busted halo annual campaign
Busted Halo
googling god
The Busted Halo Question Box
Ask our spiritual experts virtually anything!
This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

Have your own question? Then pitch it to us!

Caitlin Kennell Kim
Mary
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Bible
Mike Hayes
Swingman/Editor
 
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
Our readers asked:

Isn’t there some scriptural evidence that women served as Deacons in the early church?

Joe Paprocki Answers:

What we find in the New Testament is a reference to a woman named Phoebe as “minister of the church at Cenchreae” (Romans 16:1) The Greek word used here for minister is diakonos which means servants, attendants, or ministers. St. Paul used the word to refer to himself on occasion as he did in 2 Cor 6:4 (“ministers of God”) and 2 Cor 11:23 (“ministers of God”). It is not at all clear, however, that this had been established as an ecclesiastical role in the church at that time.

On the other hand, it is very clear in Paul’s First Letter to Timothy (3:8, 12) that the word deacon referred to an established office of the church’s hierarchy to which one was ordained. Thus, because we do not know what the precise functions were of those like Phoebe who are referred to with the word diakonos, we cannot assume that they were part of the ordained hierarchy of the church. Speaking of the role of women in the Church and specifically of Phoebe, Pope Benedict XVI said, “Although at that time the title had not yet acquired a specific ministerial value of a hierarchical kind, it expresses a true and proper exercise of responsibility on the part of this woman for this Christian community.” (General Audience, Wednesday, February 1, 2007). While there is no evidence that ministers of the church such as Phoebe served liturgically, it is believed that, for proprietary reasons, they assisted during the baptisms of women since catechumens were baptized in the nude. Thus, when adult baptisms diminished in favor of infant baptisms after the first few centuries of the Church, the role of the “deaconess” eventually vanished.

 
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailfacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
The Author : Joe Paprocki
Joe Paprocki, D.Min., is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press in Chicago. He has over 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joe is the author of numerous books on pastoral ministry and catechesis, including The Bible Blueprint, Living the Mass, and bestsellers The Catechist's Toolbox and A Well-Built Faith (all from Loyola Press).
See more articles by (67).
Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
powered by the Paulists