View From Rome

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19 May 2016 | by Christopher Lamb

 

“Move along please, there’s nothing to see here” – this was the Vatican’s response to the excitement generated by Pope Francis’ remarks last week that he would set up a commission to look at the question of female deacons.

A statement issued by Holy See spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi stressed that the Pope did not intend to ordain women as deacons or, heaven forfend, as priests, while Archbishop Angelo Becciu, a senior official at the Secretariat of State, tweeted that no one should “rush the conclusions” of whatever a papal commission might say.

But regardless of what the Pope did or did not intend, one thing is clear: the question of giving women a more visible presence in the Church is now on the agenda here in Rome. This is going to make some in the Vatican uncomfortable, especially those officials who repeatedly say the Church can “never” ordain women to the priesthood and realise that allowing female deacons could open up that possibility. Lucetta Scaraffia, in charge of the Vatican’s new monthly women’s magazine, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that quite simply the Roman Curia does not want females in church leadership positions. This means that any change will be slow. What is different, however, is that we have a pope willing to engage in dialogue on the question of women’s roles.





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