Kate McElwee: Italy (+39) 393-692-2100 [email protected]

Erin Saiz Hanna: USA (+1) 401-588-0457 [email protected]

For Immediate Release: 2 August 2016

Rome, Italy:  The Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) welcomes and is encouraged by Pope Francis’ gender-balanced and lay-inclusive appointments to study women deacons in the early Church, including U.S. expert and 2015 Women’s Ordination Worldwide presenter, Dr. Phyllis Zagano.

The commission to study the diaconate for women is an important step for the Vatican in recognizing its own history of honoring women’s leadership. Biblical and historical evidence cites several women leaders working alongside men in the early Church, including: St. Olympias, Dionysia, St. Radegund, St. Macrina, and Phoebe, who is specifically mentioned as a deacon in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans.

We pray that such a commission, similar to the Pontifical Biblical Commission of 1976 that concluded there is no scriptural barrier to women’s priestly ordination, will inform a new reality for women in our Church: one that models equality and inclusion.

Only when women are equally included in all ordination rites — as deacons, priests, and bishops — and at all Church decision-making tables, can we begin to restore our Gospel values of equality and justice.