General Discussion (12)

If there’s something of interest in the news that’s not covered in one of the topic threads, or you have a question to ask, a comment you’d like to  make about anything under the sun, more or less, this is the thread for you. However, please check first, to ensure that you haven’t missed a topic thread or another thread where it would be appropriate to post your comment, as the GD discussion threads fills up very quickly.  Readers, all too often, go straight to the General Discussion thread to post news that is already the topic of a thread or to ask a question that is already being discussed elsewhere. So, do your Sherlock Holmes – at the very least check the side-bar – before posting here, please and thank you!

group-discussion-tips

Feel free, also, to share your favourite spiritual reading books, prayers and devotions.Whatever.   Enjoy! 

To read previous 10 General Discussion Threads, click on the links listed below.
(1) click here  (2) click here  (3) click here  (4) click here  (5) click here
(6) click here 
(7) click here  (8) click here (9) click here (10) click here
(11) click here 

Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office: New Director, Same Old Message

“Faith should be allowed to play a role in public life” writes newly-appointed Director of the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office.

Writing in today’s Scotsman (Thursday 4 August) Anthony Horan counters claims that society is becoming less religious simply because increasing numbers of people no longer tick a “church” box on census forms suggesting this doesn’t mean they are not interested in the spiritual dimension of life or religious belief. Rather, the national census still shows that most Scots consider themselves Christian, while an overwhelming majority describe themselves as “spiritual”.   ESupremiPopePiuxXFRONTCOVER

Quoting Pope Francis, he says, “Our various religious traditions serve society primarily by the message they proclaim. They call individuals and communities to worship God, the source of all life, liberty and happiness”.

Whilst pointing to an increase in the number of Catholic in Scotland and across the world, Anthony sets out his mission to promote the Catholic faith and Social Teaching “in a way that positively engages secular society.”

The above extract is taken from the Scotsman article, reproduced in full below on the website of the Scottish Catholic Media Office…

Anthony Horan, Director, Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office

The political landscape in Scotland and the UK has rarely transfixed global media and international audiences as it has in recent weeks. The outcome of the Referendum on membership of the European Union has dominated the news cycle endlessly and engaged voters of all ages, creeds, nationalities and backgrounds.

Inevitably, given the nature and scale of the challenges at home and abroad facing our elected representatives, including economic security and trade, migration, education and medical ethics, it is unsurprising that their values, track records and proposals have been subject to intense scrutiny. Indeed, it seems society is in a state of flux. Faith and belief in a constant and ever-loving God can guide us in such times of deep uncertainty, and opportunity.

Yet whilst issues of belief and faith, in how human beings perceive the world have rarely been so important in society, they have perhaps never been so poorly understood. Indeed, increasing calls for the removal of religion and faith from public life continue to fill columns in our newspapers and social media. But faith in and of itself is not just important for human flourishing and the renewal of society, rather society can best flourish if faith is given freedom to make its unique contribution.

As Pope Francis has said, “Our various religious traditions serve society primarily by the message they proclaim. They call individuals and communities to worship God, the source of all life, liberty and happiness”.”Religious freedom” he said, “certainly means the right to worship God, individually and in community, as our consciences dictate. But religious liberty, by its nature, transcends places of worship and the private sphere of individuals and families.” Indeed, Pope Francis has warned against modern tyrannical societies which “seek to suppress religious freedom, or try to reduce it to a sub culture without right to a voice in the public square.”

Faith should be allowed to play a role in public life. The legacy of Christianity is to uphold the respective competencies of the spiritual and the temporal.

Unsurprisingly, however, some commentators have sought to exploit recent Scottish Social Attitudes survey figures which suggests that over half of respondents do not identify with a church or religion, as an indicator of society’s declining religiosity – a reason to remove God, once and for all, from public life. However, the fact that increasing numbers of people no longer tick a “church” box on census forms doesn’t mean they are not interested in the spiritual dimension of life or religious belief. Indeed the national census still shows that most Scots consider themselves Christian, while an overwhelming majority describe themselves as “spiritual”.

Globally the Catholic Church continues to see growth. In Scotland, there are currently more students studying for the priesthood than at any time in the last ten years, while the number of Catholics measured by the National Census increased between 2001 and 2011.

As newly appointed Director of the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office, my mission is to promote our faith and Catholic Social Teaching in a way that positively engages the secular society in which we live. We need to reach out to all people and an important part of this will be working with young people to tap into their energy and enthusiasm; they are the future of our Church and of our country.

I am looking forward to meeting politicians and other stakeholders and building positive, friendly relationships with a view to developing ways to promote Church teaching in the political environment. The Catholic Church in Scotland is devoted to the common good and has the wellbeing of all people at her heart.

Enshrined in our Catholic faith is a commitment to bear witness to Christ in our daily lives, at home and in public. In my role I will work for the Bishops of Scotland, the Catholic church and people of all faiths and none, striving to respect and uphold the dignity of each person, particularly the weakest and most vulnerable; upholding the value of all human life from conception to natural death; cherishing the family as the fundamental unit of our society; advocating social and economic justice for all; and caring for the common home we inhabit.

Scotland is a diverse, vibrant and politically engaged nation with a rich social, economic and political history. Faith and religious belief in the public square can play a role in shaping a resilient Scotland in the future.  It should be welcomed and valued, without fear or favour. As Pope Francis said: “We are all Political animals, with a capital P. We are called to constructive political activity among our people.” Visit Scottish Catholic Media Office website to read more.

Comment:

The following commentary on the recent appointment of Anthony Horan, Director of the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office, is published in the September edition of our newsletter, which will in the post early next week:

To date, the Scottish Government has not been challenged at all, either by the Bishops themselves when invited to offer a “reflection” in the Parliament, or by their spokesmen in the Parliament.  Despite the evil legislation already passed, the Bishops have remained silent, with Pontius Pilate as their Patron Saint.  It took, remember, families and a pro-active Protestant organisation (The Christian Institute) to mount a legal challenge to the intrusive Named Person Scheme. 

It does not augur well, therefore, to hear the new official Parliamentary spokesman for the Bishops set himself the goal of developing positive and friendly relationships with parliamentarians.  Let me assure him, from firsthand experience, that when there is a stark divide in religious beliefs and morals, there cannot be “positive and friendly relationships” between a fully believing Catholic and those who seek to overturn God’s law in the name of equality and diversity. Just as there is no “diversity” for drivers on any motorway you care to name, so there can be no alternative to God’s law.  We keep it, or overturn it at our eternal peril. And any Bishop or lay spokesman who does not spell that out to the politicians with whom they interact, will make VIP friends, sure enough – but with the following blunt warning ringing in their ears: “For, what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? (Matt 16:26) To quote Archbishop Fulton Sheen: “A religion that doesn’t interfere with the secular order will soon discover that the secular order will not refrain from interfering with it.”

Additionally, having read the Scotsman article since penning the above commentary, I would add two points: firstly, the idea of “Faith” (The Church) seeking permission to “play a role in public life” is ludicrous: secondly, the quote attributed to Pope Francis is in stark contradiction to Christ’s command to “baptise all nations”. Pope Francis apparently thinks it’s better that “Our various religious traditions serve society primarily by the message they proclaim. They call individuals and communities to worship God, the source of all life, liberty and happiness.” The entire tone of Mr Horan’s article reflects this “inter-faith” mentality.   Thus, there will be no grace in this new appointment.  In summary, there is, in effect, no change at the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office. A new Director, no new direction. Same old “diplomacy” with the politicians laughing all the way to their next piece of evil legislation, aware that there will be no meaningful challenge from the Catholic Church.  Perhaps you disagree? Let’s hear it…    

I'm hoping I'll get diplomatic immunity at my Judgment...

I’m hoping I’ll get diplomatic immunity at my Judgment…

Abortion Industry: Marie Stopes Exposed

embryo - 3 days

Embryo – 3 days – click on image for information about fetal development

The Marie Stopes abortion industry is in trouble after a surprise inspection by the Care Quality Commission Read more here

This news – reported in the broadcasting and print media days ago, makes the article below, published in 2015, all the more interesting…

7 Things you did not know about Marie Stopes International
June 12, 2015

  1. They treat their staff appallingly 

One Marie Stopes employee refused to comply with their anti-patient protocols and threatened to expose their behaviour. He received racist comments at work along with bullying, before being given false charges of sexual assault leading to a high profile crown court trial in March 2009 with the attendant media frenzy.

  1. Their medical practices are shocking

Former employees have testified that the abortion industry is a money driven business. Once you have a license it is just money all the way. You don’t pay taxes because you are a charity, you employ vulnerable doctors and nurses at cheap rates and exploit vulnerable girls from Ireland, Scotland and England. The managers make huge bonuses, go on expensive skiing holidays, buy designer clothes and shoes and watch porn during working hours and organise sex theme parties. Medical decisions are taken by non-medical managers. Employees are forced to counter sign consent forms without having seen the patient and often in advance. Employees have been forced to anaesthetise against the protocols of the Royal College and they told their employees that the GMC and Royal Colleges were in their pockets. In Ealing, West London, Marie Stopes have ambulances regularly called to the abortion centre (4 in a 40 day time period in 2013), as they arrive to deal with the issue of botched abortions. An Irish woman died in the same centre in January 2012, shortly afterwards, Dr Phanuel Dartey was struck off the General Medical Register in Britain for almost killing a woman in the same centre. Another Marie Stopes employee performed botched surgery on five patients after claiming he could revolutionise their sex lives.

  1. They boast about providing illegal abortions all around the world

At a conference in London in 2007, Paul Cornellisson boasted how Marie Stopes promotes illegal abortion all around the world. Marie Stopes are happy to provide abortions breaking the laws of many different countries.

  1. The British taxpayer supports their work to the tune of millions of pounds every year… Click  here to read the entire list of 7…

Comment:

It’s very good news that the Stopes’ clinics are being exposed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) but the whole scandal of abortion law in the UK seems to be dulled in the Catholic conscience. Two of the so called  Catholic weekly publications are reporting the suspension of services at Marie Stopes as being welcomed by “Pro-Lifers” –  making a distinction between those actively working in the pro-life movement and Catholics in general.  

No Government is particularly bothered about a few activists fighting for their preferred causes but it might make a difference if they thought the votes of every Catholic depended on the policy of political parties to ending abortion [and, indeed, the other immoral laws which attack the natural moral law]. Voting for individual “pro-life” candidates doesn’t cut it. The individual politicians don’t make policy, so the aim has to be to get political parties to change their policy and to commit themselves to ending the murdering of unborn babies. You are welcome to express your view on this, although the really interesting discussion is likely to centre on which one of “the 7 things you did not know about Marie Stopes International” you consider to be the most important fact to have in your armoury when in debate with the pro-abortionists.      

It's a girl!

It’s a girl!

Priest: Police Doctrinal Integrity of Bishops, Priests & Theologians…

August 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – In his book Magisterial Authority, Fr. Chad Ripperger, PhD, says “the Church will not climb out of this tumultuous period” without reversing the “practice since the Second Vatican Council onward not to police the doctrinal integrity” among bishops, priests and theologians. The crucial observation comes at the end of nearly fifty years of destructive leniency, which has in the Francis pontificate taken on new dimensions.  Read more hereVaticanIIdocs


Comment

The examples in the Lifesitenews report of an ongoing – and growing – attitude of dissent among bishops, gives Fr Ripperger’s warning a stark urgency. But is his suggestion to police doctrinal integrity a practical one?  Any attempt, for example, to reinstate the anti-Modernist oath would be likely to result in outright rebellion.  So, how to police those who are supposed to be policing the Faith is the key topic of this thread.  Share your thoughts…

Pope Betrays Chinese Catholics

[Pope Francis] is preparing …to grant the communist authorities the privilege of selecting [episcopal] candidates. And he is exiling to an island in the Pacific the highest ranking Chinese archbishop in the curia, contrary to the agreement. But in China, Cardinal Zen has already taken the lead in the rebellion by Sandro Magister 

Communist appointed bishop in 2010

Communist appointed bishop in 2010

ROME, August 14, 2016 – In China, among the one hundred and nine Catholic bishops there are eight who have been consecrated at the behest of the communist authorities and who have never received the pope’s approval, thereby incurring excommunication, a couple of them with children and lovers.

But for none other than these eight, by the end of this summer or at the latest before the end of the jubilee Francis is ready to perform a spectacular gesture: a pardon.

Francis missed another stunning gesture by just a hair’s breadth last September 26, during his journey to Cuba and the United States.

That day, his touchdown in New York on his way to Philadelphia coincided with the landing of Chinese president Xi Jinping, who was expected at the United Nations. Everything had been calculated for the two to cross paths “accidentally” at the airport and exchange a greeting. Xi was aware of this ardent desire of the pope, but in the end he let it drop and the meeting did not take place.

From that moment on, however, the secret contacts between the Vatican and Beijing underwent an acceleration. In October and then in January a delegation of six representatives of the Holy See went to the Chinese capital. And in April of this year, the two sides set up a joint working group that now seems to have come to an understanding over a point that the Vatican takes very seriously: the appointment of bishops.

Since it has been in power, in fact, the Chinese communist party has wanted to equip itself with a submissive Church separate from Rome, with bishops of its own appointment ordained without the pope’s approval, beholden to a Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association that Benedict XVI called “irreconcilable” with Catholic doctrine.

A Church of the regime, therefore, on the verge of schism with its eight excommunicated bishops, contrasted with an “underground” Church with about thirty bishops earnestly faithful to the pope, which however pays all the costs of clandestinity – oppression, surveillance, arrest, abduction.

And in the middle the vast gray zone of the remaining dozens of bishops who were ordained illegitimately but then were more or less reconciled with Rome, or were ordained with the parallel recognition of Rome and Beijing but must still remain under the iron control of the communist authorities.

The bishop of Shanghai, Thaddeus Ma Daqin, ordained in 2007 with the twofold approval of the pope and the government, has been under house arrest for four years for the simple offense of having resigned from the Patriotic Association. Two months ago he retracted, but he is still deprived of his liberty. The eighty-five-year-old Joseph Zen Zekiun (in the photo), who has more freedom of speech in Hong Kong, has called “inevitable” the suspicion that this retraction was also desired by the Vatican, just to reach an agreement at any price.

That an agreement has already been reached was confirmed in recent days by Zen’s successor in the diocese of Hong Kong, Cardinal John Tong, with an open letter released in Chinese, English, and Italian that bears all the marks of wanting to prepare the faithful to make the best of a bad lot:

> Card. Tong: Communion of the Church in China with the Universal Church

Because the solution at which Tong hints is one of those against which Cardinal Zen has already raised covering fire to the point of threatening conscientious objection:

> Card. Zen: My concerns over China-Holy See dialogue and repercussions on Chinese Church

The example that is brought up most often is that of Vietnam, where the candidate for bishop is proposed by the Vatican but the government can veto him, and then on to other candidates until the government approves one of them.

But for China, the solution of which Cardinal Tong appears to have knowledge sees the roles reversed. The candidate will be selected and proposed to the Vatican by the Chinese episcopal conference. Only that this conference is a creature of the communist party, completely at the beck and call the regime, devoid of “underground” bishops and with one of the excommunicated eight as its president.

“Let us dare to believe that Pope Francis will accept nothing that could endanger the communion of the Church in China with the universal Church,” Tong wrote.

But the pope’s pardon of the eight illegitimate bishops will certainly not suffice to reassure him, Zen, and most Chinese Catholics.  Source – Sandro Magister – And click here to read Cardinal Zen’s outspoken blog post dated 17 January, 2016

Comment

If a Communist Government may choose candidates to be bishops in the Catholic Church during a period of Vatican II “Springtime”,  what was the problem with the episcopal ordinations carried out by Archbishop Lefebvre at a time of crisis?  Why the fuss?

Our sympathy must go to the Catholics doing their best to keep the Faith in the (real) Catholic  Church in China, forced to operate underground due to the ongoing persecution of priests and faithful, and now betrayed, it seems, by the Pope himself. 

Am I missing something? Is there any justification for this apparent betrayal?  

15/8: Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady

Comment: 

As always on Feast Day threads, please feel free to discuss any related issues, and/or post your favourite prayers and hymns, lyrics, audio recordings or videos – remember that to copy a YouTube video directly onto the page, just right click on the video of your choice, select “copy embed code” and then select “paste” to make it appear in your comment although it won’t appear until you submit the comment.  And of course, jokes in the “good clean fun” category are always welcome.  Here’s one to kick start the celebration…

A young art student at Catholic college, decided she would mark the Feast of the Assumption by producing some sketches of Our Lady, but when she checked her art box, all of her pencils were broken and, as she told a friend, broken pencils are pointless….

Enjoy the Feast! 

Creation, Evolution & Catholicism

The author of a book which we reviewed in a recent edition, and which we offered to readers who emailed for the pdf  copy, has contacted me with the following information: 

Re:  Creation, Evolution & Catholicism – A Discussion for Those Who Believe
by Thomas McFadden

BookcoverCreation, Evolution and Catholicism

From Thomas McFadden…

[Attaching] PDF of the most recent print version. It would be helpful if some UK supporters bought the print or kindle version on Amazon.uk. None have yet. The great thing about the kindle edition is that one can go right to the many online references I included by clicking on them. Readers of the PDF would have to type complex URLs into their browser to get the most out of the information in the book. The kindle version is only about 2 pounds [£2]  and can be read on any device using the free app from Amazon. Also, I think that once you buy it you get free updates. END 

I assured Thomas that I would post this notice and encourage readers and bloggers to read his book. It’s a crucially important subject, so please think about sending for the PDF or, as he suggests, buy the Kindle version – click on image above to read or purchase the Kindle copy.

I’ll leave this thread open in case anyone has any questions, which I can pass on to the author, or any comments, if you have read the book.  

“Deaconesses”: Phoebe A Red Herring

“Deaconesses,” Strictly Speaking, Never Existed
On Francis’ New “Deaconess” Panel

by John Vennari   – Catholic Family News

woman_minissterIf “deaconesses” are approved, we will face an embarrassing imitation of contemporary Protestant practice – ministerettes in goofy robes pretending to be men, usurping activities that belong to the priest alone. 

There never was nor can there ever be the office of “deaconess” in the Catholic Church.

When I use the word “deaconess” in this context, I mean a female counterpart to the male office of deacon. There was never any such office.

If the term “deaconess” appears in Church history, we find it to be an imprecise term that will vary not only from age to age, but from one geographic location to the next. Father Aimé George Martimont, author of the scholarly and definitive work on the subject titled Deaconesses, An Historical Study, observes “The Christians of antiquity did not have a single, fixed idea of what deaconesses were supposed to be.”1

Yet on August 2 of this year, Pope Francis created a commission to study the possibility of allowing women to serve as deacons in the Catholic Church. Pursuing such a venture can only ignite further chaos in the Church and confusion among the faithful.

Extremely Limited Function

There was never an office of deaconess in the Latin Church.2 We do come across references to deaconesses in various Greek and Eastern Rites. Yet the office is not uniformly found in the Oriental churches, and all mention is sporadic between the second and tenth centuries. Some Eastern Church territories, such as the church in Egypt, Ethiopia and the Maronites never accepted any office of deaconess.3

The women who were called “deaconesses” were not ordained in any sacramental sense of the word, but received a kind of blessing for certain ecclesiastical service. These “deaconesses” were primarily consecrated women whose work was highly restricted – usually limited assistance to other females. This included assisting women at baptisms and other services where the presence of men would have offended modesty.

“Moreover,” writes Father Martimort, “it must be even more strongly emphasized that deaconesses were never allowed to teach or preach in public.”4

It is of no use to appeal to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans in which Phoebe the “deaconess” is mentioned. The mind of the Church on this matter is summarized in the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas. We read, “The Angelic Doctor commenting on the New Testament … saw Phoebe in the Epistle to the Romans only as one of those women who ‘served’ Christ and the Apostles, or who carried out works of charity in the manner of widows of 1 Timothy 5:10.”5

As for the Latin Church, we provide three ancient and authoritative texts that demonstrate how foreign was any idea in the early Church of women deaconesses, women’s ordination, and women serving in the sanctuary.

As early as the 4th century, there is the fiery directive from the bishops of the Council of Nimes in 396 A.D.:

“Equally, it has been reported by some that, contrary to the apostolic discipline – indeed a thing unheard of until now – it has been observed, though it is not known exactly where, that women have been raised to the ministry of deacons. Ecclesiastical discipline does not permit this, for it is unseemly; such an ordination should be annulled, since it is irregular; and vigilance is required lest in the future anyone should have the boldness to act in this fashion again.”
The Council of Orange in 441 A.D. spoke likewise,

“In no way whatsoever should deaconesses ever be ordained. If there already are deaconesses, they should bow their heads beneath the blessing which is given to all the people.”6

Then there is the forceful decree Necessaria rerum of Pope Gelasius, addressed to the bishops of southern Italy, dated March 11, 494. While not dealing directly with deaconesses, it manifests how alien was the idea of women in the sanctuary performing any form of priestly function:

“It is with impatience that we learned this: divine things have suffered such a degradation that female ministers serving at the sacred altars have been approved. The exercise of roles reserved to men has been given to the sex which they do not belong.”7

What would the Bishops of Nimes, the Council of Orange and Pope Gelasius say about the plethora of lady-readers, altar girls, “let us pray to the Lord” prayer leaders, liturgical dancers and Eucharistic ministerettes now fluttering in great numbers throughout post-Conciliar sanctuaries?

No Continuity

As we follow the work of Father Martimont – whose calm, meticulous, thorough scholarship includes vast historical references from liturgical texts, euchologies (Eastern Rite), pontificals, ecclesiastical legislation, homilies, letters and other pertinent documents – we learn “the continuity of true ecclesiastical discipline was lacking in the case of deaconesses.”8 There is no continuity from the ancient days of the Church until now. Only a modernist pick-and-choose antiquarianism – forbidden by the Church – could “justify” any thought of establishing the office of deaconess.

Even in Eastern Rites the practice was not observed “always, everywhere and by everyone.” The presence of deaconesses was so infrequent and scattered that we see in the writings of St. Jerome, a man who traveled widely in the East and knew it well, he “nowhere spoke about deaconesses, not even in his letter 394 to the priest Nepotian, to which he indicates the proper attitude to adopt toward virgins and widows.”9

As noted earlier, the institution of deaconesses was most often involved with the baptism of adult women. In various Eastern Rites at the time, in a ritual that connects baptism with Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, adults were baptized naked – a practice happily long extinct.10

Thus writes Father Martimont, “’As long as adult baptism were the norm, the necessity that brought about its creation [the office of deaconess] was geographically limited and rapidly becoming obsolete.” Even during this time the woman assisting the adult women being baptized did not necessarily have to be a “deaconess” but could be a pious matron of the congregation.11 Again, the practice only occurred in various churches of the Eastern Rite, never in the Latin Rite.

A concise summary of the deaconess’ limited function is contained in the Canonical Resolutions of James of Edessa (Eastern Rite) written somewhere between 683 and 708 A.D. The instruction proceeds in a dialogue format:

Addai: Does the deaconess, like the deacon, have the power to put a portion of the sacred Host into the consecrated chalice?

James: In no way can she do this. The deaconess did not become a deaconess in order to serve at the altar but rather for the sake of women who are ill.

Addai: I would like to learn in a few words what the powers of the deaconess in the Church are.

James: She has no power over the altar, because when she was instituted, it was not in the name of the altar, but only to fulfill certain functions in the Church. These are her sole powers: to sweep the sanctuary and to light the lamps, and she is only permitted to perform these two functions if no priest or deacon is available. If she is in a convent of women, she can remove the sacred Hosts from the tabernacle [= cabinet], only because there is no priest or deacon present, and give them out to the other sisters only or to small children who may also be present. [Comment: Keep in mind this is within the context of the Eastern Rite where the consecrated Eucharist is not touched by human hands, but delivered to the communicant by means of a small spoon – JV] But it is not permitted to her to take the Hosts off the altar, nor carry them to the altar nor indeed in any way to touch the table of life [the altar]. She anoints adult women when they are baptized; she visits women who are ill and cares for them. These are the only powers possessed by deaconesses with regard to the work of the priests.”12

Even if we come upon ancient Eastern Rite rituals that speak of “ordination” of deaconess, the word “ordination” is here used in a loose sense that has nothing to do with the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The Patriarch Severus of Antioch, writing in the sixth century, explains, “In the case of deaconesses … ordination is performed less with regards to the needs of the mystery than exclusively with regard to doing honor.” He continues, “In the cities, deaconesses habitually exercise a ministry relating to the divine bath of regeneration in the case of women who are being baptized.”13

Anachronism and Ambiguity

The office of deaconess – sporadic as it was – virtually disappeared by the time of the eleventh century. So much so that Greek and Eastern Canonists of the Middle Ages did not even know who or what deaconesses were, for by then deaconesses had long since ceased to exist.14 The office had become an obsolete curiosity.

Nothing could be more anachronistic than an attempt to “revive” the office of deaconess in a manner unrelated to its limited practice in the early Church, and use it as an official title to formalize today’s raging novelty of women in the sanctuary and “lay ministers” of the Eucharist. ratzinger-lutheran

Yet this is precisely the aim of Francis’ new deaconess panel, which consists of six men, six women – a politically-correct gender-balanced structure rather than a panel of scholars of unquestionable competence regarding the Catholic Faith of all time.

The panel includes Phyllis Zagano, senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University in New York, a bold advocate of women’s ordination.15 It’s not hard to guess what the panel’s conclusions may be – a forgone conclusion in favor of approving some form of “deaconesses.” As we know from the British satire Yes, Prime Minister, “The government never publicly opens the debate until it has already privately made up its mind.”

We are painfully aware of the distasteful tactics of modern discussions that seek to introduce more revolution: Muddying the historical waters, imprecision of terms, clever use of anachronisms, calculated ambiguity, significant silence concerning any historic fact that frustrates the forgone conclusion of the panel’s ultimate aim. Combine all this with the massive ignorance of today’s un-catechized Catholics who are children of the Vatican II revolution, under the sway of the bucking-bronco Bergoglio pontificate that favors novelty and deprecates alleged “small-minded rules.” The results can only be lethal for doctrinal and liturgical integrity.

“Fraught with ambiguity”

There is no need to re-study the matter of deaconesses, especially when the definitive work of Father Martimort already demonstrates that the ancient, sporadic office of deaconess has nothing to do with women performing priestly functions.

We can do no better than close with the final paragraph of Father Mortimort’s superb work. He writes: “The complexity of the facts about deaconesses and the proper context of these facts prove to be quite extraordinary. There exists a danger of distorting both the facts and the texts whenever one is dealing with them secondhand. It is also difficult to avoid anachronisms when trying to resolve the problem of the present by reference to the solutions appropriate to a past that is long gone.”

Father Martimort concludes: “For the fact is that the ancient institution of deaconess, even in its own time, was encumbered with not a few ambiguities, as we have seen. In my opinion, if the restoration of the institution of deaconesses were indeed to be sought after so many centuries, such a restoration itself could only be fraught with ambiguity.”16

Any move toward the establishment of “deaconess” stands already condemned by the consistent teaching of the Popes, manifested in that of Benedict XV who warned, “We wish to have this law of the ancients held in reverence,‘let nothing new be introduced, but only what has been handed down.’ This must be held an inviolable law in matters of Faith.”17

A new office of deaconeness introduced in the post-Conciliar Church will resemble nothing of history and contain nothing that has been handed down. The practice existed only sporadically in various geographical locations of the Eastern church, was severely restricted in its activity, and had disappeared by the 11th century.

If “deaconesses” are approved, we will face an embarrassing imitation of contemporary Protestant practice – ministerettes in goofy robes pretending to be men, usurping activities that belong to the priest alone. The office of deaconess will further accustom Catholics to see women in roles of ecclesiastical leadership and pave the way for more discussion of “women priests.”

The introduction of the destructive novelty of “deaconess” can only lead to further degradation of the Church and the priesthood. It must be firmly resisted. Source

Comment:

We’ve covered this topic from time to time in the newsletter, pointing out that female deaconesses in the early Church had a very limited role indeed, and never did this role involve participation in liturgy, similar to male deacons.  The Pope has already stressed that there can be no women priests. Assuming that he is not changing his mind about that, does he not, then, realise that he is giving false hope and propaganda material to the proponents of women’s ordination by creating this entirely unnecessary “study” into the possibility of allowing “deaconesses” in the Church?  I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with John Vennari’s closing remarks that “the introduction of the destructive novelty of “deaconess” can only lead to further degradation of the Church and the priesthood [and] must be firmly resisted.”  What about you? Do you agree? 

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