The Catholic Network for Women’s Equality affirms Pope Francis’ decision to establish a commission to study the question of women as deacons in the Catholic church. This decision follows a request by women religious from around the world (The International Union of Superiors General) when they met with the Pope this past spring.
CNWE members are encouraged to know that Dr. Phyllis Zagano, an international expert who has doggedly researched and advocated for restoring women to the permanent diaconate will be a member of the commission. Dr. Zagano was a keynote speaker at a conference on women deacons hosted by St. Michael’s University College, Toronto (May, 2016). As Dr. Zagano states: “Given the many evidences of women deacons throughout history, the restoration of women to the diaconate seems to be something Francis could do easily.”
For the Catholic church to flourish as a place of justice and inclusion for all, the leadership of the Church needs to dismantle sexist thought and practice, and open to the participation of women at all levels of ministry and decision making in the church. A foundation of Catholic/Christian theology is the full dignity of women and men. Due to the intransigence of our leadership, however, this has yet to be realized in the practice of our church. This commission is a step in the right direction.
As Canadian women, we are heartened that our current federal government has recognized the contribution that women can make to Canadian society by appointing women in greater numbers to our federal cabinet. We hope that this civic progress, will come to be reflected in our Catholic parishes. We will continue, as we have been doing for 35 years, to work toward that goal.