ROME, Nov. 1 (UPI) — The Roman Catholic church’s ban on women becoming priests will continue forever, Pope John Paul II said Tuesday.
The pontiff responded to a question from a female Swedish reporter during a 40-minute news conference aboard his plane on the flight back to Rome from Sweden.
“Is it realistic to think that there might be women priests also in the Catholic church in the next few decades?” the journalist asked the pope.
“On the ordination of women in the Catholic church, the last word is clear,” Francis responded, referring to John Paul’s 1994 apostolic letter, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. “It was given by St. John Paul II and this remains.”
The journalist then said, “Really forever? Never?”
“If we read carefully the declaration made by St. John Paul II, it goes in that direction,” Francis replied.
But the pope said, “women can do many other things better than men.”
“People ask me: ‘Who is more important in the theology or in the spirituality of the church: the apostles or Mary, on the day of Pentecost?'” he said. “It is Mary!”
Pope Francis recently created a special 12-member commission to study the history of women as deacons in the church.
Francis also discussed migrants and refugees.
He noted the hospitality shown to immigrants in Sweden, but said it is important to take steps to ensure the newcomers are properly integrated into their host nations.