Monday, March 4, 2024
22 C
Sydney

Deacons decision on hold

Marilyn Rodrigues
Marilyn Rodrigues
Marilyn Rodrigues is a journalist for The Catholic Weekly. She also writes at marilynrodrigues.com. Email her at [email protected]
Dr Phyllis Zagano, an advocate for the ordination of women to the diaconate and one of 12 scholars appointed by Pope Francis to the commission to study the diaconate in the early church and to ascertain the possibility of ordaining women, spoke at an online seminar organised by Liturgy on the Margins and supported by Catholic Religious Australia. Photos: youtube

Top advocate says Rome statement on women deacons won’t come soon

The Vatican is unlikely to make any statement on the possibility of women to the diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church until after the conclusion of the international bishop’s Synod on Synodality next year, said international expert Dr Phyllis Zagano.

Dr Zagano was one of 12 scholars appointed by Pope Francis in 2016 to the commission to study the diaconate as it existed in the early Church to ascertain the possibility of women deacons.

The Pope said their research was inconclusive and in 2020 reconvened a new commission to examine the question.

Addressing an online seminar on 3 September held to coincide with the feast of St Phoebe, who is recognised as a deacon saint in Orthodox churches, Dr Zagano referred to an “ongoing battle” for the female diaconate and she believes the interest has only grown in Australia over the 10 years since she last visited the country.

Though known for arguing strongly for ordination of women to the diaconate, Dr Zagano said that in many places women acolytes, lectors and particularly catechists hold important roles, and in some places what may be needed is greater investment in lay parish leaders rather than widening the scope for ordination.

But she said the discussion about the female diaconate had become circular, and she “can’t imagine that the Holy Father would be able to make a statement about the topic before the Synod on Synodality in 2023”.

I can’t imagine that the Holy Father would be able to make a statement about the topic before the Synod on Synodality.” – Dr Phyllis Zagano

Australia’s Plenary Council motions, which are yet to be sent to Rome, includes a recommendation that should the universal law of the Church be modified to authorise the diaconate for women, that the Australian bishops examine how best to implement it in the context of the Church in Australia.

It comes as the Church in other countries undertakes similar discussions in the lead up to the Synod on Synodality called by Pope Francis for October 2023 in Rome. German bishops voted in favour of women deacons earlier this year as part of the country’s current synod path process.

More than 100 people joined the two-hour seminar organised by Mercy Sr Elizabeth Young of Liturgy on the Margins and supported by Catholic Religious Australia.

Another speaker, associate professor Anthony Gooley of the Broken Bay Institute and a deacon of the Archdiocese of Brisbane said the permanent diaconate is vital but often undervalued, misunderstood, and lacking necessary support in the life of the Church.

Ordination of women to the diaconate should “not be a means to increase the power or representation of women or to replace a shortage of clerics elsewhere, any more than the ordination of any man as a presbyter, bishop or deacon should be made for the purpose of increasing their power or the shortage of clerics.

“It must be affirming of our faith, affirming our faith in the tradition and affirming this history,” he said.

Related:

Vote on women throws Plenary into crisis

- Advertisement -