Head of German Bishops’ Conference An Office of Female Deacons – UPDATED

Archbishop of Freiburg Robert Zollitsch, who chairs the German Bishops’ Conference, has called for “a specific office of deacon for women” (ein spezifisches Diakonenamt für Frauen). He called for the move at the end of a four-day meeting to discuss possible reforms, saying that the Catholic Church could only regain credibility and strength by committing to reform.

Zollitsch also commented favorably on a conference proposal to allowed divorced and remarried Catholics to serve on parish councils and possible be admitted to the sacraments.

More here.

UPDATE: a reader has sent the full statement in German of Archbishop Zollitsch. The statement makes it clear that he is calling for a new office specifically for women rather than admission of women to the sacramental diaconate. The report has been updated to reflect this.

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73 comments

  1. After reading the article I assume that he is speaking about “ordained” deacons and not the new office of non holy orders female deacons they some came up with earlier this Winter?

    1. @John Swencki – comment #2:
      Now, John, why would you ask this question?

      It seems to me that SELF examination, repentance and renewal are the constants of Christian life. The pronouncement here is about CHANGE.

      And yet, in another sense, the issue is about SELF, i.e. the Church looking at the Church and reflecting on the call of the Church in the world today, as well as the stirring of the Spirit in the people who make up the Church. Ordaining women deacons would be a lovely expression of repentance and renewal, istm. For too long, women have been treated as second-class citizens.

      1. Rita, CHANGE it absolutely is but, I think, only after the planks have been removed from eyes that can’t see. Hence my comment. @Rita Ferrone – comment #3:

  2. I recall when permanent deacons were allowed in this country in the late 1970’s that they were referred to as “lay deacons” although ordained. They were not paid to be deacons, maintained their regular secular jobs and were not allowed to wear clerical dress. As time progressed, canon law caught up with practice and it was determined that lay deacons were ordained and a part of the clergy not the laity and in many places today they wear a clerical collar when actually “functioning” as a deacon.
    But in fact, what do they do that an “extraordinary lay minister” can’t do? Nothing, except the deacon is the ordinary minister or baptism, and witnessing marriages in the sacramental life of the Church. They are allowed to preach and act liturgically at Mass and other sacraments.
    A lay women in the absence of a priest or deacon can baptize, witness marriages (when given an extraordinary indult by the bishop) and in Communion Services and other devotions can preach–but a lay person, male or female can’t give an “official” priestly blessing. There were deaconesses in the early Church, but it appears to have been truly a lay ministry where they assisted with the adult baptism of women and did the acts of service that is highlighted for deacons in the New Testament. Active orders of Catholics sisters/nuns have done this for centuries and quite effectively.
    So can it happen? I would suspect so.
    At any rate, the German Bishops’ Conference will do one of two things, push this agenda forward or create the need for clarification and a more definitive statement not allowing it. Time will tell.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #5:
      Allan, your answer to what can a lay minister do contains the information that marks the real difference. Only in exceptional circumstances can they do what a deacon does and never, never is a woman called upon when there is an ordained deacon (male) available to do the same thing.

      So, viewed from the perspective of women, the status quo is that they are possible substitutes, in a restricted sense, but only to be used for those rare occasions when men aren’t available. Men are ALWAYS and EVERYWHERE preferred.

      That’s what most people call sexism.

      1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #9:
        Not quite, if a deacon is available, a lay man would not be called either, so that is a bit of a straw man or should I say woman? I know of many women who offer Communion Services in our diocese in the absence of a priest. I know of catechists in South America and elsewhere who are women who catechize and baptize, etc. In my own parish, the majority of paid personnel on the parish level and school level are women and mostly women bring Holy Communion each week to our home bound. If that is sexism, so be it!

      2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #10:
        No, not a straw man, Allan. Because the ordained are all male.

        Men are always preferred, systematically.

        The effect you speak of — whenever the opportunity is opened women rush in — is compensatory. Of course a lot of women do these things.

    2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #5:
      RE Fr Allan’s comment that deacons may only do what an ‘extraordinary lay minister’ can do. Yes but deacons do what they do ‘with the standing of a deacon’; as one who is ordained and with a commitment to life long ministry and with the formation and training that goes with this.
      Anglicans used to have a lay order of deaconesses before they were able to be deacons. And now have various arrangements for women and men who feel called by God to ministry but not ordination in the church.
      Given the (lack) of numbers offering for priesthood some other systematic (rather than just local) arrangements for pastoral and teaching ministry, professional and voluntary, seems to be needed as a matter of urgency.

  3. This will simply. never. happen.

    The problem is that there is one Sacrament of Orders with three graduations: deacon, priest, bishop. There are not three separate sacraments. Hence, admittance to one means the possibility of being admitted to all. And since women cannot be ordained priests, they won’t be deacons either.

    I know you all know this, of course, but still…

    This was the problem in the Anglican Communion (well, one of them!). Women deacons were allowed in (I think?) 1984 and then priests a few years later. Now bishops. At those first two stages a lot of people thought it would go no further, but of course the Anglicans claim to have a roughly similar understanding of orders to ours which meant that, of course, it would!!

    1. @Jack Regan – comment #6:
      Note that various Catholic bishops, and Orthodox bishops, have expressed cautious openness to development on women’s ordination, or left open the possibility of future changes, or admitted that the reasons are not compelling for the current teaching.
      Note also that Catholic theologians – my impression is that this is the vast, vast majority by far – are not persuaded by the arguments against women’s ordination and are open to future development.

      As to where this will go, I make no predictions. As to where I think it should go, I’m making no claims here. I’m merely stating the above facts, which I think have some significance.

      awr

    2. @Jack Regan – comment #6:
      “This will simply. never. happen.”

      Jack, in my opinion your point is absolutely a valid one. I’ve often thought of the question in those terms, too. And yet, to think how many ecclesial/theological questions have been answered with “it’ll never happen” for such-and-such a good reason, and then have happened, simply because the question was reframed… The list would be long, no?

  4. I used to think, let’s hold out for ordination. Period. Then I got to holding out for ordination to the diaconate.

    If it were possible to function as a deacon – especially to preach without having to sneak around or call it something else – I’m willing to ‘settle’ for that.

    After thirty years in parish ministry, including the last two weeks with no priests available during the week, I’ll live with whatever they come up with. Ordain me, don’t ordain me. Just let me legitimately do what needs to be done when it needs doing.

  5. Well, if Our Lady can be Mediatrix of All Graces and Co-Redemptrix, women can share in a ministerial priesthood modeled on Mary as mediator and co-redeemer, surely?

    1. @Graham Wilson – comment #12:
      EXCEPT THAT –
      Our Lady is NOT Co-Redemptrix, nor Mediatrix of all Graces, These titles and their attendant assumed status are Feminism run amok and have no offical sanction in the Church. Many people are convinced that these are true, but, though they are in wide circulation by some, they are not Church Teaching. They are rather of a type with Mexicans who openly worship the Virgin of Guadlupe as a godess.
      CHRIST IS THE ONLY MEDIATOR AND ADVOCATE, The sole propitiation for our sins.

      1. @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #65:
        MJO, I think you overstate your case. The Church clearly tolerates these titles as pious opinions. They are neither heresy nor (as your comment about Mexicans implies) idolatry. While I would not be in favor of making them dogmas, I think it is going too far to anathematize what the Church allows.

        Also, while it is true that Mary did not “‘make Jesus …present within the world’ of her own power,” the same is true of priests. Just sayin’.

      2. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #68:
        Thanks for your comment. I may have gotten somewhat overheated. Still, while tolerated pious opinion is not the same as dogma, many people who hold their pious opinions are not aware of this. Also, your word ‘tolerated’ is significant. And, one is often amazed at the Church’s ‘tolerance’ of pagan and idolatrous elements of belief which are held and practiced by the faithful in some parts of the world.

  6. UPDATE: a reader has sent the full statement in German of Archbishop Zollitsch. The statement makes it clear that he is calling for a new office specifically for women rather than admission of women to the sacramental diaconate.

    That’s important to note. Early press reports have not included that distinction. (But that is media religion reportage for you.)

    And it makes a difference, because the diaconate is a holy order (CCC 1536, 1538, 1570-71). Once you admit women to one holy order, how can you deny them the rest? Archbishop Zollitsch is undoubtedly aware of the distinction.

    Nonetheless, this move to resurrect the long dormant office of deaconess will only (I contend) increase pressure to force the Church to reexamine its teaching on the reservation of holy orders to men, since many Catholics will struggle to see the distinction between deaconess and deacon – and some clergy, especially in the German-speaking Church, will work to blur it in any case, especially in liturgical practice.

    Which is one reason why I expect that Archbp. Zollitsch’s call will not result in any change on this subject.

    1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #16:

      While other arguments may be adduced against the ordination of women to the diaconate, I do not think, Richard, that your position (“Once you admit women to one holy order, how can you deny them the rest?”) carries much weight.

      Both the reformed rites of ordination and the writings of the great majority of sacramental theologians over the past several decades are clear to point out that the ordination of deacons is not ordination to the ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ. Only the order of presbyters and the order of bishops are priestly orders.

      When I began noticing this distinction within the sacrament of holy orders in the 1980’s my thought at that time was that this understanding would eventually open the order of deacons to women. Perhaps that eventuality is approaching, who knows? Even if it does, ordination of women to the ministerial priesthood in the orders of presbyters and bishops does not, by necessity, follow.

  7. Another way at looking at this is that only the bishop has full apostolic authority, not a priest or deacon, only the bishop.
    When we state that Christ chose only male apostles this applies to bishops.
    Priests and deacons “share” in the bishops “apostolic authority” but do not completely possess it. To say that once entered into holy orders one can move up is not necessarily so. For example, a married permanent deacon cannot move up, he is not a “mini” priest but rather has his own distinct ministry.
    Possibly a female deacon who is ordained can share in the bishops “apostolic authority” but is limited just as is the married deacon is limited and priest who is limited. None of them, priest or deacon fully have apostolic authority, only the bishop but they do share in it. Mary Magdalene and the other women were not apostles but did “share” in Christ’s ministry and the apostolic ministry .

  8. With the update, I’m a bit confused as we are back to the lay deaconess. So what would they do that women can’t already do? Would they be licensed to preach? Would they act in any liturgical role, such as proclaiming the Gospel at Mass, ordinary Minister of Holy Communion? Again, in terms of the true role of the deacons/deaconess, haven’t women religious in active orders done this all along? They were/are the ones caring for and feeding the poor, teaching the ignorant and nursing the sick and dying. It would be nice to know exactly what the German bishops have in mind.

  9. Richard Malcolm And it makes a difference, because the diaconate is a holy order (CCC 1536, 1538, 1570-71). Once you admit women to one holy order, how can you deny them the rest? Archbishop Zollitsch is undoubtedly aware of the distinction.

    Even within Holy Orders distinctions are possible. For example, a few years back both the Code of Canon Law and the Catechism were modified to remove language that spoke of deacons acting in persona Christi, that term being restricted to presbyters and bishops. Given the main arguments against ordination of women to the priesthood are based on the theology of priests acting in persona Christi, I can’t help but wonder if this change might open the door to sacramental ordination of women to the diaconate.

  10. Hello Fr. Krisman,

    Both the reformed rites of ordination and the writings of the great majority of sacramental theologians over the past several decades are clear to point out that the ordination of deacons is not ordination to the ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ.

    Here, I think, we must respectfully disagree; I find the new rite of ordination impoverished (while indisputably valid, it should go without saying) precisely because of such ambiguities, and unpersuasive most recent theological treatments of this subject. Many here would line up with Zagano over Martimort, I realize, while I would not; and I don’t have the time to rehash all of those arguments.

    I will, for the moment, simply say that I find the constant apostolic and unbroken tradition of ordaining men as deacons, the marks which characterize their institution (the prayers and laying on of bishop’s hands) as sacramental, and the teaching of Trent (See. xxii.ii) persuasive on this question. But if these points do not decisively resolve the debate by themselves for the Vatican and most bishops’ conferences, they will still be faced with two competing concerns: the desire and pressure on the one hand to affirm the equal dignity of women in the Church, and on the other the acute danger that opening the (existing) diaconate to women will only raise the pressure (by the design of at least some of its advocates) to ordain them as priests, too. Which is why, again, I expect that nothing will be done with regards to the diaconate, and, almost as likely, that deaconesses will not be instituted, either.

  11. To echo Rita’s comments – why try to frame this as a legalistic question based upon episcopal exceptions, emergencies, etc. as if throwing a bone but ignoring the deeper reality.

    Vatican II council fathers reframed this issue and question – we are all called to be a priestly people through baptism. Only then did the council define offices and minstries. And as Fr. Ron points out, you have ordained priestly order and ordained diaconate order (male currently but historically both male and female)

    Here is an excellent advocacy analysis by a retired US bishop:

    http://americamagazine.org/node/150643

    Key points:
    – “….as the International Theological Commission document points out, what the Second Vatican Council was proposing was not a “restoration of a previous form” but “the principle of the permanent exercise of the diaconate [italics in the French original and in the English translation] and not one form which the diaconate had taken in the past.” Who knows what new and grace-filled enrichment of that ministry might grow from the ordination of women as deacons?”

  12. “With the update, I’m a bit confused as we are back to the lay deaconess. So what would they do that women can’t already do?”

    The first sound question I’ve heard from Macon in awhile. Except for the “deaconess” meme.

    It seems like we’re just talking lay ecclesial ministry then. And if it’s good for women, some might ask what about married men who aren’t deacons. And then some might ask why get ordained when you can just be endorsed/appointed/blessed/commissioned?

    I’m inclined to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” And by the way, let’s have a serious look at the theology across the lines of Orthodox/Catholic/Anglican/Reformed and see where that leads us. I don’t think the issue of women in orders will get peaceably discerned and resolved until we have a lot more Christian unity to back it up.

    “Just let me legitimately do what needs to be done when it needs doing.”

    Preach it, sister!

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #23:

      Ordination is less about function than relationship. What needs to be done will get done by laity or clergy or some other group. But where is Christ or the Church in this? With ordination we declare that a person’s ministry is the ministry of Christ, a visible sign of the life Jesus brought. It is not a job that someone can be paid to do, it is Christ still serving his people in the Church.

      How do we encounter Christ in the Church? The Orthodox of Greece is an example. For many centuries, bishops have been chosen from among monks, so it is natural that the first ordained women to be ordained be discerned in a comparable way, with personal issues of lifelong commitment out of the way so the focus can be on Christ in our midst.

      In the West we do things differently, and it is harder to see an analog that will lead to women being ordained. It is hard to see how men manage to get ordained! We have so few ordinations in part because of the incomprehensibility of the process that culminates in ordination. The Church needs to reflect on its discernment process so that the focus is on Christ. Do we see Christ in the ministries of women? Some women or all women? Do we associate those ministries with the mission of Christ? Are they helped or hindered by our ordination process?

  13. Hello Todd,

    It seems like we’re just talking lay ecclesial ministry then. And if it’s good for women, some might ask what about married men who aren’t deacons. And then some might ask why get ordained when you can just be endorsed/appointed/blessed/commissioned?

    I also thought Fr. McDonald’s question was a perceptive one – but I didn’t want to spoil the soup by seeming to endorse him (he has enough critics here as it is).

    If Archbp. Zollitsch really is talking about an office that amounts to lay ecclesial ministry, it is indeed difficult to see what it would actually do that lay women (and men) don’t already do in the Church right now, in parishes around the world, save to give them a nice title for their business cards and the parish website directory. The new office would be a concession more apparent than real. Only in furthering perceptions that women had advanced another step toward priestly ordination would there be any advantage to those so-minded.

    I don’t think the issue of women in orders will get peaceably discerned and resolved until we have a lot more Christian unity to back it up.

    Perhaps not. In which case, in any event, it doesn’t seem to be in any immediate (or even reasonably long-term) prospect.

    But I can’t help observing what expanding ministerial ordination to women has done to the unity of denominations taking the step. But if so, it seems to be as a symptom of more fundamental difficulties.

    1. @Crystal Watson – comment #25:

      Hi Crystal. Back to my question in #1, has he changed his mind? Is he talking about ordained female deacons or lay female deaconnesses?
      The article talks about “deacons” rather than “deaconnesses”. I cannot read the german update. I think that they changed the original english article, it seems that they specifically mentioned ordained deacons but I can’t find it now (or I misread it, it was very early). I think ordained female deacons is a milestone whereas lay female deaconnesses is not necessarily a milestone development. Any ideas on this?

  14. Dale,

    According to the update to this post, it appears that “The statement makes it clear that he is calling for a new office specifically for women rather than admission of women to the sacramental diaconate.” which is what Kasper had mentioned also.

    But what if the church intended to ordain women as real deacons? Yes, that would be different. though it’s depressing to realize that women used to be deacons in the early church … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoebe_%28Bible%29 … and that all we would be doing to regaining what was lost.

    And even “real” women deacons will not address the lack of equality in the church – only ordaining women as priests will do that.

  15. I personally have a problem with establishing a “new” office. I don’t think there is justification for it. It sounds an awful lot like “separate but equal” in which women can baptize and marry and possibly preach but they are not ordained because they are not male.
    I think we should stick with the three offices we have in holy orders and decide if women should be ordained as deacons.

  16. Dale and Todd, et alii:

    Playing devil’s advocate, would suggest that the council fathers ressourced the early church diaconate ministry (yes, at that time, male only) and yet it sounds like some say why? what does an ordained lay minister do that any ordinary lay person can not do?

    Would suggest that the ministry of diaconate is different from lay ministry……it is the community/the church calling and designating baptized folks for specific roles to support the body of Christ. Wonder if today the growth of professional, paid ministers (majority being female) has eclipsed or covered over the early church’s diaconate ministry? And yet, in much of the current catholic world (think Africa, Central/South Americas, Asia, Oceania), there are few paid professional staff – the church grows and thrives because of ministries – some ordained lay but most fulfilling the role of deacon but without ordination.

    As others have said – council defined bishop, presbyter, and deacon and deacon is different from ordained presbyter. In much of the US, would suggest that you have bishop, priests with paid, professional staff plus ordained lay (male) deacons.

    Fact – those deacons (whether official, formal, legal, or whatever) are seen as ordained, pastoral priestly assistants. (not sure the council intended this?)
    Given this reality, then echo Rita’s concerns that maintaining a lay, ordained diaconate reserved to males only, continues a patriarchy; a male clerical authority/power center; and, even though many may be paid professionally, they may not have a voice or can be easily trumped by volunteer, lay, male, ordained deacons.
    (assume that folks whether male or female can always abuse positions; act with clericalism, etc. – but this is a side issue that should not derail the German bishop’s call or the call of many since the end of VII.

  17. In view of the citation in #4, there can be no question that both the apostolic and post apostolic church recognized and revered the ministry of female deacons. That the Orthodox have actively considered renewing this practice should expose the “traditionalists” in this forum as misogynists. They petulantly insist that we continue the men only policy across the board. I don’t believe this is an intellectually honest stance. It’s one thing to suggest arguments against ordaining women deacons, but to say that the church could not do this is beyond the pale. I could be wrong.

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #30:

      Fr. Jack: That the Orthodox have actively considered renewing this practice should expose the “traditionalists” in this forum as misogynists. They petulantly insist that we continue the men only policy across the board.

      I agree that an inability or resolute unwillingness to even countenance the possibility of women deacons is misogyny. Any man who claims that a woman is not capable of preaching or performing the other duties of a deacon is committing a grave act against charity. This lack of charity underscores an inability to recognize that men and women participate equally in the fundamental intellectual and affective characteristics shared by all human beings. Most certainly, women in other Christian traditions ably preach and celebrate the sacraments. In fact, not a few are better preachers than Roman priests. Perhaps Roman priests who become defensive over the thought of women’s ordination might want to attend a eucharist celebrated by a gifted preacher who happens to be a woman and take notes on homiletic style.

      Catholic traditionalism struggles with its inability in many cases to see past its own reflection. Like Narcissus and his beloved pool, the traditional liturgy and its culture can become a self-perpetuated infatuation marked by resolute inability or unwillingness to move beyond a particular liturgical facade. This narcissism contains affective, emotive, and even sexual valences. Misogyny plays a part, but the situation is more complex than at first glance.

    2. @Jack Feehily – comment #30:

      That the Orthodox have actively considered renewing this practice should expose the “traditionalists” in this forum as misogynists.

      I find the ad hominem here deeply disappointing, Fr. Jack. Are you a mind reader?

      The only eastern churches I know of to do anything on this score are the Orthodox Church of Greece, which in its 2004 Synod only chose a limited restoration of deaconesses in remote monasteries; and the Armenian Apostolic Church, which has a small handful of deaconesses. The practice in these churches seems to be a return to the ancient Eastern practice of granting what amounts to a lay ecclesial office to abbesses and senior nuns. As the 2004 Synod stated, “the Holy Synod confirmed by a majority vote that: a) the institution (thesmos) of deaconesses established in antiquity and rooted in the Holy Canons was never abolished and b) depended upon presenting discriminating opportunities, the regional Bishop may consecrate (kathosiosi)senior nuns of Holy Monasteries of their Eparchy; in order to address the needs of their Holy Monasteries, and only with the understanding that the deaconess is not appointed to the rank (bathmos) of priesthood…”

      And this is not the same thing as what Phyllis Zagano is calling for, though she seems encouraged by this step. Canon XIX of the Council of Nicaea is usually cited here: “With regard to the deaconesses who hold this position we remind that they possess no ordination*, but are to be reckoned among the laity in every respect.”

  18. The more basic question is what should the deaconate be about?

    We certainly need better preaching and more diverse preaching that is related to real life, e.g. family life and work life.

    I had hoped that having married deacons would improve the preaching. However, most of the time deacons don’t preach. Most of the time they do not appear to have been chosen for their preaching ability, e.g. married men with master’s degrees in theology are not being recruited to preach as deacons. When deacons preach their preaching does not seem to be any more relevant to family life than the preaching of priests. I can’t recall any priest or deacon having ever spoken to people’s work lives. One would think that work is completely irrelevant to Christian life.

    Taking care of the poor and needy has been a central part of Christianity, and deacons were at the center of this in the early church. So much so that the archdeacon often was elected bishop. However in my experience deacons seem to mainly be focused on pastoral work that has little to do with the poor and needy. They do much the same things as women pastoral associates, e.g. sacramental preparation, faith formation. So it seems very unfair to ordain married part time men to this ministry while failing to ordain full time (usually overtime) women who do much the same work.

    A lot of the care of the poor and needy today is done outside the parish (e.g. in Catholic Charities) or even outside church institutions (e.g. the public mental health system which is well staffed with Catholics at least in my area). Yet none of this is connected to parish experience. Perhaps one reason why Justice is not connected to Liturgy!. Catholics who work for various church organizations are completely ignored by their parishes. They are rarely invited to preach or participate in the faith formation of their parishes. Before I retired from the public mental health system I was well known as an advocate for the dignity and empowerment of the mentally ill. Since I don’t compartmentalize my life all my psychological, sociological, and theological knowledge was available to everyone in the public mental health system. However, after I retired and volunteered for pastoral council, and talked about my work in the public mental health system, the pastor’s response was “Well, I guess I really don’t know you” i.e. that I had a Christian life beyond the parish.

    The more basic question is what is baptism all about? I think we still have a long way to go to implement Vatican II on baptismal empowerment. I hope Pope Francis will help us in this respect. Perhaps after another fifty years of work on baptismal empowerment we might be able to figure out where priests and deacons fit in.

  19. I’m inclined to avoid the “separate and not quite equal” new pseudo-order of women deacons in favor of serious conversation about the diaconate as an order, its function, eligible candidates for ordination alongside lay ecclesial ministry.

    While there is only 1 sacrament of orders, the 3 are distinct and V2 points in the direction of no longer seeing diaconate ordination as precursor to presbyteral ordination…it need not be so. In light of Lumen Gentium, Ministeria Quaedam, etc. the door is open for further theological reflection upon the nature of the 3 sacramental orders…together, yes, but distinct as well.

    In my recent article in WORSHIP on lay ecclesial ministry, I echo the sentiments of many who suggest that what lay ecclesial ministers are doing within the Church today is truly diaconal ministry…caring for the needs of the community, custody of the temporal affairs, preaching the Word (albeit outside Mass), attention to the sick, advising the presbyter (and in some cases the bishop) in his leadership. All without the sacramental graces and recognition by the Church. Not for the sake of the LEM himself, but a recognition by the Church community, a ritual community ritually recognizing its leaders. (See Ed Hahnenberg on this topic)

    It seems to me that we still need to develop an adequate post-conciliar theology of the episcopate (other than the medieval “super-priest”!) and then a complementary theology of the presbyterate and the diaconate (other than “almost priest” or “second choice to Father” or “overgrown altar server” or “someone to take all those baptisms and weddings Father didn’t want/can’t do” or any other of the unfortunate misperceptions or problematic stereotypes).

    This may help an authentic theology of LEM to emerge…or we’ll realize that LEM is diaconal ministry, and the latter could and should be open to men and women. Especially since at least one argument against the ordination of women as deacons has been weakened with the recent canonical clarification…

    1. @Jeremy Helmes – comment #34:

      It seems to me that we still need to develop an adequate post-conciliar theology of the episcopate (other than the medieval “super-priest”!) and then a complementary theology of the presbyterate and the diaconate (other than “almost priest” or “second choice to Father” or “overgrown altar server” or “someone to take all those baptisms and weddings Father didn’t want/can’t do” or any other of the unfortunate misperceptions or problematic stereotypes).

      This may help an authentic theology of LEM to emerge

      The problem with this approach is that it ignores the facts of history which are that religious life rather than ordination has been the primary source of the renewal and expansion of ministry in the Church.

      As John O’Malley has pointed out each major renewal of religious life (desert solitary, Benedictine, Franciscan, Jesuit, etc.) brought with it new forms of ministry. Priesthood, ministry, and religious life: some historical and historiographical considerations, THEOLOGICAL STUDIES, 1988, 49, 223ff

      These forms of ministry originated from baptism (i.e. religious life is a second baptism) not from holy orders.

      Max Weber, THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGION, articulated well the problem of religious virtuosity arising from individual differences of talents versus the need of the church bureaucracy to rationalize and control their existence:

      The empirical fact, important for us, that men are differently qualified in a religious way stands at the beginning of the history of religion. … The sacred values that have been most cherished, could not be attained by everyone. The possession of such faculties is a ‘charisma,’ which, to be sure, might be awakened in some but not in all. It follows from this that all intensive religiosity has a tendency toward a sort of status stratification, in accordance with differences in the charismatic qualifications. ‘Heroic’ or ‘virtuoso’ religiosity is opposed to mass religiosity.

      Now, every hierocratic and official authority of a ‘church’—that is, a community organized by officials into an institution which bestows gifts of grace—fights principally against all virtuoso-religion and against its autonomous development. For the church, being the holder of institutionalized grace, seeks to organize the religiosity of the masses and to put its own officially monopolized and mediated sacred values in the place of the autonomous and religious status qualifications of the religious virtuosos. By its nature, that is, according to the interest-situation of its officeholders, the church must be ‘democratic’ in the sense of making the sacred values generally accessible. This means that the church stands for a universalism of grace and for the ethical sufficiency of all those who are enrolled under its institutional authority.

      LEM can be seen as the latest round in the attempts of the hierarchy to rationalize and control the existence of baptismal gifts and talents as if they all come from the hierarchy rather than from the Holy Spirit. (We have no need of the Holy Spirit we have the hierarchy –Octaviani).

      1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #44:
        I’m sorry if my line of thinking made it seem as if theological reflection on sacramental orders should take place in a linear or top-down fashion, starting with the hierarchy rather than the Spirit.

        I do think, however, that a mature and holistic theology of the episcopate is lacking. Just one example of this lies in the fact that even Catholics who don’t really engage in the life of the Church, and plenty of other folks, know the name of the Pope and probably pay attention to the news he makes. If they attend Mass even infrequently, they probably know their pastor or another priest by name, and may have met him. But most Catholics – including those who come to Mass each Sunday – know little more about their bishop than his first name (assuming they don’t nod off halfway through the Eucharistic Prayer!), but have likely never met him and can’t tell you anything about him. And conversations about relationships between parish and diocese are usually framed as “us” vs. “them”. Not really what the documents of V2 envisioned for the role of the bishop as point of communion/unity, high priest of the flock, steward of mysteries, etc. But I digress..

        I’m intrigued by the O’Malley article, Jack – I will seek it out. Nonetheless, just because consecrated religious life has been a source of ministerial renewal in the past doesn’t make it necessarily so for the future. Religious life (as we know it) arose in a particular time in the Church’s history as a response to particular factors. Religious life as we know it may go away at some point in the future. This is out of my depth…I hope that those with expertise in the history and theology of religious life may enrich this discussion.

        But sacramental ordering (in some way) of the community is constitutive of the Church in a way that consecrated religious life (as we know it) is not.

        And authentic, needed LEM is flourishing in many corners of the Church not BECAUSE of the…

      2. @Jeremy Helmes – comment #45:

        I got the article from Ed Hahnenberg who had mentioned it in a conference held at John Carroll probably within the last year. My impression was that Hahnenberg is beginning to rethink LEM because of this line of thinking, namely that forms of ministry have originated from what we conceptualize as religious life which of course comes from baptism.

        Religious life itself is not the cause of these new forms of ministry. Ignatius had all the essentials of Ignatian spirituality before he was ordained and before the Company of Jesus became a religious order, e.g. the thirty day retreat, etc. as the Jesuit way of doing things. O’Malley illustrated all this connection with baptism for all early Jesuits, many who did ministry before ordination, in his book on the First Jesuits .

        The inspirations of many religious order founders occurred before they became religious and/or in the case of men before they were ordained.

        Therefore we have to construct ministry up from baptism rather down from orders. Not only is there the historic problem that religious do not fit but that ministry in Protestant churches does not fit into the Catholic conception of ordination but none the less exists. Bottom line is that the Holy Spirit seems to work ministerially outside of Holy Orders as we now conceive it.

        I think it was providential that Vatican II did not do much with the Episcopate and even less with the presbyterate, deaconate and religious life. We have to work out the implications of the universal call to holiness first, and one of these implications is that is a source of ministry.

        I like Pope Francis reminder that Japanese Christians continued to exist without ordained ministry for centuries.

        We also tend to underplay how little involved the desert solitaries were with ordained ministry. Saint Anthony, the founder(?) of monasticism did not seem to go to Mass very often during his lifetime. Early monasticism including communal forms such as that of Benedict seemed to focus more on the Divine Office than the Mass.

        We have to face all this history, and not assume that modern day parochial and congregational life are the norms for the future. That is particularly important since Christians seem to be moving out of denomination and congregational life often because they are dissatisfied with ordained ministers and hierarchical structures. Maybe that is a good rather than a bad thing.

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #36:

      Hello Fr. Feehily

      Richard, is that the same Council of Nicea that forbade the practice of kneeling during the Easter season?

      It is indeed.

      But that only raises my hopes for the eventual desuetude of certain provisions of another, more recent ecumenical council. And for that morale boost, I thank you.

  20. On a side topic, one thing that not even male deacons can do is anoint. The Church needs to do something about this as a matter of urgency. More and more, people are being actively deprived of the Church’s healing ministry — I call it the ministry of touch — by this restriction. In a time when fewer and fewer priests are available to take Communion to the sick, far less anoint them, I always encourage lay ministers of Communion visiting the sick and housebound to be sure that they make some kind of physical contact (appropriate, of course) with the person they are ministering to: it could be as simple as a prolonged handclasp or a hand placed gently around the upper arm.

    It is in this context that I see the ministry of women deacons adding much to the ministry of touch, and also allaying fears about gestures which might otherwise be considered inappropriate by some.

  21. At last the hierarchs are coming round to see the need to open the ministry to women — which would send a powerful message about the true nature of the Gospel and also boost the status of women worldwide.

  22. It seems that many still believe that the status of people in the Church (and I would lump clergy into this too) depends on their “power” in the Church, which I think is called clericalism. So the mother who has 8 children (I have two families that have even more) is considered less in status compared to the possibility that she or her daughters could become deacons, priests or bishops. The lay person who employs workers treats them with dignity, pays them a just wage, attends Mass each Sunday but doesn’t do any other “churchy” things and has no dog in the fight concerning those who get ordained, is considered a second class citizen because that person only goes to Mass every Sunday and doesn’t care that there is an all male sacrament called Holy Orders. I’m glad Pope Francis is pope and calling us to recognize the ideologues who have crippled the Church and the laity not to mention the ordained for the past 50 years obsessed on churchy things and even more so on church power in the parish, the diocese and the curia. Maybe Vatican II’s teaching on the role of the laity in the world, in their homes, in their politics and in their recreation will be seen as status enough. Each year our diocese offers the “Bishop’s Recognition” to two parishioners from each parish who are examples of what it means to be a Catholic. Usually pastors nominate those who do the parish work in the institutional understanding of it. This year, I think I’ll nominate the two families who combined have 21 children and are sacrificing to rear them as good Catholics.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #41:
      Fr. Alan,

      In the Catholic Church, according to canon law, all decision making authority is exclusively in the hands of the (male) ordained. Women may not be ordained, nor (with few exceptions) married men.

      You think it’s clericalism to value the work of clerics too highly in comparison to the work of lay people. But the isn’t about how much we value the very important work lay people do. The issue is that some people have no access to decision-making authority, and those in authority have no legal accountability to the rest of the people.

      Your use of the term clericalism to characterize the pointing out of the power imbalance is disingenuous in the extreme. Clericalism is domination by clergy, not the diagnosis of power imbalance. No matter how much we value the important work of raising kids and spreading the Gospel in the workplace, the issue of power imbalance in Church decision making remains. It does nothing to lessen the clerical dominance of power-making authority to say that those without any authority are doing really important other things.

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #42:
        I disagree with the context of what you are saying as though you couch all this as a “class struggle” in the Church. Poll any number of active Catholics in a parish, meaning those who attend Mass, and you’ll find that what you just described is low on their radar screen. It concerns the power brokers mostly, the clericalists, whether they be ordained or not. Most parishes that I know of, at least in our parish, have councils and staffs that enable the all male clergy of our diocese to make decisions. It has become a bit more political depending on who it is the pastor ultimately listens to.
        In terms of consultative bodies in the Church I like what Archbishop Becciu of the Vatican said yesterday:

        Archbishop Becciu was asked about a commentator’s opinion that by appointing a group of advisers Pope Francis was putting in jeopardy the primacy of the papacy. The archbishop dismissed the claim.

        “It’s a consultative body, not a decision-making one, and I truly do not see how Pope Francis’ decision could put primacy into question,” he said. Appointing advisers does, however, demonstrate how “the Holy Father wants to exercise his ministry,” listening to the opinions of cardinals from around the world.
        In the church, Archbishop Becciu said, consultative bodies work on the parish, diocesan and universal levels and religious orders have them, too, but the bodies do not lessen the authority of the pastor, the bishop, the pope or the orders’ superiors.

      2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #43:
        Decisions–bah!

        Pastors and laity both need to be better formed in discernment. Decisions are which color plug to cover electrical sockets in the nursery. Discernment is a gravely seroius affair and includes the entire community. There shouldn’t be a class struggle over matters like Acts 1:21-26. But the institution remains about two centuries (at least) out of touch with the practice of the early and biblical Church.

        ““There’s a juridical problem” comes across to me as disingenuous.”

        Unless of course B16 was suggesting that canon law comes from the Lord. Either way, an appalling lack of discernment.

      3. @Todd Flowerday – comment #47:
        I’m using decisions such as supporting the two major ministries we have in our parish both operated by Daughters of Charity who primarily rely upon our parish for both financial and volunteer support. It also has to do with our school and making it possible for more of our parishioners to be able to use it by increasing grants for lower tuition. It also has to do with the myriad of other decisions concerning stewardship and our laity’s involvement in what we do to evangelize our own and reach out to our community and beyond. This isn’t about the trivial things you think I meant.

      4. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #43:
        The polls don’t bear you out – frustration is high, disagreement with the decision-making process is high. Poll after poll shows this. Maybe not at coffee hour in those who come to your parish. But everywhere else – yes.
        awr

      5. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #49:
        But frustration about & disagreement with the decision making process seems high in other Christian communities where the laity have the kind of decision making authority referenced here. We’ve seen the result – broken parishes, rapid demographic decline, lawsuits over property, and schism.

  23. In a 2006 interview on German TV, Pope Benedict said

    our faith and the constitution of the college of the Apostles, obliges us and doesn’t allow us to confer priestly ordination on women. … In our own time too women, and we with them, must look for their right place, so to speak. Today they are very present in the departments of the Holy See. But there’s a juridical problem: according to Canon Law the power to take legally binding decisions is limited to Sacred Orders.

    (see transcript on www DOT dw DOT de SLASH pope-benedict-xvi-we-have-a-positive-idea-to-offer SLASH a-2129951-1).

    He seems to be referring to canon 129 of the new code. This article treats the canon at some length, and there is a long discussion in the New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law. Apparently there was a “Roman” interpretation of the canon concluding that women could exercise the power of jurisdiction; Cardinal Ratzinger was the proponent of a more conservative “Munich” school that focused on the indivisibility of “sacred power”. According to this “Munich” school, the laity could at best be “co-operators” in governing.

    The article in the New Commentary concludes that:

    … the exercise of the power of governance by the laity is still being debated. Nevertheless, several offices are open ti laity which do imply the power of governance, e.g. finance officer of a diocese (c. 494) and of a religious institute (c. 636), member of a diocesan finance council (c. 492), lay person in charge of a parish (c. 517, §2), administrator of ecclesiastical goods (c. 1279), judge (c. 1421, §2), auditor (c .1428), promoter of justice (c. 1435), and defender of the bond (c. 1435).

    If the barrier to taking legally binding decisions is “juridical” rather than doctrinal, why can’t the pope, as supreme legislator, change the law or clarify its interpretation?

    “There’s a juridical problem” comes across to me as disingenuous.

  24. There are decisions and decisions. Consider a few:

    1. Should we hire Sarah or James as headteacher of the parish school?

    2. We need to refurbish the organ and have raised £50,000 toward this work. Firm A has proposed a fixed fee of £50,000. Firm B has proposed a fee of £35,000, with additional charges depending on what they discover as they work. Which should we choose?

    3. The corridors and toilets around the church and parish hall are not easily accessible, but full accessibility would cost more than we could possibly afford. What commitment should we make to parish members with limited mobility?

    4. A small group of parishioners has requested a Rosary hour followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, every Friday afternoon. This will require Fr Jones to cut short his hospital visiting schedule. Can we accommodate their request?

    5. The catechism team has asked for new carpets in the children’s room in the parish hall. Should we provide them?

    I would like to understand the scriptural and/or theological rationale for law limiting “the power of jurisdiction” to the ordained and hence to men. It clearly cannot be based on a record of administrative effectiveness or efficiency. Some decisions (e.g. 4 and perhaps 1 above) have pastoral and spiritual implications. Many others do not (2, 5 and perhaps 3 above).

    Is the idea that, if decision-making were delegated to laypeople, they would step into the first area, perhaps without knowing it, and therefore operate where they had limited competence? And hence that the best a layman or woman can do is recommend a decision to a priest?

    If that is so, then how can we stop priests from getting into administrative and financial decisions where they, in turn, have no competence?

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #51:
      I think there are decisions that pertain to the faith and morals of the Church. I have no authority to legitimately authorize a second marriage and the use of the church building for such for any Catholic who is not free to marry in the Church. No lay person has that authority even if I were to consult about such a thing.

      The same is true about the sacraments of the Church and who is able to receive and who isn’t. I can’t consult with the pastoral council and then follow their take on who should receive Holy Communion and who shouldn’t nor if we should recommend to the bishop Suzie Cue or Speedy Seltzer for the diaconate or priesthood. I can’t legitimately perform same sex marriage with the backing of the pastoral council.

      In Macon, our private Catholic High School functions under a Board of Trustees–I’m quite happy not to be on that board and quite happy for that completely lay board to be completely responsible for that school. However if they claim to be Catholic and start teaching heterodox theology and doctrine, I think the bishop could easily and morally should strip them of their Catholic identity if they persist. It could function as a non-sectarian or completely interfaith reality.

  25. The diaconate has been part of “holy orders” but it has never been seen to participate in the ordained priesthood (deacons are not anointed
    and are ordained “to the ministry of service”).

    The church’s tradition is that Christ instituted the priesthood, the diaconate was instituted not by Christ but by the church to respond to immediate needs.
    (this simple fact is a sleeping time bomb of great creativity if it would ever sink in…)

    It does not participate in the sacramental priesthood, but in various ways it has been the gateway into ordained ministry. which should mean that in the Christian tradition, the door to all ministry is being a SERVANT. To quote Pope Francis, “every shepherd must have the stink of his sheep on him”.

    finally the renewal of the diaconate after Vatican 2 came before the the great renewal of lay ministry. the diaconate seems to be more and more a clerical/liturgical function and not real leaven of a servants heart for all ministry in the church.

  26. From O’Malley’s The First Jesuits …

    “[…] much of the ministry in the Society was in fact done by persons who were not ordained. More fundamentally, was the warrant for all the ministries derived in their opinion not from ordination but from acceptance of the call to be a member of the Society of Jesus. The Jesuits discussed that call frequently and at length, but rarely, if at all, did they speak of a “call to priesthood” …. When Nadal in his exhortations reviewed with his fellow Jesuits the outline of Ignatius’s life, he therefore had practically nothing to say about his ordination, reflecting Ignatius’s Autobiography in this relative silence. On one occasion Nadal began an exhortation with a telling apology for his narrative about what happened in Venice in 1537: “I must mention, by the way, that yesterday I forgot to tell you that Father Ignatius was ordained a priest.” …… Some young Jesuits thought ordination brought with it the danger of honor and special privilege and, hence, said they did not want to be ordained unless their superiors expressly ordered them ….”

    1. @Crystal Watson – comment #55:

      Because the Jesuits expanded so quickly in the beginning they always had a large percentage of members who were not ordained. They were very willing to do all the things that others did not find interesting and were neglecting like teaching catechism to children. They also not only willing involved lay people in their ministries, they tended to turn them over to lay people, e.g. confraternities.

      Of course as always success spoils, and clericalism began to take over. It its interesting that some of the old culture stayed in the Novitiate. I did as a novice teach catechism to fifth graders (easy) and eighth graders (difficult), and I gave two sermons but not at Mass. This was before Vatican II. Although I do not like giving sermons, Vatican II and my greater theological knowledge has not resulted in any invitations to give any.

  27. It seems that when one looks at scripture for a definition of “deacon” there really isn’t one. Even the seven men ordained for service aren’t called deacons and seem to have laying on of the hands to serve for that particular need at that time.
    One reads that men, women, apostles, disciples and anyone who ministers to others is called deacon. Deacon also seems to move from a verb ie “serving” to a noun “officeholder”. Deacon in Philippians is different than the more established deacon in Timothy’s epistle according to the catholic New American Bible reference materials.
    It seems that instead of trying to pound a square peg “service” definition of deacon into a round hole “ordination” deacon perhaps we need to redefine the term deacon and make it into a verb again. Perhaps eliminate the deacon from holy orders (except those presently ordained or in formation) and make it an ecclesial lay ministry where everyone who serves, male and female, is a deacon in the ministry of service?

    1. @Crystal Watson – comment #58:

      No I was a Jesuit Novice before Vatican II. I left before taking vows.

      I find a lot of Ignatian Spirituality attractive. Had a very fine course on it from Howard Grey when he was at John Carroll University.

      But then I find a lot attractive about Benedictine spirituality. I went to John’s Collegeville during Vatican II.

      However in some ways I find the spirituality of the Desert Solitaries very attractive. Read Merton Seeds of Contemplation in high school.

      When I read Chitty’s classic on the orgins of monasticism The Desert a City I decided that religious orders were not necessary to religious life since they were not there at the beginning. Or in sociological terms religious orders are not necessary to pursue religious virtuosity.

      I find it useful to draw from all these spiritualities. Sometime I have been very involved in parish life which is close to Benedictine spirituality. Other times I have found God in my work in the mental health system which is very Ignatian. Since the Divine Office is rarely celebrated anywhere in groups, it has become the staple of the Desert Solitary strand of my spirituality.

      Actually for all the personal contact that I had with religious life as a young person, I have not been very influenced by religious personally. All the people that have most influenced me personally have been lay people not priests or religious.

    1. @Crystal Watson – comment #60:

      One of the things that Grey helped to do at John Carroll was to establish the Ignatian Spirituality Institute.

      http://sites.jcu.edu/isi/

      The Ignatian Spirituality Institute offers a two year program in spiritual direction. This is a non-credit, non-degree certificate program running concurrently with the Fall/Spring academic calendar at the University.

      More generally, however, the ISI offers adult Christians of any denomination theological and spiritual tools for deepening Christian life and ministry, whether in the home, parish, congregation, or workplace. While the ISI’s primary mission is the training of spiritual directors, the Institute also will admit those who wish to obtain in their lives a better theological and spiritual grounding in personal prayer, discernment, and apostolic action.

      This year is special because it marks the tenth anniversary of the ISI. Ten years ago, in 2003, we opened our doors to fifteen members of our charter class. Since that time 81 have been certified through our program. The eight to be certified today bring the number to 89.

      The program was founded in part because of the expressed need that people in the parishes wanted more access to spiritual direction. The best way to get an idea of who these new spiritual directors are and what they are doing is to read the Ignis Newsletter on the website.

  28. Graham Wilson : Well, if Our Lady can be Mediatrix of All Graces and Co-Redemptrix, women can share in a ministerial priesthood modeled on Mary as mediator and co-redeemer, surely?

    I have often thought that Mary at the foot of the cross might be seen as a model for the offering of her Son’s sacrifice in the name of the Church. A priestly role, indeed. One of the Prefaces (I think) in the collection of masses honoring Mary comes very close to something like that.

  29. Mary was the first to make Jesus physically present within the world. If that doesn’t qualify her as a priest, what would?

    1. @Ann Olivier – comment #63:
      Jesus never called her a priest. He did call her our (the Church’s) Mother. Nor did she ‘make Jesus …present within the world’ of her own power. God the holy Spirit ‘came upon her’ and she concieved. Odd, it seems always to work like that: there is always the one who plants the seed and nurtures it.

      We would be hardput to find Biblical warrant for holding that Mary ever aspired to ‘priesthood’ or to be an Apostle, etc, etc, or to have the sorts of plumbs and peaches of roles in the Church that modern women seem to be grovelling after. It’s the feminists own version of ‘Lord, will I sit at you right side’?… Lord, will I…

  30. I stumbled across an American diocese where this seems to have gone wrong: Lincoln, Nebraska. The diocesan website is here.

    This is a very ‘conservative’ diocese and has been for some time. It includes a seminary for traditionalist priests, from the FSSP. I believe it is the only US diocese that universally forbids female altar servers.

    Even so, I find it astonishing is that virtually every organisation or office in the diocese is headed by a priest. I could find only one or two minor exceptions, such as the “coordinator of educational technology.” And this includes the Catholic Lawyers Guild, the Catholic Physicians Guild, Catholic Social Services, etc. The diocese is advertising for a Chief Financial Officer, who will be subordinate to the Diocesan Finance Officer – a priest, of course. Every school seems to be run by a priest.

    People point to Lincoln as a diocese that produces lots of vocations to the priesthood. If the only way to enter into active leadership within the diocese is to be a priest, if priests become a separate and higher caste from the laity, then it is no surprise that more men will want to become priests. But that hardly seems a good way to grow lay leaders – or, for that matter, to develop priests who will serve in the spirit of Matthew 23.11.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #70:

      Jonathan, I don’t know if it is still the case in the Diocese of Lincoln, but it used to be that only instituted readers and acolytes could exercise these ministries at Mass. And the diocese had an expansive program to train men for these two instituted ministries.

      Of course, women were excluded from both of these instituted ministries, but the person who trained the men who became instituted readers was: a woman.

    2. @Jonathan Day – comment #70:
      Jonathan – Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, NE is old news. He retired last year. Here are some of his noted accomplishments (?):

      http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/dya-think-bp-bruskewitz-watches-fox

      http://ncronline.org/news/people/16-years-after-excommunication-call-action-group-still-crossroads

      http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/lincoln-nebr-catholics-call-out-their-bishop

      Points:

      ” Vasa pronounced excommunicated members of Planned Parenthood, the Society of St. Pius X, the Hemlock Society, the St. Michael the Archangel Chapel, Freemasons, Job’s Daughters, DeMolay, Eastern Star, Call to Action, Catholics for a Free Choice, and even the local chapter of the Rainbow Girls.

      Vasa was undoubtedly fulfilling the wishes of his bishop at the time, Fabian Bruskewitz, an extremist among even the most conservative of his peers. The year the excommunications were announced, several other bishops were members of Call to Action.”

      Vasa was chancellor, later bishop of Baker OR and now in California – he required teachers to sign oaths and also failed to implement the Dallas Charter.

      Bruskewitz set up Gregory the Great Seminary in August, 1998 at the cost of a few millions. Recent ND bishop was faculty member.

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