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Pope Francis says church may never allow women priests

The pope indicated he did not support campaigners for women priests Credit: PA

Pope Francis said he believes the Catholic church may well never accept women priests in some of his most definitive remarks on the controversial issue.

The pontiff, who has proved socially liberal on many topics, said his predecessor Pope John Paul II's 1994 ruling against opening up the clergy to women still stands.

When pressed over that would remain the case forever, he replied: "If we read carefully the declaration by St.John Paul II, it is going in that direction."

The Catholic Church teaches that women cannot be ordained priests because Jesus willingly chose only men as his apostles.

Those calling for women priests say he was only following the norms of his time.

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