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Friday, December 16, 2011

Clarification on Ordination of Women....

To those who think that denying ordination to women is not doctrinal, whether it be deacon or priest, I offer the following for your consideration....

A) The Apostles restricted the diaconate to men only:  The office of deacon is created in Acts 6:1-6.  And the Apostles give clear instructions in Acts 6:3 — “brethren, select from among you seven men
of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put
in charge of this task.”  The seven chosen are all men: Stephen, Philip,
Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas (Acts 6:5).  That’s not a coincidence.

B) Scripture is clear that the diaconate is male-only: In addition to the above, St. Paul lays out the requirements for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8-13, and says things like “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity…” (1 Timothy 3:8).  If God wanted (or permitted) women to serve as deacons, then 1 Timothy 3 is wrong: it’s not required
for deacons to be men of dignity: they can be women of dignity, also.
 Obviously, we can’t conclude that Scripture was wrong, so it must be
the push for a female diaconate that’s wrong.

C) As I've mentioned before, the Greek word for deacon isn’t always a clerical title:  The Greek word here literally means servant or server.  That’s because the first job of the deacons involved the daily distribution of food to widows (Acts 6:1).  So when St. Paul refers to Phoebe as a diakonos, he might be calling her a deaconess of God, but he might also be calling her a servant of God.  There is no conclusive proof that diakonos is specifically a term for the ordained from antiquity.

D) There were deaconesses in the early Church:  Whatever St. Paul may have meant in Romans 16:1,
there’s no question that there were women referred to as deaconesses in
the early Church.  They were tasked with things like women’s adult
Baptisms (since Baptisms at that time were done in the nude).  But
what’s also clear is that they had different requirements than the requirements for deacons, and were considered part of the laity.  Once these sex-specific roles were no longer needed, the job of deaconess disappeared.

and finally,

E) The Council of Nicaea ended any controversy: Canon 19 of
the First Council of Nicaea (the same Council giving us the Nicene
Creed), said in relevant part: “Likewise in the case of their
deaconesses, and generally in the case of those who have been enrolled
among their clergy, let the same form be observed. And we mean
by deaconesses such as have assumed the habit, but who, since they have
no imposition of hands, are to be numbered only among the laity.”
 That’s incredibly clear. But just in case it wasn’t, the Church
addressed this issue in later Ecumenical and regional Councils, as well.

As you all can see, there is no basis from Sacred Scripture or from Tradition which support the idea of women as being ordained.  Yes, they held positions of service during a time of need.  But this wasn't incumbent upon imposition of hands, as Nicaea rightly points out.

While some will argue that there is nothing "doctrinal" about this, there doesn't need to be, although that has now been put definitively to bed with Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.  The Church through speaking through her Ordinary magisterium and through Sacred Scripture, then reaffirming through both teaching and practice through the centuries in a very clear and consistent manner have shown that the Church has no right to impose Sacred Orders on women.

This is not a belittling of women nor is it a form of discrimination.  This is a clear teaching of the faithful understanding their roles within the Church.  Clearly, from the two foundations of the Church; Scripture and Tradition, we have a clear teaching about the lack of necessary impotice for the ordination of women.  I'm sure that there will be a rebuttal, but I stand on Sacred Scripture and I stand on Tradition.  Women, while vital to the Church, not just in a temporally powerful way, but also in an example of meekness and humility of heart, were never meant for Sacred Orders.

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