Pope Francis continues to be (mostly) chill by recently announcing that he’s open to the “possibility” of woman deacons in the Catholic Church. It’s not a woman pope, but it’s a start, I guess.
According to the National Catholic Reporter, Pope Francis has begun a group called the “Study Commission on the Women’s Diaconate” to look into the “historical role of female deacons” after meeting with a group of woman parishioners in May. The commission boasts an equal number of men and women, and marks a major step forward for the organization that “does not ordain women as clergy.”
Some historians believe that women serving in the church isn’t new, pointing to the apostle Paul who “mentions such a woman, Phoebe, in his letter to the Romans.” These days however, deacons are usually married men who are at least 35 years old. They perform baptisms, lead prayer services and manage the church if the priest is out.
This is the third church commission appointed to study the historical role of women deacons since 1992. Both commissions took several years to complete their work and neither led to changes in the church. The more recent report, released in 2002, said the question of ordaining women as deacons was a matter of discernment for church leaders, though few in the Vatican have shown a willingness to push forward.
Pope Francis himself seemed to cast doubt on whether his new commission could make major changes, either, telling journalists that he was surprised by media reports in May that suggested otherwise,
“They said: ‘The Church opens the door to deaconesses.’ Really? I am a bit angry because this is not telling the truth of things,” Francis said in June.
The Pope decided to establish the group, “after intense prayer and mature reflection,” which I guess is needed to recognize women as equals to men in a religion that says love thy neighbor as thyself.