Deacons in NCR

The National Catholic Reporter has just published a special section devoted to deacons, and Your Humble Blogger (and wife) make an appearance.

Much more interesting, though, is “A Letter to a Newly Ordained Deacon” by Bill Ditewig — and some thoughts on women deacons by Phyllis Zagano.  All that’s just for starters.

Check it all out right here.

Comments

  1. Deacon Greg Kandra. Deacon Bill Ditewigh. Phyllis Zagano. What is not to like about this? Can’t wait to read it. I am interested in Phyllis’ work especially, given my own seemingly clear call to the diaconate. God have mercy and pray for us all.

  2. Dcn. Richard says:

    Although an interesting read, Phyllis Zagano’s piece about the possibility of “ordaining” women to the diaconate overlooks a great deal of evidence that supports the contrary position. When the ministry of deaconesses (deaconesses, mind you, NOT female deacons!) was suppressed in the early Church, the ecumenical Council of Nicea infallibly stated that the women who had served as deaconesses were not clergy, did not share in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and were not “ordained” according to the sacramental understanding of that term. See the following for a clear explanation:

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2006/09/st-phoebe-the-deaconess-in-romans-16/

  3. Infallibly? @Dcn. Richard, I could be very wrong, but I am not sure that that is the correct application of any infallibility.

  4. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Fran & Dcn. Richard …

    There’s more on the subject at this link.

    Dcn. G.

  5. Dcn. Richard says:

    Fran, what I had in mind is the following (from the Catechism of the Catholic Church):

    891 “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. . . . The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium,” above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine “for belief as being divinely revealed,” and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.” This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.

  6. I would like to weigh in on the deaconess issue but I have to say that I have no personal agenda here.

    With respect to the ordination of deaconesses in the early church, I does seem to me that citing Canon 19 of the Council of Nicaea is not sufficient evidence for showing that women were not ordained as deaconesses in the early church.

    The following sentences of Canon 19 come at the end of a canon that requires the reordination of clergy who were members of a heretical sect in Syria:

    “Similarly with regard to deaconesses and all in general whose names have been included in the roll, the same form shall be observed. We refer to deaconesses who have been granted this status, for they do not receive any imposition of hands, so that they are in all respects to be numbered among the laity.”

    Although the interpretation of this part of the canon is controversial, one could interpret it in the following way: Since the deaconesses had not received the imposition of hands as members of the heretical group, they were coming into the church as members of the laity. Thus, there was no need reimpose the laying on of hands.

    As to the infallibility of these 20 canons (not the formal proclamation of the Nicene Creed, look at Canon 20 of the Council of Nicaea.

    “Since there are some who kneel on Sunday and during the season of Pentecost, this holy synod decrees that, so that the same observances may be maintained in every diocese, one should offer one’s prayers to the Lord standing.”

    Also, we have to mention Canon XV of the Council of Chalcedon:

    “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.”

    (N.B. So, there was a requirement of celibacy for the female deaconate!)

    Here is another discussion of the issue that I have used in my study of this issue: “A Rose by Any Other Name” by David L. Alexander

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/liturgy/aroseby.txt

  7. @Dcn Greg, thanks for the link. I remember that post/thread and participated in it. I appreciate the reminder.

    @Dcn Richard, thanks for the context. I was referring to the dogma of papal infallibility.

  8. You read the National Catholic Reporter ?

    [Joe...when they write about me, yeah. :-) Dcn. G]

  9. I read the NCR even though they’ve NEVER written anything about me.

    Seriously, I think that it is important to read blogs, periodicals, news papers, and books that we think have ideas with which we may not agree. It helps clarify our own thinking. Sometimes, we can be surprised to find that we are deep down on the same page.

    Most importantly, from my point of view, it helps me to understand why people think the way they do. Some very committed Catholics have perspectives that I do not agree with. However, I usually drop out when people get nasty, which for me is an indication that their reasoning is a bit shaky.

  10. I’ve just come upon this string–and am amazed at the assertion that any notion of “infallibility” is attached–one way or the other–to the question of women deacons. The most recent official comment from Rome, by the International Theological Commission, clearly states the question remains open. Women deacons exsited in the West at least until the 12th century–or at least there is evidence of papal letters giving bishops the right to ordain women deacons. More recently, Pope Benedict XVI has issued a motu proprio that celarly distinguishes priest/bishop from deacon. I can see from some of the comments the Holy Father has a lot of educating to do!

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