As you know, we in our little Church like to think of ourselves as a laboratory for ecclesiological experiment. So I was thrilled when I heard that you are setting up a commission to consider women in the diaconate. We are beginning to feel affirmed and vindicated at last!
Perhaps I can give you a few tips.
Go carefully. The ultimate aim, of course, is women bishops; but people (especially Catholics) need to be accustomed to the idea gradually. A good smattering of women going around in clerical shirts is a good softener. And of course, women on committees and chairing commissions will be essential. We co-opted them to the House of Bishops. Why not head your deacons commission with a powerful nun? You may be in trouble if you don’t.
Don’t be afraid of too much radicalism. People will tell you – some of the campaigners themselves, no doubt – that women priests will bring in a new, more compassionate, more radical theology. Don’t believe a word of it. As soon as they get what they want the radicals will drop all the Mother God stuff. As we have discovered, what they want is status, not revolution. A woman with a mitre hopefully concealed in her handbag is going to be assiduous in toeing the line as soon as she is allowed to put it on.
Don’t count on Kasper. He will probably not be on your side this time. The thing about liberals is that, unlike the orthodox, they don’t have to be consistent.
Honestly, I am so excited. I confess I feared that the intransigence of the Orthodox might hold you back. It is heartening to know that you prepared to put Justice before Ecumenism – just like us.
Your friend and colleague,