Women deacons? It’s not for tomorrow, says the Vatican

Ouagadougou: Women must take more of a place in the affairs of the Catholic Church but the functions of deacon remain prohibited to them and no reform in this direction will occur in the short term, according to the preliminary conclusions of the Synod opened in 2021 by Pope Francis and published Tuesday.

The Synod is a vast consultation initiated by the Argentine Jesuit on the Church of the 21st century and its doctrine on a whole range of subjects ranging from the participation of the laity in parish activities to the promotion of women in liturgical functions, including divorce, homosexuality, poverty, individualism and even polygamy in Africa.

Since his election in 2013, the Bishop of Rome has worked to reform the governance of the Church, which he hopes is less pyramidal and closer to the 1.3 billion faithful.

After two years of discussions in parishes around the world, a first General Assembly of bishops meeting in October 2023 at the Vatican made it possible to establish, in a ‘synthesis report’, a
list of themes which will be debated again during a second session from October 2 to 27.

And the place of women in the Church, at the heart of the debates, still divides, between the hopes of feminist groups and the concerns of the most conservative.

– ‘Strong machismo’ –

The work of the Synod “highlighted the need to better value (…) the role of women in all stages of ecclesial life”, indicates a text published Tuesday by the Vatican which should serve as a basis for discussions in the fall. next.

If the bishops “recognize that many areas of the life of the Church are open to the participation of women”, they regret that “these possibilities for participation often remain underused” and suggest that the next session of the synod “promote awareness and encourages their further development’ within the institutions of the Church, including in ‘pastoral responsibilities’ or in ‘other ministerial and pastoral forms’.

The text evokes the contribution of a Latin American bishops’ conference according to whic
h “machismo remains strong” in certain societies and “a more active participation of women in all ecclesial areas is necessary”.

Faithful and religious generally demand in their contributions to the Synod “greater access” for women to positions of responsibility in dioceses, seminaries, institutes and theological faculties, and even encourage “the use of more inclusive language “.

On the other hand, there is still no question of opening up to women the functions of deacon (an order lower than that of priest), and even more so those of priest.

– Opposition reaffirmed –

‘While some local Churches demand the admission of women to diaconal ministry, others reaffirm their opposition,’ notes the document.

The question of the female diaconate was on the agenda for the first session of the Synod, but it has now been postponed and will not be on the agenda for the October general assembly. ‘It is good that theological reflection continues, with the appropriate times and modalities,’ we emphasize.

Although some a
re in favor of it in a context of decline in vocations and practice, seeing it as a way to attract new profiles in line with societal developments, the Vatican remains firmly opposed to the end of celibacy and ordination. married women or men.

Groups of women regularly campaign, deploring seeing themselves relegated to marginal functions while they are and do the daily church on the ground.

Last year, in the middle of the Synod, activists dressed in purple demonstrated at the Vatican against ‘patriarchy’ and ‘clericalism’.

This Synod, however, marks a historic turning point: for the first time, 54 women, religious and lay people – out of 365 members, or around 15% – have the same right to vote as bishops on the proposals that will be submitted to the pope.

The Pope, who makes the final decision, already ruled out the possibility of women deaconesses in an interview with the American channel CBS in May.

Finally, the document published Tuesday does not explicitly refer to the place of LGBTQ+ people. But th
e American association for the defense of their rights New Ways Ministry estimated in a press release that it opened ‘the door to greater inclusion’ through a call for ‘dialogue’ and ‘listening’.

Source: Burkina Information Agency