Pope Francis Calls for Investigation into Women Deacons
In May, Vatican Radio reported that Pope Francis called for an investigation into reinstating the early church practice of ordaining women deacons. Responding to a nun’s question on the subject at the International Union of Superiors General meeting, Francis stated, “I would like to constitute an official commission to study the question: I think it will be good for the Church to clarify this point, I agree, and I will speak so as to do something of this type,” according to Religion News Service.
The news led to fearful and hopeful speculation in different corners of the Catholic world that women could be ordained as priests. As the Guardian (US) put it, “Female deacons could lead to female priests—and the Vatican knows it.” Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi issued a clarification the next day saying, “But let us be honest: The Pope did not say he intends to introduce the ordination of women deacons; much less so did he talk about ordaining female priests,” according to National Catholic Register.
Shortly after the pope’s statement, the Tablet (UK) reported that Women’s Ordination Worldwide, which advocates for women in the priesthood, was granted an audience with the Vatican Secretariat of State. Among the commission members appointed by the pope was Phyllis Zagano, an authority on the female diaconate.