Excommunicated women’s ordination advocates meet with official of Secretariat of State

It is possible that some wywympryst wannabes, representatives of the militant women’s association Women’s Ordination Worldwide (WOW), are supposed to meet with someone in the Vatican. Via Eponymous Flower and Katholisches.info.

I think most of these wymyn and those who aid them are excommunicated.  Rightly so.

This news should make everyone scratch their heads.  What is there to talk about other than “publicly renounce your theological errors and repent!”?

Moreover, I hope this reporting is accurate.  If it isn’t, these excommunicates will crow that the reporting got something wrong in order to discredit anyone who resists women’s ordination.

Come to think of it, that’s the same thing we have going with terrorists, right?  Think about it.   We have to get everything right all the time in order to keep the terrorists from fulfilling their nefarious aims.  Terrorists only have to get it right once.

“But Father! But Father!”, Fishwrap types will sputter in a rage, “How DARE you draw a moral equivalency between the promoters of women’s ordination and terrorists!   WE are the only ones who are permitted to make wild and unfounded accusations for the sake of smearing our opponents.  Besides… you hate VATICAN II!”

What I hate is obdurate denial of the truth of Ordinatio sacerdotalis.  What I hate is the scandal of persistent public dissent.

I also hate calumny and defamation.  But I digress.

I remind the readership that during his presser on the way back from Armenia (HERE) Pope Francis has slapped down hard the question about studying the issue of deaconettes (easier to say than “deaconesses”).

Cecile Chambraud (Le Monde): Asks a question about deaconesses.

Pope Francis: There is a president in Argentina who advised presidents of other countries: “When you want something not to be resolved, make a commission.” But, the first to be surprised by this news was me… The dialogue with religious was recorded and published on L’Osservatore Romano and something else… And we had heard that in the first centuries there were deaconesses. One could study this and one could make a commission. Nothing more has been requested. They were educated, not just educated, beloved of the Church. And I recounted that I knew a Syrian, a Syrian theologian who had died, the one who wrote a critical edition of Saint Ephrem, in Italian, and once speaking of deaconesses, when I came and was staying at Via della Scrofa, he lived there, at breakfast speaking…  but he did not know well if they had ordination. [On a personal note, I lived in that residence for years and I regularly ate lunch with this Syrian scholar.  We were on the same time table.  His name was Georges Gharib, an Archimandrite of the Greek-Melchite Church.  He was, above all, a Marian scholar as well as an expert on images of Christ.  He was the editor of the Byzantine version of the breviary.  The topic of “deaconesses” came up with the same Syrian scholar occasionally.  As it would. He said that, while he didn’t know for sure, he thought that they weren’t ordained, in the sense men were.  But this was not his major field of interest. By the way, I also had numerous meals with His Holiness at that same table when he, as a Cardinal, came from Buenos Aires.] Certainly there were these women who helped the bishop, and helped in three things: In the baptism of women, because there was the baptism of immersion; second, in the pre-baptismal unction for women, third – this makes me laugh –  when there was a woman who went to complain to the bishop because her husband beat her, the bishop called one of these deaconesses, who looked at the woman’s body to find bruises… this is why it was done for this. [Nothing about domestic abuse of women makes me laugh.  None of those functions requires ordination in the sacramental sense.  Furthermore, some of these women had the task of standing at the doors of churches, I suppose rather like porters or bouncers, in case there were those who demonstrated unlady-like behavior.]

But, one can study, if it is the doctrine of the Church and if one might create this commission. They said: “The Church opens the door to deaconesses.” Really? I am a bit angry because this is not telling the truth of things. I spoke with the prefect of the [Congregation for the] Doctrine of the Faith, and he told me, “look, there is a study which the international theological commission had made in 1980.” And I asked the president to please make a list.  [And there is the International Theological Commission’s study on Diaconate in 2002. More below.]

Give me a list of who I can take to create this commission. He sent me the list to create this commission, but I believe that the theme has been studied a lot, and I don’t think it will be difficult to shed light on this argument. …

The 2002 study of the ITC has quite a bit of text about women and the diaconate.  The ITC does not come right out and say definitely (as if they could) that women were or were not ordained in the same sense that men were, it strongly implies that they were not.  And there are some questions that remain which could be studied.  I don’t think any answers will be reached easily about them, but they could be studied, for a loooong time.  For example, what was meant by “ordain” in the context of the ancient church when it came to women in some sort of diaconal service? Did the verb mean “ordain” (as we know it now) or “bless” (as we know it now).  I think it meant “bless”.  Connected to this is question of whether the verb “ordain” meant the same thing for men as it did for women.  Also, when and where were these “blessings/ordinations” carried out?  It’s complicated.  Does it need more study?  Maybe, but I don’t think it’ll get very far.

If such a commission is ever assembled, serious scholars will be needed and not ideological hacks.

If you want to know more, read Deaconesses: An Historical Study by Aime G Martimort. UK HERE  It is the best thing available right now.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. vetusta ecclesia says:

    A parallel from the pre VII church might be the abbatial blessing which had many aspects mirroring episcopal consecration but did not confer orders.

  2. mike cliffson says:

    Anybody up to the simple task of fastforwarding to about 3800 ad and making a spoof simimilar etc involving vague memories of extraordinary ministers of holy communion?

  3. Augustine says:

    We have subdeacons in the Maronite Church. They are first ordained lectors, then cantors, then incense holders. But their ordination does not make them clergymen, at least not in the same sense as bishops, priests and deacons are clergymen. Perhaps the Latin Church’s doing away with the minor orders encumbers its understanding of what kind ordination women may have received in the past.

  4. hwriggles4 says:

    Here is one point I rarely hear mentioned in Catholic circles:

    Many of our Protestant bretheren have deacons, and one Lutheran church I know of had a deaconess. My perception and intuition is many of these Protestant deacons (i.e. Baptist, Presbyterian, non-denominational, etc.) are members of their respective congregation who have been leaders in faith formation (i.e. Bible Study, Youth Fellowship, Committees, etc.) and have been given the title of “deacon”, “deaconess”, “elder”, or “lay pastor” by the Protestant minister who is the pastor of their respective congregation.

    That said, provided by perception is correct, being a Catholic permanent deacon is much different than deacons in the mainline Protestant religions. A Catholic permanent deacon has quite a bit more formal preparation for the diaconate, like attending classes for many years on various weekends, and few people remember that when a Catholic man is in formation for the diaconate, his wife has to attend many classes with him, and the wife has to formally approve that her husband is going through formation. This is one reason (at least in my diocese as well as neighboring dioceses) many of those in the diaconate are “empty nesters”, and some have been able to retire early from their 9-to-5 job, so there are many permanent deacons who are 55+. It is really difficult for a permanent deacon to juggle family responsibilities along with a 9-to-5 job, particularly if the children are under 21.

  5. un-ionized says:

    Hwriggles4, You are right about deacons in both traditions. The Methodist church had a more rigorous formation for deaconesses at one time. I knew one very well, her pastor husband had died very young and she was ordained (that’s the word they used) a deaconess and went to work as a lab technician in a hospital in Alaska, in a place where you are pretty much there for the entire winter. Her salary came from the denomination as it was a charity job. She was very interesting to talk to. We called her our safari woman.

  6. un-ionized says:

    There is or was a Methodist hospital in Boston called New England Deaconess.

  7. un-ionized says:

    I just refreshed my memory from my book on Methodist polity. The person who referred to my friend as ordained was wrong, she wasn’t ordained she was appointed.

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