On Tuesday, Pope Francis stated the Roman Catholic Church’s ruling which forbids women from becoming ordained as priests will most likely remain unchanged in the future. The Pope quoted from an apostolic letter written by Pope John Paul II in which the former Pope stated to ordain women as priests was an impossible act because Jesus’s apostles were only men. He went on to stress these were the words of St. Pope John Paul II and that the ordainment of women went in the direction of “never.”
Yesterday, the New York Times printed a number of the 1,400 comments they had already received after Pope Francis made his statement. Many readers expressed dismay concerning his position. Some compared the Catholic church to a “boy’s club” which has shown it “doesn’t trust women with their own bodies” and does not believe they can properly make medical decisions.
However, other readers, most of whom a female practicing Catholics, wrote the church still actively seeks to empower and support women. Other readers mentioned allowing women to become ordained priests might help make up for shortages of men wishing to enter the priesthood.
One woman, a former Catholic who left the church nearly 30 years ago, mentioned that she has long been praying she might someday be able to return. She chose to leave the church because of their laws of annulment, refusal to ordain women and general closed mindedness in intellectual matter. Pope Francis initially gave her hope that she might be able to rejoin the church, but his statements on Tuesday deeply disappointed her.
Earlier this year, the pontiff seemed to possibly be open to allowing women to become ordained deacons after a study was published which explored women’s roles as deacons in the early church. Women’s equality in the Catholic church remains a hot issue among activists, even after Pope Francis issued his statement. Recently, representatives from various international lay organizations and Catholic priest movements met together, agreeing to fight for issues of inequality in the church, both for women and members of the LBGT community.
Kate McElwee, the Women’s Ordination Conference co-executive organizer stated in the Guardian that at the conference attendees grappled with the damaging impact oppressive hierarchal and patriarchal system has on everyone. For many centuries, women have not been permitted to become ordained deacons, which means women are not allowed to celebrate mass. However, they can preach and are allowed to oversee certain ceremonies, such as baptisms and funerals.
By Rebeccah Dean