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Pope Francis announces commission to study women deacons

Pope Francis announces commission to study women deacons

Following comments regarding the study of female deacons in the church earlier this year, Pope Francis has now announced the formation of a Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women. The official Vatican news agency reports:

After intense prayer and mature reflection, Pope Francis has decided to institute the Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women. As president of the Commission, Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, SJ. In addition to Archbishop Ladaria, the commission is composed of six women and six men from academic institutions around the world.

Below, please find the complete list of the members of the Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women:


Abp Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith


Sr. Nuria Calduch‑Benages, M.H.S.F.N., member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission;

Prof. Francesca Cocchini, of the «La Sapienza» University, and of the Patristic Institute “Augustinianum,” Rome;

Msgr. Piero Coda, President of the University Institute «Sophia», Loppiano, and member of the International Theological Commission;

Fr Robert Dodaro, O.S.A., President of the Patristic Institute “Augustinianum,” Rome and professor of patrology;

Fr Santiago Madrigal Terrazas, S.J., professor of ecclesiology at the Pontifical University “Comillas,” Madrid;

Sr Mary Melone, S.F.A., Rector of the Pontifical University “Anonianum,” Rome;

Fr Karl‑Heinz Menke, professor emeritus of dogmatic theology at the University of Bonn and member of the International Theological Commission;

Fr Aimable Musoni, S.D.B., professor of ecclesiology at the Pontifical Salesian University, Rome;

Fr Bernard Pottier, S.J., professor at the “Institut d’Etudes Théologiques,” Brussels, and member of the International Theological Commission;

Prof. Marianne Schlosser, professor of spiritual theology at the University of Vienana, and member of the International Theological Commission;

Prof. Michelina Tenace, professor of fundamental theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome;

Prof. Phyllis Zagano, professor at Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York.

America Magazine offers background and a brief comment on the commission’s make-up.

Five of the members teach at pontifical universities in Rome; four are members of the International Theological Commission. In addition to the commission’s president, Father Ferrer, two other members are Jesuits. They come from different countries: five are from Italy*, and others from Rwanda, Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium and the United States.

The commission includes members with a variety of theological perspectives. For example, Father Robert Dodaro, an Italian Augustinian, was an editor of a book published before the Synod on the Family with contributions from five cardinals arguing against Cardinal Kasper’s position for greater openess on the question of communion for the divorced and remarried.

The Vatican press notes that Pope Francis’ original remarks included particular reference to study of of the ministry of women, “especially with regard to the first ages of the Church.”

Find the Vatican report here, and America Magazine’s commentary here.

Featured image: Pope Francis via @Franciscus on Instagram


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Philip B. Spivey

The first step in a long march. Blessings to you, Pope Francis.

Marshall Scott

My expectation is that this will not recommend, or even address, women in the ordained diaconate. Rather, I expect a reflection (and perhaps a very good one) on what the role of deaconess was in the early church. That may well result in some new opportunities for women; but I think it unlikely that something like the vocational diaconate as we know it (or even as the Roman Catholic Church know is) will be among them. Not that I wouldn’t be happy to be surprised; but I would certainly be surprised.

Rod Gillis

A number of comments over at National Catholic Reporter appear to share your view. See the ‘show comments’ feature under this NCR article.

Father Mike Waverly-Shank

AS an Anglican Priest who has worked with women deacons I welcome this news. Am sure the Catholic Church will be blessed by women deacons.

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