Pope Benedict has firmly restated the Catholic Church's ban on women priests and warned that he will not tolerate disobedience by his priests on essential teachings.

He was responding to last year's challenge to the ban by a group of Austrian clergy and laity.

Before his election, Benedict said the outlawing of women's ordination had been "set forth infallibly".

The Pontiff made today's remarks while preaching at Mass in the Vatican to mark Holy Thursday, the day the Church commemorates Christ's institution of the ministry of priesthood.