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The Roman Catholicism & female ordination

Ordination of deaconesses; links

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Ordination of women as deacons:

In the early 1970's, the Roman Catholic church reversed 1000 years of tradition and began to ordain married men as deacons. The church considered allowing women to become deacons, but postponed that decision until the married male deaconate had become established and generally accepted. 7 In 1995, the Vatican reviewed the question. The Canon Law Society of America prepared a report which showed that canon law does not prohibit women from becoming deacons.

The Vatican decided to continue the prohibition against female deacons. The National Catholic Reporter commented in 1997: "Ordained women disappeared not because of any actions by Christ or the apostles but because of changes in society that subordinated women. Today the cultural pendulum has reversed itself and the time is ripe to again make ordained women a viable part of the church. If we as people of tradition reject our history, our future has no hope."

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Mexican ordination of female deacons:

According to EWTN: "Retired Bishop Samuel Ruiz of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, and his former co-adjutor bishop Rual Vera, now of Saltillo, reportedly ordained female deacons among more than 300 ordained in the last days of his leadership of the largely Indian diocese. They also allegedly allowed the use of Mayan pagan religious texts during Masses." 2 A Vatican investigation is ongoing. It is expected to nullify the ordinations.

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Reform movements within the Roman Catholic church appear to be fragmented into literally dozens of tiny groups. Many are inspired by the reforms of Vatican II and want to promote change within the church. A representative to the Coalition of Concerned Canadian Catholics' 1997 conference summed up the goals of many of the reform movements, by stating:

"At last, courageous lay people are setting out to name the dragons: that there is a deep malaise in the church, that lay passivity cannot continue, that rank-and-office authority must be challenged, and that together we must call insistently for the re-formation of structures within Catholicism to better carry out Vatican II's vision of co-responsibility."

All of the following groups appear to favor women's ordination; some tackle a broader range of questions.

bullet"Women priests: The case for ordaining women in the Catholic church," maintains a very extensive library on the topic at: http://www.womenpriests.org 
bullet"Australians Networking for Reform" (ANFR) work for reform and transformation of the Church. They are at: http://www.ozemail.com.au/~bwelsh/hanfr1.html
bullet"B.A.S.I.C. Brothers and Sisters in Christ" This is an Irish group "praying and working for the ordination of women in the Roman Catholic Church." See: http://www.iol.ie/~duacon/basic.htm Their site includes essays for and against the ordination of women.
bullet"Call to Action" is a group of Roman Catholic laity who promote reform within church institutions and in society at large. They concentrate on topics such as: gender inclusiveness, academic freedom, open dialog, election of bishops, etc. See: http://www.cta-usa.org/ 
bullet"Canon 1024" is a very busy mailing list which discusses female ordination. Canon 1024 states that "Only a baptized male validly received sacred ordination." To subscribe, send a message: subscribe canon1024 to majordomo@ecunet.org
bullet"Catholic Organizations for Renewal," (COR) is a coalition of over 30 groups in the US who are dedicated to reform.
bullet"Catholic Women's Ordination" is a British group working for equality of the genders within the Roman Catholic church. See: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/justitia/
bullet"Catholics Speak Out" is a reform project of the Quixote Center in Hyattsville MD at: http://www.quixote.org/cso/
bullet"Coalition of Concerned Canadian Catholics" is centered in Toronto ON
bullet"Dignity/USA" is a group primarily interested in sexual orientation issues. They support the ordination of women. See: http://www.dignityusa.org/
bullet"Inclusive Church: Working toward a gender-inclusive Catholic Church" at: http://www.inclusivechurch.org/ They feature a group of discussion topics.
bulletThe "National Association for a Married Priesthood" (CORPUS) is an American group which promotes "an expanded an renewed priesthood of married and single men and women in the Catholic Church." See: http://www.corpus.org/
bullet"Ordination of Catholic Women," is an Australian group promoting female ordination. See: http://users.netconnect.com.au/~ocw/
bullet"Priests for Equality" is a world-wide movement of laity and clergy working for inclusiveness and a reduction of sexism http://www.quixote.org/pfe/index.html
bullet"We Are Church" is a group of lay and ordained Roman Catholics which started in Austria. It has become the International Movement We Are Church (IMWAC) and has spread to Canada, Catalunya, Germany, Portugal, South Tyrol, Spain, UK, USA, etc. See:  http://www.we-are-church.org/
bullet"Women and the Australian Church" (WATAC) is an ecumenical group in Australia. See: http://www.users.bigpond.com/watac/
bullet"Women of the New Covenant" is an Australian group working and praying for women's ordination at: http://www.ozemail.com.au/~newcov/

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  1. Gerald Ladouceur, "Out of the past, women deacons point the way," National Catholic Reporter, 1997-FEB-21, at: http://www.natcath.com/archives/022197/022197i.htm
  2. "Cardinal says no punishment for bishops who ordained female deacons," EWTN, at: http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=2719 

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Copyright © 1997 to 2002 incl. by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2002-MAY-23

Author: B.A. Robinson

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