On May 12, 2016 Pope Francis announced that he will create a commission to study the possibility of restoring the tradition of ordaining women deacons in the Catholic Church.
Follow this special section to stay up to date and get insights and commentary on all the news and developments!
Andrea Grillo and Pierluigi Consorti. Andrea Grillo, theologian, is a professor of Theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum of Rome Anselmo, Pierluigi Consorti, canonist, teaches Canon Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Pisa.
The Armenian people are clearly a mirror of the world. We are no exception. We have witnessed changes in Armenia and in the diaspora that reflect improvement concerning gender equality. There is one institution, however, that is lagging. Society is moving so quickly that this respected anchor appears to be static. It happens to be the most important institution and therefore the opportunity is significant. This, of course, is our beloved Armenian church.
Pope Francis explains the need for more study of women deacons.
"I don't know what the Holy Father gave to Carmen," she said. "We left in June and I don't even know if we're being called back." Zagano said the discussion about the role of women deacons in the early church had been going on for centuries. "I would like to see what can be public and have the broader discussion happen, formally and informally," she said. "Because history alone is not dispositive. As the Holy Father has said, the church is not a museum." "I think that the discussion needs to go beyond the historical," said Zagano. "History alone cannot decide the matter."
Pope Francis announced May 10 that he has given the report of the Vatican commission studying the history of women deacons in the Catholic Church to the global umbrella organization of women religious that requested the group's creation three years ago.In a nearly hour-long audience at the Vatican with members of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), the pontiff repeated his earlier remarks that the 12 members of the commission had been unable to come to agreement about the role of women deacons in the early centuries of Christianity.
Pope Francis explains why there is a need for more study
Video clip from plane with Pope Francis speaking about women deacons.
Pope Francis said Tuesday that the Vatican commission exploring the possibility of female deacons continues its study, but does not have any consensus that would lead soon to a plan of action. “For the female diaconate, there is a way to imagine it with a different view from the male diaconate,” Pope Francis said May 7 during an in-flight press conference returning from North Macedonia and Bulgaria.
Starts at 15:50-20:00, then Question in German until 22:22 Then Answer 22:22-29:24
In a press conference on the flight from Skopje to Rome, Pope Francis revealed that the commission he set up two years ago to examine the role of women in the early church did not reach agreement on the question of women deacons. He said the members of the commission had quite different positions, and after two years it stopped work. He made clear that the issue needed further study but did not say who would do this work.
The Vatican commission studying the history of women serving as deacons in the Catholic Church has been unable to find consensus on their role in the early centuries of Christianity and is yet to give a "definitive response," Pope Francis said May 7.
As Pope Francis prepares to meet next week with a group of superiors of women’s religious orders, he said Tuesday that a commission to study the possibility of women deacons he established in 2016 in response to a request from that group ended without a clear conclusion. The commission, Francis told reporters aboard the papal plane, worked for two years and the answers from members “were all different.”
Pope Francis said Tuesday that an international commission of scholars has failed to reach a definitive conclusion about whether women were ordained as deacons in the early Christian church in the same way men were.
Joshua's question begins at 11:10.
Women in Ministry speaker series.
Phyllis Zagano talks about the history and role of women deacons for religious educators.
Workshop by Dr. Phyllis Zagano: "Women Deacons: Who Were They? What Did They Do?"
The following letter was approved by the CCA Board of Directors and sent to Pope Francis last week. We are writing to express our hope that the Church will soon be able to call forth women, as well as men, to serve as ordained deacons in the ministries of liturgy, word and charity. We are aware that a committee which you commissioned to study the possibility of ordaining women deacons is complete and its report is now before you.
A new study released on Tuesday found that a high majority of U.S. Catholic bishops and deacon directors believe that if the Holy See gives the green light to ordination of women deacons, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) would implement the practice.
A study he commissioned on the possibility of ordaining women deacons is complete and now on the desk of Pope Francis. Phyllis Zagano and Jesuit Fr. Bernard Pottier, two members of that commission, told a packed auditorium at Fordham University's Lincoln Center campus here that the evidence indicates women deacons have a long history in the church and that they are needed in ministry worldwide.
Last week, two members of the Pontifical Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women spoke publicly for the first time since their appointment.
Fr. Tom Rosica moderates a discussion between Commission members Phyllis Zagano and Fr. Bernard Pottier, SJ, faculty and Sr. Donna Ciangio, OP, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Newark.
America Media's interview with commission members Phyllis Zagano and Pottier, S.J.,
With the theme “Compliance and Resistance” the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology, and Religion conference was held November 8-10, 2018 at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Cultural Center in Somerset NJ. OCAMPR exists to facilitate Orthodox Christian fellowship, dialogue and education of professionals in religion, psychology and medicine.
The Vatican has reversed a decision made earlier this year and has confirmed that a Jesuit theologian who voiced positive views on homosexuality and the ordination of women deacons may begin a third term as head of a prestigious university in Germany.Father Arturo Sosa, general superior of the Society of Jesus, announced on Nov. 15 that Father Ansgar Wucherpfennig has been reinstated "with immediate effect" as rector of the Jesuit-run Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology at Frankfurt am Main, an institute Father Sosa oversees as Grand Chancellor.
Annemarie Paulin-Campbell wonders what the Holy Spirit may be saying to the Church and asks if the Church is really listening.
Associate Press coverage of a recently released Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate study which reveals that 77 percent of both male and female superiors in the U.S. believe such ordination is theoretically possible, and 72 percent think the church should go ahead and authorize it.
PDF of the full study report from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University
The study was released by CARA on Aug. 2, the second anniversary of Pope Francis creating a commission to study the women's diaconate. It surveyed all 777 leaders of Catholic men and women religious orders in the U.S., and got responses over a four-month period from 385, or just below 50 percent.
Speaking to press June 26, 2018, Ladaria, the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the “primary objective” of his commission is to consider what role women who served as deacons in the first centuries of Christianity were fulfilling.
Phyllis Zagano reviews two new books in Italian which have joined the expanding conversation about women in the diaconate.
Phyllis Zagano's ground-breaking work on women deacons will be available in Spanish starting April 17th.
At least 25 years ago the late Archbishop of New York Cardinal John O’Connor told me there were secret discussions in Rome about restoring women to the ordained diaconate. The problem, he said, was that they could not figure out how to ordain women as deacons and not as priests.
HuffPost looks at a recent study conducted by CARA and commissioned by America Media.
Ani Kristi Manvelian has been serving at the Church for about 15 years, and she was ordained a deaconess in the fall of 2017
May 2018 Conference exploring the diaconate in Anglican, Roman Catholic and Ukrainian Catholic churches
The newly appointed bishop of Innsbruck is advocating for women deacons.
Three organizations have joined together to promote discussions between lay and ordained around the issue of women deacons.
Phyllis Zagano and Luke Hansen talk about women deacons with Sebastian Gomes.
I watched with interest in August 2016 when Pope Francis made good on his promise to convene a commission to study the female diaconate. I was especially attentive to this development because I am a supporter of the renewal of the order of deaconesses in my own church—the Orthodox Church. Later last year I was astonished when one of the self-governing churches of the Orthodox world, Alexandria, decided to revive the female diaconate in Africa and proceeded to consecrate five women as deaconesses this past February. These moves by the Synod of Alexandria surprised those of us in the United States working on this issue—we did not know the female diaconate was even under consideration by the African church. Rarely does anything happen this fast in the Orthodox world.
Metropolitan Kallistos Ware believes women deacons were and should be equal to male deacons.
There will be a Pan-Orthodox conference on the renewal of the diaconate (male and female) at the St. Phoebe Center in Irvine, California from October 6 - 7, 2017. Read more.
“The Ministry of Women, Then and Now: Can there be Women Deacons?,” will be held Sunday, April 23, from 2 to 4 p.m., at St. Agnes Church Hall, 22 Boston St., Middleton. The discussion, led by Francine Cardman, will cover women’s ministries in the early years of the Catholic Church and how it relates to the current discussion of female deacons. Refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public; free-will donations are appreciated. For more information, call John and Barbara Gould at 978-535-2321.
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn OP has voiced cautious openness towards re-introducing the female diaconate in the Western Church, saying it was once a centuries-long tradition and continued to be practiced in the East.
Cardinal Ravasi is the first high level official to express his openness to women deacons.
First group of women are consecrated as deaconesses under Patricarch Theodoros.
The Ignatian Spiritual Life Center at Saint Agnes Parish in San Francisco, CA will host an evening of prayer for the ongoing work of the Study Commission on the Women's Diaconate. Catholics around the world can join this prayer service via live-streamed video at www.facebook.com/catholicwomendeacons. The prayer service will remember and honor the women in history who served the Church as deacons, give witness to women who-- today -- experience a call to the diaconate, and call upon the Holy Spirit as the Commission continues its work. We encourage you to consider hosting a gathering to pray along with the community gathered at The Ignatian Spiritual Life Center and around the world.
I think women deacons could help. I’ll avoid sweeping generalizations about women and our “natural” characteristics, and simply say that I think it’s always a good thing when more voices and more perspectives are added to a conversation. Hearing a woman preach or read the gospel in church is transformative. Male clerics themselves might find themselves transformed by having to listen to women in official capacities. Our conversation about who we are as a church will only get richer if we add women deacons.
Carolyn Osiek reflects on the current commission and the origins of our tradition of the diaconate.
I began to reflect on the fact that the Catholic priesthood has consolidated its power over the centuries to such a degree that the discussion of permanent deacons—even after they have been restored for almost fifty years—remains in its infancy.
A special web round-table discussion sponsored by America Media and the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture.
During the morning and afternoon sessions, members will study the situation of women deacons in the early centuries of Church history.
"The big question, of course, is whether – if the commission does rule that women deacons existed in the past – Francis will be willing to face down an inevitable backlash from conservatives who will argue that any move to create female deacons will cause “confusion” over teaching that only men can be ordained as priests. "
The Alexandrian Orthodox Church intends to restore the institution of deaconesses which existed in the early centuries of the Orthodox Church
"Those not predisposed to support women deacons in the present day often consider the initiative to be a recent, feminist, perhaps postmodern quest, an innovation unmoored from historical tradition. What often goes unnoticed in the discussion about women deacons, though, is how much of the ancient evidence comes from concrete archaeological discoveries." Michael Peppard shares just some of the archaeological and historical evidence in support of women deacons.
Faggioli explores the implications of localizing the discernment regarding the potential integration of women deacons. "[Such subsidiarity] suggests the fragmentation goes all the way down to local regions within a specific country, or even to the level of individual dioceses. Should we begin to see such fissures, we could be looking at a very different kind of map of the global Church."
NEW: Statement Regarding Ordination of Women Deacons • August 22, 2016 We who are entrusted with leadership on behalf of the one thousand members of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, welcome with praise and prayer the recent decision by Pope Francis to establish a commission regarding the possible ordination of women deacons. We praise the openness of this discussion and offer our prayers that the Holy Spirit will guide the members of the commission. We are pleased to learn that Professor Phyllis Zagano from Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, is one of the six women who have been named to serve with six men as members of the commission. We enthusiastically welcome these developments. We believe the ordination of women deacons will enhance pastoral ministry and serve the common good of the People of God. Our association has supported the ordination of women to the diaconate with a resolution adopted in our 2013 assembly, and with a letter to the U.S. bishops in 2014. We noted that many priests “find ourselves very stretched in ministry with more and more demands being made on us daily . . . . One way to help assist us in our duties would be to allow the ordination of women to the diaconate, a practice that was familiar to the early church, in order to help us better serve the people entrusted to us.” We believe that ordination is a matter of justice for women who are our associates and partners in providing ministry. Women have traditionally done 80 to 85 percent of the ministry of our Church. Since the restoration of the permanent diaconate following the Second Vatican Council male candidates were chosen among those who were already performing diaconal service. We see it as a matter of justice that women who likewise are leaders in such ministries not be deprived of the graces of the Sacrament.” Today we continue to speak on behalf of our members serving in dioceses and religious communities with day-to-day ministerial joys and challenges. Our experience leads us to believe that having men and women deacons as parish administrators would be more effective than closing parishes and establishing super parishes. We value the position of FutureChurch and other organizations of Catholics concerned about pastoral ministry. FutureChurch states that many women who lead parishes and serve as catechists and chaplains and in other ministries should be ordained. “In light of mission opportunities and pastoral needs, local Churches should be empowered to call forth women for the ordained diaconia of liturgy, word and charity.”
The Jesuit Post sits down with Luke Hansen, SJ, who interned with FutureChurch this past academic year, to discuss women deacons.
" It would sure be interesting to be a fly on the wall of any closed-door meetings with this commission made up of progressives, conservatives and moderates. One thing is certain after reading through the bios of all the members of the panel: they are all highly qualified experts to offer counsel on this matter."
The Editors of America share their perspective on the question of women deacons: "If the church discerns in light of its reflection on the historical and theological data and the current life of the church that, at a minimum, it enjoys the freedom to admit women to the permanent diaconate, then should we do so? Yes, we should."
Jamie Manson argues that women should not be accused of clericalism in the pursuit of equal power and authority within the Church, and addresses the failures of many conversations currently surrounding the question of women deacons.
Lynne Mapes Riordan shares the communal discernment process that led her to pursue the diaconate in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Thomas Reese, SJ makes the case for women deacons even if it hadn't been a historical reality... then goes on to promote an expanded role for ordained deacons today.
Sr. Christine Schenk, CSJ gives her take on the Women Deacons Commission in this concise, easy to read exploration of the many issues that have been raised: "It's good. And here are some reasons why."
University of Virginia Assistant Religious Studies Professor Nichole Flores: "Formalizing the social justice work Catholic women are already doing in a diaconal role could fuel the larger renaissance that has come with Pope Francis’ commitment to making the church more open; what he has called a “field hospital” dedicated to ministry to those in greatest need. A larger, more active and more robust diaconate could also tremendously impact mission work with the poor or dispossessed."
Sara Butler, who is strongly opposed to the ordination of women, writes about the Commission to Study the Diaconate of Women.
Hear from Phyllis Zagano as she prepares for the Commission on Women Deacons to which she has been named.
Joshua J. McElwee explores some of the views and opinions that members of the Women Deacons Commission have already expressed.
Cynthia Bowns wants to be at the head of the line if women deacons are restored.
"This special commission on deacons strikes me as another balloon that pleases the crowd but pops as it goes out of sight. The elements of the project don't add up. Gather a team of respected specialists, ask them to comb through the dusty archives for evidence pro and con and come up with what? Clear directions for creating women deacons with definite prohibitions against their going on to priesthood? Clear denials of women as deacons? A "no clear evidence one way or another"? Finally, is the diaconate inextricably linked to ordination to the priesthood?"
Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D. sits down with the New York Times for a short Q&A
Praytellblog has a good overview of the members appointed to the commission
Phyllis Zagano, who teaches religion at Hofstra University and who has written extensively about women deacons in the early church, told America she believes there are three questions to consider—two for the commission and one for Pope Francis.
"In the name of the International Union of Superiors General I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to Pope Francis for having given this follow-up to our request in May," said Sammut.
Pope Francis has created a commission to study the possibility of allowing women to serve as deacons in the Catholic church, following up on a promise made last May in what could be an historic move towards ending the global institution's practice of an all-male clergy. The commission includes U.S. professor Phyllis Zagano.
“With the creation of a commission that is composed of both women and men, and with members such as long time expert Phyllis Zagano and Sr. Mary Melone, FutureChurch is hopeful that this new commission will be able to review the historical evidence and recommend restoring women as ordained deacons in the Roman Catholic Church,” said Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director of FutureChurch.
Last May, Pope Francis indicated his willingness to appoint a commission to study the subject of women deacons. Today I welcome the news that he has done just that. From the earliest days of the church, women rightly served in key leadership roles. Still, the church must do better. Women deserve to be brought more fully into the decision-making of the church. I look forward to learning more about the work of the commission, composed of an equal number of men and women, as they bring their considerable talents to bear on this important subject in the life of the church.
In a press release issued this morning, the Vatican announced that "after intense prayer and mature reflection," Pope Francis has established a “Commission of Study on the Diaconate of Women” and named twelve members to it, six of them women, including one American—Professor Phyllis Zagano, who teaches at Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.
"After intense prayer and mature reflection, Pope Francis has decided to institute the Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women." As president of the commission, Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J. In addition to Archbishop Ladaria, the commission is composed of six women and six men from academic institutions around the world.
FutureChurch's own Russ Petrus and commssion member Phyllis Zagano are quoted in this detailed article about the commission, recently named by Francis, to study women deacons.
Phyllis Zagano, Cynthia Bowns, and others share their hopes for the diaconate in the Catholic Tradition.
The Forty-Third Annual Thomas Verner Moore Lecture will be given by Phyllis Zagano, Senior Research Associate-in-Residence in the Department of Religion at Hofstra University on September 24, 2016 at 8:00 PM Co-Sponsored by St. Anselm's Abbey, the Columbus School of Law, and the School of Theology and Religious Studies at CUA. Topic: "Women Deacons: Yes, No, Maybe?" Date: September 24, 2016 at 8:00 PM, reception follows Location: The Catholic University of America, The Columbus School of Law, Slowinski Courtroom
Anyone mildly acquainted with how the church works understands that it thinks in terms of millennia, and change comes in incremental steps, sometimes increments so small as to be indiscernible in the span of an individual life. In this sense, Francis' proposed commission is a leap forward. A study, however, is just a study, and the effort will surely be far more complicated than it sounds.
Phyllis Zagano reflects on the intersection of careerism and clericalism, and shares a hope-filled story of a priest who smells like his sheep...and maybe a bit of dumpster trash.
The latest salvo toward the stained glass ceiling came from Pope Francis on May 12, as he spoke in Paul VI Hall to the 900 members of the International Union of Superiors General following their triennial meeting in Rome. "Women deacons?" he was asked. Yes, he answered, I will ask the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for information, and also for a commission to study the question.
"Sister Carmen Sammut, president of the International Union of Superiors General said, “We are already doing so many things that resemble what a deacon would do, although it would help us to do a bit more service if we were ordained deacons…It is not a question of feminism, it’s a question of our being baptized, that gives us the duty and the right to be part of the decision-making processes.” -- Fr. Edward Beck fleshes out the ramifications of Francis' openness to the conversation on women deacons.
At an assembly of leaders of women’s religious orders, Pope Francis said he would set up a commission to study whether women could serve as deacons, ordained ministers in the Roman Catholic Church who assist bishops and priests. Some saw his remarks as a possible opening in the church’s all-male clergy. Should the Roman Catholic Church allow women to become deacons?
What can we expect from the commission on female deacons? All were excited when Pope Francis made his comments about establishing a commission to discuss the possibility of women deacons. He was speaking to a group of 900 women leaders of religious organizations and was responding to a question they had asked. Now that the dust has settled a bit on the story, it might be helpful to see if we can figure out how hopeful this latest move by Pope Francis may be.
Take our survey and let us know if you are called and if you support women deacons in the Roman Catholic Church!
I’ll admit it, I bought into the mass hysteria last week, and perhaps I should have known better. I woke up one day last week to a tweet from a Vatican reporter, whom I have met personally and with whom I have had a discussion about the particular topic in question, and I hit “retweet” immediately on the news that Pope Francis was setting up a commission to explore the question of women as deacons. Others picked up that same tweet as a dramatic shift in Church policy.
Phyllis Zagano lists some of the most important works on women deacons.
In this Spirit-inspired conversation, Dr. Zagano discusses her new book "Women Deacons? Essays with Answers," gives an excellent run down of the Church's conversation on women deacons, and shares her thoughts on the recently announced commission.