Pope Francis has come to be known as rather more liberal than his predecessors when it comes to the topics of homosexuality and atheism, but it seems that – as in many realms – women continue to be considered second class citizen in the Catholic Church.
Speaking on Tuesday, the Pope confirmed that the ban on female priests will never be lifted.
Read more: The semantics of sexism
Making the comments in response to a question from a female journalist, the pontiff made his stance clear, saying:
“St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this and it stands.”
The Pope was referring to Vatican rules laid down by Pope John Paul in 1994 that say this is an infallible part of Catholic tradition.
The reporter pushed, asking: “Forever, forever? Never, never?”
The Pope responded: “If we read carefully the declaration by St. John Paul II, it is going in that direction, yes.”
He went on to say women did “many other things better than men”, The Guardian reports, and spoke about the so-called “feminine dimension of the church”.
The comments came as a disappointment to many women, who had high hopes for a change in tune, following Frances’ commissioning of a study of female deacons, earlier this year. Deacons are also ordained, just like priests, so people thought that if Francis allowed female deacons, he might also allow female priests.
But the Catholic Church teaches that women cannot be priests because Jesus’ apostles were only men, and that as priests act in the person of Christ, they must be men.