I get asked this question a lot: “What’s happening with the commission on women deacons?” Here’s the latest, a story on the subject that moved yesterday on a Spanish website.
Details — roughly translated — from VidaNuevaDigital.com:
The 12 members of the commission (six men and six women, teachers or reputed experts), concluded their work before last summer, as Vida Nueva has learned. They brought to the Pope a brief document, of few pages, in which they analyzed from a historical, anthropological and theological point of view the position of the deaconesses in the primitive Church.
Pope Francis expressed his appreciation for the effort of the working group with a personal message to each of the members.
“We all approved the text and it left us with a good taste in our mouths. It was a study for the Pope, who can do with it what he wants: read it, publish it, use it as a basis to prepare another document,” explained one of the members of the committee. “Our mission was not to tell you whether the opening of the diaconate to women would be positive or negative today, but to study how this reality was in the first centuries of the Church.”The commission had to face several difficulties, such as the impossibility of knowing how many deaconesses there were in the primitive communities, how their ordination was or what their role was. It is known that they helped in the baptism and attended to the sick, but it is not clear if they had any responsibility or not before the altar.
“We know there were deaconesses and we even know the names of several of them. They flourished, above all, in the Eastern Church. But, from the seventh century, they begin to lose their traces. The historical testimonies are few and do not give us all the information that we would have liked,” comments another of the sources consulted.