Vatican Cardinal Open to Female Deacons

Today the German Catholic website ran an interview with Vatican Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, in which he indicates his openness to women deacons:

Question: What possibilities do you see for women in the Catholic Church?

Ravasi: Women in the diaconate would be possible, I think. But of course it has to be discussed, the historical tradition is very complex. In general, I think to fixate constantly on women priests is clerical. Why don’t was start by discussing other very important functions for women in the church? For example, leadership of a parish, from a structural viewpoint. Or in the realm of catechesis, volunteer work, finances, architectural planning, configuration. Why couldn’t this be put in the hands of women. There could also be a stronger female presence among Vatican officials, including at higher levels. The Pope also said this. Of course it doesn’t happen immediately.

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Recently there was a story questioning the ban on women priests in, of all places, La Civiltà Cattolica. This is noteworthy because the Vatican approves of everything in this publication before it goes to print.

My first thought was that this probably isn’t about women priests, but opening up the discussion and transgressing boundaries, so that women deacons will seem less revolutionary. Perhaps it’s paving the way. But maybe not – that’s how my political mind thinks and I could be mistaken.



  1. Well, even to have this much said is progress. Leadership of a parish? Catechesis? Volunteer work? All of this is and has been happening in United States parishes for years. Yes, perhaps it is paving the way.

  2. You’re probably right Anthony that this isn’t about women priests at the moment. My immediate hope is that the Catholic church will reflect on how the presence of women in ministry and leadership might make us reconsider how we understand those roles.

    1. @Martyn Storey:

      There was an article that thoroughly rebuked Magister’s reading and interpretation of the said La Civilta Cattolica article that Father Spadaro shared as a “must-read” on his tweeter account.

      Can’t find the link now, but the gist of which, if I remember correctly (if vaguely), was that the article isn’t about women priests, much less “open doors for women priests” (lol), or even “paving the way” for women deacons, but pretty much what you said: to get the Church to “reflect on how the presence of women in ministry and leadership might make us reconsider how we understand those roles.”

      And one would be hard-pressed to find anything objectionable in such an article.

      Anyway, I share your hope, and I suspect that was exactly the intention of Father Pani.

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