Women and the permanent diaconate
Sir, – There were two very contrasting events in the Diocese of Cloyne at the weekend. On Sunday, six men were ordained to the permanent diaconate in Cobh. The pictures of the event showed a sanctuary full of men. The only female presence were the handful of altar girls.
Contrast that with the Spiritfest event held in Killeagh-Inch parish. A three-day event, it was in the main inspired and led by women.
The event involved prayer, worship, teaching, discussion and sharing.
Yet all these wonderful faith-filled women are excluded from the diaconate because of their gender.
On Friday evening, the Jesuit theologian Fr Gerry O’Hanlon, in outlining the vision of Pope Francis to us, made some very interesting observations.
The Pope is inviting the church to engage with the culture of our time and to learn from it, a culture which takes equality and inclusion as a right not a privilege.
He encourages the local churches to put forward solutions for their own pressing issues. He welcomes open, honest, respectful and informed debate. He has initiated dialogue with regard to the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate.
With this in mind, I invite the Irish church and in particular the bishops to engage in the dialogue around the issue and to give some leadership by proposing that women in Ireland be ordained deacons. – Yours, etc,
Fr TIM HAZELWOOD,