Pope Francis Opens the Possibility of Women Serving as Deacons

The pope will create a commission to study the issue.

Evandro Inetti/ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


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.”

 

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight 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