Should The Catholic Church Ordain Women As Deacons?

By Michal Ortner

Gay marriage and divorce have been placed on the controversial back burner as the Vatican discusses ordaining females into the role of deacon. Canadian Archbishop, Paul-Andre Durocher, proposed the idea on October 6 as a way to give women more opportunities to serve in the church.

“The only way a woman can fully ‘obtain’ many church offices is by ordination — by becoming a cleric — and the ordinary way to enter the clerical state is by ordination to the diaconate,” said Phyllis Zagano, a leading expert on women deacons and a researcher at Hofstra University in New York.

Currently, only men are allowed to be deacons within the Catholic Church. Ordained deacons are permitted to preach, administer baptisms, and officiate at weddings and funerals. They do not take on the role of the confessional.

“I think we should really start looking seriously at the possibility of ordaining women deacons because the diaconate in the church’s tradition has been defined as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry,” Durocher said on Tuesday.

Each of the 270 bishops at the synod are given 3 minutes to express any concerns they have for the church when they attend the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Durocher used his 3 minutes to point out the “sad and dramatic reality” that women are considered less than in society.

Women “continue to suffer discrimination and violence at the hands of men, including their spouses,” he stated.

According to Durocher, there is no Scriptural reason why women should not fulfill this type of role. He also noted the Scripture about women submitting to men. He does not believe that this should give men the right to abuse or overpower women.

In his speech, he said that he interprets Paul as saying that “we have to make a concerted and clear effort to make sure that there is no more degradation of women in our world, particularly in marriage. And I said, ‘Well, here we are 30 years later and we’re still facing these kinds of numbers.'”

He received both positive and negative feedback for his suggestion. More conservative thinkers such as Chad Pecknold, a theologian at the Catholic University of America, are opposed.

“If you’ve opened the diaconate to women, you are opening up the door to female priests,” Pecknold stated.

In response, Durocher explained that “the diaconate in the church’s tradition has been defined as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry.”

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