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Pope Francis

Nicolás Maduro meets with the pope in surprise visit to Rome

October 24, 2016. Pope Francis met with Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro. The private visit took place in the midst of the "worrysome political, social, and economic situation the country is going through, which is having serious repercussins in the daily life of the people,” according to a statement from the Vatican.

Holy See and Vietnam begin their 6th bilateral meeting today

October 24, 2016. The sixth meeting between the Holy See and a delegation of Vietnam begins today to improve relations between the two states. The Vatican delegation is headed by Antoine Camilleri, while the head of the Vietnamese delegation is Bui Thanh Son, with Foreign Affairs. The last meeting between the two state delegations was in September 2014.
Pope Francis

Pope to award 2016 Ratzinger Prize to Inos Biffi and Ioannis Kourempeles

October 20, 2016. The winners of this year's Ratzinger Prize will be Inos Biffi and Ioannis Kourempeles. The former, an Italian priest, is an expert in Systematic Theology and History of Medieval Theology. The latter is Greek and an Orthodox. He is an expert in History of Dogmas and Dogmatic Theology. He will be the first Orthodox to be awarded the prize given by the Joseph Ratzinger Foundation, considered by many the Nobel Prize of Theology.
Pope Francis

Pope Francis sends his condolences to Thais after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej

October 14, 2016. Pope Francis has sent a message to the Prime Minister of Thailand to express his condolences for the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He was 88 years old, and his reign spanned seven decades. Pope Francis said he is "deeply saddened” and he expresses his closeness to the members of the royal family and the Thai people.
Pope Francis

Pope sends 100,000 dollars for Hurricane Matthew victims

October 14, 2016. Through the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", Pope Francis will send $100,000 to the victims of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. The money will fund relief efforts in the first stages of recovery after the devastating effects of the hurricane. With this gesture, the pope wants to express his "closeness of spirit and fatherly support” to everyone in the affected area.
Pope Francis

Pope authorizes new decrees of heroic virtues for four potential saints

October 11, 2016. Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree of heroic virtues to four people, who are being investigated by the Church for possible sainthood. The decrees were given to the following "Servants of God:”
Pope Francis

Pope Francis rejects death penalty on Twitter: #NoDeathPenalty

October 10, 2016. The Pope has has given his support via Twitter to the World Day Against the Death Penalty. The following message can be read in each of his nine accounts, in their respective languages: "Punishment should necessarily include hope! #NoDeathPenalty.”
Pope Francis

Pope Francis announces Synod about youth and vocation

October 6, 2016. It will be held in 2018 under the name "Youth, faith, and vocational discernment.” Preparations for the second Synod of bishops convened by Pope Francis are well underway.

Theme chosen for 2017 World Communications Day

September 29, 2016. The theme for the 2017 World Communications Day has officially been announced. Coming from the book of Isiah, the theme is: "Fear not, for I am with you: communicating hope and trust in our time.”

The Pope creates a commission to study the role of deaconesses in ancient times


Pope Francis has set up the commission that will study the role of deacon women in the primitive Church. 

The Vatican has published the names of twelve theologians, male and female, that will study this tricky issue. The statement never mentions the word "deaconess”.

The Pope wants to settle the discussion on a matter that concerns many people: if early Christian women were appointed deacons or if they were ordained. If they were ordained, it could mean that they somehow participated in priesthood.

Pope Francis was surprised by the reaction to the creation of this commission, when some considered it a step towards the ordination of women, an issue the Pope has spoken about many times. 

July 28, 2016
"As far as the ordination of women, the Church has already spoken out and the answer is no. John Paul II made the Church's stance definitive. The door is closed. But let me tell you something, Our Lady, was more important than the apostles, bishops, deacons and priests. Women play a role that's more important than that of bishops, or priests. How? This is what we have to explain better publicly.”

Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Luis Ladaria, a Spanish Jesuit, president of the commission. Ladaria is also the Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The group will not start working until September, but a lot of work has been done for them.

In 2003, the Vatican published a study on the Diaconate prepared by the International Theological Commission after ten years in the making. The document concluded that "this ministry was not perceived as simply the feminine equivalent of the masculine diaconate. ” 

Many renowned female theologians are part of the new commission. Amongst others, there is Michelina Tenace, professor of Fundamental Theology at the Gregorian University in Rome, Sister Nuria Calduch-Benages, a Spanish professor and biblist, and Sister Mary Melone, the only female rector  of a Vatican university.

Rector, Pontifical University Antonianum
December 2015
"I don't believe that women have to be priests in order to have an active, constructive role of responsibility in the Church. But this does not mean that it's not important to rethink how the priesthood is lived today by men, in the sense that-and I use the words of Pope Francis- it is a form of service. When interpreted as a form of power, obviously it creates discrimination and usually women are the first to suffer because they never reach the priesthood.”

Perhaps, the work of this commission will help to unveil many issues concerning early Christians and perhaps it will also help the Pope to better theologically describe the role of women in the Catholic Church.

However, most experts maintain that this commission shouldn't be seen as a step towards female priesthood.