Does Pope's Statement Mean Women will Never Serve as Priests?
In the news conference with reporters that has become a tradition of his return flights from trips abroad, Pope Francis emphasized that the Catholic Church will probably continue banning women from serving as priests forever. According to Pope, the declaration made by St. John Paul II, goes in that direction.
"If we read carefully Francis was referring to the earlier pope’s 1994 letter that noted that Jesus chose only men as his apostles. The exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for his Church," John Paul II wrote in that letter.
Some months ago, Francis set up a commission to study the role of women deacons (who, like priests, are ordained ministers and must be men) in early Christianity. Deacons are clergy in the Catholic Church who can perform many of the functions of priests, including officiating at weddings and baptisms and preaching at Mass. Women served as deacons in the early centuries of the church but are currently banned from doing so.This move indicated that women could one day have a greater say in the affairs of the Vatican.
Nevertheless the recent revelation made by Pope, made all such hopes fade away. There is an ongoing debate about the precise role of women deacons in the early Church among the scholars, theologists. Pop's announcement also sparked protests within the Women’s Ordination Conference.
According to scholars, who study the role of women in the church told that Francis’s off-the-cuff statement did not close the door on the possibility of women serving as deacons, an idea that the Vatican is studying.
The Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC), a group that promotes female priesthood, expressed their displeasure at the Pope’s comments, calling John Paul’s document "outdated, fallible and painful".
Due to WOC’s statement, it was said, the Church cannot be afraid to examine customs, when they no longer communicate or resonate with the Gospel. A Church that is not open to the gifts of half of its membership is unsustainable and out-of-touch with the needs of its people.
As for the theologists, they believe there’s no reason to think that Francis’s statement means that the committee cannot find a role for women as deacons in the modern church. Dennis Doyle, a Catholic theologian at the University of Dayton in Ohio, who has studied the topic of women’s ordination, mentioned that it’s unsurprising that Francis would reiterate John Paul II’s position. According to him, Pope Francis brings a lot of excitement and movement to the Catholic Church. He added that Pope is also careful not to directly reverse anything his predecessors have been teaching.
it should be mentioned that this is not the first time that Pope Francis has stated his objection to the idea of women becoming priests. The reason, why the subject became an actual topic of debate, conditioned by Pop's trip to Sweden to commemorate the 499th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation with leaders of the Lutheran Church, which broke off from Catholicism when Martin Luther nailed a copy of his questions about the church to the door of a German church on Oct. 31, 1517. And the leader of the Lutheran Church in Sweden is Archbishop Antje Jackelen, the first woman to fill the role.
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