The head of the Catholic Church in Germany on Monday called for women to be ordained as deacons, a major shift in doctrine for the male-dominated hierarchy.


Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg called for the change after a large 4-day conference on potential reforms, according to the German news website The Local. He said female deacons should not be considered "taboo."

Though women played an important role in the early church, Roman Catholic law currently only allows baptized men to be deacons. As the lowest level of clergy, deacons can preach, baptize, witness marriages and perform other religious services.

Sister Florence Deacon of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) recently called on Pope Francis to promote women to positions of power within the church.

"Today young women in the United States are leaving the church in larger numbers than young men, and parents are questioning raising their daughters in a church that doesn’t seem to value women’s participation," she said. "We hope Pope Francis hears their concerns and appoints significant numbers of women to major leadership posts in the universal church."