THE Pope's envoy to Ireland has ruled out any possibility of the ordination of women.
Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown said the church's teaching on the subject was clear.
He said the Pope had spoken definitively on the subject in 1994 and the church was "simply unable to do that".
His comments are at odds with the majority of Irish Catholics who believe women should be ordained.
A study commissioned by the Association of Catholic Priests in February revealed that 77pc of Catholics believed women should be ordained.
Former president Mary McAleese has also spoken out in favour of women priests and revealed recently, following the publication of her book, 'Quo Vadis? Collegiality in the Code of Cannon Law', how she was "lambasted" by the former Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, for her views.
However, Dr Brown insisted it was not a question of choice but was about being "obedient and faithful to the continual tradition of the Catholic faith".
"The Catholic faith exists in part because of the tradition of the faith and that tradition on that point is totally clear, completely clear," Dr Brown told the Irish Independent. "The Holy Father has spoken on that and I don't think as a result we're going to have women priests."
Dr Brown, who is now nine months into his role as Papal Nuncio, celebrated Mass in St Mary's Cathedral in Killarney yesterday.
He was in Co Kerry for the weekend to attend the memorial to Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, the Killarney-raised cleric who established 'The Rome Escape Line' during World War Two, helping more than 6,500 Jews and Allied soldiers escape German forces.
Dr Brown's comments on women clerics come in the wake of a clampdown by the Vatican on priests who have articulated more liberal views.
Dr Brown also spoke of his hope that the Irish Government would reopen its embassy in The Vatican once the economic situation improved.
He said faith at grassroots level in Ireland was "quite alive" and this was a "great sign of hope".
"There are certainly challenges that the Irish Church is facing but having said that, if one goes out to the parishes and speaks to the people and the priests, one gets quite a different impression than one gets if simply watching television or reading newspapers," he added.