by Joshua J. McElwee (NCR) | May. 12, 2016
Pope Francis has announced he will create a commission to study the possibility of allowing women to serve as
deacons in the Catholic church, signaling an historic openness to the possibility of ending the global institutions’ practice of an all-male clergy.
The pontiff indicated he would create such a commission during a meeting at the Vatican Thursday with some
900 leaders of the world’s congregations of Catholic women religious, who asked him during a question and answer
session why the church excludes women from serving as deacons. (Source: NCR)
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“You have spoken of newness in the positive sense,” responded the pope. “And the church is the majesty in this because it has had to change so, so much in its history.”
But he told the women religious that changes must come after a process of discernment and discussion with the Holy Spirit, and not just in weighing pros and cons of the possible arguments.”Every change that you must do … enter into this process of discernment,” he said. “This will give you more freedom.”
Francis then said that canon law is meant to serve as a “juridical help” to the church and noted that the Code had been “changed, totally remade” two times in the 20th century.
The women religious also told the pope that “one of the obstacles” many of their orders face in the church is the request that they give money to the local churches where they serve, or that they offer money in order to receive the sacraments from priests.
“The problem of money is a very important problem, in consecrated life and in diocesan life,” responded Francis. “Do not ever forget that the Devil comes through the pockets, whether it is the pockets of the bishop or the congregation.”
The pope then said that access to the sacraments should be free to all.
“Salvation is free,” said the pontiff. “God comes to us freely.”
“If someone asks you for this, report this!” he exclaimed. “There is not salvation by payment!”
Further reading on NCR website: Can women rejoin the ranks? Phyllis Zagano comments