Pope Francis says he’s open to studying the female diaconate and may set up a commission to do so.
Pope Francis spoke on May 12 of his intention to set up a special commission which will study whether women can serve in the Roman Catholic Church as deacons. The commission will study the historical context related to the female diaconate in addition to the feasibility of women to serve as deacons. The move was welcomed by women who have insisted for many years to get a prominent role within the confines of the Catholic church.
The pontiff's remarks show a much needed openness to re-examine the church's obstinacy to keep a male exclusive clergy. The idea will doubtless face tough resistance from church members who believe that this action marks the first step for the ordination of female priests- a possibility that has been fully negated by previous popes, citing church doctrine. It is a part of Church's sacrament related to Holy Orders.
The Pope addressed 800 members belonging to International Union of Superiors General (UISG). The members are in for a Plenary Assembly meeting which went on from May 9 to May 13. It concentrates primarily on the woman's role in Church and the obstacles that come between them and their duties.
According to L'Osservatore Romano, a Vatican newspaper, Pope Francis, during his May 12 speech and interaction, spoke briefly about temptations related to both clericalism and feminism. On the subject of presence of women when it comes to the church diaconate, he supported the establishment of a commission so that the topic can be studied.
Breaking: Pope Francis agrees to form commission to study women diaconate. Grateful to the superiors general of women religious & @Pontifex
— Kerry Robinson (@KerryAlys) May 12, 2016
Pope Francis gave his seemingly off the cuff answers in a Q&A session where he assured 900 sisters present in the room, of his intention to increase the count of women in the church's decision-making posts. In a question asked by one of the attendees, a woman queried about the possibility of an official commission so that the issue can be studied and the pontiff gave his consent. He also said that the church would also be benefited by this step.
In the order of the Catholic Church, deacons are its ordained ministers. They do the same jobs as priests do in parishes. Deacons can preach at Mass and perform baptisms. They can witness marriages and also conduct funeral services. The present requirement to be a deacon is that the applicant must be male and should be more than 35 years of age. It should be kept in mind that just forming a commission at the Vatican is not a harbinger of change. Conclusions may take years to come and they are only advisory.