Deaconesses, Female Deacons, and the Agenda of the St. Phoebe Center

St. Phoebe, the Deaconess St. Phoebe, the Deaconess On February 2nd, 2024, Ancient Faith Radio held a discussion about deaconesses, which was a documentary by John Maddox, interspersed with discussions between Fr. Thomas Soroka and John Maddox, and which eventually included callers, included me, among a few others.

There are a number of people whose opinions I respect who thought that the discussion was giving a platform to feminists with an agenda. Personally, I thought it was a mostly useful show, and found the full unedited interviews that John Maddox did with the various guest on the documentary to be even more revealing. Some of the interviews were more interesting than others, but in the description box on YouTube, you can select which interview you want to listen to, which makes navigating this more than 10-hour compilation manageable.

This show reminded me of the kind of shows that Kevin Allen (of blessed memory) used to do on AFR. The only difference being that he probably would have had Fr. Patrick Mitchell on with someone from the Phoebe Center for Deaconesses, and would have moderated an informal debate designed to let people hear how the two sides compare with each other.

I think both the shorter show and the full-length interviews make a very strong case against the push for deaconesses, and apparently the Phoebe Center for Deaconesses thought so too, because no sooner was the show over than they were claiming to have been victimized by the show, and the discussions which it sparked.

What Complicates This Discussion

There are several questions that complicate this discussion: 1. What were deaconesses, and how did they function? 2. If the office was restored, what would that look like? 3. Why did they cease to be a living part of the life of the Church, and should that office be restored? 4. Is there an agenda behind the push to restore deaconesses? So, let’s take a look at each of these questions:

1. What were deaconesses, and how did they function?

We know that deaconesses were celibate women, forty years old and above. They eventually became associated with female monasticism. They certainly assisted with the baptism of women adult converts—because the practice of the early Church was to baptize everyone in the nude, and obviously this required that adult women be baptized outside of the viewing of men. So, while a priest said the words of the baptism from behind a screen, a deaconess performed all of the functions, such as the anointing with oil, the triple immersion, the robing, the chrismation, and the tonsuring.

In addition to this, we know deaconesses took communion to women who were sick. They also maintained order on the side of the Church in which women were praying during the services. They also, at least in some places, formed a choir and sang parts of the services, antiphonally, with the male choir.

There is some debate about whether deaconesses qualified as minor clergy (analogous to readers and subdeacons), or whether they were part of the major orders of clergy (such as deacons, priests, and bishops). There is some good evidence that they were classed closely with deacons, in terms of rank, but this may or may not have been how they were viewed from the beginning, and in various places.

2. If the office were to be restored, what would that look like?

Without question, deaconesses did not function in the same way as male deacons. This is a key point upon which much confusion arises, because people like the folks at the Phoebe Center are pushing for deaconesses to be ordained on the same basis as male deacons—and so with the same age limit of twenty-five and older, no requirement for celibacy, and the same liturgical functions as male deacons. The problem with this is that this is not restoring the ancient order of deaconesses—this is the establishment of something entirely different. Were they actually calling for the restoration of deaconesses as they once existed in the Church, there would be a lot less controversy on this subject. But speaking of “restoring” deaconesses while actually promoting the introduction of something novel is not accidental sloppiness—it is a marketing strategy.

In the discussion on this issue, someone pointed out that the Phoebe Center was engaging in the “Motte-and-bailey fallacy.” This occurs when someone conflates two positions that share some similarities—one which is more easily defensible, and one which is not—and then go back and forth between these two conflated positions, depending on their need to retreat to the more defensible position, or their desire to push the indefensible position. I think this was an insightful observation. When people attack their push for women to function as male deacons, they appeal to the evidence for the ancient order of deaconesses, without ever actually engaging the merits of the criticisms of their far less defensible agenda.

3. Why did they cease to be a living part of the life of the Church, and should that office be restored?

It seems to me that the decline in adult conversions and thus the lack of need for deaconesses to fulfil this most important role was the biggest factor in the decline and eventual disappearance of deaconesses. The fact that they ceased to exist very early on in the Western Church was probably also a factor. I think it ultimately doesn’t matter so much why this happened as it does, as that it did in fact happen. That this order ceased to exist is good evidence that it was no longer needed by the Church, and so those arguing for the restoration of deaconesses have the burden of proof that there is a need for it now. But again, if they were actually talking about restoring deaconesses as they once actually were, it would not be that controversial.

For example, about an hour from Houston, there is a Greek convent. The abbess is a very holy woman, and were she made a deaconess, I certainly would have no reason to object. But the fact is, as an abbess, she already can function pretty much as a deaconess use to function. She cannot now commune in the altar, but she can do pretty much everything else. Even bringing communion to other nuns could be done when there was a need (such as when no priest is available because of the isolation of the convent), with the blessing of her bishop.

I have not asked the abbess for her opinion on this question, but I suspect that if I did, she would not be in favor of restoring deaconesses. I say this because when you look at who is pushing for restoring deaconesses, they are almost always academics.1 Serious and experienced monastics that are vocally supporting the restoration of deaconesses are as scarce as hens’ teeth.

4. Is there an agenda behind the push to restore deaconesses?

The evidence that those pushing the “restoration” of deaconesses have an agenda was made very clear if you listened closely to the full interviews. This is seen by the fact that they conflate restoring deaconesses as they once were with introducing women deaconesses that function like male deacons, but that is far from the only evidence.

John Maddex made a point of asking each of the advocates for “restoring” deaconesses whether or not they would agree that women should never be ordained as priests and bishops, and without exception, they all either dodged the question, or eventually acknowledged that this “could” happen, since “women deacons would inevitably lead to a conversation about ordaining women priests.” John pressed for them to affirm they were not going to go on to push the ordination of women priests and bishops, because he pointed out that if they took the position that this was impossible, this would relieve a lot of the concerns people have on this issue. But not one of them was willing to provide any such assurance, and that is clearly because they have no intention of stopping with women deacons. You will hear the same question being asked, and the same essential answer in the interviews with Dr. Carrie Frederick Frost, Dr. Valerie Karras, and Dr. Helen Theodoropolous. In each case, this question comes close to the end of the interview. In fact, if you compare all three interviews, they all answer controversial questions in ways so similar that it sounds like they all have agreed upon talking points.

You can see the sleight of hand at work on the Phoebe Center website. They have a FAQ page, and one of the questions is, “Does the St. Phoebe Center promote the ordination of women to the priesthood (i.e. the episcopos or presbytery)?” And the answer provided is, “No, ordination of women to those offices is not part of the Orthodox Christian Tradition and the St. Phoebe Center does not promote this.” This answer at first glance sounds like they are opposed to the ordination of women as priests and bishops, but they are careful to not say that. They say it is not part of our tradition... But that doesn’t mean they think it is impossible, because if they did think that, they wouldn’t refuse to say so. All they say is that “the Phoebe Center does not promote this.” But that is because it is part of their talking point strategy. In fact, Dr. James Skedros of Holy Cross Seminary (who did not seem to be an enthusiastic advocate for the “restoration” of deaconesses, but he certainly is not opposed to it, and he has been involved in Phoebe Center discussions on this issue), said that those advocating the “restoration” of deaconesses “recognize [the need] not even to bring up the topic” of ordaining women as priests. It is important to note that this is merely a marketing strategy, and has nothing to do with taking a principled position, being honest, seeking the Truth, or striving to be faithful to the Orthodox Tradition.

Of the interviews of those who best opposed ordaining women deacons, I would recommend listening to Dr. Edith M. Humphrey, Presbytera Dr. Eugenia Constantinou, Khouriah Frederica Mathews-Green, and Dr. Mary Ford.

My Part in this Discussion

I did not intend to call in to this show, but in the chat discussions on YouTube, there were many people who said that AFR should have me on to discuss the issue. Eventually, Fr. Thomas Soroka asked me to call in—he even sent me a private message. So I did call in. You can listen to my call here, but we got cut off, and I had to call back in twice.

In my call, I began by pointing out the dishonest use of the phrase “restoration” with relation to what they are promoting, when in fact, they are promoting something entirely different from a restoration. At the end of my call, I made a comment that the Phoebe Center folks took exception to, and claimed I was somehow unfit for the ears of women to hear. AFR eventually edited my comments, in a likely vain effort to make the folks at the Phoebe Center happy, but you can listen to the unedited comments by clicking here. This is what I said without editing:

“One other thing I would say quickly about the Phoebe Center, is they say, well, we’re not pushing for women priests, we’re only talking about deaconesses, and I’m very tempted to use a very crass reference to what guys often try to do to pressure women when they’re out in the back seat of a car, but you know, you say I just want to go this far, but no further, but once you get there, then what happens? I don’t trust that kind of an argument. I don’t think that is where they want to stop, and some of them have openly advocated for women being ordained as priests. We’ve seen this before. The slippery slope is a real thing, when you have people who intentionally grease it, and we just need to be really on guard.”

When I said that I was “tempted to use a very crass reference,” what I in fact went on to say was not the crass reference I was tempted to use. I instead toned it down to keep it acceptable for mixed company. Pretty much everyone above the age of fifteen knows what I was talking about, and anyone under that age was not likely listening anyway. I think it is an apt analogy. The point is, like the guy in the back seat of a car, they know that saying what they really want is not going to get the desired result, and so ask for something short of that... with every intention of pushing to go beyond that point once they get there. It is obvious that they really want women priests and women bishops, but they know saying so plainly would get them nowhere.

The faux outrage over what I said is especially rich given that many of those expressing that outrage are also are pushing the LGBTQP agenda and would never object to that agenda being pushed on kids in school, nor would you likely hear them expressing outrage over gay pride parades in which men expose themselves to children and engage in lewd public acts in their presence.

If I had been able to hear Dr. Edith Humphries interview before I called in, I might have simply referred to this a “sleight of hand” tactic as she did, so that they would not then be able to avoid dealing with the substance of my criticisms, and instead deflect attention by clutching their pearls, and by unironically appealing to pre-feminist notions that women are too fragile to hear such things said.

Before my call, there was a young woman who called in and who said that God had called her to be a deaconess, and asked what she should do about it. Fr. Thomas Soroka’s answer was very pastoral, but he did not say that she should be made a deaconess in the end. And so somehow this very pastoral answer was later referred to as being unkind. The woman who called in has published articles on this subject, and when you put your thoughts out there publicly, people do have a right to express contrary opinions. Also, when you claim God has told you something, people also have a right to question whether this was really God, or just symptoms of self-deception. There were people who made some unkind comments elsewhere about her. I certainly don’t defend being unnecessarily harsh with anyone. But the faux outrage that was expressed in this case was another example of having a double standard. You can’t contend that women are so strong and tough that they can do anything a man can do, while at the same time act as if anyone who contradicts a woman and makes her feel bad is a “big fat meany!” One of these two views may be a correct way to view women, but both cannot be true in the same universe.

In any case, here is what I have to say on the subject in a forum in which I have more time to lay out the case:

Now if the folks at the Phoebe Center actually agree that women can never be ordained as priests or bishops, because this would be an unthinkable violation of the Orthodox Tradition, I will gladly make a public apology in response. But I won’t be holding my breath in the meantime. They won’t say that, because clearly that is where they want to go next, and “restoring” deaconesses is a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

See also:

Sister Vassa on the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood

Stump the Priest: Altar Girls?

Stump the Priest: The Churching of Boys vs. the Churching of Girls

Nina 6/7/2024 1:43 am
I’ve enjoyed reading the calm and thoughtful responses of Michelle and Joseph, thank you.
Tony Clifton6/6/2024 2:53 am
Our friend Panagiotis, he is a true ORTHODOX brother and a straight shooter. Finally somebody here tells it like it is. We wouldn't be in this awful mess today, except that Eve unleashed her feminist evil on the world. It all goes back to Eve! The last thing we need are women in the altar unleashing more EVIL. We need more male subdeacons to guard our altars from this happening.
Panagiotis6/4/2024 6:32 am
To Orthodox Brother Joseph Lipper: I have read your comment, as well as other comments that you have left on other articles, and it appears to me that you are a master of diverting attention. You took one sentence that I said, and you went on and on about it, but you did not comment on the rest of what I said. EVE WAS EVIL, she was a FEMINIST, and she is responsible for the original sin that she committed with Satan. I am a Strong Orthodox Christian that believes in the Traditional Conservative Orthodox Teachings that have been handed down to me by the Church and my noble Ancestors who have been Orthodox for centuries. This is one of the only few Conservative Orthodox Christian websites, and it is an honorable website. All glory to our True God, the ONLY God Jesus Christ who himself said: NO MAN COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH THE SON. Just my humble opinion.
Joseph Lipper6/1/2024 5:05 am
Panagiotis, the Theotokos is referred to as the "New Eve". Genesis 3:20 tells us that "Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living." The Hebrew name "Eve" is related to life, not evil. Evil came about with the fall of Lucifer, and the term for evil is likely used before the creation of Eve and certainly before the fall of Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2:9, it says, "and out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil."
Panagiotis5/31/2024 4:14 am
For anyone to even imply that the Panagia is equivalent to the women of today is the height of absurdity. What nonsense! She is called the Ever Virgin Mary because she was a Holy Virgin her entire life! That is why she was chosen to give Birth to God! She is the exact opposite of Eve, the first feminist who committed the original sin with Satan. The word "evil" comes from the word "Eve", the first feminist! Why do women want to do a man's job? A man does not want to put a dress on and do a woman's job, does he? Unbelievable that people are actually defending this liberal nonsense. Unbelievable. For those making excuses for this liberal nonsense, why don't you go join a weak Protestant church, and you can watch the Protestant female so-called "minister" thump her Scofield Reference "Bible" while she is wearing pants, lipstick and makeup, while the parishioners are beating on drums, playing guitars, and dancing in the church. Over the last many centuries there have been THOUSANDS of Orthodox Bishops and not one has ever authorized a so-called "Woman Deaconess". NOT ONE! It is no coincidence that this occurred deep in Sub-Sahara Africa, a region that did not have a significant Orthodox presence until recent history, I.E. they do not have a long tradition of Orthodoxy. This could never have happened in Orthodox Europe, which has been Strong Orthodox for many centuries. But the liberals always find the weakest link. God Almighty and Panagia open up the eyes of all Orthodox. WAKE UP! Thoxa Si O Theos, Thoxa Si. Just my humble opinion.
David5/31/2024 2:56 am
To "consider" the question is fine, and good. However, Metropolitan Seraphim didn't do that. He just went ahead and did it, and Alexandria is telling the other Churches to mind their own business, that "they don't have to follow us." Those ancient Byzantine Titles are going to some of our prelates heads. Lord, have mercy.
Joseph Lipper5/30/2024 3:39 pm
In many Orthodox churches, adult baptism has become more common than infant baptism. The world has also become increasingly pagan. It would seem that we are returning to a similar time as the first few centuries after Christ's resurrection. Since the order of deaconess was never abolished, it seems prudent to consider whether ordaining deaconesses for our current times would be helpful. In particular, the ideology of feminism creates problems for the Orthodox church, and the order of deaconesses would seem directly helpful to counter that ideology.
Susan5/30/2024 11:03 am
Michelle: The relics you're talking about are of women martyrs. Become a martyr, die for Christ's sake, and you, too can be antimens.
Michelle5/30/2024 1:37 am
Forgive the addendum.  This is my last, and only really important, point. A Priest does not merely serve a liturgical function.  At the Last Judgment, the Priests will be held accountable for their flocks.  Same with the Bishops.  NOT the deacons, or the readers, or the monks, or the abbesses -- or any woman.  There is no such thing as a "Presbytera" at that time. If we remember that this is what a Bishop is, and this is what a Priest is, and act accordingly, all will be well. Thank you.
Michelle5/30/2024 1:23 am
Again, I think there are theological issues that need to be clarified. Altars are built on the myrrh-gushing bodies of female saints, the Mother of God spent her childhood in the altar, surviving liturgical texts indicate that deaconesses were 'ordained' during the liturgy, we open the doors during the Paschal season, women are allowed to commune, yet... women do not serve a liturgical function? I can't even imagine what this means. // There is confusion about the *social* functions of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, which is why there is resistance to reinstating the social function of Deaconess. In America, there are multiple Bishops of different jurisdictions in overlapping geographical areas. There is no functional social role for Deacons -- we have the State. I agree that Deaconesses should not be ordained while this confusion exists. However, there is still a need for women caring for women, in a structured, predictable way, publicly blessed by the Bishop. Purposefully glossing over important historical details, claiming that women cannot enter the altar when altars are built on top of women and Christ was born from one, and claiming that women cannot lead and do not need special care, including privacy and separation from men, won't work. It's not theologically sound and it doesn't help women. And women raise all of the children. We can read now, too.
Laura5/29/2024 8:59 pm
Michelle, I think that there is confusion regarding the idea of leadership here. Undoubtedly, there are women who are born leaders. In addition to the things you named, which are mainly just part of life (empresses excluded), there are also abbesses who lead other nuns in the spiritual life. In some cases, they are serious administrators. But the idea of women as liturgical deacons is not a matter of leadership. After all, deacons are not necessarily leaders in the Church, as are priests and bishops. They serve a liturgical function. They are ordained by a bishop, and have the right to touch the holy table in the altar. It is only in places where congregations are relatively small that deacons seem unnecessary. In Orthodox countries they are very needed in church services. They also teach, in some cases. And BTW, my question to Joseph was not meant as an attack. Knowing whether a person is Orthodox or not clarifies things in a discussion. If a person is not Orthodox, they simply don't know better.
Michelle5/29/2024 7:42 pm
Laura, I was merely trying to steer the conversation away from personal attacks, including your question to Joseph, "Are you Orthodox?" As far as historical examples and natural law is concerned, there is no doubt that God has placed women in positions of leadership. Women nourish, birth, and rear children, and are responsible for most of the spiritual instruction that children receive, which shapes every adult. We have Equal-to-the-Apostles, historical Deaconesses, and Orthodox Empresses and Queens who have been canonized -- women who, in their mature years, ruled over adult men. What is the issue in stating these facts? There are two issues at play with the current conversation about female deaconesses. The first is that modern male deacons no longer have a necessary, well-defined role in the Church. This is a serious issue that needs remedy! It's an enormous responsibility to bring food to people who live alone, to invite others to your family meals during the feasts, to fundraise and redistribute the community's wealth in a fair way, etc. -- it's a full-time job, not merely a liturgical role, and it's absolutely necessary. As long as the diaconate is perceived as merely a stepping stone to the priesthood, female deaconesses will be a threat to male priests. They shouldn't be, however, because female deaconesses served a different role. There's no doubt that there's still a need for women social workers, and modern women require and deserve exactly the same amount of privacy women required and deserved in the past: churches separated by men and women, a female companion when meeting with a bishop or priest, a female social worker to bring food when ill, etc. Without deaconesses, who do we turn to? Presbyteras -- or, as some have said, "Priestesses." When we don't have unmarried women leaders acknowledged by bishops (deaconesses), the priests' wives assume the role, and then the question is raised, Does the marital relation transfer the grace of the priesthood to his wife? The question of female priests is raised either way! It's madness to sweep it under the rug, because 1) you need to lie about the historical reality, and 2) you are forcing women to behave like men by forcing them into the company of other adult men rather than in the company of women, and 3) the church should not determine its practices as a fear-based response to secular political movements, such as feminism. On that note, "feminism" as is currently understood is basically a gathering of people who advocate for synthetic hormonal birth control. Such medications make women sick, as well as men (transgender people). The church should take a stronger stand against these drugs, while protecting women's equality and need for greater privacy, and greater separation from men. Whether the church wants women to be cared for by deaconesses or Presbyteras is not my call.
Laura5/29/2024 6:31 pm
Michelle: I am, to the contrary, trying to steer away from "opinions" and emphasize the practice and wisdom of our Church. It seems to me that the arguments out there, with you apparently participating, about what a deacon is, what a deaconess it, should women have more leadership in the Church, are all in the realm of opinion. Wouldn't it make more sense to look at these things honestly within context of the history, tradition, theology, and mind of the Church, than to opine about how "the deaconate is changing". How has it changed? Are there essential changes? And I think any talk of what some may perceive as "women's leadership roles in the Church" proceeds from modern feminism.
Joseph Lipper5/29/2024 4:23 pm
Fr. John Whiteford asks the question, "Is there an agenda behind the push to restore deaconesses?" He entirely focuses on the supposed "agenda" of the St. Phoebe Center, but that "Center" is not who ordained a woman as a deacon. Yes, the bishop who did this is listed as having an "advisory role", but he is not their representative. He is not even a board member. The question of "what is the agenda?" should be put to the Patriarchate of Alexandria and the bishop who ordained a woman as a deacon. Fr. John completely avoids doing this, and that's really a sleight of hand tactic, creating a separate "straw man" and then attacking it. The St. Phoebe Center is certainly not responsible for ordaining a woman as a deacon, may God forbid otherwise!
Michelle5/29/2024 3:56 pm
I don't know, Laura. You seem to have very strong public opinions for a woman who believes women shouldn't lead in the church. I won't pretend to believe that I can judge who has an Orthodox phronema and who doesn't. The important issue is that the Diaconate has changed through the centuries in such a way that it is now essentially a stepping stone to the Priesthood, so that when women are ordained as Deacons, it means that they are on a path to become Priests. We need to reinstate and strengthen the male Diaconate as having an essential, separate function from the Priesthood, as is traditional; this means relying less on social services from the State and instead, strengthening social support networks in parishes through the Diaconate.
Laura5/29/2024 11:19 am
Joseph, let's not stoop to a "my bishop is better than your bishop" discussion. No, a bishop cannot decide to ordain women as liturgical deacons without the rest of the Church's agreement. The rest of the Church will continue to hold to Orthodoxy, but such self-willed bishops will fall away.
Laura5/29/2024 11:16 am
Michelle: The "only God knows who is Orthodox" is a worn-out response. We also know who is Orthodox. A person has to be baptized by a canonical priest, adhere to the dogmas accepted at the Ecumenical Councils, etc. Of course, only God knows the hearts. But our Church has made it very clear who is Orthodox. This is not to judge people, but it will all be clear in the final analysis. Yes, I have seen Joseph's comments before, which is why I ask if he is Orthodox. Because he doesn't sound like a man with an Orthodox phronema.
David5/29/2024 5:27 am
This just happened, so it is a bit premature to say "See!!! Nobody has broken communion over this." Remember, Moscow waited over 2 years before forming the Exarchate in response to Alexandria's recognition of the schismatics. Ample time was given to reconsider and reverse course, or at the very least open a dialogue. Before this happened, I thought Moscow as wrong to form the Exarchate. With this, I now see that it is perhaps a necessary evil in the face of increasingly deviant decisions coming out of some of the Greek Churches. With the betrayal of the Serbs on Kosovo, the increasing oppression of the UOC, and the actions of Archbishop Elpidophoros, I am coming to see Moscow's actions as a pastoral necessity.
Michelle5/28/2024 3:52 pm
Laura, Only God knows who is Orthodox, who is actually Christian. We practice Christianity, we don't claim to be perfect. Joseph Lipper is well-known in Orthodox circles and he raises good points. The role of the Deacon has changed through the centuries. Deacons once waited tables, "serving" in this way. Later, they served as social workers. Now, in many parishes, they are considered unnecessary. Do they simply sing? Are they a stepping stone to the Priesthood? What do they actually do? Perhaps if the role of Deacon did not change so much through the years, the question of Deaconesses would be approached differently.
Joseph Lipper5/28/2024 2:42 pm
Laura, my bishop is in full communion with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. He is also in full communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople, the Patriarch of Alexandria, the Archbishop of Cyprus, and the Archbishop of Greece, along with many others. I just heard him commemorate all these bishops by name at Divine Liturgy yesterday. How about your bishop? The main thing is, it is within the purview of a bishop to decide the limits of how clergy will serve. Some priests are not allowed to hear confessions. Some deacons are not allowed to distribute communion.
Laura5/28/2024 10:47 am
Joseph: You are wrong--it is not up to the bishop to make essential changes to our Orthodox practice and tradition. These things have to be decided at Ecumenical councils. But because the Greek bishops under the herestic patriarch in Africa have already broken from the Holy Orthodox Church, they think they can do anything they want. You don't seem to know very much about our Orthodox Church. Are you Orthodox?
Panagiotis5/28/2024 4:51 am
Thank you Father John for speaking the truth. The enemies of Orthodoxy have a smile on their face. The feminists have a smile on their face. The sodomites have a smile on their face. The transgender ones have a smile on their face. And of course the no good liberal internationalist puppet masters are laughing. Those who are strong Orthodox and who are true Orthodox oppose this liberal nonsense, plain and simple. This is nothing more than a stepping stone to "women Priests". If women become priests in the Orthodox Church then this will be the destruction of our Church as we will implode from within, and that is why our enemies are laughing. The wealthy devious internationalists are the ones who are pushing this liberal nonsense, just like they are promoting sodomy, transgenderism, feminism, the destruction of the patriarchal family, etc. Everything ties in together. They have to do this before the arrival of their False Messiah who will be the Antichrist, and he will be a sexual deviant and a sodomite, the son of a feminist sexually defile mother. Put the pieces of the puzzle together. Use the brain that Almighty God gave to you. Let us fervently pray to Almighty God and The Panagia to give knowledge to the Orthodox so that they WAKE UP! Just my humble opinion.
Joseph Lipper5/28/2024 3:10 am
Laura, besides the Russian Church, I am not aware of any other churches that have broken communion, or have even threatened to, with Alexandria. Women have been ordained to the diaconate before in history, but their role was perhaps more limited to applying the sacrament of baptism for women. Ultimately it is up to the bishop to decide the capacity or limits that any deacon should serve. The substantive difference with the female deacon in Africa is not her ordination as deacon, but rather the capacity that she is allowed to serve as decided by her bishop.
Laura5/27/2024 10:03 pm
Joseph, please prove that this is not a complete break with tradition. Where have you seen this in history? And perhaps it is too early for calls to break with Alexandria--which, as I said, is already in schism, and some Churches have broken with it.
Joseph Lipper5/27/2024 2:04 pm
Laura, if ordaining women to the diaconate is a complete break with tradition, then shouldn't there be calls for schism with Alexandria? I don't hear any such calls.
Laura5/26/2024 9:55 pm
Joseph: Ordaining women as liturgical deacons is already a break with tradition. That is the point. Also, I don't see in the article anything about breaking communion with the bishop for this. However, that bishop is already in heresy because of being in a patriarchate that is in communion with a non-canonical formation (the OCU). Perhaps because he has already lost grace, he justifies this abnmornality?
Joseph Lipper5/26/2024 5:43 am
Let's put in another way: Is there any real basis for breaking communion with a bishop who has ordained a woman as a deacon? If so, what is the basis? I don't believe there is any such basis. However, if a bishop ordains a woman a priest, then yes, there would be an actual basis for breaking communion with him. That would be a complete break with tradition.
Nicholas M5/25/2024 3:37 pm
Fr. Whitefords comments were spot on and censored because the Pheobe center radicals know he's correct. The Pheobe center radicals and their demonic ilk need to be excommunicated and thrown out of whatever parish they attend, they are prideful and willing heretics, and the "clergy" who are assisting them need to be defrocked. If we're going to start "restoring" things let's start with "restoring", monasteries still use this ancient practice, of women and children being separated from men during Divine Liturgy, Vespers/Vigil and all Liturgies! I'm sure the Demonics at the Pheobe center would agree with this while disagreeing with this simultaneously, a mark of a demonic position, and use it to justify Deaconesses and then female "priests". These people need to be shunned or maybe just send them to their father Satan or his agent the EP and his right hand man Elpidorphorus who are most likely behind this.
Glenn Matsen5/24/2024 9:55 pm
Thank you for your very insightful article. I am a 10 year convert to Greek orthodox. I disagree with your statement that “ doesn’t matter so much why this happened as it does, as that it did in fact happen. That this order ceased to exist is good reason to believe that it was no longer needed by the church.” The absence and lack of teaching about the Nous over the centuries would’ve been a reason to tell Saint Gregory Palomas that he was wrong to bring it up again. As the teachings on the Nous has faded again it was Father John Romanides that brought it to the for front again in recent years. Many Orthodox don’t fast regularly or attend Liturgy etc. Many practices have stopped, but that doesn’t make it beneficial for the church. Thank you for allowing me to express my thoughts.
Monk Seraphim 5/24/2024 6:58 pm
Theres is definately an intension to push for women priests. My question is that in yourarticle here you state that women stood behind a screen and the priest read the prayers while the deaconess performed all the externals. Hands on as it were. Is there factual evidence of this or is this an assumption of how it was actually done(the baptisms and tonsures as such). If it is only an assumption then i would have assumed differently. I would have assumed that the deaconess held up a towel or a sheet between himself and the woman being baptized and he then still put his hand on her head for the triple immersion. I would then assume that the woman would have gotten dressed and then the priest himself would do the tonsure and everything else, the same as it gets done today. By giving the deaconess the role of actually immersing the person being baptized in the water, and also the performance of the tonsure, will be giving so much that it seems to me a “compromise” already. A compromise leading to “going all the way.”
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