I read this a few days back and have been meaning to post it, but life kept getting in the way.
Peter Jesserer Smith of the National Catholic Register offers some interesting takes on women deacons and our Orthodox siblings:
Mirroring some of the debate that is ongoing in the Catholic Church, the role of the deaconess has been a live question over the course of the past century in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches.
“Right now, within the global Orthodox community, there’s a pretty fierce division about the question of the female diaconate,” explained Deacon Nicholas Denysenko, who is an Orthodox deacon and Emil and Elfriede Jochum Professor and Chair at Valparaiso University in Indiana. Deacon Denysenko told the Register that the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa and the Church of Greece are the only Eastern Orthodox Churches to have authorized a revival of the female diaconate in the past 20 years.
“If this happens among the Catholics, it would intensify the debate among the Orthodox,” he said.
Within the Latin Church, when it comes to the sacramental nature of deaconesses, there are two views in tension. The conclusion advanced by Sister Sara Butler, of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, author of The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church, is that when the early Church had ordained women, it ordained them to their own order of “deaconess” and not to the diaconal grade of holy orders. Others, such as Phyllis Zagano of Hofstra University, have argued that the Church ordained both men and women to the same diaconal order, while only men could be candidates for priestly ministry…
…Among the Orthodox communions, there is no consensus about calling the deaconess an “ordained” ministry. Even among the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, attempts to restore the ancient office have proceeded at different speeds.
The Armenian Apostolic Church has retained the deaconess, although the practice almost died out in the 20th century; men and women are ordained to the diaconate using the same rite, with both having functions of chanting the Gospel and serving in the Divine Liturgy.
Some Armenian dioceses are moving ahead with ordaining women to the diaconate, while others (such as in the U.S.) debate whether young girls should be admitted to acolyte or candle-bearer roles during the Divine Liturgy.
There’s much more. Check it out.