EWTN Catholic Q&A
Women priests
Question from John on 03-31-2013:


A lot has been made in the media in reference to Pope Francis washing two women's feet on Holy Thursday. Some appear to believe this is a "sign" that womens ordination is not far behind. What are your thoughts on this and what ,if anything, do we know of Pope Francis' writings or thoughts on this issue are. Thank you and blessed Easter!

Answer by Judie Brown on 04-02-2013:

Dear John

I have read the history of the tradition of the washing of feet being restricted to men only and can only say that what the Holy Father did was most unusual. The read about the tradition see http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/washing-of-the- feet-on-holy-thursday

On the topic of female priests, it is a stretch to suggest that because the Holy Father broke with tradition while washing feet at the juvenile detention center, he is also going to approve females in the priesthood. See http://www.catholic.com/tracts/women-and-the-priesthood

Here is a quote from that article:

in 1994 Pope John Paul II formally declared that the Church does not have the power to ordain women. He stated, "Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force. Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Luke 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful" (OrdinatioSacerdotalis 4).

Judie Brown