Pontiff's comments show that women still second class - priests
Pope Francis's comments on women deacons show the Catholic Church is a "men's church", according to the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP).
The organisation, which represents more than 1,000 Irish priests, expressed disappointment over the Pope's comments on women deacons while on the papal flight back to Rome after his three-day visit to Bulgaria and Macedonia.
The pontiff revealed that the commission he appointed in 2016 to study the issue of women deacons was divided and could not reach a consensus on whether women who served as deacons in the early Church were ordained in the same way as male deacons.
He said the commission could go no further.
This weekend, the ACP said the Pope's comments were "an enormous blow to reforming the Church" and sent "all the wrong messages about women", adding that "it confirms that women are not good enough, and that in the eyes of the official Church, men are more worthy than women".
The priests' group accused the Pope of "kicking the can down a timeless road" on the issue and said women's gifts would continue to be wasted.
Co Limerick parish priest Fr Roy Donovan, an ACP spokesman, called on Irish bishops to demand concrete practical actions from Pope Francis to open up all structures of the Church to women.
"We are seeing the end of an era in the Church where priests took over so many ministries," Fr Donovan told the Irish Independent.
He said many women were already doing a lot of what a deacon does.
Meanwhile, the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research has said the lack of unanimity on the papal commission is likely to be used by the Vatican to continue excluding women from the diaconate.
According to Miriam Duignan, a trustee of the Wijngaards Institute, manuscripts with identical ordination rites to the diaconate for men and women are preserved in the Vatican library itself.