Vatican City, Aug 2, 2016 / 04:21 am
Pope Francis has instituted a new commission for the study of women deacons, the Vatican announced Tuesday.
The decision comes several months after a papal audience with a group of religious sisters, during which Pope expressed his willingness to consider forming a commission to study women deacons, such as they existed in the early Church.
According to the Aug. 2 press release, the pontiff came to the decision after a period of “intense prayer and mature reflection.”
The new commission will be headed by Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, who will lead a group comprised of twelve members, half of whom are women.
Both lay and religious women have been chosen for the commission, including Sr. Mary Melone, rector of the Antonianum university, Prof. Phyllis Zagano at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, and Marianne Schlosser, professor of spiritual theology at the university of Vienna and member of the International theological commission.
Also included in the list is Fr. Robert Dodaro, president of the Augustinianum University in Rome.
The Vatican statement mentioned the May 12 papal audience with members of the International Union of Superiors General, during which the question of women deacons was raised during a Q&A session.
At the audience, one sister asked why the Church does not include women in the permanent diaconate. The sister had referred to an ancient tradition in the Church in which there were female deacons (albeit not-ordained), and suggested that a commission be established to study the possibility.