Pope Francis said Tuesday that the Catholic Church will probably continue banning women from serving as priests forever, according to journalists who were traveling on a plane with him.
But scholars who study the role of women in the church said Francis’s off-the-cuff statement did not close the door on the possibility of women serving as deacons, an idea that the Vatican is studying.
According to the National Catholic Reporter, a Swedish journalist on the plane asked, “Is it realistic to think that there might be women priests also in the Catholic Church in the next few decades?”
When Francis said no, the journalist reportedly asked, “But really forever? Never?”