Why women deacons could enrich the church

‘I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae,” wrote St. Paul in the Letter to the Romans (16:1). What did Paul mean when he referred to Phoebe as a deacon? What kind of diakonos was she? How did she serve the church? Was she ordained as a deacon? And if so, what did her ordination mean? These questions, which may once have seemed arcane, have taken on greater urgency in the wake of Pope Francis’ recent decision to appoint a commission to study the historicity of women deacons.

We should note that the ordination of women to the priesthood is not under consideration. In “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,” the apostolic letter promulgated by St. John Paul II in 1994, which Pope Francis has endorsed on several occasions, the late pontiff declared “definitively” that only men can be ordained to the priesthood. While St. John Paul II made no definitive pronouncement on the separate question of women deacons, the apostolic letter forestalled consideration of the issue in some quarters out of concern that discussion of women deacons would inevitably lead to talk of the ordination of women to the priesthood. We welcome Pope Francis’ decision to reopen the question of women deacons, which manifests his faith in the Holy Spirit to guide the discernment of the people of God.

Advertisement

This is not the first time in recent history that the Vatican has examined the role of deacons. In 2002 the International Theological Commission concluded a study of the diaconate that included commentary specific to women deacons. For example, the document concluded that in Phoebe’s case, the Greek word diakonos was meant in the broadest sense, as “one who serves.” The commission noted that “the deaconesses mentioned in the tradition of the ancient Church—as evidenced by the rite of institution and the functions they exercised—were not purely and simply equivalent to the [male] deacons.”

At the same time, the commission said that “there is a clear distinction between the ministries of the bishop and the priests on the one hand and the diaconal ministry on the other.” In other words, while all three are sacred orders, essential differences among them may allow for women deacons. In the words of Bishop Emil Wcela (see America, 10/1/12), the commission left “the ordination of women to the diaconate an open question.”

The question took a new turn in May, when a woman religious asked Pope Francis about women deacons during a meeting with the heads of women’s religious orders from around the world. The pope in his response promised to set up a commission, whose members were appointed in July. Among them is the scholar Phyllis Zagano, author of Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church.

Professor Zagano’s book considers the historical evidence of women deacons, much of which might surprise many Catholics. As she wrote in America in 2003 (see Vantage Point in this issue, page 30), “While the work of women deacons—always rooted in the word, the liturgy and charity—differed regionally, the fact of women deacons is undeniable.” She is not the only reputable scholar to sift through the historical record. In their book Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History, Kevin Madigan and Carolyn Osiek, R.S.C.J., sum up the ministries that women deacons performed in the Eastern churches: “Female deacons…exercised liturgical roles, supervised the lives of women faithful, provided ongoing care for women baptizands, and were seen going on pilgrimage and interacting with their own families and the general population in a variety of ways.”

Other scholars disagree, averring that diakonos, when applied to women in New Testament times and in the early church, was more likely to have referred to service in general, according to cultural norms for women at the time. Moreover, they argue, “ordination” ceremonies for women in the early church cannot be equated with the contemporary understanding of ordination.

As indispensable as it is, the historical data is neither wholly conclusive nor ultimately dispositive. The church’s discernment regarding women deacons must be guided, in the words of the International Theological Commission, by “a greater knowledge of both historical and theological sources, as well as of the current life of the Church” (emphasis added). We should also bear in mind this additional insight of the commission: “Nowhere did the [Second Vatican] Council claim that the form of the permanent diaconate which it was proposing was a restoration of a previous form…. Vatican II never aimed to do that. What it re-established was the principle of the permanent exercise of the diaconate, and not one particular form which the diaconate had taken in the past."

This raises a question: If the church discerns in light of its reflection on the historical and theological data and the current life of the church that, at a minimum, it enjoys the freedom to admit women to the permanent diaconate, then should we do so? Yes, we should. What might that mean for the church today?

To begin with, while acknowledging the myriad ways in which women already serve the church, “ordaining women as deacons who have the necessary personal, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral qualities would give their indispensable role in the life of the church a new degree of official recognition, both of their ministry and of their direct connection to their diocesan bishop for assignments and faculties,” as Bishop Wcela has written. The church would be enriched by women’s leadership in its sacramental life. Like their male counterparts, women deacons could preside over some of the sacraments. Women deacons could preach at baptisms, weddings and funerals, providing the church with powerful models of women leading the community during some of life’s most important moments. That alone—the more complete inclusion of the voices of half the church in a sacramental setting—would be a great source of apostolic creativity and energy. While Pope Francis has said that ordained women deacons would not be permitted to preach at Mass, he has yet to offer a compelling reason why this must be so. It seems that if we are to have women deacons, then they should be permitted to perform all the functions that their male counterparts do.

It is also important to consider the possible ways that women deacons might serve as models for young women—and men. If it is true that some people have written off the church as a “patriarchal” institution, then imagine what it would mean to see a woman presiding at a liturgy. Many women in particular might feel more invited into a community in which the sacramental leadership includes them.

Ordination, of course, is not the sole way to exercise leadership, nor even the most significant. In the current church, however, the only one in which we live, ordination is an important entree into leadership. Thus the discussion of women deacons also affords us an opportunity to reflect on the nature of ecclesial governance. While some have suggested that the ordination of women as deacons will lead to their “clericalization,” the true challenge in the church today is not the possible clericalization of women but rather the urgent need to declericalize ecclesiastical power and authority. There are too many offices in the church today that require the office-holder to be a cleric, with little or no theological justification for this requirement. The discussion of female deacons should not therefore forestall a much-needed discussion about promoting laywomen, and laymen, to leadership roles with real decision-making authority—as heads of Vatican dicasteries, presidents of pontifical institutes or chancellors of dioceses.

What would the ordination of women deacons mean for the local churches? For one thing, Pope Francis would likely recognize that not every diocese or parish has the same need for and openness to the ministry of deacons generally or women deacons specifically. As the International Theological Commission stated in its report, “the true interest” of the fathers at Vatican II “was in opening a path to the restoration of the permanent diaconate which could be put into effect in a plurality of ways.” Should the church decide to ordain women deacons, therefore, the Holy See should render the practice licit but not mandatory. Owing to the wide variety of social, ecclesial and political situations throughout the world, discernment as to how, and when, female deacons can be integrated into the life of a local church should respect the autonomy of local churches under the leadership of the local bishop (in accordance with the call for greater subsidiarity that Pope Francis made repeatedly in “The Joy of Love”).

Regardless of local custom and choice, however, we are certain that the church would be greatly enriched by expanding roles for women at every level of service and governance. Almost 50 years ago, in 1967, the Second Vatican Council restored the permanent diaconate to the church. For several centuries before that, the only form of the diaconate was a “transitional” one—that is, for a man en route to the priesthood. In the early 1970s, it was a surprise for many Catholics to see a married man proclaim the Gospel and preach at Mass. Half a century on, this development is not yet finished, and the church is still coming to understand how best to put this ministry at the service of the community. Even though the restoration of the permanent diaconate has not been without challenges, it has been a blessing for the church. The addition of women to their ranks could be an equal blessing. With that in mind, we look forward to the results of the pope’s commission on women deacons and pray for its members as they begin this important work.

In the Letter to the Romans, St. Paul asks the community to “welcome” Phoebe and “help her in whatever she may require from you.” Even after the commission publishes its final report, scholars will likely debate what kind of diakonos Phoebe was. What is clear already, however, is that many women have the necessary personal, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral qualities to serve in this ministry, as well as a true sense of calling to follow the pattern of Phoebe. The question remains: Does the church have the freedom to admit women to this ministry and, if so, how should it proceed? One part of that question has been entrusted to the commission, but the larger challenge and opportunity belong to all of us.

CORRECTION, Aug. 18: The title of Phyllis Zagano's book has been corrected to Holy Saturday, not Holy Saturdays.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Lisa Weber
1 year 3 months ago
The most important function for women deacons would be preaching. One might assume that this would mean preaching at Mass because Mass is the principal liturgy of the church, the liturgy that all Catholics are familiar with. It is impossible to lead without being able to speak publicly. Silencing women at liturgies leaves the women of the church without leadership. Leaving part of the membership without leadership ensures that they will be powerless within the institution. While that might be a great way to maintain one's own power, it is also a wonderful way to drive women out of the church. Jesus himself gave women the authority to preach and teach by appearing to them first after the resurrection. In two Gospel accounts (Mark 16:7 and Matthew 28:7), an angel tells the women to go tell the disciples that Jesus has been raised from the dead. In Luke's account, the women go without being told. And in John 20:17, Jesus told Mary Magdalene, "Go to my brothers and tell them..." Jesus gave women the authority to speak and after 2000 years, we are still waiting for men in the church to see that.
Mike Evans
1 year 3 months ago
No not just preaching. Ministry is the real mark of diaconal life. Imagine a woman deacon baptizing a group of Catechumens she has just led through RCIA. Imagine visiting and bringing Viaticum to dying women everywhere. Imagine leading prayer and study with the same authority as other clergy. Where does it say having a penis or vagina makes any difference?
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 3 months ago
It makes no difference. Except for patriarchal gender ideology (i.e., the misconception of the sex/gender binary and male headship being "natural law") nothing impedes the ordination of women as deacons, priests, and bishops. The ancients believed that the female vagina is an inverted penis, so there was only really one sex, male -- females are defective males. The modern version of patriarchal gender theory is that there are two sexes, male or female, but sex = gender, so there are only two genders that cannot be distinguished from bodily sex, thus a rigid "complementarity" of roles that perpetuates male headship. Every conceivable rationalization is being used to avoid facing the simple biblical revelation that there is *one* human nature, male and female, of the same flesh, as explained in Genesis 1-2 and St John Paul II's Theology of the Body.
Lisa Weber
10 months 3 weeks ago
I disagree that men and women are essentially the same. Men and women see things differently and have distinctly different cultures. This difference in perception and understanding is why both men and women need to be leaders within the Church, but priesthood for women is not a necessity. Being able to preach is of primary importance, and being part of the ordained leadership is also important.
Lisa Weber
10 months 3 weeks ago
I agree that preaching is not the only important function for women deacons, just the most important one.
Robert O'Connell
1 year 3 months ago
I concur. Our Church is too important to function with one hand tied. What would Jesus say if He was commenting today?
Steven Schloeder
1 year 3 months ago
At the same time, the commission said that “there is a clear distinction between the ministries of the bishop and the priests on the one hand and the diaconal ministry on the other.” In other words, while all three are sacred orders, essential differences among them may allow for women deacons.
No, that is not "in other words". That is an entirely different, and rather tendentious, thought which is not responsibility extrapolated from what you quote the commission as writing.
While Pope Francis has said that ordained women deacons would not be permitted to preach at Mass,
Actual quote and cite source, please.
William Rydberg
1 year 3 months ago
In my opinion, the real issue is whether or not a Religious Order like the Society of Jesus (America Magazine is its American Flagship magazine) really ought to pick and choose between Papal teachings. While it is one thing to introduce the subject through a named Jesuit Scholar laying out one side, then another Jesuit Scholar laying out the other side. But for a banner unattributed Article, signed by the collective Editors! In my opinion is indicative of a betrayal of the Jesuit intellectual/martial heritage. Not to mention, in my opinion a betrayal of a long tradition of filial piety to the Popes of Rome as well as to past Jesuit Generals. As for the ultimate decision on this subject, I have no dog in this fight. I hope this issue comes up at the upcoming General Congregation. in Christ,
Robert O'Connell
1 year 3 months ago
This comment on filial loyalty warrants serious respect. After all, the Holy Spirit voted our Popes into office -- not the rest of us.
William Rydberg
1 year 3 months ago
Something as subtle as what you suggest is lost on the "active contemplatives" that seem to rule the current roost with an odd "consensus". Nobody seems to stand up in the Society and says "this is what I think". Consensus is sacrosanct in the new America Magazine. There are no hard intellectual men that I have read in the Magazine, it's all kid glove stuff, anonymous "Editors" articles and the like. Nobody want to look at all sides of issues anymore. This is why a man like Fr John A. Hardon S.J. Has been expunged from the Society's collective memory and its up to guys like Cardinal Burke to take up his Cause with Rome. Sad but true in my opinion...
Greg Herr
1 year 3 months ago
“They said: ‘The Church opens the door to deaconesses.’ Really? I am a bit angry because this is not telling the truth of things.” ---Pope Francis
J Scanlon
1 year 3 months ago
Clearly the meaning of a woman deacon is critical to deciding its place in the Church. On one side, actual priestly orders is unlikely to occur in the Roman Church. On the other, to have preachers expounding Christ Jesus who are women is exciting. In fact, this has happened often in the historical Church even without a designation as 'deacon'. If making such a designation opens doors to special education and formation, and to be allowed opportunities to proclaim the Word, I am all for it.
Henry George
1 year 3 months ago
America Magazine as usual dances around the issue without every coming out for it but it is clear that you want Women Priests, then Bishops and then Popes. If the Holy Spirit wants women to be Deacons in the Catholic Church, Amen. However, I think it would be most prudent to consult with the Orthodox Churches before taking such a momentous step.
Robert O'Connell
1 year 3 months ago
This makes sense to me.
Henry George
1 year 2 months ago
Robert, Thank You. If only the Roman Church had invited the Orthodox to Vatican II as full members.
Robert Killoren
1 year 3 months ago
While scholars battle over history, where is the Holy Spirit leading the Church? Or have we decided that the Holy Spirit has had everything to say in the past and is no longer out front leading?
j kevin colligan
1 year 3 months ago
My sister-in-law Jacqueline (an Ursuline nun) and my aunt Marguerite (also an Ursuline) both passed away hoping for but not seeing the reflections, considerations, and maybe even actions Francis has encouraged us to take. [Don't split hairs about my wording here. This is my heart speaking.] We are all gifted beyond measure to live in a time when we might actually see the concept of "church" inclusively broadened. I can see aunt Mar, Jacqueline, and Jacqueline's sister Suzanne - my wife who passed away six months ago - grinning ear to ear up there. I'm with them on that!
Annette Magjuka
1 year 3 months ago
I applaud including women and more lay people in leadership roles. This makes me so happy. The Holy Spirit is on the move!
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 3 months ago
Indeed, women deacons would enrich the Church. Women priests and women bishops would enrich the Church even more! There is no dogmatic impediment. The only impediment is patriarchal gender ideology.
Mei Leng Cheng
1 year 3 months ago
It is really hard for me to understand how the church can keep women from being deacons (or from being priests, but that's another issue). What kind of theology could justify not allowing women to be deacons?
John Placette
1 year 3 months ago
Is the Society of Jesus going to ask the Holy See to allow the ordination of permanent deacons for service within the Order? Why has this not happened sooner than now? What is good for the goose is good for the gander!
Robert O'Connell
1 year 3 months ago
Life has taught me that I truly "do not know what I do not know" and I heve more trust in Pope John Paul II than any oher human in history short of the Mary, especially given her relattionship with the Father, Son & Holy Spirit yet were I Pope I would ask that the bishops study the prudence of making women unfettered members of the Church. Why is the Holy Family not the model we emulate? Trust the Holy Spirit!!!
Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago
Wise comment below about the Orthodox. I suggest we walk together in this discussion and add some of them to the Commission. A quote above “We welcome Pope Francis’ decision to reopen the question of women deacons, which manifests his faith in the Holy Spirit to guide the discernment of the people of God.” Our faith assures us the Holy Spirit guides the Church, but I don't think we have the same confidence the people of God will follow the guidance. As the article above states, the Holy Spirit has already "definitively" informed the Church that the priesthood is a male vocation, but many of the comments below seem not to have got the message. In any case, I will await the next installment on deacons, but I think continuity with the previous Commissions is likely. As to greater roles for laymen and laywomen, that seems something Pope Francis can do and is doing already. We should also not forget the sisters and nuns. Mother Teresa (St.) and Mother Angelica and other sisters have had profound leadership roles in the recent Church.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 3 months ago
Mother Teresa and Mother Angelica would have been wonderful bishops!
Tim O'Leary
1 year 3 months ago
They were even greater because they were faithful. But, your phrasing suggests you think that a bishop would have been a promotion, whereas it is a demotion to go from saint to bishop.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 3 months ago
No, this is not what I mean. Vocations are not promotions or demotions. Holiness is a universal vocation. Sacramental ministry is a particular vocation. The lord should be allowed to call those he wants without artificial barriers based on the patriarchal gender theory about the sex/gender binary and the presumption of male headship. All vocations are gift-based, not gender-based
Tim O'Leary
1 year 2 months ago
Luis - The Lord has been calling who He wants for the priesthood since He chose the 12 men to be His apostles. He also called the patriarchs to form the patriarchal Israelites. So, the real question for you and others today is - will you accept His selection? A gender theory that doesn't recognize the complementary of the sexes is not a Christian theory. It's not a Natural Law theory. It's not even a scientifically sound theory.
Henry George
1 year 2 months ago
Tim, Tim, Thank You. How odd it is that the"Progressives" never seem to worry about what the Orthodox Churches would think if their "Modern" changes were implemented.
E.Patrick Mosman
1 year 3 months ago
" The church would be enriched by women’s leadership in its sacramental life. " One way to evaluate this "conclusion" is to examine the results where such an action, and even more, has been adopted. In England, the Church of England is a shell of its former self with less than one million attendees at Sunday service. The CofE has latched onto every liberal belief and action, which has not stemmed the loss or increased membership, and has attempted to maintain its clergy by accepting women and LGBTs What is the Church of England doing wrong to lose followers and ministers as it has married ministers, gay and female Bishops and now has adjusted to and accepted even more liberal proposals than some are considering or proposing for the Catholic Church as the panacea? Is this the future of a reformed Roman Catholic Church, another CofE? Or consider the American Episcopalian Church which has followed the CofE in adopting liberal changes. "Overall, the church has declined from a high of 3.6 million members in the mid-1960s to 1.8 million today, even as the U.S. population has more than doubled. The church has lost more than a quarter of its attendance since 2003." https://juicyecumenism.com/2015/10/09/episcopalians-continue-bleeding-members-attendance-at-alarming-rate/ Isn't it prudent to examine and study the effect of such major decisions on the same or similar organizations before taking an action? Hopefully the Pope's commission will do so.
Henry George
1 year 2 months ago
Mr. Mosman, Your comment reminds me what I was told in evacuating an office building when there is a fire. Before you open any door: "Put your hand on any door and see if it is warm or not, if warm it may be all that separates you from the fire." The Church of England and the American Episcopalian Church have latched on to any new cultural trend and what has it led to ? Why "Progressive Catholics" want to follow down the same path [ One can wonder why they just don't go over to the Anglicans...] baffles me. Thank You for your comment.
Jeanne Kalvar
1 year 1 month ago
Is cultural conservationism all that you gather from your faith? If so, perhaps a switch to a more conservative evangelical denomination might be in order. If not, then you have no reason to be baffled.
Henry George
1 year ago
JK, Hardly. The liberal churches chase after ever changing cultural norms. That pursuit will never end. I will remain a follower of the Holy Spirit which guides the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
Luis Gutierrez
1 year 3 months ago
Holiness is a universal vocation. Sacramental ministry is a particular vocation. There is no hierarchy of value. The Virgin Mary is more than a bishop. Does it follow that the sacrament of holy orders should be discontinued?
Robert O'Connell
1 year 3 months ago
It seems to me that nothing other than the Trinity is truly the center of the Church but, in candor, I also love what I saw for weeks while droving out of a subdivision we were living in at the time: a Protestant Church had a large sign reading "What is at the center of the church? UR"! Letting ourselves get hung up on who can do what seems small minded. Why not focus on loving?
Sean D
1 year 3 months ago
"It seems that if we are to have women deacons, then they should be permitted to perform all the functions that their male counterparts do." I think this is flawed presumption. The history of deaconesses tells us a couple of things with absolute clarity. The first is that in some times and some places, they were most certainly not ordained. The other is that they weren't just female versions of male deacons. Deaconesses could *not* do some of the things that male deacons could, especially liturgically. The open question for us today is can women be *ordained* as deaconesses - as opposed to a female sub-diaconate that is not ordained - and if they can what does their role look like. The reality is that the historical record gives us hints and bases for conclusions, but not definitive answers. The answer will ultimately need to be a theo9logical answer based on a fuller understanding of ordination, and especially as ordination pertains to the diaconate.
Mike Evans
1 year 2 months ago
Just have to ask, why is gender important at all? Are certain sacred acts so precious that women doing them would be somehow sacriligeous?
Tim O'Leary
1 year 2 months ago
If sex (gender) was not important at all, God wouldn't have made them man and woman. Since He is Lord of All, we learn by contemplating how He did it, not by imposing a thoroughly modern ideology on it and diminishing His decisions as trivial accidents. Simple reflection on our human nature should show that the roles and vocations of men and women are different in so many ways, especially in parenting (mother and father are not interchangeable, as every child would know) & in the complementarity of the actual biological and psychological relationships between the sexes (only women carry a child within them). Furthermore, the distinct way men and women are described in Scriptures (from Adam, then Eve, to the patriarchial people the Lord created to prepare a fitting place for His chosen people, to the maternal person (our Lady) who He specifically created free of sin as the Holy of Holies for his Incarnation and the formation of an exclusively male priesthood by the Lord (confirmed and faithfully followed by His teaching Church). There is the relationship between transcendence and immanence that is forgotten. It is only this confused generation that thinks this central aspect of human nature is now somehow accidental. Our generation has forgotten so much. Here is a great work that goes into great detail in adumbrating how central the "male and female He made them" is to humanity. Women in the Priesthood?: A Systematic Analysis in the Light of the Order of Creation and Redemption Paperback – April 1, 1988, by Manfred Hauke (Author), David Kipp (Translator)
Jeanne Kalvar
1 year 1 month ago
If gender is /all/ important, however, why are there children who, to all appearances, are born looking like women, who slowly transform into fully functioning men when they hit puberty? Why do hermaphrodites exist? Did God not create them? Why are there XY, XX, XXY, XYY, and other genetic combinations? Maybe we can contemplate why he did /that/ as well?
alan macdonald
1 year 2 months ago
Please allow me to refresh the Editors' minds on the last few Popes' answer to the question of female ordination: Pope Francis "No" Pope Benedict XVI "No" Pope John Paul II "No" Pope John Paul I "No" Pope Paul VI "No"
Frank Bergen
1 year 2 months ago
Could all these good men be influenced more by their masculinity and their position in the hierarchy of a very tradition-bound church than by the Gospel? Or are the time, the place and the circumstances of the life of Jesus normative for all times, places and circumstances... except when they aren't? And why is it that it's always in regard to issues of sex and gender that the rules are unchangeable? The question that needs to be asked is not what would Jesus the first century Palestinian Jew do, but what would the living Christ have us do today.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 2 months ago
Frank - I think you are wrong in your assumption that only issues of sex and gender are unchangeable. The word unchangeable is not correct, if it doesn't include development. But, development doesn't mean reversal. Something that was evil in the past cannot be good now, and something that was false then cannot be true now, even if there can be changes in the calibration of justice and mercy as we learn more about psychology and culpability. Your claim that the continuity of doctrine only applies to sex and gender cannot be true, since most doctrinal beliefs we have today are fully consistent with the teaching given to us by Jesus at the time. So, we still believe in the Incarnation, the Resurrection, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, marriage, abortion, the priesthood, etc. and that the Church is protected from error by the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus before He ascended into heaven. In fact, it is remarkable from a human point-of-view how continuous our beliefs are in faith and morals, especially when there have been so many swings and shifts in belief in the secular world and communities that have separated themselves from the One True Church. As to your third question, it is the secular world that is obsessed with sex and gender in our time, not the Church. The Church just tries to keep the faith amid so many novel and false beliefs. And, to your fourth question "what would the living Christ have us do today" - well Christ is with us today, preserving the faith in the Church. If you seek Jesus, look to the Church and what she teaches. "Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Mt 18:18).
Veronica Meidus-Heilpern
1 year 1 month ago
Tim, just a short comment that ordination of women, as deacons at the very least, is neither evil nor false. A full reading of Church history shows that in the early days of the Christian church, women were much more full participants in the growing liturgy. This in spite of the cultural limitations inflicted on most women of Jesus' and Paul's time. I know that the idea of women Catholic priests frightens probably a majority of practicing Catholics, who would be less dumbfounded by married priests (which a rare few already are, being married priests converting from another faith, most usually Episcopalian). Starting with the diaconate is a slow, steady way to begin.
Walter Sandell
1 year 2 months ago
"If it is true that some people have written off the church as a “patriarchal” institution, then imagine what it would mean to see a woman presiding at a liturgy." RCWP Masses are wonderful!
Tim O'Leary
1 year 2 months ago
Doesn't look so wonderful from the photos on their website (They also need to fix the typos - e.g. Religious Sutdies). But, how could it be filled with wonder if the Eucharist is not real. The RCWP were excommunicated since 2008: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2008/05/general-decree-of-congregation-for.html. So, it is a non-Catholic group. Let's stick with the deaconess question.
Veronica Meidus-Heilpern
1 year 1 month ago
I'm thinking that until all the OLD MEN who rule the Church today, even our beloved Pope Francis, have passed on,and perhaps another couple or 3 generations beyond that, it will remain very difficult, next to impossible, for the ruling forces in the Vatican to realize the importance of expanding all the possibilities woman can provide, beyond those areas to which we are already limited. Look at how long it took to admit female altar servers -- and some mainstream Roman Catholic parishes STILL refuse to accept this. My prayers for continued reform in the Catholic church continue, that it may become TRULY CATHOLIC (UNIVERSAL).

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

James Comey is perhaps a better Niebuhrian than Niebuhr himself.
Drew Christiansen, S.J.November 20, 2017
“Not everything that is technically possible or feasible is therefore ethically acceptable.”
Gerard O’ConnellNovember 20, 2017
I have been trying with all my heart—with all my mind, with all my soul, to live peaceably with a terror that has been grafted onto me.
Robert I. CraigNovember 20, 2017
Image: iStock, (CNS photo/Jim Lo Scalzo, EPA) Composite: America
What ought to be the Ignatian contribution to the fight for racial justice, given our mission and our values?
Bryan N. MassingaleNovember 20, 2017