Priests’ association asks for clarification of the pope’s “no”

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How does the pope’s “No” to women deacons fit with the role of women on the agenda of the October Synod

May 31, 2024 • For immediate release
Priests’ association asks for clarification of the pope’s “no”

Statement of the Leadership of the Association of US Catholic Priests

The Association of US Catholic Priests enthusiastically supports Pope Francis’ call for synodality. With others, we are dedicated to making the pope’s vision a reality. Our collective efforts, spanning a long history, have been focused on improving and enhancing the role of women in the Church. We have sponsored and co-sponsored webinars that have involved affiliated groups such as Discerning Deacons, Future Church, and Voice of the Faithful, reaching thousands of women and men.

Throughout the synodal process, Pope Francis has supported discussions about women deacons.  It is on the agenda for the next synod session in October. Reports from every continent have called for rethinking women’s co-responsibility for leadership. Women as ordained deacons is one possibility frequently raised and on the agenda for the October synodal session in Rome.

AUSCP supports this process and seeks to continue the synodal journey with the Pope. So we are perplexed that Pope Francis, when asked by CBS’ Norah O’Donnell if he is supportive of women deacons, replied “No!” How does the pope see this as consistent with his later statement in the same interview: “You have to be open to everything. You have to!”

Of course, a TV interview does not carry the authority of a formal papal declaration. Restoring women to the diaconate is a question of ecclesiology, not doctrine. There is still no doctrinal statement against women as ordained deacons. So, there is still time for more synodal discussions and considerations on this subject. To embody the spirit of a synodal Church, it is crucial that we consistently implement the synodal process. 


We respectfully ask Pope Francis to clarify his “No.”  

  • Does this statement supersede the synodal process?  
  • Will women as deacons still be on the October agenda?  
  • What are the pastoral and theological reasons for the “No?” 

The Association of US Catholic Priests urgently calls upon individuals and groups to join us in our plea for clarity on Pope Francis’ recent negation of women as deacons. We can only move forward together through open dialogue and understanding.

For comment of more information, contact:
Rev. Stephen P. Newton, CSC, Executive Director • (312) 882 4228

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