Pope says he's willing to study women deacons, in major step for Catholic Church

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Pope Francis to Consider Ordaining Women as Deacons

VATICAN CITY (WPIX) — Pope Francis says he's willing to create a commission to study whether women can serve as deacons in the Catholic Church, signaling the possibility of letting women serve in ordained ministry.

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Deacons are ordained ministers but are not priests. Currently, the church allows married men to be deacons but not priests. The pope in no way signaled during a meeting Thursday with superiors of women's religious orders that he would allow women priests.

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Pope says he's willing to study women deacons, in major step for Catholic Church
Pope Francis talks with President Barack Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base in Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. The Pope is spending three days in Washington before heading to New York and Philadelphia. This is the Pope's first visit to the United States. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: a Crowd waves to His Holiness Pope Francis on his arrival at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland after the pontiff's arrival from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: a Crowd waves to His Holiness Pope Francis on his arrival at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland after the pontiff's arrival from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (AFP OUT) Pope Francis is greeted by U.S. President Barack Obama after the pontiff's arrival from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis arrives to the United States from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. Pope Francis arrived in the United States on Tuesday for his first-ever visit, a trip that will include a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama and a speech to Congress. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: The red carpet is rolled out for Pope Francis as he arrives to the United States from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Pope Francis disembarks from his airplane upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. Pope Francis arrived in the United States on Tuesday for his first-ever visit, a trip that will include a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama and a speech to Congress. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis walks down the steps of his plane upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, where President Barack Obama was to greet him. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Pope Francis steps off his plane at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, September 22, 2015, on the start of a 3-day trip to Washington. Pope Francis arrived in the United States on Tuesday for his first-ever visit, a trip that will include a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama and a speech to Congress. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and first lady Michelle Obama arrive to greet the Pope September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis is greeted by U.S. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis is escorted by U.S. President Barack Obama, first Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop) Pope Francis (L) is escorted by U.S. President Barack Obama as he greets and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Clergy brace for the wind as they stand along the red carpet on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, as the plane carrying Pope Francis arrives. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Pope Francis upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis is escorted by U.S. President Barack Obama (R) after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) greets Pope Francis (R) upon his arrival September 22, 2015 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (AFP OUT) Pope Francis is greeted by U.S. President Barack Obama,Vice President Joe Biden, Jill Biden and invited guests after the pontiff's arrival from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis is greeted by U.S. President Barack Obama (R), along with first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other political and Catholic church leaders after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama welcomes Pope Francis upon his arrival on September 22, 2015 at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis, accompanied by President Barack Obama, and others, is greeted upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Pope Francis departs in a Fiat after arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on September 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: Pope Francis waves from the back of his Fiat after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as pope. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - SEPTEMBER 22: (AFP OUT) Pope Francis departs in a Fiat after arriving from Cuba September 22, 2015 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. Francis will be visiting Washington, New York City and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States as Pope. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
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But asked during a question-and-answer session if he would create a commission to study whether women could be deacons, as in the early church, Francis said he was open to the idea, the National Catholic Reporter reported.

The publication quoted Francis as saying: "It seems useful to me to have a commission that would clarify this well."

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