Francis Appoints ‘Women Clergy’ Advocates to Synod — By: Church Militant

VATICAN CITY ( – Pope Francis has appointed as consultors to the Synod on Synodality three women who are pushing for the ordination of female deacons and priests. 

Sr. Birgit Weiler

The Holy See Press Office announced Saturday that the pontiff has named Sr. Birgit Weiler, Tricia C. Bruce and Maria Clara Lucchetti Bingemer, as part of a team of six new theologians for the Second Session of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

Sister Weiler, a member of the Medical Mission Sisters who works as a missionary in the Amazon, maintains that “it must be possible for women who feel called to it to be admitted to the priesthood.”

In an interview with Swiss media, Weiler — who is also pushing for married priests — pointed out that she knew of women religious in the Amazon who were authorized by their bishop to administer the sacraments of baptism and even the anointing of the sick. 

“This is nothing unusual in Amazonia,” Weiler observed, lamenting the shortage of priests which resulted in some members of the laity receiving Holy Communion only once a year. “The nuns do this with the permission of the respective bishop.”

“In Amazonia, seriously ill people seek the sacrament of confession from a woman religious with whom they have a relationship,” the nun revealed in the April 2023 interview. But, she added, the sisters “cannot formally grant absolution — many nuns find this very painful.”

Patriarchal and androcentric discourse about God has led to a pervasive exclusion of women from the public sphere. 

Weiler believes female deacons are inevitable: “It could actually come very soon. There are no theological hurdles if one understands the diaconate as an independent office in the Church through which Christ is made present in the Church in His service to people’s lives.”

“When it comes to women’s priesthood, I fear that it will take a little longer. But it is imperative that the Church recognizes the urgency of this issue,” the nun emphasized. 


In 2021, Francis’ second female appointee, Tricia C. Bruce, authored a pro-deaconess report titled “Called to Contribute: Findings from an In-depth Interview Study of US Catholic Women and the Diaconate.”

Bruce, who is president-elect of the Association for the Sociology of Religion, believes that ordaining women deacons is possible since “changes to canon law introduced by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 reinforced the distinction between deacons and the ordained priesthood.”

Codeswitching creates outlets for women’s preaching gifts in coordination with willing priests.

Female interviewees in Bruce’s report share experiences emphasizing how they felt called to the priesthood in the Catholic Church, some from childhood and others through participating as altar girls, eucharistic ministers, lectors or performing diaconal roles. 

“Beyond preaching, Catholic women find themselves hamstrung in their ability to meet lay Catholics’ sacramental needs — particularly those that arise in moments of crisis and urgency,” Bruce laments. 

Tricia C. Bruce

The sociologist describes how women use “codeswitching” in collaboration with priests as accomplices to get around the canonical barriers that forbid them from preaching the homily during Mass.

“Codeswitching creates outlets for women’s preaching gifts in coordination with willing priests. Iris preached as a ‘lay reflector’ on Mother’s Day,” she writes. “Women also describe ways in which they strategically dissent and adapt norms to respond to sacramental needs of parishioners.”

“Women willingly commit themselves in their call to ‘deacon-like’ service but the Catholic Church does not guarantee circumstances in which it is possible to fulfill that call,” Bruce concludes, urging the Magisterium to reverse its position on Holy Orders. 

Maria Clara Lucchetti Bingemer, professor of theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, has proposed that a woman is the proper matter for the sacrament of Holy Orders can act as an “alter Christus” and “in persona Christi.”

Bingemer, who describes herself as a feminist theologian, advocates going “beyond God the Father” since “patriarchal and androcentric discourse about God has led to a pervasive exclusion of women from the public sphere and a subordination of women to suit the perspective and needs of a world that is principally designed for men.”

There are no theological hurdles if one understands the diaconate as an independent office in the Church.

The Brazilian feminist argues in favor of ordaining women to the priesthood in her book Transforming the Church and Society From a Feminist Perspective, because of “their eucharistic vocation expressed through their bodies.” 

Earlier, Salesian nun Sr. Linda Pocher, who was invited to address Pope Francis’ February C9 meeting of the pope’s consultors, said in an interview that the pontiff “is very much in favor of the female diaconate” and is studying methods for its implementation.

Sr. Linda Pocher

The religious sister added that there was “no reflection on the presbyteral ordination of women in the Catholic Church.”

Francis and the C9 also met with Anglican female “bishop” Jo Bailey Wells and Giuliva Di Berardino, a consecrated virgin, religious studies teacher, and liturgist from the diocese of Verona, Italy.

In a Feb. 9 interview with Vida Nueva Digital, Wells said the cardinals “were welcoming, attentive and I would even say curious” and that they “spent more time listening than talking.”

After addressing the C9 cardinals, Pocher said Francis “is changing the way of thinking and living the difference between the ordained ministry and the baptismal priesthood” by “extending to all the baptized some rights that until recently belonged to bishops, priests or religious.”

Francis also named Msgr. Alphonse Borras, episcopal vicar of the diocese of Liège, Belgium; Fr. Gilles Routhier, professor of theology at the Université Laval, Canada; and Rev. Ormond Rush, associate professor of theology at the Australian Catholic University to the synod. 

The Second Session of the Synod of Bishops takes place from Wednesday, Oct. 2 to Sunday, Oct. 27, 2024, to continue the work of the Synod on Synodality on the theme “For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.”

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