Louise Sallé 07h24, March 28, 2023, modified at 07h25, March 28, 2023

The bishops of France are meeting in Lourdes on Tuesday. Nine working groups, composed mainly of lay people, will submit to the bishops some sixty proposals to better balance power relations. Among them, the ordination of women deacons and married men. Does this measure have a chance of succeeding?

The France Bishops' Conference begins this Tuesday in Lourdes. An important moment of discussion, and sometimes of decisions, in the Catholic hierarchy. This year, nine working groups, composed mainly of lay people and set up after the revelations of the Ciase on sexual abuse committed within the Church, submit to the bishops about sixty proposals. The goal: to think about new ways to balance power relations and prevent abuse.

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Ordaining Women Deacons and Married Men: An Old Vatican Debate

Among the proposals, the ordainment of women deacons and married men rose to the rank of the boldest ones. It is not, however, likely to lead to any change immediately.

Indeed, if the bishops adopt this measure, it is in order to ask the Vatican to initiate a reflection on the subject. Rome, for its part, is already studying the question of the diaconate of women and the ordination of men who have been married for a long time. "I think the pope's primary concern is to keep the Church united and not to move too quickly," theologian Monique Baujard said. He is a man who tends to let the debate take place and be prolonged so that, little by little, a consensus can emerge."

"If women went on strike, not much would work!"

The idea of ordaining women deacons would still be popular with Catholics, given the role they already held in parishes. "Women do a lot of things," says Monique Baujard. "If tomorrow, all the women who are active in the Church go on strike, there is not much that would work!" she quips.

"But there are things that women cannot do: a deacon, for example, can celebrate a baptism, which a woman cannot do unless exceptionally authorized by a bishop," says the theologian.

Leaving more room for women in the liturgy, an "easy" measure according to Anne Soupa

The bishops' conference will address another issue relating to the place of women. That of assigning them responsibilities within the liturgy, by allowing them, for example, to deliver a homily.

"This is an easy and quite significant measure," notes Anne Soupa, another theologian. Unlike the ordination of women deacons, this proposal is more the responsibility of the French bishops. "And it is necessary to diversify the speech, because that of women is not always that of men," insists Anne Soupa.