Joe asked:

I read this article which stated it’s time for women to become deacons. Some of the argument is based on scripture. Can you address this?

Patrick Madrid replied:

"I’m familiar with the argument. It’s based upon a semantic ambiguity in the word deaconess as it appears in the new testament ... [Read the book Deaconesses an Historical Study] ... If you get this book published by Ignatius Press he will go through the historical basis for the fact that yes indeed there were deaconesses in the early Church. But the early Church fathers, everyone who comments on this point including people like Origin, they point out and some in fact emphasize the fact that they were not ordained to Holy Orders. They did not receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. They were called deaconesses because there was no other term ... that was in use at that time than deaconess so that’s what they were referred to. But those early Christian writers make a special point of saying ... that hands were not laid on them for ordination. They did not receive the sacrament of Holy Orders and they were not regarded as being deacons in the sense that the male deacons were, who were at the first level of Holy Orders ...

Your point about Pope John Paul II is well put in that he did emphasize the Chruch’s perennial teaching that the sacrament of Holy Orders is reserved to men alone. Now this is not intended to be mean spirited toward women, or to do anything other than simply say that the nature of the sacrament of Holy Orders requires masculinity for a valid ordination ... That would include the ordination to the diaconate which is the lowest of the three levels of Holy Orders. So the fact that there were deaconesses in the early church is not disputed ... but they function more in the capacity as we would understand for example religious sisters today ..."


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2013)

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Show air date: September 17, 2013

Name of show: Open Forum

Guest comments by: Patrick Madrid

Question appeared in show: 18:39

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