An interesting take from NCR.
U.S. Cardinals Blaise Cupich and Robert McElroy sat down for an interview after the synod meeting concluded and shared their impressions of what had taken place. This section on women deacons caught my eye:
In the lead-up to this month’s Rome meeting, expectations were high that the synod might offer concrete proposals about the possibility of ordaining women as deacons — something that the Vatican’s 2019 synod for the nine-nation Amazon region had previously proposed.
In the end, the 2023 synod largely punted on the issue, calling for the results of earlier papal and theological commissions on women deacons to be presented for further consideration at next year’s assembly. Moreover, the vote counts for proposals expressing forward movement on the issue received the highest level of “no” votes of any of the document’s 81 proposals….
… On the question of women deacons, both Cupich and McElroy said that what emerged during this session of the synod was a question of whether the diaconate needed to be “reimagined” as a whole.
Cupich recalled Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 decision to revise church law to make a clear distinction between the purposes for ordination to the priesthood and episcopacy, versus the purposes for ordination to the diaconate.
Referring to the current practice of ordaining seminarians studying for the priesthood first as deacons, the Chicago cardinal said Benedict’s change specifying the difference between priestly and diaconal ministry “opens the door to reimagining what the diaconate should be.”
“Does it uncomplicate some of the theological questions that some people have?” Cupich asked. “It’s valid to ask, if that’s the case … why are we ordaining candidates for the priesthood to the diaconate? It’s a legitimate question to ask. And if, if you start with that, then maybe you can begin reimagining what the diaconate is about.”
As questions were raised at the roundtables about the permanent diaconate as a whole, San Diego’s McElroy — who has previously expressed his support for the ordination of women to the diaconate — said the issue took on a “wider focus” at the synod.
“I think there was a lot of feeling that [the diaconate] should be focused not on liturgical things, as much as on serving the poor and the marginalized,” he said, asking: “So do we need to reimagine the diaconate as a whole?”
McElroy continued: “As a result of those sets of issues coming up, the question looked much different to a lot of us after. Now, I’m in favor of having women as deacons as it is presently, but there may be a pathway here that would be very promising that would, I think, invigorate in many important ways the diaconate as a whole and perhaps provide a pathway.”