The annual meeting of the International Theological Commission, scheduled to take place in Rome next week, will focus on the question of the diaconate.
    The meeting will be held at St. Martha's House in the Vatican, under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
    The 30 theologians will discuss a 60-page working document on the diaconate, prepared by a subcommittee of the group.
    The diaconate has become a key issue for theological study because the Second Vatican Council, in the document Lumen Gentium, did not explicitly resolve the sacramental character of the diaconate, nor the degree of authority if confers. The Commission will discuss the degree to which the diaconate implies "configuration with Christ," even if it does not allow "ministerial participation in the priesthood of Christ."
    These issues are crucial because, among other things, they provide some guidance regarding the question of whether women may be ordained as permanent deacons.
29 Sep 00

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