The Catholic Church long held the tradition of barring women from holding liturgical office may soon come to an end.
The Pope has decided set up a special commission to study the role women in the church and to see whether they can assume the role deacons in the Catholic Church.
Historically, the Catholic Church has maintained a male dominant bureaucracy with some members showing very little patience in entertaining the thought of the appointment of females in a decision-making capacity.
The commission which consists of seven men and six women will examine and study the issue, by looking at the historical role that women played at church’s early beginning.
Deacons are the lowest rank in the Catholic Church hierarchy and there are two types namely, permanent and transitional.
Permanent deacons are men ordained to an office in the Catholic Church who normally have no intention or desire of becoming priests. He can be single or married. If the latter, he must be married before being ordained a deacon. If his wife dies before him, he may be ordained a priest if the bishop permits and approves.
On the other hand, Transitional deacons are seminarians, students in the last phase of training for the Catholic priesthood. After being a deacon for a year, they’re ordained a priest by the bishop.
Deacons can baptize, witness marriages, perform funeral and burial services outside of Mass, distribute Holy Communion, and preach the homily among other duties.
Supporters have long voiced their opinions that the role of women in the church has been undermined to a large extent and giving them a voice at the table would be a step in the right direction.
The Pope first remarked in May that he was willing to set up a commission to study the issue.
The Pope had made it known earlier that he would be prepared to consider female deacons, “It would be useful for the Church to clarify this question. I agree,” he told senior members of women’s religious orders.
The Vatican, however, made it clear that appointing women priests were off the table.
At present, all Catholic priests and deacons are male. Priests must be celibate, but deacons can be married men
Marcia Wright, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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