From CNS, Staff and other sources

A diaconate for women should be considered as a new role for women in the church. Cardinal Walter Kasper made this proposal during a study day discussing how to involve more women in church life, convened as part of the spring assembly of the German Bishops Conference in the city of Trier, in western Germany, on Feb. 21. Kasper spoke of a “deaconess” role that would be different from the classic deacon but could include pastoral, charitable, catechetical and special liturgical functions. The deaconess would not be designated through the sacrament of orders, but by a blessing. Many women already perform the functions of a deacon, he argued, so as a practical matter the possibility cannot be ignored. Cardinal Kasper noted that the female diaconate was foreseen in the church in the third and fourth centuries. Regarding the ordination of women, however, the cardinal said, “I do not think you could change anything in the fact that women cannot be ordained priests; it is the unbroken tradition of the Eastern Church as well as the West.”

Comments

BRUCE SNOWDEN | 12/21/2013 - 3:24pm

At that special table in the upper room, prepared by women helpers including the Mother of Jesus, on the night before he died, Mother Mary heard her son say over bread and wine, “This is My Body, This is My Blood.” Looking at her while he spoke she heard him say, “This is YOUR body, this is YOUR blood.” Responding quietly in her son’s ear the Mother whispered, “ “Son, This is OUR body, this is OUR blood.”

Jesus nodded and said, “Yes Mother, the Body and Blood, my humanity, you gave me with help from my Holy Spirit one with the Father, who coming upon you in quiet loving embrace provided the necessary male element needed to make me truly man. My Divinity willingly melding with the gift of humanity, provided a duality of natures, human and Divine, unique in all creation!

I hasten to add, there is no backup in Scripture or Tradition to support the above sequence of events as I have offered, them, excepting of course, that Jesus is both God and Man, his manhood the mothering effect of Mary’s impregnation by the Holy Spirit in what is caledl the Annunciation, or the Incarnation.

It may be also true that women did set up the table for the Passover meal from which the Words of Institution have echoed throughout the cosmos from its beginning and will continue bouncing off the Gates of Heaven until Christ comes again. And it was women including I suggest the Mother of Jesus who not only helped set the table but also served the bread and wine and all the other foods at the table. Women did this invaluable service making the First Eucharist happen.

If any of this is substantially true, that women were in service to the Table of Sacrifice and in other works of religiosity from the beginning, why can they not continue this service as Deacons, who have developmentally been in service to the altar doing what one might say is “womens’ work” speaking inaccurately, within the Body of Christ, the Church, where there is “neither male, or female,” from Stephen onward, servants to the servants of God?

Obviously I am no theologian, knowing only a little about some things, but not very much about anything. But it does seem appropriate to me to call forth to the full Deaconate, women, who served the altar from the beginning, assuming they have truly done so. The Blessed Mother Mary is not only Mother of priests and the Priesthood, but also Mother of all who serve in the Church, particularly Deacons and that is why Vatican Council II acknowledged her as Mother of the Church, God’s incarnational service-oriented Divine structure!

BRUCE SNOWDEN | 12/22/2013 - 7:04pm

For whatever its worth I venture this brief addendum to my post in which I pointed out that JPII sais "definitively" that women as priests in the Catholic Church cannot be as explained in my post. Incidentally, however, women desiring priesthood is not the brainchild of the Women's Liberation Movement of our day. It goes all the way back to 494 when Pope Gelasius I put and end to the practice which had crept into the Church in Southern Sicily. Canon XI of the Fourth Laodicean Council also forbade the practice of ordaining women to the priesthood.

Another interesting case occurred in Eastern Europe during World War II. No priest or Bishop was available to offer Eucharist to the faithful greatly desiring it, so an Assembly of Believers chose on its own authority some men who began confecting Eucharist as priests. At the end of the War the case was brought to the Holy See for evaluation and Pope Pius XII declared the men called forth as validly ordained priests, using the well known theology principle of "The Church provides (suffices.") On the other hand some women also chosen by their Assembly of Church to serve as priest were declared not ordained to do so.

BRUCE SNOWDEN | 6/7/2013 - 9:10am

Respectfully, I don't agree with Cardinal Kasper on how the Deaconate for women should be. It seems incomplete, like an unfinished painting of say, of Jesus, image recognizable, but needing completion. I think it's wonderful that His Eminence should even propose the posibility, a step in the right direction. It reminds me a little of a response once made by Blessed John Paul II when asked about making Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta a Cardinal. The Holy Father responded jokingly no doubt, "I asked her but she refused!" It is interesting that even at the highest levels of Chuch the possibility of Women Deacons is talked about.

Of course it has been definitively decided by JPII that women cannot not be ordained to priesthood, not because the Church doesn't want to do so, but because the Church believes it doesn't have the mandate from Christ to do so. Sounds reasonable to me. ButI can see no reason why women should not be ordained Deacon in all its fullness considering that it has nothing to do with Holy Orders if I understand correctly what JPII once said. He said that the Deaconate is not part of Holy Orders, but something altogether "other." Interesting.

John Chuchman | 6/5/2013 - 1:52pm

Just as forecast: A Non-sacramental Womens-Auxiliary designed to keep 'em working and subservient and QUIET.
"Scrub the floors, Deaconess and shut-up!"

Solvitur Ambulando | 3/5/2013 - 9:32pm

"Many women already perform the functions of a deacon, he argued, so as a practical matter the possibility cannot be ignored." This is a statement that is real. I am grateful for the argument and the public witness to it. Successive approximations offer Consolation.

Jodie Pugh | 3/7/2013 - 4:18am

Deacons has very vital to play for betterment of the society. Now women's deacons have the opportunity to take a leading role in the reformation of society.
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PHYLLIS ZAGANO | 3/5/2013 - 10:40am

Kasper is hi-jacking history and playing to the stands. In 1974 International Theological Commission member Cipriano Vagaggini published in Orientalia Christian Periodicaan article he wrote--reportedly at the request of Paul VI--about women ordained as deacons. Vagaggini's conclusion: what the church has done, the church can do again. This was also the finding of the first ITC study document on the diaconate (around 1997), which kept being sent back to committee until it grew from 17 or 18 pages to over 70 pages. ONly then, when its answer was that the church's discernment should answer the question, would Ratzinger sign it. To restrict women to an unordained nebulous "deaconess" role is to do--essentially--nothing. What Kasper is talking about is re-naming lay ecclesial ministry, not restoring women to the order they were ordained to at least until the 12th century in the West, and to the present in the East. This is the same Kasper who said some years ago that women could do everything now they would be able to do if they were deacons--so which side of the discussion is he really on? And, why?

Eric Styles | 3/5/2013 - 1:57pm

He's capitulating. Who knows why? At his age, he's got nothing to lose. Let's pray the Spirit continues to work miracles of conversion even among the Cardinals of the Church.

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