Women deacons in the Catholic Church

No issue in the Catholic Church is hotter than the question of women in ministry.

Whether women can, should or will be ordained to the diaconate is what Dr Phyllis Zagano, Emeritus Professor Justin Taylor and Dr Joe Grayland discuss in the latest edition of Flashes of Insight.

Zagano’s starting point is that the past is clear, and no one’s going to argue that women were not deacons.

“Women clearly are clearly in our many churches histories and were ordained (deacons)”, she said.

“In many cases, they were sacramentally ordained to serve as deacons and to serve as deacons fully in different places in different times”.

Zagano said that in ‘recent’ times two bishops began a conversation at the Vatican Council, asking about restoring women to the diaconate.

“The conversation they began is still going on”, Zagano says.

One of the questions is if the Church restored women to the diaconate, whether they would be installed or ordained she pondered.

However, for others in the Flashes of Insight conversation, women deacons are in effect working well in the Church, except it does not call them deacons, and they are not ordained.

Grayland asks if the Church actually needs permanent male or female deacons.

If it does, he suggests we need to change the understanding projected by the transitional diaconate modelled in seminaries.

Grayland says he works with eight women across the three parishes; they serve the community, they work full time, but none are ordained.

We might need more priests, but Grayland says the last thing we need is an expanded clerical class, the permanent diaconate.

Watch and listen as Phyllis Zagano, Justin Taylor and Joe Grayland talk it out under the masterly chairmanship of Tom O’Loughlin.

Additional resources

Phyllis Zagano’s library of publications. Among these is: What do we know about women deacons?(PDF)

Women deacons in the Catholic Church are closer to reality than ever before.

Thomas Schreiner: Does the Bible support Female Deacons?