Interview with Dr. Phyllis Zagano, member of the Commission set up by Pope Francis to study the question of the Diaconate for women
Transcription by THE WAR using otranscribe.com
This is Vatican Radio and I am Susy Hodges
A member of the newly established commission set up by Pope Francis to study the question of the diaconate for women spoke of her delight over this move on Tuesday. Dr. Phyllis Zagano, who teaches at Hofstra University in Hampstead, New York, is one of the six female members of the Commission whose formation was announced by the Vatican on Tuesday. She is the author of some 20 books on religious studies including several on the issue of the Diaconate for women. Dr. Zagano spoke to me earlier about her reaction to her appointment and explained why she feels it is such an important and positive move on the part of the Pope.
Dr. Zagano: Well you know I am honored that the Holy Father has included me among scholars who will be studying anew the question of restoring women to the diaconate in the Catholic Churches. I am very honored. That’s the best news I have ever gotten really.
Susy: Why do you feel that this could be a positive move for the Church and for women of course?
Dr. Zagano: My work is on the fact that women were ordained to the diaconate, that women have served as deacons and in more recent work I say quite simply that women should be included in the diaconate as it has been restored post-Vatican II.
Susy: And how optimistic are you that this commission will eventually in due course lead possibly to that decision to have female deacons within the Catholic Church?
Dr. Zagano: I wouldn’t use the term female deacons. I think the most recent study document on the question of restoring women to the diaconate, to the office of deacon, states that the decision is up to the “ministry of discernment that the LORD has left his Church”. Now my hope is that the results of the study will include women in the office of deacon and that this would be a decision that would enable the Church to speak more forcefully to the world about the dignity and place of women, not only in the Church but also in society.
Susy: But could it be also quite a divisive move that there could be people who are very much opposed to this within the Church? Could it open up splits?
Dr. Zagano: Well anything could open up splits. I think that the way Church works is the Holy Father decides to restore women to the ordained diaconate. It would be up to each Episcopal conference to decide whether it felt that it should include women in the office of deacon and in its provincial territories; and then within those territories, it would be up to each individual bishop to decide whether he would wish to ordain women as deacons. So I can’t see any kind of a split since it is a collaborative decision that goes down the line really to the individual diocese.
Susy: Coming back to the present day, do you think nonetheless it’s, I know it is very early, but do think this is likely to be a popular move?
Dr. Zagano: I think it is extremely, from what I have heard recently, it is an extremely popular idea to restore women to the ordained office of deacon because historically women ministered to other women and it would be a statement by the Church that women deserve the ordained ministry of women. That was the specific reason for ordaining women in the past and it quite clearly I think is the reason to restore women to the ordained diaconate today.
Susy: I was speaking there to Dr. Phyllis Zagano, member of the commission set up by Pope Francis to study the question of the diaconate for women.