Time for Female Deacons in Catholic Church

The status quo, however, may remain for the time being.

Pope Francis is unequivocally clear that he is not in favor of women becoming priests in the Catholic church. The pope is closely watched by the media as his personal opinion has not stopped him from appointing a particular papal commission which will study whether women can be appointed as deacons.

The history of the Catholic church tilts in favor of women. This practice slowly died out in favor of men exclusively holding the position. A number of historians specializing in Roman Catholic church history point out that since there were women deacons in past, there can be women deacons in the present as well. A survey conducted among 1,508 American women self-identifying themselves as Catholics have found that they are ready to see women in the pulpit. Approximately 60 percent of them support the idea of permanent female deacons. This survey was conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in Apostolate. The work was commissioned by the America Media company.

Traditionalists balk at the idea of women deacons. They say that Jesus did not select women to be included in the Twelve Apostles. If this argument is followed, then it can be pointed out that Jesus did not select any gentiles as well. Following this logic means a shortage of priests as the profession would be restricted only to the Jewish Christians.

A permanent deacon can preach during Mass in the Catholic church. The person can also perform baptisms, conduct funeral services, and witness marriage. Both single and married persons can be appointed as deacons. The minimum age threshold is 35 years.

Changes do not come easily to the Catholic church. Talks of deep changes were suppressed during the preceding two papacies. Pope Francis is more open to changes than others. The present structure is amenable to have debates on change and serious conversation. This includes the addition of women in the church command structure. The pontiff, in 2016, appointed a special commission which studied the possibility of women serving the Catholic church as deacons. The emphasis on tradition and continuity within the Vatican means that the pope may not be much interested in changing things. The influence of modern society could be ignored on matters of women being ordinated. The commission was given only one order: to study the possibility through the glass of history as to whether women had earlier served as deacons within the Catholic church fold.


Follow the Conversation on Twitter