The Pope is “…very much in favor of the female diaconate”

Friends from across the Discerning Deacons network stopped by our booth this past weekend at the LA Religious Education Congress and shared why they feel it’s time to ordain women as deacons, including this crew from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in San Diego.

You read it correctly! Pope Francis, according to Sr. Linda Pocher, is “very much in favor of the female diaconate.” 

Last week Pope Francis sought counsel from three wise women: Sr. Linda Pocher, a theologian and expert on Marian-Petrine matters; Giuliva Di Berardino, a liturgist, educator, and consecrated virgin from Italy; and Rev. Jo Bailey Wells, bishop in the Anglican Church who is also a wife and mother. They were invited to advise and enter into dialogue with the pope’s closest circle of cardinal advisors (the C9) to continue to respond to the sense of the faithful as it is heard through the global synod. Central to their discussion was the question of women and the diaconate. 

This is not the first time the pope and his council have sought counsel from women in ministry. Sr. Laura Vicuña, vice-president of CEAMA, auditor in the Amazon Synod, and friend of Discerning Deaconsbriefed this circle of cardinals back in April 2022. The seeds Sr. Laura planted are continuing to take root. 

The discernment for the full restoration of the permanent diaconate—including women—is active!

Read some of the news coverage here: 

And listen to the story on America Media’s Inside the Vatican podcast. The whole episode is well worth the listen! Coverage on the C9 meeting starts at ~19 minutes. And shoutout to Fr. Ricardo Desilva, SJ who ensured listeners everywhere are clear that there is already a distinction between the priesthood and the permanent diaconate! Appreciate him stepping in to ensure total clarity!

Meanwhile, Discerning Deacons was present at the recent LA Religious Education Congress, where Cardinal Robert McElroy said in his keynote address, that just as Jesus created a paradigm shift regarding the treatment of women in his time, “most in the synodal assembly felt that the time has come for just such a shift in the life of the church.” Sr. Theresa Maya echoed the theme, making the case for why we need to continue synodal conversations about women, citing widespread violence against women and proclaiming, “We should be fierce in our defense of women!”


A few other connected developments and opportunities to participate on the synodal path:

  • A report published by church leaders and networks in the Amazon and across Latin America (in Spanish) reflects a widespread desire for women’s ordination to the diaconate. 
  • A virtual training on how to become a synodal parishthis weekend, February 24 & 25
  • Save the date to join in the international conversation on Women in the Life and Mission of the Church through WUCWO’s School for Synodality, beginning with a round of webinars on February 27, 28, and 29.

Thank you to everyone who registered and attended the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests’ session on “What Happened at the Synod? The Call to Dialogue on Co-Responsibility and Women’s Participation in our Church.” A full video recording is here, as well as a wonderful written synthesis. 

We hope your observance of Lent is an occasion for grace as we come to deepen our reliance on the God of mercy and compassion, and journey with Jesus in these 40 days to Easter. May the outward consolations of this week, further our courage, grow our faith, and inspire our actions to help serve the Church’s mission. 

Casey Stanton

Casey Stanton

Casey Stanton is co-director at Discerning Deacons.

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“I have worked alongside many lay and religious women in my ministry who have exhibited outstanding ability for ministry.  Many have taught me by their example how to be a more effective minister, and by their instruction, helped me to grow in this role…It’s time that the Church gets in step with society and recognizes the equality of women in the workplace.  Women are as capable as men in the work of ministry, and have demonstrated the same equality in scholarship, skills and education as men.”
Fr. Joseph A. Genito, O.S.A
Pastor, St. Thomas of Villanova Parish, Philadelphia, PA
“If there were women deacons in my parish, lay women would relate in a deep and meaningful way to deacons who look, act, speak and feel more like themselves…Though I am an unlikely choice to wear the alb and stole, I have a deep commitment to service in Christ’s name and I try to live it every day. Any need that arises, I am ready to shoulder it, though some needs of our sisters and brothers would be well- or better-served by a woman’s different compassion.”
Deacon Bill Zapcic
Parish Deacon and Homilist, Retired Journalist, Tinton Falls, NJ
“Not only is ordaining women as deacons a restoration of the dynamism of the early Church, it is a matter of justice!”
Fr. Stephen P Newton, CSC
Executive Director, Association of US Catholic Priests, Notre Dame, IN

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