A possible progressive step for the Catholic Church... On Tuesday August 2nd, Pope Francis instituted a commission to study the possibility of women serving as Deacons, or ordained ministers ranking just below that of a priest.
The goal of the commission is to study the historical role of female deacons in the catholic church. News 19 spoke with Viterbo Universitys chair of religious studies and Distinguished Professor of Servant Leadership Thomas Thibodeau, who shared some of his reaction to what could eventually turn out to be a landmark decision for the Catholic Church.
"What [The Pope] has done is form a commission of people from around the world to have a discussion on the role of women as deaconesses," said Thibodeau. "We have the Ministry of the Bishop, we have the Ministry of the Priest, and then there's the Deacon that was reinstated by the Second Vatican Council... and now were looking at opening that up to the possibility of women serving in that role."
Following that Second Vatican Council in the early 1960's, the role of permanent Deacon was re instituted, but typically only married men over the age of 35 are allowed to be ordained. Thibodeau said this discussion is an important function of a religious institution.
"[Any] conversation helps us to understand each other," Thibodeau said. "And as we understand each other, we begin to recognize that we may need to change and grow."
That conversation may be the Pope and The Church recognizing a sign of the times.
"All of us who are married recognize the gifts that our wives are... all of us who are children recognize the gifts of our mother... all of us who are brothers recognize the gift of our sisters... so I think it's a recognition of the gifts that women bring to our families, to our communities [and] to our world, and their ability to serve and to lead," Thibodeau added.
There hasn't been any set time line on any decisions regarding women being allowed to serve as Deacons quite yet, the commission as it is now serves mainly as a discussion on the historical role of female leadership in The Church, and the future of women's diaconate.