Looking at the members, none of them took strong stances to back the ordination of women deacons.
The theologian Anne Marie Pellettier is the most prominent member. She is the recipient of the 2014 Ratzinger Prize for Theology and the author of the meditation for the 2017 Way of the Cross at the Colosseum.
Her last book is titled The Church, some women with some men (L'Eglise, des femmes aves des hommes). Although a feminist advocate, she does not advocate for women's ordination. She has said that the magisterium already said what it had to say on the issue.
Pellettier aims instead of forming a Church "less male" in mentality. The women in the Church – she says – already work in the Church, in many areas of service. So, there is no need for ordination, since this would "clericalize" the problem. Pellettier asks for a way somehow to institutionalize women's service in the Church.
Another member of the commission is Msgr. Angelo Laneri, vice-dean of Theology at the Pontifical Lateran University. Before, he was director of the Italian Bishops Conference's Liturgical office. He wrote just one paper on the issues of the diaconate, in 2008. He is a professor of "Ordained Ministries in the Church." He is very much appreciated for his understatement. He does not seem to be progressive in his theology.
Pope Francis also tapped two US permanent deacons int he commission.
Deacon James Keating recently published a book, The Heart of the Diaconate: Communion with the Servant Mysteries of Christ". He proposed to include, in the path towards priesthood, a step as a permanent deacon.
Dominic Cerrato is also a permanent deacon, married 36 years, father of seven and grandfather of many. He holds a bachelor's degree in Theology from Franciscan University, a Master's in Theology from Duquesne University where he also completed his PhD course work with a concentration in healthcare ethics.
None of that leads one to think Keating is going to take ultra-progressive positions in the coming discussions. He also published a book recently, titled, In the Person of Christ the Servant, A Theology of the Diaconate Based on the Personalist Thought of Pope John Paul II.
Fr. Manfred Hauke is another member with a profile that cannot be labeled as progressive. He has published monographs about the Priesthood of Women (doctorate), the doctrine of original sin in the Greek Fathers (habilitation), Confirmation, and Feminist Theology.
In 1988, he published "Observations on the Ordination of Women to the Diaconate" – a paper contained in The Church and Women, edited by Msgr. Helmut Moll.
(Column continues below)
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Barbara Hallensblen, Caroline Farey, Rosalba Manes, and Catherine Brown Tacz are also part of the commission.
The last is an expert on Eastern Churches' issues, while Barbara Hallensblen teaches at the University of Freiburg and has also had experience in the field as a pastoral assistant. Caroline Farey works for the Shrewsbury diocese as a mission catechist. In 2012, she contributed to a working group chaired by Cardinal George Pell at the Synod on New Evangelisation.
The youngest member of the commission, Rosalba Manes, teaches at the Pontifical Gregorian University and is a Sacred Scripture scholar.
Fr. Santiago del Cura Elena hails from Spain. A renewed theologian, member of the International Theological Commission from 1997 to 2009. He is one of the drafters of the 2003 document on the diaconate. He will likely stand to defend the conclusions of the paper on which he worked.
The commission has many characteristics worth highlighting.
First of all, not all the members have any background studying in Rome. Secondly, the Pope appointed no historian to the commission, which makes one think that the Pope wants the commission to approach the issue from the pastoral, rather than the historical-theological point-of-view. Third, none of the members is an advocate for any real revolution in the Church.