On “Deaconesses,” A Commission Doesn’t Equal The Result

There have been a lot of articles and commenting about this since the story broke yesterday.  I think this article is about the most balanced and best of the bunch.  Rocco Palma was the consummate “insider” during his Vatican years and still has very good contacts so his information is probably right on.  I noted he did his own, as he calls it, “in-house” translation of the critical question.  That tells me he does not trust what the “official” translators did with the text.  Also of note in this was PF’s discussion of clericalism.  It is one of his “hot button” topics and for a darned good reason.  In it was a very interesting little detail…at least it was to me.  There are many commenters who make no bones that they think PF doesn’t know what is going on in the Church and doesn’t know what he is doing.  Just his comment on the fact that 60% of the parishes and dioceses world-wide have no parish council tells me he knows exactly the status of the Church world-wide and he attributes it to clericalism.  The other “take-away” I had from this was that in the way he responded to the questions these women presented to him he is showing a person evolving right in front of our eyes.  He is always willing to dialogue but this was a bit different.  I see it in the way he answered.  It was like he was saying  “Maybe I don’t have all the information I need on this critical topic but I am willing to take a look at it”.  It is his Jesuit discernment in full view.  I have read one report he had the questions beforehand, and he usually does except for the in-flight news conferences,  but based on his responses, I don’t think he had fleshed out his answers fully. He seemed fluid in his responses.  All in all, I feel this is a very interesting development.  It will be one to watch.  Many are decrying the fact that he wants to set up a commission and commissions go on forever.  Just remember that he set up a commission to look into annulment procedures shortly before the 2014 session of the Synod and had those changes implemented before the 2015 Synod.  He gets things done when he sees a critical need.  I think he sees this issue as critical and sees it within the larger context of the situation with clergy worldwide, both in the shortages and the ravages that clericalism have caused.  My bet?….look for the clergy to be the topic of the next Synod, possibly for the fall of 2017.  Also a lot of research and writing has already been done on the issue of the female diaconate so it is not like a commission will need to reinvent a wheel.  The only fly in the ointment is that this will probably come under the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and Mueller is no fan of this pope or of women in any position of any importance, especially when it comes to the largest boy’s club in the world.  It certainly is bringing out some interesting comments….reyanna

By Rocco Palma                May 13, 2013                      Whispers in the Loggia blogspot

Weeks after closing out one years-long process that served to convulse much of the Catholic conversation, the Pope has opened the door to another live-wire discussion: at a Q&A yesterday with some 900 members of the Union of International Superiors General – the umbrella-group for the leaders of women religious orders worldwide – Francis accepted a sister’s proposal for a commission which would study and “clarify” the history of women’s service in diaconal roles in the church.

Even as the hours since have made for an Olympic-grade onslaught of Rohrshach tests reflecting the many reactions to the charged question, the only clear thing at this point is that there’ll be a commission.

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