By Victor Ochieng
For anyone who may have thought that the Roman Catholic Church would at one point change its direction to allow women to become priests, Pope Francis has categorically said it’ll never happen, ever. In a statement that reaffirmed Pope John Paul II’s word in 1994, Francis responded to one of his previous statements that “women can do many other things better than men,” but serving as priests isn’t one of them.
One thing that has been clear since the infancy of the Roman Catholic Church is the separation of roles played by men and women, including the level of ordination each of them receives. According to their arrangement, men are allowed to serve as priests, monks, brothers, deacons, and friars, which are the largest and most prestigious statuses in the church. On the other hand, women have been restricted to roles such as Eucharistic Minister, nun, or religious sister. Being ordained as a priest is forbidden for women in the Catholic Church.
The western world has become a lot more liberal when it comes to leadership roles played by women, something that has seen Catholic Popes question why women’s roles in the church appear to be peripheral.
Pope Francis recently faced that question from a reporter, who pressed the pope to come clean on whether or not the church might at some point change its stance and allow women to serve as priests and bishops.
In a terse response, the pope said, “St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this and it stands.”
Francis’ response may have come as a surprise, considering the fact that he’s come forward more as a reformer, who’s focused on bringing change to the Roman Catholic Church. Francis is often seen as a spiritual leader who wants to detour from the conservative leanings of recent popes.
When the journalist asked further if that position won’t change “forever,” he said, “Never ever.” He added, “If we carefully read the declaration of St. John Paul II it goes in that direction, yes.”
The Catholic Church draws this doctrine from the fact that Jesus Christ’s disciples were male and that priests are charged to serve as the person of Christ.
In many other churches, women aren’t allowed to serve in any leadership roles. On the other hand, there are some that allow women to serve in high ranking positions, albeit women still find it a challenge rising to those duties due to male domination.