Discerning Deacons Reacts to Release of Global Synod’s Working Document

The Sixteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will discuss opening diaconate to women during October meeting

ROME —Today, the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops published the Instrumentum Laboris ahead of the Sixteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops scheduled for October. Amongst the issues being discussed in this Synod is women’s roles and access to the ordained permanent diaconate.

Casey Stanton, Co-Director of Discerning Deacons, released the following statement:

“As we continue on this path to become a more synodal, listening Church, the release of the Instrumentum Laboris marks a historic opportunity for the Church. For the first time, men and women, clergy and lay, will come together to formally consider how to rethink women’s participation in every aspect of Church life. 

In the Church and in the ever-evolving context of its ministries in the world, we must make visible the service that women already provide. In fact, many women are already ministering as de facto deacons, addressing the pastoral needs created by a shortage of priests and religious sisters that otherwise force many parishes to merge or close. Admitting these women to the order of permanent deacons recognizes the charisms poured out by the Holy Spirit and offered in service to the needs of the People of God. 

The question of women and the diaconate is a living conversation and an active discernment in our Church. In a listening, participatory and synodal Church, it is a question not only for Synods of Bishops and papal commissions, but it is a discernment for the entire people of God.”

Earlier this year, the Vatican announced it would invite women to add their voices as voting members to the Synod of Bishops. In previous synods women had only participated as non-voting auditors. 



Discerning Deacons is a project grounded in the practices of relationship building, synodal listening and communal discernment. Its mission is to engage Catholics in the active discernment of our church around the question of women and the diaconate. It does this by working with church institutions (parishes, schools, universities, religious orders, alumni networks, and Catholic organizations) and growing the space for Spirit-filled and Spirit-led conversations. 

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“I have worked alongside many lay and religious women in my ministry who have exhibited outstanding ability for ministry.  Many have taught me by their example how to be a more effective minister, and by their instruction, helped me to grow in this role…It’s time that the Church gets in step with society and recognizes the equality of women in the workplace.  Women are as capable as men in the work of ministry, and have demonstrated the same equality in scholarship, skills and education as men.”
Fr. Joseph A. Genito, O.S.A
Pastor, St. Thomas of Villanova Parish, Philadelphia, PA
“If there were women deacons in my parish, lay women would relate in a deep and meaningful way to deacons who look, act, speak and feel more like themselves…Though I am an unlikely choice to wear the alb and stole, I have a deep commitment to service in Christ’s name and I try to live it every day. Any need that arises, I am ready to shoulder it, though some needs of our sisters and brothers would be well- or better-served by a woman’s different compassion.”
Deacon Bill Zapcic
Parish Deacon and Homilist, Retired Journalist, Tinton Falls, NJ
“Not only is ordaining women as deacons a restoration of the dynamism of the early Church, it is a matter of justice!”
Fr. Stephen P Newton, CSC
Executive Director, Association of US Catholic Priests, Notre Dame, IN

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