Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future

**Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future **

  			by 				 [Gary Macy]("http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/gary-macy") ,   [William T. Ditewig]("http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/william-t-ditewig") ,   [Phyllis Zagano]("http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/phyllis-zagano")


Has anyone read this book yet? Unfortunately, I knew it was going to be released some time back, but I have already done the research on the subject myself. I love all the experts that claim others experts, but none of them are real experts. Spin city. I’ve been attacked several times over the past few years since I returned to the Church after studying in depth many of the deal breakers that I thought I understood before I left. IT was these same peoople that lied to me about many moral issues with the words, “the Church doesn’t teach that anymore.” If this ever gets approved at the Vatican, I plan to convert to Orthodoxy since I already studied it before accepting my Catholicism. There are only a few issues I had left when I was studying the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church

I’m quite confident there won’t be “women deacons”. It’s possible that the deaconesses, entirely distinct from Holy Orders, could be brought back, though in my estimation this would be extremely imprudent.

By the way on the issue of converting to another Church if the Catholic Church disproves Herself, I think this is not a healthy line of thought. If you have faith as a Catholic, that includes your acceptance of Catholic ecclesiology, the Catholic ecumenical councils, etc.

I have absolute certainty by faith that the Church will not disprove Herself. In the hypothetical situation that She did, I would probably rapidly return to the “suicide of thought” from which I emerged after a crisis of faith- absolute, self-contradicting skepticism.

Modern Catholic Dictionary:

DEACONESS. A woman officially charged with certain functions in the Church. St. Paul speaks of Phoebe as one who ministered to the church at Cenchrae (Romans 16:1), but the term “deaconess” did not come into use until the fourth century.

Gradually the office developed and was recognized by the Church. Among other duties a deaconess devoted herself to the care of the sick and the poor of her sex; she was present at interviews of women with bishops, priests, or deacons; instructed women catechumens and kept order in the women’s part of a church. Her most important function was at the baptism of women, where she assisted the deacons. But as adult baptisms declined, deaconesses became less prominent. The decline was accelerated by the abuses that crept in where deaconesses arrogated to themselves ministerial functions, e.g., among the Monophysites and Nestorians, where they administered Holy Communion, read the Scriptures, and preached. Several regional council abrogated the office, which was never a formal ordination, but deaconesses were found in the West until the eleventh century. In the East, where the privileges of deaconesses were more pronounced, including investiture with the state and distribution of the chalice, the decline was slower.

In Protestantism deaconesses date from the nineteenth century. And among the Anglicans they are admitted by the episcopal imposition of hands conferring lifelong status.

You have described precisely my thoughts. I’ve seen far too many Bishops that appear unfaithful to the teachings of the Church. That is, if I can name a full deck, there’s a serious problem. Full deck being both hands. Just the fact that SSPX and many other break away groups exist is illustration of this description.

I’ve seem many significant changes in the Church just since I left and returned after 2 decades. I too had a significant crisis in faith, which brought me back to the one holy catholic and apostolic church. This reminds me of Arianism, when a very large number of the bishops bought into it. I can see deaconesses, but not women deacons.

there are no women deacons in the Catholic Church, past present or future.

Then why where are these people coming up with information that appears to justify their position? From what I can tell, because of my obstinate resistance to it, they are reformatting information or spinning it to skew to their perspective. I’ll be reading this book just as soon as I can get hold of it. But I believe that my constant resistance to this will ultimately cost me the diaconate.

I’ve already experienced unorthodox treatment form the ladies running the diaconate program. I fear the remaining lady secretly holds a grudge against me ever since I complained about the other ladies rude behavior towards my wife and me during a first time meeting just walking in the door for a diaconate inquiry meeting. My pastor forwarded my complaint, without my approval, to someone at the diocese. Following this situation, suddenly the ladies set up an unusually quick one on one meeting. It was obviously an attempt to back me into a corner.

Timing is everything sometimes. She expressed concern. But after I told them that I was uncomfortable with the reason and way they suddenly scheduled a premature meeting I was asked to meet with the deacon in charge of the program. Fortunately, the lady retired almost immediately [most likely swept under the rug to avoid scandal]. The diaconate program was suspended for a minimum of 3 years [we’re on the second year of that suspension].

My problem is that if I say anything regarding women’s ordination to the diaconate, I’m facing sabotage it seems. If I don’t, then I’m not standing up for the truth, thus defending the faith. I expect that I’ll be forced to shut my mouth and say nothing at all either way… just follow blindly in spite what I believe the Church teaches and defended by priests like my pastor who sides with me on this problem. Ever feel alone?.

the Church has spoken. There will be no ordained women in the Catholic Church. Holy Orders which includes the diaconate is only open to men.

I don’t know what you feel you must follow blindly. If someone brings up the idea simply remind them that the Church has said it can’t happen and cite Blessed Pope John Paul II letter on the priesthood.

I wish church politics were so simple. I’ve spoken to far to many that consider my position as an impediment to being cooperative.

There is no such thing as a female ¨deacon¨…Never in the history of the Catholic or Orthodox church has this been true. There are deacons (male) and deaconesses (female). I wish people would understand the difference.

This is also the same when it comes to the priesthood. You have priests (male) in the Catholic and Orthodox church and that is it. There is no such thing as a female ¨priest¨, never has, never will be. You do have priests (male) and priestesses (female) in pagan religions but you do not see in these same pagan religions female ¨priests¨. There is always the distinction of the gender assigned roles of the male ¨priest¨ and female ¨priestesses¨ in the pagan religions. There has NEVER existed this gender distinction concerning the priesthood in the Catholic and the Orthodox church.

Why people keep constantly harping on why the Catholic Church won´t ordain ¨female deacons¨ when this office has never existed from the very beginning is a mystery to me.

God bless

Actually, I believe this is currently under consideration in Rome. I was speaking with a Dominican Friar recently who mentioned this and made the statement that there are evidence to support the idea that female Deacons may have existed. For example, when baptism was done via immersion and also without clothing, it would have been highly scandalous for a male to perform the sacrament.

I have no personal knowledge on this so I am merely repeated what I was told.

This was one of the roles of the deaconess. She assisted the priest to ensure the modesty of the female being baptized.

It seems that today this is being lost in the move to remove the gender titles, such as changing fireman to firefighter or mailman to postal worker.

A deaconess (which was a role in the early Church) is not he same thing as a deacon. They were two totally different roles. The deaconess had no liturgical function as the deacon does.

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I trust the Holy Spirit will work this out in time (He has a way of doing that…).

But I am not going to pass judgment just yet. I had thought this question was pretty much closed. But I recently found out that Deacon Greg Kandra, no bootlicker for feminist dissent, seems to think that this question is indeed open.

Note that the book he is discussing was coauthored by Phyllis Zagano, so it would have been easy to just ignore it. But apparently he was convinced by the content that the case is not slam dunk.

This is exactly my point. The repackaging of history to push our desired goal.

That simply is not true. Women are allowed to be ordained in the Anglican Church and considered to be fully licit with Rome. If a women has a calling this is an established and legitimate way for them to be ordained in the Catholic tradition.

The Anglican Church does not have valid Holy Orders. This was clearly stated in Apostolicae Curae and reaffirmed by then Cardinal Ratzinger in Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio fidei. So no, this is not a legitimate way for women to be ordained in the Catholic tradition.

This is simpler than most here seem to think. I try to package it clearly below:

FACT: History shows the existence of “deaconesses.”

FACT: Deaconesses assisted deacons with some functions, especially the baptism of women.

LIE: This proves women can receive Holy Orders and discredits John Paul II’s statements on the matter.

FACT: No evidence exists to show that people of the day considered Deaconesses to be “female deacons”, nor that this title implied the reception of Holy Orders. To assume that it does only reveals modern assumptions and ignorance of the culture of those times. Deaconess was a unique, non Holy Orders role suited to the culture and society of the day. While such a day may or may not come again when the role is needed, it has never been one of confecting the Sacraments.

Among the Nestorians, did I hear Father Hardon say? :hmmm:

The concept of “women priests” is not possible. It cannot be. God has not extended priestly ordination to include women. It is his will and irrespective of our personal opinions we must respect that.

However, women deacons is different. I am not going to pitch my stake either side of this dispute. The Church is yet to decide definetively whether they were ordained or not. I have read much evidence that leads towards the idea that they were ordained, and some evidence which might serve to refute this notion.

It is an open question. And we must leave it up to the Magisterium, which is clearly conducting great research into this matter.

“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. Lk 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.” (Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, n. 4.)

Notice they key word? “PRIESTLY”. John Paul II did not address the issue of the “diaconate”, which is still open for discussion whether people like it or not.

As per the revision of Canon Law by Pope Benedict (which, in my opinion, widened the already-open door to allow the possibility of women deacons):

“§3. Those who are constituted in the order of episcopate or presbyterate receive the office and faculty of acting in the person of Christ the Head, while deacons receive the power to serve the people of God in the diaconia of liturgy, word and charity”

Thus, priests and bishops are configured to Christ, and act in persona Christi. Deacons do not. Similarly, in Benedict’s reworking of this piece of law, priests and bishops are configured to a specific gender — the male Christ — but deacons are not.

Once more, clear proof that this question is still “open”.

If the Magisterium tells me that women were not ordained as deacons, then women cannot be deacons. Period. If it tells me that women can be ordained as deacons, then they can be. And that’s that. :thumbsup:

I really don’t know, its up to the Holy Spirit guiding the Church.

Perhaps it might of use to consider our beloved Orthodox brothers’ opinion on this matter…

Bishop Kallistos Ware wrote:

“…The order of deaconesses seems definitely to have been considered an “ordained” ministry during early centuries in at any rate the Christian East. … Some Orthodox writers regard deaconesses as having been a “lay” ministry. There are strong reasons for rejecting this view. In the Byzantine rite the liturgical office for the laying-on of hands for the deaconess is exactly parallel to that for the deacon; and so on the principle lex orandi, lex credendi—the Church’s worshipping practice is a sure indication of its faith—it follows that the deaconesses receives, as does the deacon, a genuine sacramental ordination: not just a χειροθεσια (chirothesia) but a χειροτονια (chirotonia)…”

On October 8, 2004, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece voted to permit the ordination of monastic women deacons, that is, women deacons to minister and assist at the liturgy within their own monasteries

My advice, take it for what little it may be worth (or nothing at all), is to just get through the diaconate program for now. I’m not suggesting that you lie or deceive, but there is such a thing as prudent silence, and it may be necessary for a time, since the issue of women deacons is an emotional one with some people. For now, let it go, and trust that the Holy Spirit, the soul of the Church, will insure the proper outcome on this matter.

Also, you might want to consider how pastoral is your approach when confronted with what you believe is contrary to Church teaching. Again, I’m not suggesting any dilution or negation of the truth, but the approach used to address issues can make a huge difference (as I’m sure you know). It is important to be thoughtful, respectful, open, balanced, and so forth, without compromising Catholic faith and morals. Part of the ministry of the diaconate is becoming an expert in interpersonal communication. A prayerful, delicate, tender and compassionate approach is usually the best means of persuasion, for then the Spirit will be with you.

Christ’s peace.

Sad. The dead horse has been brought out for another beating.



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