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Questionable Vatican Advisor Makes Questionable Claims About "Deaconesses"

Women served in the first millennium as deacons “in sacramental roles,” Phyllis Zagano claimed in front of a gullible AmericaMagazine.org (January 15).

Zagano is a dissident American theologian and advocate for "deaconesses". Nevertheless, Pope Francis appointed her to a commission on female deacons that finished its work in June.

She mentions alleged "sacramental" activities such as anointing ill women and female Catechumens, [allegedly] bringing Holy Communion to ill women, and inspecting the body of women beaten by their husbands.

However, old sources like the “Apostolic Constitution” (4th century) point out that "a deaconess does not bless, nor perform anything belonging to the office of priests or deacons” but has “to minister to the priests in the baptizing of women on account of decency”.

Further, Zagano makes the wrong statement that ordination ceremonies for deaconesses were "identical" to the ordination ceremonies deacons.

But the prayers of the ordination of deacons referred to Saint Stephen, while those of deaconess referred to Phoebe. Only the prayer of the former includes a petition that he may go on to the priesthood and episcopacy.

Deaconess of the first century are comparable to social or administrative helpers in a parish.

Picture: © Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida CC BY, #newsEqgevtkdth
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