24 February 2017, The Tablet

Women deacons a possibility says cardinal

President of Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, thinks a women's diaconate could happen.

According to the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the diaconate for women is a possibility.

Asked in a long interview for the German Church’s website katholisch.de on 24 February, what possibilities he saw for women in the Catholic Church, Ravasi replied, “The diaconate for women would, I think, be possible but it must of course, be discussed, as the historic tradition is very complex.”

He thought the present fixation on women’s ordination somewhat “clerical”, he said. “Why don’t we start talking about women taking on other most important functions in the Church such as women administering parishes, directing church finances or architectural planning?”

Asked how women were faring in the Vatican, Ravasi recalled that in his Permanent Women’s Consultation Group in the Council for Culture he had 35 women of very different backgrounds as advisers. “Among them there is a university professor, a mother, two Muslims, a Jewess, a non-believer, women from the fashion world and women journalists.” It was also their job to read and critically assess what the Council was doing from the feminine point of view. “Women see many things differently from men. Our women advisers help prepare our general assembly and take part. I hope our model will become a model for other Pontifical Councils”.

Ravasi said he was fully aware of the risk he was taking by allowing women consultors to play these roles. “If one of them were to say she was in favour of women’s ordination, for instance – and in my opinion it would be perfectly legitimate for her to express her opinion openly – the following headline would no doubt immediately go round the world, “Cardinal Ravasi suggests Women’s Ordination”. This sort of “ambiguity” in communications and the media was currently a very big problem, he declared.

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