Vatican officials declared that they would not consider allowing women to apply for deaconships. The head of the congregation for Catholic education, Italian Cardinal Pio Laghi, and the head of the congregation for the clergy, Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, said that the church has no reason to change its tradition. When reporters pointed out that female deacons were allowed in early church history, the two replied that the women had been widows who had no real power.
Laghi said, “[the Vatican] believes that the cultural changes which have occurred over the centuries and especially in our time don’t justify rejecting Christian tradition concerning the role of the woman in church.” He added that the male-only decision is because “Christ was a man.”
Deacons are laymen who are ordained to aid in the work of the church when there is a shortage of clergy. Deacons are often called upon to work with the poor and help the priest administer the sacraments to ill church members.