Pope Francis expressed his thoughts on the subject in response to a question Tuesday from a journalist aboard the papal flight back to Rome after a two-day visit to Sweden.
During a press conference Tuesday aboard the papal plane from Sweden to Rome, Pope Francis said the issue of women priests has been clearly decided, while also clarifying the essential role of women in the Catholic Church.
“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,” Pope Francis told journalists Nov. 1.
The question concerning women priests in the Catholic Church was asked during the flight back to Rome after the Pope’s Oct. 31-Nov. 1 trip to Sweden to participate in a joint Lutheran-Catholic commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
While there, the Pope participated in ecumenical events alongside Swedish Lutheran and Catholic leaders, including the first female Lutheran archbishop in Sweden, Antje Jackelén. She is the head of the Church of Sweden, the largest denomination of Lutheranism in Europe.
After stating that the issue of female ordination is closed, the Pope added that women are very important to the Church, specifically from a “Marian dimension.”
“In Catholic ecclesiology there are two dimensions to think about,” he said. “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.”
Pointing out that the Holy Mother Church “is a woman,” Francis said that the “spousal mystery” of the Church as the spouse of Christ can help us to understand these two dimensions.
“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!” he said.
The Church “doesn’t exist” without this feminine dimension, or “maternity,” the Pope said, because the Church herself is feminine.
Pope Francis did express that he thinks women “can do so many things better than men, even in the dogmatic field,” but he clarified how it is still a separate dimension from that of priests and bishops in the Petrine dimension.