Church steps back to the future

The Greek Orthodox Church seems to have taken tentative steps toward entertaining the possibility of inducting women into its order for the first time since the fifth century, after the Holy Synod said that the subject was broached during its meeting yesterday. The Church governing body said Bishop Chrysostomos of Halkida had initiated a discussion on the subject of the role of women in the Church and the revival of female deacons, who were part of the Church during the fourth and fifth centuries. Twelve bishops and Archbishop Christodoulos, the head of the Church of Greece, make up the Holy Synod. It was decided that women could be used as deacons in remote monasteries, at the discretion of bishops. However, the Holy Synod ruled that the women would not be formally ordained. This outcome did not please some of the holy men. «The role of female deacons must be in society and not in the monasteries,» Chrysostomos, the bishop of Peristeri, is quoted as saying by the Athens News Agency (ANA). Other bishops felt there was no need to go any further than the Holy Synod had decided. «As far as I know, the induction of women into the police and the army was a failure and we want to return to this old matter?» said Anthimos, bishop of Thessaloniki. Meanwhile, the Hierarchs of the Church of Greece, a body made up of 62 bishops, voted against allowing Archbishop Christodoulos to meet with the pope, for the time being. Christodoulos had planned to spend time with Pope John Paul II during a forthcoming trip to Rome, to reciprocate the Pontiff’s ground-breaking official visit to Greece in 2001. After the vote, the archbishop was quoted as saying he still believed that the Church of Greece should be open to more progressive ideas.