Monday, January 15, 2018

Eminent clergy & theologians voice concern over deaconesses

I've kept the numbered footnote references in the post. What they reference is available at the end of the lengthy document.

(Orthodox Ethos) - The Patriarchate of Alexandria’s appointment of six “deaconesses” in the Congo in February 2017 has prompted calls in some corners for other local churches to follow suit. In particular, a group of Orthodox liturgical scholars has issued an open statement of support for Alexandria, declaring that the “restoration of the female diaconate is such that neither doctrinal issues nor authoritative precedents are at stake.”1

We, the undersigned clergy and laity, beg to differ and are writing now with three purposes: to question what was accomplished in the Congo, to clarify the historical record on the place of deaconesses in Orthodox tradition, and to point out the serious doctrinal issues raised by the appointment of deaconesses.

First, as to what was accomplished in the Congo, we note that the Patriarch of Alexandria did not use the Byzantine rite of ordination for deaconesses.2 He laid hands [cheirothetise] on one woman making her “Deaconess of the Mission” and then prayed over five other women using a “prayer for one entering ecclesiastical ministry,” a generic blessing in the Greek-language archieratikon for a layman starting church work. He did not bestow an orarion upon any of the women yet had the five women assist in washing his hands, as subdeacons would. All this was done not during the Divine Liturgy, as with an ordination, but at its end. These facts, plus anecdotal reports from Africa that these new deaconesses have been assigned the duties of readers, call into question the claim that what happened in the Congo was truly a “restoration of the female diaconate,” for their manner of making and assigned duties bear only partial resemblance to those of ancient deaconesses.

Second, what can be said with certainty about the historical presence, role, and status of deaconesses in the Orthodox Church is that setting apart women as deaconesses was just one of several ways the early Church sought to protect the modesty of women by entrusting certain women with certain duties such as assisting in baptizing and anointing adult women and visiting women in their homes where and when men were not permitted, strictly within the limits specified for women by the Holy Apostles in Holy Scripture. The duties and status of deaconesses varied with time and place, as did the way deaconesses were appointed. The same duties were also assigned to widows, laywomen, male clergy, or nuns, so the need for deaconesses did not exist universally. Much of the ancient Church never had deaconesses. Outside Syria, Anatolia, Greece, and Palestine, deaconesses were rare to nonexistent.3
Deaconesses were also not without controversy. Several local councils prohibited their appointment (Nîmes in 396; Orange in 441; Epaone in 517; Orleans in 533), and many texts testify to the concern of Church Fathers to minimize their role, sometimes in favor of widows. The order appears to have peaked in the fifth or sixth century, surviving mainly in major eastern cities as an honorary office for pious noblewomen, the wives of men made bishops, and the heads of female monastic communities. The twelfth-century canonist Theodore Balsamon wrote that the “deaconesses” in Constantinople in his day were not true deaconesses. A century later, St. Athanasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, ordered that no new deaconesses were to be made. Scattered proposals and attempts to appoint deaconesses again in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries did not receive enough support to cause a lasting revival of the order. Even now, other autocephalous Orthodox Churches have not rushed to follow the example of Alexandria.

Third, some blame resistance to deaconesses on a worldly, purely cultural prejudice against women, but that accusation treats the Church herself unfairly, even contemptuously, by ignoring legitimate prudential objections to the making of deaconesses motivated by genuine concern for the preservation of truly Christian and plainly Apostolic respect for the distinction of male and female, to which our post-Christian world is increasingly hostile.

The liturgists’ statement itself gives cause for such concern. Its argument for “reviving” the order of deaconess is not based on the needs of the women to be served by deaconesses—needs that somehow require ordination, needs that nuns, laywomen, laymen, or male clergy are not already meeting. Rather, the statement’s argument is based on the supposed need of women to be deaconesses. Making them deaconesses would be a “positive response” to the “contemporary world,” an “opportunity for qualified women to offer in our era their unique and special gifts,” and a “special way” to emphasize the “dignity of women and give recognition to her [sic] contribution to the work of the Church.”4 Such justifications denigrate the vocation of Orthodox laity, implying that only clerics serve the Church in meaningful ways, contrary to Orthodox belief that all Orthodox Christians receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and a personal calling to serve the Church at Holy Chrismation.

The liturgists’ statement also makes clear that they do not intend a true “restoration” of the ancient order of deaconesses; their aim is a new order of clergywomen authorized to do things never done by Orthodox deaconesses and in some cases explicitly forbidden by Apostolic ordinance and Church canons. They would have women preach, which the Apostles and Fathers never allowed in church. They leave open the question of other liturgical duties, admitting no limitation that bishops must respect. They question which “qualities and qualifications” truly matter, doubting whether deaconesses must be mature and unmarried, despite the ancient rule, most forcefully insisted upon in the sixth century by St. Justinian as emperor, that deaconesses be at least middle-aged and remain celibate as deaconesses.5

The liturgists’ most ominous assertion is their subtle note, in anticipation of popular opposition, that “adequate preparation and education” are needed not of the women to be appointed deaconesses but “of the people who will be called upon to receive, honor, and respect the deaconesses assigned to their parishes.” Clearly, they foresee the need to force clergy and laity to accept deaconesses, which is hardly trusting of the Holy Spirit or respectful of the Orthodox Church’s traditional regard for episcopal authority. It's this bit about reeducation that should prompt alarm bells for many a reader.

In sum, the statement’s emphasis on gratifying women, disregarding tradition, and resorting to force gives evidence of a feminist perspective and approach consistent with the faithless western world but not with the Orthodox Church. More evidence of the liturgists’ perspective is available elsewhere. For example, two of the liturgists have called for the removal of Ephesians 5 from the Rite of Crowning on the grounds that it is inconsistent with modern thinking and therefore likely to be misunderstood. They suggest a different epistle or perhaps a sanitized version of Ephesians 5 without verse 33 (“Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence [phobētai, fear] her husband.”).6

Given this state of faith, we believe the appointment of deaconesses in any form in the present era is likely to divide the Church and distress the faithful by challenging the Church’s basic understanding of human nature. God has made every one of us either male or female and ordained that we live accordingly as either a man or a woman. He has also provided us with many authoritative precepts distinguishing men and women, in the Law, in the Holy Apostles, in the canons of the Church, and in the literature of our Holy Fathers, in passages too numerous to cite. But if laws and canons and precepts are not enough to turn us to repentance, God has given us two distinct models of perfected humanity, one male and one female: Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, and His Most Pure Mother, the Theotokos, whose icons stand always before us in worship as reminders of what we are meant to be as men and women.

Yet there are advocates of deaconesses who wish to see women treated the same as men in the Church as in the world and who therefore use the rite of “ordination” (cheirotonia) of deaconesses in a handful of Byzantine service books to argue that deaconesses were once “major clergy.” These advocates covet the rank, honor, and authority of the clergy. Some would have deaconesses be just like deacons, only female. They would up-end the natural and economical order of male and female to raise women over men in the hierarchy of the Church. They would “ordain” women who are young, married, and with children, and they would give them a vocal role in worship and all the authority a deacon might exercise over men as well as women. The liturgists do not go that far, but their statement leaves open that possibility by either ignoring or questioning traditional limits on deaconesses, while stressing the exclusive prerogative of bishops to make of deaconesses what they will.

We cannot, therefore, take seriously the liturgists’ claim that “restoration of the female diaconate is such that neither doctrinal issues nor authoritative precedents are at stake.” Neither can we accept their assurances that deaconesses today will not lead to priestesses tomorrow, knowing where similar incremental innovations have led in heterodox communions. We also ought not to think only of what we ourselves might tolerate today. We must think generationally. Just as children who grow up in parishes with female readers are more likely to believe as adults that women should be deacons or deaconesses, so children who grow up in parishes with deaconesses will be more likely to believe as adults that women should be priests and bishops.

We therefore entreat all Orthodox hierarchs, other clergy, and theologians to uphold the dogmatic teaching of the Church concerning the creation and calling of man as male and female by resisting the divisive call to appoint deaconesses.

Endnotes [Signatures follow]

1 Evangelos Theodorou, et al., “Orthodox Liturgists Issued a Statement of Support for the Revival of the Order of Deaconess by the Patriarchate of Alexandria,” Panorthodox Synod, Link, Oct. 24, 2017.

2 See “Το Πατριαρχείο Αλεξανδρείας για Διακόνισσες και Αγία Σύνοδο,” Romfea, Link, Nov. 16, 2016; and, “Στην Αφρική εόρτασε τα ονομαστήρια του ο Πατριάρχης Θεόδωρος,” Romfea, Link, Feb. 18, 2017.

3 For the most in-depth study of the subject, see Aimé Georges Martimort, Deaconesses: An Historical Study, trans. K.D. Whitehead (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986). For a thorough study of Orthodox deaconesses before their disappearance, see Brian Patrick Mitchell, “The Disappearing Deaconess: How the Hierarchical Ordering of the Church Doomed the Female Diaconate,” Link.

4 The “positive response” and “special way” are from the report of the Inter-Orthodox Symposium in Rhodes in 1988 titled, “The Place of the Woman in the Orthodox Church and the Question of the Ordination of Women” (Istanbul: The Ecumenical Patriarchate, 1988), which the liturgists quote approvingly.

5 The minimum age for deaconesses changed several times over the years: The emperor St. Theodosius the Great set it at 60 in 390, the age the Apostle Paul set for enrolled widows in 1 Timothy 5:9, which St. Theodosius’s legislation mentioned. Canon 15 of Chalcedon lowered it to 40 in 451. St. Justinian’s Novella 6 raised it to 50 in 535, making an exception for women living in hermitages and having no contact with men. His Novella 123 lowered it to 40 again in 546, which Canon 14 of III Constantinople (in Trullo) confirmed in 692.

6 Alkiviadis Calivas and Philip Zymaris, “Ephesians 5:20-33 as the Epistle Reading for the Rite of Marriage: Appropriate or Problematic?” Public Orthodoxy, Link, accessed Nov. 4, 2017.

Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), D.A. (Cand.), Rector & Associate Professor of Patrology, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary (ROCOR)

Archpriest Chad Hatfield, D.Min., D.D., President, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (OCA)

Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster, Ph.D., Dean & Professor of Moral Theology, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary (ROCOR)

Protopresbyter George A. Alexson, Ph.D. (Cand.), Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church (GOAA), Sterling, VA

Mitred Archpriest Victor Potapov, St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral (ROCOR), Washington, DC

Archimandrite Demetrios (Carellas), Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOAA)

Archpriest Lawrence Farley, St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church (OCA), Langley, BC

Archpriest Patrick Henry Reardon, All Saints Orthodox Church (AOCANA), Senior Editor, Touchstone, Chicago, IL

Archpriest Peter Heers, D.Th., Assistant Professor of Old and New Testament, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary (ROCOR)

Archpriest John Whiteford, St. Jonah Orthodox Church (ROCOR), Spring, TX

Hieromonk Alexis Trader, D.Th., Karakallou Monastery, Mt. Athos (Greece)

Fr. Christopher Allen, SS. Joachim and Anna Orthodox Church (ROCOR), San Antonio, TX

Fr. Ignatius Green, Holy Virgin Protection Russian Orthodox Church (ROCOR), Nyack, NY, Editor, St Vladimir's Seminary Press

Chaplain (Major) George Ruston Hill, U.S. Army, Ethics Instructor, The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, Charlottesville, VA

Fr. Johannes Jacobse, St. Peter the Apostle Orthodox Church (AOCANA), Bonita Springs, FL

Fr. Andrew Kishler, St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church (AOCANA), Spring Valley, IL

Fr. Seraphim Majmudar, Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (GOAA), Tacoma, WA

Fr. John A. Peck, All Saints of North America Orthodox Church (GOAA), Sun City, AZ

Fr. John Schmidt (OCA-ROEA), St. Elias Orthodox Church, Ellwood City, PA

Fr. Gregory Telepneff, Th.D., Senior Research Scholar, Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies

Protodeacon Brian Patrick Mitchell, St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral (ROCOR) , Washington, DC

Deacon Ananias Sorem, Ph.D., Lecturer in Philosophy, California State U. at Fullerton, Falling Asleep of the Ever-Virgin Mary Church (OCA-ROEA), Anaheim, CA

Deacon Alexander William Laymon, Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired, St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church (ROCOR), Stafford, VA

Teena H. Blackburn, Lecturer in Philosophy and Religion, Eastern Kentucky University

David Bradshaw, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, University of Kentucky

Mark J. Cherry, Ph.D., Professor in Applied Ethics, Department of Philosophy , St. Edward's University

Corinna Delkeskamp-Hayes, Editor, Christian Bioethics, Freigericht, Germany

Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., Ph.D., M.D., Professor, Rice University, Professor Emeritus, Baylor College of Medicine

Bruce V. Foltz, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Eckerd College

David Ford, Ph.D., Professor of Church History, St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (OCA)

Nancy Forderhase, Ph.D., Emerita Professor of History, Eastern Kentucky University

Ana S. Iltis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Director, Center for Bioethics, Health and Society, Wake Forest University

Nathan A. Jacobs, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar of Philosophy, University of Kentucky, President, 5Sees Production Company

Joel Kalvesmaki, Ph.D. , Editor in Byzantine Studies, Dumbarton Oaks

James Kushiner, Executive Editor, Touchstone , Chicago, IL

George Michalopulos, Editor and Publisher,

Sampson (Ryan) Nash, MD, MA, Director, The Ohio State University Center for Bioethics, Associate Professor of Medicine, The Ohio State University College of Medicine

Alfred Kentigern Siewers, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English, Bucknell University

*Names of organizations are for identification only.


  1. Replies
    1. If you can't follow the rules of Greek grammar, maybe you shouldn't.

  2. Meanwhile in the Armenian church they ordained a deaconess in Iran without the Armenian church having restored the order of deaconesses. Even more interesting, she was ordained in September but this was only made public now. Granted, that might have to do with the fact that it happened in Iran. Who knows

    Copy the original link in Russian:

    Yandex machine translation from Russian:

  3. It seems, that canonical ways of solving such (non)issues is no more. Intersynodal consultations? Councils and synods? Canonical trials?

    Nah. Let's make an online petition!

    It is also interesting to see Fr. Heers found new pet subject after the Cretan council was over.

    1. And as for "eminent" clergy, there are around 5 of them.

      + a dozen of random parish priests
      + a dozen of random people with degrees, no matter whether related to the case or not

    2. It is also interesting that over 80% of the signatories are American converts. It may mean something, maybe not.

    3. I'd number a lot more than 5, but YMMV. Also, who gives a fig about how one entered the Church? But I appreciate all the negativity. You managed to stretch it out to three chained posts which is a new record for you.

    4. One of them (Telepneff) is a schismatic. I guess anything to pad the numbers out.

    5. This is in response to another public statement, from the opposite view, which suggests that stopping at deaconesses as they once were was not the issue. There are quite a number of cradle Orthodox signed on to it, and the number is growing, but when someone has been Orthodox for most of their life, perhaps it is time to stop dismissing what they say because they consciously embraced Orthodoxy at some point in their life... as if that was a bad thing.

    6. Not a bad thing, but when the demographics lean heavily to one particular kind of Orthodox Christian, that's of note and possibly relevant. In addition, all too often in conversations relative to reintroducing the female diaconate (and other possible changes related to the so-called culture wars) the bogeyman of Vatican II and ECUSA is thrown out as the reason why Orthodoxy shouldn't consider x. Calling an Orthodox Christian an Episcopalian as an epithet is another example, and is typically thrown out by long-term Orthodox converts who came from the Episcopal Church. It's obvious many converts experiences prior to Orthodoxy are the lens through which they view some of these Orthodox issues.

    7. 123,

      Experience can be used rightly or wrongly. I am guilty as charged, when I bring my protestant (some of that Episcopalian) experience to bear on any aspect of my life in the Church (20 years now Orthodox). For example, I note (along with the authors of this letter) that the current movement is not a "re-introduction" of anything, it is rather a reform based on the modern quest for Justice and Equality, gender, etc. Having experienced these reforms and the "theology" behind them is good for the Orthodox Church, which is rather naive about these things. Also, your assertion that this is an "Orthodox" issue smacks of provincialism, phyletism, etc. - interesting given that is something you would no doubt reject. In the end, trying to frame *anyone's* honest rejection of this reform movement as an unexamined prejudice (a "lens" you call it) is convenient but dismissive & divisive on your part...

  4. Not sure "eminent clergy & theologians" is accurate for a number of the signatories, e.g., George Michalopulos. The list starts off well and then calls itself into question.

    1. Well, I guess the alternative is to say "You, good sir, lack sufficient gravitas to publicly agree with us. I'm sorry, but we must decline your signature. Please write more books and get on the Orthodox Speakers Bureau rotation."

    2. I think my comment stems from the difference between the title of the original statement ("'A Public Statement on Orthodox Deaconesses' by Concerned Clergy and Laity") and the title of this re-post ("Eminent clergy & theologians voice concern over deaconesses"). I would say the signatories as a whole are more accurately described as "Concerned Clergy and Laity" than "Eminent clergy & theologians".

    3. I'll concede: I think many are eminent. I make up the titles. So there you go.

  5. The document makes sense no matter who signs it. If it makes no sense the signatures don't either. Lots of examples of that. I can think of fair number of items on official websites of overseas patriarchates that do that on a weekly basis, unlike this item.

    1. The document makes no sense, as no local synods have protested against it.

      All the protests are in the form of ridiculousl flash mobs.

  6. I believe St. Nektarios of Pentapolis ordained several deaconesses. Of course, as I am fond of pointing out whenever the topic is raised, if deaconesses ever functioned as liturgical deacons in ancient times, the practice was circumscribed by the ancient canons that permit women to enter the altar only if they are virgins 40 years or older, or widows living in celibate chastity and 60 years or older.

    I have attended a service at a women's monastery in which a woman served in the altar in the role usually performed by an altar boy, so the relevant canons are still a live issue, despite the usual parish practice of no women entering the altar.

  7. The biggest problem with this text, and most modern criticism against deaconess, is that it is based on feelings.

    Some people are afraid that attempts of reviving deaconesses that way or another may be carried on by people who secretly do this to harm the Church. And they will do more harm, because that's what evil renovationists (or freemasons / illuminati / ecumenists / papists / pick your choice) do. An all that is because of some conspiracy and people who support deaconesses do not openly say, why they do that. Usually projecting allegedly analogical movements from other religions, that do not exactly have much in common with Orthodox deaconesses in its origins or implementation, but perfectly fill up the bigger theories.

    There are no canonical or theological arguments presented, especially, as those modern attempts seem to be rather preservative. It's easier to project some evil conspiracies and then fight against them.

    One would welcome a serious discussion about deaconesses, their various roles and types because that change with the flow of time and location (just as now there are 3 or 4 different things called "subdeacon" for example) but all we have it's projections an sentimentalism.

    1. Mike, I have to agree with you - this reform movement is essentially motivated by "feelings". The feelings of those who are essentially modern in anthropology. The rational/theology for the reform is just dross on the feelings...

  8. Interesting to note the councils cited: "Several local councils prohibited their appointment (Nîmes in 396; Orange in 441; Epaone in 517; Orleans in 533)." None of these local western councils are part of the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church as set forth at the Quinsext Council. The canons of ecumenical councils governing deaconesses would supersede that of any local councils anyway (Chalcedon 15, etc.) And the 1st Council of Orange (441), to take only one example, attended by only 17 bishops, also demands clerical celibacy - something that would undo the marriages of not a few of the signers. No need to discuss the document's numerous ad hominem attacks.

    1. And here may be the reason why it is relevant to note how many of the signatories are converts - there may be a not insignificant amount of Protestant-style proof texting involved. Also makes sense why an Old Calendarist is included, too.

  9. For me there are two main reasons why this protects attracts mostly former Protestants:

    1. They can't see deaconesses through historical Orthodox tradition. They see them as an analogy to untraditional happenings in their former religions and fear the same can happen in the Orthodox Church. The vast majority of cradle Orthodox are OK with that.

    2. Some petitions, nailing theses to cathedral doors, protests - these are not the Orthodox ways of solving controversies. But they prefer them over canonical conciliar methods as they are not as audible. They may also understand that they have not enough support to do this the proper way.

    1. My first thought in reading this was, "Don't these people have bishops?" If they didn't get what they wanted there, don't they have primates or synods to appeal to? and assuming that didn't go the way they wanted, why didn't they write their letter to the Episcopal Assembly?

    2. I'll answer your questions with questions.

      1. How do we know they haven't. I've certainly made my opinion clear to my bishop.

      2. Can you name a single thing the Episcopal Assembly has accomplished?

      This letter didn't spring out of thin air or wild hair. There are letters by other groups as well as conferences and talks in support of a restored/novel female diaconate. I've even attended one.

      Imagine if someone had written this and published it anonymously or even by the pen of a single person. What would the immediate criticism be? Who is he to say such a thing? Well, the answer here is this is who they are and the number of cosignatories is growing.

    3. Yes, the idea of a continued restoration of the female diaconate is in the air, but not really all that much differently than in the 90s, the early 2000s, etc. The fact Alexandria did this isn't really all that different than what St. Nektarios of Pentapolis (in the Patriarchate of Alexandria!) did himself. And I would ask them the same thing about whether they have spoken with their bishop, Synods, etc. Agitating for/against such an "important" thing in such an "important", "serious" way outside of the normal chain of command in the Church (i.e., via bishop, primate, Synod) would seem to demonstrate a decided lack of faith in our ecclesiology - or pride that only this group a new Athanasius-es and Maximus-es can save the Church from the gates of Hades. It seems a mass hyperventilation on par with responses to the "panheresy of ecumenism" is about to break out, and it would ne nice to see everyone take it easy. And every event, question, proposed change in Orthodoxy need not be seen through the lens of the catastrophes of Vatican II and ECUSA - which lens belies a certain un-Orthodox view typical to "traditionalist" protest converts to Orthodox of what those institutions were before their supposed turn (i.e., just as heterodox). (A good example of this latter point are Orthodox quoting traditionalist Catholic blogs upset at Pope Francis for being an innovator and liberal for pushing what amounts to be a more Orthodox view of marriage. It seems the theology of the thing doesn't really matter in the liberal v traditionalist scrum so many prefer.)

    4. I would be far less concerned about this issue, if the proposal was merely to restore deaconesses to the role that they once had, but those pushing this issue have made it clear that this is not at all their intention.

    5. The problem is no one knows what all the roles of deaconesses were. Not even they can tell anything about how that rome changed over time.

      So that moves us to that nonsense of diacussing feelings, what you already started.

    6. Actually, we do know what deaconesses did, and didn't do. They did not serve as the female equivalent of a deacon, and that is what is being pushed. The push is also not to stick with monastic woman who are elderly as deaconesses either. They want women deacons, to be followed by women priests and bishops, and anyone who says they don't see it, is either not very bright or willfully ignorant.

    7. Don't forget evil, willfully malevolent. They might be that, too.

      Just because a girl knows the boy would like to go all the way doesn't mean she couldn't give him a kiss. Others' desire to go too far doesn't mean you can't go at all.

    8. People often dismiss slippy slope arguments, but slippy slopes often turn out to be exactly what happens. Remember it wasn't that long ago when the gay marriage debate was raging, and concerns as to what would follow were dismissed, and then what followed was the push to enshrine gender fluidity into law, and to punish all who would not play along. This is a slippery slope, and we have already seen it play out elsewhere.

    9. "Actually, we do know what deaconesses did, and didn't do."

      What are you basing this on?

    10. Granted this isn’t a hill I care to die on but, can someone remind me why female clergy would be the end of the world?

    11. Mike, we have canons, we have liturgical texts, we have Church history, and we have contemporaneous accounts of what deaconesses did. In none of them do you ever hear of a deaconess doing a litany, and carrying out the diskos at the Great Entrance.

    12. Daniel, if the Lord ever intended that we should have women clergy, would not his mother have been the first one?

    13. "Mike, we have canons, we have liturgical texts, we have Church history, and we have contemporaneous accounts of what deaconesses did."

      Then share them with us!

    14. Fr. John, Do you think that that might have been a culture bridge too far at the time?

  10. I tried to post this once, so if this is a duplicate, I apologize. The petition is not just about feelings. It clearly makes a historical argument. No one said the Council of Orange, etc., were authoritative for Orthodox. Rather, it is simply pointing out the complicated history of the subject. It's not just converts who signed, but it would not matter if it were the case. To suggest otherwise is ethnocentrism, a red herring, and nonsense. As a matter of fact, however, sometimes converts can see something coming-because of their past experience. One doesn't need to be a convert from the Episcopal church to see many people want the female diaconate as a stepping stone to the priesthood. They are very clear on this in their own writings. This petition is a response to a public statement by several liturgists. If they can make public statements, I cannot imagine those of us who have reservations cannot do likewise.

  11. Having just read Fr. Matthew Baker's (+ in 2015 if memory serves) excellent essay "Neopatristic Synthesis and Ecumenism: Towards the "Reintegration" of Christian Tradition" I am reminded of this line in reference to this reform effort and the comments so far:

    In a secularized academic context riveted by the political ideologies of "race, class, and gender"...The questions of "experience" and reason in theology - its sources, first principles and procedure - and the acceptable cultural "correlation" require a more rigorous and dogmatic-philosophical treatment. Orthodox theologians must deal not only with Western theology, but also with the sources of Western secularism with greater depth and care than has yet been shown...

    123 and others are saying "nothing to see here, this reform is nothing but an internal concern uninfluenced by secularism, the world, Protestantism, RCism, or anything else. You converts best remain in your place and keep your alien influences to yourselves, we got this."

  12. Jake, you're in the Ukrainian church, right? The local Ukrainian priest told me that it's his converts who favor keeping the Julian Calendar.
    I will take Fr. John Whiteford any day. His bishop is my bishop, Archbishop Peter. As a former Protestant Pastor, Fr. John knows error when he sees it! I'm sure those who have issues with his statements can contact the Archbishop.