Nearly two months after Pope Francis instituted a commission to study women and the diaconate, L’Osservatore Romano has published an article on deaconesses and the early Church.
Carlo Carletti, an archaeology professor at the University of Bari,
said that the starting point for any examination of the topic is Romans
16:1, in which St. Paul refers to “our sister Phoebe, a deaconess.”
Of the 30 inscriptions that refer to deaconesses, said Carletti, 25 have been found in Asia Minor (in modern-day Turkey).
Carletti attributes this geopraphical concentration to the legacy of
St. Paul, who included women in his missionary activity.
In the West, on
the other hand, “the diaconal ministry … remained constantly a male