Phoebe’s Daughters

A thrilling news item from Germany earlier this week seems, so far, to have received less attention than it deserves.

Robert Zolltisch, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Freiburg and head of the German Catholic Bishops’ Conference, has called for the Roman Church to begin ordaining female Deacons (Women Catholic deacons ‘no longer taboo’). This is a pleasant surprise,but it really shouldn’t be. For one thing, it reflects the historically high quality of German biblical scholarship.

It is well known that St Paul himself used the word ‘diakonos’ to describe women’s ministry.

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a supporter (diakonon) of the church inCenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a patron (prostates) of many people, including me. (Romans 16: 1–2)

But just because the logic is obvious doesn’t mean the Vatican will heed the Archibishop’s call,

Still, it’s a happy development. Let’s hope the Pope Emeritus will get on side and do his best to turn the Archbishop’s wish into a reality.

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