Pope institutes commission to study women and the diaconate

Pope institutes commission to study women and the diaconate

[Six men and six women under the commission president; no breakdown yet of their positions except that the National un-Catholic Reporter member is a avid advocate for female deacons]

Catholic World News – August 02, 2016

Following up on comments made in May, Pope Francis has instituted a 12-member commission to study women and the diaconate.

Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, SJ, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will serve as the commission’s president.

Among the members of the commission are Father Robert Dodaro, president of the Patristic Institute Augustinianum; Sister Mary Melone, rector of the Pontifical University Antonianum; and Phyllis Zagano, a National un-Catholic Reporter columnist and author of several books on women and the diaconate.

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3 comments on “Pope institutes commission to study women and the diaconate

  1. [Post-script to the Regina Coeli report on the above]


    Let us never forget to whom the merit belongs: if “deaconesses” are ever “ordained”, we must do justice and call it The Vangheluwe Reform, in honor of confessed nephew-molester Bp. Roger Vangheluwe, who led the charge in favor of this move.

  2. Fr. Z rates some of the commission members and his observations on the process and results [in brackets] and one of his commenters rates one {in braces}:

    Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria, secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, serving as president [This is good news. He was involved with this question before.]

    Francesca Cocchini, faculty member at Rome’s La Sapienza University and the Patristic Institute Augustinianum [We’ll see.]

    Msgr. Piero Coda, president of Rome’s Sophia University Institute and member of the International Theological Commission [Okay.]

    Augustinian Fr. Robert Dodaro, president of the Patristic Institute Augustinianum [Excellent.]

    Franciscan Sr. Mary Melone, the first female president of Rome’s Pontifical University Antonianum [This is probably good news.]

    Salesian Fr. Aimable Musoni, ecclesiologist at Rome’s Salesian Pontifical University [Good news.]

    Marianne Schlosser, theologian at the University of Vienna and member of the International Theological Commission {Quite a conservative theologian and a consecrated virgin.}

    Phyllis Zagano, senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University in New York [Not good news but predictable.]

    [First, it won’t get underway until, probably, October, or after. They’ll have to set some parameters, which will take time. Then the members will have to read a lot of stuff, which will take time. Then they will have to write some stuff, which will take time. Then it’ll have to be collected, which will take time. Then it will have to be collated and distributed to the other members, which will take time. Then it’ll have to be studied and mulled over, which will take time. Then reactions and responses must be penned, sent in, collated, studied, boiled down into precis, which will take time. There will have to be meetings of some or all of the members, which will produce a few headlines, which will waste time. In a nutshell, I doubt this will be swift. Either way, I don’t see that such a commission (with mostly serious people) will suggest that sacramental ordination of a woman to any level of Holy Orders is possible. This is because, at the end of the day, after all the historical work is rehashed (such as what did “Holy Orders” and “ordination” means waaaay back when), they will have to deal with key questions of what do “Holy Orders” and “ordination” mean TODAY.]

  3. [More on Phyllis Zagano and the commission as well as a little more on some of the other commission members]

    Pope’s deaconess commission includes women’s priesthood supporter

    Claire Chretien

    VATICAN CITY, August 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — An American professor appointed to Pope Francis’ newly announced Special Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women subtly advocates for women’s ordination to the priesthood, and several other appointees have expressed questionable theological views.

    Pope Francis announced the members of the commission on Tuesday. In May, he promised a group of religious sisters that he would set up a commission to study the question of women deaconesses.

    “After intense prayer and mature reflection,” Pope Francis decided to set up this commission, the Vatican announced in a press release. Rorate-Caeli translated the press release into English and noted that former Bishop Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges, an admitted sex abuser, has long championed deaconesses.

    One of the 12 commission appointees is left-leaning Hofstra University professor Phyllis Zagano, a well-known advocate for women’s ordination to the diaconate. She has spoken at events sponsored by organizations that promote women’s ordination to the priesthood. The Catholic Church has long held women’s ordination is an ontological impossibility because Jesus ordained only men and their masculinity is essential to their priesthood and their ability to act in the person of Christ (in persona Christi).

    Pope St. John Paul II wrote in his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, “the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

    Because only a baptized man can validly receive sacred ordination (CCC 1577), and the diaconate is a part of the sacrament of holy orders, only men are permitted to be ordained deacons. Many scholars point to women in the early Church as non-ordained deaconesses, but some argue that they were actually ordained in this role.

    Zagano is one of the most prominent holders of this position, which opens a wide door to arguments for women’s ordination to the priesthood.

    “There is overwhelming historical evidence that women were ordained deacons by bishops intending to perform a sacrament. If women were sacramentally ordained deacons and the diaconate shares in the sacerdotal priesthood … then women have already shared in the sacerdotal priesthood,” Zagano wrote for America magazine in 2013.

    “The humanity of Christ overcomes the limitations of gender, and no church document argues an ontological distinction among humans except documents that address the question of ordination,” she continued. “This view is not likely to dampen growing worldwide enthusiasm for women deacons.”

    In September 2015, just days before Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, Zagano spoke at a Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW) conference in Philadelphia. WOW dissents from Church teaching that women cannot be ordained as priests. It also embraces and promotes the LGBT cause.

    The dissident group welcomed Pope Francis’ announcement, saying in a press release that it was “encouraged” by the creation of the commission. It praised the commission’s “gender-balanced” and “lay-inclusive” appointments and mentioned Zagano by name, noting her past participation in the 2015 conference.

    In May, Zagano spoke at a teleconference sponsored by FutureChurch, a group that rejects the Catholic Church’s teaching that Jesus ordained his disciples at the Last Supper. FutureChurch advocates for women priests.

    Zagano’s appointment to the Vatican commission “can’t be necessarily viewed as an honorary post,” Michael Hichborn, the president of the Lepanto Institute, told LifeSiteNews. “Every debate requires someone to take the pro position and someone to take the con position. If Professor Zagano was appointed to act as a devil’s advocate, I can’t think of a better person to fill the role, provided that a competent individual with equal zeal for defense of orthodoxy were appointed opposite her.”

    “The greater question truly is ‘why is this up for discussion?’” he continued. “St. Paul, speaking with the Holy Spirit, fully condemned an ordained female deaconate in both his letter to Timothy and his letter to the Corinthians. Specifically, St. Paul says, ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet.’ Ordained deacons read the Gospels in Mass, give sermons, and officiate weddings, funerals, and baptisms. If a female were permitted to be ordained as a deaconess, she would then have the authority to teach in Mass (as in a sermon), and she would have authority over men to confer three of the seven sacraments. All of this was condemned by St. Paul.”

    Another appointee, Italian Sister Mary Melone of the Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Angelina, is the first woman to lead a pontifical university. Throughout her career, Melone has spoken about the need to expand the role of women in the Church. She has rejected the argument that female deacons will lead to female priests but speaks “less [openly]” about the topic, Crux reported.

    However, conservative priest and popular liturgy blogger Father John Zuhlsdorf wrote that it is “probably good news” that Melone is on the commission.

    Pope Francis also appointed German priest and theologian Father Karl-Heinz Menke to the commission. Pope Francis appointed Menke to the International Theological Commission in 2014. Menke has insinuated that the Church needs to change its approach toward the role of the laity. Menke was a student of Pope Benedict XVI and seems to portray himself as a centrist. He has also been a theological adviser to the German Bishops’ Conference.

    During his now-infamous plane interview during which he said the Church must apologize to homosexuals, Pope Francis said he asked Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, and Sister Carmen Sammut, president of the organization of religious sisters to which Pope Francis promised the commission, for input on who should be appointed to the commission.

    The special commission will be led by Jesuit Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, the Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    Another of the commission members is Augustinian Father Robert Dodaro, who edited Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, a book dismantling the “Kasper proposal” to allow the non-abstinent divorced and civilly remarried to receive Holy Communion.

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