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.

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Synodality: Power to the people

The Synod word has fallen out of widespread use in Catholic circles, but it is back, big-time.

What does it mean? What are the issues? How should we approach a Synod?

Joining Flashes of Insight host Dr Joe Grayland to discuss Synods and Synodality are:

  • Cardinal John Dew of Wellington, New Zealand,
  • Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia and
  • Professor Thomas O’Loughlin, Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology at the University of Nottingham.

Synods were introduced to the Archdiocese of Wellington when Cardinal Tom Williams was archbishop.

Reasonably rare occurrences, the Archdiocese has experienced four synods, two while Cardinal Williams was archbishop and two during Cardinal Dew’s time.

Dew told the discussion that while some will be familiar with the concept of a Synod, he suspected most in the archdiocese were unlikely to be. He explained that in the Archdiocese, synods are about working together, listening together and encouraging the participation of lay people in setting the Archdiocese’s direction.

Pressed on whether he thought bishops are prepared to give up their authority, Dew said it was implicit that the episcopal authority would change radically.

He cited a very tangible example of synodality in operation.

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