Cardinal Walter Kasper suggested a new “diaconal” office for women at the recent spring assembly of the German bishops’ conference, German media are reporting. His proposal is for a “community deaconess” who would carry out pastoral, charitable, catechetic, and specific liturgical roles. This would be distinct from the office of male deacons, to be commissioned by a blessing rather than sacramental ordination. “I think when there is such an office that isn’t simply based on the classical office of deacon, we would have much more flexibility,” he said. The occasion was a study day at which the bishops discussed how to involve women more strongly in the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Kasper rejects women priests. “I think that nothing is to be changed that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood,” he said. This is “the unbroken tradition of the eastern and western Church.”

The “We Are Church” movement called once again for women priests. “We want female priests, bishops, and popes,” said Annegret Laakmann. She termed the bishops’ discussion “a sedative pill.”

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