Anchoress on Deaconesses…

There is an interesting – very interesting – story in this month’s issue of America Magazine (only available by subscription, sorry).

‘Grant Her Your Spirit’
By Phyllis Zagano

The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece voted in Athens on Oct. 8, 2004, to restore the female diaconate. All the members of the Holy Synod-125 metropolitans and bishops and Archbishop Christodoulos, the head of the church of Greece-had considered the topic. The decision does not directly affect the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which is an eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople…

I can’t reprint the whole thing here – it’s copyrighted – but this is a very interesting development, and something that is going to be a big story in the Catholic Church. The article does discuss a fine distinction that may or may not have relevance to the whole issue within the RC church, concerning the words cheirotonia, or ordination to major orders, and cheirothesia, a blessing for installation to a minor order.

Whatever. Rome moves very slowly on pretty much everything, so I’m going to go make supper! :-)

The prayer is kinda nice, though.

Prayer for the Ordination of a Woman Deacon
O Eternal God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of man and of woman, who replenished with the Spirit Miriam, and Deborah, and Anna, and Huldah; who did not disdain that your only-begotten Son should be born of a woman; who also in the tabernacle of the testimony, and in the temple, did ordain women to be keepers of your holy gates-look down now upon this your servant who is to be ordained to the office of a deaconess, and grant her your Holy Spirit, that she may worthily discharge the work which is committed to her to your glory, and the praise of your Christ, with whom glory and adoration be to you and the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.”
-Apostolic Constitutions, No. 8 (late fourth century)

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  • Phyllis Zagano

    This comment presents an unfortunate attitude. The diaconate and the priesthood are separate vocations. My work considers the restoration of the female diaconate in the Catholic Church (I have a book entitled “Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church”), which I believe is intrinsic to the Church’s survival in the 21st century. The deacon is ordained to the ministry, not to the priesthood, and the world is dearly in need of ministry now. It is not a question of “look[ing] at the diaconate before demanding the rest.” There is no “rest”. Priesthood is absolutely distinct, and the lines are blurred because priests (and bishops) are ordained deacons first.