Pope Francis reiterated the Catholic Church's position on female priests: There will never be any.
"St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this and it stands," Francis told reporters about the subject during a news conference, reports USA Today.
"Forever, forever?” asked a reporter. “Never, never?"
"If we read carefully the declaration by St. John Paul II, it is going in that direction," the pope said.
In 1994, Pope John Paul II wrote a letter denouncing the debate over whether the Catholic Church should welcome female priests into the fold and said the Church's standing is clear that only men can fill the role.
"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, 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," John Paul II wrote.
New York Times readers voiced their opinions on the matter and didn't hold back their disappointment with Pope Francis, who has received praise for his other progressive positions and statements, including religious diversity and attention to poverty.
“It is heartbreaking. Born and raised Roman Catholic, I left the church in 1988 because of its laws on annulment, its refusal to ordain women to the priesthood and its frequent intellectual intolerance,” wrote one reader. “I have long prayed to be able to return and was excited when Pope Francis came into power, but this development will keep me from returning. I am a practicing but homesick Episcopalian.”
“As a man, I am offended,” wrote another reader. "Everything about the church is male, including all the rules that they follow. Just by closing this door, they are telling us quite loudly that (in my opinion) women are not worthy of the priesthood and that they are not able to fulfill the obligations. Oh well, what do you want from a boys’ club?”