Pope Francis tells women religious church cannot alter revelation on women’s diaconate

Pope Francis greets a nun during a meeting with 850 superiors general on May 10, 2019, at the Vatican, who were in Rome for the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General. (CNS photo/Vatican Media via Reuters)Pope Francis greets a nun during a meeting with 850 superiors general on May 10, 2019, at the Vatican, who were in Rome for the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General. (CNS photo/Vatican Media via Reuters)

Pope Francis had prepared a written text for the conclusion of the 21st assembly of the International Union of Superiors General in Rome on May 10, but, as was widely expected, he put it aside in favor of an open dialogue with the women superiors from 80 countries, who represent many of the 660,000 women religious across the world. The result was a humorous and challenging exchange.

Francis was questioned about the possibility of women deacons by a German sister, who said she hoped the church “would not rely only on the basis of history, of dogmatics, of divine revelation, but also on… how Jesus accompanied women and on what humanity has need of in the 21st century” for a future decision about female deacons. Francis said that was true but added he could not do something that has not developed from revelation, the truths about the faith revealed by God.

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He repeated what he had said on the in-flight press conference on May 7, explaining that the commission of women and men that he set up over two years ago had reached agreement on some questions.

But on other issues, the commission had not reached an accord, including whether the formula used for the women deacons in the early church was a sacramental one like that used for men. “I can’t do a decree of a sacramental nature without having the theological, historical foundation for it,” he said. He offered to give the reports from the different members of the commission to those who ask him for it. But, he said, “let’s go forward with the study.”

“In regard to the diaconate we must see what was there at the beginning of revelation, if there was something, let it grow and it arrives, but if there was not, if the Lord didn’t want a sacramental ministry for women, it can’t go forward.”

He said he would give Sister Carmen Sammut, the U.I.S.G. president, that part of the report on which there had been agreement. Pope Francis told the assembly of 850 superiors of women’s religious congregations, “We walk on a solid just path, the way of revelation; we cannot walk a different road...that alters revelation and dogmatic expressions.”

“In regard to the diaconate we must see what was there at the beginning of revelation, if there was something, let it grow and it arrives, but if there was not, if the Lord didn’t want a sacramental ministry for women, it can’t go forward. For this reason we go to history and to dogma.”

“We are Catholics,” he said, adding with a touch of humor, "but if anyone wants to found another church they are free [to do so].”

He went on to speak about the development of doctrine in the church and reaching “a better understanding of revelation.” He said that the church understanding is not just Denzinger—the book in which is collected the dogmatic and other teachings of the church. “The way we understand our faith today,” he said, “is better than in the pre-Vatican II period; there is development in our understanding.

“There is continuous growth.”

He pointed, for example, to “the development of moral consciousness” in relation to the death penalty. The position of the church today is not that of 50 years ago, he said. But every development in church teaching “has to be in harmony with divine revelation,” and in this “Denzinger helps us.”

He emphasized the need for “discernment” in moving forward in the dialogue with the world. “We have to discern. It’s not just black and white or even gray.” The understanding of faith is not something static, he said. “It’s all in movement,” but we have to move forward “in harmony with revelation.”

“The way we understand our faith today,” he said, “is better than in the pre-Vatican II period; there is development in our understanding. There is continuous growth.”

In her welcome address, Sister Sammut told Pope Francis that one really needs to participate in the women superiors plenary assembly to grasp what women religious are doing in the world and the seeds of hope that they are sowing. “I will participate in part of your next general assembly if I am still alive,” he responded.

“If not, then remind my successor,” Pope Francis said.

“I never thought I would be sitting at the right of the father,” Sister Sammut remarked when Pope Francis invited her to sit beside him at the table and speak from there, instead of at a distance from him. She told him of their discussions at the general assembly on the theme of “sowers of hope,” and then Sister Sammut raised a number of issues that concern women religious, in particular, the abuse scandal and the abuse of women religious not only by clergy but also by women religious themselves through the abuse of power and conscience.

Sister Sammut recalled that they had raised the question about women deacons at their last general assembly, three years ago, and that Pope Francis had set up a commission and spoken about it on the flight from Skopje to Rome. Sister Sammut asked about the ministries and roles the church has today that allow men and women to contribute to its mission.

As for the role of women in the church and specifically that of consecrated women, Francis said, “Let’s not go forward making functions [the only goal].” He recalled that in Buenos Aires he had a woman chancellor in the archdiocese, and there are other roles they can have as head of a dicastery or such. But, he said, “we haven’t understood well yet this question” and said there is a need for “a theology of women.”

He began by affirming that the abuse problem in the church is not something that can be resolved in a short time. He recalled that “we didn’t have a consciousness” of the real dimensions of the problem 20 years ago, but “we have gained that consciousness with shame, blessed shame.”

He recalled that some were disappointed at the results of last February’s meeting of the presidents of all the bishops’ conferences, but he said the problem cannot be resolved in one day. “We could have hanged 100 priest abusers in St. Peter’s Square, but we would have resolved nothing,” he said.

On the problem of the abuse suffered by women religious, Pope Francis said: “It’s a serious problem, a grave problem. It’s not just sexual abuse; it is also the abuse of power, the abuse of conscience.”

Indeed, “the problems of life are resolved gradually, not from morning to evening.” It requires time, the maturation of consciousness and taking measures that address the problems, such as yesterday’s motu proprio. “I will never forget the sufferings of these people,” he said, adding that the people of God have to move forward together to resolve this problem.

Then, turning to the problem of the abuse suffered by women religious, Pope Francis said: “It’s a serious problem, a grave problem. I’m aware of it also here in Rome.... It’s not just sexual abuse; it is also the abuse of power, the abuse of conscience.”

He drew the distinction between “service” and “slavery” (“servitude”) and told the sisters, “you’ve not become women religious to be the servant of a cleric.” He said women religious entered the consecrated life for service, adding: “Service, yes! Servitude, no!”

He said they were not called to be “domestic servants,” unless, of course, they were doing so in the homes of the sick or disabled as a vocation, like a religious order in Rome is doing.

Responding to another sister who raised questions about how to deal with “fragility” and their call to be “mother” and to “service,” Pope Francis said women religious should understand this “fragility” in terms of the Incarnation when God sent his son to become man through a woman. He encouraged them not to fear fragility as consecrated women and said entering into fragility “is a theological act” linked to God becoming man.

He also spoke about the church as “mother” and said the motherhood of the church “has its reflection in consecrated women; it’s a total reflection.”

Another sister thanked Pope Francis for his work in interreligious dialogue and the ecumenical field. Speaking about the pain caused by the division among Christians, she asked what more can be done in working for the unity of all Christians.

Francis responded by saying, “We do ecumenism on the way, on the journey.” Referring to the theological questions that divide the churches, Francis recalled how St. Paul VI is reported as saying that “St. Athenagoras,” the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, told him, “Let us put all the theologians on an island [to discuss these questions], but let us go forward together!”

Pope Francis told the sisters, “Let us [in the different Christian churches] go forward together with the poor, with the immigrants” in what he called—as he had done in Bulgaria—“the ecumenism of the poor.” He said, “We go forward together” in “the ecumenism of blood” because when Christians are persecuted, their executioners never ask, “Are you Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox or Lutheran?”

He added, “Let us also go forward with ‘the ecumenism of prayer,’” praying together as Christians from different denominations.

A sister from Brazil thanked him for all “the initiatives for the poor” that he has taken up, asking what women religious might do to help with the upcoming Pan-Amazonian synod. He told them that as women and women religious, they can understand better the challenges to indigenous peoples. He also recalled how his fellow Jesuits, Matteo Ricci in China and Roberto de Nobili in India, understood this problem, too, and said, like them, the sisters are able “to accompany with respect” indigenous peoples.

A sister from South Sudan said the Catholic community in her nation needs new bishops—three dioceses are without bishops—and bishops have reached retirement ages in two other dioceses. Francis responded that it had been difficult to find suitable candidates, but the Vatican had now found one, and he urged them to pray for others.

After praising him for a recent gesture, kissing the feet of the South Sudanese president and vice presidents, she told him, “Our people want you to come to South Sudan.”

Francis said the South Sudanese leaders were the only ones ever to ask to come on retreat even in a time of conflict, and he was impressed by this. He said he had planned to go to South Sudan with the archbishop of Canterbury last year, “but that was not possible.” He made clear he is determined to go at the right time and said it might be possible when he visits Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius next September.

Time had run on. Francis invited them to sing the Regina Coeli Laetare and then gave them his blessing. The sisters gave him a standing ovation that lasted several minutes.

Unofficial translation by the author

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Christopher Lochner
1 month 1 week ago

So "Divine Revelation" is the excuse for Francis to do whatever he wants? And I apologize for the inflammatory comments as I am well aware or the worship of Francis to which so very many hold. But believe me, there is nothing Divine in any of this but only the human desire for power and control, that is, sin. Perhaps his skills at discernment need a little more work. Truly, it is a shame Jesus is not here to publicly rebuke him.

Alan Johnstone
1 month 1 week ago

Now, go easy on our sisters! Not all the women arguing for ordination of women are labouring under the desire for power and control.

Whoever sits on the chair of Peter or has done in my lifetime has made it clear over and over.

Jesus had the means and opportunity to commence his Kingdom on earth by being counter-cultural in ignoring the division of labour and responsibility between the sexes and leaving identified female followers in apostolic office, and did not do so.

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

No - women seeking same ordination as men, are laboring for any more power or control than male candidates for priestly ordination and they call that equality and justice. It is not something women should be ashamed for demanding in their church which claims to be Christian. It is something all Catholics should be striving for: a Just Church for all members.

And as for Jesus, He did treat and hold all sexes same since he did not ordain anyone anything according to all four accepted Gospels and Acts which are the only scripture of which his words are a part. He picked twelve Jewish men who had to have the blood of Abraham running thru their veins to be judges for the Israelites who died before he originally came, to fulfill prophesy to King David that all the Israelites would be judged by their own blood kin. This informing the Apostles they are called to be judges for Israel is stated in two gospels. He did not claim to ordain any followers, nor did any of the original apostles claim to be part of any priesthood outside of the royal priesthood which they claimed all male and female believers were equally a part.

By your standard, all of our previous popes, except Peter, and 99.9 percent of all past bishops and clergy were invalidly ordained because they were not Jews so they had the wrong blood. Women were not picked because blood inheritance issues are decided by Jewish law to be fulfilled by men because they, only, pass down their lineage so no gentiles need apply, or women. You have been misinformed by our hierarchy to believe that what was actually pure sexism was ordained by God but it never was and simple research proves this.

This Pope made fools out of our nuns and fully intended to do this from the beginning of the discussion which I and many saw coming from the start.

Pope Francis supported an abusive, misogynistic investigation of our U.S. nuns that he did not officially end until April, 2015. However, before it ended, the issue had come to the point that the laity were supporting the nuns so he had to be careful how he treated them as there was real concern the majority of nuns in the U.S. might break from the church in anger which would inflame the laity. So Pope Francis called some of their leadership to Rome, at the end of the investigation, in 2016, and had the all too secret meeting, so no laity could be told what was discussed, and during this, he told them to shut up about what happened which they did.

Now the question that remained, for the laity, is why are the nuns willing to shut up at this critical point and why won't they tell us laity what happened since we helped them? We find out the answer to this question, about 10 months to a year later, when "supposedly" to the Pope's total surprise, one of the nuns at the Superior General's meeting, in Rome, asks the pope why can't women be deacons?

Now, what the laity does not realize is that nothing happens at these meetings, ever, that is not even more choreographed, ahead of time, than any Broadway Musical. Which means this question was rehearsed to be asked, to the Pope, by this nun, before the mtg. began, and he knew how he was going to answer it (this show is for the laity only).

This was likely the reward the nuns agreed to 'shut up' for a year earlier. This privilege of getting credit for asking the question to Pope Francis, is what Pope Francis offered the nuns, and it may have gone something like this: If you nuns shut up about the abusive investigation, I will give you the opportunity to save face with the laity, later on, next year, by making it look like you are standing up for women by allowing you to ask for women deacons at the Superior General's Mtg. I will respond to that request that I am willing to have a study on the subject and the laity will think you are courageous for asking me.

Now, the nuns probably thought he was offering this because he was seriously considering allowing ordained women deacons anyway but if that were true, he would have set up a research committee right away and he didn't.

Instead, Pope Francis waited two years to set up a research committee. Also, if he meant to give women ordained deacon ordination, he would have filled the research committee with people who he believed could come to agreement on a 'Yes' answer.

This however was not Pope Francis' plan, and likely never was from the meeting with the the nun leadership in 2016. Instead, Pope Francis set up the nuns. He got them to shut up, at a point in time, when their silence was pivotal and made them wait for the laity to lose focus, or he hoped they would. Then after prompting continued from the laity and seeing the laity still persevered, he put together a knowingly polarized team to research the issue of female deacons so they would give contradicting results.

Pope Francis knew he could somewhat justify the conflicting results as reason to refuse women the deaconate. He also knew he was all set because it is impossible to absolutely prove most of anything of history from two thousand years ago, especially given our own church leadership throughout the ages destroying much of its own documents trying to hide practices like ordination of women priests, etc .

After receiving the contradictory results from his hand picked team, he states - Hey, it is not my fault women can't be deacons, it's the researchers who could not agree.

What he has not told us laity, or the nuns is that he never needed the committee to agree women were ordained in the past to be deacons or priests or bishops or popes, in the first place, and our own history does not preclude women absolutely never being all of these ordained categories in our past. If our church had to prove women were never ordained deacons, priests, bishops or made cardinals or popes, they couldn't. Even the Pope Joan story has some serious evidence it may indeed be true and that evidence exists even today. There have been murals and other writings that hint at women as both ordained priests and even bishops and then hidden by our church later on. There is quite good evidence of women as ordained deacons and doing the same ministries as men as deacons.

What Pope Francis has achieved is that he made fools out of both the laity and the nuns. This result of denying female deacon ordination should be considered as perhaps even an intentional revenge play on the U.S. nuns for their progressive ideas and actions which he never liked in the first place, and never totally cleared them of in the investigation, and one of which he knew included desiring women priests.

If God never said women can't be ordained the same as men and Jesus never taught this either, which is the case, then the default should be what did Jesus teach or command or REVEAL on how we should treat women and all others. That default is in every Gospel, in one form or another, where Christ commands all of his disciples and apostles to treat all others the same as they wish to be treated - no exceptions are given to this command. Those who fail to follow it or stand up for their brothers or sisters who are being kept from same treatment, are guilty of the grave sin of not loving their siblings in Christ. This sin is what Jesus considered the worst sin a person could commit except not loving God first. In fact, in the Gospel of John, not loving your siblings in Christ the same as self is equated to not loving God because how can one love God but mistreat those God cares about?

So now this Pope goes around pretending to be a good guy who did his best for women when in fact he has made fools of our U.S. nuns and all the laity who supported them and their cause. Meanwhile, we lose more women continuously than protestant churches, and the misogyny and no doubt partnering pedophilia, teen sex abuse and sexual abuse of nuns will just continue forward once the magnify glass dips, and everyone thinks the problems have gone away. Sexism is sexual abuse and it damages people just like racism does. Shame on us for being fooled and how sad these nuns appear thanking the man who made a fool out of them just for being allowed to sit next to him.

J. Calpezzo
1 month 1 week ago

Who was Mary Magdalene?

Michael Bindner
1 month 1 week ago

Either complete superstion or branding. I don't care which, it is still wrong. It will not stand and we who disagree will neither leave or remain silent.

arthur mccaffrey
1 month 1 week ago

it seems to me that revelation is a channel with two ends--the one who reveals and the one who receives. How can the Pope be sure that both ends of the channel have been working? In a male patriarchal hierarchy, there would be a tendency to see or hear only that which reinforces your status and power, and signals or messages or examples that would support the ordination of women would either not be picked up, or ignored. Francis really talks out of both sides of his mouth--he is all for opening doors in the 21st century---but when it comes to opening doors for women, he falls back on voodoo revelation. You can't have it both ways, Frank! If a women feels she has a vocation to the priesthood why should she be denied? Because the tea leaves 2000 years ago did not spell out women priests? come on!

Alan Johnstone
1 month 1 week ago

Not tea leaves, they cast lots as to who would replace Judas.

Molly Roach
1 month 1 week ago

Yes Arthur, how handy it is that men have been the "official" recipients and managers of divine revelation to this point. The blind spot is HUGE.

Tim O'Leary
1 month 1 week ago

Molly - you forget that it was Jesus who selected 12 men to be His apostles and He who selected Peter to have the Keys to the Kingdom. We follow Him, not the other way around. Feminism was just the beginning of the gender confusion that is destroying the relations between men and women, with untold suffering of the most vulnerable.

William McGovern
1 month 1 week ago

How does Pope Francis know when revelation is occurring? He cites the example of church’s position on the death penalty evolving. Was it considered revelation when most parties agreed? Is that what it will take for women to deacons, priests, bishops, and popes?

Or is the revelation when the Holy Father, through his pray, decides that allowing such change in the 21st century is God’s will?

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

So silly is the quest for lesserness.

I just read this again. Honestly, am I the only one who wants to barf?

The nuns are as bad as he is. Thank you for completely demeaning us father! We really really like it.

No we do not need a theology of women since it is the same theology for men, a theology of man.

We do need a Pope however, who does not hate but instead actually respects women as equally sacred and deserving of same treatment and ordination as men. Shame on everyone in this article. It was thoroughly repulsive to read.

Can't we get now off the stupid, and finally concentrate on what matters for women, namely priestly ordination and equal ordination? Are you ladies done being treated like you are mentally spiritually and physically inept and less human than your brothers in Christ? I warned everyone who supported this stupid fight for female deaconate, they were just being fooled. The fight for useless deaconate ordination was a foolish waste of time and none of if was an unintentional waste of women's time.

Distract the the silly women while we push more and more for optional celibacy and gender segregation.

Jesus could have come down, and stood directly in front of our Pope, and demanded he ordain women priests and bishops, and Pope Francis would have told Jesus that he just doesn't have enough historical proof for the pope to do what Jesus is ordering him to do. Revelation my butt! I don't think our Pope understands what revelation means. For starters the Holy Spirit does not reveal to Pope's that they can treat women differently than popes want to be treated, or differently than men want to be treated, because Gospel commands from Christ which command popes to treat no one differently than they want to be treated, including women, are revealed dogma themselves.

Jesus does not contradict The Holy Spirit and vice versa, ever, for any reason. So this bias is sin not revelation, and the gospels are proof of that truth. No doubt Christ would have ordered Pope Francis to ordain women and he would have gone right back to the nuns with the same nonsense excuse, that he claimed here. Women can't be ordained blah, blah blah. But the truth is basically because Pope Francis doesn't like or trust women period. He is the high priest of our church and he can ordain anyone he wants or sees as a fit human being. Jesus commanded that he treat all believers the same. Pope Francis knows he is sinning and hating with these nonsense answers. Hopefully, he finds women will finally fight back in our church, and demand all bishops cease ordaining any permanent deacons, and demand for lay women and men to be given these ministries instead which is already perfectly legal under church law. Then we need to fight any actions to ordain married priests, regardless of the claimed vocation crisis, which exist only as a punishment from God on account of our abusive bias against women called to ordained priesthood in the first place.

You have a voice ladies but will you use it or keep on cowering or leaving?

It is up to you lay women and lay men what kind of church and world you leave behind for your daughter's and granddaughters. What are going to do!?

Crystal Watson
1 month 1 week ago

Pope Francis is a sexist. I don't think anyone can reliably deny that anymore. What that means is that he does not believe women and men are ontologically equal in the eyes of God, and he acts on that belief. My questions: how do Catholics who are women or who have daughters, sisters, wives they love, justify staying in this particular Christian denomination? ... how do priests live with themselves, knowing that what the pope is doing is wrong, and not speaking up all in order just to keep their jobs? This church damages people.

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

Yes it does. We can start to fight seriously by protesting at mass and all ordinations and we can reject deacons altogether until change is made. Too many women don't want to upset their priests. If we don't make it more uncomfortable for our priests and bishops to keep these oppressive laws than change them, nothing will change and our whole church will continue to pay the price.

Crystal Watson
1 month 1 week ago

I myself have given up. I don't go to church anymore, don't contribute financially. Sex abuse victims have been protesting for so long, and still nothing has changed for them in the church. Same for LGBTQ people. All the power resides in one unaccountable man. It seems hopeless sometimes.

Christopher Minch
1 month 1 week ago

Here is the root of clericalism--TRADITION and the absolute unwillingness to see oneself as a person who has agency as Jesus allowed when he said that his followers would even do greater things. How can they when even the Pope is afraid to do this? He is burying his treasure just like the lazy steward. Shame on him!

karen oconnell
1 month 1 week ago

absolutely ridiculous.
I love Francis--- but he is up to ''his eyballs' with the clerical sexual abuse. so he is punting. so sorry that he is doing that.
the church -as we know it- will eventually die. just as everything dies. it can resurrect if it wishes, but in order to do so the clerics will have to let go of so much that they hold dear; they will have to give sticking to words, positions that were operational 2000 years ago...........but no longer. it is really up to them (the clerics), the movement to seek the Lord by any and all means available will continue even as the ''church'' as we know it, will not.

Tim O'Leary
1 month 1 week ago

Karen - If the Catholic Church is true, it cannot die. If it is false, why want to change it, when leaving it is so easy. But, the Church is true, and it is still growing, just in different places, according to the Holy Spirit (who blows where He wills Jn 3:8). 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 long 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

Nora Bolcon
1 month ago

Actually Tim,

Episcopalians are beginning to increase in numbers by the most recent numbers and we are only managing to barely keep the amount of growth which comes from our current birth rate. Much of our youth is already gone and our numbers do not reflect a healthy number of middle aged members. We and the Orthodox churches are losing more young women due to sexism and the Orthodox Church has already started ordaining women deacons in certain of its churches. The Orthodox have even hinted that may not be the plateau for women in the future.

Women priest led parishes do as well as their male equivalent full time led parishes in protestant churches .

So your words are not supported by facts. Jesus would never have supported the discrimination against women in our church - this bias came from the weakness of sinful man choosing to ignore the Holy Spirit in a desire to control women.

Tim O'Leary
1 month ago

Nora - you didn't read my references. Also, why didn't you show a reference about the claim that the Episcopalian church is not dying? Because you don't have one. It is disappearing. Similarly, you haven't shown that those who are leaving the Catholic church actually believe what the Church teaches. Because they don't. Just as you don't. The evidence of continued decline of gender confused denominations is everywhere, and even admitted by pro-gay Episcopalians. See this March 2019 article: "Episcopal Church membership has declined from 3.6 million in 1966 to 1.7 million last year. In the United States, UMC (Methodist) membership has fallen from 11 million to 6.8 million in roughly the same timeframe." "http://www.reflector.com/Look/2019/03/27/UNION-POSSIBLE-ON-EPISCOPAL-UNITED-METHODIST-LEFT-1.html

When you abandoned the teaching of the Catholic Church, you abandoned the teaching of Jesus, who promised us His Church would not teach error. You are left with your own fallible certainties, no different from the Westboro Baptist Church. Rejection of infallible teaching leads to fundamentalism or every stripe.

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

Tim O'Leary----
I don’t understand the numbers game as though might makes right. In the segregated south, churches were segregated. The overwhelming number of whites wanted it that way. The fact that the majority supported this racism did not make the majority correct.

A more recent example is the huge growth of evangelical Protestants who hold many views that do not seem to support Christian positions. The fact that so many of these people endorse and support Trump shows the hypocrisy of their Christianity. Yet, the conservative Protestant churches have numbers going up and the liberal churches, who more closely follow the Sermon on the Mount, have numbers going down.

Frankly, I have viewed the explosive growth of these fundamentalist churches more a reflection of a place where people may call themselves Christian, but may ignore so many Christian beliefs.

Tim O'Leary
1 month ago

Judith - You are right. The truth is not decided by polls or by numbers of adherents. Islam, for instance, is no more right just because so many claim that faith. Secularism and homosexualism are no more right just because they might be fashionable. The reason I responded to Nora and others with the decline of liberal denominations was because they were making the numbers argument ("the church is dying," etc.) as a reason to believe their heterodox views. The Catholic Church teaches the truth because Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would protect it from teaching error. That said, there is a decidedly anti-natal and anti-human aspect to liberal beliefs (contraception, abortion, divorce, feminism, homosexuality...). They will necessarily have less children and their beliefs are inherently self-centered and ephemeral. They can only grow by seduction and that cannot compete with biology in the long run.

Judith Jordan
1 month ago

Tim O'Leary---
I am amazed at the way some casually dismiss contraception, which is an integral part of health care for women. Abortion, I want to stop abortion but not by making it illegal. Illegalization does nothing but drive women to back alleys where they are severely injured or die, often leaving their other children without a mother. The American Government cuts money for contraception to other counties’ health care programs when they permit abortion. U. S, money does not go to abortion programs, but only to contraception. Results…abortion numbers go up. When Obama was in office he provided money for contraceptions and the abortion rate went down in those countries. If liberals are responsible for abortions in the U. S. then it seems conservations are responsible for the increase of abortions in those countries.

Divorce? Are women supposed to stay in a marriage where they are often beaten and battered, even if it means her own death, as I once heard a conservative priest repeatedly state. Or stay in a marriage where the children are physically or sexually abused? What is pro-human or moral about that?

Feminism. The right consistently misrepresents what feminism is. It is a simple, but fundamentally American concept. It calls for equality for men and women. How does one reject the American value of equality?

Many, many wars are unjust and anti-human. Yet, I seldom hear conservatives talk about this. When it comes to “moral” issues, they tend to focus on the “pelvic issues” and give little attention to unjust wars, unfed, unsheltered children, etc. In fact, they often oppose government programs that help these children.

My views are essentially stated by Sister Joan Chittister, author, Order of St. Benedict:

"I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."

Tim O'Leary
1 month ago

Judith - you and Sr. Joan are setting up a horrible false choice. All the pro-life people I know want the child born AND fed AND educated AND housed. The only question is how to do that most efficiently, by taxes, by charity, by other means. Most pro-life people I know favor a government safety net, but there could well be better ways, otherwise Catholic Charities, Birthright and other organizations are wasting their money. Furthermore, most states seem to prefer abortion over the longer term burden to their systems - "one less mouth to feed" by their metrics. The problem with feminists is that they want the unborn child completely unprotected by the legal system, which is your argument above. It is no solution to boast about wanting a child fed and housed if you don't first protect it from the scalpel and suction pump, or if you leave a born-alive child to die on a metal table, just because it is sick or unwanted. And any feminist who does not support making sex-selection abortions illegal is hardly protecting females. I agree with the Church that the actualization of women should not depend on a right to kill. I can work with you on most everything else.

As regards divorce, separation is what is needed in a marriage of abuse, and legal divorce if that is the only legal way to get separation. What is demanded by secularists is that vows never be lifelong, even if promised that way. Anyway, your problem here is not with the Catholic Church, but with Jesus, when he rules out divorce that has remarriage (Lk 16, Mt 19).

For contraception, the Church approves of these drugs if they are necessary for health, just not if the motive is to tear asunder the connection of sexual relations from the procreative end. I recommend a re-read of Humanae Vitae, which is the Church's definitive teaching on this. Again, if the Church is wrong about this issue (HV), it is not the true Church that the Holy Spirit promised, so, no need to worry what it teaches. As Pope Francis is quoted above: "We are Catholics, but if anyone wants to found another church they are free [to do so].”

Michael Uschan
1 month 1 week ago

Not good enough, The church is dying because not enough men want to be priests and deacons. I think women can fill both positions.

Mark Gotvald
1 month 1 week ago

Here's a revelation for the Pope. Jesus didn't choose any Gentile men to be apostles, yet the Council of Jerusalem decided to allow them to be ordained. That seemed pretty easy. As easy as it would be for a modern-day council to allow women to be ordained. What's his email address so I can pass on this wisdom?

Will Nier
1 month 1 week ago

In my parish we have a Nun who handles the days the Pastor is not there with a Communion Service. Her " homilies " are far superior to the Pastors anyway. Just give them more authority to perform various functions.

Nora Bolcon
1 month 1 week ago

Will,

I thank you for bringing up the example of lay leadership I have been supporting and explaining to people has been available for the last fifty years that most laity don't realise is perfectly legal and available by just pushing for it from their bishops everywhere. although, it is not enough, we can't just give the work of the ordained priests to women but not the same prestige, respect, sacramental authority and voting authority of men.

However, this is the best starting point to demand change, this kind of treatment, for women because it requires no change in current church laws and no need to seek allowance from Rome in any way. You are right that we do not need nor should we any longer support ordained permanent deacons anywhere in the world. What the nun at your parish is doing is perfectly allowable by just getting the bishops permission. Trained laywomen and laymen are doing the same in other parishes already. the community I am in now allows lay reflectors during mass so both vetted lay men and women have an opportunity to preach and their homilies are often as good if not better than many priests I have heard.

We need to end sexism now where we can and have all baptisms, Eucharistic celebrations (like you have described) and officiating at weddings and funerals that don't have a mass or priests, and all non-priest homilies be done by trained lay people and put the sexist deaconate back in hibernation where it belongs. Unnecessary ordained ministries only invite clericalism and all of its ills.

We also must reject by refusing to support any future deacon ordinations and write individually and in groups informing our hierarchy we want no priestless parishes run by deacons and no married ordained priests unless we are equally ordaining women to the same unrestricted ordination as our male priests enjoy.

Will Nier
1 month 1 week ago

Well in the Pope's defense revelation is closed and what we have is present in the traditions of the Church. It must be a great difficulty to get thorough "in persona Christi" which we as Catholics in the Roman rite believe as the method in which a sacrament is enacted as it is conferred through a male figure. How we work that out Philosophically is the question.

Gwynith Young
1 month 1 week ago

It is 26 years since the wonderful Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza warned women against accepting ordination on the lowest rung of the hierarchical ladder, as deacons. It will simply reinforce women's place as inferior to men, she said. Women bishops first. Yes, men in the hierarchy are desperate to hold on to their power.

Gwynith Young
1 month 1 week ago

The issue is, I believe, whether the priest in the Eucharist represents the earthly Jesus or the resurrected Christ. If the Christ, in him there is no male or female etc

Arthur Sullivan
1 month 1 week ago

Disappointing but not surprising. I've had the delight of meeting a number of female and married Anglican priests, and they were clearly filled with the Holy Spirit. So there is an option to old Rome, and it's looking better every day.

Rachael Stanley
1 month 1 week ago

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is NEITHER MALE NOR FEMALE, FOR YOU ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST”. Galatians 3: 28

ALTONETTE STONE
1 month 1 week ago

I agree with Christopher. I have been conflicted on a number of issues regarding the Church. Pope Francis' response is more disconcerting. We must remember our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ said there is only one Holy Father, and He is God. In the article, there is a comment that there are other places of worship if one disagrees with the status quo. It is food for thought. I am thinking about it.

Rachael Stanley
1 month 1 week ago

In reply to Pope Francis comment that he can’t do a decree of sacramental nature without having the theological historical foundation for it, I repeat my quotation from scripture above. Seems pretty clear to me. To quote Mary McAleese, former president of Ireland and qualified canon lawyer, the refusal to ordain women is “pure codology “.

I can tell you categorically that Ireland benefitted greatly by her presidency as it did with her predecessor, Mary Robinson, first female president of Ireland. It opened up the office of presidency to something fresh and new. To keep denying rightful equality to women is simply morally wrong, end of story and people are no longer buying this nonsense. Pope Francis talks about women wanting power, oh please spare us. We know all about male abuse of power, so it’s a bit rich for him to preaching to women about this.

Nora Bolcon
1 month ago

I know and I love how he freaks out about the supposed "clericalization of the laity". Huh? what the heck is that nonsense?! Don't know one kid who was abused on account of the clericalization of the laity. Sadly, I can't say that about the clericalization of our clerics and all clergy. This pope is the wizard of distraction.

Tim O'Leary
1 month ago

Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson are not good examples of how a church can thrive with women in leadership roles. They both have contributed to the loss of faith in Ireland. I do note that no one arguing for women priests also argues for Catholicism. Don't be seduced by liberal politics. "What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?" Luke 9:25

Vincent Gaglione
1 month 1 week ago

I read the comments here yesterday morning and I was profoundly disturbed by the polemics of them. From the Catholic “left”, as well as the Catholic “right”, Francis is often an object of derision and scorn and anger.

I thought his comments reflected the mainstream and history of Catholic evolution on any number of issues. Considering that St. John Paul II effectively proscribed any discussion of women in sacramental service in the church other than in religious life, the fact that we are talking about it so soon after his passing is miraculous in itself. I will be long, long, long dead before any serious consideration of a sacramental role for women in the Church occurs. In the meantime, less polemics please.

Tim O'Leary
1 month 1 week ago

Vincent - you are being too kind. What do you mean Catholic left? Perhaps, we could call them Catholics who have left, because they almost certainly are not Catholic in terms of belief and practice. Statements like "the church is dying" (MU) or "will eventually die" (KoC) or "this particular denomination...I don't go to church anymore." (CW), show epic loss of faith. None of their comments suggest any desire for binding themselves to the revealed truth but are all political and ideological. Almost every comment to this piece so far displays a complete ignorance or outright rejection of the essence of Catholicism, such as the importance of revelation - called "voodoo revelation" (AmC) or "revelation my butt" (NB) - or tradition - "here is the root of clericalism-TRADITION" (CM).

None of these commentators wanted female deacons per se. The demand for women priests/priestesses underpins all the outrage. This has been settled definitively for Catholicism for all time. If it is a false teaching, then Catholicism is false (as most of the commentators believe). That is how Catholicism works. The Church follows Holy Scripture, which unequivocally describes men and women as equal in dignity WITH complementary roles and vocations. The Protestant reformers were far more respectful of Scripture and far more Christian that these commentators, who want a church redesigned in their own secular image, with priestesses presiding over sanctified abortions and sexless people blessing sexual unions.

Christopher Minch
1 month 1 week ago

Exactly, just like Paul and Barnabas confronted Peter and the other apostles about Jewish dietary laws which was decided by a holy dream that Peter had. No recourse to traditions (there were few at that time) or Jesus's practices, which Peter and the Apostles would have had first hand knowledge of. If Pope Francis doesn't feel he has the ability or fortitude he could call an ecumenical council to address the issues of priesthood and sexuality in the church with its attendant problem of a council deciding things either one way or the other. At least though a more comprehensive of the thinking of the full church on these matters would come out, hopefully. I believe that our Triune God is much more understanding of our lives and what are possible then many believe in this Church or just what traditions cannot answer because the Holy Spirit wants to help us into the future.

A Fielder
1 month ago

This is the beginning of revelation about deacons:
"At that time, as the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. *So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.* Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them.* (Acts 6:1-6)

A Fielder
1 month ago

Since deacons were not ordained to be ministers of the word or sacrament, how do we have deacons today doing these jobs of a priest? There might be a good reason for it, but it has nothing to do with so-called divine revelation. Restrictions about female deacons which do not apply to male deacons are absolutely sickening.

Nora Bolcon
1 month ago

Pope Francis' Plan to Burn the Nuns and the Laity that Supported Them:

This Pope made fools out of our nuns and fully intended to do this from the beginning of the discussion which I and many saw coming from the start.

Pope Francis supported an abusive, misogynistic investigation of our U.S. nuns that he did not officially end until April, 2015. However, before it ended, the issue had come to the point that the laity were supporting the nuns so he had to be careful how he treated them as there was real concern the majority of nuns in the U.S. might break from the church in anger which would inflame the laity. So Pope Francis called some of their leadership to Rome, at the end of the investigation, in 2016, and had the all too secret meeting, so no laity could be told what was discussed, and during this, he told them to shut up about what happened which they did.

So now the question that remained, for the laity, is why are the nuns willing to shut up at this critical point and why won't they tell us laity what happened since we helped them? We find out the answer to this question, about 10 months to a year later, when "supposedly" to the Pope's total surprise, one of the nuns at the Superior General's meeting, in Rome, asks the pope why can't women be deacons?

Now what the laity does not realize is that nothing happens at these meetings, ever, that is not more choreographed, ahead of time, than a Broadway Musical. Which means this question was rehearsed to be asked, to the Pope, by this nun, before the mtg. began, and he knew how he was going to answer it (this show is for the laity only).

This was likely the reward the nuns agreed to 'shut up' for a year earlier. This privilege of getting credit for asking the question to Pope Francis, is what Pope Francis offered the nuns, and it may have gone something like this: If you nuns shut up about the abusive investigation, I will give you the opportunity to save face with the laity, later on, next year, by making it look like you are standing up for women by allowing you to ask for women deacons at the Superior General's Mtg. I will respond to that request that I am willing to have a study on the subject and the laity will think you are courageous for asking me.

Now the nuns probably thought he was offering this because he was seriously considering allowing ordained women deacons anyway but if that were true, he would have set up a research committee right away but he didn't. Instead, Pope Francis waited two years to set one up. Also, if he meant to give women ordained deacon ordination, he would have filled the research committee with people who he believed could come to agreement on a 'Yes' answer.

This however was not Pope Francis' plan, and likely never was from the meeting with the the nun leadership in 2016. Instead, Pope Francis set up the nuns, he got them to shut up, at a point in time, when their silence was pivotal and made them wait for the laity to lose focus, or he hoped they would. Then after prompting continued from the laity and seeing the laity still persevered, he put together a knowingly polarized team to research the issue of female deacons so they would give contradicting results.

Pope Francis knew he could somewhat justify the conflicting results as reason to refuse women the deaconate because it is impossible to absolutely prove most of any history from two thousand years ago, especially given our own church leadership throughout the ages destroyed much of its own documents trying to hide practices like ordination of women priests, etc . After receiving the contradictory results from his hand picked team, he states - Hey, it is not my fault women can't be deacons, it's the researchers who could not agree.

What he has not told us laity, or the nuns is that he never needed the committee to agree women were ordained in the past to be deacons or priests or bishops or popes, in the first place, and our own history does not preclude women absolutely never being all of these ordained categories in our past. If our church had to prove women were never ordained deacons, priests, bishops or made cardinals or popes, they couldn't. Even the Pope Joan story has some serious evidence it may indeed be true and that evidence exists even today. There have been murals and other writings that hint at women as both ordained priests and even bishops and then hidden by our church later on. There is quite good evidence of women as ordained deacons and doing the same ministries as men as deacons.

What Pope Francis has achieved is that he made fools out of both the laity and the nuns. This result of denying female deacon ordination should be considered as perhaps even an intentional revenge play on the U.S. nuns for their progressive ideas and actions which he never liked in the first place and never totally cleared them of in the investigation, and one of which he knew included desiring women priests.

If God never said women can't be ordained the same as men and Jesus never taught this either, which is the case, then the default should be what did Jesus teach or command or REVEAL on how we should treat women and all others. That default is in every Gospel, in one form or another, where Christ commands all of his disciples and apostles to treat all others the same as they wish to be treated - no exceptions are given to this command. Those who fail to follow it or stand up for their brothers or sisters who are being kept from same treatment, are guilty of the grave sin of not loving their siblings in Christ. This sin is what Jesus considered the worst sin a person could commit except not loving God first. In fact, in the Gospel of John, not loving your siblings in Christ the same as self is equated to not loving God because how can one love God but mistreat those God cares about?

So now this Pope goes around pretending to be a good guy who did his best for women when in fact he has made fools of our U.S. nuns and all the laity who supported them and their cause. Meanwhile, we lose more women continuously than protestant churches, and the misogyny and no doubt partnering pedophilia, teen sex abuse and sexual abuse of nuns will just continue forward once the magnify glass dips, and everyone thinks the problems have gone away. Sexism is sexual abuse and it damages people just like racism does. Shame on us for being fooled and how sad these nuns appear thanking the man who made a fool out of them just for being allowed to sit next to him.

(I put this comment as part of a response above too but I realized I should put it as its own comment since many probably have not connected the dots and that is what Pope Francis is hoping that we, the laity, are so asleep we don't see what he has done. )

J Jones
1 month ago

A great piece. Lhttps://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/why-does-francis-passion-justice-and-unity-stop-short-women

Tim O'Leary
1 month ago

JJ - This article again agrees with the heterodox commentators above. Feminists (male and female) look at everything through a power lens and without a scriptural lens. They deny any uniqueness for men and women and deny the meaning of the scriptural statement in Genesis, given the authority of Jesus (Mt 19:4, Mk 10:6) when He repeated: "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,'" Why would Jesus make this distinction if there wasn't a different role for men and women? Why would He only choose men for His apostles, when women were also His followers? Why would Mary be recognized as the greatest created being - "tainted nature's solitary boast" (Wordsworth) if it was all about equality/sameness. The heresy is in not seeing this distinction. Again, if the Catholic Church is wrong in teaching definitively that only men can be priests, then why worry about being Catholic? Pope Francis is quoted above: "We are Catholics, but if anyone wants to found another church they are free [to do so].” But, perhaps these commentators see Power more than the Truth?

John Chuchman
1 month ago

Women will get a non-sacramental women’s diaconate auxiliary to do the dirty work for men, just to shut them up.

A Fielder
1 month ago

Maybe the Altar Society/Women's Auxiliary can be for the female deacons. They can sew altar cloths for the altars, decorate the Christmas trees, plant flowers around the church, and make the potato salad for the ice cream social... Just as long as the don't have to do father's laundry; there is a big difference between service and servitude.

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