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Vatican reaffirms ban on women deacons.

VATICAN CITY: In an authoritative joint statement made by three Vatican departments and approved by the pope, the Vatican Sept. 17 reaffirmed its refusal to permit the ordination of women as deacons.

Three Vatican departments acted in response to plans in the United States and elsewhere to "directly or indirectly" prepare women for the deaconate. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a "notification" on behalf of all three departments.

The church considers ordination as a deacon to be primarily a step on the way to priesthood, although following the Second Vatican Council, the church approved the office of permanent deacon.

The congregations said women must not be ordained as deacons because they cannot go on to priestly ordination.

"Because ecclesial ordination does not foresee the possibility of such ordination, it is not permitted to begin initiatives that, in some way, aim at preparing candidates for diaconal ordination," the statement said.

Deacons can be authorized to baptize, dispense the Eucharist, assist at and bless marriages, offer last rites to the dying and officiate at funerals and burials.

The notification was approved by the pope on Sept. 14 and signed by Cardinals Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and Dario Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

The International Theological Commission, the official body of theologians who provide advice to Ratzinger's office, is currently working on a document about deacons that will contain a chapter on women and the diaconate. It struck some observers as curious that the notification would appear before the commission was able to deliver its own doctrinal conclusions.
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Title Annotation:first step to ordination denied
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 28, 2001
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