Pope Francis told the heads of women's religious congregations that he would set up a commission to study the possibility of allowing women deacons.
Asked if he would establish "an official commission to study the question" of whether women could be admitted to the diaconate, Pope Francis responded: "I accept. It would be useful for the church to clarify this question. I agree."
The pope spent more than an hour May 12 responding to questions posed by members of the International Union of Superiors General, reported Catholic News Service.
Asked about deaconesses in the New Testament and the possibility of the modern church admitting women to the permanent diaconate, Pope Francis had said his understanding was that the women described as deaconesses in the Bible were not ordained like permanent deacons are. Mainly, he said, it appeared that they assisted with the baptism by immersion of other women and with the anointing of women.