The restoration of women to the diaconate is the urgent issue of our time, says Dr Phyllis Zagano. How many of us even understand the essence of deacons’ roles: its emphasis on service but also its impressive history in the life of the church. The early church ordained deacons to provide vital pastoral and social services. Deacons could be made bishops and, in a few cases, even made pope! Deacons disappeared into the priesthood after the 12th century until the Second Vatican Council restored the diaconal ministry, but so far not for women.
Until a woman can stand alongside the Pope in St Peter’s, proclaiming the Gospel and preaching, the church will remain silent on the dignity of all humans, Phyllis Zagano believes. Francis has introduced women into managerial functions of the church, and the issue of women’s ministerial roles, including the diaconate, is on the agenda for the synod in Rome. Could the stained glass ceiling be about to break open, restoring women to the centre of the church?
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