Friday, August 01, 2008

Ordination of deaconesses

From EWTN, author unknown: Women Priests?
A Brief History of the Permanent Diaconate

Then there are these developments:
Church of Greece votes on female diaconate
Female Diaconate restored by Greek Holy Synod
Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation
Introduction to Liturgical Theology
Women in Orthodoxy, Past & Present: A Conference - The Byzantine Forum
A Chronology of the Diaconate
OrthodoxNews: Women
St. Nina Quarterly: "Orthodox Women and Pastoral Praxis"
The Historical Orthodox Deaconess
Orthodox Women's Network

see Canon 15 of the Council of Chalcedon: The Council of Chalcedon - 451 A.D.

So there's a claim that women were actually ordained at the altar, with the imposition of hands, and so on. (Or there are texts with such rituals.) But can there be an ordination without sacramental orders? (What is the word used in Latin and Greek to refer to the Sacrament of Order in the early Chruch? Do the Latins speak of Ordo?)

From Miriam-Webster:
1: to invest officially (as by the laying on of hands) with ministerial or priestly authority

So one can ordain in the sense of giving someone the authority to act in a certain ministerial capacity. But are deacons just ministers, or do they participate in the priesthood of Christ? (There is also a claim that the diaconate is regarded by [some of?] the Eastern churches as being a ministry only, and not a sacramental order. Trent on the Sacrament of Order.) Speaking of women's ordination can be misleading--what we should be focusing on is the Sacrament of Holy Orders instead. (Even if those women who are attempting to become priests and failing understand them to be linked.)

Female diaconate in the early church - Discussion

And some reaction from the Orthodox Information Center:
Women in the Orthodox Church
We also hear the claims that deaconesses carried the Sacrament of Holy Communion to many outside of the temple. Let us also remember that, in the early Church, all of the people took the Body and Blood of our Lord to their homes to commune during the week. The fact that records show deaconesses having a type of "ordination" was specifically to enable them to carry Holy Communion to women who were "shut-ins". Since, as we have made clear, it was forbidden for a male to go into a single womans home, there was an obvious need for this holy service to be done by a woman, hence, the deaconess. The ordination, or blessing, was to allow her to carry Holy Communion to those women who could not attend the Liturgy.
Hmm... Christian Dress and Grooming

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