Archbishop calls for possibility of ordaining women as Deacons
Archbishop calls for possibility of ordaining women as Deacons
Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, said the synod should reflect on the possibility of allowing for female deacons as it seeks ways to open up more opportunities for women in Church life.
Where possible, qualified women should be given higher positions and decision-making authority within Church structures and new opportunities in ministry, he told Catholic News Service Tuesday.
Discussing a number of proposals he offered the synod fathers to think about, he said, “I think we should really start looking seriously at the possibility of ordaining women deacons because the diaconate in the Church’s tradition has been defined as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry.”
Currently, the Catholic Church permits only men to be ordained as deacons. Deacons can preach and preside at baptisms, funerals, and weddings, but may not celebrate Mass or hear confessions.
Speaking to participants at the Synod of Bishops on the family Oct. 6, Durocher said he dedicated his three-minute speech to the role of women in the Church — one of the many themes highlighted in the synod’s working document.
The working document, which is guiding the first three weeks of the synod’s discussions, proposed giving women greater responsibility in the Church, particularly through involving them in “the decision-making process, their participation — not simply in a formal way — in the governing of some institutions; and their involvement in the formation of ordained ministers.”
Durocher, who recently ended his term as president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CNS that much of his brief talk was focused on the lingering problem of violence against women, including domestic violence. He said the World Health Organization estimates that 30 percent of women worldwide experience violence by their partner.
He reminded the synod fathers that in the apostolic exhortation “Familiaris Consortio” in 1981, St. John Paul II basically told the Church that “we have to make a concerted and clear effort to make sure that there is no more degradation of women in our world, particularly in marriage. And I said, ‘Well, here we are 30 years later and we’re still facing these kinds of numbers.’”
He said he recommended one thing they could do to address this problem was, “as a synod, clearly state that you cannot justify the domination of men over women — certainly not violence — through biblical interpretation,” particularly incorrect interpretations of St. Paul’s call for women to be submissive to their husbands.
In his presentation, the archbishop also noted that Pope Benedict XVI had talked about the question of new ministries for women in the Church. “It’s a just question to ask. Shouldn’t we be opening up new venues for ministry of women in the Church?” he said.
In addition to the possibility of allowing for women deacons, he said he also proposed that women be hired for “decision-making jobs” that could be opened to women in the Roman Curia, diocesan chanceries, and large-scale Church initiatives and events.
Another thing, he said, “would be to look at the possibility of allowing married couples — men and women, who have been properly trained and accompanied — to speak during Sunday homilies so that they can testify, give witness to the relationship between God’s word and their own marriage life, and their own life as families.”


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  1. Here, here Bishop Durocher….His 3 minute talk about women in the Church…was hopefully a bit of that speaking boldly…brought a tear to my eye….prouder to be Canadian today!

  2. Con Devree says:

    It is very important to revisit the largely unrealized aspiration of the Vatican II to empower the laity to sanctify the world. Priests have as their sole purpose the sanctification of the laity through word and sacrament precisely so as to enable great Catholic lawyers, business leaders, writers, journalists, investors, parents, teachers, etc. to make the world a holy place. The book of Revelation holds out to us the image of the heavenly Jerusalem, with its streets of gold and gates of pearl, but with no temple in it. The point is that the city itself has become a temple, which is to say, a place of right praise.
    So what is the role of women in the Church? How can women find more power? By becoming world-transforming saints! Thérèse of Lisieux, Bernadette of Lourdes, Mother Katharine Drexel, Mother Cabrini, Mother Teresa, and Edith Stein all wielded more real power than 99% of the priests and bishops of their time.

  3. Nessan Vaughan says:

    I welcome the thrust of what the Archbishop is reported as having said. I have never heard a substantial, not to mention convincing, theological explanation or justification for the exclusion of women from the priesthood. Attempts by Pope John Paul to close, definitely, a discussion on this matter have patently failed and will continue to fail. Women’s exclusion from the priesthood, diaconate and positions of authority within the Church is an insult to all members of the Church who cherish a belief in the intrinsic dignity and fundamental equality of all by virtue of their baptism.
    We should all be concerned about the Church’s treatment of women. Of course, there are many other issues of concern: the role of lay people, the need for the Church to place the situation of the poor and excluded at the centre of her mission, etc. I would also welcome a focus on the latter and welcome Pope Francis’ expressed leadership and inspiring example in this area.
    Nessan Vaughan

  4. Peter Shore says:

    I’m intrigued to know what connection Archbishop Durocher sees between the ordination of women and a pastoral synod on the family that can’t make any determinations on matters of doctrine. Was it just an opportunity at the microphone?

  5. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Nice to see a fellow Canadian not cower in fear for thinking outside the box on a few issues. Has it become a crime in this world to be bold? Certainly not. It is what the world needs right now. More people to come forward and stand up but better yet participate in actions that are going to make a difference rather than continue to think a change of heart is the only conversion needed. We will be defined by our activities and our inaction not our thoughts and theology at this stage in the game.

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