The make-a-mess pope has struck again; this time by expressing a desire to “constitute an official commission to study the question” of possibly ordaining female deacons.
Since this news was first reported, Catholic media has been all abuzz with dread on the part of so-called “traditionalists” (aka Catholics), glee on the part of progressives, and various degrees of denial from our pusillanimous pals in the lifeless middle.
A few observations…
Francis made the comment in response to a question that was apparently put forth during a Q&A session with the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) – an organization of Superiors General of Institutes of Catholic Women Religious.
According to a video statement (below) provided by Sr. Carmen Sammut, President of the UISG, the questions were composed well in advance of yesterday’s papal audience.
This is important; it means that either the pope himself, or his able handlers, deliberately chose to address the matter of female deacons.
What’s more, Sr. Sammut went on to reveal (~3:55 mark of the video) that it was the UISG itself that had proposed the formation of a commission to study the question concerning female deacons; Francis simply accepted their proposal.
That is the context for Francis’ response:
So, with regard to the diaconate, yes, I agree and it seems to me it would be useful to have a commission to clarify this well, especially with regard to the early times of the Church.
How very humble! So, is the tail is wagging the dog here, or is the dog just looking for another excuse to relieve himself all over our Catholic carpet?
Let’s not be naïve – no one is wagging Francis’ tail; the man is a dictator.
He wants to open this can of worms; in spite of the fact that the International Theological Commission (ITC) had already conducted an in-depth study (carried out over a five year period, no less) concerning the diaconate such as it was in “the early times of the Church.”
In other words, those worms are most certainly dead.
Now, there are those who will allege that the matter is not truly settled in light of the fact that the ITC document (2002) states:
In the light of these elements which have been set out in the present historico-theological research document, it pertains to the ministry of discernment which the Lord established in his Church to pronounce authoritatively on this question.
Setting aside any debate concerning the relative wisdom of such a statement, this does not mean that the ITC considers the matter open for discussion; rather, it simply indicates that an “authoritative pronouncement” has yet to have been given, which is true.
This does not suggest that the question is unanswered; no more than the matter of female ordination to the priesthood was unanswered prior to the motu proprio of John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
When a dubium was sent to the CDF asking if the teaching in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is infallible, the answer given was, yes, it is, not in and of itself, however, but by virtue of the Universal Ordinary Magisterium.
As a thorough reading of the ITC document strongly suggests, the same is true of the ordination of women to the diaconate. In other words, the matter is settled.
That, however, doesn’t constitute an insurmountable impediment for Francis, but rather a challenge; one that he is eager to embrace, and the challenge in his mind is essentially this:
How do I best go about asserting my will on the entire Church?
This is the same challenge Francis faced with respect to the matter of access to the sacraments for unrepentant public adulterers and fornicators, and we all know how that went.
First, he called for the Synod of Bishops to take up a “question” that has already been answered in order to A) give the appearance of openness, and B) to prepare the faithful for the bomb that he intended to drop all along.
Something similar may well be afoot in this case as well.
Another of the common threads running through both the Synod fiasco and the so-called “question” of female deacons concerns the fact that both of the issues under discussion were addressed in a noteworthy manner during the pontificate of Pope John Paul the Great Ecumenist.
This is just one more indication that “canonization” post-Vatican II style is a joke even to its chief antagonists; “sainthood” being but a mere shell of what it used to represent. Clearly, Francis doesn’t understand it (or much of anything else, for that matter) in the same way that the Church traditionally has.
Think about it: If the Qur’an kissing pope from Poland is so much a model of heroic virtue that he is worthy of emulation as a “Saint” as such was well understood prior to the Council, then why is Francis so quick to ignore (and to overturn in the case of Familiaris Consortio) his legacy with respect to matters that were well and truly settled during his pontificate?
The answer is twofold:
First and most obvious, Karol Wojtyła simply doesn’t qualify for canonization according to the traditional standard; rather, his legacy invites far more condemnation than emulation.
Secondly, in the minds of modernists like Francis, the pontificate itself isn’t understood according to the mind of the Church.
Rather than recognizing the pope as he who is charged with acting as Supreme Guardian of the immutable doctrines of the one true faith; Francis thinks of the Petrine Office as something more akin to that of Chief Administrator of an earthbound institution that is called to render services relative to the ever-changing circumstances of man.
This being the case, his predecessors can be applauded on the one hand and ignored on the other. As for tradition? That belongs in the history books.
In the present case, Francis isn’t going to decree that Holy Orders be conferred upon women, even if limited exclusively to the diaconate. He can’t – no more than he could issue a binding decree stating that marriage is suddenly dissolvable.
Precisely what he will do in this case, no one but the “God of Surprises” (aka Jorge Bergoglio) knows for certain.
That said, I suspect that whatever he ends up doing with respect to “female deacons” will in some way involve an elevation of the lay condition as opposed to an expansion of the clerical state.
Remember, to Francis, clerics are configured not so much to Christ the King as to an itinerant social worker from Nazareth. In other words, ordination just ain’t that big a deal to him.
Those of us who are inclined to treat the ordained with high esteem are trapped in the old way of thinking; Francis, however, is all about newchurch.
He signaled his preferences in the matter much earlier in the Q&A session when he said:
In Buenos Aires, I had this experience three or four times: a good priest came to me and said, “I have a very good layperson in my parish: he does this and that, he knows how to organise things, he gets things done. … Shall we make him a deacon?” Or rather: shall we “clericalise” him? “No! Let him remain a layperson. Don’t make him a deacon”. This is important. It often happens to you that clericalism obstructs the correct development of something.
Keep in mind that he said this knowing that the “question” about female deacons was on the agenda; i.e., he was tipping is hand.
In any case, the one thing I do know about the destruction to come is this:
Those who believe that this “female deacon” dustup is the point where Francis finally “goes too far” and incites to action at long last the relative handful of remaining faithful bishops (whomever and wherever they may be) to oppose him are kidding themselves.
As I wrote several weeks ago with respect to Amoris Laetita and the nonresponse of so many bishops:
There can be no doubt that Francis is now more convinced than ever that he can do whatever the Hell he wants to do. The deposit of faith is like clay in his humble little hands. The Holy Catholic Church is his personal playground, and he’s the bully who gets to make up the rules.