Australia’s Catholic Church ‘very open’ to elevating women’s role

“Pope Francis is setting the example for us in all of this and I think we are very determined to follow both Francis’ words in this regard and the example he is setting for us,” Costelloe said.

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Costelloe said allowing women to serve as deacons would be a “symbolic recognition” of the important role they already play in the church.

He added that there was a lively historical and biblical debate over the role of female deacons in the ancient church.

“If it hadn’t been for theological issues, it would have been done a long time ago,” he said. “Scholars do not all agree on the diaconal role women played in the early church.”

Costelloe said there had been “great distress” among Australian Catholics over the failure of the full council to pass the initial motions on affirming the role of women in the church.

“What was quite a tense moment led to a very positive sense of togetherness at the end of the week,” he said.

Costelloe said he agrees with Pope Francis that the Church has become “too self-centered, too self-centered” lately.

“One of the challenges for the church as we move forward will be to shift from a more introspective way of being,” he said.

“We believe that we have something special to offer the rest of society and if we get so caught up in our own problems, our own inner challenges, we fail to remember all the point of Christianity, all the interest of the gospel, is to offer the gift of Jesus Christ to everyone so that they can decide whether they accept it.

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