Pope Francis Didn’t Open Door for Deaconesses

News: Investigations
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  June 27, 2016   

Pope "annoyed" by false media reports

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VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis says he's annoyed by media reports that he opened a door for female deacons.

Flying back from Armenia to Rome Sunday, a reporter asked the Holy Father about the topic. The Pope expressed displeasure over the media kerfuffle claiming he'd supposedly "opened the door to the possibility of ordained female deacons."

"[T]he first to be surprised by this news was me," Pope Francis told reporters in flight. "They said: The Church opens the door to deaconesses. Really? I was a bit annoyed because this is not telling the truth of things."

His intention was only to "study this and make a commission," he explained. "Nothing more has been requested."

In May, at a Rome conference on "feminism and clericalism" between the Holy Father and the International Union of Superiors General, questions were raised about ordaining women to the diaconate. A sister from the group had asked, "What stops the Church from including women from being permanent deacons, like in the ancient Church? Why not form an official commission to study the question?"

Pope Francis agreed at the time to have the question researched. "I think I will ask the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to report to me on the studies of this issue," he said. "And also I would like to set up an official commission to study the issue, and I think that will be good for the Church to clarify this point."

During the in-flight interview Sunday, the Holy Father said he was merely addressing the request to study the question, and nothing more. He also emphasized the point that he wasn't planning to implement any changes. "But, one can study, if it is the doctrine of the Church and if one might create this commission."

The Pope also recounted Sunday how non-ordained women, who at times had been called "deaconesses," fulfilled certain roles in the Early Church such as helping the bishop in three main areas: baptism by immersion of women, pre-baptismal unction for women, and verifying claims of domestic violence by examining the female victims' bodies for bruises.

The Holy Father doesn't anticipate any new findings coming from the study. "I believe that the theme has been studied a lot," he explained, "and I don't think it will be difficult to shed light on this argument."


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