The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Georgia woman seeks to become deacon

posted by jmcgee

This has echoes of the story I posted recently from Chicago.

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

deacondiane_1114_00_750142c.jpgDiane Dougherty lives in a neat, white house that she shares with her cats, Pete and Gypsy Rose. She teaches second grade in Fayetteville. She smiles a lot, her eyes flashing with intellect.

A public school teacher in Fayetteville, Diane Dougherty of Newnan had previously been a nun and taught in Catholic school classrooms.

She hardly looks like someone flouting centuries of tradition, challenging the Roman Catholic Church.

Dougherty, 65, wants to be a deacon. But in the Catholic Church, the position of deacon — like that of priest and bishop — is held by men only.

The Newnan resident is in the forefront of a movement that seeks to change all that. In ordination ceremonies in the United States and across the world, nearly 200 Catholic women have declared themselves deacons, priests and bishops. A male priest whose support of ordaining women drew a rebuke from the Vatican calls the issue “unstoppable.”

The Vatican remains opposed to the ordination of women, calling it a “grave crime.” Church officials say women are highly valued and stress female equality in all areas of life. The example the church follows, officials say, was set by Jesus.

If she declares herself a deacon, Dougherty is nearly guaranteed to be excommunicated — removed from the faith she’s embraced since childhood.

Excommunication is not too high a price to pay, Dougherty said. She thinks the Catholic Church is behind the times.

“I want to give the next generation a vision” of the roles women could have in the church, Dougherty said. “Forbidding [positions of authority to women] is sexism, and sexism is evil.”

The Archdiocese of Atlanta, overseeing nearly 1 million Catholics, doesn’t agree.

Deacon “is a uniquely male role,” said the Rev. Theodore Book, the archdiocese’s director of the Office For Worship. Jesus’ 12 disciples, the original deacons, he noted, were men.

“It’s something Jesus Christ gave to the church.”

Dougherty politely disagrees. “Jesus,” she said, “didn’t ordain anyone.”

Read on.

On a hunch, I’d say that in the end, the only thing Ms. Dougherty is going to get out of all this is attention. 



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shelou

posted November 15, 2010 at 9:33 am


As a woman, I have the same brain, heart, soul as a man. I have the same accountability for my actions and can be called by Jesus do anything. To state that Jesus cannot call me to do anything requires ominesicence,which belongs to no human being.



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Gerard Nadal

posted November 15, 2010 at 9:54 am


If she attempts ordination, she’ll incur excommunication for simulating a sacrament.



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Diakonos DC

posted November 15, 2010 at 9:58 am


Just read this recently from Msgr Pope from Washington….
“Our culture lies and distorts, but the body does not. Many choose today to consider the body incidental, a mere tool that can be refashioned at will. But the Church is heir to a far longer and well tested understanding that the body is essential (not incidental) to who we are. Our differences are more than skin deep. The soul is the form (or blueprint) of the body and thus our differences and our complementarity are deep and essential as well as necessary. Our dignity is equal but our complementarity cannot and should not be denied. God himself has made this distinction and intends it for our instruction. The body does not lie and we must once again choose to learn from it.
Here is a quirky and clever video that turns the table on the question of ordination. It also goes a long way to say that we cannot, in the end simply pretend to be what we are not. Our bodies do not lie, even if we try to.”
http://www.gloria.tv/?media=108011



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Romulus

posted November 15, 2010 at 10:15 am


As a woman, I have the same brain, heart, soul as a man.
The sacrament of orders isn’t about brains or heart or soul or accountability. It isn’t about function or process or merit. It isn’t performance-related in any sense. It’s about being the thing one signifies. True, Jesus could have instituted a female diaconate. He also could have ordered us to baptize cats or to sleep with our feet pointing east. But he didn’t — so we believe, because we trust the Church and the teaching handed down from the apostles. Those who don’t, who find themselves unable or unwilling to receive what’s been handed down, must ask themselves why they remain Catholic at all, and how they reconcile this with their clear preference to cultivate a religion of their own devising.



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Dev Thakur

posted November 15, 2010 at 10:21 am


If she is already saying Our Lord didn’t ordain anyone, well … anathema sit, not my words but those of the Council of Trent.



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Paul

posted November 15, 2010 at 10:53 am


The only thing Ms. Dougherty is going to get out of all this is attention.
Not much more than that, really. Moving right along…



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Ed

posted November 15, 2010 at 11:08 am


I do not wish to be mean spirited. But Ms Dougherty can become a deacon tomorrow if she chooses. It is called “protestantism”.



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Acwroth

posted November 15, 2010 at 1:33 pm


She is TOO OLD to be a deacon in Atlanta archdiocese AND she isn’t a converted Catholic. Two of their guiding rules.



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Fran Rossi Szypylczyn

posted November 15, 2010 at 2:18 pm


Despite my own call to that same ministry, I have consciously elected to not pursue any path that removes me from the Body of Christ on earth, which as I understand it, is our Catholic Church. While I may feel pain about it, my submitting to the teaching is not a struggle. I choose with open eyes and an open heart, free of resentment, to be a part of this church.
That said, she seems to know what she is doing and I think that it is far too easy to call her out as simply an attention getter. There has been a lot of conversation over the years, from Rome as well, that indicates that there may not really be an obstruction to ordaining women deacons. The tone of that conversation has changed over the years. Should that change I would pursue my call. However, I think that the Spirit, the ruah (which is feminine) moves in ways we never truly understand.
Would anyone have predicted the amazing permanent diaconate that you yourself are ordained to?
I am 53 and I doubt that this will change in my lifetime. I think that she is going out on a limb, maybe wanting attention but maybe wanting more. That said, I am saddened by the tone of the end of your post. And the comments, well they are to be expected.
Might I recommend the book Holy Saturday for an argument for women in the diaconate. While you and some of your readers may find her not to your taste, the author is not a crackpot.



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Gerard Nadal

posted November 15, 2010 at 3:54 pm


Dear Fran,
I’ll take you up on reading that book. When you state, “The tone of that conversation has changed over the years. Should that change I would pursue my call,” are you saying that you would leave the Catholic Church and go elsewhere, or would you join with the dissidents in simulating the Sacrament of Holy Orders?



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Jerry

posted November 15, 2010 at 4:07 pm


One important part of an ordination is kneeling before the bishop and promising to obey. I’ll bet Ms. Dougherty missed the obedience part. She obeys only her will and desire.



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Caroline McCoy-Hansen

posted November 15, 2010 at 5:07 pm


Ms. Dougherty:
Enjoy your moment of fame. I hope your judgement is better, and less self serving, in your role as a teacher,
I will pray for you.



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Belen

posted November 15, 2010 at 7:52 pm


I’ll ask this lady what i’ve previously asked on this blog: HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT WOMEN DEACONS IN THE EARLY CHURCH WEREN’T TODAY’S NUNS, OR CATECHISTS, OR MISSIONARIES??? HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT WOMEN DEACONS TOOK THE HOLY ORDERS? She can’t know for sure! there’s no historical account on it. And Jesus DID ordain people… Check out Matthew 16:18, e.g. Not to mention the book of ACTS. Deep inside, she’s not a catholic. SHE’S A PROTESTANT. That’s the PROTESTANT way of thinking, so get out of Jesus’ Church and go to a protestant church… you’ve got 38 000 ones to choose from!



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pagansister

posted November 15, 2010 at 7:53 pm


Unfortunately for Ms. Dougherty, I feel she is not going to get anywhere. The RCC is hanging onto the “no female in any place of authority” (priests, deacon or any other post “traditionally held by males) with everything they can find in their rules. The church is most certainly not an equal opportunity institution—



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Belen

posted November 15, 2010 at 8:06 pm


PS: for the ones that keep saying that the Catholic church is “behind the times” and should imitate the protestant churches, the other day I visited a baptist church website and they did have women deacons… do you know what their task was??? attending the faithful and the newcomers, preparing all for the sunday services, baptisms and the “Lord’s supper”, advising the pastor, etc. RING A BELL, CATHOLIC WOMEN??? Yeah, that’s EXACTLY what the catholic women do in a parish! And dare I say, catholic women do MORE than that. So shut it if you’re not a faithful catholic.



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pagansister

posted November 15, 2010 at 8:13 pm


Belen:
Are you saying the RCC is an equal opportunity institution?



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Belen

posted November 15, 2010 at 8:26 pm


yeah, that’s exactly what i’m saying.



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Mareczku

posted November 15, 2010 at 9:38 pm


I think the Catholic Church should have deaconesses. They had deaconesses in the early Church so I don’t see why we can’t have them now.



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pagansister

posted November 15, 2010 at 9:55 pm


As exampled by the priest policy, and apparently the deacon policy, Belen? Seems like the word “equal” has two definitions—one defined by the Church and one defined by everyone else.



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romancrusader

posted November 15, 2010 at 10:09 pm


Mareczku,
The Church from early times to the present makes a distinction between Phoebe’s “service” and the deaconate.
The various Greek words of the NT which lie behind the three levels of Holy Orders –episkopoi, presbyteroi, diaconoi-are rather vague and functional words which mean overseer, elder, and servant, respectively. The word for deacon –diaconos-is used biblically and in the secular world of the time to indicate a servant without any indication that it is someone upon whom hands have been laid for a Holy Order. The feminine form of that word is used, as you describe, in Pauline writings. And if we were a “sola scriptura” Church, we might be inclined to make no distinctions between this and the masculine references to deacons. But we do look to Tradition, which includes the life of the Church from the start. And there we have no evidence or indication that women were formally ordained into service in the Church, but do have evidence that men were admitted to such states in what we call holy orders, by the laying on of hands. Hence, we bring that to bear upon the Scriptures as part of our approach to interpretation.
Next time, do your research.



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romancrusader

posted November 15, 2010 at 10:16 pm


Paganister,
Maybe you should just but out and stop telling the Church how to do it’s job.



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Belen

posted November 15, 2010 at 10:52 pm


“Paganister,
Maybe you should just but out and stop telling the Church how to do it’s job.”
AMEN!!!!!!!!! I’m so tired of these self-righteous, judgemental, criticism-loving pagan people thinking they know better than an instituion that has stood up for nearly 2000 years. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, ROMANCRUSADER!!! I couldn’t have said it better



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Mareczku

posted November 15, 2010 at 11:11 pm


So Romancrusader, would it be such a horrible thing if we had deaconesses in the modern Catholic Church? Why couldn’t religious sisters serve as deaconesses? We have many religious sisters that are very educated and would be more than qualified to serve as deaconesses in my opinion.



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Mike L

posted November 16, 2010 at 12:03 am


When I read some of the comments above, I wonder what the authors think of Christ’s statement that there are two great commandments, to love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself. When I hear people telling others to “get out”, “your a Protestant”, “go join the Episcopalians” I have to conclude that either they do not believe Christ’s commandments or that they truly hate themselves and others.
I rather like the quote of the day that Deacon posted the other day:
“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.” — Dorothy Day
When you tell someone to get lost, can you love yourself, God, or your neighbor?
Hugs,
Mike L



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Belen

posted November 16, 2010 at 12:33 am


uhm, sorry Mike, but no one here’s telling anyone to “get lost”. We’re just saying that this lady’s way of thinking is protestant and that if she doesn’t change her mind, then she just doesn’t belong to our Church but to a protestant denomination. Part of loving God is loving his Holy Church: the Catholic Church. And part of loving the Catholic Church is telling people the truth, even if that means becoming unpopular or uncharitable for wordly people.



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Anne

posted November 16, 2010 at 5:23 am


All Catholics must adhere to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” first printed in the US in March of 2000. It is Church Doctrine, a sure norm for teaching the faith, and an authentic reference text.
CCC #1571 clearly states that Deacons are men. The Pope and Magesterium have spoken. Obedience is required.
Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same. CCC 2089.
Sounds like Diane Dougherty is a heretic.



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Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted November 16, 2010 at 6:49 am


To Gerald Nadal:
Thank you for asking for the clarification about my own intentions.
Never say never, but I find it hard to believe that I would leave the Church. Never say never again, but I cannot imagine joining with the dissidents in this way even more so. Some of my Roman Catholic sisters (meaning sisters-women, not women religious alone!) are called to ordination no matter the cost. I am not among them, I cannot imagine taking Holy Orders, even if they come from the hands of a validly ordained bishop of the Church.



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John

posted November 16, 2010 at 9:26 am


This woman isn’t even registered at a parish – that says it all. Being a deacon is a massive commitment, and she hasn’t even taken the time to do the minimal step of joining a parish. She’s obviously just another crazy liberal left over from the 60s who wants attention. I’m sort of amazed that the AJC gave her this much attention.



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josephus

posted November 16, 2010 at 12:56 pm


Deacon “is a uniquely male role,” said the Rev. Theodore Book, the archdiocese’s director of the Office For Worship. Jesus’ 12 disciples, the original deacons, he noted, were men.
They were also all Palestinian Jews! Shouldn’t that, likewise, be a determining factor?
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/deaconsbench/2010/11/georgia-woman-seeks-to-become-deacon.html?source=NEWSLETTER&nlsource=47&ppc=&utm_campaign=SaintOfDay&utm_source=NL&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_term=yahoo.com#ixzz15T9XluQs



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Jane Coll

posted November 16, 2010 at 1:23 pm


Having read the article and the various comments, can I put in a plea for raising the level of this debate? Those who have a serious interest in the subject need to do their homework (I have spent almost two years researching and am trying to get the result published!. This debate is causing great damage to the Church. those women who think that they can force the Church to change are actually preventing the very change that they seek. The Vatican knows that deaconesses used to exist and could be reintroduced but it will not take that step if it is going to open the floodgates to demands for women priests. The difference between deacons and priests must be clearly understood, the nature of ordination as a sacrament must be recognised and all concerned must have the good of the whole Church in mind. One comment suggested reading Phyllis Zagano’s “Holy Saturday” – this is well written but gives a rather inaccurate definition of the priesthood. An excellent work specifically on women and the priesthood is “The Catholic Priesthood and Women” by Sara Butler”. Benedict Ashley in “Justice in the Church” gives a very readable reply to many of the standard criticisms of the Church in this area. Enjoy and share!



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pagansister

posted November 16, 2010 at 2:21 pm


Apparently there are a couple of folks that object to outside opinions. I expect the good Deacon would eliminate them if they were objectionable. I have great respect for those that can follow all the rules of the RCC, having spent, as I have mentioned before, 10 years as a teacher in a RC school, attending Mass etc. Just don’t happen to agree with all the teachings and rules. Expressing opinion is all. Hope your day is going well, Belen and romancrusader.
romancrusader: There is no way I would try to tell anyone in any church what to do. Not my job (or yours either for that matter). Have a great day.



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RomCath

posted November 16, 2010 at 2:44 pm


“Apparently there are a couple of folks that object to outside opinions”
I don’t think anyone objects to outside opinions as long as they are given respectfully.
Frankly, I don’t really care what anyone “outside” thinks anyway as they usually don’t have a clue what they are talking about.



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Chris

posted November 16, 2010 at 4:46 pm


Fran, HOW can your Catholic sisters be called to Holy Orders validly? Though it’s nice to hear you wouldn’t accept ordination even at the hands of a (real) bishop, the fact that you think the possibility is there means that you have not accepted the definitive teaching of the Church. The teachings of the Church demand not only outward observance but assent of the will and intellect. Do you assent to the definitive teaching of John Paul II regarding ordination as for males only?



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Deacon Bill

posted November 16, 2010 at 8:58 pm


As always, this topic raises the temperature of the room. May I offer a few points based on the scholarly research and to clarify official church teaching. I write this having just completed a manuscript for Paulist Press entitled “Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future” with Dr. Gary Macy (a medievalist historian & theologian) and Dr. Phyllis Zagano (theologian); my own background is in ecclesiology and sacramental theology, with particular emphasis on the theologies of Vatican II as well as the diaconate. The book should be out in about 9 months. Gary writes on the historical dimensions of the question; I write on contemporary theology of order; and Phyllis writes on future possibilities.
1) History is not theology. Whatever the church did or did not do with regard to the ordination of women as deacons is not dispositive: we still have to make the theological case for the contemporary church, one way or another. In other words, if the Church never ordained women as deacons is not sufficient grounds to say we shouldn’t today; if the history demonstrates that women WERE ordained as deacons, we still have to make the theological case that it should happen (or not) today.
2) The question of whether or not women can or should be ordained remains, according to Catholic teaching, an OPEN theological question. A review of the modern literature from the Holy See is quite clear: what has been said/determined about ordination to the presbyterate is clearly focused and limited to the sacerdotal orders of presbyterate and episcopate. Contemporary developments in the theology of diaconate from the Holy See, distinguishes between the sacerdotal orders and the diaconal order; canonically, for example, deacons cannot fulfill offices requirement the sacerdotal order, such as “pastor” or “diocesan bishop.” Deacons, while ordained, do not participate in the ministerial priesthood. This disctinction is also demonstrated by the fact that, for 10 straight years, the question of the theology of the diaconate, and in particular the question of the possible ordination of women as deacons, has been given to the International Theological Commission for Study, and nothing definitive has been decided and promulgated.
3) Yes, one may turn to current church law (and the Catechism) and find language that says women may not be ordained as deacons. That’s fine; it is the CURRENT practice of the church, just as prior to 1967 church law and teaching said that only celibate men could be ordained. That law was changed by a simple act of the pope (Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem, 1967). Again, statements made by the official church up to this point address ONLY the sacerdotal orders, as confirmed by then-Prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Ratzinger.
4) Finally, distinctions must be made between two types of diaconal women referred to in the historical record: there are “women deacons” and there are “deaconesses”. Two distinct groups. The liturgical record is quite clear: women deacons were ordained by the laying on of hands, by a bishop, WITHIN THE SANCTUARY. There is considerable historical evidence of this. There is also historical evidence of the second group, “deaconesses”, who were often “blessed” or “installed” without laying on of hands, and usually outside the sanctuary. It should also be noted that the theology of order undergoes a radical, suddent and significant shift in the 12th Century. In other words, how the Church interprets the THEOLOGICAL MEANING of ordination underwent a real makeover. This shift needs to be examined carefully in any discussion of ANY ordination.
Hope this helps, and buy the book! LOL!
Bill



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pagansister

posted November 16, 2010 at 9:15 pm


Thanks Deacon Bill! That was interesting.



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romancrusader

posted November 16, 2010 at 9:21 pm


Deacon Bill,
I think you are a heretic.
From EWTN:
“My historical information is that women have never been ordained to the diaconate, despite the claims of the feminists.” – Dr. Carroll



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romancrusader

posted November 16, 2010 at 9:30 pm


Here’s some more tidbits for historical revisionists who think women should be deacons.
(source: http://www.ewtn.com/library/LITURGY/WOMORD.TXT)
St. Epiphanius, “Against Heresies” 79 3-4: (374-77 AD):
“We come to the New Testament. If women were ordained to be
priests for God, or to do anything canonical in the church, it
should rather have been given to Mary in the New Testament….
But it was decided differently. She was not even entrusted with
baptizing. [after mentioning successions of apostles and
priests] but nowhere was a woman established among them. There
were four daughters of the evangelist Philip, who were
prophetesses, but not priests. ….Although there is an order of
deaconesses in the Church, yet they are not appointed to
function as priests or for any administration of this kind, but
so that provision may be made for the propriety of the female
sex….” [at baptism etc.] Whence comes the recent myth? Whence
comes the pride of women, or rather, the woman’s insanity?
Council of Nicea, Canon 19 (Mansi II.557-58; 325 AD):
“We have mentioned the deaconesses, who are enrolled in this
position, but since they have not received any imposition of hands at all, they are surely to be numbered among the laity.”
First Council of Orange, c 441 AD, Harduin I. 1786, Canon 15:
“Deaconesses are certainly not to be ordained,and if there are
some,they must bow their head under the blessing given to the
people.”



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Deacon Bill

posted November 16, 2010 at 9:43 pm


Dear romancrusader,
Thanks!
Actually, there are other historical and theological sources as well. You will also notice that you mix and match quite extensively, confusing the distinctions between deacon and presbyter. They are not the same.
Look, you can call me a heretic if you wish. But in point of fact, I am not. To ask questions and to do research are not in and of themselves heretical, nor am I denying any teaching of the church. In fact, I’m simply doing what the former Prefect of the CDF (and the present Pope) has encouraged us theologians to do: to research questions related to the possibility of ordaining women to the diaconate. If the matter were as cut and dried as you seem to think, there would have been no need for him to refer the question to two successive agendas for the International Theological Commission. He could have just done what you just did! But, no, he’s a careful and nuanced theologian and church leader. And, no one has ever called the pope a “heretic” or a “feminist.”
So, you can go ahead and call me names, if you want, and cite all the things you think prove your case. I’ll continue to side with the pope on this one, and press on with legitimate research.
God bless,
Bill



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Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted November 16, 2010 at 10:21 pm


Deacon Bill – thank you for your edifying commentary here. Peace to all. I look forward to your work with Dr. Gary Macy and Dr. Phyllis Zagano.



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Chris

posted November 16, 2010 at 10:42 pm


Dear “Deacon Bill,”
Just to be clear here, any woman who goes through an ordination ceremony in the Catholic Church would expose herself to automatic excommunication. Those who are involved in such a ceremony would be simulating a sacrament, a grave offense. Those Catholics who, knowing this information, encourage others to participate or consider such an invalid and illicit ordination are committing a grave sin. I’ve often wondered why those who would do violence to the rules of the Church are so fond of saying they received “ordination” from the hands of a really ordained bishop. As if that would put them in Apostolic succession. This whole thing seems an attempt to get a “priest lite” category for women, the first step toward the abyss of schism, as is seen in the Anglican communion. Forgive me, but I don’t think I will read the book.



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romancrusader

posted November 16, 2010 at 10:45 pm


“If the matter were as cut and dried as you seem to think, there would have been no need for him to refer the question to two successive agendas for the International Theological Commission.”
Doesn’t matter. The only reason he referred to it to the international theological commission was to confirm that fact that there will be no women deacons. And it is a Church teaching that women will never be deacons.
I believe that women should kept silent in Church and not be allowed to preach in Church at all. Shouldn’t be allowed to be Lectors, nor Extroardinary Ministers etc.
I go with Catholic Answers on this issue Deacon Bill. With all due respect you are wrong.



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted November 16, 2010 at 11:08 pm


RC…
Where in church teaching or canon law does it say that women will never be deacons?
Dcn. G.



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romancrusader

posted November 16, 2010 at 11:23 pm


Deacon,
I find it pretty amazing how you can push for women deacons. But yet, they can participate in the vocations of religious life, married life or as a secular single person. Why overlook that? The most common vocation undertaken by Catholic woman is marriage, as wife and mother.
All of those roles have the example of wonderful saints for women to emulate in their journey toward Heaven (which is the only real Goal of humanity).
Then why does Michele Arnold say this then:
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=24918
Michele Arnold writes:
“Likely because the fundamental difference between the male and female deacons was commonly understood and unquestioned in ancient times, the Church was free to use imprecise language that would become confusing in modern times to people who do not commonly understand that women cannot validly receive the sacrament of holy orders. Analogously, in medieval times, the blessing given church bells was popularly called “the baptism of the bells” although no one really believed that the bells were given the sacrament of baptism. Only during the Reformation era did Protestant controversialists begin to misunderstand the blessing, although they did not also misunderstand the practice of ‘christening’ ships.”
“Now that there is widespread misunderstanding of the nature of the sacrament of holy orders, the Church is especially careful and precise in its sacramental language and would no longer refer to female assistants to the clergy as “deaconesses.” What was once an unobjectionable term because it was properly understood can no longer be used because it is now open to confusion.”
WOMEN CANNOT RECEIVE HOLY ORDERS.



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Mareczku

posted November 16, 2010 at 11:25 pm


Romancrusader: You think that women should keep silent in church? Do you think that all the altar girls should be kicked out too? Are women some kind of inferior beings in your opinion? I suppose you would allow them to wash the windows, the floors and the altar linens.



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romancrusader

posted November 16, 2010 at 11:30 pm


Sir,
Read 1 Corinthians 14:33-35
” [33] For God is not the God of dissension, but of peace: as also I teach in all the churches of the saints. [34] Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith. [35] But if they would learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church.”



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Deacon Bill

posted November 17, 2010 at 8:00 am


Dear Friends,
I know this thread has gone on perhaps way too long, but I would like to observe one very simple FACT. In my original post on this subject, all I did was outline what I feel are important distinctions to be made when discussing and debating the issue of the possible ordination of women as deacons. If you actually read what I have written here, you will find that I have espoused no position on the matter, and yet — simply for asking questions and stating background fact based on official church teaching, no less! — I have been called a heretic, and told that another person is not going to read a book that examines these questions.
Let me say this again: YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE CONCLUSIONS ARE THAT WE REACH IN THE BOOK! I merely outlined some of the points that emerged in the research. As a matter of fact, in my essay in the forthcoming book, I do not cite other theologians; rather, I have focused almost exclusively on official church documents. Unfortunately, most of the responses to my post have simply responding emotionally and by selective citations from diverse sources.
I bring this up simply to show how easily discussion on this matter can be distorted and blown out of proportion. To ask questions, to do research, even to suggest change where change might be possible, is not “heretical”, it’s the way the church herself has grown and developed over its 2000 years history. What are some of you so afraid of??? Discussion? Research? Possible change? As the great Pope John XXIII said during his opening address to the world’s bishops at the Second Vatican Council: “And everything, even human differences, can lead to the greater good of the Church.”
As I said before, I’ll stick with the Church and her teaching on all of this, as I always have.
God bless,
Deacon Bill



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Chris

posted November 17, 2010 at 8:15 am


Dear Deacon Bill,
Perhaps you are missing the essential point. Ordination for women is not open to debate. Rome has spoken, the case is closed.



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Chris

posted November 17, 2010 at 8:34 am


And by the way, Deacon Bill, hasn’t this book already been written in a different form by your co-author?
http://ncronline.org/users/phyllis-zagano
I think Phyllis Zagano is probably quite close to the views of the would-be cat lady deacon.



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Deacon Bill

posted November 17, 2010 at 9:58 am


Dear Chris,
Thanks for your questions:
1) No, the question of the possibility of ordination of women to the diaconate has never been discussed officially, much less have any discussions on the diaconate been “closed.” If you read the various church documents involved, you will see this quite clearly. In fact, as then-Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, has also said repeatedly, this is a different question altogether. So, “Rome” as NOT spoken on this question, and the case is NOT closed. When the Prefect of the CDF says that something remains on open question, I take that conclusion seriously.
2) Phyllis’ earlier work was written at the request of the late Cardinal John O’Connor of New York. Our current work visits new questions, as well as updating the official documents on the whole issue. So, no, this is updated research.
God bless,
Deacon Bill



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pagansister

posted November 17, 2010 at 12:39 pm


Women should be quiet in Church etc??? Good Grief! Guess all they are good for is giving their life to the church in religious groups, nuns, and waiting on the MEN in the church—silently or marry and have bunches of kids for continuing the faith. Here I thought progress had been made in the 21st century—and chauvinism was on the decline. You obviously are an example that chauvinism is alive and well in some places. Pity.



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pagansister

posted November 17, 2010 at 12:47 pm


In my last post I forgot to mention the poster I was mainly addressing the comments to, romancrusader. Sorry RC. Must give credit to the “silence for women” opinion. :o)



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Chris

posted November 17, 2010 at 1:20 pm


Dear Deacon Bill,
Has your work or the work of your co-author received the sanction of the Church? Do you envision it being used in Catholic teaching? This is what I mean:
“An Imprimatur is an official declaration from the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church that a literary or similar work is free from error in matters of Roman Catholic doctrine and morals, and hence acceptable reading for faithful Roman Catholics. Ordinarily an imprimatur is granted by the bishop of a diocese (after a declaration of nihil obstat has been granted by a theologian in regard to the work). On rare occasions, a bishop’s imprimatur may be overruled by higher authorities within the Catholic Church; this happened twice in 1984 and again in 1998.
“It is of greatest significance in works directly addressing Roman Catholic theology and doctrine, and was introduced as a measure to reduce exposure, particularly of the laity, to heresy… Today it is likely of concern only to more orthodox Roman Catholics; however, it is also required under canon law that all religion textbooks in Catholic schools must have received the imprimatur.
“A Roman Catholic imprimatur can consist of up to three stamps, each followed by a signature (name and title):
Imprimi potest (Latin, meaning “it can be printed”) — If the work is that of a member of a religious order, this stamp indicates that it has first been examined and approved by the religious superior or head of the religious order (or a duly appointed representative)
Nihil obstat (Latin, meaning “nothing hinders”) — This stamp indicates that the work has been examined and approved by the censor of the diocese, and that he finds it free of doctrinal or moral error. The censor is often a scholarly priest appointed by the bishop, and it is his task to work back-and-forth with the author of the work to correct any inaccuracies or problems.
Imprimatur (Latin, meaning “let it be printed”) — Finally, this stamp indicates that the work has been approved for printing by the bishop of the diocese, or other ecclesiastical authority.
These “stamps” and “signatures” are simply rendered in plain type on a page at the front of the book (i.e. they are not literal stamps and handwritten signatures), and are often followed by the date and place of signing, as on legal documents.



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Eric

posted November 17, 2010 at 1:21 pm


Unfortunately, Deacon Bill continues on this path of error he has been on for some time! The question of ordaining women to the Diaconate is closed and never was open. I challenge Deacon Bill to cite Church documents that support his opinions rather than ambiguous quotes of our current Holy Father. I love you Deacon Bill but you are not even close on this one! Try reading the CCC 1577 and Canon Law 1024.



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Deacon Bill

posted November 17, 2010 at 2:03 pm


Dear Eric,
You are simply factually incorrect: “the question of ordaining women to the diaconate is closed and never was open” is just untrue. The English translation of the most recent document of the International Theological Commission (the ITC, which is the official theological research arm of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith) should be sufficient to prove my point. You can find it on the Vatican website, under the CDF area of the site. You can also read “Inter Insigniores” and “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” on the subject of ordaining women to the PRESBYTERATE. That gives a couple of examples from the papal magisterium. Those three alone should point you in the right direction.
Remember that every official document on the diaconate ranging from the ones I just cited along with the Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons (1998, Congregation for Catholic Education) and the Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons (published concurrently in 1998 by the Congregation for Clergy), as well as canon law and the catechism all go to great pains to DISTINGUISH the sacerdotal orders from the diaconal. That means that, even when a document like “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” says that the teaching the ordination of men alone to the presbyterate is to be held “definitively”, TWO things should be noted. First, it doesn’t mean that people cannot still research the question of the ordination of women to the presbyterate; and two, NONE OF THIS REFERS TO THE DIACONATE IN ANY CASE. The Church, in the documents cited above, has gone to very great pains to distinguish one order from the other.
Look, I’m repeating myself here. One has to read official church documents with great care and deliberation; just as it is wrong to read sacred scripture eisegetically (to read things back into scripture which aren’t there), it’s just as wrong to read things into church teaching which aren’t there. When a document (such as “ordinatio sacerdotalis” on the ordination of men alone to the presbyterate) talks about the presbyterate, then that’s the extent of it; one cannot extend that teaching. Clearly, Cardinal Ratzinger (and his former boss, JPII) didn’t want or intend to do that, or they would not have asked the ITC to continue its 10 year research into the question! And their conclusion on this matter is that the church has NEVER spoken definitively on the question of ordaining women to the diaconate and is free to speak definitevely (either yes or no) if it wishes to. Look folks, it’s all there in these documents — all you have to do is read them for yourselves.
About canon law, I’ve already addressed that as well: Of course, current canon law reflects current practice. There’s nothing surprising about that. But church law changes, and changes with some regularity. Consider the example I gave before: in 1967, church law said that ordination to the diaconate could only be conferred on a celibate male. That was the law. However, later that same year, Pope Paul VI, following the recommendation of Vatican II, changed that law to permit married men to be ordained. You cannot appeal to canon law alone; canon law is derivative of official teaching documents, not the other way around. You have to be careful how you use the Catechism as well,since the Catechism is also designed to SUMMARIZE CURRENT teaching and practice; it doesn’t mean that some items can’t be changed in the future. Consider just the changes made between the original promulgation of the French edition of the Catechism and the Latin edito typica that came out a couple of years later.
Finally, questions about whether or not a manuscript receives an (in our case) nihil obstat/imprimatur are usually dealt with by the publisher. A lot depends on how the book will be used. Academic books typically DON’T have them, simply because academic theology is intended to push the envelope. The ABSENCE of a nihil obstant/imprimatur should not be interpreted as saying that the text is NOT in keeping with church teaching; it’s not that kind of statement. We haven’t yet had that conversation with the publisher, since there are three of us in three different dioceses. My own bishops (both in my diocese of incardination and where I currently serve) are aware of my work and support it. Several of my books, especially those designed for broad dissemination outside of academia, do have the imprimatur.
Look folks, my intention in entering this conversation was not to upset people, but simply to help sort through some complex issues related to it. We would ALL like to have things as simple as black and white, but that’s not the way life is, and that’s not the way the church operates, either. What is stunning to me is that the objections raised here, including characterizing me as a heretic, are based on no facts about the issue in question whatsoever, but on just the POSSIBILITY OF DISCUSSING the question in the first place!
I’m retiring from the field for now. Hope the conversation has been helpful for at least some readers!
God bless,
Bill



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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted November 17, 2010 at 2:11 pm


Eric…
Allow me to insert myself here.
Yes, the Code of Canon law states that right now only a baptized male may be ordained to Holy Orders.
It’s worth noting, however, that the previous edition of the Code, from 1917, stated the following: that women should be separated from men in church; that they should have their heads covered; and that they cannot proclaim sacred scripture. It also considered deacons to be extraordinary ministers of holy communion (now deacons are ordinary ministers of communion.) Those are just for starters.
Canon Law can and does change, often significantly.
As things stand now, the church has not ruled definitively against the possibility of women deacons in the future (though it’s a different story with women priests.)
Unless I’m wildly off base here, Deacon Bill’s field of study is entirely appropriate.
Dcn. G.



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Mareczku

posted November 17, 2010 at 2:42 pm


Romancrusader, you give us a short quote from St. Paul but what about the four gospels? Look at how Christ treated women. He treated them with respect and dignity. Look at how he allowed the Samaritan woman to speak to him. So do you choose a few words by Paul over the example of Christ?



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Eric

posted November 17, 2010 at 4:54 pm


Crow! What does this taste like? Just ask me! I did some additional research and I believe that Deacon Bill is accurate in a broad sense. This commission is studying the very things we are discussing. Having said all of this, it would be no small matter for the Church to change its current and ancient teaching on this subject. The Church does for an absolute fact teach the ordination of women to the Diaconate is closed. You may add for now. Is it possible for this the Church to reverse herself? My answer would be “How?” How can the Church understand the Orders the Diaconate receives as something of an all together different nature than that of the Presbyterate and Episcopacy without heresy?
I get your point and Deacon Greg’s point about Canon Law. You are, however, walking a “tight rope” between two very tall buildings when you extend this to the CCC!
I stand by my original comment in this way. This fine lady will never be Ordained to the Diaconate! The Church does not move like a sprinter in a race!
My sincere apologies!



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Mareczku

posted November 17, 2010 at 9:45 pm


Women should be separated from men in church? That doesn’t make any sense. Didn’t they want families to sit together in church 100 years ago?



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Jane Coll

posted November 18, 2010 at 7:09 am


to Eric
“The Church does for an absolute fact teach the ordination of women to the Diaconate is closed.”
As Deacon Bill feels that he has said all that he can say, can I put in a plea again, (see my previous comment)for people to read the sources. Deacon Bill has given details of the relevant Vatican documents that make it clear that, while they have closed the debate on women priests, they have not done so on the issue of women deacons. Your sentence, quoted above, is simply not true and no amount of wishful thinking will make it true. Please, please read the documents with an open mind.
Now I also am retiring from this debate.
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/deaconsbench/2010/11/georgia-woman-seeks-to-become-deacon_comments.html#ixzz15dP71SM4



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Anne

posted November 18, 2010 at 9:38 am


First this woman was a nun. In renouncing her vows she in essence divorced Christ. Now she wants to be a priest, she wants to preach the word of Christ. Exactly what would she preach about? The sancity of vows, obedience, humility, grace, what? Who is she really serving? Like Dathan and Abiram (Num 16:25-35) they are looking out for themselves and the power and glory they feel should be theirs.



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Jane Coll

posted November 18, 2010 at 11:01 am


Apologies!
- to Deacon Greig, whom I misnamed “Bill” in the above message. My only excuse is that the only reason why I am involved in this debate is that I am recovering from flu and not feeling up to anything more active.



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Melanie

posted November 22, 2010 at 10:45 am


Female deacons will result in Schism, but we can rest well because it will never happen. Where it will happen are those places not in communion with the true Church. Whenever I see a woman in priestly/deacon dress, I walk right back out the door.



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+Edmund

posted December 10, 2010 at 10:42 am


Diane was born female, baptized a laywoman, and one day (please God not for many years) will pass on into heaven as a laywoman. She is disqualified, by reason of her gender, from receiving or transmitting Holy Orders. This is not due to the will of man, but of God. At 65 years of age, she is exactly the right age to have been deluded by the “spirit of Vatican II” that nearly wrecked the Church while she was coming of age.
Diane, please take my advice and give up. You will please Almighty God and His blessed virgin Mother if you do. Nothing good will come from your viewing priesthood “as a thing to be grasped.”



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Cathy

posted December 31, 2010 at 9:55 am


I wrote to Cardinal George while he was the President of the USCCB. He responded back to me, and stated that the same reservation of the male priesthood is not expressly extended to the (permanent) diaconate. But this does not mean that the Church will change this or is being called to change this.
There are recent indications that the Catholic Church will restore the permanent diaconate to women, but without transitioning them to the priesthood. Pope Benedict has made it clear that Sacramentally and doctrinally, the office of priest and bishop is distinctly different from the deacon. There is an actual history of women deacons in the west up to the 3rd Century, and in the East up to the 9th. Pope Paul the VI left open for future study the possibility of women deacons. The Catholic Church has never closed the door for discussion of this – only for the priesthood.
Even though we first receive a personal call from Christ, we also need for this call to be validated by the community – because that call is not just about us – it is about serving our faith community. This woman is about to leave her faith community so she can be ordained a deacon. That makes no sense to me. There are many women serving in the Catholic Church in diaconal roles already, and they are not ordained. They have not left the Church, as this woman is about to do, to join the others in the Roman Catholic Womenpriest movement.
It would be a sanctifying act for the Church to approve of the ordination of women deacons. But this has to come about within our community – and cutting oneself off from our community is a slam at Jesus, at the Holy Spirit, and at the rest of us who remain faithful to our community. What she and the rest are doing is rather controlling – but cooperating with the Holy Spirit is the antithesis to the act of control. Instead, we are active participants in the process.
I have had contact with this group, and they strike me as being quite self-serving. I don’t think they care about the Catholic community. I think they care strictly about themselves. That is how I have experienced them. And I think they mislead people into thinking they have valid Orders, when they do not. The male bishops who supposedly ordained these women did not have the authority from the Church to attempt these ordinations – they acted outside of the Church. One of the reasons Roman Catholic ordinations are valid is because they are being conferred through the apostolic authority granted to do this through that Apostolic line of succession that directly leads back to Christ Himself. We believe as Catholics that Divine Revelation happens through both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. To totally ignore Church authority in this matter totally disregards that Sacred Tradition handed down to us from Jesus through His Apostles. Just because the original ordaining bishops stand in the Apostolic Line of succession does not guarantee that these ordinations were valid – they have to follow proper form – which includes being granted that authority through the Magisterium. This is because Christ promised He would guide the Church through the Holy Spirit.



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Cathy

posted December 31, 2010 at 10:04 am


It is sad that these women are cutting themselves off from the Church. There is evidence that the Church is moving in the direction of women deacons, but not priests. This is not something we can or should try to make happen. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to move us. And we need to respect Church authority.
In order for Orders to be valid, it is not sufficient for a bishop to merely stand in the Apostolic Line of Sucession. He must act with the authority from the Church. The male bishops who originally ordained some of these women did so apart from the authority of the Church.



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dnfoxnews

posted January 3, 2011 at 11:29 am


yea and in the early 70s the Catholic chruch was going to back peddle on married priests, openly gay priests, woman priests, abortion, pill, etc, etc. These knuckleheads fail to read the bible where Jesus said:
… and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (his church.)
2000+ years and going strong.



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Jen

posted May 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm


My grandfather was an ordained deacon for 21 years (he passed away this past December). He was always a guiding light for my development in the Catholic faith, and I believe his spirituality and willingness to become a servant of Christ and the Church helped me become a more involved member of my faith and my parish. I’m not a “rock the boat” kind of person, and I’m content to play whatever role God sets before me in terms of the Church and my own personal life. That said, if at any point it did become permissible for women to enter the diaconate, I’d be interested. See, right now, the only role women can take in the church in terms of Holy Orders is if they become nuns. (Am I incorrect that Holy Order encompasses the sisterhood? Someone correct me if I am, but that’s what I always thought it was.) It’s true that the diaconate is a pathway to priesthood and so forth, but ONLY for unmarried men (my grandfather, clearly, was married – he wanted to become a priest but to do so would’ve had to give up his wife and his family, which he didn’t want to do). It’s too bad the Church couldn’t establish some sort of official ministerial diaconate-like role (one that’s equivalent to the diaconate) for women. Just saying. It’d be nice.



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