Pope Francis says commission on women deacons did not reach agreement

Pope Francis with reporters aboard his flight from Skopje, North Macedonia, to Rome on May 7, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Pope Francis with reporters aboard his flight from Skopje, North Macedonia, to Rome on May 7, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

In a press conference on the flight from Skopje to Rome, Pope Francis revealed that the commission he set up two years ago to examine the role of women in the early church did not reach agreement on the question of women deacons. He said the members of the commission had quite different positions, and after two years it stopped work. He made clear that the issue needed further study but did not say who would do this work.

Francis spoke for around 27 minutes answering four questions, two of which were on the visit to Bulgaria and North Macedonia, asking what he thought of both countries and what he took away from the visit. A third related to the divisions among the Orthodox Patriarchs and what is happening regarding the process for the canonization of Cardinal Stepinac given that the Orthodox are against it.

Advertisement

Pope Francis said, “There were deaconesses at the beginning [of the church], but [the question is] was theirs a sacramental ordination or not?”

Regarding the question of women deacons, it was noted by the questioner that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has women deacons to proclaim the Gospel. He was reminded that he will soon meet the International Union of Superiors Generals (who raised the question three years ago), and the pope was asked what he has learned from the report of the commission on the ministry of women in the early church and if he had made a decision on the female diaconate.

(The following is a working translation that may be subject to revision when the Vatican releases a definitive transcript.)

Pope Francis said that commission members “all had different positions, sometimes sharply different, they worked together and they agreed up to a point. Each one had his/her own vision, which was not in accord with that of the others, and the commission stopped there.” He described the contrasting conclusions drawn by members of the commission as “toads from different wells.”

Then, he said, “on the question of the female diaconate: there is a way of conceiving it that is not with the same vision as that of the male diaconate. For example, the formulae of diaconate ordination [of women] found up to now are not the same as for the ordination of the male diaconate. Rather, they are more like what today would be the blessing of an abbess.”

Pope Francis said, “There were deaconesses at the beginning [of the church], but [the question is] was theirs a sacramental ordination or not? They helped, for example, in the liturgy of baptism, which was by immersion, and so when a woman was baptized the deaconesses assisted…. Also for the anointing of the body.”

“A document was found,” he said, “which shows that deaconesses were called by the bishop when there was a marriage dispute for the dissolution of the marriage. The deaconesses were sent to look at the bruises on the body of the woman beaten by her husband. And they gave testimony before the judge.” But, the pope said, “there is no certainty that theirs was an ordination with the same formula and the same finality of the male ordination.”

“Some say there is a doubt,” he said. “Let us go forward to study [the women’s diaconate]. I am not afraid of the study. But up to this moment it has not happened.”

Moreover, Pope Francis said, “it is curious that where there were women deacons it was always in a geographical zone, above all in Syria.”

Francis said, “I received all these things from the commission. It did a good job and this can serve to go forward and to give a definitive response, yes or no” on whether their ordination is the same as that for men deacons.

At a May 2016 meeting with the women's International Union of Superiors General, leaders of women's religious orders, one of them had asked the pope, "What prevents the church from including women among permanent deacons, as was the case in the primitive church? Why not constitute an official commission to study the matter?"

The pope had told the sisters that his understanding was that the women described as deaconesses in the New Testament were not ordained like permanent deacons are, however, the pope fulfilled a promise to set up the commission on the issue. Two of the scholars on that commission reported in January that they had completed their work.

Those commission members spoke with America in January. Phyllis Zagano, an author and professor of religion at Hofstra University, and Bernard Pottier, S.J., a faculty member at the Institut D’Études Théologiques in Brussels, said then that they could not comment on the commission’s findings. But they reported that, according to their research, women served as deacons in Europe for about a millennium in a variety of ministerial and sacramental roles. “They anointed ill women; they brought communion to ill women,” said Ms. Zagano.

They also participated in baptism, served as treasurers and, in at least one case, participated in an annulment.

“Some say there is a doubt” about women deacons, Pope Francis said. “Let us go forward to study [the women’s diaconate]. I am not afraid of the study. But up to this moment it has not happened.”

Ms. Zagano said, “There was ordination…. The most interesting evidence is the fact that the ordination ceremonies [we discovered] for women deacons were identical to the ordination ceremonies for men.”

Father Pottier said then that he was able to find strong evidence of women deacons in church records and histories, but “not everywhere and not always because it was also a choice of the [local] bishop.”

The pope did not tell reporters what steps, if any, would come next on the subject of a women’s diaconate.

He told reporters, “Today, no one says so, but 30 years ago some theologians were saying that there were no deaconesses because women were in second rank in the church and not only in the church.” But, Francis said, “this is curious because in that epoch there were many pagan priestesses; the female priesthood in pagan cults was something usual.”

The pope concluded, “We are at this point, and each of the members is studying his/her own thesis.” There is a “varietas delectas (joyful variety).”

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Nora Bolcon
4 months 1 week ago

Are you enjoying your wild goose chase ladies?!

Who didn't see this coming?! This is what you get when you beg the hierarchy for lesser treatment for women than men - they won't even give you that because they see how weak your sense of justice is by the mere basic request for less instead of same treatment.

So here is the truth - neither any parish nor the entire Roman Catholic Church needs now or ever needed to ordain either male or female permanent deacons!

This is evidence based fact! How do I know this? you ask? Because we had no permanent deacons for hundreds of years before we brought it back to puff up rich, white, married men, in the West, 50 years ago. It has done what it was meant to do, over the last 50 years. Continuously and over at least the last 40 years, the deaconate has consisted of Over 90 percent White, Western, Wealthy, Married Men only! These are the the Global Stats. from the Permanent Deaconate Leadership itself. Those numbers have recently increased to More than 92 percent White, Western, Wealthy, Married Men Today. These statistics, reigning for so long, are never a coincidence. They reflect the truth, that the Permanent Deaconate, from 50 years ago, to now, after it was reintroduced has supported sexism, racism, ethnic and wealth disparity continuously! - So if we do not pretend to be blind we see these results were always the goals of this ministry and it met those sinful goals to near perfection and is still supporting them, even now, and unless the laity demands otherwise, it still will support them well into the future.

Making Female Deacon(esses). or Deacon Princesses or whatever nonsense you like to call it, will only make the sexism in this ministry seem to decrease while actually increasing sexism overall, in the church. This is true because deacon ordination will be given only to trap women from demanding, rightly what they should demand, priestly and same ordination as men. These female deacons will have to obediently shut up about their call to priesthood or risk losing their right to minister as deacons once ordained to this zero authority ministry,

Dump the fight for the permanent deaconate for women, and demand instead all of your bishops stop ordaining permanent deacons altogether - NO bishop has to ordain any permanent deacons, by law, and many of the world's diocese do not have any. Demand that your bishops train laywomen and men to do the ministries permanent deacons do now in the West, instead of training deacons, which is perfectly legal, by church law already.

Your bishop does not need to ask permission of the pope or the Vatican to discontinue ordaining permanent deacons in his Parish, and he can already train and use both laywomen and laymen to baptize, lead Eucharistic Celebrations with previously consecrated hosts at priestless parishes, and both men and women can preach or lead them, and officiate at weddings and funerals without a mass, and act as hospital chaplains.

Basically, when a parish has no permanent deacons, lay people can do all the things deacons used to do, once trained, and this makes parishes more active since various people can take on various parts of the deacons ministries, and women are not held back, in any way, compared to men. All of this is legal and has been happening in poorer countries with laymen and women over the last 50 years, and with good success, better success in parishes, than ones with deacons.

You want to see change? Fight the fights that matter! Fight continuation of the nonsense ministry of the permanent deaconate now! - just protest with others in your diocese (add a big check when you send in your protest sheet with all the signatures to your bishop - money talks). Then after you get rid of the silly ministry that never needed anyone ordained to it, fight for women to be ordained to the ministry that does need ordination, and the one from which women can be promoted to bishop, cardinal and pope, and that is the priesthood! and not priestesses - the priesthood! - and all same sacraments and treatment for women, as men, in our church, by bishops just as Jesus Christ commanded all believers treat each other, or they sin - the same!

Crystal Watson
4 months 1 week ago

It was obvious women as deacons was never going to happen, it was just a way to get women off the pope's back for a while. No one in this church cares enough to make a real stink about the sexism, except for the brave few who were immediately destroyed, like Fr. Roy Bourgeois.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 1 week ago

We can't give up Crystal and Roy is still fighting the good fight. God bless him.

We shall prevail with prayer and working together to make misogyny a sin of the past. The devil is a bastard but he is not stronger than God!

Diana Whitney
4 months 1 week ago

Can I get an AMEN sisters? I am going to write a letter to my bishop!

Nora Bolcon
4 months 1 week ago

Awesome to hear it Diana!

Michael Bindner
4 months 1 week ago

Right on.

Ellen B
4 months 1 week ago

Truth.

Tim O'Leary
4 months 1 week ago

Nora - I'm not sure what the purpose is of all the non-Catholics commenting below, and why they would be upset about a Church they don't even believe is the only faithful Church to the mission of Jesus Christ? I would not be motivated to go onto the United Methodist blogs and get involved in their intramural doctrinal fighting, since I don't think they are faithful to a whole lotta parts of the true faith. Very strange indeed.

Crystal Watson
4 months 1 week ago

The word "deaconesses" says it all. There was never an intention by Francis or the church to allow women to be deacons (much less priests). The sexism reeks.

Phil Petrucci
4 months 1 week ago

Sexism is a strong word here. The Catholic Church's position has always been that if Jesus wanted female priests He would have made some. There is no doubt that Mary would have been an excellent Bishop and Mary Magdalene would have made a good Apostle too. Not to mention the other Marys and other female disciples.

Jesus was NOT afraid to break Jewish cultural norms, so I don't buy that as a reason for Him to not select female priests. And as Pope Francis has stated, during Jesus' time, there were tons of priestesses in pagan religions in the area. So that wasn't unheard of.

So the facts are: Jesus did it for a reason, even if we are not 100% what His reasons were. However, His reason surely wasn't because it would offend Jewish men, because He had no problem doing that on a regular basis.

God bless

Crystal Watson
4 months 1 week ago

It's sexism. Jesus never said he wanted *anyone* to be priests, including men. But if we use the apostles as examples of what Jesus wanted, then only married Jewish men could be priests. There have been numerous scholarly opinions, including that of the Vatican's Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1976, that show there's no credible religious reason women can't be priests. And it's not just the priest issue - Pope Francis and the church have exemplified sexism in many ways, including their emphasis on women's purpose in life as baby-makers and their stance on contraception. And then there's the demeaning way Francis talks about women. We aren't "strawberries on a cake".

Nora Bolcon
4 months 1 week ago

Yes Crystal,

And this definitely shows Pope Francis's own personal misogyny.

People keep telling me but this Pope is so different. He really respects women. Bull! He has acted with sexism constantly since being elected. This makes him no different than the last two popes who have obviously real problems with women.

Pope Francis kept women from voting at both synods but let laymen vote. He has refused to put women in any major leadership roles but he has given such roles to laymen and often opus dei type laymen or super conservative laymen and then put a woman under that layman. He just put a completely inexperienced editor in charge of the only women's magazine in the vatican after its female leading editor published a story blowing the whistle on the raping of nuns by priests in various countries, he constantly tries to demonize the word feminist even though these people seek merely same treatment for men and women, and now after two years this joke of a carrot called the deaconate that he has been hanging in front of women's faces, he is like oh we can't see enough proof from history to prove that women were equally deacons so you won't be getting that either. He forgets to tell us that our history was made into Swiss cheese by church leadership intentionally destroying possibly as much as five times the historical and scriptural documents as we currently have in order to hide practices they did not want continued, and that likely included documents showing women in ordained church leadership.

Most importantly Pope Francis pretends he does not have the authority to ordain women the same as men. This is nonsense because nowhere in New Testament scripture has Christ ever forbid women being ordained same as men and there is no need to prove women were or were not ordained in the past in order to ordain them now. He can ordain a group of thousands of women to same priesthood today and completely validly. The ban against women priests was never an infallible dogma and it always contradicted what Jesus taught in the Gospels which is same treatment for all - that means same ordination opportunities.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 1 week ago

Sexism is the correct accusation Phil. You need to educate yourself as Jesus never ordained or picked any disciple or apostles to be priests at least not according to any gospel or the book of Acts and Christ's words don't appear anywhere else. He picked the twelve to be judges over the Jews who died before his coming and this is stated in different gospels. Jesus did this to fulfill prophesy and because it was promised to King David that judges of their own kin and blood would sit in judgement so no gentiles, like all our clergy, and no women because blood heritage goes through males as inheritance rights are bloodline and tribal related.

However, judges were not priests of any variety in Judaism and so Jesus' choice of the twelve does not count as making the apostles priests. No apostles claimed they were a part of any priesthood in the Bible outside the royal priesthood they claimed all male and female believers were equally a part. Women were deacons, apostles and presbyters according to Acts and other historical accounts. Presbyters did what priests do now such as preside over Holy Eucharist, preach, lead churches in their homes which is where all the church worship took place back then.

Ordination of priests came much later after Rome took over the lead of the church and church leaders quoted pagan worshipping philosophers works as reasons for instituting more sexism over time. Christ would never have supported this patriarchal way of leading. He commanded all believers treat each other the same as they want to be treated. This commandment does not leave room for sexism or racism or any other kind of flesh based bias.

Ellen B
4 months 1 week ago

Sexism is the correct word. Strong or not.

Tim O'Leary
4 months 1 week ago

Crystal - you have already left the Church (as you have boasted several times on this blog). You believe in a whole lot of things the Church teaches against (including abortion right up to birth, contraception, divorce and homosexual sex, for example) and don't believe much of Church doctrine (a male priesthood, infallibility, the Real Presence, etc. etc.). So, why bother arguing here, unless your only motivation is purely political?

Phil Petrucci
4 months 1 week ago

All the evidence I have looked at seems to indicate that the Deaconess was different from the Deacon. The Deacon always had a role to play at mass (and outside of the mass), while the Deaconess only had a role outside of mass. They helped during baptisms (which used to be naked or at least consist of getting naked to change one's clothes after full immersion) etc.

To me, the evidence is quite clear that they were "ordained" like Porters, Exorcists, Lectors, Acolytes, and Sub-Deacons were "ordained." That is, none of the clerics I just mentioned received Holy Orders. They were "ordained" to do their job and received tonsure, but they never received Holy Orders. I believe the Deaconess was comparable to the Porter and Exorcist - that is not having a role in the Mass (though the Porter did guard the door during Mass).

Personally, the biggest concern I have about restoring the Deaconess is, what would they do? Right now, the only thing a woman cannot do in the local parish is read the Gospel and give a Homily at Mass. However, most of our catechists are women, women give plenty of speeches during Adult Faith Formation events, Catholic conferences, guest speakers, etc. Women run the day to day activities of our parishes and frankly do a lot of work in our dioceses too.

So personally, I don't see what advantage comes from bringing back Deaconesses other than fueling the fire for female priests.

God Bless

William McGovern
4 months 1 week ago

Phil, I respectfully disagree with you

First, we base the premise on having only male priests upon the New Testament which states that the twelve apostles were all male. These apostles followed Jesus in his lifetime. Given the context of the time, don’t you think that had there been female apostles mixed together with males that it would have produced a scandal? And we really don’t know how many women were in leadership positions after Jesus ascended into Heaven. I don’t buy the argument that because the apostles were only male that we can only have male priests. Remember the context at the time.

Second, by not allowing women to be deacons, priests, bishops, and popes, we have denied Christ’s Church the opportunity to have the talent of at least 50% of the population serving in those roles.

Finally, it is simply the right thing to do. It is not fair to women to deny them the full opportunity to serve in any capacity in our Church.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 1 week ago

Truthfully, there is no need for any ordained male or female deacons since no parish has ever fallen for the lack of a deacon and many have had adverse effects on their parishes. Women can and do reflect, or preach homilies at mass at some Catholic churches already, and often better than deacons or priests . So I agree we should just stop ordaining permanent deacons altogether and have the ministries these men have been doing go to both laymen and laywomen since that is already perfectly legal in our church and has been done in South America over the last fifty years in many of its poor diocese who could not afford deacons. Even now many diocese in the world have no permanent deacons and never did have them.

We need to ordain women priests as a matter of human dignity and justice and immediately as this needless discrimination against women is a grave ongoing self destructive sin in our religion.

Renee Jimenez
4 months 1 week ago

After two years of "study" Pope Francis is asking for yet more "studying". This reminds me of what my parents used to say when the answer was no. They would assure me that they would think about it, but they knew they already had their answer. It was no of course, they just didn't want to say so. It seems the Pope is using this same tactic with his sistren. It's sad.

Mike Macrie
4 months 1 week ago

Conservative forces inside the Catholic Church ruled on the issue of Women Deacons. This should have been a no brainer in allowing Women Deacons. The Catholic Church has missed a huge opportunity to bring new life into the Church. The Church has made the decision to address the declining number of Catholic Priest with the recruitment of Men Deacons. This is a short sighted decision that won’t stop young Catholics from abandoning their Faith. The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. After the sex scandal, Bishops will now go back in Business as Usual.

Tim O'Leary
4 months 1 week ago

Mike - A very good analysis by Glenn Stanton (link below) shows all the decline in the polls re Catholics are of those who had already lost their faith a while ago, and are now just admitting it and identifying themselves more accurately. Most never had the faith, and those who had a weak practice have just lapsed altogether. True believers are staying that way. As Stanton puts it "Weak Christianity is getting weaker and robust, and orthodox Christianity is getting stronger in terms of adherents, if not by theological maturity."
This change is not just in the Catholic Church but also in Orthodox and Protestant denominations. The obvious conclusion is that every denomination who adopts a liberal or PC policy will disappear, like the parable in the Gospel about seed falling on dry soil. Here are just 2 examples from the protestant world:
Presbyterian non-stop decline https://juicyecumenism.com/2019/04/29/pcusa-decline/-
Episcopalians https://www.virtueonline.org/decline-episcopal-church

Stanton article: https://thefederalist.com/2019/04/24/no-non-believers-not-increasing-america/
https://thefederalist.com/2019/04/24/no-non-believers-not-increasing-america

Denise Mccarthy
4 months 1 week ago

Two things: 1. Pope Francis this discussion should have taken place one hundred years ago. 2. I attend an Episcopal Church lovingly, effectively, and efficiently run by a female rector, who to my eyes has a true calling. Why in the Catholic Church are women’s callings not recognized? Ladies, leave the Catholic Church and let the men have it all to themselves.

Diana Whitney
4 months 1 week ago

And take your checkbook with you when you go.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 1 week ago

Like the Shakers, a church with no marriage is the same as a church with no women - quickly extinct.

karen oconnell
4 months ago

i agree with you in all. however, i consider my parish as my community - and that is very important to me. i have decided to -in a sense- carve my own 'church' out of the RCC- not great........ but it seems to be the best way for me.

Diana Whitney
4 months 1 week ago

I have to confess that this hurts. It doesn’t surprise me, but it hurts never-the-less. It was such an opportunity to crack that door open a few inches. I am in my 60s and would have been happy with ordained women deacons because maybe the next pope would crack the door open a bit more. But the door remains shut.

Does anyone really think that Jesus never said “follow me” to Mary Magdalene? The only reason why she is not included among the list of apostles is because the list was written by men, who probably hardly noticed her. And where do you suppose she was during the last supper? Maybe in the kitchen with the other women preparing and serving the meal?

Jason & Amy Rogers
4 months 1 week ago

Amen

Randal Agostini
4 months 1 week ago

I do not believe that this is a sexist problem, nor do I believe that this Pope is not sincere. There is ample evidence of the roles that women already perform and in some cases dominate, without any controversy. Many parishes would not be able to function without women taking active roles in ministry.
There is a legitimate question as to why the stalling, which may be the result of the controls provided and performed through Canon Law, which supports the hierarchal power structure. It would seem that the administrative foundation of Church hierarchy included a moat the depth and breadth of which still makes the structure impregnable. That power remains in force like any other, through the constant stream of money, which falls into the hands of a few to dispense as they will. The Laity has more power than they believe, but they have lacked the initiative and have not sought the responsibility that is rightfully theirs.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 1 week ago

Sorry this Pope is sexist and he has not been sincere as he has acted with sexism in speech and even the hiring practices of lay people in the past and did not allow nuns a vote at the past two synods but did allow laymen votes.

You are right about lay people not taking on their responsibility and not protesting this abusive bias against same ordination and sacramental opportunities as men.

Crystal Watson
4 months 1 week ago

Some Jesuits have spoken up for women as priests in the past .... Tom Reese SJ, Francis Clooney SJ, William Barry SJ, Robert Egan SJ. And in 1977 The Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley placed an open letter in the LA Times (https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/164455271/) dissenting from the Vatican's 1976 opinion that women could never be priests. Where are Jesuits with ethical courage now?
- 'Women & the Priesthood' (https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/women-priesthood) and 'Why Not? Scripture, History & Women's Ordination' (https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/why-not), Robert Egan SJ
- 'Women deacons? Yes. Deacons? Maybe' (https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/women-deacons-yes-deacons-maybe), Thomas Reese SJ
- '30 Years a Priest: Gratitude, Joy, and a Quiet Lament (https://www.americamagazine.org/content/all-things/30-years-priest-gratitude-joy-and-quiet-lament), Francis Clooney SJ
- 'Paying Attention to God: Discernment in Prayer (https://www.amazon.com/Paying-Attention-God-Discernment-Prayer/dp/0877934134), William Barry SJ

Will Nier
4 months 1 week ago

Even if the " ordination " of women to the Diaconate was more like the blessing of an Abbess there appears to have been a distinct need for them as their ministry related to the care of women. Do we really have the same need today? I just don't understand why they would be needed just to "proclaim " the Gospel.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 1 week ago

We don't need to ordain male deacons for these reasons either.

Oz Jewel
4 months 1 week ago

Well, some things are still going right.
Pester-power is not working.
In the Roman rite, no female ordination - full stop.

Ladies, there are a number of experimental Christian communities who are ordaining females as bishops and females as deacons and females as presbyters.
This has become possible because of two revolutionary changes is the developed world which originated from the outbreak of the First World War.

One. Remaining in the unmarried state by choice as a respectable female citizen arose from the carnage of males killed in the wars. The flower of our manhood soaked the soil with their blood and many women whose preference it was to remain unmarried and not a nun could always say their fiancé was killed in the war.
Two. Men of medicine and science developed the contraceptive pill allowing sexual activity to produce few unplanned pregnancies rather than numerous unplanned pregnancies.

There has not been enough generations to allow us to discern if the conjugal and reproductive aspect of being an adult female which has persisted for millennia constituted the only impediments to ministry at the human and social level and participation of females in all aspects of workplace conditions.

Anyone who desires to be a "priest" can do that amongst one of the other denominations currently adopting that practice.

It will be the same Good News, the same un-evangelised majority needing to hear it, the same Jesus and the same scriptures.

Crystal Watson
4 months 1 week ago

This is like saying that if you don't like Trump and his policies, you should be happy to just move to another country instead of staying and changing things.

Oz Jewel
4 months 1 week ago

I am not American.
Catholicism as a human institution is a monarchy, an absolute monarchy, and Christ is our King.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 1 week ago

But not the same sacraments or beliefs in various areas of our religion and not the same history. My ancestors also helped to build our church into what it is. I am not surrenduring it to a bunch of trump like sexist old men. This church is Christ's and he commanded we treat all the same without exception so If those old men want any peace they better ordain women quick or enjoy the constant unrest.

Oz Jewel
4 months 1 week ago

Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek; later, the Levites would receive tithes from their countrymen.
Since Aaron was in Abraham's loins then, it was as if the Aaronic priesthood were paying tithes to Melchizedek. (Heb. 7:4-10)
The one who blesses is always greater than the one being blessed. Thus, Melchizedek was greater than Abraham. As Levi was yet in the loins of Abraham, it follows that Melchizedek is greater than Levi. (Heb. 7:7-10)
If the priesthood of Aaron were effective, God would not have called a new priest in a different order in Psalm 110. (Heb. 7:11)
The basis of the Aaronic priesthood was ancestry; the basis of the priesthood of Melchizedek is everlasting life.
That is, there is no interruption due to a priest's death. (Heb. 7:8,15-16,23-25)
Christ, being sinless, does not need a sacrifice for his own sins. (Heb. 7:26-27)
The priesthood of Melchizedek is more effective because it required a single sacrifice once and for all (Jesus), while the Levitical priesthood made endless sacrifices. (Heb. 7:27)
The Aaronic priests serve (or, rather, served) in an earthly copy and shadow of the heavenly Temple, which Jesus serves in. (Heb. 8:5)
Catholics find the roots of their priesthood in the tradition of Melchizedek. (CCC 1544)
In Genesis 14:18, Melchizedek offers a sacrifice of bread and wine. Christ therefore fulfilled the prophecy of Ps 110:4, that he would be a priest "after the order of Melchizedek," at the Last Supper, when he broke and shared bread with his disciples.
Catholics take seriously Christ's command that the Apostles should "do this in memory of Me". As such, the Catholic Church continues to offer the same sacrifice of bread and wine at Mass, as part of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

The roots go a bit deeper than a few old men in the Vatican and will resist nagging no matter how long, how strident and how persistent.

Jason & Amy Rogers
4 months 1 week ago

So a commission studied historical records to try to determine what "deaconesses" did two thousand years ago. Who cares whether they were ordained then? The question is what women should be doing NOW. The Church continues its slow-motion suicide by bending over backwards to maintain tradition without consulting reason.

It's the same problem they have in conservative Islam--excessive adherence to precedent and tradition, not enough modernization. Do those resisting change in the Church see themselves in Islamic fundamentalists? They should.

Derrick Kourie
4 months 1 week ago

I think you are spot on. Jesus says to Peter: "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." He does not say "Only look to precedent in governing the Church". Jesus' words have practical importance. They instruct Church leadership to use its common sense in regulating situations as the future unfolds. To nervously cling to precedent only, is tantamount to denying the presence and working of the Spirit in the Church.

William McGovern
4 months 1 week ago

Amen Derrick. Well said

Michael Bindner
4 months 1 week ago

Let us hope that those who found no evidence of female ordination are not also opposed to such ordination now. To some extent, it does not matter what happened in the past. It need not restrict us from doing the right thing now, and not just about permanent deacons. Even if such deacons were abbesses, note that of late it has been popular to elevate abbots to the episcopacy. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Instead of starting with female deacons and inching up, start with female bishops and archbishops and work down. Let's start in Philadelphia. They certainly need a change. This is not a tongue in cheek comment. There are those who say that this subject cannot be talked about. This is probably the only subject that we must not only talk about, but must act on.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 1 week ago

Thank you Michael and God bless you! You are right too, it is the disease or sin we can't face and speak about that we need to discuss most urgently or it will be our self destruction.

A Fielder
4 months 1 week ago

I don't understand why we are looking exclusively to our history on this question. If the New Testament were actually definitive, than male deacons would not be liturgical preachers! This task is not given to them in scripture. If we were following the witness of the early church, then all deacons would be working at social service agencies, primarily concerned with social justice, especially for the poor. The biblical witness on the deacon's job description is clear. The Magisterium has changed it to suit its purpose. It is irrational to hold women deacons to the same biblical standard which is totally ignored for the men.

Crystal Watson
4 months 1 week ago

- 2013, Cardinal Kasper opines maybe women can be "community deaconesses".
- A few months later Cardinal Marx makes it clear "deaconesses" could not be real ordained deacons.
- 2015, Cardinal Durocher says maybe women could be real ordained deacons after all. This idea was belittled.ignored.
- May 2016, women religious ask the pope why women can't be deacons as in the early church, and ask him to create a commission on women deacons. He agrees, but it wasn't his idea in the first place and he decided the commission would be only about studying the role of women deacons in the early church, not about women being deacons now. And PS, there was already plenty of historical data on women deacons in the early church - a comprehensive study on this in 2002 found women deacons had the same duties as male deacons.
- Finally the commission is done and, my oh my, they just couldn't decide anything. Shocker. The pope doesn't want women to be deacons, just as he doesn't want women to be priests - he said in Nov 2016 that women will *never* be priests in the Catholic church. He is a sexist. The fact that priests and bishops and cardinals support him in this sexism is shameful. Jesus would weep.

Mister Mckee
4 months 1 week ago

Take a look at the ongoing debate from BOTH sides:
http://www.womenpriests.org/catholic-scholars-pro-and-con/

JOHN GRONDELSKI
4 months 1 week ago

What I find far more disturbing is doctrinal and disciplinary development by press conference. What theological note should be applied to teaching in a 747 or a 737?

A Fielder
4 months 1 week ago

Don't worry John, There has been no development.

Ernie Sherretta
4 months 1 week ago

I have studied for and obtained 3 postgraduate degrees and spent 71 years under the rule of Catholicism. I discerned that Patriarchy, theology, Canon Law are all additional interpretations to support the power, fame, and fortune of the hierarchy which Jesus rebuked. It's time to put all the bickering and debates aside and follow the Word incarnate in Jesus. Paul writes in Galatians 3: "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise." The institutional Church has removed itself from Jesus so far that it is more about its own authority than Jesus' message. Listen to Jean Vanier, and other modern-day prophets who are bathed in the Spirit and follow the Word. Evangelicals like Graham and Falwell also have abandoned Jesus for their own interests, Here's the choice: Jesus or Christianity! I choose Jesus.

Mister Mckee
4 months 1 week ago

More evidence of that "varietas delectas" the current Bishop of Rome is speaking of:
http://www.womendeacons.org/

Of particular note to this latest round of theo-canonical hair-splitting is the ANACHRONISTIC imposition of the modern notion of SACRAMENT being imposed on church tradition which itself knew of no such distinctions all the while it was performing these actions which have come to be identified as "ordination."
cf. Herbert Vorgrimler, Sacramental Theology, The Liturgical Press, Minnesota 1992, pp.272-273: “The possibility of ordaining women as deacons is quite another matter. There was such an ordination in the early days of the Church . . . The question whether their ordination is sacramental could not be asked before the reflections on sacramental theology in high Scholastics. In the Byzantine liturgy, it has all the characteristics of a major ordination.”

But then, we all know about Aquinas and his "apud Graecorum" clauses!

karen oconnell
4 months ago

who cares? (---no one - even women who will make up their own minds and act accordingly. the men in charge DO VERY MUCH CARE.) i am a big fan of Francis......... and i ''excuse '' him on this topic as he must be up to ''his eye balls'' in dealing with the long running...long hidden clerical sexual abuse issue. this is soooo wrong... so wrong. it baffles my mind that this is happening in this era of ''stella''' male priests. ' just about every religion in the world has offered a place for women as ''priestly envoys.'' i will never accept the RCC as '''the one true church''' until it gives women equal rights in that church. a scandal........... the Lord is not pleased...and Francis knows this. (... and yet he has time to deal with Medjugorje !?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!(interesting factoid: Gerard O'Connell wrote this article; Gerard O'Connell also runs 'pilgrimages' to Medjugorje!?!?!?!?! i assume that it would be foolhardy to see him as an advocate for reality.

Related article position

Advertisement

The latest from america

Ciaran Freeman spent last summer, after his year as an O’Hare fellow at America Media, combing through movies about Catholic schools and ranking them. The findings were published here. Since then, readers have written in to let Mr. Freeman know what films he overlooked in his top-10 ranking.
Our readersSeptember 13, 2019
I had never truly experienced what representation in media felt like until I watched Hulu’s “Ramy.”
Mansur ShaheenSeptember 13, 2019
Photo: AP/America
Published in 1953, the children’s book can act a parable for coming to grips with climate change.
Christopher PramukSeptember 13, 2019