VATICAN CITY (TIP): Pope Francis on May 12 hinted that he is now open to the idea of women serving as deacons in the Catholic Church. In a restricted meeting conducted with some 900 superiors of women’s religious orders, the pope agreed to a proposal to create an official commission to study whether women can be deacons.
Deacons are ordained ministers but are not priests, though they can perform many of the same functions as priests like preside over weddings, baptisms and funerals, and preach. They however cannot celebrate Mass.
Currently; married men, who are also mostly barred from the Roman Catholic priesthood, can serve as deacons. While women cannot serve as deacons, many historians claim that women served as deacons in the early Church.
Despite this new development, the pope in no way signalled during a conversation with the sisters that the church’s long-standing prohibition on ordaining women priests will change. But asked during a question-and-answer session if he would be willing to create a commission to study whether women could serve as deacons, Francis said he was open to the idea, according to the National Catholic Reporter and Catholic News Service, which had reporters in the audience.