What the debate over deacons gets wrong about Catholic women in leadership

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Two years ago I was on a panel at the University of Notre Dame where a fellow presenter lamented the almost total absence of women in leadership in the church. Perhaps she did not read my bio or listen to my presentation. During the panel discussion, I finally had to interject that I was the chancellor of one of the largest dioceses in the country and fourth on the organization chart for the Diocese of Orange.

I was reminded of this exchange when Pope Francis, returning from his trip to North Macedonia and Bulgaria on May 7, gave his long-awaited, if somewhat indirect, response to the question of whether the Catholic Church would allow the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate. As a woman in leadership in the church, I think we are having the wrong conversation when we focus so narrowly on the question of women deacons that we fail to see the ways Catholic women can—and already do—lead.

The group the pope commissioned in 2016 to study the historical role of women deacons was unable to reach a consensus on a number of issues. Put simply, there are records from the early church of women being identified as deacons. But there is no conclusive evidence that the role of female deacons has ever been tied to the ordained sacramental role that male deacons exercise. In a conversation with women religious superiors on May 10, Pope Francis said any change to the diaconate must be grounded in revelation. “If the Lord didn’t want a sacramental ministry for women,” he said, “it can’t go forward.”

When we focus so narrowly on the question of women deacons we fail to see the ways Catholic women can—and already do—lead.

But Pope Francis also said that “there is a way of conceiving [the female diaconate] with a different vision to that of the male diaconate.” In other words, one could imagine women deacons serving in some roles traditionally fulfilled by male deacons but in a way that is detached from sacramental ordination. It is unclear, however, whether such a solution would bring about the greater equality between men and women in the church that many proponents of women deacons wish to see.

In addition to their role of administering certain sacraments and proclaiming the Gospel, men in the permanent diaconate, which was first restored in 1967, fulfill many tasks—like fostering parish life, providing faith formation and promoting social justice initiatives—that could be done by any non-ordained person. I admire the selflessness with which these men serve. After all, theirs is not a paid role. And perhaps a radical redefinition of the permanent diaconate is in order, one which would recognize the important ways lay men and women build up the church and the people of God.

I worry, however, that by focusing so intensely on the question of women deacons, we miss the larger challenge facing our church. The church has a global mission to sanctify the entire world through her members. Most of that work will be done not by ordained ministers or the hierarchy, whether that includes more women or not, but by lay women and men. So long as we are focused on the diaconate, we are ignoring the reality articulated in the Second Vatican Council document “Lumen Gentium”: Our job as lay people is to go where the clergy cannot.

I worry that by focusing so intensely on the question of women deacons, we miss the larger challenge facing our church.

Every Catholic has the power to influence our culture, but too often the influence flows in the opposite direction. Catholic parents, for example, lament that neither they nor the church have the same pull on their children that the culture does. Instagram and “Game of Thrones” probably shape the values of young people more directly than all of the great homilists put together. The current sex abuse crisis suggest that the church herself is afflicted by the sins of the surrounding culture and is, in fact, a microcosm of that culture.

If Catholics want to have influence, even power, it seems to me that we would advance the conversation much more by talking about the role of the laity in the culture and in the world.

At the close of Vatican II, Pope Paul VI asked women “to bring the spirit of this council into institutions, schools, homes and daily life” and said, “It is for you to save the peace of the world.” If that truly is the case, then we should be following the directive that women have a role in every aspect of society, enunciated in the Vatican document “On the Collaboration of Men and Women in Society” in 2004.

 

As it stands, the ordained vocations of permanent deacon, priest and bishop are held by a relatively small number of men. To take such a narrow vocation and then try to fit a general discussion about women into it seems myopic at best. Most men are called to live their relationship with Christ differently. Could not the same apply to all women without offending their equal dignity? Meanwhile, we leave the shaping of our culture, and in turn our families and even our church, to other men and women who have identified the real positions of influence: social media, politics, science, the arts, education and business.

While the church certainly needs competent lay women and men in leadership roles, we need exponentially more competent lay women and men living out every aspect of their lives influenced by their faith and an authentic understanding of the dignity of the human person. The hierarchy spends lots of time talking about human dignity, but it is the actual doctors, scientists, teachers, social workers and many others, including parents, who make this a reality for us.

While I am grateful to be able to serve in the role I currently hold, I see so many opportunities for women outside the church, in places where the church will always struggle to have an impact. Lay men and women are called to the tremendous honor of building up the kingdom in these places, and we do not need any title, besides Catholic, to do so.

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Jay Zamberlin
1 year 4 months ago

You point the finger at the Church, then go on to outline the oppression (depending on one's cultural aspect, certainly) of women in every other "faith" walk other than the Church. As IF one begets, or mirrors, or complements the others, and by defintion. That's how your assertions reads here.

Nuns in burkas??? Seriously. And respectfully, I'm sorry; first of all, no one is forced to join a convent, certainly not in this day and age and if it happened in the past it was rare, if it happened at all.

So, are you going to suggest that your whim here to "liberate" women who choose to dress in a given garb, let's say a trad nun, represents "progress."

Lke so many I'm reading on this board, I mean, your arguments, and I'm not picking on you, you're just the unluck first that caught eye, are so meandering and non-sequitor, full of holes that they're not even worth discussing, and I am sorry, this is where our Catholic faith HAS failed us, and miserably so.

Catholics (can I assume you are one, if not bear with me, if so, bear with me) USED to be able to argue cogently and with logical coherence. My public school teacher in high school, debate coach, used to say they dreaded facing a Catholic debate team, because Catholics were rooted in LOGIC, and of a profound order, like Thomism, or the like. Not just, "it must be true because my modern sensiblity "feels" something. That is just NOT GOOD ENOUGH and not, essentially, our tradition of mental accuity and rigor. Sorry for the rant, others here, if the shoe fits, please do put that damned thing on and learn you're own traditions and faith, and quit using the modern world as your gauge of justice and Catholicity. It's just a crock.

Certainly, women NOT being able to be priests is always going to present some sort of logical disconnect with persons within our Church who see this as some sort of CEO position, but people, that is NOT what a priest is, not in essence.

The Church is a human institution in that it is populated by humans, but its mandate and structure comes from God Himself, and it that sense it is supernatural, and if one doesn't see the supernatural, and simply compares the Church to any other societally concocted institutions, one is bound to be disappointed, especially through the lens of modern femist theory. The two are simply incompatible, sorry to inform some of you, or maybe better said that human wisdom of the age doesn't always naturally apply to the Structure and governance of the Church, though one can understand how people ARE frustrated, because their whole bevy of suppositions about how the world is supposed to work is directly challlenged by the Church. Well, truth and God's institutions DON'T evolve, and are not subject to man's proclivities and sensibilities. God commands and we follow. That is the order of things in the supernatural world, and that is what we're discussing here.

Tatiana Durbak
1 year 4 months ago

I don't understand why Pia di Solenni believes that permitting the ordination of women would in any way dilute or diminish the work that non-ordained women do in the Church.

William McGovern
1 year 4 months ago

Pia, I agree that both lay men and women can and should do more. Not just in positions of great responsibility such as the one you hold, but throughout in both paid and unpaid endeavors. You are but one example of how capable women can be when given the opportunity.

Because Christ commands all of us to serve him by serving others, the nature of how the Church is managed needs to change. There needs to be a true partnership among clergy, religious, and lay persons in managing and administering the Church.

I am certain there are many capable women like yourself who feel called to be ordained as deacons and priests. To deny these women the opportunity to potentially serve any any capacity causes the Church to lose the unique gifts they possess to fill those roles. It also also unfair to the women themselves who are called to be ordained.

J Jones
1 year 4 months ago

Pia, I am fascinated by your implication that Catholic lay women (and men) are not out in the world influencing the culture. A Catholic woman-friend of mine has been a primary care provider for HIV/AIDS patients for two decades. Another Catholic woman-friend has been a pediatrician and child abuse expert for four decades. One social work office I worked in was almost entirely staffed by Catholic and Jewish men and women, including three former priests (one a Jesuit), one former nun and me, a future discerner. Many teachers I know are Catholic. Most of the nurses in a hospital in which I worked were Catholic and many were married to Catholics prison workers. I know Catholic police officers. Growing up Catholic on a military bases, I knew dozens and dozens and dozens of Catholic military doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, peace activists in addition to all the other Catholics serving on base. Some of the most powerful women politicians in my state are Catholic. Many of the social justice activists I know and have known are Catholics. The finest artist I know personally is a Catholic woman. Many musicians I know are Catholic. I know Catholic firefighters.

Pia, what world do YOU live in?

Lay Catholics don't need women (or men) in the hierarchy to tell Catholics to live their faith in the world outside. What a trip THAT was to read, Pia. Our traditions are deep and long and widely recognized and deeply informed by our Catholic identities.

And the thing of it is many of the
Catholic men in the Permanente Diaconate I know are among those men I just described. Some of them have deeply fulfilling and extraordinarily important paid ministries in the world AND they were called to sacramental ministry in the Permanente Diaconate.

What world are YOU living in, Pia?

I think your job is fabulous. I think it is fabulous a woman holds the positions you hold. I imagine you are l, in fact, deeply grateful for your role. Wonderful wonderful wonderful and a cause for celebration. You are Chancellor AND theological advisor. How wonderful to have two dimensions to your formal role in the Church.

Why, then, Pia, would you discourage other women from listening to the call to participate in the same rich and multidimensional way in their Church? Why would you do that? What motivated you to attempt to tamp down the movement of the Holy Spirit in other women, when millions and millions of us are already living our Catholic lives in all the ways you proposed non-Catholics are doing in our stead? Why should you use your wonderfully rich life in the Church to tell other women there is just not enough to go around and, besides, those men are just so darned sacrificial, ladies! Any seasoned Catholic Worker knows "there is ALWAYS enough soup. Just add another cup of water". Whenever I was adding actual water to actual soup on the actual soupline, I always meditated on the reality that there is ALWAYS enough of the LIVING Water to go around, too: all I need do is draw the circle wider. "Jesus always drew the circle wider". That is a phrase I learned from a Jesuit.

Draw the circle wider, Pia. And look around and see who is already in it and drawing with you.

PS I am also interested in your decision that you "had" to counter the statement by another presenter at Notre Dame (who lamented that there aren't enough leadership positions for women in the Church) with the information that you have a high ranking position as a laywoman in the Church. Here, you tell women that there are very few positions of rank in the Church that are not reserved for men and the few those which are available to women are few and far between and women should seek opportunities to serve elsewhere (as if we are not already). I am puzzled. I am all for the "both/and" of things (being Catholic and all) but you contradicted your colleague who was, after all, simply saying what you are saying here.

Brian T
1 year 4 months ago

Very eloquently explicated. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

Jay Zamberlin
1 year 4 months ago

Respectfully, J. Jones, you would seem to be "reading into" Pia's challenge, a challenge to people who'd much rather focus on social constructs mapped onto Church governance at the expense of, sometimes, turning a blind eye to our greater and higher callings. Such a challenge does NOT suggest that women (and men) are not pursuing these higher callings, she's only trying to refocus some people's attention and give proper perspective to ideas that trump some of these squabbles which DO lead people to lose sight of what is of more paramount importance.

(But reality check, you KNOW all of that, but you're just setting up mostly a red herring here, coupled with an attempt to denigrate the woman's intelligence. Not cool....but I digress)

She's also, at least for me, broadening the scope of what it means to "serve" the world in certain occupational pursuits. That is a worthwhile talking point - and YOU do that yourself - and good for you.---and should serve as a springboard for further and more in-depth discussion, (and, if I may, I concur with her, that these pursuits, properly executed, represent "Kingdom building" in the concrete far more than "du jour" arguments about the Church's inablity to grapple with the modern world vis-a-vis feminist ideals. That is just my own "two cents" thrown in, a bit of an aside, thanks for indulging me here).

I myself wonder sometimes about the presumption of "good faith" that sometimes just vanishes from these "hot button topic" discussions when people don't line up with others' preconceived ideas. Does one really assume that this woman, seeped in Catholicism, who's studied theology in Rome, has somehow missed the contributions of women (and men) in areas that transcend the four walls of our church buildings, that she is calling people to try something "novel?" C'mon. (and as I suggested earlier, you don't, this just becomes, somehow, your point of argumentation....again, not cool, an obfuscation)

When people make these sort of claims about perceived "gaps" in another's good faith attempt to raise consciousness, (whether one would agree or not with the other's basic premise) - these simply echo the all-too-common penchent to construct straw men/red herrings, or worse, depict an animus toward's others' views that would make them out to be, defacto, dolts or willfully blind, and that, most certainly, is not the case with this woman of accomplishment. You don't have to like her, or her ideas, but she's not exactly stupid, bottom line, and to suggest such is more telling than you'd probably want to be understood, but there it is. Taken altogether, it's an ad hominem, and we are above that, are we not??? I think so. You probably do as well, so can we keep it more kosher? Thanks for your consideration of the above.

J Jones
1 year 4 months ago

Jay, I re-read all three contributions: Pia's, mine, yours. Nowhere does Pia present evidence that Catholic women who address (in any form) the issue of women being excluded from the sacramental Diaconate address that issue to the exclusion of the many other ways women can and do participate in the RCC.

She immediatly asserts in her first paragraph, with anecdote about the panel discussion at the University of Notre Dame, that her presence on the panel and her leadership role in the church invalidates another panelist's position that there are limited leadership roles for women in the Church ("I finally had to tell her..."). Beyond immediately communicating to us her unpleasant insistence on publicly nursing her self-indulgent perception that she was personally slighted by another panelist's thesis, Pia's opening paragraph seeks to establish that she is the voice of truth here and that other women speaking on this issue are simply untrustworthy.

It is interesting to me that an academic would not link to the UND archives: perhaps even Pia recognizes that she is continuing to behave in an uncollegial manner about the panel at UND.

More importantly, I wonder if Pia doesn't provide a link because she also has some awareness that she is insisting, even now, on a glaring logical fallacy: if Pia is a diocesan Chancellor and theological advisor to her Bishop, it cannot also be true that there are limited institutional leadership roles for women in the Church and that her anecdote does not support her argument here at America Magazine.

Pia continues to make other unsupported statements. The following statement is representative of her whole argument: "So long as we are focused on the Diaconate, we are ignoring the reality articulated [...] In Lumen Gentium".

That is is a false statement. And she repeats it and reinforces it a number of ways. (I refer you to her piece and my comment above.) Her only "proof" is her anecdote in which she imagines herself slighted by another panelist.

Pia is obviously an intelligent and competent woman capable of a very high level of intellectual, professional and spiritual "multitasking". I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that she did not *consciously* intend to argue that other women - on this topic at least - are incapable of engagement with many different ideas and issues and realities at once,

Nonetheless, her entire piece here argues that, beginning with her anecdote.

Unfortunately, that makes one heck of a case for the UND panelist she chastises in her opening paragraph: there are definitely not enough women in positions of institutional leadership in the Roman Catholic Church.

PS (and it is a HUGE post-script):

Nowhere here does Pia acknowledge that it is documented that her Bishop created the role she fills for him SPECIFICALLY for her, Pia di Solenni (https://thomasaquinas.edu/alumni/faith-action-blog/theological-journey-dr-pia-de-solenni).

Her position can be said to demonstrate "the inclusion of women" in only the most extraordinarily limited way. Her position demonstrates only and quite literally "the inclusion of Pia di Solenni".

Big, obfuscating, reality-and-narrative shifting ommision there, Pia. Perhaps this helps explain why you would still publicly nurse that imagined slight at UND? Perhaps you have some awareness --- in the dark of the night, if at no other time --- that your position may not be a relevant (meaningful) data point in a discussion of the institutional inclusion of women in leadership in the Roman Catholic Church?

Jay Zamberlin
1 year 4 months ago

J. Jones.

I can "get" where some would take her remarks and sort of run with them, based on the circumstances surrounding her comments, including her own implied "self importance" (which may or may not be what she intends, I'd guess not). But my remarks went towards the 'saltiness' of your remarks (and thanks for being a bit more clear and frankly, more honest), which just were, I'll propose, a bit emotion laden, and I get that for some, this is that sort of issue. Still, for arguments to be made and have them stand up to any sort of scrutiny, the extraneous comments are not helpful. There ARE arguments to be made, and here you've bettered those and I thank you for elevating those.

I still do think your extrapolations are based on, at least somewhat, your dislike for her position on the subject more generally, so you are still, to my way of thinking, 'reading into' some of her comments, but at least more plausibly.

I tend to believe in a supernatural Church that does not mislead the faithful for its own selfish purposes, in a sort of 'worst case" description, or is quite blind to truth, to the tune of two thousand year blindness, and they are in constant need of "updating" their teaching. The "Catholic" Church (Orthodox included) has held this teaching as a dearly held and non negotiable truth, backed by Scripture and the example of Jesus and based on an understanding of the priesthood that frankly, many Catholics don't have a grasp of, much beyond the "role" they see played out on Sunday, not much different froma Protestant minister, and/or parish CEO (not saying that is you) and I concur with their teaching, their rationale. I don't believe, in fact I know, truth doesn't evolve.

On the other side of that position is the other panoply of descriptions that would including purposeful deception, blindness (however induced), ineptitude, or simply a Church that has always found ways to describe "truth" in terms more relative to the times. So, in essence, you and quite a few at America believe in one Church so imagined, and I'll proffer that she and I, both, would come down on a Divinely led Church, especially on such a core issue, that does not act and teach anything in a manner that even approaches the arbitrary. If she IS as solidly in that camp as I, you are simply railing against a mindset and a vision of Church that you cannot imagine as defendable, so she is/would be, a real enemy towards that sort of illumination and liberation that you seek. I get that, but let's be more clear about these underlying foundational principals and perhaps have those be more out front instead of "she just doesn't get the whole woman thing." She gets it, and rejects it on the grounds I've outlined and not based on some sort of naivete or "I've got mine, why can't the rest of you shut up and be happy."

Please allow that I may not be describing your views so precisely, but it's close, and you certainly are welcome to set me straight where I may have gotten you wrong.

Thanks for your rebuttals

Cheers

J Jones
1 year 4 months ago

Jay, thanks for your thoughtful response. My assessment of Pia's writing and narrative here is not a response to her position that women cannot fill sacramentally ordained roles in the Church. I am not a theologian nor am I a historian; there is significant debate among theologians and historians on this question; I have nothing I wish to add. I also am uninterested in debating whether the RCC is "divinely-led" or led by humans. I am a sacramentally blessed member of the Church; I assume you are, too; and I am more than happy to respect the freedom of your own beliefs about those matters and to honor your participation in our shared Church, and I hope you will afford me the same respect.

My response to Pia's writing and narraative is exactly as I have presented it. I believe she has founded her argument about discussions of women and the RCC Diaconate in the RCC on a false premise, repeatedly stated in a narrative which fails to acknowledge the existing realities of Catholic women's lives which (in what i am more than willing to admit I consider a narratively declicious irony, given her opening pique). She also also fails to acknowledge the capacity of other women to engage in the intellectual multitasking that allows billions of women around the world to engage with and in multiples ideas, roles and possibilities at once.

Again, those limitations in her writing and narrative here make a strong case for the broad point her co-panelist appears to have been making: we need more women in positions of leadership in the RCC.

Beth Nicol
1 year 4 months ago

I get the "separate but equal" idea -- but that's rather the same argument that Big Jim Folsom (segregationist Governor of Alabama back in the 50's) proposed: White children and black children will get equal educations, but be separated.

True, the problem goes well beyond ordaining women (to the diaconate or the priesthood). Professions dominated by women, worldwide, are treated as second class: teachers or nurses (as opposed to doctors). Until professions that women gravitate to, or seem to have particular gifts in are treated as equal to men, the only solution is to allow women to participate fully in those areas that are traditionally male and powerful.

If the sacraments, or the responsibility for administering the sacraments, are the source of power in the church then members of the church will never be seen as equal until all are allowed to be ministers of these sacraments. If other aspects of being Christian/Catholic are viewed as being as important, or as much a source of power, then all people of God can be treated with equal respect.

As long as we, the church, allow ourselves to be led and governed by a small elite group of men who will never willingly give up power, then even ordaining women won't gain equality. But, that would be a step in the right direction.

Craig B. Mckee
1 year 4 months ago

Always a pain to be slighted by a fellow panel member, Pia.
But progress is being made at levels even higher than yours:
https://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/11724/pope-appoints-four-women-to-top-synod-jobs-
The key is DE-CENTRALIZATION of Papally concentrated power structures, a problem we've been dealing with ever since Gregory VII's 11th century power grab.

Jay Zamberlin
1 year 4 months ago

"Keeping it real" now means keeping it snide? If your argument is to return to the "first among equals" understanding of the Papacy, certainly that is a fair point, but coupled with the dig? - that I don't get....

and IF we had, say more of a shared "pillar churches" heirarchy, (not sure of your exact preferred model) but certainly the Orthodox are not "chomping at the bit" to ordain women.

I'd be curious, also - to gain a bit better understanding about underlying arguments of persons here -- as to how many arguing for women's ordinations would be at the same time for so-called same sex marriages, Church sanctioned..... for pretty obvious reasons. How do you come down there?

PHYLLIS ZAGANO
1 year 4 months ago

I am fascinated by Pia de Solenni's statement :" Put simply, there are records from the early church of women being identified as deacons. But there is no conclusive evidence that the role of female deacons has ever been tied to the ordained sacramental role that male deacons exercise." and wonder how she subtantiates it. Women were ordained as deacons for many centuries using the same or similar rituals used for men. To deny fact is to deny truth. I believe Dr de Solenni is a bioethicist who studied at the Opus Dei Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.

J Jones
1 year 4 months ago

Phyllis, yes, I thought it was a big statement without a citation. Surprising from a PhD and unsurprising from a functionary in the Roman Catholic Church

Lisa Weber
1 year 4 months ago

Thank you for your comment. I know you are an expert on this question.

J Jones
1 year 4 months ago

Yes, Phyllis is an amazing resource.

Jay Zamberlin
1 year 4 months ago

I think you're factually wrong on your core assertion here. Would you care to back that with the historical record? My long held understanding is that women deacons were utilized for specific tasks related to the liturgy, i.e., the assisting of women and their garb connected with a full immersion baptism and certain other specific roles pertaining to ministering to women where doing so for men would present obvious problems.

J Jones
1 year 4 months ago

Jay, here is a quick way to access Phyllis Zagano's "back up". https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phyllis_Zagano

Brian T
1 year 4 months ago

Note to the editors: Please switch to Disqus for comments. To read, reply and track comments in this comment section is maddeningly difficult.

Marion Sforza
1 year 4 months ago

This article reminds me in many ways of the arguments for segregation before the Civil Rights Act. "Separate but Equal." especially when used to describe segregated schools. Ha Ha Ha. Believe that and I'll tell you another. Anyone who was honest knew the "separate" part was real but that the "equal" part was a joke, except of course to those in the "colored" schools. Women do not have power in the Catholic Church. Period. We can be put in an elevated position here and there but it is entirely at the whim of someone who actually has the power.
Actually, women do have power. They just don't use it. If women stopped giving money and stopped giving time and talent as volunteers, the Church as an organization could not function.

Judith Jordan
1 year 4 months ago

Marion Sforza---
You made excellent points. “Separate, but equal” was never true and was always a favorite chant by racists. White kids’ schools always had more money spent on them than black kids’ schools. Many of the black schools were supplied, if at all, by old “hand me downs” by white schools. Separate, but equal is always a sham wherever it is found, including the church.

Dee Hudson
1 year 4 months ago

Some of the response to this article show the Catholic church is embedded with male authoritarianism. Tradition is the heart of the Catholic Church yet tradition can be manipulated by man thus making impressions fallible. When we begin to dispute a tradition of the Church we open the door to all traditions to be attested so it is important we tread lightly yet firmly concerning the rights of women within the Church hierarchy. Women were disciples in Jesus time yet he chose only men to began the apostolic succession. That however does not mean women are lesser. The bible states men and women ARE equal. Remember God chose a women for the second most important role of the new covenant; Mary the Ark of the New Covenant. I feel this shows women have a very important role in the Church. The Church needs to be more inclusive of womens roles. To be frank I don’t know enough to make a theological comment on women being included in a role as deaconess but I do feel women are treated by many in Catholic authority and by Catholic Lay men as less than men. I understand that is NOT the view of Church doctrine yet clearly by remarks on this thread some choose to disregard Church the teaching that we ARE equal. If women were less than men in God's eyes He would'nt have chosen a woman to be the Ark of the New Covenant. Church tradition teaches us to pray for Mary to intercede for us; as the Mother of Jesus she is the Queen of Heaven, a place of honor. I believe this is an indication women should hold positions of dignity within the Church, perhaps lower in hierarchy to a Priest just as Mary is lower than Jesus, but a position similar to a deacon perhaps outside of the current path of ordination. My knowledge is limited yet my mind is open however I feel it is important to be cautious when changing tradition. We do not want to open the door too wide allowing secular society to change Biblically routed Church Dogma to justify thier life style. All this being said as Women, as members of the Lay we are important and should never doubt our vaule or impact we have as Christians. Women can and do make a differance even though we are not able to be a Priest or Deacon. When we speak the truth and lead the life of a true disciple we are POWERFUL and heard. We should hold our heads high and be the example that leads others to Christ.

John Donaghy
1 year 4 months ago

I think Pia de Solenni is on target with this remark: "...perhaps a radical redefinition of the permanent diaconate is in order, one which would recognize the important ways lay men and women build up the church and the people of God."
As a permanent deacon in Honduras, who ministered for many decades as a lay person and was ordained less than three years ago, I wonder if the understanding of the permanent deacon in the developed world needs a revisioning. Has it become too clericalized, too liturgical? Does it need to restore a vision of the connection of the altar and the world - bringing the world to the altar in a special way and bringing the altar back to the world - in a continual cycle of interaction? Does it need to recover the deacon as an icon of Christ the Servant - not just the Eucharistic Christ, but also the Body of Christ which is the Church?

Gail Sockwell-Thompson
1 year 4 months ago

Dear Pia - there were actually slaves who argued that indoor servitude was preferable to fighting for freedom. Your commentary has a ring of familiarity.

James Riley
1 year 4 months ago

Pia de Solini seems to be making the argument, "I am a paralegal performing great legal work and advising the attorney; so I do not have to be an attorney". Or same goes for a nurse practitioner viv a vis a physician. But she is blocked from being the attorney or the physician--or in her case the deacon or priest--even though she may have equal or even greater skills to fulfill that role, including possibly empathy or dedication etc., merely because she is a woman and only for that reason. This is not just wrong--it is misogynistic and immoral.

J Jones
1 year 4 months ago

Nowhere here does Pia acknowledge that her position as Chancellor-and-Theological-Advisor to the Bishop was created SPECIFICALLY for her. (https://thomasaquinas.edu/alumni/faith-action-blog/theological-journey-dr-pia-de-solenni).

This does not reflect the inclusion of women. This reflects the inclusion specifically and only of Pia di Solenni.

That represents an enormous ommision, Pia. A really rather stunning ommision which calls into question your whole narrative here.

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