Pope did not say he'd ordain women deacons, spokesman says

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis “did not say he
intends to introduce a diaconal ordination for women,” and he certainly
did not speak about the ordination of women priests, the Vatican spokesman

Pope Francis met members of the International Union of
Superiors General, the leadership group for superiors of women’s orders, May 12
and accepted a proposal that he establish a commission to study the role of New
Testament deaconesses and the possibility of women serving as deacons today.

After some news outlets reported the pope was considering
ordaining women deacons and comments were made about women deacons leading to
women priests, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi issued a clarification May 13.

The spokesman insisted “it is wrong to reduce all the
important things the pope said to the religious women to just this

Women and the diaconate “is a question that has been
discussed much, including in the past, and that comes from the fact that in the
early church there were women who were called deaconesses, who carried out
certain services within the community,” Father Lombardi said.

Pope Francis told the sisters that he thought it would be a
good idea to form a commission “to take up this question again in order to
view it with greater clarity,” Father Lombardi said. “But one must be
honest: The pope did not say he intends to introduce a diaconal ordination for
women and even less did he speak of the priestly ordination of women. In fact,
talking about preaching during the eucharistic celebration, he let them know
that he was not considering this possibility at all.”

In a video statement May 13, Sister Carmen Sammut, superior
of the Sisters of Our Lady of Africa and president of the UISG, said the
sisters “were quite excited by the fact that Pope Francis did not leave
any question out; he really wanted to answer each of our questions.

“He was very strong about the fact that women should be
in the decision-making processes and the decision-making positions of the
church,” she said.

“About the diaconate,” she said, the sisters
“had proposed that there would be a commission. He accepted that proposal
and has said that he would bring that forward so that it could be studied even
more than it has already. And I hope that one day there will be a real decision
about this.”

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