A strong case for women deacons

Dear Editor, While the issue of the non-ordination of women to the priesthood is final, is it possible that their acceptance to the diaconate will eventually be accepted by the Magisterium of the Church? I venture to say that their acceptance would be welcomed by clergy and laity alike, although I acknowledge there would be opposition by those of a more traditional frame of mind where the presence of altar girls is even frowned upon.

Bro. Martin Browne OSB in his article on the diaconate (IC 25/09/14) states “there is significant evidence for women’s diaconal ministry in the early Church and so the door is not locked on the question of women being ordained deacons in the future”.

While Kieron Wood in his authoritive-sounding letter (IC 09/10/14) seems to dismiss the possibility of women deacons being accepted by the Church, he makes the distinction between deaconesses and deacons.

In St Paul’s Letter to the Romans (16:1) he refers to “Phoebe, a deaconess of the church”, while in his first Letter to Timothy (3:8-13) enumerating the qualities required for “deacons”, both men and women are included. If the reservation of the priesthood to men is based on Scripture, could it be argued that the ordination of women to the diaconate is also based on Scripture?

In my opinion, the introduction of women, lay and religious, would act as a leaven to the perception of clericalism being extended by the acceptance of men-only aspirants to the diaconate. If there was never a shortage of priests, their ministry at funerals, baptisms, weddings etc, also in the role of homilist, would augur well for the future of the Church.

Yours etc.,

Patrick Fleming,

Glasnevin, Dublin 9.