Francis, “Deaconettes,” and the St. Gallen Mafia

“No,” Pope Francis said.

He was answering Norah O’Donnell’s question about whether “a little girl growing up Catholic today” could “ever have the opportunity to be a deacon and participate as a clergy member in the Church.” Directly and tersely, the pope said, “No.”

It was a seemingly definitive response—and across the social media site X, a myriad of Catholics celebrated it as such.

And yet Francis—to borrow a term from vaticanista Sandro Magister—has a history of pulling “u-turns.”  That is, the pope has a habit of contradicting himself, especially by reversing a verbal “no” with his later actions.

Here is a history of different times when Francis initially seemed to thwart the agenda for female deacons—only to resurrect it, in practice, later on.

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