The source? Fr. James Martin,SJ, via Facebook:
Huge news. Josh McElwee of NCR and Cindy Wooden of CNS are reporting that Pope Francis has told a gathering of women religious meeting at the Vatican that he will set up a commission to study the question of women deacons.
This is not only an idea whose time has come, but a reality recovered from history.
Women deacons would be able to baptize, preside at marriages and funerals, and preach during the Mass. Their preaching at Mass would mean that the church would finally be able to hear, from the pulpit, the experience of over half its members. Taken together, all this would be an immense gift to the church. This news fills me with immense joy.
Pope Francis says, “I believe yes. It would do good for the church to clarify this point. I am in agreement. I will speak to do something like this…It seems useful to me to have a commission that would clarify this well.”
Also, Deacon Greg Kandra has a post clarifying what this news may mean.
Some will argue that deaconesses played a different role in the early church from that of deacons, an office established by the Apostles to focus on caring for widows and the poor so that the Apostles could focus on preaching.
That could mean that the papal commission could re-establish an order of female deacons that falls short of actual ordination.
Or the commission could say there is no justification for establishing the office of deaconess.
But whatever happens, the fact that Francis has opened the door to the debate and the possibility of ordaining women is groundbreaking.
Deacon Bill Ditewig: “This may (or may not) be a significant development; either way, context matters.”
Dave Armstrong: Are Deaconesses Inconceivable? No.