Ordaining women deacons
Thirty-six popes were ordained as deacons but never as priests. Women deacons were present in the church from the time of St Paul, and the diaconate fell out of favour in the 12th century largely because of evolving clerical practices and disgruntled priests.
Just some of the facts regarding the history of deacons in the Catholic Church that Dr Phyllis Zagano shared with Pat Coyle in this, part one of an extended interview on the diaconate in the Catholic Church.
Dr Zagano is Professor of Religion at Hofstra University in New York, the author of many books, and a specialist on the diaconate. She was appointed to Pope Francis’s first commission on the diaconate in 2016.
Dr Zagano was guest speaker at the Loyola Institute Trinity College Dublin’s seminar on synodality on Friday and Saturday 14 and 15 April 2023 (see photo).
In this first section of her interview, she explains how a Jesuit priest spurred her in the direction of the diaconate as a field of study. She also outlines the rise and decline of this clerical order practiced by both men and women and explains how eventually the ordination of women as deacons became a historically disputed fact and source of controversy to this day.