Most religious superiors in U.S. support ordaining women as deacons

Almost three-quarters of responding superiors said they think it is possible to sacramentally ordain women deacons, and that the Church should do so

(image from Crisis Magazine)

A survey of both male and female religious superiors in the U.S. found that most believe that the Church can and should ordain women as deacons.

Almost three-quarters of responding superiors said they think it is possible to sacramentally ordain women deacons, and that the Church should do so. Only 45 percent, however, believe the Church will do so.

The survey, released this week by The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University (CARA), reached out to all 777 U.S. religious institutes and societies of apostolic life. These included members of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM), the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), as well as 137 contemplative women’s groups.

Only men may be ordained priests under Catholic teaching. Pope Francis has reiterated on numerous occasions that this doctrine is definitive and cannot be changed. However, non-ordained female deacons were part of the early Church, although it is not entirely clear what their role was.

The question of female deacons has recently resurfaced amid Pope Francis appointing a commission to look into the historical role of female deacons in the ancient Church.

Of religious superiors surveyed, 76 percent had known about the commission. Most – 84 percent – believed that ordaining women as deacons would create at least some greater call for women priests.

Pope Francis has acknowledged that the subject of women deacons has already been studied by the Church, including a 2002 document from the International Theological Commission, and advisory body to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The document, which gave a thorough historical context of the role of the deaconess in the ancient Church, overwhelmingly concluded that female deacons in the early Church had not been equivalent to male deacons, and had neither a liturgical nor a sacramental function.

Heading Francis’ commission on the study of women deacons is Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Luis Ladaria.

In June 2018, Ladaria clarified that “the Holy Father did not ask us to study whether or not women can be deaconesses…but rather, [he asked us] to try to say in a clear way what the problems are and what the situation was in the ancient Church on this point of the women’s diaconate.”

Full story at Catholic News Agency.

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Comments

  1. Missing from the article is the percentage of those surveyed who responded. Also missing is the portion of male superiors compared to female superiors who favored female deacons.
    I’m surprised that, overall, forty five percent believe the Church will permit such ordinations. To me, that seems very high.

  2. Any time a “survey” finds “almost three quarters” of respondents agreeing on anything, time to look for another “survey”…and surveys of what exactly? Who responded? All 777? How many of those actually are forming nuns and priests, and how many are having bake sales, yoga classes and water color classes just to keep their infirmaries open?

    Sorry, I’m calling Holy BS on this survey…but it’s a welcome distraction from homosexuals in seminary.

  3. The logical consequence is that most religious superiors in the US don’t really have Catholic faith. Doesn’t surprise me.

  4. St. Christopher says:

    So What? This is a completely false issue, the proverbial “red herring.” The only purpose of women deacons is to establish that woman can be “ordained.” Then, after a short period of “establishing a great track record,” the drumbeat for women’s ordination will begin. Satan never sleeps and he wants the Catholic Church eliminated as a model to help Mankind toward salvation. That is what this “poll” represents (if it is even accurate).

    Ignore the poll. Ignore the issue. Women cannot be “ordained” in any capacity. Why, the thought is “inadmissible.”

  5. I don’t recognize the church anymore.

  6. The article does not mention what portion of those surveyed actually responded. Also, the article does not give the breakdown between male and female superiors.
    I’m really surprised 45% think the Church will take action along these lines. That seems very high.

  7. Steve Seitz says:

    I checked my two history books and found only the following deaconess reference which is from the expansive “A Summary of Catholic History” Volume I, page 114 by Fr. Newman Eberhardt:

    “The next pope, St. Cornelius (251-253) states that the Roman clergy included 46 priests, 7 deacons, 7 subdeacons, 42 acolytes, and 52 exorcists, lectors, and porters. Lay assistants were chanters, sextons, diggers, and deaconesses. The latter, The Apostolic Constitutions later affirmed (VIII, 28), ‘does not bless’; she merely ‘guards the doors and ministers to the priests when women are baptized for sake of decorum.'”

    [Continued on Next]

  8. Steve Seitz says:

    [Continued from Previous]

    I’m not familiar with the Apostolic Constitutions that were referenced, but it appears to be from circa AD 375. The document was a bit confusing, but the deaconess appears to have been at the same level as a reader and singer.

  9. Deacon Craig Anderson says:

    There is much more than can be stated here. While there were deaconesses, there were never women ordained as deacons, involving the sacrament of Holy Order. One needs to simply look at their roles in the church and the differences in ordination ceremonies between deacons and deaconesses to see that. (“Ordinations” were not always to Holy Orders. Kings, abbots, abbesses and others were “ordained,” including by God, to serve in their offices. That does not mean they shared in Holy Orders).

  10. Elizabeth T. says:

    A VERY SLIPPERY SLOPE……….

  11. They fail to see the example of Our Lady – she did not need to be one of the twelve in order to have her “dignity as a woman respected”.

  12. helen wheels says:

    When Jesus was in public ministry,
    He was always taking surveys.

  13. mchicha wacheza says:

    These are the people supposed to be teaching the faith?

    Probably LCWR types responded…

  14. Forget female deacons. Just find 100 more Pia de Solenni s and make them chancellors, or what the heck, Cardinals.

    • Dan, an education at Thomas Aquinas College helped Pia de Solenni become who she is today. In just 40 years, with an alumni population of just a few thousand, this college has turned out 72 priests! An amazing number given the school’s small size, but when an institution takes the Faith seriously, and passes it on truthfully, students blossom. Pia de Solenni is a credit to her alma mater, which given time, will produce even more lights in a dark world. 🙂

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