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Commentary » International

Did the pope say yes to women deacons?

An unnoticed comment on the plane from Rio may be significant

Did the pope say yes to women deacons?

Picture: AFP/Albert Pizzoli

So, am I the only person on the planet who thinks Pope Francis said “yes” to women as deacons? The question was about what concrete measures the church should take, “for instance, the female diaconate or a woman at the head of a dicastery?”

No matter a little Rome-speak in his answer. I am pretty sure he said “yes” to ordaining women as deacons.

The question came in Italian from Le Figaro religion editor Jean-Marie Gunois and also on behalf of a colleague from the French Catholic newspaper La Croix. Gunois spoke directly: “You said that the church without women loses its fruitfulness.” And then Gunois asked about women as deacons and about women heading major portions of the church’s bureaucracy.

Media reports burst with analysis of Francis’ “who am I to judge” comment made on that plane ride from Rio. But a complete English translation of Francis’s mostly Italian 80-minute chat with reporters on the aircraft is posted by the highly conservative Catholic News Agency (CNA). An outgrowth of the Peru-based ACI Prensa, CNA gives free access to Catholic entities. Its aim is to proselytize while it informs. It ran the transcript. It did not seem to focus on Le Figaro’s question about women as deacons or the pope’s apparently positive answer.

Nor did anyone else. Most news outlets were falling over each other, racing to move the pope’s comments about “gay persons” — his term. News flash: the pope reiterated Catholic teaching, both about homosexual activity and about the ordination of women as priests.

But the pope did not rule out — nor has any church teaching ruled out — the restoration of women to the ordained order of deacon. In fact, he led right into the current international discussion about women in the diaconate.

Full Story: What the Holy Father meant to say ...

Source: National Catholic Reporter


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