Pope Francis supports the female diaconate, says advisor

Linda Pocher

A Spanish theologian who advises Pope Francis revealed that while the issue of women’s ordination remains unexplored, the pontiff advocates for the female diaconate.

Sr Linda Pocher, speaking to Europa Press, clarified that the Catholic Church is not considering women’s priestly ordination, yet the pope actively supports the idea of female deacons.

Participating in the Pope’s Council of Cardinals (C9) meetings, Pocher – alongside other female theologians – provided insights into women’s roles in the Church.

The discussions are integral to the ongoing Synod of Bishops on Synodality, scheduled to end this October.

Pocher, a Salesian theologian, along with Lucia Vantini and Father Luca Castiglioni, addressed the council highlighting key issues regarding the role of women in the Church.

The session included Anglican Bishop Jo Bailey Wells who shared insights into the ordination of women in the Anglican Church.

“The pope asked me to organise this meeting of reflection on the world of women in the Church and, to me, it seemed interesting to compare the experience of the Anglican Church” Pocher said.

Pocher asked Wells to explain the process in the Anglican Church that led to their decision to ordain women and how this decision “changed life in her Church.”

Role of women in the Church debated

Pocher emphasised the pope’s evolving perspective on the distinction between ordained ministry and baptismal priesthood, exemplified by allowing women to vote in synods, a change heralding broader participation in Church matters.

“The diaconate was also discussed. We know that the pope is very much in favour of the female diaconate, but he is still trying to understand how to put it into practice” she said.

Although the discussions at the C9 were receptive, Pocher noted varying degrees of openness among cardinals influenced by cultural contexts.

The topic of women deacons gained prominence in 2016 when Pope Francis initiated a commission to study the issue. Despite two commissions, a definitive conclusion remains elusive.

In 2019, the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon witnessed widespread support for the female diaconate. However conclusive action is pending.

During last October’s Synod of Bishops on Synodality, the topics of women priests, the women’s diaconate and the role of women in the Church were among the most debated and contested issues.



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