Pope Francis says he would be prepared to commission a study into whether women can enter the Catholic clergy at the rank of deacon — one below a priest.

He was making the remarks in a closed-door meeting in Rome with senior members of women’s religious orders. During the conversation in May the Pope was asked if he would be willing to create a commission and he said he was open to the idea: “It would be useful for the Church to clarify this question. I agree.”

Deacons are ordained ministers who can preach and preside over weddings and funerals, but cannot conduct Mass.

The BBC said the remarks do not constitute a formal Vatican announcement. But they do signal the Pope’s willingness to examine a greater official role for women within the Church.


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