If you find yourself in Chicago Thursday, you might want to wander over to the Simpson Living Learning Center (1032 West Sheridan Road) at 4 p.m. for what promises to be a lively presentation and discussion on the topic of women deacons.
It’s to mark the official publication of the long-aborning book “Women Deacons: Past, Present and Future,” written by my good friend and brother deacon William Ditewig with Gary Macy and Phyllis Zagano.
The discussion (including Q&A) will be moderated by Dr. Susan Ross, who wrote the forward to the book and who chairs the Theology Department at Loyola University.
As Dr. Ross notes in her forward:
Gary Macy, William Ditewig and Phyllis Zagano have performed an invaluable service in writing Women Deacons: Past, Present and Future. To the question of whether there is historical precedent for women being ordained to the diaconate, Gary Macy offers ample evidence for women’s official and clerical ministry in the Church. He also shows how this practice was first discouraged and then ended. What “ordination” means has actually changed over time, Macy shows, and the distinctive developments in the late medieval Church that excluded women once and for all from ordained diaconal ministry are revealed for their misogyny. William Ditewig, himself an ordained deacon, examines the present state of the issue. He works through the documents of and following Vatican II, showing how the question of women’s diaconal ministry has arisen over and over and why it is time for this issue to be resolved. Lastly, Phyllis Zagano, already an authority on the issue of women and the diaconate, looks toward the future, showing the benefits and possibilities that the ordination of women to the diaconate would bring to the Church.
I read a draft of the manuscript some months back, and what I wrote in response (and what appears on the back cover) still holds:
This is a book that will get people thinking — and talking. After all the debate about ordaining women as Catholic priests, here at last is a timely and trenchant analysis of something even the pope hasn’t dismissed: ordaining women as deacons. Forget everything you know, or think you know, about this hot-button issue. Women Deacons breaks ground, shatters misperceptions and adds immeasurably to the ongoing discussion about women in the Church.
Drop by the Simpson Living-Learning Center for more on this — or check out the Amazon link to order the book, read it and draw your own conclusions.