Pope Francis has created a commission to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons in the Roman Catholic Church. On Tuesday, he named 12 experts — six men and six women — to serve on the panel.
Francis had promised to establish the panel in May in a meeting with an assembly of leaders of women’s religious orders.
The Vatican said that Francis decided to institute the commission “after intense prayer and mature reflection.” Francis’ predecessors have repeatedly said that church doctrine bars women from being ordained as priests or deacons. But some Catholics, especially in the United States and Europe, have been advocating for women to serve as deacons and hope the commission will open the door.
Deacons are ordained like priests, but only priests celebrate Mass. But deacons may preach, perform weddings, funerals and baptisms, and help administer a parish.
Phyllis Zagano, a professor of religion at Hofstra University and the author of many books on women in the Catholic Church, was appointed by Francis to the commission. Ms. Zagano spoke with Laurie Goodstein, the national religion correspondent for The New York Times.