- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pope Francis has once again reaffirmed that the priesthood was restricted to men as a matter of settled doctrine.

“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 reporters Tuesday aboard the papal plane, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA).

Francis’s remarks came on the heels of a historic visit to Lund, Sweden, to mark the anniversary of the launch of the Protestant Reformation.

During the visit, Francis participated in ecumenical events with Swedish Lutheran and Catholic leaders, including Antje Jackelén, Sweden’s first female Lutheran archbishop, CNA reported.

Ms. Jackelén heads the Church of Sweden, the largest denomination of Lutheranism in Europe.

Prior to the pope’s visit to Sweden, much had been made of ongoing discussions to bring about “intercommunion” between Rome and Lutheran church bodies such that Lutherans could be administered the sacrament of the Eucharist at a Catholic Mass. 

Though the pope didn’t address the issue, a joint statement from both churches pledged to continue working towards a common Communion, Catholic news site CruxNow.com reported Monday.

While Lutherans believe that the body and blood of Christ is present “in, with, and under” the elements of bread and wine in the Eucharist, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “[i]t is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament.”

According to Catholic canon law, the only non-Catholic Christians ordinarily permitted to receive the Eucharist at Mass are “members of the oriental churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church” but only “if they ask on their own for the sacraments and are properly disposed.”

A separate canon law provision permits extraordinary cases such as “danger of death” or “grave necessity” where it may be possible for a Protestant Christian to receive the Eucharist, but the regulations for that are left to “the judgment of the diocesan bishop or the conference of bishops.”

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