be reserved for men.
The Holy Father made his declaration in an interview for a book on Tuesday. When the question of women priests and deacons arose, Pope Francis said that “holy orders is reserved for men,” reaffirming past teachings put in place by Pope John Paul II and other popes. Per Catholic News Agency:
The pope’s answers to questions about women’s roles in the Church were included in a book published in June in Spanish as “El Pastor: Desafíos, razones y reflexiones sobre su pontificado.”
The book, whose title means in English “The Shepherd: Struggles, Reasons, and Thoughts on His Papacy,” was released in Italian on Oct. 24. The Italian edition is titled “Non Sei Solo: Sfide, Risposte, Speranze,” or “You Are Not Alone: Challenges, Answers, Hopes.”
While some progressive activists had hoped that the pope would at least allow women deacons, the Roman Pontiff said this would be difficult due to the diaconate being “the first degree of holy orders in the Catholic Church, followed by the priesthood and finally the episcopate.”
“I think we would undermine the essence of the Church if we considered only the priestly ministry, that is, the ministerial way,” he said, pointing out that women mirror Jesus’s bride the Church.
“The fact that the woman does not access ministerial life is not a deprivation, because her place is much more important,” he told Argentine journalist Sergio Rubin and Italian journalist Francesca Ambrogetti . “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.”
Pope Francis did, however, praise women for their “ecclesial intuition.”
“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 said.
While some have said that women’s ordination would bring “more people closer to the Church” along with an end to priestly celibacy, the pope disagreed.
“Lutherans ordain women, but still few people go to church,” he said. “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.”
“Mere ecclesiastical reforms do not serve to solve underlying issues. Rather, paradigmatic changes are what is needed,” he added.
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