Can a woman be a Deacon?


#1

Hi,

I was wondering, can women be Deacons?

Does it depend on the Priest of the Parish?

Thanks

xx


#2

Deacons receive Holy Orders, and those receiving Holy Orders must be male.


#3

[quote="pucca84, post:1, topic:250855"]
Hi,

I was wondering, can women be Deacons?

Does it depend on the Priest of the Parish?

Thanks

xx

[/quote]

No, it does NOT depend on the priest of the parish.

From "This Rock"
Women cannot be ordained deacons because deacons receive the sacrament of holy orders, which women cannot validly receive. Deacons receive this sacrament in a lesser degree than priests or bishops, but they do receive it, so potential candidates must be capable of receiving it. Deacons do not preside at Mass but they do read the Gospel and are allowed to preach at Mass, functions that are considered in a certain sense to be apostolic. Because deacons share in the apostolic ministry, it is fitting that they be men as were the apostles Jesus chose.


#4

Women can not be ordained, so no - they can not be deacons.

I wrote about his in this piece.


#5

Sorry I know it was a daft question, I was just thinking about it and I looked it up on the net and found loads of different answers.

Thank you for replying though.

xx


#6

The reason why you’ll hear this brought up often is because historically there have been Deaconesses. There are a few things to remember:

  1. The Diaconate is distinct from the Presbytery and the Episcopacy. That is, the office of Deacon is a separate entity, whereas a Priest really is an extension of his Bishop.

  2. Women have been, historically in the past, ‘ordained’ to the Diaconate, but *never *to the Presbytery or Episcopacy. If “women’s Ordination” groups want to pursue their cause, historically (and therefor Traditionally) they have to admit that it cannot be to any office other than Deacon.

  3. A Deacon is separate from a Deaconess; the two offices were never interchangeable, though Deaconesses were sometimes called just Deacon. Historically the duties of a Deaconess were never directly clear: the one thing held everywhere was that she helped keep the women’s side of the church in order and assisted at baptisms of adult females. Churches used to be gender-segregated, women on the right, men on the left. Deaconesses would keep order on the women’s side. Also baptisms were done in the nude, so Deaconesses assisted where it was improper for a Priest to do so. They also had, in some areas, the duty of placing the chalice back on the Altar Table after Communion when handed it by the Bishop, and also received Communion at the same time as the Major Clergy.

  4. Whether a woman is actually “ordained” is a matter up for debate. The above (Communing at the same time as the Major Clergy as well as being behind the Iconostasis, where women are generally forbidden) is strong argument that she was considered fully Ordained. Also, at her Ordination service two Prayers of Ordination were said, just as in all other Major Clergy Ordinations whereas at a Minor Clergy Ordination there is only one. The Prayers also closely mimic the other Major Clergy prayers. It is debated however how widespread the practice both of having a Deaconess behind the Iconostasis is, as well as how widespread the use of these Ordination Services were.

These are all the issues surrounding a Deaconess. The office has fallen out of use, but could technically be used by any Bishop (at least, in the East). I’m not sure how common Deaconesses were in the West honestly, I get the feeling that they were more common in the East. At any rate, there’s no strong cry for it’s renewal (again, at least in the East) and no real need for it. Personally I would be against it, because it would bring with it attitudes of a 21st Century that would corrupt the office.

It should also be noted that in the Canon of the Holy Council of Nicea quoted by lutherlic in his blogpost the ‘deaconesses’ being referred to were explicitly only the deaconesses from a heretical group coming back into communion with the Church. The Paulianist Deaconesses had donned habits but had not received the imposition of hands, thus they were to be regarded as laity.


#7

Keep in mind that the Church of England ordains women both priests and deacons. Other denominations have deaconesses that work in various capacities that are defined within their sect–working with the poor or teaching women and children–but not as ordained ministers. Also, there used to be women in the early Church particularly selected to help with the baptism of adult women, since this provided a problem with regards to modesty, and with distributions to the poor. This wasn’t a position in the clergy.

I have also heard people refer to the wife of an Orthodox deacon as a deaconess or deaconessa–apparently a term along the lines of a countessa or a marchioness-- but I haven’t found that usage in dictionaries online.


#8

Not in the Catholic Church. Only males can receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders.


#9

[quote="Rawb, post:6, topic:250855"]
The reason why you'll hear this brought up often is because historically there have been Deaconesses. There are a few things to remember:

1) The Diaconate is distinct from the Presbytery and the Episcopacy. That is, the office of Deacon is a separate entity, whereas a Priest really is an extension of his Bishop.

[/quote]

I'm not so sure about this part. Catholic deacons have been ordained into the sacrament of Holy Orders. Deacon is lesser recipient of Holy Orders than priest and priest is a lesser recipient than bishop, but all three are Holy Orders. As I understand it, the deacon too is an extension of his bishop. Where do you get the idea of a distinction line?

This was just discussed this week on Relevant Radio. Fr. Richard Simon explained it as per the above (former seminary ancient Greek instructor).


#10

Priests do what a Bishop would do if the Bishop were there. A Deacon’s duties are distinct even from the Bishop’s duties. As the Offices started a Bishop presided over each church because there was only one church in each town or so - Christianity was small. When Christianity started to grow they began to ordain ‘elders’, in Greek “presbyters” who became our priests to do the job of the Bishop in the Bishop’s stead, because he was having to oversee a greater number of churches.

Deacons on the other hand originated to ensure everyone was being served at the agape meals after Communion, and gradually took on roles of leading people in prayer and assisting at the Altar Table. The proof of their distinction from the Episcopacy/Presbytery is in that those two offices can Celebrate the Eucharist, whereas the Deacon cannot. Different type of Holy Orders…ish. LoL.

So basically the Priest is in one line, more closely tied to doing what the bishop does, and the Deacon is an entirely different line. That is what I meant.


#11

Perhaps we are splitting hairs here, but I still don't agree. All three are simply different levels of the apostolic office. Yes, priests and bishops can celebrate mass while deacons on their own can't. Bishops can ordain new bishops while priests can't. It's a three tier office and there are dividing lines at each level. So fundamentally, the reason women can't receive the sacramet of Holy Order at the level of deacon is the same reason she can't receive it at the level or priest or bishop.


#12

[quote="Rawb, post:6, topic:250855"]
I'm not sure how common Deaconesses were in the West honestly, I get the feeling that they were more common in the East.

[/quote]

I'm not sure either, but I do now that Carthusian nuns receive some if not all of the Western elements of investiture (ordination?) as deaconness when they make their full profession, including, I think, a stole. Since the Carthusian rite is essentially unchanged since the 12th century (nunquam reformata quia nunquam deformata), where it was the rite in Grenoble (the diocese where La Grande Chartreuse was), one can infer that this was probably a practice that was still around in the West in the middle ages, although perhaps only in a monastic context (I'm just speculating here).

Just because it cannot be repeated enough when discussing deaconnesses, though, let me repeat that a deaconness is **not **the same thing as a female deacon.


#13

[quote="TuAutem, post:12, topic:250855"]
I'm not sure either, but I do now that Carthusian nuns receive some if not all of the Western elements of investiture (ordination?) as deaconness when they make their full profession, including, I think, a stole. Since the Carthusian rite is essentially unchanged since the 12th century (nunquam reformata quia nunquam deformata), where it was the rite in Grenoble (the diocese where La Grande Chartreuse was), one can infer that this was probably a practice that was still around in the West in the middle ages, although perhaps only in a monastic context (I'm just speculating here).

[/quote]

You know, now that you mention it I remember when I was reading about all this there was something about Deaconesses and convents...maybe Deaconesses were always more common in convents :shrug: I believe too that you're right - at their ordination they were given the Orarion, or stole, of a Deacon.

It's a three tier office and there are dividing lines at each level.

My issue with that is that it turns the Diaconate into a "lesser priest", which isn't true at all. A Deacon is a completely different office than a priest, with completely different duties, responsibilities, and charisms. A priest, on the other hand, basically is a "lesser bishop". Historically, and even now, this distinction was (is) noted when debating whether women can be ordained at all.

As I said, I'm not in favor of reinstating Deaconesses, and I'm not sure if they were ordained, but I think this is an important limitation on the argument, one from Tradition and in line with the Faith - even if women could be ordained, they could not be ordained to anything other than the Diaconate, and that Diaconate would look and function differently than the male Diaconate, and all of this is possible only because a Deacon is in a different 'line' than the Presbytery and Episcopacy.


#14

Perhaps then we can agree that the offices of bishop and priest include charisms not shared with the office of deacon, but that all three are manifestations of the sacrament of Holy Orders and it is that sacrament that Christ, by example, conferred only on his male disciples.

Again, stealing from Fr. Simon's ideas, it seems likely to me that this is not about male domination, as feminists might allege. Rather it is about the fact that the Church is by nature female (bride of Christ) and men simply need the additional grace of the priesthood to comprehend their role as a part of the bride of Christ. Even us non-ordained men benefit from the presence of this Grace in our Church. In other words Holy Orders is a remedial blessing, not an imposition of domination.


#15

Not yet! ;)


#16

[quote="DJ_Pius_X, post:15, topic:250855"]
Not yet! ;)

[/quote]

Never.

:mad:


#17

[quote="pucca84, post:1, topic:250855"]
Hi,

I was wondering, can women be Deacons?

Does it depend on the Priest of the Parish?

Thanks

xx

[/quote]

Women can NOT be deacons ---
not in any Catholic parish, nor
under the influence of any Catholic priest.

Catholics do NOT ever support priesthood for women.
Becoming a deacon is a part of Holy Orders -
Holy Orders is the "process" that creates the priesthood.


#18

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