Ordaining women as deacons possible

The possibility of the Church ordaining women as deacons remains an open question, according to Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.

Reflecting that he recently had ordained 14 men to the permanent diaconate, the Cardinal of Vienna said “perhaps one day also female deacons.”

There had been female deacons in the Church in the past, he says.

Pope Francis, who often speaks of the importance of women’s role in the Church appointed a new commission of six men and six women to examine the possibility of ordaining women to the permanent diaconate in 2016.

Archbishop Luis Ladaria, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is president of the commission. Although the commission’s report is rumoured to have been completed, this has not been confirmed. Copies of the supposedly completed report have not been published or provided to the press.

In 2002 the International Theological Commission, an advisory body to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a report which gave a thorough historical context of the role of the deaconess in the ancient Church.

The commission 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.

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