The Vatican announced on Wednesday that Pope Francis has created a new commission to study the question of a female diaconate in the Catholic Church, after some members of the 2019 Amazon synod requested the pope re-establish a 2016 commission on the subject.
Among the 10 theologians making up the new study commission are two permanent deacons, three priests, and five lay women. They hail from Europe and the United States.
Pope Francis first created a 12-member commission in 2016 to examine the historic question of the role of deaconesses in the early Church.
In May last year, he said that the commission had not reached any consensus which would soon lead to a plan of action, but would continue its study.
Speaking aboard the papal plane returning from North Macedonia and Bulgaria, the pope said “for the female diaconate, there is a way to imagine it with a different view from the male diaconate,” but added that “fundamentally, there is no certainty that it was an ordination with the same form, in the same purpose as male ordination.”
“Some say there is doubt, let’s go ahead and study,” he said in May 2019.
The institution of the new commission also follows the discussion of the female diaconate during the 2019 Amazon synod.
At the end of the Oct. 6-27 meeting, synod members recommended to Pope Francis that women be considered for certain ministries in the Church, including the permanent diaconate, which is an order within the sacrament of Holy Orders.
Pope Francis said in his closing remarks for the Amazon synod Oct. 26 that he would re-open the 2016 commission, possibly adding new members, based on the synod’s request.
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