“On the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the last word is clear,” Francis said, referring to an apostolic letter written by Pope John Paul II in 1994. The letter holds that ordaining women was not possible because Jesus chose only men as his apostles.

“It was given by St. John Paul II, and this remains,” Francis said.

“Really?” asked the journalist. “Never?”

“It goes in this direction,” the Pope replied. He also cited the importance of Mary, mother of Jesus, to the church, adding that “women can do many other things better than men.”