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Pope Francis establishes new commission to study women deacons

By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA

Pope Francis leads a session of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon at the Vatican Oct. 8, 2019. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Vatican City, Apr 8, 2020 / 06:30 am (CNA).- The Vatican announced Wednesday that Pope Francis has created a new commission to study the question of a female diaconate in the Catholic Church, after some members of the 2019 Amazon synod requested the pope re-establish a 2016 commission on the subject.

Among the 10 theologians making up the new study commission are two permanent deacons, three priests, and five lay women. They hail from Europe and the United States.

Pope Francis first created a 12-member commission in 2016 to examine the historic question of the role of deaconesses in the early Church.

In May last year, he said that the commission had not reached any consensus which would soon lead to a plan of action, but would continue its study.

Speaking aboard the papal plane returning from North Macedonia and Bulgaria, the pope said “for the female diaconate, there is a way to imagine it with a different view from the male diaconate,” but added that “fundamentally, there is no certainty that it was an ordination with the same form, in the same purpose as male ordination.”

“Some say there is doubt, let’s go ahead and study,” he said in May 2019.

The institution of the new commission also follows the discussion of the female diaconate during the 2019 Amazon synod.

At the end of the Oct. 6-27 meeting, synod members recommended to Pope Francis that women be considered for certain ministries in the Church, including the permanent diaconate, which is an order within the sacrament of Holy Orders.

Pope Francis said in his closing remarks for the Amazon synod Oct. 26 that he would re-open the 2016 commission, possibly adding new members, based on the synod’s request.

But in his apostolic exhortation on the Amazon, published Feb. 12, Pope Francis called for women in the South American region to be included in new forms of service in the Church, but not within the ordained ministries of the permanent diaconate or priesthood.

Francis wrote in Querida Amazonia that when considering the role of women in the Church, “we do not limit ourselves to a functional approach.”

The subject of women deacons has previously been studied by the Church, including in a 2002 document from the International Theological Commission (ITC), an advisory body to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

In the document, the ITC concluded that female deacons in the early Church had not been equivalent to male deacons, and had neither a “liturgical function,” nor a sacramental one. It also maintained that even in the 4th century “the way of life of deaconesses was very similar to that of nuns.”

According to the April 8 Vatican announcement, Cardinal Giuseppe Petrocchi, the archbishop of L’Aquila, Italy, has been named president of the study commission. Fr. Denis Dupont-Fauville, a CDF official, was named secretary.

One of the two US-based members is James Keating, a permanent deacon and the director of theological formation at the Institute for Priestly Formation (IPF) based at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.

A theologian, he leads the IPF’s retreats for seminary faculty and seminary formators. Keating is also the author of several books and articles on holy orders and the diaconate.

The second American member of the commission is Dominic Cerrato, a permanent deacon and director of diaconal formation in the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois.

In the past Cerrato has taught theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he established the Distance Learning Masters in Theology program. In 2014, he published a book on the theology of the diaconate based on the personalist thought of Pope St. John Paul II.

Other members of the commission include Fr. Santiago del Cura Elena from Spain and Fr. Angelo Lameri from Italy.

Barbara Hallensleben is a professor of dogmatic theology at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland and a former member of the International Theological Commission. She is also a member of the Pontifical Ecumenical Council.

Fr. Manfred Hauke is a German priest teaching theology in Lugano, Switzerland. He has published articles on the possibility of female ordination and feminist theology, among other subjects.

Catherine Brown Tkacz is a professor at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. Her research includes women in the Bible and Christian tradition.

Caroline Farey is a diocesan mission catechist for the Diocese of Shrewsbury in the United Kingdom. In the past she has taught at St. Mary’s College, Oscott. She was also one of three lay women to take part in the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization as an expert in 2012. Farey has also worked in the past in the Pontifical Academy for the New Evangelization and Catechesis.

Anne-Marie Pelletier is a French biblical scholar, who was chosen by Pope Francis to write the meditations for the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum on Good Friday 2017. Pelletier was also a 2014 recipient of the Ratzinger Prize.

Rosalba Manes is also a bible scholar, teaching in Viterbo, Italy.

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  1. Nice.
    There is absolutely no end to this BS. And, Yes, dear pewsitter, you are funding this Kabuki dance entirely.
    This farce will continue until Francis gets the answer he has always desired. The meetings, the conferences, the studies are all absolute BS.

    • This question has been resolved. No further “discussion” need take up time or space. The willingness to accept the pronouncement of St. Pope John-Paul II on the matter is a cross the Church of dissent continues to load on the faithful.


  2. If the subject of women deacons was ALREADY studied in 2002 by the International Theological Commission, linked to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which found that in our Catholic past women deacons were in reality “… not been equivalent to male deacons, and had neither a “liturgical function,” nor a sacramental one” and that “the way of life of deaconesses was very similar to that of nuns”, WHY does Pope Francis appoint ANOTHER commission? Why does he willfully insist by saying: “Some say there is doubt, let’s go ahead and study”?

    Who are those “some” who keep bringing in “doubts” about the Historical and Sacramental REALITY of the Catholic Church? Are they 100% Catholics or Expert World-Appeasement Hybrids? Do they hope to change and do transgender-style surgery on History by making more and more commissions and more and more studies, trying to build a very false Legitimacy-By-Committee, hoping to find somewhere a “hidden right” to Sacramental Abortion, just like a “hidden right” was invented and manufactured for the abortion of the unborn?

    Do they claim absolute superiority over Jesus, True Man and True God, and His Apostles and the Church Fathers? There’s a delirious, bottomless dark arrogance behind all this and we True Catholics should RESIST this, as our consent in one way or another is ESSENTIAL for this calamity to be “legitimized”. Calamity? Yes!! Just look at the results of female “clergy” in Protestant Churches, as it has been the way to total compromise with the corrupt world and even more splits in their churches.

    If worse comes to worst, through dictatorial imposition of Francis (so far disguised as “committee studies”), we should reject those false women “deacons” and not participate and/or go along with them in anything. Christ-Like True Charity is not major-lies-enabling, ever. Let’s not be complicit, therefore guilty, of Sacramental Abortion and Truth Transgenderism, whatever may come. Yes, we DO have a card to play in all this, a VERY important one. If we get excommunicated by a Pope who decides to excommunicate himself, we are not excommunicated at all. ONLY JESUS IS GOD, NO ONE ELSE!!

    • Can’t help but sense the female deacons (we’ll have to use deacons term for the same reason female priestesses insist on being called priests) thing will play out the same way the mass did. We’ll eventually have parishes with female “deacons”, parishes without them, Tridentine rite parishes, SSPX parishes etc. Oh, the joy that only relativism can bring to modernism.

      • Dear Judith, If we stay loyal to that Holy Tradition and the example of our holy ancestors who faced 8 bad Popes and were never intimidated by papal authority and manipulative false respect and shame, those future churches with women “deacons” WILL follow the example ALREADY set by Protestant Denominations, they will split up and move away from us seeking their own “glory”. It will be a tough time of purification, but we were INDEED born for a time like this by God’s Invincible Almighty Will!! Darn the demonic torpedoes!!

  3. The Holy Father would do well to practice some basic parenting: when a decision has been made, doing what a child wants just because he whines and whines and whines and whines and whines and whines and whines and whines and whines just means that every time he doesn’t get his way he will whine and whine etc. it’s bad for the child and for the family.

  4. The pope said “for the female diaconate, there is a way to imagine it with a different view from the male diaconate,” but added that “fundamentally, there is no certainty that it was an ordination with the same form, in the same purpose as male ordination.”

    The members actually sound like very good picks. So, no harm done. The most imaginative new study consensus, if any, would likely be a redundancy–duplicating the relatively new role of Lay Ecclesial Ministers rooted in Baptism and Confirmation. (Except that males would be excluded!)

    Instead, better no “doubt” to simply rediscover this existing path as it is, than to create an ambiguous wedge-novelty (with a surely nuanced form or purpose) toward future ordination–to be predictably exploited by the synodal-path that is still confined to Germania (analogous to an epidemic rather than a pandemic).

    Ecclesial “distancing” (?) clearly aligned with earlier commission findings, this is with “certainty” a policy for any truly imaginative (outside-the-box) commission to consider…

    • As you so well said: “Instead, better no “doubt” to simply rediscover this existing path as it is, than to create an ambiguous wedge-novelty (with a surely nuanced form or purpose) toward future ordination–to be predictably exploited by the synodal-path that is still confined to Germania…”. These WEDGE-NOVELTIES with the devious purpose of future ordination and Sacramental Abortion (throwing the Sacrament of Holy Orders into the satanic latrine of Irrelevancy and then into Political Weaponizing, like Homosexuality has done with the Sacrament of Marriage, etc.) must be REJECTED.

      What has been done in the General Society is now being done in the Catholic Church. We are being MARX-IFIED, because we were the primary target from long ago and all along. Right at the Beginning, Satan used Eve’s weakness (thirst for power) to destroy God’s perfect Creation and now wants to use women again to destroy His Re-Creation, the Church. These “female deacons” will be quickly overrun by dark activist women (very available in activist, socialist, homosexuality-approving nuns, “reputable” liberal lay women, etc.), waiting for a “foot in the door”, with a greater thirst for power than Eve ever had and who have totally equalized themselves to the most TOXIC MEN and totally despise the most HOLY MEN and WOMEN.

      We should RESIST a Pope who is more interested in novelties and childish dreams and fantasies that into being the FULLY ADULT Vicar of Christ, a title he is already sidelining. Adult-Childishness is not just a “cute” personal defect, it is a direct path to spiritual death, criminality in all areas and the collapse of civilization. I saw it in the eyes of many of the inmates I worked with as teacher/counselor and especially in serial killers. No, it’s not “cute” and neither is it a “fabulous” novelty at all.

      We are being Childified and Criminalized. Very “maternal” women “deacons” will open the door to THAT darkness. That sets the stage for the Marxist and Satanic Kingdoms as it already has in so many in this world. Mary, The Greatest Mother Ever, had, has and will always have Total Surrender to the Heavenly Father and so should we. ALWAYS. The FATHER calls us to be FULL ADULTS in Christ (Ephesians 4:14-15). No anti-God childishness will enter Heaven. EVER. Resist every way you can and that God provides!! All for His Glory!!

  5. I don’t listen to this man anymore.His words would be entirely meaningless to me if there were not so damaging to the Church.

    Go to Mass and receieve the Sacraments and pray for him.

  6. At times it seems like Henrik Ibsen Auguste Strindberg’s Battle of the Sexes. The great Apostle strict paternalist bordering on misogyny demanded women remain silent at Mass with heads covered, never, ever to teach men or have any form of authority over them. More Abrhamic than Christian? Since Saint Paul women have ruled nations, empires Catherine the Great Tsarina of All the Russias, Victoria Queen of England Empress of India, Jeanne D’Arc commander of French knights in battle with England, down to the nuns who taught me smacked me yanked my hair when prankish. Norwegian Ibsen’s ideological cortege Catholic progressives, feminists, effeminates, and an honest priest or two. Swede Strindberg’s cortege Catholic traditionalists, ultramontanists, machomen, and an honest priest or two. The Pontiff ever canny is guiding the process toward an apparent desired end obliquely, calling commissions as if badgered, posing loaded questions, seeming detached. That end the ordination of women to an ecclesial rank that doesn’t amount to much except as a stepping stone to the priesthood. A Shakespearean faux tragedy King Claudius who murdered the Amazonia Synod the brooding Cardinal Hamlet Marx. Except Hamlet in this theatre of the absurd will delight when the Final Amazonia Draft is resurrected. Just a foreboding opinion.

  7. Donations across the globe are tanking due to a pandemic. People are hurting for food, clothing, and shelter, and the Pope has money to spend on this??

  8. Good grief! I can just imagine it:

    “Where’s Fr. ________ this morning?”

    “Haven’t you heard? He announced his engagement to the female deacon and they are now living together seeking to get married.”

    “But what about her current marriage?”

    “But what about his sacred vows?”

  9. Reminds me of the Victoria Police and Prosecutor and Pell…keep rolling the dice until the weighted set arrives and gives the desired number, and then declare it God’s will.

    This is all in case the pronouncement of history and prior papacies has changed since the LAST studies…history is slippery, you know? Something might have changed there while everyone was busy with the ChiCom virus, and the utterly rigged Amazon “synod” did make the request to look again, and we can’t ignore what a rigged “synod” request asks, can we?

    Well, one can always hope….

  10. Cutting out paper dolls while the Church collapses and the world burns. He never fails to disappoint except for when he scandalizes.

  11. An utter waste of time and money in an attempt to validate feminist ecclesial ideology. How long, oh Lord? How long??

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