62-year-old was not accepted onto the course

Woman sues church because she is not allowed to become a deaconess

Herent - A woman in Belgium wants to become a deacon and enrols on a course. She is rejected and therefore sues the church for discrimination. The attitude of the Belgian bishops is particularly delicate.

Published  on 15.05.2024 at 11:46  – 

A woman in Belgium is suing the Catholic Church because she is not admitted to deacon training. "I want to train as a deacon because it interests me and I think that I will then have more tools to do what is expected of me here in the church. And I can't do that because I'm a woman, so yes, I am indeed angry, but I'm also determined," 62-year-old Veer Dusauchoit told Belgian broadcaster RTBF on Tuesday. The court has one month to reach a decision.

Dusauchoit has reportedly been involved in her parish in Herent, near Leuven in the province of Flemish Brabant, for 30 years. As there is no longer a priest there, she works in a team with other volunteers to lead, among other things, celebrations of the word of God and funerals. That's why she wanted to enrol on a four-year diaconate course.

Discrimination against the church

When she was contacted by telephone and her gender became clear, the call was cancelled immediately. She sees this exclusion as gender-based discrimination. According to her own statements, she is supported by her congregation in her complaint. "My community understands my frustration," she told Radio2 back in April. "This is unlawful and legally wrong." Without the commitment of women, "the church in Flanders would simply collapse."

The responsible archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels did not want to comment on the matter due to the ongoing proceedings, but emphasised the church's current doctrine, according to which only men are admitted to the diaconate. The Belgian bishops are of the opinion that women should be admitted to the diaconate. However, they point out that this issue should be decided by the universal Church and that discussions will take place at the Synod on Synodality in the autumn. (cph)