Deaconesses

Someone in Rome has said something about reviving the order of deaconesses.  This has got all of the dissenters very excited.

There are a couple of points to make:

  1. Deaconess ≠ Deacon – the earliest statutes of the Church pretty much make it clear that deaconesses served only women and infants and their service was contingent on male deacons, priests and bishops;
  2. Deaconess not necessarily an ordained person – the institution of deaconesses seems to have varied from diocese to diocese in the early Church – in some diocese the deaconesses would have received the imposition of hands, in others not – and the label “deaconess” had become extinct in the western Church so long ago that we have no intelligible written witness as to their role;
  3. Deaconesses did not die out – in the west they just became known by other names (e.g. consecrated virgin, Abbess, etc);
  4. The churches that continue to have deaconesses (i) keep them as a separate order to male deacons and (ii) do not allow deacons or deaconesses to confer blessings – they cannot preside over the sacraments of matrimony or baptism in these churches (please note, I’m talking about the eastern schismatics, not the divers heretical western groups who trace their origins back to the sixteenth century);
  5. Deacons/deaconesses ≠ priests; and
  6. The people advocating this change are agitating for something new (deaconesses who could take the place of a deacon), not the revivification of the biblical order of deaconesses and they very much see this as a wedge to get women admitted to the presbyterate and episcopate, as has happened in Anglicanism.

Whatever the merits of the idea of creating a new order of deaconesses, the plain fact is that the people advocating this innovation intend to use it as a way to ease the path for the ordination of women.

Rather than get stressed about the sound and fury that the dissenters are going to generate in the press about this issue, let’s instead pray to St Phoebe, on this Monday in the Octave of Pentecost, for the good of the Church and the salvation of the silly souls of the innovators.

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74 Responses to Deaconesses

  1. I had a hunch that a deaconness’ role was similar to the nuns and consecrated virgins. Here in the Philippines, women ordination is never an issue and I think it never will be. Thanks for writing this.

  2. Robert says:

    The name deacon (diakonos) means only minister or servant, and is employed in this sense both in the Septuagint (though only in the book of Esther, e.g. 2:2; 6:3) and in the New Testament (e.g. Matthew 20:28; Romans 15:25; Ephesians 3:7; etc.). But in Apostolic times the word began to acquire a more definite and technical meaning.
    St. Clement of Rome (about A.D. 95) clearly describes the institution of deacons along with that of bishops as being the work of the Apostles themselves (Ep. Clem., xlii).
    According to the constant tradition of the Catholic Church, the narrative of Acts 6:1-6, which serves to introduce the account of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, describes the first institution of the office of deacon.
    “..the multitude of the disciples and said: It is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve (diakonein) tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Ghost ..”wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continuously to prayer, and to the ministry of the word (te diakonia tou logou). And the saying was liked by all the multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith, and of the Holy Ghost ..”

    The Diaconate? In the Apostolic Constitutions ” A deacon thou shalt appoint, O Bishop, laying thy hands upon him ”

    The Apostles NEVER appointed a woman deacon.

  3. The Raven says:

    ΠΡΟΣ ΡΩΜΑΙΟΥΣ 16:1-2

    16 Συνίστημι δὲ ὑμῖν Φοίβην τὴν ἀδελφὴν ἡμῶν, οὖσαν [a]καὶ διάκονον τῆς ἐκκλησίας τῆς ἐν Κεγχρεαῖς, 2 ἵνα [b]αὐτὴν προσδέξησθε ἐν κυρίῳ ἀξίως τῶν ἁγίων, καὶ παραστῆτε αὐτῇ ἐν ᾧ ἂν ὑμῶν χρῄζῃ πράγματι, καὶ γὰρ αὐτὴ προστάτις πολλῶν ἐγενήθη καὶ [c]ἐμοῦ αὐτοῦ.

  4. JabbaPapa says:

    Deaconesses did not die out – in the west they just became known by other names (e.g. consecrated virgin, Abbess, etc);

    This isn’t quite true — the Diaconate itself passed out of usage except as a stepping stone towards priesthood, and the Church stopped having both Deacons and Deaconesses per se, except for some exceptions if a Deacon decided or was not allowed to progress to become a priest. St Francis of Assisi decided to remain a Deacon, for example, for he wished service above all else.

    Consecrated virgins, consecrated widows, OTOH had existed simultaneously with the Deaconesses.

    Deaconesses were very similar to nuns, and the rise of monasticism at the start of the Middle Ages meant most likely that the women who might have become Deaconesses in Antiquity simply became nuns instead.

    The churches that continue to have deaconesses (i) keep them as a separate order to male deacons and (ii) do not allow deacons or deaconesses to confer blessings – they cannot preside over the sacraments of matrimony or baptism in these churches (please note, I’m talking about the eastern schismatics, not the divers heretical western groups who trace their origins back to the sixteenth century);

    ???

    As far as I know, there are no such churches — you’re right about the differences in the Ministry of course, but the Deaconesses had vanished LONG before the Great Schism had occurred, so it’s hard to see who you’re talking about.

    The Eastern Church recently reinstated them, anyway, and their functions are how you describe them, which is the central point here anyway.

  5. toadspittle says:

    “…and the salvation of the silly souls of the innovators.”
    Silly souls are what other people have, aren’t they, Raven?
    Our souls are sensible.

  6. JabbaPapa says:

    BTW, Deacons ARE Ordinary Ministers in the celebration of Matrimony and Ordinary Ministers of Baptism, even though a Priest remains greatly preferable in both.

    The Deaconesses were the equivalent of what we’d called “Ordinary Ministers” of Baptism too, though in practice this was principally in cases where a baptised girl or woman was forbidden by local law to have any contacts with men — and in the Latin Church I’d assume them to be Ordinary Ministers for the Witness of Matrimony too, bearing in mind that it’s a Ministry that is greatly discouraged for Deacons too.

  7. toadspittle says:

    (I filed the comment below earlier today. It seems to have vanished. Can someone in “authority” explain what happens under these circumstances? Has the first version gone forever, or is it currently being considered by the censors, and will appear soon? Or what? )
    [The Moderator – We’re short-handed this week, Toad, you’ll just have to exercise a little patience with our incompetence.]

    “The Apostles NEVER appointed a woman deacon.”
    The Apostles NEVER rode bicycles, (even outside cathedrals) wore dog collars, or lace-up boots, or ate bacon sandwiches, or drank pints of Guinness.
    That means Catholic clerics ought not to do such things, today – I suppose.
    The argument that there should NEVER be women priests because Christ didn’t appoint any – is utterly absurd. Women weren’t allowed to do a great many things in 1st Century Israel. (or in 19th Century Europe and America, come to that.)
    There may be other, more valid, arguments against women priests. But I don’t see them myself.
    The argument that women should stick to having kids and darning socks (Yes, I know they don’t,) – when they’d sooner do other things that they find more interesting, like being lawyers, sculptors, or jockeys – is pitiful.
    And, thankfully, just about dead – outside the lunatic fringe.

  8. Michael says:

    Why wouldn’t a Deaconess be just an old name for a nun? If the obvious doesn’t apply then why doesn’t anyone explain why?

  9. JabbaPapa says:

    Why wouldn’t a Deaconess be just an old name for a nun?

    Because Deaconesses were “clergy” (attached to a Bishop and to the Order of Deacons, they belonged to the Diocesan Presbyterium), and nuns are not.

    The question of “ordination” is a difficult one, because our understanding of that word has changed greatly in the past 1000 years, and additionally the “minor orders” that the Deaconesses would have belonged to if there had been any left during the existence in the Church structure of these “minor orders” have been abolished. But if they were merely “instituted” then there never was really any such thing as a Deaconess, which is wrong ; and the historical sources do in fact support the notion that they were ordained — but NOT into any service of the Altar nor any form of priestly function.

    Some Abbesses between the 11th and 14th/15th Centuries were given an honorary title of “Deaconess”, but they were in fact no such thing, and anyway certain Abbesses were given (or simply grabbed) certain Clerical or even Episcopal powers contrary to Church Law (including in some extreme cases even hearing Confessions from priests !!!), so I’d view the 13th-15th Century data with suspicion.

  10. The Raven says:

    Jabba

    In the Greek East, I understand that the office of deaconess was never really suppressed – it staggered on with individual bishops choosing to appoint deaconesses when they saw the need.

    For the Greeks deacons do not have faculties to give blessings, which is why they are excluded from administering the sacraments of matrimony and baptism (both of which require a blessing for validity in the Greek understanding of the sacrament). In the ancient Church the deaconess would anoint a sick woman or baptismal candidate, but would do so while the priest pronounced the blessings.

  11. toadspittle says:

    ….Toad’s comment of 9.47 a.m., is hopelessly marooned in CP&S Limbo…As is Toad’s comment from 5.48 a.m.
    If you choose to run my comments, go right ahead. Won’t do any harm. No true Catholic cares what the heck I say, anyway.
    But, if you don’t – please have the Christian decency to say why you choose why not to do so.
    [The Moderator – I am working on my own this week, Toad, I have been up since 05h00, I have just worked a ten hour day and I shan’t be home for another couple of hours. I’ll get to you when I get to you! Do stop whining and cut me some slack!]

    “Some Abbesses between the 11th and 14th/15th Centuries were given an honorary title of “Deaconess”, but they were in fact no such thing,”
    Course not. Ridiculous, absurd, idea. God forbid.What would the sane world be coming to, if that were to happen?

  12. JabbaPapa says:

    I almost made the same point about Marriage in the Eastern Church — because the Priest is the Minister of the Sacrament in the Eastern Ma

  13. JabbaPapa says:

    … Eastern Marriage Rite, not the Spouses as in the West. No Deacon or Deaconess can therefore provide it.

    But the Deaconesses did actually baptise sometimes, quite rarely, in cases where the separation of men and women was so strict that even pronouncing the blessings was impossible for a man.

    They were Ordinary Ministers of Baptism in a similar way that Deacons are — which is when Baptism by a Priest or Bishop is impossible for whatever reason ; though there are a far greater number of circumstances where Deacons may be called upon to be Ministers of Baptism than was ever the case for the Deaconesses. They were a sort of extra fourth choice option, after the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons in the rare circumstances where no other solution was possible

  14. The Raven says:

    We all have silly souls, Toad, especially the poor fool who wrote this post.

  15. toadspittle says:

    [The Moderator – Blood and sand, Toad, engage with the arguments and give up on the pastiche of the Mary Whitehouse Experience: https://youtu.be/9UMedd03JCA

  16. The Raven says:

    Toad,

    Our Lord was the supreme transgressor of the societal norms of his times – He didn’t make any accommodation with the taboos and hang-ups of His age (He touched lepers and corpses, He associated with public and and tax collectors, He and His disciples breached rules on ritual washing and working on the Sabbath).

    He was, after all, one of the persons of the Trinity, God; nothing was impossible for Him.

    His closest friendships were with women and He entrusted them with many roles and duties. But He only ordained the Apostles. Why was that?

    It’s not as if the idea of women serving in priestly roles was alien in that age and in that place – women served altars of pagan gods throughout the Levant and the rest of the Empire, it’s not as if the idea was seen as a novelty or impossibility.

    To argue that Our Lord was constrained by social constructs or by any other human force is to argue for a nonsense.

    He chose only men for His priesthood, how can we second guess His actions?

  17. toadspittle says:

    “He (Christ) chose only men for His priesthood, how can we second guess His actions?”
    Don’t be utterly ridiculous, Raven.
    By blandly assuming, for no particular reason whatsoever, that Christ didn’t want women priests, second-guessing His actions is exactly what you, and your gang of dingbats, are doing.
    He never said a thing either way about women priests, as far as I can see.
    If I’m wrong, I will be swiftly told, no doubt.

  18. JabbaPapa says:

    The argument that there should NEVER be women priests because Christ didn’t appoint any – is utterly absurd.

    The Church in fact honestly debated this question for about 200 years, between the end of the 3rd and the end of the 5th Century — after which a clear consensus emerged, and Pope Saint Gelasius I sent the Bull forbidding the priestly ordination of women — remember, to try and remain on-topic, this was at a time when Deaconesses existed both East and West.

    This was understood as a disciplinary measure for 1500 years, during which period the question was raised and discussed several times, with the same conclusions reached systematically ; until eventually Pope Saint John Paul II clarified, ex cathedra, that Pope Gelasius’ decision on the question was dogmatic.

    Whilst several reasons are put forward to explain and justify the dogma, the more practical reasons that motivated it in Antiquity are that :

    1) priesthood and Christian motherhood are simply not compatible

    2) and besides, Catholic women who want to become priests exist in utterly negligible number anyway, and of these the great majority are not at all fit for any Catholic Ministry whatsoever !!!

    In other words, it is a non-existent vocation.

    The Feminists, anti-Catholics, atheists, lefties, and all sorts who rant on and on about the “wymmyn priestesses” are pure and simple politically motivated agitators whose actions are foreign to the Catholicity.

  19. The Raven says:

    Toad,

    If Our Lord wanted women priests why didn’t he ordain any? The only things we know about Our Lord’s will are what He did and what He said – you are making an irrational argument from silence.

  20. toadspittle says:

    [The Moderator – These are two of Toad’s posts presented in their entirety as a single entry. Toad is demonstrating, very adroitly, the problem with the proposed ordination of deaconesses – it leads people to go on and on about a different subject: the ordination of women to the priesthood, which, as we know, is simply not a debate that is going to go anywhere.]

    What All The Above all boils down to – in my (arrogant) opinion – is that Christ never said a single word in his life (as far as I know) that would preclude women being priests. Nor did He, I also agree, say word one to suggest that women priests were a good, or a bad – idea.
    He might have thought it an utterly rotten one. But He never said so – as far as I know.
    In which case, it’s more than possible He didn’t give a damn either way. (Neither do I, but that’s neither here, nor there.) So, why are so many of us nominally sensible human beings getting all bent out of shape by second-guessing Him?
    By all means let women be priests if they are dopey enough to want to be so – is my insouciant advice.
    Given their heads, women can do the job every bit as ineptly as men, (well, generally, anyway.) And I doubt very much if they are capable of doing it any worse.
    …But I might be wrong there.
    Usually am.

    “If Our Lord wanted women priests why didn’t he ordain any? “
    No idea, Raven.
    I leave it to you. Possibly the same reason he didn’t ordain any Romans, eunuchs, slaves, chartered accountants, tap-dancers, or gladiator trainers.
    Maybe there were no suitable women, by His standards – knocking about at the time. I don’t know.
    It was quite a while ago. Bur no, He just didn’t choose any women, did he? And were not the disciples all Jews? Only Jews? Then what? What do we derive from that? That all priests must be Jews, that’s what.
    …How idiotic.

  21. toadspittle says:

    Be nice if CP&S has the nerve to run these two posts.
    In order that Raven can demolish them, of course.

    [The Moderator – We have the nerve, if not the time or patience!]

  22. The Raven says:

    Toad, there are a number of points to make about your post:

    • Our Lord, by a positive act, ordained the Apostles. He did not ordain Our Lady, his friends Mary Magdalene and Martha or any of the other women mentioned in the Gospels; although He conferred duties and roles upon them that were, in some cases, far greater than those assigned to the Apostles. In other words He had the means at hand to ordain these ladies, but chose not to.
    • Why are you, a nominally sensible human being, getting all bent out of shape by trying to make this argument from silence?
    • Priesthood is more than just a “job” – it has a cultic element to it too, which is not amenable to the usual performance metrics that are so beloved of HR “professionals”, which is why an analysis based on “Miss X can hold a chalice of wine as well as Mr Y” doesn’t really work in this context.
    • One of the key elements of Our Lord’s mission was to widen salvation to all of humanity; by adoption we are the chosen people of his new covenant, there isn’t a distinction between Jew and gentile to be drawn – this part of your argument just doesn’t work.

    Oh, and Our Lord did ordain the first century equivalent of a chartered accountant – St Matthew was a tax collector.

  23. ginnyfree says:

    Very nice Can-O-Worms, Raven. Thanks for lifting the lid.

    I’m of a mind like this: Our sister Phoebe was ministering to the men in the Church abundantly. They eat often, need clean clothes and might even need a few stitches in their robes. It takes special breads and wine of the purest variety for the Altar of God. Lamps need oil and water must constantly be fetched for washing and use in the Liturgical Rites. The scrolls used needed to be kept safely hidden in homes. All of this “women’s work” WAS ministering then as it still is now. Only today, women have turned away from these humble tasks to coveting that which can never be theirs and so have lost any interest in the elevation of simple women’s works that God Himself gave to their labors. Mary waited on the men in that Upper room and only the feminists dare to say otherwise. Wherever the men gathered, the women were needed and they being wise women worthy of the name “Woman,” did that which came natural to their sex. They “mothered” the men and in doing so brought honor and glory to all women of all ages. This is our crown. Only a fool would discard it or worse, despise it.

    Now, I am well aware that a few women were specially trained to assist at Baptisms when a woman in particular needed her aid out of modesty, etc. and that these women were sometimes even given an honorary title of Deaconess, but that is all it ever was: HONORARY. It was never thought of in any other way and to claim as some have falsely, that these women had a share in the Sacrament of Ordination, is to do these women of the Church a grave dishonor.

    Nuff said. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  24. The Raven says:

    Ginny,

    There are a number of consecration rites surviving from ancient times that suggest that the order of deaconesses was much more than a simple honorific; these rites are very similar to those used in the installation of male deacons.

  25. ginnyfree says:

    Gee Raven, are these archeological finds the former properties of a group of persons called The Free Spirits, the Brethren of the High Spirit or maybe the Church of the Brethren of the New Spirit? They all are part of a sect that was formally and finally condemned by Boniface the VIII. Or it could be another similar group of heretics. Raven, I’m not so easily fooled, so step lightly. I’ve been down this road once too many times already and I might get snippy a bit over it. So, go for it if you’ve got credible evidence but like the Dead Sea Scrolls, things may not prove to be as you’d hope they are. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  26. ginnyfree says:

    P.S. Consecration is not Ordination. I’m Consecrated. I’d never, ever, ever try to claim that what blessings I have received in my Consecration are of the same stuff as a Sacrament. Sacramental yes, Sacrament, no. Sorry. Try not to twist things up a bit for the sake of controversy. I prefer my baloney on a bun with mayo and chips. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  27. I don’t understand how or why people in the United States are pushing for women clergy. If only they would understand how binding it is to administer sacraments and have little time for other essentials such as building communities or spending more time with parishioners. Do they even know that there is such a practice called spiritual direction? I like the way nuns (contemplative) and sisters (active) the way they are as of now. Look at the congregation of brothers who chose not to be ordained (shameless plug in my part). But go ahead and look for historical background of the deaconnesses (which I initially misspelled as abbesses due to grogginess). May God bless them all.

  28. The Raven says:

    Ginny

    I am aware that consecration is not necessarily the same thing as ordination – that’s why I chose the word to describe the rite!

    And the rites I am referring to come from a pontifical dating back to pre-schism Constantinople.

  29. toadspittle says:

    “Oh, and Our Lord did ordain the first century equivalent of a chartered accountant – St Matthew was a tax collector.”
    Chattered Accountants don’t collect taxes – Raven, at least mine doesn’t.
    He tries to avoid the Government collecting as much of my taxes as he legally can.

    And I still think it’s valid to make the point that the Apostles, as well as being all men, were all Jews. And to drew from that the clear inference that all priests ought to be Jews. by that token.
    And just because Christ didn’t appoint any women as priests, does not make the idea out of the question. Given more time, he might well have done, but his life was cut sadly short, as we know.

    But you disagree – so I will agree to say no more on this.

  30. toadspittle says:

    (D’oh! I meant chattering accountants, of course.)

  31. JabbaPapa says:

    Now, I am well aware that a few women were specially trained to assist at Baptisms when a woman in particular needed her aid out of modesty, etc. and that these women were sometimes even given an honorary title of Deaconess, but that is all it ever was: HONORARY. It was never thought of in any other way

    Sorry, but historically, this is just false.

    Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, canon 15 : “A woman shall not receive the laying on of hands as a deaconess under forty years of age, and then only after searching examination. And if, after she has had hands laid on her and has continued for a time to minister, she shall despise the grace of God and give herself in marriage, she shall be anathematized and the man united to her.

    Local Council of Trullo, canon 14 : “Let the canon of our holy God-bearing Fathers be confirmed in this particular also; that a presbyter be not ordained before he is thirty years of age, even if he be a very worthy man, but let him be kept back. For our Lord Jesus Christ was baptized and began to teach when he was thirty. In like manner let no deacon be ordained before he is twenty-five, nor a deaconess before she is forty.

    Opposition to the existence of Deaconesses can also be found, from the 4th Century onwards, and a local Council at Orange in Gaul even suppressed the “ordination” of Deaconesses locally (and yes, even in suppressing it they called it “ordination”).

    Some people, including evidently Toad, are confusing some pastoral and spiritual explanations of the exclusive male priesthood as somehow doctrinally denying that the Deaconesses were ordained — except that their ordination was no more a priestly ordination than is that of a Deacon : Lumen Gentium 29 : At a lower level of the hierarchy are deacons, upon whom hands are imposed “not unto the priesthood, but unto a ministry of service.”

    Ordination is not exclusive to the priesthood ; and dogmatically it is only the ordination into the priesthood that is reserved to men, whereas it is extremely clear from History that some women were ordained into a Diaconal service, distinct from that of the men and NOT in service to the Altar nor to assisting the priests at the Altar, and BTW exactly as Deaconesses exist today in the Eastern Church.

    Then again, during the period when Deaconesses existed, the Deacons themselves gave no service at the Altar either, it would seem.

    Nevertheless — whatever the Historical truths may be, this whole thing is a can of worms, and in my view could only be authoritatively clarified by a Pope or an Ecumenical Council.

  32. Robert says:

    The Trinity is One. The Church is the mystical Body of Christ and this exists in three States.
    1/ Heaven
    2/ Purgation (The Church Suffering) at the lowest levels almost like Hell.
    3/ Militant (that’s on Earth)
    Gradations exist within the Church as they exist within the Angels and as we see in Creation. So there are higher and lower orders which are given through the laying on of hands by Bishops. The priesthood as such is such an order. The Bishop consecrated with the Apostolic Succession has all the orders.
    The knowledge of a Created Man is and has been known commonly wherever man ahs been found. Revelation here is very difficult because Creation exists outside of what we call time. The Creation of Adam with His material body and living (that’s Eternal) soul was in the image of God. Adam was created as an adult. His knowledge infused within Him. Eve woman was formed from Adam (and hence we understand with a living soul in Gods image) as an adult.
    The Temptation of the serpent (Satan) is a recurrent process seen again and again in Revelation. To ensnare Man (Adam) flatter and deceive Woman (Eve). Sic Samson’s downfall.
    This background leads Us to Toad’s essential arguments against God which is complaint against the Judgement of our original parents Adam and Eve.
    This can of worms over Ordination? Nothing new here of course.
    Look at the 20 century and Satan’s 100 years to attempt to destroy the Church and especially the redefining of male and female and we see again the serpents seductive arguments to Eve so that she ensnare Adam.
    This Deacon flattery is just another proof of the smoke of Satan mentioned by Paul VI

  33. toadspittle says:

    “Gradations exist within the Church as they exist within the Angels and as we see in Creation.”
    I don’t personally “see” these graduations within Creation, Robert. And one angel looks much like another to me. Big wings, halo, shiny, and the like. But what do I know?
    And I rather suspect that not very many people on here can see any significant difference.
    But, no doubt, I’m wrong – as usual.

  34. ginnyfree says:

    Dear Raven, either you have a bona fide archeological one-of-a-kind worthy of a museum or you’ve gotten access to the Vatican archives where many ancient artifacts are preserved such as the Codex Vaticanus and have found something the whole church is about to go on a wild goose chase for thanks to Pope Francis! Why you could save everyone a great deal of trouble by revealing your private source! “A pontifical dating back to pre-schism Constantinople.” would be a priceless artifact that would likely be kept under many locks and keys. So, how did you come across such a find? Please do tell.

    Or I could guess: some women’s group as yet unnamed, had access to the Vatican Library and examined said pontifical first hand, wrote down every detail it contains and had several witnesses authenticate that which they recorded prior to leaving the vaults so as to provide academic assertions of the validity of the claims that such a shocking find would create if known! Oh dear! The scandal hidden away for millennia so as to preserve the false coverage of the male-only priesthood when these same artifacts will clearly show that women were given a share in the Rites of Ordination in the early Church and it fell away and is even lied about to this day. Am I close to the revelations we all await when you reveal your source? No? I wait with baited breath.

    God bless. Ginnyfree.

  35. The Raven says:

    Ginny

    Ευχολογίων το Μέγα (Euchologion to Mega), which is the main Pontificale associated with Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, most famously attested to in Barberini graecus 336 (later, post schism, copies also survive).

    A discussion of the document can be found here – http://arsa-conf.com/archive/?vid=1&aid=3&kid=60101-317&q=f1

  36. ginnyfree says:

    Raven, the scholarship is done by and for heretics. I prefer my baloney on a bun with mayo. There never were any Ordained Deaconesses in any Rite of the Catholic Church. Those who claim otherwise, fool only themselves. The manufacture of scholarship to prove falsehood is nothing new in the world. The oldest Sacramentary is the Leonine. We have many. It is impossible for women to receive any portion of the Sacrament of Ordination. Impossible and this has always been known by the faithful. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  37. ginnyfree says:

    P.S. Thanks for the Pdf though. I will pick it apart when I have more time. Love such nonsense.

  38. The Raven says:

    How very strange of you, Ginny: I’ve just pointed you to the Barberini Euchologion, which is in the Vatican library; it’s dating and provenance have been undisputed since the 1600s; and there, on the page in black and white, is the rite for consecrating deaconesses that was undisputedly used by a church in communion with Rome.

    Whether or not this consecration amounted to ordination is wholly besides the point.

  39. JabbaPapa says:

    There never were any Ordained Deaconesses in any Rite of the Catholic Church. Those who claim otherwise, fool only themselves.

    Amazing how the Council Fathers at Chalcedon “fooled only themselves”, eh ?

  40. toadspittle says:

    “Raven, the scholarship is done by and for heretics.”
    Well – that’s that, then – innit? Jobs for the heretical boys.
    “It is impossible for women to receive any portion of the Sacrament of Ordination.”
    Illegal, maybe.

  41. toadspittle says:

    …And when you think about it, it’s easy to imagine a religion where only women are allowed to be priests…Men being “unclean,” or “unworthy,” or “unsuitable,” or whatever.
    Wouldn’t be surprised if such religions already exist.

  42. ginnyfree says:

    No, Raven. What you’ve given me is an report written by those who support Roman Catholic Women Priests who claim they’ve got solid proof that there were Ordained women in the past. You haven’t produced the actual source. It would be impossible to do so. The procedure for doing research in the Vatican Archives is pretty closed. I know. There is a little volume there that I’d love to be able to examine myself for reasons of my own, which BTW, has absolutely nothing to do with the insanity of those of my own sex who discredit us all by their lying wonders. I’ve heard men have gone to the moon and the chances of me getting there myself are greater than me getting into the Vatican Library vault and looking at a particular book which is my heart’s dream that is approximately 746 years old. Yet I stand a greater chance of being permitted to read this particular book for myself than any hag from the organization Roman Catholic Women Priests getting access to look for themselves at anything at all pertaining to the supposed suppression of the Ordained Deaconesses of the past.

    I also find it a bit distressing that you, Raven, are actually taking their side and presenting their ammo as if it has its bona fides. I hadn’t you figured for a supporter of women’s ordination. Guess I was wrong. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  43. ginnyfree says:

    Oh Toadie! I thought you knew?!??!? Your dream gals the Amazons and their sacred Priestesses who anointed these warrior women for their battles of legend. Have you such a short memory? Must be gettin’ old. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  44. ginnyfree says:

    Yes, Toad sadly these women and their supporters have done the unthinkable. In so doing they’ve gained for themselves an automatic excommunication which also extends to those who participate in their nonsense. Yes, if you attend a very illicit Mass celebrated by one of them, then you need to see your Bishop right after to gain access to the Sacraments once again. He will then tell you to buy a ticket to Rome and plan on being there for a while. It is an automatic excommunication to attend a Mass celebrated by any of these women. There have been documents that they’ve successfully “forced” the CDF to produce that formally announce that every Sacrament they attempt is fraudulent and illicit. They’ve no right to the Sacraments. No one does actually, but they in particular are told so in writing by the Church herself. They are as dead as dead can get ecclesially and those who may get sucked into their vortex may find the spiritual version of a black hole widening before their very eyes. So, Toadie keep yourself and all your tadpoles away from them. They, like a black hole, only suck inwards and seldom release that which they suck unto themselves. They really suck, like a black hole of course. Did I get away with saying that????? God bless. Ginnyfree.

  45. ginnyfree says:

    Jabba, any man who attempted to actually confer upon a woman the Sacrament of Ordination meaning to give that woman a share in the actual Priesthood of Christ separated himself from union with the Church and so ceased acting on her behalf. The woman too who demanded that which she had no right to was also acting in such a way as to also separate herself from the Head, who is the Priest of all and so ended her union with the visible Church as well. There was confusion sometimes in the past regarding this. Women were given an honorary title of Deaconess so as to assist women who were being brought into the Church at their particular Baptisms for modesty’s sake. This was also done for various reasons extending to proper instruction regarding how a Christian woman is to comport herself regarding her sex. These women instructed the neophytes in all these matters and understandably they needed to be distinguished among the Church Community as reliable women that could be trusted to hand on that which was genuine Magisterial teaching. These women were given the honorary title of Deaconess in some ages so as to say that they could be counted on to perform reliably for the Church and were authorized to do so, that is assist with Baptisms and provide actual catechesis for other women. Of course there was confusion among those persons who weren’t Christian when they heard it said that a particular woman was a Deaconess or Abbess. They had no way of knowing the distinction between an Ordained male Deacon and that which a woman with a similar title actually did as well as her authorized place among the Church’s structures. There are plenty of historical proofs that when this distinction was deliberately eliminated or distorted in some way and women acted as if they’d obtained the actual Sacrament of Ordination and acted on it i.e. hearing confessions and giving absolution, etc. they’d get condemned formally and officially by the Church. This has happened in the past and this is the root truth behind the false claim that the Ordained women of the past were suppressed unjustly by the Church, etc. that the heretics of today use as “proof” of the injustice of the Church in not allowing that which they claim was at one time permitted. Hello???

    Lies and spin doctoring. I hate it actually. But I’ll take some time to present my side of things if needed. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  46. The Raven says:

    Barberini

    Ginny, there have been a number of facsimile editions and translations/transliterations published over the last 400 years – it’s a very important source – no need to go to the Vatican library.

    I should have reproduced the first page, above; you should be able to see the word “Διακονησσα”.

    I’m not in favour of women’s ordination, it’s just that your presentation of the history is incorrect.

  47. toadspittle says:

    “So, Toadie keep yourself and all your tadpoles away from them. They, like a black hole, only suck inwards and seldom release that which they suck unto themselves. They really suck, like a black hole of course. Did I get away with saying that????? God bless. Ginnyfree.”
    Of course you “got away” with it, Gin-Free Girl. Nobody gives a rat’s patootie. All part of the endless CP&S fun-fest.
    For what it’s worth, (that’s right – zip) I’m confident you’d make exactly the kind of priest the Church deserves.

  48. ginnyfree says:

    Raven, my daughter’s language focus is ancient koine Greek and neither she nor I have the time to decipher your “proof” text that there were actually Sacramental Ordinations of females to the office of the diaconate with the fullness of said office which is the same as we have today back then. This is a distortion of the truth. The Church never gave women the diaconate as we know it to be: an actual share in the Sacrament of Ordination leading to the Priesthood, either as transitional or permanent. Those who try to prove such nonsense are either deceived or deceivers themselves. I’ve seen copies of supposed Dead Sea Scrolls that have been sadly altered to provide proofs of theological allegations that are as dead as the Dead Sea. There is nothing you can say or do that will prove the Church wrong. All you’ve managed to do is provide a picture of a fraudulent document meant to deceive others and support those heretics who have acted on their belief that women should be Ordained. Is it a cut and paste job? Is it a total counterfeit? Whatever it is, it cannot be a document from the Vatican Library that supports women’s ordination, because they don’t and never did. So how is that they have a Ceremonial/Euchologion that couldn’t exist? No, it cannot be so Raven.

    There is no conspiracy to suppress something that never was. Those who were in union with the visible head of our Church, the Pope, and those duly authorized by him to act on his behalf regarding the actual Sacrament of Ordination never severed their relationship with him and the rest of us by Ordaining women. It never happened. If they tried, they’d lose it all in a few minutes. They knew that and wouldn’t have dared to do so, not only because it would send to Hell themselves and those they tried to Ordain who weren’t worthy of the office, but as I’ve said, to attempt it places one immediately outside the very Church they are supposedly Ordaining to serve. Ludicrous. The Ordination of women to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ was a non-issue because everyone who was Christian knew that only foreign religions had female priestesses and if you tried to introduce a woman as an Ordained Minister, they’d know you were a few fries short of a Happy Meal. As I’ve said, there were women who were honored with a title of Deaconess who carried on specific tasks with the legitimate authority of the Church. These women’s office was distorted and misunderstood by others who thought they’d a share in the actual Sacrament. This misunderstanding was in some cases deliberate, in others simple ignorance. Either way, it got addressed properly by the Church in due season. God bless. Ginnyfree

  49. The Raven says:

    Ginny

    To be absolutely blunt, you need to read the post and the rest of the thread. No one is arguing for the re-establishment of deaconesses in the Catholic Church.

    The only person claiming that the Euchologion purports to contain a rite of ordination of women to the diaconate is you, yourself: as I say at the top, the order of deaconesses was separate to that of the diaconate.

    The article that I linked to is just an academic paper talking about the scholar’s conclusions about whether the rite constituted a rite of ordination – I disagree with the author’s conclusion, but thought the article of interest as it describes the Baberini MS.

    I’d also point out that although the various heretical groups do make a big noise about the Baberini MS, they do so because it is one of the vanishingly tiny number of early documents that vaguely supports their case. By trying to build an argument for priestesses from the rite described in the Baberini MS they are fundamentally misunderstanding the Greek theology of Orders and wilfully ignoring the context of the rite – although the Euchologion contains rites for sub-deacons, lectors etc none of it purports to make provision for women to be instituted into these roles.

    As Catholic scholars would point out, the fact that women were not not admitted to the minor orders makes it clear that the office of deaconess was not part of the road to the priesthood – you do understand that the male diaconate has never been part of the priestly order? It is wholly separate – unlike the order of bishop and presbyter, which are elements of the same priestly order.


    A nice clear copy of the page that I reproduced above can be found on the Vatican Library’s website here: http://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Barb.gr.336/0345/image?sid=99c76bebc25e96fb936b0f79fd8abd39#current_page
    It seems that they have digitised the whole book. I’ll see if I can post the image

    As you have Greek in the family, here is an account of the MS, its history and content published by the Greek Orthodox Church: http://www.ecclesia.gr/greek/press/theologia/material/1990_3_4_filias.pdf

  50. ginnyfree says:

    What an awesome website Raven (the digital library). Sorry I ruffled your feathers. It is simply a topic that makes me go “Grrrrrr…..” and so, that’s the only excuse I can make. I looked for a particular text in the digital library. It will probably be the second to the last book they complete, if they ever include it. I’d tell you the title, but it is a secret, so I can’t. God bless and thanks again for the link. I may be reading stuff for a week! God bless. Ginnyfree.

  51. The Raven says:

    No problem – I’m always glad to have the opportunity to dust off my Greek!

  52. toadspittle says:

    “The Ordination of women to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ was a non-issue because everyone who was Christian knew that only foreign religions had female priestesses “
    Oh, now I see. You can’t be a Catholic priest if you are “foreign.”
    There’s a priest from New Zealand staying with us at present. I’ll break the bad news.
    Or is it only “foreign-speaking”?
    “Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto.”
    Well, there’s other religions for a start. (Bit more Greek there, for Raven and The Gin-Free one..)

    “There is nothing you can say or do that will prove the Church wrong.”
    There certainly isn’t… Nor that will prove it right.

  53. toadspittle says:

    Don’t be thick, Toad.
    A “foreign” religion is one that doesn’t have its headquarters in Vatican City, Rome, Italy.

  54. The Raven says:

    That looks more like latin than greek to me, Toad.

  55. Robert says:

    Toad
    What do you mean by prove the Church wrong?
    The institutional Body full of Men makes mistake after mistake!
    The Mystical Body Of Christ AND the Revelation of Faith NEVER because that is to Call the Holy Ghost a liar!
    St Thomas More couldn’t have been more critical of what had become a hypocritical institution. But never the Church!! He died for the Church, and the Papacy!!
    You are worldly and get so taken up with worldly materialism that the spiritual Truths (the wisdom of the Saints) is hidden from you!
    Shake off this worldly blindness!
    Start looking through the eyes of Faith!

  56. ginnyfree says:

    Oh come on now Toad. This is lame. You can do better than that. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  57. ginnyfree says:

    Toad, you’re no dummy. You know well the aversion Jews had towards all things non-Jewish, especially religions and their ministers. A priestess could only be found in a religion foreign to the Jews and don’t quibble about the word. It is useless quibbling. At that time there still were Temple Prostitutes. So the association in their minds between religious ritual and observance and women who insinuated themselves into such things, well they could only bring defilement to the rites as they were ritually unclean to any Jew and so to think they’d actually go into the Holy of Holies, well, that is unspeakable! So, for as long as it took from the time of Moses and Aaron and his sons being the first priests to minister for the Jews before God to the time of the early Church, the very thought of women in the priesthood is a totally foreign notion. That’s why it is a non-issue, because it is so odd a proposition. It isn’t a cultural construct. There never were women in the Priesthood prior to Christ calling His Priests, so why would there be any after? It makes no sense at all. Nuff said. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  58. toadspittle says:

    “That looks more like latin than greek to me, Toad.
    Good grief, Raven – you are quite right! D'oh! Mea culpa. (whatever that means.)
    And as for women priests, Ginnster:
    Like Rhett says..

  59. JabbaPapa says:

    Jabba, any man who attempted to actually confer upon a woman the Sacrament of Ordination meaning to give that woman a share in the actual Priesthood of Christ separated himself from union with the Church and so ceased acting on her behalf.

    The Diaconate is not the Priesthood — as Lumen Gentium BTW makes crystal clear.

    Much of the rest of your opinion is also just plain old wrong.

  60. JabbaPapa says:

    The Ordination of women to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ was a non-issue

    It was in fact a perfectly serious issue from the end of the third til the end of the fifth centuries, when Pope Saint Gelasius I forbade the ordination of women into the priesthood. At that same time, the women’s Diaconate was alive and healthy — and the Pope took no action whatsoever against it.

    The Order of the Diaconate is not the Order of Priesthood, and apart from Baptism, Deacons can provide none of the Sacraments, no more than the Deaconesses of Antiquity..

  61. ginnyfree says:

    Jabba, can you provide the particular quotation that says that? I haven’t the time to read the whole thing myself, so it would be a help. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  62. ginnyfree says:

    P.S. Can you please also tell the Deacon we just had Ordained who is on his way to the Priesthood, that he has no share in the Priesthood. I think he’s a bit confused about that too. It would help.

  63. ginnyfree says:

    Never mind Jabba, here is the whole passage: “29. At a lower level of the hierarchy are deacons, upon whom hands are imposed “not unto the priesthood, but unto a ministry of service.”(74*) For strengthened by sacramental grace, in communion with the bishop and his group of priests they serve in the diaconate of the liturgy, of the word, and of charity to the people of God. It is the duty of the deacon, according as it shall have been assigned to him by competent authority, to administer baptism solemnly, to be custodian and dispenser of the Eucharist, to assist at and bless marriages in the name of the Church, to bring Viaticum to the dying, to read the Sacred Scripture to the faithful, to instruct and exhort the people, to preside over the worship and prayer of the faithful, to administer sacramentals, to officiate at funeral and burial services. Dedicated to duties of charity and of administration, let deacons be mindful of the admonition of Blessed Polycarp: “Be merciful, diligent, walking according to the truth of the Lord, who became the servant of all.”(75*)

    Since these duties, so very necessary to the life of the Church, can be fulfilled only with difficulty in many regions in accordance with the discipline of the Latin Church as it exists today, the diaconate can in the future be restored as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy. It pertains to the competent territorial bodies of bishops, of one kind or another, with the approval of the Supreme Pontiff, to decide whether and where it is opportune for such deacons to be established for the care of souls. With the consent of the Roman Pontiff, this diaconate can, in the future, be conferred upon men of more mature age, even upon those living in the married state. It may also be conferred upon suitable young men, for whom the law of celibacy must remain intact.”

    The Trap Door thru which you’d hoped to let everything fall that you suggest means the Deacons don’t have a share in the Sacrament of Holy Orders is not what you think. You mean this: “not unto the priesthood, but unto a ministry of service” to say that a Deacon who is Ordained a Deacon isn’t part of the Priesthood. You aren’t alone in this misunderstanding. Here is a nice article by one Deacon who is Ordained who gently ends the confusion some, like you, have towards this Ministry unto service –
    http://www.dcpriest.org/meet-us/semantics/1015-ordained-not-unto-the-priesthood-but-unto-a-ministry-of-service

    Here is the key to it all:”Deacons are ministers ordained for tasks of service of the Church; they do not receive the ministerial priesthood, but ordination confers on them important functions in the ministry of the word, divine worship, pastoral governance, and the service of charity, tasks which they must carry out under the pastoral authority of their bishop.” CCC 1596

    What some here are trying to claim is that this same Ordained Ministry intact, was given to women in the past and are claiming that the Vatican has Liturgical books, a Ceremonial in an Eastern Rite, that prove that some women were given a share in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, as is seen in the article from DCPriest.org Seems you are on one side of a multifaceted arguement. Your saying there is no share in the Sacrament of Holy Orders given to all Deacons, be they male or female and Raven wants there to be a share in said Sacrament allotted in the past to women though limited. Neither position contains the truth.
    One more little resource that may end your confusion is this from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary: “ARTICLE 6
    THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY ORDERS

    1536 Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.” http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c3a6.htm There ya go, it clearly states that there are THREE DEGREES of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, Bishop, Priest, Deacon and that all share in the Sacrament, but not in the same degree. Only the Bishop shares in the fullest degree and is another Christ to us all.

    Okie dokie. Nuff said. God bless. Ginnyfree

  64. ginnyfree says:

    Jabba, here is one last link to help you and then I gotta go: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_31031998_directorium-diaconi_en.html It will help you to read it all. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  65. The Raven says:

    Ginny

    I’m afraid that either you aren’t reading what is being written here or you are deliberately misrepresenting the arguments that your interlocutors are making. It’s not an attractive look.

    What some here are trying to claim is that this same Ordained Ministry intact, was given to women in the past …

    No, that is simply untrue. All that people here are pointing out is that there was an order of deaconesses in the past and that they were consecrated to that role – it wasn’t a mere honorific. As it says at point 1 in the article at the top of this thread, “Deaconess ≠ Deacon”.

    …and are claiming that the Vatican has Liturgical books, a Ceremonial in an Eastern Rite, that prove that some women were given a share in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, as is seen in the article from DCPriest.org

    The Vatican does have a liturgical book containing a rite of consecration of deaconesses, I have proved that to you already on this thread. No-one is making a claim that this amounted to “ordination” as we would understand it in the Western Church.

    And as I keep saying “Deaconess ≠ Deacon” – do you not get this or are you actually an infiltrator from “ladypriestesses.org”?

    Your[sic] saying there is no share in the Sacrament of Holy Orders given to all Deacons, be they male or female…

    No, Jabba is saying that ordination to the diaconate is not the same thing (or even part of the same thing) as ordination to the priesthood. A man who has been ordained a deacon is no more a priest than Toad is (this is the point that your article from DC Priest is making: the diaconate is a thing in itself, not just a second-class form of priesthood).

    …and Raven wants there to be a share in said Sacrament allotted in the past to women though limited.

    No, wrong again.

  66. toadspittle says:

    “A man who has been ordained a deacon is no more a priest than Toad is”
    I say – steady on Raven!
    A joke’s a joke – but we are rapidly descending into pantomime, now..

  67. The Raven says:

    Father Toad has a certain ring to it?

  68. toadspittle says:

    Well yes, but, it doesn’t compare with Cardinal Sin.

  69. JabbaPapa says:

    P.S. Can you please also tell the Deacon we just had Ordained who is on his way to the Priesthood, that he has no share in the Priesthood

    Why on EARTH should I spout such Heresy ?

    I mean just for starters we are all, Catholics, Baptised Prophets, Kings, and Priests — so that all of us have a share in the Priesthood — in that of our High Priest the Lord Jesus at the most core degree of our Sacramental Graces and our Baptismal Anointment.

  70. JabbaPapa says:

    No-one is making a claim that this amounted to “ordination” as we would understand it in the Western Church.

    Actually, I am — but I’m also taking pains to point out that the “ordination” of the Ancient Deaconesses was unlike that of our contemporary Deacons in several respects, and in particular that the Ordination of our Deacons is open towards the Priesthood, whereas the Deaconesses were not, except to the extent that any Baptised Lay or Religious Catholic may be.

    Again — the question of the nature of the Initiatory degree that was recieved in the women’s Diaconate is IMO something that only a Pope or an Ecumenical Council would have the sufficient Authority to declare upon for a proper clarification of these confusing questions, and in particular because Lumen Gentium introduced some new Doctrines concerning the nature of the Diaconate that cannot be directly applied to the women’s Diaconate of Antiquity, because Lumen Gentium quite strictly reserves the Diaconate in its present state to men.

  71. JabbaPapa says:

    the diaconate is a thing in itself, not just a second-class form of priesthood

    EXACTLY

  72. ginnyfree says:

    Everyone: Head’s UP!

    PART TWO
    THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY
    SECTION TWO
    THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH

    CHAPTER THREE
    THE SACRAMENTS AT THE SERVICE OF COMMUNION

    ARTICLE 6
    THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY ORDERS

    1536 Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.

    (On the institution and mission of the apostolic ministry by Christ, see above, no. 874 ff. Here only the sacramental means by which this ministry is handed on will be treated.)

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c3a6.htm

    There ya go: Proof positive that when a man who is capable and approved of by the Church undergoes the Rite of Ordination to become a Deacon, he has an indelible mark placed upon his soul. It is a share in the Ordained Priesthood. It is at the lowest of three levels, the Bishop being the highest and the Priest being the man in the middle. But make no mistake, it is a share in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. He is Ordained and will have the mark of this Sacrament on his soul until the day he passes to his particular judgement and where it will either be his crown in Heaven or his shame in Hell. But he carries it into his particular eternity with him.

    God bless. Ginnyfree.

  73. JabbaPapa says:

    Everyone: Head’s UP!

    Oh please — you’re completely ignoring what people are *actually* saying, and instead trying to “educate” us in the basics as if we had failed to understand them.

  74. The Raven says:

    It includes three degrees: episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate.

    That’s three separate degrees, Ginny*. Your argument is like trying to say that being married to Helen Scott means that you are married to the rest of the Three Degrees.

    *In the traditional understanding there would be seven separate degrees: priests (because priest and bishop are but one degree), deacons, subdeacons, acolytes, exorcists, readers, and doorkeepers.

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