Canadian archbishop's full remarks to Synod on women deacons

This story appears in the Family Synod 2015 feature series. View the full series.

by Joshua J. McElwee

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Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher told Catholic News Service Tuesday that he had used his three-minute address to the worldwide meeting of Catholic bishops in Rome to address the church's stance towards women, proposing the ordination of women as deacons.

Durocher, who is a former president of the Canadian bishops' conference and leads the archdiocese of Gatineau in Quebec, has posted the full text of his remarks at his French-language blog.

Following is an English translation of the blog that includes the remarks, made and graciously shared by Barry Hudock, a publisher at Liturgical Press.


On the third day of the Synod, we listened to the interventions of members who wanted to talk about various points mentioned in the Instrumentum Laboris. I chose to talk about number 29, regarding the role of women. Since nearly the complete text has already appeared on the Internet (I do not know who leaked the content), I think it is good that I offer it to you its entirety. Here it is:

The latest statistics from the World Health Organization show this disturbing fact: even today, nearly a third of women worldwide are victims of domestic violence.

Yet in Familiaris Consortio, Pope St. John Paul II issued a strong appeal: “I ask that vigorous and incisive pastoral action be taken by all to overcome [offenses against the dignity of women] definitively.”

Unfortunately, more than thirty years later, women continue to face discrimination and violence at the hands of men, including their spouses.

Faced with this sad and dramatic reality, I suggest that this Synod clearly states that a proper interpretation of Scripture can never justify male domination over women. In particular, this Synod should affirm that the passages where St. Paul speaks of the woman's submission to her husband do not justify male domination over women, much less violence towards her.

But we must go further. To clearly show the world the equal dignity of women and men in the Church, we should take up the suggestion of Pope Benedict XVI in his March 2006 address to the Roman clergy, when he said: “It is right to ask whether in ministerial service – despite the fact that here Sacrament and charism are the two ways in which the Church fulfills herself – it might be possible to make more room, to give more offices of responsibility to women.”

I propose three other courses of action for this Synod.

  1. That this Synod considers the possibility of granting to married men and women, well-trained and accompanied, permission to speak in homilies at Mass in order to show the link between the Word proclaimed and the lives of spouses and parents.
  2. That in order to recognize the equal capacity of women to assume decision-making positions in the Church, the Synod recommends the appointment of women to positions they are able to occupy in the Roman Curia and in our diocesan curias.
  3. Finally, concerning the permanent diaconate, that this Synod recommends the establishment of a process that could eventually open to women access to this order, which, as tradition says, is directed non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium [“not to priesthood, but to ministry”].

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