Monday, September 20, 2010

From FB: ‘At one point in history the church had deaconesses, but this ministry has appeared to fall by the wayside’
There’s some wiggle room for opinion in Catholicism (east and west: the commenter is Orthodox) on that, which is why some Anglo-Catholics (the late Mgr Graham Leonard when he was Anglican Bishop of London) conceded on it and ordained women deacons.

Lutherans and Anglicans since the 1800s have had deaconesses who essentially were nuns, habits, ‘Sister Name’ and all, minus Anglo-Catholicism’s fine Roman Catholic trappings.

(I used to know a former Lutheran one; they founded and used to run Lankenau Hospital, originally the German Hospital, and their motherhouse is still in Gladwyne. They don’t wear habits any more. I think the Blue Nun wine label is actually of a German Lutheran deaconess. The little APA denomination has them too, as well as a small order of nuns: basically 1950s Episcopal style. I don’t think the Episcopalians still have the deaconesses now that women can be Episcopal priests. [Clarified after Fr Wells’ comment.]

BTW she was assigned to one of Philly’s Lutheran churches, conservative — they had a service in German — and high-church — they called it Mass. The former pastor has long been an Orthodox priest, originally an English Missal WRO but he switched when immigration changed the parish.)

The argument is whether that’s what deaconesses were or if they were women deacons in holy orders. Some say that Greece now has women deacons but only in convents.

BTW there’s a traditional order of cloistered, eremitic RC nuns (like Carthusian monks) who when they’re professed wear the deacon’s stole and chant the gospel (the idea being that the nun alone in her cell reads the prayers of the Mass — the ‘dry Mass’ like male hermit monks — but of course doesn’t celebrate Mass?).

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