Women Deacons in the News

Mosaic of the lamb on the mountain of Paradise in Santa Prassede, Chapel of Saint Zeno (ninth century CE), Rome, Italy, with women depicted below (left to right): Episcopa Theodora, then Saint Praxedes, Mary, and Saint Pudentiana. (Image via Wikimedia, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0, author: Livioandronico2013.)

The Los Angeles Review of Books published a well-researched, thoughtful article this week by Sarah E. Bond and Shaily Patelen. “Recovering the Female Clerics of the Early Church” sets in context the significance of the recent archeological discoveries at Ashdod in Palestine:

“Ashdod confirms that we cannot continue to tell neat stories about how women were once part of Church leadership, and then were then intentionally excluded as Church Fathers took up formal titles. These mosaics point to a messier, but more accurate version of Christian origins: women’s leadership has always depended on the context. Some groups lauded their women leaders while others demanded women dare not speak in Church.”

These scholars remind us of the complexity of our Church’s history and living tradition. The Church has never been one thing, with one singular practice or custom. ​​

The article makes mention of Discerning Deacons’ work – as they bring readers into the present, and highlight the documentary we released last year with filmmaker Pilar Timpane “Called to Serve“. They also draw attention to our St. Phoebe prayer gathering as a visible witness of the fresh calls for women deacons.

There were a few other news alerts about “women” “deacons” “papal commission”. For example this patheos blog post Ministries in the Church, Momentum for Change, Again by Jack Hartjes gives readers a nice intro and overview to the changes unfolding and to the ministry of the deacon. And then there’s an alert about the papal commission (it turns out at least one member has publicly criticized Pope Francis over vaccines.)

We commend these stories to you – fresh reminders that the conversation is alive! And that we are invited to not only read along, but also to participate as protagonists in shaping the next chapter in this living tradition.

This is the final week to sign up our synod animators cohort. So if you are considering trying to organize listening sessions and serving as a facilitator in this historic consultation – you are welcome to join us as we walk on this path together, to reflect, to learn, share best practices, and inspire one another.

I hope you can join us on our webinar next month with Mauricio Lopez! We’ll explore how US and Latin American Catholics can walk together on this synodal journey as one Church.

Share this Article

Witness
“I feel that the Catholic Church as it is structured is not what Jesus envisioned for his followers—so many of them were women of his day. What happened?”
Joan D. Martin
Ignatian Volunteer Corps Member, parishioner at New Roads Catholic Community in Belmont, MA
Endorser
“It is time to open up the permanent diaconate to all who are qualified regardless of gender. The Church needs this witness.”
Keith Davis
Director of Deacon Formation (Archdiocese of Santa Fe) and National Association of Lay Ministry Board Member
Witness
“Having women present in leadership at Mass would truly reveal the importance of women in the church.”
Lena Denis

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