Finally – after so many years of controversy and speculation – we have a definitive answer on whether or not women can be ordained Catholic priests. And it was revealed, of all places, at a press conference on the plane while Pope Francis was returning to the Vatican from his trip to Sweden. This totally goes along with Pope Francis’s style – he is the pope of surprises.

Definitive Answer on Women’s Ordination to the Priesthood

A reporter asked about women’s ordination and Pope Francis replied, “On the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the final word is clear, it was said by St. John Paul II, and this remains.” The next question from a reporter was whether the ban on ordination of women is “forever,” the Pope replied that the statement by St. John Paul “leads in that direction.”

He went on to remind the reporters that the Church has a Marian as well as a Petrine dimension, and that the role of the Virgin Mary is more important than that of St. Peter. “Much more,” he stressed. The Pope then went on to say, “But women can do so many things better than men, even in the dogmatic field: to clarify, to perhaps give some clarity, not to say only a reference to a document. In Catholic ecclesiology there are two dimensions to think about.

The Petrine dimension, which is from the Apostle Peter, and the Apostolic College, which is the pastoral activity of the bishops, as well as the Marian dimension, which is the feminine dimension of the Church, and this I have said more than once.

I ask myself: who is most important in theology and in the mysticism of the Church: the apostles? or Mary on the day of Pentecost? It’s Mary! …the Church is a woman! It’s “la Chiesa” (in Italian), not “il Chiesa”…it’s “la Chiesa” and the Church is the spouse of Christ. It’s a spousal mystery. And in light of this mystery you will understand the reason for these two dimensions. The Petrine dimension, which is the bishops, and the Marian dimension, which is the maternity of the Church… but in the most profound sense. A Church doesn’t exist without this feminine dimension, because she herself is feminine.”