Authoritative teaching on female deacons


#1

The topic of female deacons came up today in a class that I was in and the statement was made that the possibility is under investigation by Rome. In addition, in the past on CAF, discussions on this topic have led to the claims that the female deaconesses in the Bible did not receive Holy Orders but were there to assist with female baptisms. The claim has also been made that in biblical times, females were often referred to by a modified version of their husbands title, which could have caused some of the confusion today about the possibility of female deacons. See this thread for an example: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=295883

While I am inclined to agree with those arguments, I have seen nothing authoritative as of yet to support or refute them from the Church.

So, here are my questions:

  1. Does anyone have anything authoritative discussing why the “deaconesses” in the Bible were not given Holy Orders but rather only assisted with female baptism which was done sans clothing in those times?
  2. Is anyone aware of authoritative teaching which supports the statement that women in biblical times were referred to by the title of their husbands and that this created a false impression in some that there were women deacons when in fact there were not?
  3. Has there been any official Church teaching on the possibility or impossibility of ordaining women to the deaconate?
  4. Does anyone have anything official on whether or not Rome is truly discussing female deacons or, if they were in the past what potential fruits came of that discussion?

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but as I noted above, there have been plenty of arguments made and while I am inclined to agree withe them to date, there was nothing authoritative cited in support. With that in mind, I am hoping for something ‘official’ on the topic rather than more unsubstantiated opinion.

In addition, I have no desire to turn this into another discussion on female priests. The Church has settled that issue, its over, period.

Peace of Christ,


#2

The International Theological Commission study of this issue finished in 2003 without reaching any definitive conclusions. Their report is titled “From the Diakonia of Christ to the Diakonia of the Apostles” (see here or here).


#3

[quote="Just_Lurking, post:2, topic:285040"]
The International Theological Commission study of this issue finished in 2003 without reaching any definitive conclusions. Their report is titled "From the Diakonia of Christ to the Diakonia of the Apostles" (see here or here).

[/quote]

So there is nothing currently ongoing that you are aware of?

Thank you for the links!

Peace,


#4

[quote="jwinch2, post:3, topic:285040"]
So there is nothing currently ongoing that you are aware of?

[/quote]

Nope, nothing since 2003.

In 2001, the Vatican issued a statement that (regardless of the theoretical possibility or impossibility of female deacons) they weren't going to be authorizing female deacons anytime in the foreseeable future (see here).


#5

[quote="Just_Lurking, post:4, topic:285040"]
Nope, nothing since 2003.

In 2001, the Vatican issued a statement that (regardless of the theoretical possibility or impossibility of female deacons) they weren't going to be authorizing female deacons anytime in the foreseeable future (see here).

[/quote]

Interesting. Thank you very much.

Peace,


#6

Not only in biblical times, but today the wives of presbyters are referred to as presbytera (priestess) and the wives of deacons are called diakonisa (deaconess). While they do not function as their husbands, it is an honorific title. Kind of like the First Lady is given an honorific title even though nobody voted for her to become anything.


#7

I guess I never really thought about it, but ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS is very specific to priestly Ordination (it’s even in the title of the Encyclical) - I never thought about how this teaching might impact the Ordination of female deacons (and, as far as I can tell, it has no impact whatsoever). When I go back and read it again, it’s almost like JP2 was going out of his way to avoid any possible association of that teaching with deaconate Ordination. That’s interesting.

But I think it would be very unwise for the Church to consider this question at the present time. The Church has been trying to suppress dissident voices calling for female priests, and until that is accomplished, ordaining female deacons would just throw gasoline on the fire.


#8

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