The Catholic Church’s ban on female priests will stand forever, Pope Francis said Tuesday.

The pontiff made the declaration in response to a female reporter asking whether he thought women would one day serve as Catholic priests and bishops, noting the head of Sweden’s Lutheran Church whom Francis met on his trip there is a woman.

“St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this and it stands,” Francis said during a news conference aboard the papal plane on the flight back to Rome, according to Reuters.

The reporter then asked “Forever, forever? Never, never?”

“If we read carefully the declaration by St. John Paul II, it is going in that direction,” the pope responded.

Pope John Paul II, in an Apostolic letter written in 1994, wrote that despite the church’s long history of male-only priests, “in some places it is nonetheless considered open to debate.” Not so, wrote the pope who died in 2005 and was canonized a saint in 2014.

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Time For Truth: (USA Today) – Pope: Women will be banned from priesthood forever

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