Pope Francis says no plans for female deacons, but study continues

Some in the Vatican commission have concluded that historically the female diaconate was different from the role of male deacons

Pope Francis’ in-flight press conference returning from North Macedonia May 7, 2019. (Credit: Andrea Gagliarducci/CNA.)

Pope Francis said Tuesday that the Vatican commission exploring the possibility of female deacons continues its study, but does not have any consensus that would lead soon to a plan of action.

“For the female diaconate, there is a way to imagine it with a different view from the male diaconate,” Pope Francis said May 7 during an in-flight press conference returning from North Macedonia and Bulgaria.

“Fundamentally, there is no certainty that it was an ordination with the same form, in the same purpose as male ordination. Some say there is doubt, let’s go ahead and study,” the pope said.

Much of the Pope Francis’ May 5-7 visit to Bulgaria and North Macedonia was dedicated to ecumenical dialogue with Orthodox Christianity. Among the differences from Catholicism, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has female deaconesses.

During the in-flight press conference, Pope Francis revealed that some in the Vatican commission have concluded that historically the female diaconate was different from the role of male deacons, namely without sacramental ordination.

“For example, the formulas of female deacon ‘ordination’ found until now, according to the commission, are not the same for the ordination of a male deacon and are more similar to what today would be the abbatial blessing of an abbess,” he said.

Pope Francis said that others in the commission hold that there was  “a female deacon formula,” but it is not clear whether it was a sacramental ordination or not.

Full story at Catholic News Agency.

Comments

  1. Deacon Craig Anderson says

    The study has already been done. As Eastern Catholics, we honor some Saints who were deaconesses. The Orthodox are right, and they have the “ordination” rites from the early Church. A deaconess was not the same as a deacon. The ordination rites and functions were different. Deaconesses were not ordained to what today in “the West” would be call the major holy order of the diaconate. Frankly, it is a rather simple fact of history. Cardinal Gerhard Muller, formerly head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote a book on this. If they want to study restoring deaconesses, that’s all well and good. Women deacons are an entirely different issue. For example, consecrated virgins and the (so-called “permanent”)…

    • Anonymous says

      It is my understanding that in the early Church, for a little while, they had women deaconesses, who were lay women, and went to minister to only Christian laywomen, not laymen. They did not have any public function, at a Mass or other liturgy, never preached, taught, not had any public function– and were not a part of the ordained clergy, that role was for men. The post-Conciliar lay roles of Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion to the Sick, in the Latin-Rite Church, may be comparable.

    • Anonymous says

      Later, in early Christendom, more and more religious orders of nuns began to form, and it seems probable that Christian women desired to leave the world and join them, and be consecrated lifelong, to God.

  2. Anonymous says

    The religious vows and life of Consecrated Virgins also looks very comparable to the religious life and work of the early Christian deaconesses— except I am not sure if the deaconesses were virgins– I think some were married.

    • Anonymous says

      The ancient deaconess also may be comparable to the Consecrated Virgins, recently revived in the Latin Rite Church. I am not sure, however, if the deaconesses were virgins– I think some were married– not sure. Anyway– I think that in Northern Europe, for awhile, historically– some Protestants revived the role of the deaconess– as Protestant laywomen, serving only other laywomen in their church (not men) — acting in capacities of religious work combined with nursing, social work, etc.

    • Anonymous says

      I think that in Northern Europe, for awhile, historically– some Protestants revived the role of the deaconess– as Protestant laywomen, serving only other laywomen in their church (not men) — acting in capacities of religious work combined with nursing, social work, etc.

  3. helen wheels says

    can some solon direct me to the
    “study” and the “commision” that
    our Lord Jesus Christ conducted
    when he chose 12 MEN to be Apostles ??
    more “democracy” run riot:
    do the Scriptures lay out the “consenus”
    that determined 12 rather than some other number
    and MEN rather than Women ??

    • I remember when there were no such things as a “deacon” in the Catholic church. What are they? “Let’s pretend priests”? Of course they will have women deacons! They won’t be happy until they have women priests.

      • Chris, you really don’t remember when we didn’t have deacons. We have always had them. It is in the Bible. When three Priests are on the altar at a TLM, one is the Celebrant, on is the Deacon, and one is the Sub-Deacon. Part of the process of becoming a Priest is to be ordained a temporary Deacon. A Bishop, in fact, often wears a version of a deacon’s chasible under his chasuble. What you may not remember is the “Permanent Deacon,” whiich is recently reivised. There are thousands of them in the church today. They are not make-believe Priest.

  4. helen wheels says

    another question:
    does PF conduct these in-flight
    press conferences cuz it’s
    harder for his audience to get up and walk out?

  5. Anne TE says

    What is it about Pandora that she wants to keep opening that box to see what is in it, then when all the stuff comes flying out, and hits the fan, she runs to the men to put everything right again.

    Kind of like all the women who wanted female sports writers in the men’s locker rooms who are now complaining that they do not want men in the women’s restrooms, locker rooms, etc. Cant’t have it both ways girls. (to be continued.)

  6. Anne TE says

    (Continued.) By the way, the Eastern churches had deaconesses because they insisted on immersion; the West solved that problem, or so we thought, by just pouring the water over the head.

    Keep it simply. I am all for the later since it is hard to find a whole lot of water in a desert, or while baptizing at an automobile accident site.

  7. Anonymous says

    Speaking of deaconesses– there are a great many Protestant lady ministers in America, today– and many are extremely liberal. I almost died when Hillary Clinton announced during her presidential campaign– her plans to become a Methodist lay minister (not sure what that is!).

  8. Deacon Craig Anderson says

    Thanks for many good contributions. Indeed, it appears that at least same deaconesses were wives of deacons. Just don’t try calling my wife that! In some Eastern Catholic (and Orthodox) Churches, the wives have the title of “Presbytera”! It is clear to everyone that she is not a presbyter/priest, but rather, the wife of a priest; that is, someone who married a man who was subsequently ordained a priest, as in our Eastern Catholic Churches.

    • Thank you, too, Deacon Anderson,for the correction about the eastern title. I am sure you and your lady do it all the proper way. When I go to a Divine Liturgy, I do as the other congregants do as that is their rite, and we are all entitled to our own rites. God bless all, and sorry if I was too touchy about the whole subject.

  9. Anne TE says

    Regarding my post about Pandora, I was referring to all those dissidents who will surely try to make of deaconesses something that they never were nor should be — ordained priestesses. How they are used in the east was the proper way — only when necessary to serve and help teach women.

  10. How long did it take the sufregettes to get the vote? No wonder some twenty first century women consider themselves second class citizens in the Catholic Church and vote with their feet on the way out the door.

    • Anonymous says

      Well, mike m., St. Mary Magdalene— a former prostitute!– was blessed to be the first to see Jesus, after He rose from the dead! She also was blessed to become one of His first Christian Saints! Religious rivalries for personal power and glory are useless! We should all work hard to seek Eternal Life in Heaven with Christ, at life’s end!

    • bohemond says

      Mike m I will gladly hold the door open for them

  11. drewelow says

    ‘just for study purposes’ has been the mantra of the iranians regarding their vast nuclear program.

  12. Vladimir says

    What a disaster! Pope Francis should institute women deacons, or deaconesses, as soon as possible. Doing so would be good for the Church.

  13. helen wheels says

    don’t worry Vladimir,
    they’ll keep studying the
    issue until they get the result
    they want. by the way, your
    last name wouldn’t happen to be Putin ??

  14. Tony de New York says

    ‘Doing so would be good for the Church.’

    WRONG!!!

  15. Vladimir says

    Helen: is your last name really wheels? Very funny! My last name is a very common Russian last name but I can assure it is not Putin!

  16. helen wheels says

    Eez-ven-eet-ya, Vlad’
    let’s grab a cup of coffee
    on Nevsky Prospect
    your “droog”
    Helen

  17. helen wheels says

    very common
    i get it
    Vladimir “Johnson”

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.

Speak Your Mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.