Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Pope Francis Says Commission on Women Deacons Did Not Reach Agreement, My Response- The Spirit is Moving in inclusive Catholic Communities Living Jesus' Example of Equality and Empowerment of Women Now

But, the pope said, “there is no certainty that theirs was an ordination with the same formula and the same finality of the male ordination.”

What concerns me most about Pope Francis' rejection of women deacons is the spiritual arrogance that the ordination of women deacons somehow could not be as valid as that of male deacons.   In spite of the historical studies to the contrary, the male dominated, clerical institutional church cannot imagine that women are spiritual equals in Christ and that their ministries are equally blessed and fruitful. Catholics, who value Jesus' teaching and example of Gospel equality and empowerment of women, have been and will continue to serve the people of God in inclusive communities of faith where all are welcome to celebrate sacraments. Our Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is offering fresh hope for a renewed church by ordaining women to serve God's people in communities of equals. Our call is to live as prophets of the future by leading the way to a more open, loving, justice-seeking and equal, inclusive Church now. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, ,, 703-505-0004

..."Pope Francis said, “There were deaconesses at the beginning [of the church], but [the question is] was theirs a sacramental ordination or not? They helped, for example, in the liturgy of baptism, which was by immersion, and so when a woman was baptized the deaconesses assisted…. Also for the anointing of the body.” found,” he said, “which shows that deaconesses were called by the bishop when there was a marriage dispute for the dissolution of the marriage. The deaconesses were sent to look at the bruises on the body of the woman beaten by her husband. And they gave testimony before the judge.” But, the pope said, “there is no certainty that theirs was an ordination with the same formula and the same finality of the male ordination.”
“Some say there is a doubt,” he said. “Let us go forward to study [the women’s diaconate]. I am not afraid of the study. But up to this moment it has not happened.”
Moreover, Pope Francis said, “it is curious that where there were women deacons it was always in a geographical zone, above all in Syria.”
Francis said, “I received all these things from the commission. It did a good job and this can serve to go forward and to give a definitive response, yes or no” on whether their ordination is the same as that for men deacons.
At a May 2016 meeting with the women's International Union of Superiors General, leaders of women's religious orders, one of them had asked the pope, "What prevents the church from including women among permanent deacons, as was the case in the primitive church? Why not constitute an official commission to study the matter?"
The pope had told the sisters that his understanding was that the women described as deaconesses in the New Testament were not ordained like permanent deacons are, however, the pope fulfilled a promise to set up the commission on the issue. Two of the scholars on that commission reported in January that they had completed their work.
Those commission members spoke with America in JanuaryPhyllis Zagano, an author and professor of religion at Hofstra University, and Bernard Pottier, S.J., a faculty member at the Institut D’Études Théologiques in Brussels, said then that they could not comment on the commission’s findings. But they reported that, according to their research, women served as deacons in Europe for about a millennium in a variety of ministerial and sacramental roles. “They anointed ill women; they brought communion to ill women,” said Ms. Zagano.
They also participated in baptism, served as treasurers and, in at least one case, participated in an annulment.
“Some say there is a doubt” about women deacons, Pope Francis said. “Let us go forward to study [the women’s diaconate]. I am not afraid of the study. But up to this moment it has not happened.”

Ms. Zagano said, “There was ordination…. The most interesting evidence is the fact that the ordination ceremonies [we discovered] for women deacons were identical to the ordination ceremonies for men.”
Father Pottier said then that he was able to find strong evidence of women deacons in church records and histories, but “not everywhere and not always because it was also a choice of the [local] bishop.”
The pope did not tell reporters what steps, if any, would come next on the subject of a women’s diaconate.
He told reporters, “Today, no one says so, but 30 years ago some theologians were saying that there were no deaconesses because women were in second rank in the church and not only in the church.” But, Francis said, “this is curious because in that epoch there were many pagan priestesses; the female priesthood in pagan cults was something usual.”
The pope concluded, “We are at this point, and each of the members is studying his/her own thesis.” There is a “varietas delectas (joyful variety).”

Women's Ordination Response:
While this is not a definitive "no," it is painfully absurd that the Vatican needs "further study" on women's full equality in the Church. 

We must not allow our attempts to study the past prevent us from moving where the Spirit calls us today: to be a Church with doors open to the fullness of women's gifts and vocations.

An abundance of evidence shows that for centuries, women have served in the tradition of Phoebe the deacon (Rm 16:1), and our parishes and communities are blessed by their gifts. Women are called to serve their communities as deacons and priests. Recognizing the ministerial gifts and vocations of women is not optional.

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