So, What’s the Deal with Women Deacons Now?
The interwebs today don’t lack for opinions about this issue, now that Pope Francis has decided it needs to be clarified.
Let’s take a deep breath. A couple points need to be made.
First, Pope John Paul’s definitive document on Holy Orders refers exclusively to ordaining women as priests. It concludes:
Secondly, after that, the issue of women as deacons remained unresolved. That became clear —or more murky—after the Vatican’s International Theological Commission released its report on the diaconate in 2002, noting:
That “ministry of discernment” has been going on for a while now. A leading agent in that discernment, and an outspoken advocate for women deacons, has been Dr. Phyllis Zagano, who has written endlessly about this subject in books and essays. She even spoke bout a brief encounter with then-Cardinal Ratzinger some years back:
And so it is, and so it has been. But maybe now the study period is coming to an end.
An important point to be made about today’s development is summarized well in the CNS report, which indicates that what Pope Francis wants, above all, is clarity:
So, this issue is far from settled. No imminent change is on the horizon, and no one should think the pope’s comments today indicate a radical shift. It’s not. Mostly, he himself seems to be asking the question, “What’s the deal with women deacons, anyway?” He’d like some answers. So would all of us. Something definitive might finally put this issue to rest, one way or another.
Let’s see where all this goes.