Another expert commission to study idea of women deacons

A new expert commission has been appointed to examine the possibility of women deacons.

Pope Francis approved the 10-member commission, which is the second one he has appointed during his pontificate.

The commission members include equal numbers of men and women representing the United States and six European countries.

Deacons are ordained ministers who can preside at weddings, baptisms and funerals. Although they can preach, they cannot celebrate Mass.

At the moment married men can be ordained as deacons. Women cannot, though historians say women served as deacons in the early Christian church.

The first commission Francis established in 1916 sought to respond to women demanding greater roles in the 21st century.

The members failed to reach a consensus and the group effectively ended its work.

At last year’s Synod on the Amazon region, the question of women deacons was again brought to Francis’s attention.

The region’s bishops called for the question to be revisited given the shortage of priests in the Amazon.

The new commission appears to be Francis’s response to the bishops’ request.

Unlike the 2016 commission’s mandate, which was limited to the early church, Amazonian bishops wanted the new commission to focus on a wider brief.

They wanted the real-life experiences of their region’s Catholic faithful to be taken into consideration in any new evaluation.

Advocates for women deacons say women could help priests in the ministry and governance of the church. They could also help address priest shortages in several parts of the world.

Opponents say allowing women to be deacons would become a slippery slope toward ordaining women to the priesthood a ministry reserved for men.


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News category: World.

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