In a Mass today at St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a scathing homily that reiterated the Catholic Church's ban on female priests.
He also criticized a group of priests who have called on their colleagues to ignore Rome. NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty filed this report for our Newscast unit:
"On Holy Thursday, the Catholic Church commemorates the day that it says Jesus instituted the priesthood. Pope Benedict took the opportunity to say nothing will change. He said the ban on women priests was part of the church's 'divine constitution,' because Jesus chose only men to be his apostles during the Last Supper.
"Others say Jesus was only acting according to the customs of his day. The pope also stated he would not tolerate disobedience among priests, singling out an Austrian group that is demanding sweeping changes, including removing celibacy and the ban on women clergy. Benedict rejected their ideas, suggesting that dissidents are making a 'desperate push to change the church in accordance with one's own preferences and ideas.' "
The New York Times adds that while there is nothing new to the message, it was surprisingly direct and in line with the "tone that once earned him the moniker 'God's Rottweiler.' "
The Times called Father Helmut Schüller, the priest who called for disobedience and said the Vatican was an "absolutist monarchy."
He said he was surprised by the pope's homily. "But I don't think they were very harsh. There was no threat or sanction implied," he said.
"I think that in the history of the Church, a lot has changed, even if not always voluntarily," Schüller told the Times. "There has been new science, new technology, new practices. The teachings are always changing."