03/19/2015 10:22 am ET | Updated Mar 19, 2015

Will Pope Francis Make Room For Women In The Catholic Church?

While Pope Francis' two-year tenure has been marked by progressive change of tone on some social issues, gender parity does not yet seem to be a priority for the Vatican.

In a HuffPost Live conversation, TIME religion correspondent Elizabeth Dias said the status of women in the church has "gotten lost a bit" amid the fanfare about Pope Francis' rhetoric on LGBT issues.

"When you talk about what Pope Francis is doing, the conversation in the U.S. has so quickly jumped to LGBT rights and inclusion there, and has sort of glossed over his comments about women," Dias said.

While the pontiff may counter the static views of the church in some areas, Dias told host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani that true equality for women in the clergy is is not "on the table in the Catholic Church." In fact, the pope's language raised eyebrows when he was speaking to 800 nuns in 2013.

"Pope Francis has made some comments that have rubbed some folks the wrong way. Referring to an elderly woman as an old maid isn't exactly the kind of embrace that many would want to hear," Dias said. "We're still hearing some of the old language in there."

The Pope's Last Crusade author Peter Eisner is more optimistic. He told HuffPost Live it would be "pragmatic" for the pope to include women in prominent church roles.

"Short of the priesthood, for instance, women could be ordained as deacons. This is a whole different level. It's an intermediary level," he said. "It's pragmatic because obviously the church has a problem with not [having] enough nuns, not [having] enough priests. It's an intermediary step that has actually been placed on the table."

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation about Pope Francis' two-year tenure here.

Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live's new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!


  • Vincenzo Pinto / AFP / Getty Images
    Pope Francis (L) prays as a Jewish Rabbi looks on at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, in Jerusalem's Old City on May 26, 2014.
  • Franco Origlia / Getty Images
    Pope Francis attends his weekly audience at St. Peter's Square on May 7, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
  • Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty Images
    Pope Francis arrives to lead a mass at the parish of Santa Maria dell'Orazione in Guidonia Montecelio near Rome on March 16, 2014.
  • AP
    In this picture provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with Roman priests at the Vatican, Thursday, March 6, 2014.
  • Tiziana Fabi / AFP/ Getty Images
    Pope emeritus Benedict XVI (L) is welcomed by Pope Francis as he arrives to attend a papal mass for elderly people at St Peter's square on September 28, 2014 at the Vatican.
  • Tiziana Fabi / AFP / Getty Images
    A balloon flies past Pope Francis during his general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican on May 14, 2014.
  • Gabriel Bouys / AFP / Getty Images
    Pope Francis embraces a pilgrim at St. Peter's square at the Vatican at the end of his weekly general audience on April 2, 2014.
  • AP
    In this Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014 file photo provided by Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, right, kisses Pope Francis' head during an ecumenical prayer at the Patriarchal Church of St. George in Istanbul.
  • Patrick Hertzog / AFP / Getty Images
    Pope Francis arrives to deliver a speech at the European Parliament, on November 25, 2014, during a short visit at the European Parliament and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, eastern France.
  • Franco Origlia / Getty Images
    Pope Francis attends the Opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops in St. Peter's Basilica on October 5, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
  • Gabriel Bouys / AFP / Getty Images
    Pope Francis (R) speaks with US President Barack Obama during a private audience on March 27, 2014 at the Vatican.
  • Alessandra Tarantino / AP
    Pope Francis exchanges his skull-cap with a faithful as he arrives for an audience with members of Pauline Family in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014.
  • Taufiq Khalil / AFP / Getty Images
    Pope Francis prays at Israel's separation barrier on May 25, 2014 after he made an unscheduled stop at the security wall drawing attention to the towering eight-metre (26-foot) high concrete wall topped by a guard tower, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
  • Getty Images
    In this handout image provided by the Committee for the 2014 Papal Visit to Korea, The faithful greet Pope Francis upon his arrival for the 6th Asian Youth Day on August 17, 2014 in Haemi, South Korea.
  • Andreas Solaro / AFP / Getty Images
    Photoreporters take photos of Pope Francis as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on September 17, 2014.
  • Franco Origlia / Getty Images
    The biretta cup of Pope Francis is blown over his head by a gust of wind as he holds his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square flanked by Prefect of the Pontifical House and former personal secretary of Pope Benedict XVI, Georg Ganswein (L) on October 15, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican.
  • Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 17: Pope Francis blows out the candles on his birthday cake during his general audience at St Peter's square on December 17, 2014 at the Vatican City, Vatican. (Photo by Evren Atalay/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
  • Gabriel Bouys / AFP / Getty Images
    Pope Francis is pictured as he leaves after his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican on August 20, 2014.