An appeal, partly based on the Didascalia apostolorum, for the ordination (again?) of women as deacons in the Roman Catholic Church

I note with interest the letter of the Wijngaards Theological Institute to the Bishop of Rome appealing for the ordination of women as deacons in the Roman Church. http://www.wijngaardsinstitute.com/documented-appeal-reinstatement-ordained-women-deacons/

As an Anglican it would be entirely inappropriate publically to comment on what is an internal matter for the Roman church, and as a schismatic presbyter I am hardly in a position to offer any advice to the most senior bishop in the west. However, as an historian, I may note that the Didascalia apostolorum is employed in the evidentiary base offered as a dossier in support of the appeal. Indeed, the translation employed is mine. In this light I may point out my belief that the reason for the institution in the circles of the Didascalia is less what the Didascalist says that it is (namely that “there are houses where you can not send a deacon to the women because of the pagans but you can send a deaconess”) but that this institution brought powerful women under episcopal control.

I don’t know whether Bishop Bergoglio is an enthusiast for the ancient church orders (I don’t recall seeing the Vatican appearing on the stats for the blog) but should he be one of my readers he may care to note DA 3.5.4-3.6.2, and point out to the Wiijngardians that the witness of the church orders is never so straightforward:

For neither a widow nor a layman should speak with regard to punishment, and the rest, and the Kingdom of the name of Christ, and the divine plan, for when they speak without knowledge of doctrine they blaspheme the word. For our Lord compared the word of his message to mustard; mustard is bitter and sharp for those who employ it if it is not prepared with skill. For this reason our Lord said in the Gospel to widows and to all the laity: ‘Do not cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample on them and turn against you and tear you up. When the gentiles hear the word of God, but not spoken with clarity, as it should be, to build up for everlasting life, and particularly when a woman speaks of the incarnation and suffering of Christ, they shall sneer and scoff, rather than glorifying the word of the old woman, and she shall be subject to a harsh judgement for her sin. For the Lord says: ‘When words are many, sin is not absent.’ Thus it is neither fitting nor necessary that a woman should teach, in particular about the name of the Lord and the redemption of his passion. For you women, and especially widows, are not appointed to teach but solely to pray and beseech the Lord God.

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2 Comments

Filed under Didascalia Apostolorum

2 responses to “An appeal, partly based on the Didascalia apostolorum, for the ordination (again?) of women as deacons in the Roman Catholic Church

  1. I am confused: Your quotation at the end is certainly not in support of the reclamation of the ancient practice of ordaining women. What are you saying here?

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  2. As to the reclamation of ancient practice I am saying nothing. I am, however, saying firstly what I have said elsewhere at greater length, namely that the DA encourages the ordination of women to diaconal order not to empower them but to disempower them. As a corollary of that, I am suggesting that to employ DA in support of an argument within a contemporary Christian church is at best dangerous and at worst illegitimate.

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