Women deacons on the cards

Women deacons could be permitted says top theologian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn.

Although Shonborn says there is a chance for this to happen, he  cautions waiting until the group Pope Francis commissioned last year to study the mater of female deacons.

Shonborn says there is a precedent for women undertaking deacons’ roles in the Church. He says it is still practised in the Eastern Church, but has fallen out of favour in the West.

He noted women were ordained deacons in the West up to the Middle Ages, which he thinks “should give the Latin-rite Church food for thought.

“The big theological question is, of course, what sort of ordination this was and what consequences one can draw from this today,” he added.

While he is adopting a ‘wait and see” approach to the outcome of a women’s deaconite, Shonborn said he has no doubt that women should take a far more prominent role in the church than is currently the case.

For the past eight months Pope Francis has had a 12-member commission studying the issue of women deacons, especially in the first centuries of the Church’s history.

Six members of the still-ongoing commission are women. They include American professor Phyllis Zagano, a leading scholar on women deacons.

The group also includes six faculty members of pontifical universities, four members of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, and one member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.


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