Pope Francis greeting Archbishop Antje Jackelén
By: Arenz Garcia
In this current era, it has always been about change. In 2008, the first African American was elected to become the president. In the early 2000s, technology began to take over. And just recently, same-sex marriage has been legalized in all 50 states. There has been numerous changes to the U.S tradition over the past years and Pope Francis has been one to be more accepting to these transitions. Jorge Bergoglio, Pope Francis, was the first citizen from the Americas, the first non-European and the first Jesuit priest to be named pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis has become to be known as a figure to accept changes. He announced that priests from around the world are allowed to forgive the sin of abortion. He also did not discourage those in the LGBT community and much more. The idea of women joining the priesthood was a topic that Pope Francis strongly believes that, that is one not to change. After choosing five different sources, each article was portrayed differently about the pope saying no to women priests.
As the pope strongly emphasizes the ban on women priesthood, what some of the articles did not include was the reasoning behind his decision and the context of it. In an interview he makes it clear that the women joining priesthood is not questionable, “it was said by St. John Paul II and this remains” (CNN). Pope Francis further on explains that the Catholic Church’s tradition of male priesthood is because Jesus chose twelve men as his disciples and that priests are to represent the acts in the person of Christ; being male, reaffirming to what St. John Paul II has stated. But, the discussion does not end there with these articles.
Another reason why he says no to women priesthood is not because he believes that women are unfit for the role but because women are just important as males and that women do not need to become priests to get that point across. CNN goes more in depth on how the pope does not like “clericalism” which is the assumption of the power and privilege that some priests believe to have. Over the past three years, one of Pope Francis’s goals has been to speak out against priests who worry more about power than service, and involving women to that group is the last thing he wants to add, “Women in the Church must be valued, not clericalized” (CNN). The New York Times reinstates that females and males should not be compared on their superiority based upon their positions and in general, each position alone should not even be declared more important than others.
There are two different dimensions, male and female, that equally balance each other out in the Catholic tradition. In the New York Times, it also talks about how the pope believes that describing the roles of women and men should be complementary. It is also expressed that because he says no to women, gender does matter to him and that women have other important roles that do not involve becoming priests. “The Church doesn’t exist without the feminine dimension,” the Catholic News Agency article quotes the pope after saying no to women priesthood. The articles discuss the pope’s reference back to Mary, the mother of Jesus, without her there would be no Jesus and without women there would be none of us. The theology is depicted as men representing disciples and women representing Mary. Women play a unique and important role, and not having the opportunity to become a priest does not make women any lesser than men.
Even though the topic of women being ordained as priests was not up for discussion, the opportunities for women were not fully closed. CNN, the New York Times and the Catholic News Agency also mentions that the pope established a commission to study whether women could be ordained as deacons. It is briefly stated at the end, that this alongside with other social and ethical issues, including abortion and homosexuality, Catholics and Lutherans have been slowly transitioning into a more understanding point of view. Today, we have an archbishop who is a women and overtime there is still a chance for women to serve as deacons.
Sources from the Washington Post and USA Today were more straight forward and less explanatory on Pope Francis’s decision. The articles discuss that the declaration of the pope banning women priest hood was a decision based only upon the teachings of St. Pope John Paul II. “Pope Francis, he brings a lot of excitement and movement to the Catholic Church. He’s also careful not to directly reverse anything his predecessors have been teaching” (USA Today). The USA Today article also mentions the full quote that St. John Paul II wrote in 1994, “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren, I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgement is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faith.” They emphasize that the long history of male-only priesthood will forever stand and it is not open for debate.
Both of these articles lean more to the perception that the pope’s decision was due to the stereotypical idea of men being more superior over women. Once the topic of women becoming deacons was questionable, the Washington Post explains, “If women can be ordained as deacons, then this is going to weaken – not destroy – but weaken significantly the argument that women absolutely are incapable of being ordained as priests. So this is opening more than a crack in the door.” The article emphasizes that the role as a deacon plays a very similar role to a priest, including officiating at weddings and baptisms, preaching during mass, and much more. Questioning the roles of women was seemed to be more on the defensive side of these articles and that women are not given that opportunity to become a priest only because they are females.
Gallagher, Delia. “Why has the pope said no to women priests?” CNN, 2 Nov. 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/02/europe/analysis-pope-female-priests/
Zauzmer, Julie, editor. “Pope Francis says the Catholic Church will probably will likely never have female priests.” The Washington Post, 1 Nov. 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/11/01/pope-francis-says-the-catholic-church-will-likely-never-have-female-priests/
Bacon, John. “Pope: Women will be banned from priesthood forever.” USA Today, 2 Nov. 2016, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/11/01/pope-women-banned-priesthood-forever/93118528/
Goodstein, Laurie. “Pope Francis Says Ban on Female Priests Is Likely to Endure.” The New York Times, 1 Nov. 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/02/world/europe/pope-francis-women-priests.html?_r=0
Brockhaus, Hannah. “Pope Francis reiterates a strong ‘no’ to women priests.” Catholic News Agency, CNA, 1 Nov. 2016, http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-francis-reiterates-a-strong-no-to-women-priests-71133/