By Cindy Wooden
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM SWEDEN (CNS) — The Catholic Church
insistence that it cannot ordain women to the priesthood and episcopacy is a
teaching likely to last forever, Pope Francis said.
After being hosted by the Lutheran Church of Sweden, which
is led by Archbishop Antje Jackelen of Uppsala, the nation’s first woman
primate, Pope Francis was asked Nov. 1 if the Catholic Church might one day
have women priests and bishops.
As he has done in the past, the pope responded that the
question was settled in 1994 by St. John Paul II, who taught that because Jesus
chose only men as his apostles, the ordination of women in the Catholic Church
is not possible.
He was asked, “Really? Never?” And he responded,
“If one carefully reads the declaration of St. John Paul, it goes in that
In one of his briefest airborne news conferences, Pope
Francis spent just over 40 minutes with reporters and answered six questions
ranging from Sweden’s newly restrictive immigration policy to the role of women
in the church. He also was asked about his experience with charismatics and
Pentecostals, the roots of his concern about human trafficking, secularization
in Europe and his meeting in late October with Venezuelan President Nicolas
Christians must never close their hearts to refugees and
migrants, but governments have a duty to regulate the flux of newcomers as they allocate resources to ensure their integration into society, he said.
“It’s not human to close one’s heart,” the pope
told reporters flying with him from Sweden back to Rome.
As he has in the past, Pope Francis insisted nations live up
to international agreements offering special welcome and protection to refugees
fleeing war and persecution. While Catholic social teaching holds that every person
has a right to migrate in search of a better life, accepting newcomers is a
serious obligation when the person’s life is at risk.
Europeans should not be frightened by the latest wave of
newcomers, he said. “Europe was made with a continual integration of
cultures, many cultures.”
The key, he said, is to ensure a proper integration of
newcomers with language lessons, a home, schools and jobs. “The danger is
that when a refugee or migrant is not integrated, he or she is
Responding to the question about Maduro, Pope Francis said
he met with him at the president’s request. “I listened
to him for half an hour,” he said. “I asked a few questions. I heard
his opinions. It’s always good to listen to both sides.”
Like in any conflict, he said, “either you dialogue or
you scream.” The political and social tensions in Venezuela — tensions
that have unleashed a major economic crisis and huge suffering for many — must
be resolved with dialogue, he said.
The Vatican, he added, is supporting dialogue in Venezuela
and, at the invitation of both the government and the opposition, has sent Archbishop
Emil Paul Tscherrig, the nuncio to Argentina, as an observer.
The secularization of Europe, or of any society, the pope
said, is usually the result of one of two factors: “a weak
evangelization” caused by “lukewarm Christians” or a cultural
process in which a growing number of people start thinking they are the lords
A “healthy” form of separation of church and state
is not the culprit, he said.
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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.
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