NEW YORK — One of the nation’s biggest champions for the cause of women deacons sees the Vatican’s new apostolic constitution — which partially opens up Vatican leadership positions to any baptized lay person, including women — as a important step for Pope Francis’ vision, but not necessarily affecting the future of women in the diaconate.
“I think you have to distinguish between management and ministry,” Phyllis Zagano, assistant professor of religion at Hofstra University and author of the new book Sisters, women deacons: questions and answers Recount Node. “The ministry would be the diaconate. It’s not exactly apples and oranges, but it’s close.
Pope Francis has released the new Apostolic Constitution titled predicate evangeliumor “Preach the Gospel,” March 19. The document states that “any faithful member may direct a department or body” at the pontiff’s discretion, acknowledging that church evangelizers extend beyond the pope, bishops and other ordained. ministers.
Zagano, who served on the Papal Commission for the Study of Women in the Diaconate which met in 2016, is skeptical of the influence and governance capacity of the laity in these roles. She said the Roman Curia staff positions “are positions where at most governance is delegated, but it is not governance held by an individual.”
“So if a woman is prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I don’t believe she actually exercises governance, but she acts as a staff member of the Holy Father,” Zagano said.
“I think the Holy Father hit the right note starting with the staff to include women, give them more space, but in my meditation on that I really see he’s not aggregating it from the everything, that the laity will continue to cooperate, not to have ordinances and jurisdictions with this, not that it is not important,” Zagano continued.
As part of other changes to the new apostolic constitution, the three main departments of the Vatican, now called “dicasteries” under the new curial structure, are in order: evangelization, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and the service of Charity.
Zagano describes the order, particularly with evangelism above the CDF, as the conflict between the law and the prophets, which she argues (while acknowledging that both are necessary) that “the Holy Father placed prophets above the law at this point.” And this emphasis on evangelism and prophets is part of why Zagano argues that the Church should allow women into the diaconate.
“This new document talks about the need for women to be deacons because that’s what deacons do: they preach the gospel,” Zagano said. “If nothing else, it is the word, liturgy and charity that women do in some parts of the world that present the need for female deacons.”
Zagano notes that what would be interpreted as diaconal functions of the church — hospitals, schools, nursing homes, sections of social service agencies — are run and invented by women, led by women, and funded by women. Therefore, she said it was important to connect those who minister in these places with the “proclamation of the gospel”.
“I want to hear them on Sunday, but I can’t. It is absolutely illegal,” Zagano said, acknowledging that the only person who can preach the gospel in a public celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday is a cleric.
“We are talking about community here. So the sister who works in the soup kitchen and who is known to people in the community, I want to hear her from time to time talk about what she thinks the Gospel says to this community,” he said. she continued. “Whether they’re talking in church or talking to you over coffee, they’ll be talking about the gospel.”
Zagano also noted the importance of the image of a woman participating in the liturgy.
“To see a woman participate in the liturgy; to see a woman spreading the gospel, not to mention preaching and investing, would boost our own respect for women around the world,” Zagano said.
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