Lisa McClain recently published an article in The Conversation titled “Pope Francis won’t support women in the priesthood, but here’s what he could do.”
In its first day of publication, the article had been republished by the San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Post Intelligencer and Idaho Press-Tribune, among other publications.
On March 13, Pope Francis will complete his first five years as head of the Roman Catholic Church. Since his election, Pope Francis has engaged the estimated 1.2 billion Catholics and innumerable non-Catholics worldwide with his frank, inclusive talk on issues as diverse as poverty and homosexuality. In fact, many observers seem confused by the church’s apparent willingness to reconsider traditions regarding some contentious issues, such as divorce.
However, Francis has drawn the line at extending full priesthood to women. Devout Catholics have spoken out boldly on both sides of this issue. But, that door, Francis has repeatedly said, “is closed.”
As a scholar specializing in both the history of the Catholic Church and gender studies, I believe Francis’ refusal comes from his unwillingness to challenge a foundational Catholic doctrine known as “apostolic succession…”