Monday, December 1, 2014
We need women deacons
November 29, 2014
Since the beginning of our Church, there have been women deacons alongside the first male deacons (Acts 6:1ff). Lydia in the Christian community of Philippi and Priscilla with her husband Aquila, put in charge of the Church in Corinth by Paul. Also in the Old Testament, the figures of Deborah, the Judge, and Queen Esther stand out. Women have played very important parts among the People of God in the plan of salvation.
In these times, it's crucial to have within our Church worthy women who can perfectly assume the ministry of the diaconate and who, in fact, perform it "unofficially." Examples that stand out we can see in our women "parochial vicars." The women vicars are in fact "women pastors" in their territories and perform diaconal roles daily. They lead catechesis, tend to the sick and even confess them (the only thing they lack is the ability to give them absolution), and bring them Communion. Why couldn't they convey forgiveness in the Spirit and administer Holy Unction at the same time? They celebrate [Liturgies of] the Word and distribute Communion to the faithful (all they lack is the ability to consecrate). They could also baptize and witness marriages and home blessings. They are helping the needy and the widows, and taking in the orphans. In short, they're doing everything that the "male deacons" do. So I'm wondering: Why can't they be deacons, officially? Isn't this clerical chauvinism?
Another obstacle that's raised against them is that by being "women deacons" they would move into "clerical status." This doesn't necessarily have to be so since one doesn't imply the other. The deacons in the early Church were never "clerics" but servants of the community, same as the elders (presbyters) and even the episcopos (bishops). This "clerical" terminology has made us a "separate caste" which has distanced us from the rest of the church community. We are only servants (ministers), members of one body whose head is Christ.
I think that "clericalism and chauvinism" are two important things that we must overcome in our Church that is seeking its re-foundation, i.e. its roots and identity. It's the work that our brother Francis has initiated from Rome despite the "traditionalist opposition" that doesn't want to yield to the necessary reforms that being "the Church of Jesus Christ" requires, if we really want to be that.
Yes to men and women deacons, no to chauvinism and clericalism. Let us just be servants of one another. Amen.
Fr. Pablo Urquiaga is the pastor of La Resurrección del Señor parish in the Archdiocesis of Caracas, Venezuela.
Translator's Note: This article is a bit confusing because it seems like Fr. Pablo is blurring the roles of deacons and priests, perhaps deliberately.