RELIGION

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

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

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.

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