Pope Francis Opens the Possibility of Women Serving as Deacons

The pope will create a commission to study the issue.

Evandro Inetti/ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Speaking to an international meeting of the world congregations of Catholic women on Thursday, Pope Francis announced that the church should create an official commission to examine the expansion of women’s roles, including for them to be ordained as deacons, the National Catholic Register reports. He also described the church’s integration of women as “very weak.”

Ordained deacons are now all male and can perform some official functions—though not to celebrate Mass. Francis’ statement came during a question-and-answer session, during which he was asked to explain the current exclusion of women from serving in ordained roles, especially since women were permitted to be ordained in the early church. One woman asked, “Why not construct an official commission that might study the question?”

“Constituting an official commission that might study the question?” Francis responded. “I believe yes. It would do good for the church to clarify this point. I am in agreement. I will speak to do something like this.”

According to Catholic News, Francis told the group that it was his understanding that women in early scripture were not ordained as permanent deacons, and that he had meditated on the issue with a professor years ago. His announcement on Thursday signaled a historic step that could potentially open the doors for women to serve in that ordained position.

The pope, however, did not comment on the role of women serving as priests, something he has previously rejected as a change that “cannot be done.”

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate