Urges inclusion of women with diaconal calls alongside recognized experts.
FutureChurch commends Pope Francis for his plan to create a commission to study the feasibility of restoring women to the permanent diaconate.
" This is an historic breakthrough, but we know that historically, women have served as deacons and continue to do so today in the East,” said Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director of FutureChurch, who pointed to a new advocacy website CatholicWomenDeacons.org sponsored by the organization.
FutureChurch specifically urges Pope Francis to include women who experience a call to the permanent diaconate, as well as other experts such as Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D, Gary Macy, Ph.D., and Sr. Carolyn Osiek, Ph.D. on the commission itself.
“Experts like Zagano, Macy and others have mined the historical evidence and shown that from the beginning of Christianity women like Phoebe (Romans 16) have served as deacons ,” said Rose-Milavec.
In 1974, responding to a request by Pope Paul VI about the possibility of admitting women to the diaconate, Cipriano Vagaggini, OSB Cam. produced a document showing that women had been ordained to the major order of deacon over the course of many centuries using the same rites as male deacons.
FutureChurch has been working to restore women to the permanent diaconate for many years. In 2013, the organization delivered over 20,000 signatures to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asking them to restore women to the permanent diaconate.
This year, with the help of Luke Hansen, S.J., FutureChurch engaged in a comprehensive plan to bring new energy to this ministry, including
- a new website, CatholicWomenDeacons.org,
- launching a 4-part teleconference series,
- a focused campaign to reach out to U.S. Bishops,
- creating a petition supporting Archbishop Durocher in his call for women deacons at the 2015 Family Synod,
- offering a retreat this fall for women who are discerning or feel called to the permanent diaconate.
FutureChurch and its supporters stand ready to serve. Today, the organization set up a “commission watch” at CatholicWomenDeacons.org to follow the progress of this most promising development on women deacons.
" I want to especially applaud the women religious at the International Union of Superiors General for their courage in bringing the need for women deacons to the Pope's attention during their recent assembly," Rose-Milavec added.
As Natalie Terry, a woman who feels called to ordained ministry said so eloquently during a recent FutureChurch teleconference and was quoted in Sr. Chris Schenk’s recent article for the National Catholic Reporter on women deacons, “Today, I call on bishops and priests who have encountered women in their ministry who have been called, to speak up.”