Home Forums All Things Catholic Women Priests and Deaconesses Reply To: Women Priests and Deaconesses


With regard to the position of deaconess in the early Church. All but a few liberal historians and theologians agree that the deaconess was not a part of Holy Orders, nor was it utilized in any liturgical functions except for accompaning the deacon or priest who went to a sick woman’s side for anionting or communion, and assisting the bishop when baptizing, as the newly baptized woman who was anointed with oil and then changed into a white garment could not be fully anointed by the bishop or be in the room where she changed her clothing without scandal. While they assisted the bishops, priests and deacons, they were not admitted to orders.

We have to also recall the title diakonos means helper, or assistant. It is derived from a secular word. The deacon in the Church has always been in Holy Orders, the deaconess, which survived longer among Eastern Catholics, and I’m guessing was re-instituted in the West, although I’d like you to post where it was revived, as I’ve not read about it, has never been admitted to Holy Orders.

Before Vatican II aside from an Altar Society, member, or the bride and bridal party women did not normally enter the sanctuary. Women sometimes rang the bells and made the responses, passed the paten from one to the next but all outside the altar rail if there were no males to serve a priest at the altar. The priest kept the cruets on the gradine or the mensa as he did not have a server in the sanctuary.

While I don’t have a say in what the Vatican approves regarding female acolytes, it is within the scope of the authority of the Holy See to permit such things. That it may have started as an abuse somewhere is not the issue, a sad fact perhaps, but the Holy See has every right to make these modifications.