During his tenure, Pope John Paul II not only reaffirmed the ban, he said that even publicly discussing the issues shows a lack of respect for the Catholic tradition, she said. Benedict has reasserted this position, and last summer, the church rebuked a prominent conference of Catholic women, called the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, for not being sufficiently strong in their condemnation of the idea, Dillon said.
"So it's not even a question that's up for dialogue," Dillon said.
However some theologians have argued that women should be ordained, saying the claim that Jesus chose male apostles doesn't hold water in supporting females being banned from priesthood. For instance, just because apostles were Jewish fishermen, that doesn't mean priests have to be Jewish fishermen. And Jesus also surrounded himself with women who played a very important role in his ministry.
Because it is part of official church doctrine, changing the church's stance on women would probably be a long process, where the pope convened a group of bishops, cardinals and lay leaders to discuss the issue, she said.