Jules Gomes reports for ChurchMilitant.com — Women’s ordination campaigners in Germany are ratcheting up demands for Catholic female deacons with a recently invented “Day of the Deaconess” celebrated on the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena.
Catholic women’s associations and the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) called for urgent “joint social action” on Wednesday, as the German juggernaut for women’s ordination gained momentum after Pope Francis created a new commission to study the possibility of women deacons earlier this month.
Amplifying their call for deaconesses in a press release, the Network for Women Deacons (Netzwerk Diakonat der Frau) noted “the opening of the sacramental diaconate to women is overdue” and they would not be “waiting passively for world church decisions.”
Instead, they demanded “using the here and now in your own country as a yardstick for change,” emphasizing that “diaconal action is one of the characteristics of the Church and is not tied to one gender.”
“The time to act is now! Women and men, as baptized and confirmed, are equally called to carry out ministry,” the motto of the “Deaconess Day” rang out under the hashtag #frauendiakonatjetzt on social media — the main platform for the campaign after the central event in Munich was canceled following the Wuhan virus outbreak.
The ‘First Step’ Toward the Endgame
Speaking to Church Militant, theologian Dr. Gavin Ashenden pointed out that “the ambitions of feminism to capture the office of the diaconate for the sisterhood are not about either equality or humble service, despite the smokescreen of faux piety intended to mask the real goal.”
“Capturing the diaconate is only the first step. The next is the priesthood, then the episcopate and finally, of course, the papacy,” noted the former queen’s chaplain, who fought women’s ordination in Anglicanism, before converting to Catholicism.
Dominican Fr. Max Cappabianca, a supporter of women priests, candidly acknowledged in a German radio interview on Wednesday, that “the diaconate is the first stage of one of the ordained offices (deacon, priest, bishop)” and “we have to look at [ordaining women to] the other offices too.”
Tradition was not a good argument to prohibit women from being ordained and if “one can already ordain deacons … then the question will arise, why not priestesses and bishops,” Cappabianca, pastor of the Catholic Student Community in Berlin, asked.
Meanwhile, Ashenden blasted the “the use of St. Catherine of Siena as a springboard for religious feminism,” calling it “a sad contradiction in terms for those who know and love her.”
“Saint Catherine stands for self-abandonment in love, but she has been hijacked as a launching pad for a power-grab,” Ashenden told Church Militant. “St. Catherine is famous for rescuing the papacy, but today is being used to pervert it, treating it as an instrument to convert Christianity into a form of Gaia-placation.”
The aims of feminism are consistent with its driving motivation, which pursues a political, not a spiritual, narrative and understands the world as a power struggle with men. How do we know? Because the feminist sisters in Anglicanism broke cover 30 years earlier and while celebrating the capitulation of Anglicanism to feminism have dropped the smokescreen.
Catholic dissidents in Germany have celebrated “Deaconess Day” (Tag der Diakonin) annually on April 29 since 1997 — a made-up, unauthorized festival with no basis in Scripture or Tradition.
‘Synodal Path’ Paving the Way
Calls for women’s ordination are getting more strident every year as more German bishops and theologians have thrown their weight behind the cause.
The new chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bp. Georg Bätzing, assured activists earlier in March that gender equality would be his top priority and the ongoing synodal path could create an “indult” permitting women deacons in Germany. An indult is a permission or privilege granted by the Holy See authorizing an act that the common law of the Church does not sanction.
Pastoral theologian Fr. Martin Lörsch said he supported “Day of the Deaconess” as “a kind of commemoration day of confirmation” and asking, “Are we still on the right course?” “What are the reasons for a diaconate for women?” and “What impulses can I take with me?”
Lörsch observed that women deacons were essential because “the church no longer reaches many social classes with its message because it no longer reaches women in these milieus” and deaconesses could be pioneers in reaching people on the margins.
“If the commission in Rome comes to a positive result with regard to the women’s diaconate and the pope agrees,” Lörsch said, “then I can imagine the following scenario: You could allow it experimentally in some local churches. After that, the necessary ecclesiastical procedure could be opened up to the approval of the liturgical texts and be completed in 10 years,”
“It must also be borne in mind that this change will also create resistance and the pope will proceed with caution,” he indicated.
Deck Stacked Against Deaconesses
Proponents of women’s ordination have agreed with Church Militant’s analysis that the pontiff’s newly-created commission to study the female diaconate is stacked with orthodox theologians who are not supportive of deaconesses.
“If Pope Francis really wants to say ‘yes’ to women deacons, this might seem an odd way to go about it,” a commentary in the liberal-leaning Crux observed, conceding that the commission was weighted in favor of objectors to women’s ordination.
“This latest announcement of a study commission on women deacons has all the hallmarks of an ‘inside job,'” the pro-women’s ordination Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research lamented.
“Rather than selecting commission members from Catholic theological associations around the world, the Vatican has nominated 10 insiders, not even one of whom is on record as ever having voiced a desire for, let alone approval of, the ordination of women to the diaconate,” it reported.