Update on Deaconettes

Did you remember that the Pope formed a Committee to study the question of female deacons?  Deaconettes?

Right.  Not exactly on the top of the list of things to think about.

Archbishop Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, the Secretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith is the one who is running, at the behest of the Pope, the Committee on Deaconettes.   He is rather retiring, so this interview at ZENIT is interesting, to say the least.

There were questions on other topics, but this one requires special attention.

INTERVIEW: Feminine Diaconate: ‘Only Study, No Decisions Right Away,’ Says Archbishop Ladaria


ZENIT: One last question. We know that the Pope recently appointed the President of the Commission of Study on the Feminine Diaconate. Can this rediscovery eventually foster the ecumenical dialogue or rather hurt it?

Archbishop Ladaria: In my opinion, at this moment the Pope wants to make an objective study, not to come to a decision, but to study how things were in the early times of the Church. This study doesn’t pretend to have an ecumenical scope. The desire is to give the Holy Father some elements of judgment and nothing more. The Pope has said that “this aspect should be studied, especially in the early times of the Church.” It must be a serene reflection without pressures and without the urgency to come to a decision in a short time.

Soon…. they are going to, you know, take some time and turn all the rocks over and looooook underneeeeeeeeath them, and then study the results and write about their observations.  Then they will send their papers in to be collated.  That’ll take a while.  Then they will need time to read and to reflect on what everyone else is saying.  In turn that will drive them back to studying the question again, with new points of consideration.  They will reeeeeeeead and thiiiiiiiink…. and refleeeeeeeeecct….

Yep.  Nope. This is going nowhere, folks.  Nowhere verrrrrry sloooooowly.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Unwilling says:

    “how things were in the early times of the Church”
    Hmm. Would that be a criterion for validity of doctrine or practice?
    Wouldn’t it be “rigid” to look backwards to make decisions now?
    Or is the far past (i.e. Tradition) only relevant if convenient?

  2. AnthonyJ says:

    I read that the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria unfortunately is going to approve deaconettes.

  3. kiwiinamerica says:

    If I substitute the words “communion for the divorced and civilly remarried” for “female diaconate” in this passage, I get an overpowering feeling of deja vu.

    Ladaria’s words about “serene reflection” are totally reminiscent of the early stages of the current Amoris laetitia fiasco.

    It’s comin’….

    [Noooooo…. not.]

  4. stuartal79 says:

    Anthony J, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria is not approving them to have the same roles as men. Not even close, in fact. My understanding is they will minister exclusively to women.

  5. AnnTherese says:

    This is not important. The Pope is addressing hostility in our world and Church, which is far more critical than Church structure.

    Don’t worry. Women can take care of themselves. We get done what needs to get done– with or without the Church’s blessing.

    [It’s important only … only… to those who want it soooooooo much because it might lead to other things!]

  6. William Tighe says:

    ” the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria is not approving them to have the same roles as men”

    Yes, there was seemingly a clarification that it was the ancient “lay office” of deaconess that is being revived’ not the creation of “female deacons.”

  7. Michael_Thoma says:

    The Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch has always had deaconess, they are blessed as singers in the choir for the Divine Liturgy and other Liturgical celebrations. They are also bound to pray the daily office, and commit to the Church and their bishop, as well as the Patriarch.

  8. The Masked Chicken says:

    “…but to study how things were in the early times of the Church.”

    Well, in my early days, I had pimples – I can’t really see the selling point.

    The Chicken

  9. Archicantor says:

    The following comment from a learned Anglican theologian, Eric L. Mascall (1905-1993), writing in 1972 when the rumblings for women’s ordination in Anglicanism had greatly intensified, seems very much on point:

    It is furthermore important not to misunderstand the suggestions, (in some cases even the demands) emanating from certain Roman Catholic circles for the ordination of women to the priesthood. Some of these rest upon no theological basis at all and are merely typical of a temperamental desire to destroy all the inherited structures of the Church and to assimilate the Catholic religion to the trends and outlooks of the contemporary secularised world. Some of them, however, manifest a praiseworthy wish to give the Church’s life a wider and firmer foundation than that of post-Tridentine scholasticism. It is important to remember that it is a common practice in the Roman Catholic Church to question the truth of a statement or the legitimacy of a practice in order to elicit the fundamental reasons for the truth or the real grounds of the practice; thus, to give a famous example, St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologiae raised without qualms the question whether God exists. In a communion in which nothing is likely to be upset overnight there is a lot to be said for this method; it is well exemplified by the resolution which was submitted by Cardinal Flahiff to the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October, 1971, on behalf of the bishops of Canada, urging the immediate establishment of a mixed commission to study in depth the question of the ministries [sic] of women in the Church. While it was understood that this did not exclude the question of the priesthood (and indeed no comprehensive study could), it was emphasised that there was no desire to prejudge the question or to make recommendations as to time or mode of further action. There is thus no justification for Anglicans to urge such Roman stirrings as providing an example for precipitate imitation, or for saying “Rome is going to ordain women, so let us get in first”. This is not, however, the first case in which the tentative reopening of a question by Roman Catholic bishops or theologians has been taken by over-enthusiastic Anglicans as an invitation to jettison traditional positions of doctrine or practice.

    At least Pope Francis is clear that study does not portend an “overnight upset.” But I expect that some Catholics will do exactly what Mascall was warning Anglicans not to do, i.e. jump to the conclusion that “study” is a face-saving precursor to an inevitable (if dubiously justifiable) change. They have the example of us Anglicans to justify that erroneous fear/hope. We always fall for it when our leaders “study” things that they fully intend to change.

  10. SenexCalvus says:

    Hey, y’all, it only took Pope Bergoglio three years, from the announcement of the Synod on the Family to the leaking of his letter to the Argentine bishops, to undermine an unbroken tradition dating back to apostolic times. How long do you think it will take him to institute a change with genuine historical, albeit it sacramentally ambiguous, precedent? I’m going to make most of you angrier than hornets by agreeing with the feminists on this point: it’s not on his agenda. He has no real desire to cede any of his tyrannical power, even to the women whose cause he professes to advance by readmitting their philandering husbands to the Sacraments. I’d have had more respect for the man if he had chosen this path to worldly acclaim than that of contradicting the express words of Our Lord on marriage and of St. Paul on receiving the Blessed Sacrament.

  11. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    A note suggesting the Alexandrian Greek Orthodox are also embarking upon study:


  12. Absit invidia says:

    Since Pope Francis closed the door rather tightly on women priests, how can anybody pursue this any longer with any real energy?

  13. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Absit invidia: the spiritual powers never tire in their assaults. We do not battle against flesh and blood.

  14. mariadevotee says:

    Sounds like ” so we’ll get back to you in a couple of hundred years on this” One of the reasons I love Holy Mother Church. I think it will die a natural death.

  15. My local secular newspaper had a two-page spread on this. It may not go anywhere, but it can still waste lots of our energy in the process.

  16. James in Perth says:

    Sorry, Fr. Z. My gut reaction is the same as kiwiinamerica. Placate, divert, then ambush.

  17. JonPatrick says:

    There are two kinds of studies. Those that actually objectively study an issue, and those that are merely a cover to justify a predetermined outcome. We don’t know which one this is yet.

  18. robtbrown says:

    JonPatrick says:

    There are two kinds of studies. Those that actually objectively study an issue, and those that are merely a cover to justify a predetermined outcome. We don’t know which one this is yet.

    There’s a third kind of study–bureaucratic delay. This is especially effective for a pope who is 80 yrs old.

  19. cl00bie says:

    I remember when I was growing up, I would ask my mom for something. Her “yes” meant “yes” and her “maybe” meant “no”. She didn’t want a confrontation right then, and wanted to kick the can down the road a little.

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