‘Examine history of women’s diaconate’, urges Schönborn
The Tablet13 April 2017 | by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has said the Church needs to examine more closely the position of women deacons in the Church in the past and in the Eastern Church today, writes Christa Pongratz-Lippitt.
The fact that women had been ordained deacons, not only in the Early Church but up to the Middle Ages and that the Eastern Church still had women deacons, “should give the Latin-rite Church food for thought”, the cardinal told the Austrian daily Wiener Zeitung on 8 April. “The big theological question is, what sort of ordination this was and what consequences one can draw from this today,” he said.
Unlike in the Eastern Church, where the difference between a Sacrament and a mere sacramental sign was “much more open”, Latin-rite church teaching on ordination was far more precisely defined, he pointed out.
“I can fully understand that women have the feeling that that really is a men’s squad up there at the altar,” he said. It was quite clear that there should be more women in church offices and that “by far not all the potentials” had been exploited. But he suggested waiting to see what conclusions were drawn by the Vatican commission the Pope had asked to look into the women’s diaconate.
Questioned on the Church’s teaching regarding Communion for remarried divorcees since Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, Cardinal Schönborn warned against oversimplification. “For me the first question is not whether remarried divorcees may receive Communion but how they cope with their situation. They first had to ask themselves how they had treated the children of their first marriage and whether they had used them as hostages,” he said. Meanwhile the We Are Church reform group set up in Austria in 1995 said the initial reception process of Amoris Laetitia was “by no means” over, and the manner in which bishops and local churches reacted to it was an “acid test” of the Church’s ability to implement reforms.