More on Women as Deacons

Phyllis Zagano, the member of the papal commission cited earlier (Women and the Catholic Church – A Twofer), contributed a longer and more substantive article to NCR (here). Her article also links to much more information. It turns out that the CRUX article previously cited omitted a good deal of important information. I suspect those omissions were not simply oversights.

While CRUX said that the Second Vatican Council officially made the diaconate a “permanent vocation” - currently with about 18,000 positions in the U.S. - CRUX failed to mention that Vatican II more-or-less said women were eligible: “only after the Council closed did Pope Paul VI manage to get a definitive answer on the history of the work of women deacons and the facts of their ordinations. The answer, rendered by a member of the International Theological Commission, Cipriano Vagaggini, was ‘yes.’ That is, women were ordained and functioned as deacons.”

In other words, had Vatican II (and Pope Paul VI) lasted a little longer, women would almost certainly be deacons today. But it turns out that popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI practiced “benign neglect” and declined to rule on it. In 2016, Pope Francis created his special commission to study the issue, and has done nothing further to date. This would seem to be a no-brainer, but even that’s a strain for folks in the Vatican.


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