Pope Francis said the theologian is first of all a believer who hears the word of God and who humbly listens to what the Holy Spirit says to the churches. His remarks came in an address on Friday to members of the International Theological Commission. The Pope noted that the Commission’s mission is to study doctrinal problems of great importance, especially those which present new points of view. In his speech, the Pope said he wanted to draw particular attention to the importance of listening. He also noted the significantly greater presence of women on the Commission.
We thank Iglesia Descalza for this article
November 29, 2014
Since the beginning of our Church, there have been women deacons alongside the first male deacons (Acts 6:1ff). Lydia in the Christian community of Philippi and Priscilla with her husband Aquila, put in charge of the Church in Corinth by Paul. Also in the Old Testament, the figures of Deborah, the Judge, and Queen Esther stand out. Women have played very important parts among the People of God in the plan of salvation.
In these times, it's crucial to have within our Church worthy women who can perfectly assume the ministry of the diaconate and who, in fact, perform it "unofficially." Examples that stand out we can see in our women "parochial vicars." The women vicars are in fact "women pastors" in their territories and perform diaconal roles daily. They lead catechesis, tend to the sick and even confess them (the only thing they lack is the ability to give them absolution), and bring them Communion. Why couldn't they convey forgiveness in the Spirit and administer Holy Unction at the same time? They celebrate [Liturgies of] the Word and distribute Communion to the faithful (all they lack is the ability to consecrate). They could also baptize and witness marriages and home blessings. They are helping the needy and the widows, and taking in the orphans. In short, they're doing everything that the "male deacons" do. So I'm wondering: Why can't they be deacons, officially? Isn't this clerical chauvinism?
Another obstacle that's raised against them is that by being "women deacons" they would move into "clerical status." This doesn't necessarily have to be so since one doesn't imply the other. The deacons in the early Church were never "clerics" but servants of the community, same as the elders (presbyters) and even the episcopos (bishops). This "clerical" terminology has made us a "separate caste" which has distanced us from the rest of the church community. We are only servants (ministers), members of one body whose head is Christ.
I think that "clericalism and chauvinism" are two important things that we must overcome in our Church that is seeking its re-foundation, i.e. its roots and identity. It's the work that our brother Francis has initiated from Rome despite the "traditionalist opposition" that doesn't want to yield to the necessary reforms that being "the Church of Jesus Christ" requires, if we really want to be that.
Yes to men and women deacons, no to chauvinism and clericalism. Let us just be servants of one another. Amen.
Fr. Pablo Urquiaga is the pastor of La Resurrección del Señor parish in the Archdiocesis of Caracas, Venezuela.
Translator's Note: This article is a bit confusing because it seems like Fr. Pablo is blurring the roles of deacons and priests, perhaps deliberately.
We thank the Bishops Conference of England and Wales for this important information
Catholic Bible Sunday is celebrated this year on 7 December - the Second Sunday of Advent. It presents an opportunity to us to hear afresh and be renewed in our attentiveness to God's word through reading and reflecting on the Scriptures in our parishes and homes.
This year’s theme is Hear, Reflect, Proclaim.
Dawn Morais describes meeting Fr Tony:
Perhaps this is what church is meant to be: people drawn together, not by the obligations of Sunday attendance but by the call of the Gospels to build a better world. That is what it felt like as we listened to Fr. Tony Flannery in the vibrant art and aspiration-filled space of Viva Bookstore in San Antonio , Texas, the evening of Wednesday Nov 12, 2014.
So we embarked on a family excursion, flying from Honolulu, HI to Austin, TX to first join our daughter in Texas and then make the trip to San Antonio together. We were well-primed, having read about Fr. Flannery, “one of the best-known and most-valued priests in Ireland, a man regarded with respect and affection by so many Catholics.” We had also heard from another family member who spoke enthusiastically about attending the talk by this populist priest in Washington D.C.
We were richly rewarded for our trek. We found ourselves in a room full of people who all seemed to want to help Pope Francis shake the cobwebs out of the rafters.