The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says there are over 18,000 permanent deacons in the United States — and all of them are men. Unfortunately, it seems that women won't be able to join that party anytime soon. 

During a flight back to Rome from Sweden, Pope Francis said that the Roman Catholic Church's ban on women becoming priests may never be lifted. 

During the flight, on which the press accompanied Francis, a reporter asked whether it was plausible that the church may see female priests in the forthcoming decades.

The female Swedish reporter's question came after she pointed out that the head of the Lutheran Church, Uppsala archbishop Antje Jackelen, the person who welcomed him in Sweden, was a woman.

The pope responded by saying,

"Concerning the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, St. Pope John Paul II had the last clear word on this, and it stands, this stands."

The pope was referring to the apostolic letter written by Pope John Paul II in 1994.

Towards the end of the letter titled Odinatio Sacerdotalis, it states, "I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."

In true journalistic fashion, the reporter wanted more clarification on his response and followed up with a question we all would ask the papa, tbh: "But forever, forever? Never, never?"

Francis clarified a bit more by saying, "If we read carefully the declaration by St. John Paul II, it is going in that direction."

Interestingly enough, earlier this year the pope had been open to the idea of setting up a commission to study reinstating female deacons.

His openness to the issue came about during a question-and-answer he held with 900 heads of female religious orders who are part of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).

Even though Pope Francis has taken a more modern approach to issues like climate change and the marginalization of the LGBTQ community, his statement about women is traditionally misogynistic.

According to a Pew Research Center study, about six in 10 (59 percent) of American Catholics believe that the church should allow women to become priests.

In a press conference on July 28, 2013 he said these words: "Women, in the Church, are more important than bishops and priests."

You can read the entire press conference here

If they are so important, then why deny them a position as a priest? We'll be interested to see if the papa has more to say on this in the future.