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Francis Panel to Study Women Deacons

Volume 30, Issue 10,11 & 12, December 21, 2016

Marie Bouclin

     I’d be interested in hearing the comments of others on this. 
     While I would welcome any kind of Vatican discussion, especially a real dialogue with women on the issue of women deacons, the idea of setting up a Commission doesn’t give me a great deal of hope. Many of us are old enough to remember the Theological Commission which found that there is no biblical foundation for refusing to ordain women. While they were not unanimous, this was the majority position. Paul VI ignored it and wrote Inter Insignores in 1976, reserving ordination to men. That of course was followed by John-Paul II’s famous Ordination Sacerdotalis (1994), which closed the discussion on the issue – and people haven’t stopped talking about it. 
     I’m also mindful of the Vatican Commission called after the Council to discuss birth control. Paul VI again went against the Commission's findings and restated the old position in Humanae Vitae. This was a turning point for many, many Roman Catholics – they chose to follow their conscience about family planning, but also a great many left the church because it did not listen to the People of God...
     Nonetheless, dialogue is very important. There is a petition being circulated asking Pope Francis during this ‘Year of Mercy’ to lift the penalty of excommunication for women who have been ordained. I believe WOW is presenting the petition to the Pope (or perhaps a Vatican official) June 4th. It would be a big step if he accepted to dialogue. We’re working on that as well. 
      Your thoughts?
      Marie Bouclin