"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Female Deacons in the East

Nearly twenty years ago now the late Pope John Paul II declared that the question of the presbyteral ordination of women was an officially closed question, but that did not touch the question of diaconal ordination, for which, as several reputable Eastern Christian historians have repeatedly provided evidence, we have a good deal of proof in the first millennium. A short new book, to be published at the end of this month, reviews some of that evidence for us: Phyllis Zagano, ed., Ordination of Women to the Diaconate in the Eastern Churches: Essays by Cipriano Vagaggini (Michael Glazier, 2014), 64pp.

About this book we are told:
The question of restoring women to the ordained diaconate surfaced during the Second Vatican Council and continued to resound in academic and pastoral circles well after Pope Paul VI restored the diaconate as a permanent state for the church in the West in 1967. Available for the first time in English, these two documents by Cipriano Vagaggini, OSB. Cam., on the historical details of women ordained as deacons in the Greek and Byzantine traditions demonstrate that women were sacramentally ordained to the major order of deacon over the course of many centuries in many parts of the Greek and Byzantine East. Vagaggini introduces the conclusions to his study by noting that "in Christian antiquity there were different beliefs and tendencies distinguishing between ministry and ministry, ordination and ordination, with regard to the nature and significance of the respective orders or ranks."

1 comment:

  1. Not having read the book, I have to wonder - is this another case where Father Vagaggini makes an assumption based on faulty interpretation of the data. his book ,the Canon of the Mass and Liturgical Reform (1966) is based on the premise (which has no logical support, but is based on an opinion) that the Roman Canon is defective and therefore we need to replace it or provide new Eucharistic anaphoras. Vagaggini wrote Eucharist Prayers III and IV (the early draft of which are found in this book) for the Roman RIte as a result. Consequenlty, I am suspicious that this book will be starting from the same faulty foundation.


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