Media’s misinterpretation of conversation on ordaining women upsets Pope Francis.
Last month (May), Pope Francis met with around 800 members of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) during their Plenary Assembly. During the question and answer session, one of the religious sisters asked the Pontiff what is stopping the Church from ordaining women to the diaconate. She pointed out that the ancient Church had permanent women deacons. She also suggested forming an official commission to study the issue.
Pope Francis told her that according to his research on the subject, the role of female deacons in the ancient Church was primarily linked to assisting the bishop in three areas, baptism by immersion of women, examining the body of women for bruises in domestic violence cases, and pre-baptismal unction for women. However, at the time, he agreed that a commission was a good idea to get more clarity on the issue.
The media misinterpreted this and published the news as the Church opening its door to deaconesses. This did not sit well with the Pontiff. Last Sunday, June 26, during a press conference that was held inside the Papal plane during Pope's return to Rome from Armenia, he expressed his displeasure over the media mix up. He said that he was the first one to be surprised by the news. According to the media, the Church is opening its door to deaconesses. He is angry because that is not the truth. What he said was that he would look into the matter, nothing more.
— TONY DIXON (@VEXILLAdeROI) June 29, 2016
The Holy Father acknowledged that the Church has already studied the subject of women deacons. The study included a 2002-International Theological Commission document and an advisory body to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The study showed that the female deacons in the ancient Church had neither a sacramental function nor a liturgical one. They were not equivalent to the male deacons.
The in-flight press conference also saw Pope Francis expressing his appreciation for women in the Church. According to him, women see things in a different perspective. Women think different from men. The solutions they bring as a result of this is very fruitful. He always asks women for advice. According to him, before any major decisions are made, it would be better to listen to the advice of women. The thought of women is important. Without listening to women, once cannot make a good decision.
Pope Francis added that the Church is a woman, a woman married to the son of God. The Church is the spouse of Jesus Christ.