Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

The 'women deacons' thing

Some are agog at the new possibility of women being deacons in the Catholic church ... Francis to create commission to study female deacons in Catholic church. But before we get giddy, let's consider a couple of things ...

1) The Pope said he would create a commission to study the idea of women being deacons, but it was an off-the-cuff answer to a question at a meeting of women religious, not an official announcement,. And come on ... the creating of a commission to study something appears to be Francis' way of burying issues .... look at his sex abuse commission.

2) This isn't a new idea:

In February of 2013, Cardinal Kasper said that maybe women could be deacons ...

Cardinal Walter Kasper suggested a new “diaconal” office for women at the recent spring assembly of the German bishops’ conference, German media are reporting. His proposal is for a “community deaconess” who would carry out pastoral, charitable, catechetic, and specific liturgical roles. This would be distinct from the office of male deacons, to be commissioned by a blessing rather than sacramental ordination ...

Yep, "decon-esses" ... sigh :(

And a few months later there was an update on the issue from The Tablet ...

The president of Germany's bishops' conference has called for the creation of a new, specific office for women deacons .... But a spokesman for Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, whom Pope Francis has appointed cardinal-adviser for Europe, said ordaining women deacons was "not on the agenda". And Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg said the office of deacon was inseparably bound to that of priest and bishop and the sacrament of ordination, and the "tradition that only men can be ordained is based on the Bible".

So, women *might* get to be deacons someday (or not) but if they do get to, they won't be deacons in the normal sense of the word, they won't be the kind of deacons that men are (ordained).

Nothing more was said of women deacons until October of 2015, during the synod of the family, when Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher made a suggestion that women could be deacons ...

"I think we should really start looking seriously at the possibility of ordaining women deacons because the diaconate in the church's tradition has been defined as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry."

What was the response to his limited suggestion? The idea went nowhere, of course, and this comment was made at the press briefing for Day 8 of the synod by Vatican Radio (audio version) ...

On the question of the ordination of women to the deaconate, Abbot Schröder said that it was a single proposal by an isolated voice that did not seem to be important in the room.

There has been nothing since, certainly nothing from the pope who could have taken it up anytime if he had the will. And meanwhile, the walk-back has already begun ... Vatican's Lombardi: Pope Did Not OK Women Deacons.

I think the pope's 'women deacons' comment was a effort by him to give the impression that the church is willing to make progress towards equality for women in the church. But I think that disingenuous - the pope doesn't want women to be priests and even the tiny and limited advancement of women as deacons won't be allowed by him. I don't doubt, however, that the blame will fall on Vatican insiders as forcing 'cool pope' to give up on his latest hope for reform - sigh. In the meantime, Francis will permanently shelve the idea of women deacons in one of his many commissions ....


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