Re: Вопрос второй|
Анна, православная христианка, РПЦ МП - 16:37 09.10.2003
(3) There is, however, one form of the ordained ministry to which women are certainly called, and that is the ministry of deaconesses. The members of the Agapia Consultation pleaded for a ‘reactivation’ of this ancient order, which in the Orthodox Church has fallen into disuse since the twelfth century.(50) They spoke of the ministry of the deaconess as a ‘life-time commitment to full vocational service in the Church ... an extension of the sacramental life of the Church into the life of society’.(51) Already, in the Russian Church before the Revolution, there were several schemes for a full restoration of the order of deaconesses, although in the end nothing was done.(52) Since 1952 the Church of Greece has had a School for Deaconesses—the present building was opened in 1957—but the members are not actually ordained. I am told, however, that ordained deaconesses exist within the Coptic Church of Egypt.
There is a difference of opinion among contemporary Orthodox as to the exact status of deaconesses in the early Church. Some regard them as essentially a ‘lay’ and not an ‘ordained’ ministry.(53) But others point out that the liturgical rite for the laying-on of hands received by deaconesses is exactly parallel to that for deacons: this implies that deaconesses receive, as deacons do, a genuine sacramental ordination—not just a cheirothesia but a cheirotonia.(54) All Orthodox are agreed, however, that there is a sharp distinction between the diaconate and the priesthood. The deacon, and a fortiori the deaconess, cannot perform the consecration at the Eucharist, cannot bless the people, and in general does not act as a liturgical icon of Christ. There is a special funeral office for priests, but when a deacon dies the burial service is the same as for a layman. The existence of deaconesses within the Church is thus in no sense a justification for women priests. As the Agapia Consultation insisted, ‘The office of deaconess is distinct and not new, nor can it be considered as a "first step" to the ordained priesthood.’(55)