Can women become deacons?
As things stand, women cannot be ordained as deacons. The question is being considered, however, by a Commission set up by Pope Francis in May 2016 to examine whether women could serve as deacons. It is true that there were deaconesses in the early church (e.g. Phoebe mentioned by St. Paul in his letter to the Romans) but it is not so clear if they were ordained. The word ‘deacon’ comes from the Greek word ‘Diakonia’ which means ‘service’. There is a distinction between ‘ordained deacons’ and ‘deacons’ understood as offering a particular service to the Church. There was, certainly, a liturgical ‘laying on of hands’ and ‘invocation of the Holy Spirit’ as part of women’s reception into the role of deaconess, but scholars are divided as to the true meaning of this ritual and whether it constituted ordination as such. Until this matter is clarified, the status quo remains, i.e. that women cannot become deacons.
Most popular questions
- I feel I have a specific charism to youth outreach. Can I live this charism out as a priest, or must I follow the charism of the order I join?
- What can I do as a priest that I cannot do as a layperson working for a charity or NGO?
- Why are there so many different religious organisations?
- The idea of public speaking is very challenging to me and I avoid it if possible. How can I be a priest when I hate public speaking?
- Why do I have to be celibate to be a priest?
- I hear my local priest say in his homily that there’s a shortage of priests in Ireland, is there really a shortage of priests?
- If I become a priest, will I be living with mostly elderly men?
- Would entering a religious community mean that I would have to sever my relationships with family and friends?
- Why are there so many different religious orders?
- As a priest if I decide that I no longer want to do something, such as work in a specific parish, do I have any say or is it all out of my hands?