US Catholics see pope’s consideration on women’s role as positive step

(Reuters) Some prominent US Roman Catholic groups welcomed the news on Thursday that Pope Francis has agreed to consider allowing women to be ordained as deacons, though some cautioned the move would be only a limited first step toward equality.

The pope on Thursday told an international meeting of nuns that he would create a commission to consider the idea of ordaining women as deacons, who are able to perform some religious ceremonies such as marriages but do not have all the rights of priests.

“It will make a huge difference,” said Deborah Rose-Milavec, executive director of FutureChurch, a Lakewood, Ohio-based Catholic group that advocates the ordination of women as priests. Although allowing women to be ordained as deacons falls short of the group’s eventual goal, Rose-Milavec said she viewed it as a step in the right direction.

“Any time you begin to break down one barrier, you see others crumble more,” she said in a phone interview.

But David Clohessy, the St. Louis-based director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said it remained unclear how long the review would take or if Vatican officials would in the end agree. [More]