Pope Francis on Thursday signaled the Catholic church may one day be ready to expand its all-male clergy to include women. The pontiff said he’s creating a special commission that will study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons. Speaking to a group of nuns, Francis said he’s often wondered about the role women play in the Church, and whether they should be permitted to serve as deacons. “I believe yes. It would do good for the church to clarify this point,” he said, explaining his reasoning for appointing a commission to take a closer look at the matter.
Deacons comprise the third order of the Catholic clergy, behind bishops and priests and aren’t considered full-fledged priests, therefore, unlike priests, they’re permitted to marry. Some have seen the possibility of ordaining women deacons as the first step into opening up the entire priesthood to women. Traditionalist Catholics have historically opposed the idea of allowing women to be ordained, but there is a significant contingent within the church who support the idea, like Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, who took to Facebook to remark on the pope’s announcement. “This is not only an idea whose time has come, but a reality recovered from history,” Martin wrote in a post on the social media site.
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