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. 

Picture of Casey Stanton

Casey Stanton

Casey Stanton is co-director at Discerning Deacons.

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“Our St. Phoebe Day celebration was a Catholic mass at its best—coming together, unified at the Eucharistic table, getting nourished through meaningful ritual, prayerful and relevant songs, a challenging message on synodality from scripture, and engaging and honest testimonies from two women in our community. St. Joan of Arc parish today did what Jesus did years ago—fed souls and gave people hope.”
St. Joan of Arc Catholic Community
Minneapolis, MN
“Together, we are grateful that the ministry and example of St. Phoebe enlivens our community to participate in exploring the unique gifts of women in our faith community. Here at Cranaleith, we feel strongly about creating space for all those seeking wholeness and transformation for themselves, their communities and society. This retreat was an opportunity for us to do just that.”
Cranaleith Spiritual Center
Philadelphia, PA
“The icon of St. Phoebe is still present in our Chapel today, where we are able to remember her witness and ask her to intercede on our behalf.”
Rosemont College
Rosemont, PA

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