Metropolitan Kallistos Ware Speaks on Women Deacons

October 2014

In an interview (July 2014) with Theodore Kalmoukos, Religion Editor of The National Herald, a weekly Greek-American publication, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware was asked about the ministry of women in the Church. The following is an excerpt fro that interview:

Kalmoukos: Regarding the ministry of women in the Church, do you think it is practical to go back to the ancient tradition of the Church of the Deaconesses?

Met. Kallistos: I certainly would welcome the revival of the Order of Deaconesses; it was never officially abolished. Their main function in the early Church was to help at the baptism of adult women converts, and when adult baptism ceased they tended to disappear. But if we revive that Order today, we could give them new and different functions. They can help in teaching the work of the Church. They could be appointed to preach homilies in Church.

Kalmoukos: May we speak of the ordination of Deaconesses, since their ordination took place in the Altar during the Eucharist?

Met. Kallistos: I think we need to study the whole question of Deaconesses closely because they were not regarded necessarily the same way everywhere in the early Church. Yes, in some places in Christian East they received an ordination very similar to that of the Deacon, and in that sense we could regard the Deaconesses as ordained. In the West, on the other hand, I think they were not so regarded; they were not considered ordained. So, what is needed in the Orthodox Church today is a more thorough discussion of the meaning of the ministry of Deaconesses and how we are to understand that role is not a question of reviving the order but what we actually would be reviving. We also need to revive the order of Deacon for men because for most men, it is just a step to the priesthood. So, I think we need to look at the whole question more thoroughly.

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The above interview was conducted in Brookline, Massachusetts, on June 20, 2014, at a conference entitled, “Divine Compassion and Women of the Church: Theological Perspectives” sponsored by St. Catherine’s Vision, the Metropolis of Boston, and Holy Cross School of Theology at Holy Cross School of Theology, where the conference took place.

The complete article, “Met. Kallistos Ware on Life, Heaven, Hell”, appearing in the July 4-11, 2014 edition of The National Herald, can be found at http://www.thenationalherald.com/51165/

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