Women's Ordination Worldwide responds to Pope Francis' delay of women deacons

For Immediate Release: 11 May 2019

WOW is astonished that Pope Francis has again delayed restoration of the ordained women’s diaconate, now on account of what he says is a lack of clarity as to historical roots of the sacramental rite.  

Theologically and historically, there is no valid reason for an exclusively male priesthood or a male only diaconate. Not only is woman deacon Phoebe commemorated in the predominantly androcentric scripture, we know from the work of many scholars and ancient manuscripts preserving the ordination rites to the diaconate, that they were identical for men and women. 

Not only does history show that, in the kernel of revelation, women were there, women led, and women were ordained, it also shows that:

  • Sacramental ministry for men developed progressively with an open door through Church history; and conversely,

  • Un-Christian misogyny and prejudice closed that door to women so that their roles were diminished and it has remained bolted shut ever since.

Instead of growth for women, as has been the acceptable standard for men, patriarchy has unsurprisingly opted to suppress the natural development of women’s sacramental partnership. Phobia against menstruation and the wrong belief that women were unclean, inferior, misbegotten men are not part of divine revelation yet evidence shows that this is why men eventually excluded women from the sacrament of ordination.

While the Catholic Church is able to develop and transform many of its teachings and practices, when it comes to women, the Vatican finds every excuse to stall. Those who twiddle thumbs when women’s equality is at stake harm the whole Church.

Faulty, man-made structures are not of Christ, and not acceptable reasons to refuse the Church the priests and deacons God calls for us.  Why should Catholics be denied the pastors God calls for us just because they happen to come packaged as women?

We are a living Church capable of growth for women just as much as men. We must re-open doors and welcome the gifts and vocations of women that have been so readily welcomed for men. 

If Pope Francis's will is to encourage discussion, we call on him to make public the complete findings of the Commission on Women Deacons so that the people can see the frivolous nonsense it is that causes these men to dither.


Contact: Miriam Duignan: (UK & Ireland) +44 7970 926910 miriam.duignan@wijngaardsinstitute.com

Therese Koturbash: Canada (+1) 204 648 5720 t.m.koturbash@gmail.com

Kate McElwee: (USA & Italy): +39 393 692 2100 kmcelwee@womensordination.org

Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW): Founded in 1996, WOW is an international network of groups whose current mission is the inclusion of women in all ordained ministries in the Roman Catholic Church. Founded on the principle of equality, WOW opposes all discrimination. ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’. (Galatians 3:28)