Francis and the Deaconess Study Commission

At Crux Charles Collins (quondam Vatican Radio speaker) has some cleared-eye comments on recent remarks made on an airplane trip by Francis about the possibility of the ordination of women to the diaconate.

In his view, and I agree, Francis established the commission to study the problem in order to give him cover for not doing anything about women’s ordination.

Francis will address a big group of women religious soon, and the topic could come up, as it did the last time he addressed them.  He can now point to that commission – which, predictably, failed to come to any solid conclusions – and exclaim, “The experts just don’t know!”   It must be observed that the commission was comprised of people with diametrically opposed positions.  Of course they weren’t going to come to any firm agreement.

But the fact of the commission remains and Francis isn’t going to do anything.

Let’s see the last part of Collins’ piece:


Despite the pontiff’s claim that the work of his commission “can be an impetus to go ahead and study and give a definitive answer, yes or no,” his response on the papal flight can’t do anything but deflate the hopes of those wanting to see women ordained to the diaconate[Right.  It isn’t going to happen.  Ever.]

Of course, this raises the question: Why establish the commission in the first place?

Francis actually answered the question himself three years ago, even joking about it: “There was a President of Argentina who said – and advised other presidents of other countries – When you don’t want something to be resolved, create a commission!

The pontiff had been asked on the papal flight from Armenia in July 2016 about the promise to create the commission he made while meeting members of the International Union of Superiors General a few weeks earlier.

Francis told the reporters he was “surprised” the promise had been publicized in the manner it was, and “a little bit angry” with how the media had reported the issue.

But a commission was made, and much was made of how voices in favor of women’s diaconal ordination were given a seat. [Because the lefty catholic media missed the punchline.] Less attention was given to the fact that several scholars opposed to the idea were also placed on the commission.

Anyone who had reported on this issue in the past would know that such a commission would never reach a consensus – in fact, if that were the aim, scholars who had not been vocal advocates for either side would have been better picks.

But now, to paraphrase the unnamed Argentine president, nothing is resolved, and the pope can only shrug and speak about how the commission could go no further.

This will be good to keep in mind this October, when the Vatican hosts a Synod on the Amazon region, where participants have already said they will discuss the possibility of married priests.

It’s just the sort of idea a pope might want a panel of experts to explore.

Now I wonder if those people who, in other matters, channel their inner Mottram and claim that every word that flows from Francis’ lips is part of his magisterium will now obediently accept that women are not going to be admitted to the diaconate.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Great article to help us see a perspective through which we normally don’t perceive what’s going on. Thanks for sharing, Father!

  2. hilltop says:

    ‘Inner Mottram”! If only I had a gold star to award, it would go to Fr. “Rex” Z!

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