04.04.1311:01 AM ET

Pope: Women Have ‘Fundamental Role’ in Church

“Women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord.”

Recognizing the importance of women’s role in church after just a few weeks as pope? This could be a sign of real progress, Francis. The new pontiff said Wednesday that women have a “fundamental role” in the Church and that “the evangelists simply narrate what happened; women were the first witnesses.” “In the church and in the journey of faith, women have had and still have a special role in opening doors for the Lord,” Francis told thousands of pilgrims at his weekly address in Saint Peter’s Square. The words are somewhat of a departure for the normally conservative Catholic Church, but the head of the Women’s Ordination Conference, which calls for women to be treated equally in the church, refuted the pope’s words. “He said women are able to communicate Christ’s words, but actually women can’t preach, so that’s a false statement,” WOC executive director Erin Saiz Hanna told Reuters. The pope already caused waves when, for the first time ever, he washed women’s feet on Holy Thursday.