Pope Francis said Tuesday that the Vatican commission exploring the possibility of female deacons continues its study, but does not have any consensus that would lead soon to a plan of action.

“For the female diaconate, there is a way to imagine it with a different view from the male diaconate,” Pope Francis said May 7 during an in-flight press conference returning from North Macedonia and Bulgaria.

“Fundamentally, there is no certainty that it was an ordination with the same form, in the same purpose as male ordination. Some say there is doubt, let’s go ahead and study,” the pope said.

Much of the Pope Francis’ May 5-7 visit to Bulgaria and North Macedonia was dedicated to ecumenical dialogue with Orthodox Christianity. Among the differences from Catholicism, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has female deaconesses.

During the in-flight press conference, Pope Francis revealed that some in the Vatican commission have concluded that historically the female diaconate was different from the role of male deacons, namely without sacramental ordination.

“For example, the formulas of female deacon ‘ordination’ found until now, according to the commission, are not the same for the ordination of a male deacon and are more similar to what today would be the abbatial blessing of an abbess,” he said.

Pope Francis said that others in the commission hold that there was  “a female deacon formula,” but it is not clear whether it was a sacramental ordination or not.

Full story at Catholic News Agency.