Pope Francis has been one of the most forward-thinking leaders of the Catholic Church in modern history. His opinions on gay marriage, birth control, and other previously banned lifestyle choices in the Church, while still restrictive, have been much more forgiving than Francis’ predecessors. It’s a turning point for the Catholic Church in that things that used to lead to immediate ostracism aren’t so much of a Sword of Damocles as they are guiding lines for a holy and fulfilling life. Thus far it has allowed for the Catholic Church to reconnect with more of the millennial generation and retain some of its diminishing membership numbers.
Pope Francis’ latest comments about whether or not an area of the Church will become more equal in the future are not quite as forward-thinking. On a plane back to Rome from a recent trip around Europe, the Pope told a group of reporters that Pope John Paul II’s decision in the 90’s that women cannot be ordained as deacons or priests would be the final word on the issue, with no room for negotiation. There have been cries for equality in recent years claiming that the reasons for keeping women out of the priesthood (tradition, that the Apostles were all male) don’t stand up to scrutiny today.
Just this year, the Church was doing research into their history of female deacons from centuries ago which prompted some people to believe this could be Francis’ next major decision that would bring Catholicism to the modern age. Yet nothing came of it and now it looks like the matter is permanently closed, at least until a new (younger?) Pope ascends to the position. When a reporter tried to push the issue, the answer was clear.
Francis: “St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this and it stands, this stands.”
Reporter: “But forever, forever? Never, never?”
Francis: “If we read carefully the declaration by St. John Paul II, it is going in that direction.”
Shut down, Pope style.