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FutureChurch Applauds Archbishop's Call for Greater Roles for Women Including Ordaining Women Deacons: Urges Synod on the Family to Take Up Proposal, Launches Petition
Release date: 
Tuesday, October 6, 2015

For Immediate Release
October 6, 2015

Rome Contact:  Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director

+1. 513.673.1401(cell), debrose@futurechurch.org

USA Contacts: 

Russ Petrus, Program Director, 216.228.0869 or 216.533.2462 (cell) russ@futurechurch.org

Luke Hansen, SJ, FutureChurch Women Deacons Project Intern,

605.858.1324 (cell), lhansen@jesuits.org

FutureChurch Applauds Archbishop's Call for Greater Roles for Women Including Ordaining Women Deacons

Urges Synod on the Family to Take Up Proposal, Launches Petition

“FutureChurch urges the Synod on the Family to take up Archbishop Durocher’s proposal calling for greater roles for women in the Church and for ordaining women deacons because we need both women and men governing and ministering in the Church,” said FutureChurch executive director, Deborah Rose-Milavec.

Pope Francis has repeatedly called for a “more widespread and incisive female presence” in the Church. One Canadian Archbishop, Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, is taking that call seriously by proposing that the Synod on the Family, which is currently under way in Rome, reflect on the possibility of allowing more women into leadership and decision making and to open the way for female deacons. 

"Ordaining women deacons would create ‘a more widespread and incisive female presence’ in many aspects of Church life and ministry," said Rose-Milavec. "Women deacons could preside at baptisms and weddings as well as proclaim the Gospel and preach at Sunday Mass. "

Speaking to Catholic News Service about his proposal to the Synod, Archbishop Durocher said, "Where possible, qualified women should be given higher positions and decision-making authority within church structures and new opportunities in ministry.

I think we should really start looking seriously at the possibility of ordaining women deacons because the diaconate in the church's tradition has been defined as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry."

"Having women ordained to serve in these roles would help bishops meet many of the Church’s ministerial needs in the face of the present priest shortage," said FutureChurch program director Russ Petrus, noting that FutureChurch has long advocated for women in Church leadership and for women deacons.

Luke Hansen, SJ, Women Deacons Project Intern for FutureChurch added, "The Church needs the presence of women in liturgical leadership and the reflection on the Scripture."

Women are ready to serve. According to a 2015 study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, in the United States, 80% of paid lay ministers working in the Church, and 58% of students in lay ministry formation programs are women. In those dioceses throughout the country that have restored the permanent diaconate, the wives of men who became deacons were required to attend the same formation programs. All of these women constitute a large pool of potential ministers who could be readily – if not immediately—available to serve in the diaconate.

Ordaining women to the diaconate would not be new. Recent scholarship has shown that women were ordained to the diaconate in the Church for 1200 years. Women deacons number among the Church ministers in the Bible and manuscripts of medieval texts used by bishops include prayers and rituals for ordaining women to the diaconate.  It is time to restore that tradition. In fact, in December 2009 Pope Benedict XVI made changes to the Code of Canon Law, clarifying the role of deacons in the life and ministry of the Church and separating the diaconate from the priesthood. They are different vocations with different ministries. 

FutureChurch has launched a petition calling on bishops participating in the Synod on the Family to take up Archbishop’s Durocher’s proposal for ordaining women to the diaconate and welcoming them into roles with decision-making authority within the Curia and in local Church structures. The petition can be found at https://action.groundswell-mvmt.org/p/joinarchbishopdurocher

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About FutureChurch Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, FutureChurch seeks changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life and leadership. It is a national coalition of parish centered Catholics striving to educate fellow Catholics about the seriousness of the priest shortage, the centrality of the Eucharist (the Mass), and the systemic inequality of women in the Catholic Church. FutureChurch is a nonprofit organization that makes presentations throughout the country, distributes education, advocacy and prayer resources and recruits activists who work on behalf of its mission.