Will 2020 Be the Turning Point for Women at the Vatican?

Download and Distribute a Quick History of Women Deacons in French

Download and Distribute a Quick History of Women Deacons in Portuguese

Download and Distribute a Quick History of Women Deacons in German

Download and Distribute a Quick History of Women Deacons in Italian

Download and Distribute a Quick History of Women Deacons in Japanese

Women in the Church

Can ordaining women as deacons bring women back to the Church?

Illinois Public Radio Talks with Phyllis Zagano About Women Deacons

Phyllis Zagano and Heidi Schlumpf talk about the commission.

Questions of Faith by Dan Cocoran

Should catholic priests be able to marry? Should women be allowed to be ordained as deacons? NBC Owned Television Stations across the country conducted an anonymous survey of Catholic Church employees. The results provide a unique perspective on how Catholics in America are served by their dioceses, parishes, schools and other ministries.

Download and Distribute a Quick History of Women Deacons in English

Ancient and medieval liturgies document women were ordained as deacons by their bishops within the sanctuary during Mass, in the presence of the clergy through the imposition of hands by the invocation of the Holy Spirit; they self-communicated from the chalice; the bishop placed the stole around their necks. These women were called deacons. Deacons minister the diakonia of the Word, liturgy, and charity to the people of God.

Download and Distribute a Quick History of Women Deacons in Spanish

Las liturgias antiguas y medievales documentan que las mujeres eran ordenadas diáconos por sus obispos dentro del santuario durante la misa, en presencia del clero a través de la imposición de manos por la invocación del Espíritu Santo; se comunicaban del cáliz; el obispo colocaba la estola alrededor de sus cuellos. Estas mujeres eran llamadas diáconos. Los diáconos ministran la diakonia de la Palabra, liturgia y caridad para el pueblo de Dios.

Andrea Grillo and Pierluigi Consorti on women deacons (in Italian)

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.

Women and Armenian Church Breaking Patriarchal Barriers

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.

Excerpts of Pope Francis's comments on women deacons on the plane from Bulgaria in English

Pope Francis explains the need for more study of women deacons.

Pope Wants Wider Discussion Women Deacon's Commission Member Zagano Says

"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."

Francis Decision on Women Deacons Cannot Be Made Without Historical Foundation

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's dialogue with UISG at their assembly in May 2019

Pope Francis explains why there is a need for more study

Pope Wants Wider Discussion on Women Deacons, Commission Member Zagano Says

In speaking publicly about the disagreement among the members of the Vatican's commission on the history of women deacons in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis is seeking to broaden the conversation on the issue, said one member of the group.

Pope Francis on Women Deacons (Video on plane)

Video clip from plane with Pope Francis speaking about women deacons.

What If Anything Does the Commission Agree On?

Start at 15:15

Pope Francis: No Plans for Female Deacons But Study Continues

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.

Video of Pope Francis's discussion of women deacons with UISG at their assembly in May 2019

Starts at 15:50-20:00, then Question in German until 22:22 Then Answer 22:22-29:24

Poep Francis Says Commission on Women Deacons Did Not Reach Agreement

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.

Francis Says Women Deacons Commission Gave Split Report on Their Role in Early Church

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.

Pope Says Study of Ordaining Women Deacons So Far Inconclusive

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 Commission on Female Deacons Disagrees on Ordination

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 McElwee Asks Pope Francis about women deacons in Bulgaria and the work of the commission on the papal plane

Joshua's question begins at 11:10.

Santa Clara University discussion of women deacons with Phyllis Zagano

Women in Ministry speaker series.

Phyllis Zagano at the Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles: Women Deacons: Who are They? What did They Do?

Phyllis Zagano talks about the history and role of women deacons for religious educators.

Women Deacons: Who Were They? What Did They Do? by Phyllis Zagano at the LA Religious Ed Congress

Workshop by Dr. Phyllis Zagano: "Women Deacons: Who Were They? What Did They Do?"

CCA Writes Pope Francis to Urge Ordination of Women Deacons

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.

Most US Bishops Say They Would Ordain Women Deacons if Vatican Gives OK

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.

Members of Papal Commission for Women's Diaconate Make First Public Comments

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.

I Got a Glimpse of the Future of Women Deacons and It was Troubling

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.

Women's Place at Pope Francis' Right Hand?

Live Stream: The Future of Women Deacons

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.

Vatican commission members: Women served as deacons for a millennium

America Media's interview with commission members Phyllis Zagano and Pottier, S.J.,

Compliance and Resistance

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.

Standing Behind Jesuit Head of University after He Voices Support for Women Deacons, Vatican Reinstates Him

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.

Women Deacons: An invitation to listen to the Holy Spirit?

Annemarie Paulin-Campbell wonders what the Holy Spirit may be saying to the Church and asks if the Church is really listening.

Study: US religious orders overwhelmingly back women deacons

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.

CARA Survey of Religious Institutes: The Sacramental Ordination of Women as Deacons

PDF of the full study report from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University

Study: Most US major superiors think women deacons 'theoretically possible'

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.

Deacon commission won't advise Francis on ordaining women, says doctrinal chief

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.

A return to church tradition on women deacons

Phyllis Zagano reviews two new books in Italian which have joined the expanding conversation about women in the diaconate.

'Holy Saturday' to be published in Spanish

Phyllis Zagano's ground-breaking work on women deacons will be available in Spanish starting April 17th.

What's the problem with women deacons?

Nothing, says this scholar...

What's the Problem with Women Deacons

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.

Most American Catholic Women Want The Church To Have Female Deacons, Poll Finds

HuffPost looks at a recent study conducted by CARA and commissioned by America Media.

Armenian Church of Iran has deaconess for first time in 100 years

Ani Kristi Manvelian has been serving at the Church for about 15 years, and she was ordained a deaconess in the fall of 2017

Ecumenical Exploration of the Diaconate

May 2018 Conference exploring the diaconate in Anglican, Roman Catholic and Ukrainian Catholic churches

Innsbruck bishop advocates for women deacons

The newly appointed bishop of Innsbruck is advocating for women deacons.

FutureChurch, the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, and Voice of the Faithful launch DeaconChat

Three organizations have joined together to promote discussions between lay and ordained around the issue of women deacons.

Witness by Phyllis Zagano

Women Deacons: Sebastian Gomes Interviews Phyllis Zagano

Phyllis Zagano and Luke Hansen talk about women deacons with Sebastian Gomes.

Armenian Women Deacon Chanting

This video shows a women deacon chanting

Not a Novelty: The Eastern Orthodox Case for Deaconesses

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 on Male & Female Diaconate Conference

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware believes women deacons were and should be equal to male deacons.

Registration for Conference at St. Phoebe Center

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.

Francine Cardman discusses Women Deacons on April 23, 2017

“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 voices openness to re-introducing women deacons

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 of the Pontifical Council for Culture Expresses Openness to Women Deacons

Cardinal Ravasi is the first high level official to express his openness to women deacons.

Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria Performs First Consecration of Deaconesses

First group of women are consecrated as deaconesses under Patricarch Theodoros.

Prayer Service at Ignatian Spirituality Center for Commission

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 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.

Women Deacons Won't Solve the Church's Problems

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 Aquinas Lecture on Women Deacons

Carolyn Osiek reflects on the current commission and the origins of our tradition of the diaconate.

Deacons, Women, and the Call to Serve: Parts II and III

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.

The Diaconate and the Future of Ministry

Video 1 of Roundtable on Deacons, Women, and the Call to Serve

Deacons, Women and the Call to Serve

A special web round-table discussion sponsored by America Media and the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture.

The Diaconate—History and Present Practice

Vatican commission on female diaconate holds first meeting

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. "

Women deacons, Stephen Hawking and more all in a week’s work

Patriarchate of Alexandria to restore deaconess ministry

The Alexandrian Orthodox Church intends to restore the institution of deaconesses which existed in the early centuries of the Orthodox Church

Women Deacons, Set in Stone by Michael Peppard

"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.

Association of U.S. Catholic Priests Statement Regarding Ordination of Women Deacons

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.”

Women Deacons and Subsidiarity in a Fragmenting Church by Massimo Faggioli

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."

On Women Deacons

The Jesuit Post sits down with Luke Hansen, SJ, who interned with FutureChurch this past academic year, to discuss women deacons.

Diverse, diligent panel gets female deacons talks off on right foot

" 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."

Commending Phoebe

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."

Stop Shaming Women Seeking Equal Power in the Church by Jamie Manson

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.

Chicago Attorney Explores Becoming Female Catholic Deacon

Lynne Mapes Riordan shares the communal discernment process that led her to pursue the diaconate in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Women deacons? Yes. Deacons? Maybe.

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.

With holy orders, hierarchy can't have it both ways

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."

The Burden of Proof Concerning Women Deacons by Sarah Butler

Sara Butler, who is strongly opposed to the ordination of women, writes about the Commission to Study the Diaconate of Women.

Women Deacons: What Happens Next?

Hear from Phyllis Zagano as she prepares for the Commission on Women Deacons to which she has been named.

Members of Francis' women deacons commission express diverse views

Joshua J. McElwee explores some of the views and opinions that members of the Women Deacons Commission have already expressed.

Women Are Ready for the Diaconate. Is the Church Ready for Them?

Cynthia Bowns wants to be at the head of the line if women deacons are restored.

Deacons Commission: A Grand Jury to Nowhere? by Ken Briggs

"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?"

Who's on the Vatican Commission to Study Women Deacons

Praytellblog has a good overview of the members appointed to the commission

Pope Francis’ Commission on Women Deacons Involves “High Stakes,” Member Says

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.

Pope Francis Appoints Panel to Study Women Deacons: Q&A With a Member

Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D. sits down with the New York Times for a short Q&A

Global sisters group thanks Francis for creating commission on women deacons

"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.

NCR: Francis Institutes a Gender Balanced Commission to Study Female Deacons

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.

CNN: Pope Francis Creates Commission to Study Women Deacons

"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.

AMERICA: Vatican Announces a Commission to Study Women Deacons

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.

FutureChurch is hopeful that new Commission will recommend restoring Women Deacons

“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.

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich's Statement on Commission to Study Women Deacons

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.

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