Study: Most US major superiors think women deacons 'theoretically possible'

The heads of women's religious orders leave an audience with Pope Francis in Paul VI hall at the Vatican May 12, 2016. During a question-and-answer session with members of the UISG, the pope said he was willing to establish a commission to study whether women could serve as deacons. (CNS/Paul Haring)

A major new study has found that more than three-quarters of the leaders of religious orders of priests, brothers and sisters in the U.S. believe it is "theoretically possible" to ordain women as deacons in the Catholic Church.

Nearly as many, according to the just-released report from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, believe the church "should authorize" the ordination of women to the diaconate.

The study was released by CARA on Aug. 2, the second anniversary of Pope Francis creating a commission to study the women's diaconate. It surveyed all 777 leaders of Catholic men and women religious orders in the U.S., and got responses over a four-month period from 385, or just below 50 percent.

Among the findings:

  • 77 percent believe it is "theoretically possible" to ordain women as deacons;
  • 72 percent say the church "should authorize" such ordinations;
  • 76 percent say ordaining women as deacons would be "very much" or "somewhat" "beneficial to the Catholic Church's mission";
  • 45 percent believe the church will return to the practice of ordaining women as deacons.

The new CARA study, which focuses only on attitudes of leaders of religious orders, follows an earlier study by the group on the wider attitudes of U.S. Catholic women. That study, released in January, found that 60 percent of women thought the church should implement a women's diaconate.

Read the full story at National Catholic Reporter.