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St. Basil of Caesaria (329-379)

The exact meaning of the following canon is not clear. ‘Consecration’ could mean ‘made holy through ordination’ or ‘dedicated to continence’ which was a requirement for the women’s diaconate.[1]

Canon 44.  The woman deacon [‘η διακονος] who has committed fornication with a pagan [lit. ‘the Greek’] will be admitted to penance [= not receive communion], and she will not be admitted back to the offering [= the eucharist] until after seven years, and only provided that she has continued to live a chaste life during that time. The pagan [‘the Greek’] who after [accepting] faith, commits sacrilege [lit. ‘temple robbery’] a second time, returns [like a dog] to his vomit. But as to us, we no longer permit the body of a woman deacon [της διακονου], since it has been consecrated [καθιερωμενον = ‘made holy’?], to remain in carnal usage. [2]

References

1. As referring to ordination: A.Kalsbach, Die altkirche Einrichtung der Diakonissen bis zu ihrem Erlöschen, Freiberg 1926, p.109, note I; as referring to consecration: Gryson, ministry, pp51.2.

2. Letter to Amphilochius on the Canons, Lett. 199, can. 44; R.I. Deffarari (ed.), Saint Basil. The Letters, vol.3, London 1930, p. 130.


Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

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