Pope says he’s willing to study women deacons, in major step

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Pope Francis attends a visit to the RomeÕs synagogue on January 17, 2016 in Rome, Italy. The visit marks the third time a pontiff has been invited to the synagogue, following on from the visit by Benedict XVI in January 2010 and the historic encounter of Pope John Paul II with former Rabbi Elio Toaff there in 1986. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis says he’s willing to create a commission to study whether women can serve as deacons in the Catholic Church, signaling the possibility of letting women serve in ordained ministry.

Deacons are ordained ministers but are not priests. Currently, the church allows married men to be deacons but not priests. The pope in no way signaled during a meeting Thursday with superiors of women’s religious orders that he would allow women priests.

But asked during a question-and-answer session if he would create a commission to study whether women could be deacons, as in the early church, Francis said he was open to the idea, the National Catholic Reporter reported.

The publication quoted Francis as saying: “It seems useful to me to have a commission that would clarify this well.”