Sunday, January 7, 2018

Five Influential Women

Five influential women stand out in the history of the church between the time the Apostolic Constitutions laid out guidelines for ordaining women to the diaconate in 375 CE and the Council of Orange in 411 CE when the practice was halted. 

Marcella (325-410)
Olympias the Elder (330-361)
Melania the Elder (350-410)
Olympias the Younger (368-408)
Melania the Younger (383-439)

What happened in this short period of time that would trigger such a swift change in the church's policy?  There is scant evidence in the lives of these influential women of a scandal that would motivate the Holy See to back away from the decision to elevate women to positions of authority in the church.  It seems likely that women deacons were caught in the crossfire during the period of hostile rivalry between Rome, Constantinople, Antioch and Alexandria that ultimately led to the schism between East and West.