Pope reaffirms ban on women priests

Pope Benedict has reasserted the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women priests during a sermon at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The Pope warned he would not tolerate priests challenging the Church on topics such as priestly celibacy and the ordination of women.

Pope Benedict, who for decades before his 2005 election was the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer, delivered an unusually direct denunciation of disobedient priests in a sermon at a morning mass on Holy Thursday, when the Church commemorates the day they believe Christ instituted the priesthood.

The Pope responded specifically to a call to disobedience by a group of Austrian priests and laity, who last year boldly and openly challenged Church teaching on taboo topics such as priestly celibacy and women’s ordination.

“Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church?” he asked rhetorically.

In his response to the Austrian group, his first in public, Pope Benedict noted that, in its “call to disobedience”, it had challenged “definitive decisions of the Church’s magisterium (teaching authority) such as the question of women’s ordination”.

He then restated the position by citing a major 1994 document by his predecessor John Paul II that stated the ban on women priests was part of the Church’s “divine constitution”.

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