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Women deacons? Best not to talk about it.

The archdiocese of Philadelphia is looking for someone to address its deacons this spring. Former heads of the USCCB's secretariat for the diaconate need not apply. Not, that is, if they have publicly acknowledged the unsettled question of whether women may be ordained deacons. That might be "doctrinally confusing," and Catholics these days are just so easy to confuse.

Last week the National Catholic Reporter's Joshua J. McElwee reported that William Ditewig, former USCCB staffer and co-author of Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future, had been denied permission to speak "to the [Philadelphia] archdioceses deacons, [deacons'] wives, and deacon candidates" this coming March, based on the decision of the archdiocesan "speaker approval commission."Just so we're clear: it is an open question whether it's possible for the Catholic Church to admit women to the diaconate. The latest Commonweal happens to have an article by Phyllis Zagano, one of Ditewig's Women Deacons co-authors, explaining where the matter stands today. "The conversation continues," she reports -- even among bishops. Was the speaker approval commission in Philadelphia unaware of this fact? They wouldn't comment, but an archdiocesan spokesperson said it didn't matter:

[Kenneth] Gavin said that since the matter is still considered unanswered Ditewig's presence for the deacon event wasn't appropriate.This wouldn't be the best setting for an open question or something that is a matter of debate theologically at this point in time and how the diaconate is structured within the church itself, said Gavin. It wasn't the setting for discussion on theological debate-like topics. This was ongoing formation. It's educational for the deacons and their wives.

Uh-huh. Ditewig, not surprisingly, tells NCR he wasn't planning on introducing any "debate-like topics" when he spoke in Philadelphia. But of course the commission didn't get in touch with him before they made their "negative recommendation."I knew the paranoia was getting pretty bad out there. Nobody wants to risk running afoul of the orthodoxy police; easier to just preemptively cancel any speakers/visiting professors who might give you trouble, regardless of whether the objections are well founded. But this is the most ridiculous example I've heard of yet. This diocese is afraid to allow the former head of the USCCB office for the diaconate to speak to its deacons, because said deacon has demonstrated an awareness of and interest in scholarly study of...the diaconate? As the NCR article reminds us, "In his 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, Pope John Paul II declared that the church 'has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women.'" And as you know, that was followed by orders that the matter must not be spoken of again.

This is where that policy has gotten us: nearly two decades later, the mere mention of the words "women" and "ordained" in the same sentence, even in a sentence that does not actually run afoul of the no-women-priest-talk rule, is enough to shut everything down. It's a farce. It's like that Monty Python sketch where anytime anyone says "mattress" to the mattress salesman, he puts a bag over his head. Very hard to get anything done in that environment. In this case the archdiocese doesn't even have anything coherent to say for itself -- except this: "Speakers for archdiocesan events, said Gavin, are supposed to be reviewed by the speaker commission before an invitation is extended to them, which did not occur in Ditewig's case." That's an excuse I've heard before. It means, "It's not our fault you found out about this indefensible decision we were hoping not to have to defend." It's not really an explanation at all, and -- hey bishops! -- you should probably stop using it.

When the mere thought of someone maybe provoking a discussion of the possibility of women's ordination is enough to freak everyone out, I can't help wondering why the people who are most dedicated to supporting the official line -- that Rome simply doesn't have the authority to ordain women priests -- don't act like they believe it. This, I guess, is what I'm confused about. Because here's what they say: It's not sexism at all. It's not that the all-male hierarchy is unwilling to share any sort of authority with women. It's just that this particular role isn't open to women -- our hands are tied! If that's true, and if the members of the speaker approval commission in Philly (for example) believe it's true, shouldn't we all be thrilled to discover other areas in which the sharing of authority with women might be possible? Shouldn't the response from bishops and diocesan officials be: "Look, the historical record suggests that women might be eligible for the diaconate! Surely we should investigate this carefully, and respect the work of those who are doing just that, because ordaining women as deacons, if possible, would be an excellent way to live up to our church's own teachings about the equal dignity of men and women and their equal responsibilities as members of Christ's body." Or you might look, as you know I like to do, at the case of female altar servers. Rome has clarified that there is no doctrinal reason, absolutely none, that women cannot serve in this lay ministry alongside men. Here, then, is an opportunity to prove that the refusal to even discuss the possibility of women serving as priests is not, at its root, just squeamishness about the idea of women serving at or near the altar. "We can't admit women to the priesthood," I keep waiting for conservative bishops and theologians to say, "but happily we can include them in the fullness of the church's life and worship in a variety of other ways. What a positive thing for our church."I keep waiting for more bishops and diocesan officials and self-appointed keepers of orthodoxy to say things like that. Why don't they, do you think?

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Also in the movie Lincoln, Lincoln quotes Euclid by saying Things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to one another, his simple reason for abolishing slavery. The same applies to women in the ministry, as all people are children of God and thus equal in the most important characteristic we have. It's not our job to prove why women should be ordained, it's the job of the Church to prove why we should not, which they have not done by any means grounded in reason or revelation.

FWIW, I don't perceive that so-called permanent deacons are "second-class" deacons in comparison to so-called transitional deacons. As a practical matter, their paths rarely cross. Lisa, you're right that seminarians are kept separate from candidates for the permanent diaconate. Part of it is purely practical: seminarians are full-time students whose classes generally meet during the day, whereas deacon couples generally do formation on evenings and weekends. (In this, it is not too different from certain professional tracks, like law or business, that have both full-time and night students). It's also generally and cynically suspected that seminarians also are kept apart from permanent deacon couples, because nearly all of the latter are married and in formation with our wives, and our on-the-whole-pretty-good marriages are on display in the classrooms.Deacons do occupy a lower rung in the hierarchy than bishops and priests. So I suppose we're "lower class" in that sense, although the priests in Chicago don't treat us like we're groundlings. And one bit of theology that was stressed to us in formation - which I don't know is universally held, but it does make sense to me - is that, when a transitional deacon is ordained to the presbyterate, he doesn't stop being a deacon. The one ordination doesn't cancel out the other. So we have that in common with priests and bishops.

The best writing in the US on the diaconate is by Deacon Bill Ditewig (Paulist Press). But of course that's what started all this in the first place.

I would recommend to the Philly archdiocese that they trust Bill Ditewig to do the right thing in this presentation. No deacon I know of has served the bishops and the church as he has. FWIW, he led a retreat for my class (including wives) during our formation. Somehow we emerged from the experience without visible theological bruises.

This business of not allowing someone to speak on anything because of some issue that is not in the Catholic Catechism is making the Church a laughing stock. Here is the complete statement from the Philidalphia Archdiocesan Speaker Approval Committion:"Reason: The Archdiocesan Speaker Approval Commission recommends that Deacon William T. Ditewig not be approved to speak in the Archdiocese. He has publications and blog postings in whcih he argues for women deacons based on a reading of historical data that is not in accord with the data of Tradition considered globally. He also holds that his ordination as a deacon as well as his ministry somehow includes the deacon's spouse so that the two sacraments of marriage and diaconate [sic] ordination become 'one in the person of the deacon.' This also is not in accord with the Tradition considered globally. While the Magisterium has not made a definitive pronouncement on these positions an argument can be made that the ordinary magisterium has moved against the positions of Deacon Ditewig. Approving him as a speaker would introduce the possibility of doctrinal confusion rather than helpful instruction so the Commission holds that it is more prudent to give him a negative recommendation."The doctrinal determinations give above are beyond the writers' competence and authority. To be fair, the three members of the Philadelphia Commission whose names have been discovered to date were not appointed by Archbishop Chaput. They are: Msgr. Joseph Gentili, Chairman; Rev. Joseph T. Shenosky; Rev. Robert A. Pesarchick. There are three other priests and one secular woman on the commission, she a member of the St. Charles Borromeo (Philadelphia) Seminary faculty, as are Fathers Shenosky and Pesarchick.

"While the Magisterium has not made a definitive pronouncement on these positions an argument can be made that the ordinary magisterium has moved against the positions of Deacon Ditewig."SINCE the Magisterium has not made a definitive pronouncement on these positions an argument can be made that the ordinary magisterium has NOT moved against the positions of Deacon Ditewig.Did everybody catch the commission's profoundly respectful, not to say fawning, switch from capital letter to lower case in the two uses of the dreaded m-word? Whether it's up or down is sort of like what you an learn from the length of tassels.

I just wonder what "publications and blog postings [Deacon Ditewig has] ....that is not in accord with the data of Traditiion considered globally? What is meant by 'considered globally'? At the time Pheobe, the Deacon was ministering---the infant Church certainly was not 'global'. Nor was the Church global for the next several centuries. But anybody who has seriously studied church history KNOWS that there were women deacons. The Speaker Approval Commission is about as clear in its rational of denying approval to Deacon Ditewig to speak, as is a tub of wet cement (and just as mixed up).I believe that the officials of the Archdiocese of Philadephia should hide themselves in shame. They are sooooo slow in admitting their own serious sins but so quick to discredit the excellent work of one of their finest deacons, Deacon William T. Ditewig.

And what is that rustling sound I hear? Just a few thousand more women and girls standing up, gathering their integrity, and walking out the door of unHoly Mother the Church. People who have no vote tend to vote with their feet.Smaller, purer? you got it! " .. historical data that is not in accord with the data of Tradition considered globally." Isn't that a simple admission that unHMTC is guilty of "pick and choose" scholarship?"Never attribute to conspiracy that which can be explained by incompetence." (Napolean Bonaparte)

BTW, the word "data" is plural, so the above should have said "data that ARE not in accord...." The good Sinsinawa Dominicans sisters taught me that wayyyy back when, before nuns were a suspect class.

Yeah, let's ordain lots of deaconesses - that will help!Ugh -

"Catholics these days are just so easy to confuse."Tim Unsworth of blessed memory knew about that and said as much in a collection of his articles in NCR between 1982 and 2007, published by Acta Publications in 2008 ...."Bishops break out in shingles in the face of ambiguity; laity live with it each day in their homes, jobs and social life.Chancery offices constantly view the faithful as so befuddled that, without unctuous instruction, they would confuse the holy water fountain with a birdbath."

" Or you might look, as you know I like to do, at the case of female altar servers. "NCR/s "Cry Pax" did as well, back in the 1960s:"Ladies, Ladies, soon you'll agreeThis altar girl crumb from the Holy SeeGives truth to the adage that you'll always be,Rarely the dog, but most often the tree."

Of course conservative bishops and theologians are happy to include them in the fullness of the churchs life and worship in a variety of other ways. It is fitting with Tradition that they iron the linen of the holy liturgy and polish the sacred vessels. How much closer than that can you get to the mystery of our faith? As the church adapts to modern times, new rules keep being found for them. They can help transmit the faith by photocopying song sheets, a very important part in getting people to participate at Mass. They can help minister to people in need by answering the phone and being present at the reception area of the rectory, a humble but essential role, central to the life of a parish. What more could they possibly wish for?

rules -> roles

And don't forget that women can be servants in the rectory as well, cooking and cleaning for the men. Altar linens AND presbyteral laundry! What REAL woman would want more?

If it came up in catechism, I'd just have to chalk it up to mystery: I've talked about the mystery of the Trinity and the mystery of the Real Presence; I would have to add the mystery of No Women Ordained, which is something so mysterious that, unlike the other two, we should not even try to understand it: it is the Ultimate Mystery.

Just another contribution to this: http://www.thetablet.co.uk/latest-news/4867

"What REAL woman would want more?"Maybe lots and lots and lots of kids ...?

Claire, I think you were right in the first instance about new "rules" being found for them.+ don't ask or discuss anything about women's ordination, under any circumstances+ don't study theology alongside candidates for the Catholic priesthood+ don't think if you're married to a deacon, your marriage contributes anything whatsoever to his ministry+ don't imagine you'll get a job in the curia or in a Vatican congregation any time soon+ don't think your daughter might someday become (shudder) a cardinal, as Abbot Martin recently suggested + don't imagine you get to define your own ideas about femininity because they have already been determined completely and permanently by men, to wit, "the eternal feminine"+ don't use the word "feminist" in a positive manner unless you want to be put under permanent heresy watch+ don't break out of the "pelvic girdle" of considering women totally in terms of their reproductive capacities as their sole contribution to human civilization+ don't think we can't keep you out of the sanctuary any more, because we can, witness the return of that exclusion via Summorum pontificum and the 1962 rite+ don't think an individual bishop doesn't have the right to stop having altar girls any time, as an issue of "pastoral prudence"+ don't imagine that we won't put the feelings of altar boys (possible candidates for priesthood someday) ahead of the feelings of girl servers+ don't imagine if you are part of a religious community of women that we won't run roughshod over your own structures of authority

I suspect that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is reluctant to have Rev. Dietwig speak because those advocating for women deacons generally are also advocating for women priests, despite the clear and unambiguous teaching of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Those wanting to see women in the diaconate would be well advised to clearly state that they accept what Ordinatio Sacerdotalis teaches about ordaining women to the priesthood.

I think it's obvious to pretty much everyone that the reason the church will not allow women to do anything in the realm of authority is sexism. The contempt in the word Ken uses for women deacons ... deaconesses ... is an example of this. When NT scholars like Sandra Schneiders and even the Pontifical Biblical Commission conclude there's no scriptural reason women can't be priests, it's hard to come to any other conclusion.

I hope I'm wrong, but I see a likely outcome of this controversy. We could get an Infallible Statement, carved in marble in all-caps and set in cement; to the effect that the Church is incapable of ordaining women to ANYTHING, full stop. And we would be stuck with it until the Parousia, along with the dubious theology used to justify such a statement. The Church may be ready for women deacons (or even, gasp, women priests) but the hierarchy are light years away from being ready for it. Given the present mood of paranoia, maybe discretion is the better part of valour. If people try to force the issue right now, the outcome is virtually guaranteed. We have to have enough faith in the Holy Spirit, that if it's meant to happen, it will, in God's time. Formal schism is a destructive possibility that should give everyone pause.

During Dr. Ditewig's tenure with the USCCB, he directed the drafting and promulgation of the National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States. Not only was this a very notable act of service to the church and the diaconate, but I can't think of a task that would better illustrate his commitment - loyalty -to the church and its teaching authority.

But why would a woman want to become a deacon in the first place?

Katherine: informal schism is OK, but formal is not? I suspect that the former is more of a reality in terms of many issues than many people wish to admit. But to be truthful .... that's scarey? I don't think so.

There is no one who is more knowledgeable about the diaconate here in the US than Bill Ditewig.As a Philadelphian I am embarrassed and getting ready for righteous anger.

Jim McCrea, I don't know if scary is the right word. Tragic and sad would be more like it, given that Jesus prayed "that all may be one". I think you're right that we have some informal schisms on a lot of things. But a formal break takes it to the next level; we have one of those that hasn't healed in over a thousand years.

Jim Pauwels and Helen, I agree with both your comments about Bill Ditewig. I find it disturbing that they seem to be giving the men in deacon formation in Philadelphia about as much credit for wisdom and discernment as a class of seventh grade Confirmation students.

Ms. Zagano - this reminds me of Sr. Elizabeth's book's ban and researching the experience and credentials of the USCCB committee that made that decision.Rev. Shenosky - ordained in 2000; spent four years & completed his STD in Rome in 2008 with a dissertation on ecumenical theology and comparing the works of Weigel, Peters, Dulles. His STD is in dogmatic theology. Taught for one year at Borromeo; four years at high schools; spent three years in parish work.Rev. Pesarchick - ordained in 1991; got STD in Rome in 2000 in Systematic Theology (dissertation on Trinitarian Foundation of Human Sexuality according to Hans Urs von Balthasar); worked in parish for three years. Current academic dean at Borromeo. Does teach sacraments of marriage, priesthood, diaconate; published article entitled - "Why abolishing Celibacy will not lead to more vocations"; workshops on "Contrasting Perspectives on the Participation of the Laity in Priestly Ministry, "The Sacramental Identity of the Deacon"; "Ordinary and Universal Magisterium in the Thought of John Paul II

Just a few comments on the string: Deacon Ditewig is a deacon of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC; he has made it quite clear that deacons are not priests, and arguing for women as deacons does not imply arguing for women as priests; as the writer of the original post notes, it seems those most frightened about women deacons meaning women priests do not believe the Church teaching about women priests; yes, it is tragic that the Archdiocesan Speaker Approval Commission does not think its deacons capable of being exposed to the US expert on the diaconate.

What does it mean that Christ gave to Peter the power "to bind and to loose"? I have always thought that it meant that Peter (and his successors) were empowered to make operational decisions as well as doctrinal clarifications for the Church. And the earliest Christians seemed to look to him for such guidance.Paul and Barnabas traveled from Antioch to Jerusalem to seek guidance from Peter and the other presbyters on the question of circumcising non-Jewish male converts. It was a momentous matter for a group of Jewish men, who had scarcely begun to think of themselves as adherents of a new religion, to set aside that sign in the flesh of God's holy Covenant with their people. But they did it, secure in the belief that they had that authority.Now Catholics are told to believe (or to shut up about it) that the Church "has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women." So a benighted norm in a remote backwater of the long-gone Roman Empire must be the standard for all time in the universal Church. And amazingly, popes and bishops are ignoring Christ's explicit grant of authority to them and claiming in this one case that they are powerless to govern their own church.A lover of absurdity could ask for no more.

Slippery slope "theology" is no more credible than slippery slope politics.

Mr. Prior,The pope has exercised his authority on the matter of women's ordination. This is what John Paul II wrote: "Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful."As you say, faithful Catholics follow Peter. Peter has spoken on this matter.

"Definitively" is Vaticanese for "I can't establish this on the basis of historical fact or Scripture, so I can't call this an infallible statement, so I'll call it something else and hope nobody noticces I couldn't say it was "infallible"".

"shouldnt we all be thrilled to discover other areas in which the sharing of authority with women might be possible? "MAKE WOMEN CARDINALS

I keep waiting for conservative bishops and theologians to say, but happily we can include them in the fullness of the churchs life and worship in a variety of other ways. What a positive thing for our church.I keep waiting for more bishops and diocesan officials and self-appointed keepers of orthodoxy to say things like that. Why dont they, do you think? It is kind of hard to hear someone talking when you refuse to listen.It's not that Catholics these days are just so easy to confuse, it is that so many take obstinate pride in their confusion and then use that to launch into non-sequiturs and attacks on strawmen.

"As you say, faithful Catholics follow Peter. Peter has spoken on this matter.""It is kind of hard to hear someone talking when you refuse to listen."Thorin--Peter has clearly contradicted himself throughout church history. So check your church history first. Bender- Please tell us how you are listening. The church has clearly had deaconesses. Or is that not part of your listening or are you hearing what you want to hear?

The implosion is coming, the implosion is coming; the sooner the better.Ah, what fear of women has spawned. The sense of threat must feel excruciating to beleaguered bishops with fingers in the dike.I shudder to think that Fathers Shenosky and Pesarchick are training today's seminarians. "While the Magisterium has not made a definitive pronouncement...the possibility of doctrinal confusion..." Ann O - your definition of definitive is vintage Vaticanese. (pardon the alliteration)Here is what Peritus Joseph Ratzinger wrote:Over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority there still stands ones own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal [God], and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even of the official Church...Joseph Ratzinger, Part I, Chapter 1, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Vol. V of COMMENTARY ON THE DOCUMENTS OF VATICAN II, ed. Herbert Vorgrimler (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969, p. 134)I do not accept that my conscience is informed only if it agrees with definitive pronouncements from Rome. I must assume responsibility before God and pray for guidance.

Following up on Carolyn Disco's comment: Could it be that this is a moment when the emphasis should be on challenging the church and even disobeying it? Such moments have occurred before. One person who recognized that was Joseph Ratzinger. Paul Knitter heard him say this at a press conference in Rome in1963, during the Vatican Council. Knitter, who teaches at Union Theological Seminary, said that Ratzinger told us that throughout the history of the Roman Catholic Church it has happened that the bishops so lost touch with the message of Jesus that it became incumbent upon the laity to exercise their prophetic role given in Baptism and to stand up and refuse to obey. http://unionindialogue.org/paulknitter/2011/03/15/kung-ratzinger-vs-bene...

Thorin,If you read my comment a little more carefully, you will see that I was not addressing the Pope's authority in general or his use of it in the case under discussion. I merely remarked on his assertion that in the matter of women's ordination, and apparently no other, he has no authority to alter the constitution of the Church even if he wished to. I believe that claim of powerlessness is false, ridiculous, and craven. But it's all the argument he's got. If he was honest, he would say, "We boys just don't want the competition."

Gene, do you have examples of such moments? What caused them and what was the effect of confrontation? Rita's list shows that the current evolution is in the direction of increased rigidity, and Katherine's worries seem warranted to me. Maybe if we just wait for a couple of generations the problem, which now looks so knotted, will resolve itself easily, with fresh thought coming from the non-Western Catholic world. Is there such an urgency?

John Prior makes the common mistake of speaking about "women's ordination." There are several ordinations: deacon, priest, bishop. The discussion Deacon Ditewig has been involved in involves only returning to the Tradition--the tradition of women ordained as deacons. The seminary teachers who wrote about Deacon Ditewig do not seem to understand that Pope Benedict XVI clearly distinguished between the ordination of priests and bishops on the one hand and the ordination of deacons on the other, stating that deacons do not share the priestly ordination or ministry. See Can. 1008-1009 as amended in 2009.

Bill Ditewig has posted two long responses to criticism of him on Fr. Z's bloghttp://wdtprs.com/blog/2012/12/promoter-of-women-deacons-cant-speak-in-a... posted as "Deacon Bill"His lede is:Dear Father Z.,I would normally not respond to much of what has been written here; however, there is so much being misrepresented that I feel I must see your piffle and raise you a kerfuffle.

This is the Fr. Z, expert on all things Catholic (except canon law) who was given a bit of a slap down by Cardinal Burke for writing that attendance at one mass this past Saturday-Sunday would fulfill the obligation of attending mass on both Sunday and a Holy Day of Obligation.Fr. Zuhlsdorf is generally very good, but here hes just plain wrong, said the Cardinal. This is the same Fr. Z who is hosting a seven-day Caribbean cruise/retreat with Michael Voris during Lent next year. (minimum price = over $1,000) - first night cocktail party. I am fairly sure that if the good father were in a parish, his bishop (liberal or conservative) would have strong words about this cruise. As for Michael Voris He too has no oversight.

John Hayes - thanks....the two responses from Deacon Bill are enlightening. Posted the background, credentials, education, and experience of two committee members. If you compare Deacon Bill's experience with these two - well, the differences are significant.Like the Sr. Elizabeth situation - Deacon Bill states that committee objections revolve around the question of *history*. In fact, the book in question has three chapters - Deacon Bill did not write the chapter about history and yet that is what the committee highlights (similar to Sr. Elizabeth's book when some USCCB committee folks acknowledged that they had not read her book but, none the less, voted to sanction it).If you take the responses by Fr. Z and compare to the Phil. committee - you can only be disturbed. Deacon Bill's clarifications of the issues is nuanced, precise, and clear.Would suggest that the Phil. committee doesn't have the experience or background to actually provide a valid response - which leaves us with the usual power play....because they can. Note especially Deacon Bill's clarifications about Magisterium (whether small M or capital M)

John Hayes, thanks for those links to Fr. Z's blog. They are Ditewig at his pastoral best.FWIW, my view on the question of ordaining women to the diaconate is as follows:* Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, an exercise of the church's teaching authority, very precisely excluded the diaconate from the scope of its teaching. In other words, there is no direct appeal to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to answer the question, "may women be ordained to the diaconate?"* There are at least two sets of questions to be answered: (1) does the church have the authority to ordain women to the diaconate? and (2) if the answer to (1) is yes, then is it prudent for the church to do so now? Appeals to history may help to discern the answer to (1), but it is possible that the answers to the two questions could be, respectively, Yes and No. Thorin's first comment points to one reason that it could come out that way.* Just speaking as one deacon: I wouldn't feel threatened or upset if the answer to the two questions I raised in the previous bullet turns out to be Yes and Yes. There are something like 15,000 of us in the US alone, and a group that large is bound to have a wide range of opinions and preferences on any given question (including nut-job views at either extreme :-)), but I think that most deacons would view it the way I do. Most of us went through formation with our wives, and have had the opportunity to think, pray and discuss the question pretty extensively.

From the Committee's (unpersuasive and detracting) explanation: "[Ditewig] also holds that his ordination as a deacon as well as his ministry somehow includes the deacons spouse so that the two sacraments of marriage and diaconate [sic] ordination become one in the person of the deacon."This claim also deserves closer scrutiny. I doubt that this one-sentence summary does justice to Ditewig's views on the relationship between the sacraments of marriage and Holy Orders. The Committee's statement overall seems to go out of its way to detract Ditewig.

Over on FB, Deacon Ditewig noted that at least one part of the statement from the Philadelphia commission, evidently quoting him, is something he never wrote and he has no idea where it came from. Nor does it reflect, even remotely, anything he has written. He also has indicated that they appear not to have read his published work -- since they attribute to HIM scholarship undertaken by someone else. So this is what we've learned: 1) a commission banned a speaker for published writings of his that it never even read; 2) this same commission banned that same speaker for scholarship that he never even authored; 3) the aforementioned commission jumped to conclusions about the speaker without checking its facts or verifying its sources, and attributed to the speaker things he never said or wrote. Makes perfect sense.

The fact that a person with Deacon Ditewig's reputation and credentials feels the need to defend himself from a person like "Fr. Z" is as vivid an illustration of the alarming state of affairs in the church as I can think of. Talk about morbid symptoms.I think it bears repeating that the commission's essential complaint about Ditewig, as articulated by the diocesan spokesperson in McElwee's article, is that he has written about the question of whether women might be ordained to the diaconate. Which is in no conflict with papal teachings or settled doctrine. The speaker approval commission seems to feel responsible for protecting the people of Philadelphia -- and not just any people, but the people in its diaconate program -- from finding out that issue is even being discussed. Either they're wrong about what their job requires, or they've been given some very bad instruction from their ordinary. Either way, Archbishop Chaput has an opportunity to make it right. Will he? Will any bishop now say, "I am grateful for the many years of faithful service Deacon Ditewig has offered to our church, and he is welcome to speak in my diocese whenever we are fortunate enough to have him"?

The fact that a person with Deacon Ditewigs reputation and credentials feels the need to defend himself from a person like Fr. Z is as vivid an illustration of the alarming state of affairs in the church as I can think of. Talk about morbid symptoms.Agree.

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