VATICAN CITY — "The Vatican is tamping down any expectations that Pope Francis is about to let women serve as deacons in the Catholic Church anytime soon.
Francis made headlines Thursday when he told a closed-door meeting of some 800 superiors of women's religious orders that he agreed with their proposal to create a commission to study the issue. He was responding to a question about what was impeding women today from serving as deacons, who aren't priests but perform many of the same functions as priests, such as presiding over baptisms, marriages and funerals.
Francis replied that he understood that women deacons in the ancient church weren't ordained, as male deacons are today, and he reaffirmed that women regardless cannot deliver homilies during Mass. But he agreed to set up a commission to study the question, especially the role of women deacons in the ancient church.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told Vatican Radio on Friday that the pope "didn't say he had any intention of introducing diaconal ordination for women, much less priestly ordination for women."