More on Deaconesses
Nearly two months after Pope Francis instituted a commission to study women and the diaconate, L’Osservatore Romano has published an article on deaconesses and the early Church.

Carlo Carletti, an archaeology professor at the University of Bari, said that the starting point for any examination of the topic is Romans 16:1, in which St. Paul refers to “our sister Phoebe, a deaconess.”

Of the 30 inscriptions that refer to deaconesses, said Carletti, 25 have been found in Asia Minor (in modern-day Turkey).

Carletti attributes this geopraphical concentration to the legacy of St. Paul, who included women in his missionary activity. In the West, on the other hand, “the diaconal ministry … remained constantly a male prerogative.”
The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an article by Carlo Carletti today which could inadvertently lead even the elect astray (cf. Mt 24:24, Mk 13:22). A professor of archeology, Carletti wrote that Pope Francis’ study of women in the diaconate should begin with St. Paul who, in Romans 16:1, referred to “our sister Phoebe, a deaconess”.

Unfortunately, there is not much to study there. The terms used to designate different functions and positions within the Church were initially very fluid. Titles such as apostle, prophet, teacher, bishop, presbyter, elder, and deacon were used in different ways in different regions. Terminology did not begin to settle into a uniform pattern until the second century, and even then regional differences were common.

In other words, Carletti’s claim that St. Paul included women in his ministry in the East, in contrast to the practice in the West, depends on the faulty assumption that terminology was used consistently. The question at issue is not whether women played important roles in the Catholic community from the first (they did, everywhere, beginning with Christ himself). The question is whether women ever received the sacrament of orders. Since the term “deacon” means “servant”, it was widely used to designate those who voluntarily devoted themselves to serving the members of the Church in a variety of different ways. But there is no evidence that any of the women referred to as deacons or deaconesses were ever ordained.

Felix Just, SJ, indicates the fluidity of the early use of the terms in a brief survey online. It is also worth noting that the subject of the ordination of women to the diaconate has been studied innumerable times over the past four hundred years. Many regard the historical work of Aimé George Martimort, published by Ignatius Press in 1986, to be definitive. And then there is the theological examination of the question by Gerhard Müller, the current head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, published in 2002. (See Amazon links below.) There does not appear to be any new evidence from which the Church could reach a different conclusion.
Leaving out the doctrinal issues, whenever I see a female protestant minister dressed in liturgical type garb, I think it looks absolutely ridiculous.
(10-03-2016, 08:54 AM)GangGreen Wrote: Leaving out the doctrinal issues, whenever I see a female protestant minister dressed in liturgical type garb, I think it looks absolutely ridiculous.

I agree, I just couldn't bare the sight of seeing a female up at the altar dressed similar to the priest. I hope that the commission set up by Pope Francis mirrors the one set up by Pope John XXII on the dead not seeing the beatific vision until the resurrection of Christ. Pope John XXII did repent of the heresy before he died, so I hope Pope Francis will do the same.

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