Pope Francis says the Roman Catholic Church will never, ever have female priests. Reuters reports Francis offered "some of his most definitive remarks on the issue" during a flight back from Sweden, where he had met with the female head of the Lutheran Church. "St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this and it stands, this stands," Francis said, referring to a 22-year-old document banning female priests. The Catholic Church justifies the ban largely by pointing out that Jesus chose only men as his apostles. Opponents of the ban argue that was only due to the time he was living in.
Francis' statement Thursday is consistent with his stance since becoming pope, the Guardian reports. Still, proponents of allowing women to become priests had gotten a glimmer of hope after Francis ordered a study of ordaining women as deacons, according to the New York Times. After standing behind the ban on female priests, Francis noted that women do "many other things better than men" and are important for the "feminine dimension of the church." While those who support allowing women to become priests are left hoping a future pope disagrees with Francis, the Roman Catholic Church is continuing to deal with a shortage of priests around the world.