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Will the Amazon synod open the door to women deacons?

Cardinal Luis Ladaria, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said recently that the Study Commission on the Women’s Diaconate job is not to determine whether or not women can be made deacons, but to study what was done in the past.

Spanish Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a Sept. 8, 2015, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Vatican City, Jul 2, 2018 / 02:08 pm (CNA).- While a veteran Vatican journalist has suggested that the 2019 Synod of Bishops from the Amazonian basin might open the door to the appointment of women as deacons, recent comments from the Vatican’s doctrinal chief imply that is not likely to be the case.

In a July 1 blog post, veteran Vatican journalist Sandro Magister argued that Pope Francis this year has made three major “u-turns” on key topics, noting that the pontiff has not been clear on whether the “reversals” are “definitive and sincere.”

Magister cited Francis’ about-face on Chilean Bishop Juan Barros, who until recently led the Diocese of Osorno, but who resigned in June in wake of the country’s massive clerical abuse scandal and accusations of cover-up.

He said Francis has also been inconsistent in his positions on intercommunion, saying the pope’s answer to a question about the topic while visiting a Lutheran church in Rome was favorable, whereas in May of this year he shut down a proposal by German bishops to publish guidelines on intercommunion, saying the topic needed further reflection.

Finally, the journalist said that while Francis has expressed personal opposition to the ordination of women to the priesthood, he has allowed senior prelates to vocally express openness to the idea. Magister cited a comment made by Vienna archbishop Cardinal Christoph Schonborn in April, which suggested that the topic of women’s ordination could be considered in an ecumenical council.

On the topic of deacons, Magister cited the working document for the 2019 Pan-Amazonian Synod of Bishops, which says that the synod “must identify what type of official ministry can be conferred on women.”

Based on this text, Magister speculated that the region “will see the ordination of the first women deacons. And then who knows?”

Though Magister seems firm in the idea that the “official ministry” to be addressed at the synod on the Amazon will include the diaconate, the text is not specific about what ministries might include women, making it difficult to determine what sort of roles the synod council has in mind.

Among the Church’s official roles which are likely to be up for discussion during the 2019 meeting are the “ministries” of the lector and acolyte, which are presently open only to men.

At a June 8 press briefing announcing the working document, which is entitled “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology,” Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Vatican office of the Synod of Bishops, avoided giving a clear answer to the question of the women participating in some kind of “diaconal” ministry, but offered a clear “no” to women’s priestly ordination.

In comments to the press, Baldisseri said there is a need to “create space for women in the Church at all levels,” but stressed that these spaces “are the ones that the doctrine of the Church teaches and the current discipline.”

The Church, he said, is “very prudent” and will leave it up to the discussion to decide what new ministries and spaces can be created for women in the region, but always in line with “her classic position, her teaching and discipline on priesthood from the Latin Church.”

In the 1994 text Ordinatio sacerdotalis, Pope St John Paul II authoritatively declared “that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women,” saying that priestly ordination “from the beginning always been reserved to men alone.” The document did not explicitly mention deacons.

Buzz about the possibility of ordaining women as deacons first flared up in 2016, when Pope Francis established a Study Commission on the Women’s Diaconate, naming current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, as head of the 12-member group.

Since his appointment to the commission Ladaria has been mostly silent on the issue. However, in comments to the press June 26, the prelate said the group’s job is not to determine whether or not women can be made deacons, but to study what was done in the past.

“It must be said that the Holy Father did not ask us to study whether or not women can be deaconesses,” Ladaria said. “This is not what the pope asked of us, but rather, [he asked us] to try to say in a clear way what the problems are and what the situation was in the ancient Church on this point of the women’s diaconate.”

“We know that in the ancient Church there were so-called deaconesses: what does this mean? Was it the same as deacons, or was it something different? Was it a large, or rather local reality?”

Among the questions studied by the committee are what roles early Churchwomen played as “deaconesses,” and whether the Church understood their commissioning for that role to be equivalent to sacramental ordination.

Ladaria explained that the commission has studied the subject at length and will soon pass their conclusions to the pope.

“So it is not our duty to say: ‘Holy Father, you can ordain deaconesses.’ No, this is not what the pope asked us.”

Whether the topic of the women’s diaconate will be discussed during the 2019 Synod on the Amazon region remains to be seen. And while Magister seems confident of the outcome in this regard, Cardinal Ladaria appears to have another conclusion in mind.

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  1. Panic, everyone panic, the sky is falling, the sky is falling!!! This is discussion with suggestion to Francis. Everyone needs to calm down.

  2. If the lector and acolytes are men-only, why do we have women reading and alter-serving? Seems like verbal gymnastics to me, and it certainly will resonate with the sheeple in the pews who don’t understand that the lay reader and the alter-serves are NOT the same as a lector and acolyte although many are commonly referred to as such.

    • Brian, when I wan altar boy and a lecture women were not held to any esteem in the church. They were restricted from the altar, they could not distribute holy communion and much more. 95% of clergy pedophilia is committed by males. The Vatican recognition of a female Deaconate could be a sweeping change to church doctrine. The only stumbling block is the hierarchy.

      • When you were a boy, nobody but a priest could distribute Holy Communion, so neither laymen nor laywomen could (and would that this were still the case).

        “Women were not held to any esteem by the church [sic]:” Flapdoodle. When you were a boy female saints were venerated, especially Our Lady. Nuns were admired and respected. Women’s groups did sterling work in supporting the Church – altar societies, various religious associations. I don’t know if your mother was as spiteful and bitter as you seem to be, but if so I pity any priest who had to deal with either of you.

        “95% of clergy pedophilia is committed by males.” Are you talking about in the Catholic Church? Because if so, it’s 100%, since there are no female Catholic clergy. And the “pedophilia” is in large measure not pedophilia but assault on adolescents by predatory homosexuals who ought never to have been allowed to become priests.

        We don’t need a sweeping change to Church doctrine, and the hierarchy is guarding the doctrine. I sincerely pray that the hierarchy will continue to be a “stumbling block” to changing the Church to the bizarre modernist idiocy that you seem to want it to be. Why, exactly, do you claim to be Catholic when I have never yet heard you say one single good thing about the Church and Her dogma and discipline?

      • 95% of clergy pedophilia is committed by homosexuals. The problem with clergy pedophilia is is homosexual lobby in the Church, not the clergy being male. There is no valid pretext for women ordination of any kind.

        • People need to stop confusing the relatively few cases of pedophilia with the overwhelming majority of abuse which was committed by homosexual ephebophiles. Both are intrinsically disordered sexual deviancies but if the ban on the ordination of homosexuals had been obeyed then there would have never been any occurrences of the latter.

      • Congratulations for the most idiotic comment I have ever witnessed on this site.

        All of your “comments” on this site have been thoroughly demolished and this one is not worth the time or effort.

      • As one woman convert noted, the purpose of creating women “priestesses” is to legitimize abortion, and all the rest of the sex revolution agenda.

        Power to the leftist ideologies.

  3. Nothing that Pope Francis says matters…nothing whatsoever. He will say anything at anytime to anyone…and tell the oppositecthing to someone else down the hall 5 minutes later.

    He has, by his own manufacture, zero credibility.

    I pray for a happy end of his papacy, now that he has entered year 5 of the purpose “Cardinal” McCarrick sited for the election of “his friend” – “Make the Church over in 5 years.”

    Google it using “Villanova McCarrick Francis 2013.” Go to the 1 he video, watch starting at min 17-22. Or take the dozens of shortcut clips to get the same info.

    McCarrick has just taught us what it all is about.

  4. I my opinion, putting more women on the altars is far from being a true priority of the Church and the New Evangelization. Rather, there is an elephant in the room that nobody in the Vatican or the world episcopate is concerned about and that is the fact that so few men take an active part in the life of the Church. More women involved in the liturgy would only be likely to further convince men that religion is a matter for women. When will Pope Francis or any Bishops Conference do something in order to get men involved? Of course, that is a more difficult task than involving women.

    • You are quite right. And the foot in the door was altar girls. “Oh, but it’s just not faiiiiiir that girls can’t serve…”

      I was at a parish council meeting some years ago where they discussed the request of an order of priests to have a day of sports and meeting with young men to discuss vocations. Some council members said huffily, “Well, what about the girls? It isn’t faiiiir that this is something just for boys!” My arguments that they could easily have a day for girls to meet with sisters to talk about being nuns, and in any case what they were doing was glorifying envy (“If I can’t have this nobody can!”) did no good; they rejected the request.

  5. The day I see a woman deacon on the altar is the day I leave the Roman Catholic Church. Women deacons in the early Church were not ordained. And they didn’t serve at the altar. Liberals always want to dialogue until they get their way. Enough!

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