So maybe I misunderstand you. Are you asking for some sort of special class? Say like how a Warrant Officer functions in the Army??
It's funny, that is one of the occupational analogies I thought of. Staying within the scope of religion, though, it is amazing how thoroughly the
position coincides with the non-Anglican Protestant concept of "minister."
Even apart from the issue of women deacons, I think the permanent diaconate needs a mission statement
. But, as I said to adj
, the way the
permanent diaconate is structured, it's really up to each individual bishop how he uses the opportunity.
There's no inherent reason why a deacon would be a priest-substitute, or that a priest would be a deacon-substitute. If it works out that way, then
it is because of a bishop's choice to do that.
Vatican II did introduce the "permanent diaconate" but my understanding of deacons is that their are only 3 (I think) sacraments they cannot
do, yet their ordination are of the same Orders.
It's three they can do... As I understand the sacramental situation:
Bishops only: Orders and Confirmation
Priests only: Eucharist (the consecration), Penance, Last Rites
Ordained only: Matrimony (witness for the Church - or delegate that role to a lay person in extraordinary circumstances)
Depending on circumstances, anybody: Eucharist (administration), Baptism, Matrimony (witness, layperson if delegated)
but maybe I'm confused by your post then... my understanding is there were female deacons in the early church, yes, but it was mostly for
reasons of modesty and propriety in the ancient society.
Clement of Alexandria thought Apostles' wives (not necessarily ordained women) contributed to the general "propriety" of the early preaching to
women in an unspecified, but apparently varied, ministry to women. It is also clear that at some times and places there were women whose principal
function was to accompany other women into the water of full immersion baptism while a priest presided nearby.
However, it does not follow that women deacons typically existed only for that one function, although perhaps some
did. Also, my understanding
is that the church still has lay women who might be ministered to more effectively and conveniently by a woman. So, I don't see that as a problem in
the historical situation, that a woman, like any other deacon, would perform ministerial services for which she, and not a priest or a male deacon,
were the better qualified, all things considered.
In ancient times, it may well have been that women played only the roles that only women could play. In modern times, the problem is that half the
people who can play almost any role are women, and yet only the other half is allowed to serve with the benefit of a sacrament.