Rcia question that came up about ordination of woman in the priesthood

I said it was correct because I compared it with the rite mentioned in the Euchologies. Martimort for one, provides an sizeable list of where this rite is found in complete form in different early Euchologies. I have access to facsimiles of some of these, so if you (or anyone else) would like copies of the pages, pm me. :slight_smile: It can be regarded as fragmentay only in the sense that the incipits are not expanded - which is key to the debate - but the rest fo the prayers are complete.

Despite the fact that the rituals had fallen out, they were still copied for a long time in the service books - longer in the East than in the West. Thus they could still be found in some very late works. The Greek Orthodox have revived the use of this rite for the places where they have decided on deaconesses with the limited role.

I was also mentioning that it was correct with respect to the details Cluny provided. These details, however, are not indicative by themselves but subject to a lot of debate. For example, in some of the early Byzantine Euchologies, Cheirotonia is used also for subdeacons. Similarly, “E Theia Charis” is reserved in the Byzantine tradition but not in any others (a slightly weak argument, although there are certain places even in the Byzantine tradition where it was used for non-sacramental rites)

Mea culpa. You are right, I used the wrong word in my post. The word is “deaconesses”. I assumed that the term “deaconess” meant “female deacon”. I stand corrected.

Sorry, I don’t have a website for you to check. I am surprised that the Vatican website doesn’t have a reference for this.

The quote should have included: " The commission concluded that the appointment of deaconesses, unlike the ordination of of a deacon, has no connection with the sacrament of holy orders. Since the permanent diaconate belongs to the sacrament of orders, it is limited to men." (Catholic Bible Dictionary, Hahn, Scott, ed; Doubleday, 2009; page 202).


That’s my concern here: that people confuse the idea of a deaconess on the one hand with female deacons (an oxymoron) on the other hand. Clearly the early Church (both East and West) understood this distinction, yet it is all too often overlooked today because we can’t mentally process the statement “it’s called an ordination but it’s not an ordination”, much less process the distinction between the words “deaconess” and “female deacon” because we see them as equivalent. “If a waitress is a female version of a waiter, then a deaconess is a female version of a deacon” tends to be our way of thinking.

Don’t be surprised about not being able to find things on the Vatican website, as there is surprisingly little information there. Personally, I find this rather frustrating, but that’s off-topic.

Roman Deaconesses were only baptists, clearly minor orders, and ordained outside the divine worship service. We don’t know the service; it doesn’t survive.
Roman Subdeacons were (until V II) considered a major order, by imposition of hands within the sanctuary.

Byzantine subdeacons have always been a minor order, are ordained in the aisle by vesting, and receive communion outside the sanctuary.
Byzantine Deaconesses were ordained at the royal doors, on the ambon (an extention of the sanctuary, but outside the iconostas), by imposition of hands, and vesting with the orarion, wrapped around the neck. They are communed as deacons are: behind the iconostas, taking the body and blood separately, and taking the cup in hand.

The Apostolic Constitutions have them, during the liturgy, standing between the deacons and subdeacons, and receiving between them.

I help assist teaching RCIA at my parish. I work under a Director of Religious Education. He is a newly ordained deacon as I was a witness of the ordination mass from our diocesan bishop. I am one of six leaders of RCIA this year. The women priesthood is a false doctrine and false teaching as Jesus warned his followers about false teachers. This false teaching of women priests came from ancient paganism one of them was Gnosticiscm from Gnosis-knowlege. Other fallacies such as Gospel of Thomas and the sorry movie The DaVinci Code. Everyone has a special call or purpose toward the Body Of Christ and His Church. We are all called in the evangelization of God and his relationship to man in all hope that all will recognize God the Father,Son and Holy Spirit. This is what is called our vocation or calling. Many of the lay faithful in the past have confused this calling only to the religious orders (Priests,deacons,nuns,monks and so forth). All of us have an important mission in our lives (Mass- from Latin missa or missio, meaning mission). As many on this forum on this issue use their God given talent under the Catholic Church Magisterium (Teaching Office) Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition to bring forward the truth on this.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (ISBN:1-57455-110-8) Page 383 - 399 Paragraph 1536-1600
Go to page 394 to VI. Who Can Receive This Sacrament
Paragraph 1577
" Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination."66 The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry.67 The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever active reality until Christ’s return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord Himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.68

67 Cf. Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:12-16; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 2 Timothy 1:6; Titus 1:5-9; Saint Clement of Rome, page 744 Epistula ad Corinthios 42,4; 44,3

68 Cf. John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem 26-27 (August 15,1988); Congregaton for the Doctrine of Faith, declaration, Inter Insigniores, ecclesiastical document (October 15,1976)
Acta Apostolicae Sedis 69 (1977) 98-116.

The Eastern consciousness, especially for the Orthodox, is that the liturgical texts are distillations of the teachings of the Church.

The later Council of Chalcedon spoke of Deaconesses as being among the Clergy.

“Women Deacon” and “Deaconess” are both acceptable translation of the Greek word “diakonissa”.

Fr. Ephrem is known throughout English speaking Orthodox and Byzantine Catholics for the scholarship, accuracy, and elegance of his liturgical translations.

And in connection with something you have said elsewhere, the Commission of 2002 which you referred to simply ignores evidence to the contrary.

That’s quite an accusation! They reviewed almost all the main pieces of evidence brought forward. Now, would it be appropriate for them on the basis of a **disputed **opinion to declare something of significant theological weight with great ramifications? And if they have a bias, certainly the studies attacking them have one as well. I’ve read, for example, studies blasting them for having, for example, ignored that *chierotonia *was conferred upon deaconesses in places where the writers themselves make the distinction. The studies conveniently ignore that *chierotonia *was used also for subdeacons, and no one admits of that today. To give another example, yes, the commission discounted the laying of hands on women. But that was because as they said, it was hard to distinguish between the laying of hands for the major orders and those for the minor. People claim that the commission has pushed everything so as to make it seem like the minor orders - but opponents have as much an interest in demonstrating that it was akin to the major orders. The bottom line is that it really isn’t clear.

Actually, “Women Deacon” and “Deaconess” are not both acceptable translations of the Greek, because they refer to two different concepts. Simply because the Greek takes the word deacon and adds a feminine ending, is not the same thing as saying that there existed “female deacons.” It’s like saying that a majorette is a female major–two different concepts because one is in a marching band, the other is in the military. Calling a deaconess a female deacon is to translate the word in such a way as to give it an entirely different meaning than the word had in its proper context.

The same argument is made for female priests because tomb markings have been found for women called “presybtera.” That doesn’t mean that she was a female priest; it means she was the wife of a priest–vastly different roles.

The Council of Caldecon can’t be used to justify numbering deaconesses among the clergy because there’s nothing to indicate that in the canons themselves. I presume you mean canon 15? That deals with the age of a deaconess and the fact that she could not marry. The context is hardly one to justify calling them clerics in the contemporary understanding of the word.

Those who argue for female deacons are actually the ones ignoring the historical evidence before them, and manipulating the translations to attach a concept to them which is anachronistic. They ignore the differences between deacons and deaconesses, and yet it is these very differences which clearly indicate that they were not the same office, regardless of the coincidental fact that the vocabulary would seem to indicate that they were–again, they take the words out of their context and attempt to make the words say something vastly different than what they actually meant at the time.

“Roman Subdeacons were (until V II) considered a major order, by imposition of hands within the sanctuary.”

They were Minor Orders and were supressed after Vatican II, replaced with instituted ministries.

No women are allowed in the priesthood, period.
it’s a tradition of the roman church and per the Holy Father.

No, according to the Roman Pontifical, the subdeacon was ranked with the major orders. However, subdeacons did not receive any imposition of hands.

Actually, PIus XII defined the sub-diaconate as a MINOR order.

Regarding deaconesses (which has nothing to do with the ordination of women to the presbyterate, so don’t confuse the issues), the liturgical texts say what they say, and the hagiographical and iconographic evidence are what they are.

I think this should be used as a reference to what Deaconesses were?


Also just don’t leave it at that, but also look up the sources that it cites for yourselves as well.

Continued from my previous posting:

We can expect that, as the question “Why can’t Catholic women be priests?” is further explored, the Church will provide richer testimony to the unchanging truth of a male-only priesthood. There will be no change in this teaching — rather, the more it is discussed and debated, the more its scriptural and theological basis will emerge. The male-only priesthood of Jesus Christ and the bridal nature of the Church are spiritual realities of which our two human sexes, male and female, are profound and deeply important images, made in the flesh. Ours is an incarnate faith, centered on the great fact that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Nothing has been left to chance.

This debate about the priesthood will shed light on other issues, especially those surrounding questions of sex and gender, about which there is so much tortured re-evaluation in our times. In a society driven with doubt about homosexuality, transvestites, the idea of “same-sex marriage,” the legitimization of sado-masochism as an “alternative lifestyle,” and so on and so on, the Church’s affirmation that God has a meaning and purpose in the way He created us is a voice of reason and of sanity. It offers for a confused people a compass-point of truth.

In this, as in so much more, the Church holds the truth for which so many in these days are aching. We may find debating feminism and the priesthood tedious at times, but God calls us to do it, and we will find that presenting His truth will produce multiple blessings.


It is agreed that perhaps some priests do not have the proper counseling to give to those people who are in family conflicts. But they do receive training in these areas before they are ordained. In addition, we have organizations within our Catholic community that are registered counselors and priests do refer those with family conflicts to these counselors within our community. One priest, a good friend of ours from a church in Norfolk, who left the priesthood a few years ago from our area, is now married to an Nun who also left the church, has 2 children, and works as a family counselor with Catholic Family Services.

There is the question also why a married man can not be ordained as a priest. If his family is quite large, the church would not only have to give him a higher than normal salary to support his wife and children, but also must provide a large home for them to live in. In many cases, where those religions having married ministers, the minister often finds it very difficult to live on their church salaries, especially for those in small churches, and therefore find themselves working an outside job to make ends meet. This means they will have less time to be with their congregation in times of need. On the other hand, single Catholic priests do have the time to give more attention to their congregations without interference from outside sources. This is a plus.

For those that don’t know, the Catholic Church does have married priests - those priests who left their faiths to become a Catholics and, after a period of training, were accepted and ordained as Catholic Priests. However, this does not mean that an already ordained active priest can get married and continue his priestly duties. He has taken an oath to this effect when he was ordained and is held to that oath. If a priest wants to marry, he must leave the priesthood. But in those cases were priests do leave the priesthood, they usually are still active in the church in various capacities.

Now, it is true we do have a shortage of priests. But the latest figures show that once again the new candidates for priesthood in the seminaries are on the rise. Same goes for the nuns in the Catholic Church. The Catholic church has been through many crises over the years, but always bounces back.

As an added note: The shortage of priests have had some positive actions. There are more laymen seeking positions in the church where they can be of help in those churches where the priest requires more assistance to serve the congregation. As an example, there are a good number of additional Deacons who are coming into the church. These Deacons can do much of a Priest’s work with the exception of Consecration. Layman in the Catholic church are well accepted and are a tremendous help to the priests. We are also seeing a growth in those seeking to become Catholics and are entering the RCIA program. There is always something good that comes out of what we consider to be hurtful. I have no doubt the Catholic church will be with us until the end of time.

He did no such thing. In the Roman Pontifical of 1961, the subdeacon is ranked among the major orders. This persisted until abolition by Paul VI (cf. Ministeria Quaedam)

Pius XII did omit the treatment of subdeacons in Sacramentum Ordinis. But the prevalent theological opinion had long stopped regarding the subdiaconate as sacramental. Major order does not necessarily translate to “sacramental order”

Regarding deaconesses (which has nothing to do with the ordination of women to the presbyterate, so don’t confuse the issues), the liturgical texts say what they say, and the hagiographical and iconographic evidence are what they are.

And neither are those completely free from controversy.

Sorry but the following is the first part of my next posting. I goofed somewhere along the line. The last part of this posting will show up a little further down.

In the Church’s latest statement on this matter, Pope John Paul II, using his full authority as the successor of Peter, states categorically that the Church cannot — not will not, but cannot — ordain women, now or in the future. The Catechism of the Catholic Church sets it out clearly, quoting the decree Inter insigniores:

Only a baptized man (vir) receives sacred ordination. The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord Himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible. 

We need to understand that Christians believe God to be the essence of divine omnipotence. To put it crudely, He doesn’t make mistakes. When He became Incarnate as a human being, He did so at a precise and exact moment in human history, which has been planned from all eternity. From the beginning, God had chosen that there would be a Jewish people, among whom His divine Son would be born. Their own priestly traditions would form part of the background and culture which would help them — and others — to see and know Him. Every detail about the Incarnation was known in the mind of God. He was born into the fullness of time.

He didn’t say: “Oops, sorry — I made a terrible mistake! I should have been born into the latter half of the twentieth century, so as to have benefited from the We are Church movement in Germany, or the feminist workshop sessions of America, or the Equal Opportunities legislation in Britain.” On the contrary, He was and remains omnipotent. He knew exactly what He was doing.

It is worth pointing out that, in choosing His apostles, Christ was not awarding them the priesthood as a reward for good behavior: courage, intelligence, or skill. On the contrary. One — the rock on which the Church was to be founded — denied Him, another doubted His Resurrection, and one even betrayed Him. The priesthood is not a badge of good-conduct (although, like eleven out of the first twelve, millions of Christ’s priests down the centuries have led heroic and noble lives). Rather, just as bread and wine are the essential “matter” of the Eucharist, so are men the “matter” of the priesthood.

If we wish to explore fully this question of the Church and the priesthood, we can start with Christ’s actions when on earth. But in a sense we must go further back to see the covenant bond that was established right at the beginning, and the male/female imagery and nuptial meaning that goes right through salvation history.

At every Catholic wedding you will hear the beautiful, scriptural, and profound statement that the relationship of a bridegroom and his bride is like that of Christ and His Church. Of course, we are mostly not listening. We are looking at the bridesmaids and reflecting that they look charming in blue, or admiring the graceful way in which the bride has managed her train, and soon we’ll be enjoying the cake and the confetti and the champagne.

But the words nevertheless convey a profound truth. Notice the order of things. Christ and His Church came first. They were an idea in the mind of God from the very beginning. And we, as human beings, when we unite together and marry, are an image of the ultimate Bridegroom and Bride.

Catholics are used to this imagery. The Church is often described as being the Bride of Christ. We also speak of her as being our Holy Mother Church. She is indeed a Bride who has become a mother — and we are all her children, the fruit of that union she has with Christ. Perhaps because we are so used to this notion, we do not think about it very deeply. But it is all part of the nuptial imagery that goes all through Scripture and explains much to us.

We see this male/female imagery going right through our redemption history. It is at the heart of Christ’s being born among us as a man. When He founded His Church, it was with the love of a bridegroom for a bride, and when He gave us the Eucharist, it was as a nuptial banquet. This nuptial imagery was completed on Calvary. We are speaking here of holy things at the very heart of our faith. Paul speaks of this as being “a great mystery.” It gives a meaning — and a great dignity — to the human reality of male and female. It is in this context that we can see not only the significance of a male priesthood, but also the importance and beauty that the Church attaches to purity, to fidelity in marriage, and to the fruitfulness of married love.

There is an important sense in which the current debate about the ordination of women, even if it is sometimes couched in terms which Catholics find offensive, is going to be useful in the development of our understanding these things. Invariably, in the history of the Church, it is only when a doctrine is seriously challenged that its truth is proclaimed in greater fullness. Only when a heresy arises does it become necessary to proclaim truth to end the heresy.

Thus we will not find the word “Trinity” in the New Testament. Yet Catholics and most Protestants unite in professing that there are three Persons in one God and that God the Son walked this earth and was present among us and told us that God the Holy Spirit would descend upon His Church. It was only when the Arian heresy arose, effectively denying Christ’s divinity, that it became necessary to defend and explain the Trinity in authoritative and definitive terms. The Council of Nicæa gave us the Nicene Creed, which we say Sunday by Sunday at Mass, proclaiming Christ’s divinity in unmistakable terms: “God from God, light from light, true God from true God.”

Catholic women have played a central role in the life of the Church, from Lydia in the Acts of the Apostles, through Margaret of Scotland and Jadwiga of Poland and other great queens and women of influence, to the Englishwomen at the Reformation who arranged secret places for Mass, down to Edith Stein, whose quest for intellectual and spiritual truth led her to convent life and did not spare her Auschwitz. In no sense is there any authentic tradition of “If you’re not a priest you simply don’t matter,” despite fashionable attempts to present this as a standard part of Catholicism.

(To be continued)

Women and the Priesthood

Can women be ordained to the priesthood? This is a question which provokes much debate in our modern world, but it is one to which the Church has always answered “No.” The basis for the Church’s teaching on ordination is found in the New Testament as well as in the writings of the Church Fathers.

While women could publicly pray and prophesy in church (1 Cor. 11:1–16), they could not teach or have authority over a man (1 Tim. 2:11–14), since these were two essential functions of the clergy. Nor could women publicly question or challenge the teaching of the clergy (1 Cor. 14:34–38).

The following quotations from the Church Fathers indicate that women do play an active role in the Church and that in the age of the Fathers there were orders of virgins, widows, and deaconesses, but that these women were not ordained.

The Fathers rejected women’s ordination, not because it was incompatible with Christian culture, but because it was incompatible with Christian faith. Thus, together with biblical declarations, the teaching of the Fathers on this issue formed the tradition of the Church that taught that priestly ordination was reserved to men. Throughout medieval times and even up until the present day, this teaching has not changed.

Further, in 1994 Pope John Paul II formally declared that the Church does not have the power to ordain women. He stated, “Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force. Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Luke 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful” (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis 4).

And in 1995 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in conjunction with the pope, ruled that this teaching “requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium 25:2)” (Response of Oct. 25, 1995).

and …
The following quotations from the Fathers constitute a part of the tradition on which this infallible teaching rests.


"Pretending to consecrate cups mixed with wine, and protracting to great length the word of invocation, [Marcus the Gnostic heretic] contrives to give them a purple and reddish color. . . . [H]anding mixed cups to the women, he bids them consecrate these in his presence.

"When this has been done, he himself produces another cup of much larger size than that which the deluded woman has consecrated, and pouring from the smaller one consecrated by the woman into that which has been brought forward by himself, he at the same time pronounces these words: ‘May that Charis who is before all things and who transcends all knowledge and speech fill your inner man and multiply in you her own knowledge, by sowing the grain of mustard seed in you as in good soil.’

“Repeating certain other similar words, and thus goading on the wretched woman [to madness], he then appears a worker of wonders when the large cup is seen to have been filled out of the small one, so as even to overflow by what has been obtained from it. By accomplishing several other similar things, he has completely deceived many and drawn them away after him” (Against Heresies 1:13:2 [A.D. 189]).


"It is of no concern how diverse be their [the heretics’] views, so long as they conspire to erase the one truth. They are puffed up; all offer knowledge. Before they have finished as catechumens, how thoroughly learned they are! And the heretical women themselves, how shameless are they! They make bold to teach, to debate, to work exorcisms, to undertake cures . . . " (Demurrer Against the Heretics 41:4–5 [A.D. 200]).

“[A female heretic], lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism. . . . But we, little fishes, after the example of our Icthus [Greek, “Fish”], Jesus Christ, are born in water . . . so that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes, by taking them away from the water” (Baptism 1 [A.D. 203]).

“It is not permitted for a woman to speak in the church [1 Cor 14:34–35], but neither [is it permitted her] . . . to offer, nor to claim to herself a lot in any manly function, not to say sacerdotal office” (The Veiling of Virgins 9 [A.D. 206]).


“When a widow is to be appointed, she is not to be ordained, but is designated by being named [a widow]. . . . A widow is appointed by words alone, and is then associated with the other widows. Hands are not imposed on her, because she does not offer the oblation and she does not conduct the liturgy. Ordination is for the clergy because of the liturgy; but a widow is appointed for prayer, and prayer is the duty of all” (The Apostolic Tradition 11 [A.D. 215]).

The Didascalia

“For it is not to teach that you women . . . are appointed. . . . For he, God the Lord, Jesus Christ our Teacher, sent us, the twelve [apostles], out to teach the [chosen] people and the pagans. But there were female disciples among us: Mary of Magdala, Mary the daughter of Jacob, and the other Mary; he did not, however, send them out with us to teach the people. For, if it had been necessary that women should teach, then our Teacher would have directed them to instruct along with us” (Didascalia 3:6:1–2 [A.D. 225]).


“[T]here suddenly arose among us a certain woman, who in a state of ecstasy announced herself as a prophetess and acted as if filled with the Holy Ghost. . . . Through the deceptions and illusions of the demon, this woman had previously set about deluding believers in a variety of ways. Among the means by which she had deluded many was daring to pretend that, through proper invocation, she consecrated bread and performed the Eucharist. She offered up the sacrifice to the Lord in a liturgical act that corresponds to the usual rites, and she baptized many, all the while misusing the customary and legitimate wording of the [baptismal] question. She carried all these things out in such a manner that nothing seemed to deviate from the norms of the Church” (collected in Cyprian’s Letters 74:10 [A.D. 253]).

Council of Nicaea I

“Similarly, in regard to the deaconesses, as with all who are enrolled in the register, the same procedure is to be observed. We have made mention of the deaconesses, who have been enrolled in this position, although, not having been in any way ordained, they are certainly to be numbered among the laity” (Canon 19 [A.D. 325]).

Council of Laodicea

“[T]he so-called ‘presbyteresses’ or ‘presidentesses’ are not to be ordained in the Church” (Canon 11 [A.D. 360]).

Epiphanius of Salamis

“Certain women there in Arabia [the Collyridians] … In an unlawful and b.asphemous ceremony … ordain women, through whom they offer up the sacrifice in the name of Mary. This means that the entire proceeding is godless and sacrilegious, a perversion of the message of the Holy Spirit; in fact, the whole thing is diabolical and a teaching of the impure spirit” (Against Heresies 78:13 [A.D. 377]).

“It is true that in the Church there is an order of deaconesses, but not for being a priestess, nor for any kind of work of administration, but for the sake of the dignity of the female sex, either at the time of baptism or of examining the sick or suffering, so that the naked body of a female may not be seen by men administering sacred rites, but by the deaconess” (ibid.).

“From this bishop [James the Just] and the just-named apostles, the succession of bishops and presbyters [priests] in the house of God have been established. Never was a woman called to these. . . . According to the evidence of Scripture, there were, to be sure, the four daughters of the evangelist Philip, who engaged in prophecy, but they were not priestesses” (ibid.).

“If women were to be charged by God with entering the priesthood or with assuming ecclesiastical office, then in the New Covenant it would have devolved upon no one more than Mary to fulfill a priestly function. She was invested with so great an honor as to be allowed to provide a dwelling in her womb for the heavenly God and King of all things, the Son of God. . . . But he did not find this [the conferring of priesthood on her] good” (ibid., 79:3).

John Chrysostom

“[W]hen one is required to preside over the Church and to be entrusted with the care of so many souls, the whole female sex must retire before the magnitude of the task, and the majority of men also, and we must bring forward those who to a large extent surpass all others and soar as much above them in excellence of spirit as Saul overtopped the whole Hebrew nation in bodily stature” (The Priesthood 2:2 [A.D. 387]).

and finally…

The Apostolic Constitutions

“A virgin is not ordained, for we have no such command from the Lord, for this is a state of voluntary trial, not for the reproach of marriage, but on account of leisure for piety” (Apostolic Constitutions 8:24 [A.D. 400]).

“Appoint, [O Bishop], a deaconess, faithful and holy, for the ministering of women. For sometimes it is not possible to send a deacon into certain houses of women, because of unbelievers. Send a deaconess, because of the thoughts of the petty. A deaconess is of use to us also in many other situations. First of all, in the baptizing of women, a deacon will touch only their forehead with the holy oil, and afterwards the female deacon herself anoints them” (ibid., 3:16).

“[T]he ‘man is the head of the woman’ [1 Cor. 11:3], and he is originally ordained for the priesthood; it is not just to abrogate the order of the creation and leave the first to come to the last part of the body. For the woman is the body of the man, taken from his side and subject to him, from whom she was separated for the procreation of children. For he says, ‘He shall rule over you’ [Gen. 3:16]. For the first part of the woman is the man, as being her head. But if in the foregoing constitutions we have not permitted them [women] to teach, how will any one allow them, contrary to nature, to perform the office of the priest? For this is one of the ignorant practices of Gentile atheism, to ordain women priests to the female deities, not one of the constitutions of Christ” (ibid., 3:9).

“A widow is not ordained; yet if she has lost her husband a great while and has lived soberly and unblamably and has taken extraordinary care of her family, as Judith and Anna—those women of great reputation—let her be chosen into the order of widows” (ibid., 8:25).

“A deaconess does not bless, but neither does she perform anything else that is done by presbyters [priests] and deacons, but she guards the doors and greatly assists the presbyters, for the sake of decorum, when they are baptizing women” (ibid., 8:28).


“[The Quintillians are heretics who] give women predominance so that these, too, can be honored with the priesthood among them. They say, namely, that Christ revealed himself . . . to Quintilla and Priscilla [two Montanist prophetesses] in the form of a woman” (Heresies 1:17 [A.D. 428]).

Janet: you’re “Proof-texting”, that is, taking the quotes and cutting them in a way to change their meaning to prove your view.

The Nicea I quote is referring specifically to the deaconesses of a heretical sect which differed in practice by not ordaining deaconesses, merely appointing them.

Laodocia condemns women as presbytera, priests. Not as deaconesses.

Apostolic Constitutions 8:24 is speaking of consecrated virgins, which are not the same as deaconesses. Tho, many consecrated virgins who lived long enough did become deaconesses in the Byzantine patriarchate.

The Irenaeus quote is a condemnation of a heretical group which gave presbyteral roles to deaconesses. It is not a condemnation of deaconesses themselves.

Hypolytus condemns the ordination of widows who are not going to have liturgical roles; that is not the same as condemning the ordination of women to the liturgical role prescribed in the rubrics.

Epiphanius is again condemning ordination (1) by women, (2) of women as presbytera, priests…

With regard to deaconesses, your quotes are, well, aiming almost excusively at presbytera, not deaconess. Most of the same condemnations apply to deacons…

St John also condemns (male) deacons who attempt to confect the eucharist without being ordained presbytera. It fact, it was a major problem in the church.

Likewise, in the Byzantine Rite, deacons also do not bless; therefore, the quote about deaconesses do not bless is irrelevant. It is clear from reading the whole of the apostilic constitutions that deaconesses were considered clergy, albeit very limited in application.

That the church can not ordain women as priests is dogma, and has been since the 200’s.

That deaconesses are not ordained is doctrine, and thus requires assent in teaching and praxis, but not in belief.

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