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Despite Pope’s Clear ‘No’ on CBS, Promoters of Women Deacons Hold out Hope

“We in Discerning Deacons share this profound sense that our baptism grounds us, and that is the root of our discipleship,” she said, but she challenged the pope to listen to and believe women in the church. “We’re just actually asking for sacramental grace to strengthen us in hard ministry,” said Stanton, who counts herself among women who feel a call to the diaconate.

“We’re trying to be ordained so we can go minister in the prison. We’re trying to be ordained so we can go visit folks, our parishioners in immigration detention centers. And you just actually need to be ordained to get on the visitation list,” Stanton said.

Stanton, the mother of three, said that ordaining moms as deacons would serve as a hedge against clericalism. “Children keep you humble,” she said.

“I wonder if Pope Francis has not yet had an encounter with women who sense a call, a real vocation to be ordained as deacons,” Stanton added. Though known as a pastoral pope, Francis, surrounded by theological arguments, may not be “immersed in the pastoral reality.”

McElwee similarly said that Francis’ “lack of pastoral care when it comes to women is always shocking.” The Women’s Ordination Conference, she said, is advising “for Pope Francis to sit down and really listen to the stories of women who have sincerely discerned calls to ordination.”

McElwee said she and her team were most immediately attending to the needs of members who feel disappointment, betrayal, anger and sadness, but they planned to continue their work.

“My hope really comes from the resolve and determination of women who sincerely discern a call to ordained ministry and against all odds, claim it, proclaim it, and hold onto it,” McElwee said. “Bringing equality into the Catholic Church would just have such a huge effect around the world.”

Rodriguez, a deacon at St. Paschal Baylon Catholic Church in Thousand Oaks, California, stressed that Francis’ comments were made in a news interview. “It’s not official church documents that the pope was issuing,” he said. “It’s not immediately clear if this was his opinion, his teaching, his position. It needs clarification.”

Rodriguez called on Catholics to continue to discern women’s calls to ministry while listening to Francis’ teaching authority, regardless of what answers are given about women deacons.

With the church, “a negative answer right now can be a negative answer for a long time, or it can be a negative answer until the right time comes, and that’s part of discerning,” Rodgriguez said.

“The priority here is to serve the people of God in communion with the Catholic Church,” he said.

This article originally appeared here