Eastern Orthodox in Egypt to restore female diaconate

No decision whether deaconesses will be a major order or minor order of ministry, however.

The synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa has voted to restore the order of female deacons. Agenzia Fides reported the synod met from 15-17 Nov 2016 in Alexandria under the presidency of Patriarch Theodorus II (pictured) to appoint a commission of bishops to study how deaconesses could be reintroduced into the life and mission work of the church. Also known as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, or Melkite Church, the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria is an autocephalous Byzantine Rite jurisdiction of the Eastern Orthodox Church, having the African continent as its canonical territory. It differs from the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and was the portion of the Egyptian church that remained in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople after the schism that followed the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The final communique of the assembly noted the reintroduction of deaconesses “are not for us deviations from Orthodox truths, but represent adjustments to the African reality”. While deaconesses disappeared from most Orthodox Churches by the ninth century, the order was never abolished. The Russian Orthodox Church has had deaconesses throughout its history, while on 8 Oct 2004 the Synod of the Church of Greece voted to restore the female diaconate. The Greek Synod authorized bishops to consecrate senior nuns in monasteries of their eparchies to serve behind the walls of the cloister using the to the ritual of St. Nektarios, an ancient Byzantine liturgy that includes the of laying on of hands, the cheirotonia. However, opinion within the Orthodox world remains divided as to whether the cheirotonia in the Rite of St Nektarios, confers the same pneumatic gifts upon women as do the rites for ordination of bishops, priests and deacons for men. Conservative bishops have argued the ordination of women deacons is a not a cheirotonia, or ordination to major orders, but a cheirothesia, a blessing that signifies installation to a minor order.

 
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