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Pope defends women priest ban

Pope Benedict has restated the Roman Catholic Church's ban on women priests during a mass at St Peter's Basilica in Rome to mark the start of the church's Easter celebrations.

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Pope: 'Ban on women priests part of church's constitution'

When Pope Benedict restated the Catholic Church's ban on women priests and warned that he would not tolerate disobedience by clerics on key teachings, he asked rhetorically in the sermon of a solemn Mass in St Peter's Basilica "Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church?"

This was on the day Catholic priests renew their vows. In his response to a group of Austrian priests and laity, Benedict said in its "call to disobedience", it had challenged "definitive decisions of the Church's magisterium (teaching authority) such as the question of women's ordination ..."

He then restated the position by citing a major 1994 document by his predecessor John Paul II that stated that the ban on women priests was part of the Church's "divine constitution."

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