The Vatican has Allowed for the creation of the Women’s Diaconate, to be led by Jesuit Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer of Spain, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The diaconate will be composed of a 12-member commission, six women and six men, and its chief task will be reviewing the possibility of creating female deacons within the church.
The commission will not only review the existing duties of male deacons— preaching, baptism and the witnessing of weddings—it will also attempt to determine the role of female deacons in the early church versus the role of male deacons. The hope is to determine what the role of female deacons in the modern church would be, and how that role would comport with the church’s sacramental character.
The commission was put into place by Pope Francis in the wake of a May 26 meeting with the world’s congregations of Catholic women during the triennial meeting of the International Union of Superiors General.
Addressing the purpose and formation of the group, commission member and senior research associate in residence at Hofstra University Phyllis Zagano stated that the “definitive teaching of the church” that female priests will not be ordained should “allay any fears” that the Women’s Diaconate would serve as a springboard to the priesthood.