Catholic Women Deacons—Why Not?

Fr. Longenecker summarizes the current situation.


From the article:

The Pope’s discussion group on women deacons has met and made some sort of report […]

Has the report been made available?

Ever hear the saying “If you give a mouse a cookie”? Well he’s going to want a glass of milk.

If you ordain women to be deacons you are opening a backdoor for them to enter the priesthood. People will say “look women are now ordained as deacons, why not priests?” And then the battle to ordain women as priests will get a lot more intense. Mark my words, if you ordain women to be deacons, the debate for them to become priests will get much hotter. The Church would be letting the genie out of the bottle in my opinion if this happened.

Men and women simply have different roles. To quote Fulton Sheen: “it isn’t sexism, it’s a differentiation of function!”


Not to the public.

There was just a symposium on the topic. See

From the report on the symposium:


That is a very well written post from Pray Tell.

Thank you for sharing, and it gives some insight in the current happenings—albeit without the actual report. :blossom:

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You can have whatever opinion you like about whether or not women should be deacons or priests; but you can’t have your own opinion of the definition of the word “sexism”: prejudice or discrimination based on sex


I have to say the arguments for women deacons seem more firmly rooted in history, Scripture and theology than the arguments I’ve read against them. (And I was initially opposed to them)

I don’t think the fact some people will see it as an opening for women priests is a good enough reason to deny half the church an opportunity to serve, if there really are no other barriers to women serving as deacons. (But I guess that’s the main question)

Of course, I will accept whatever the church decides.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t there still deaconesses in some of the eastern churches?


There were deaconesses in the early Church. Of course, their role was not liturgical, although some were responsible for the choir, and in our Byzantine Churches that is a liturgical duty. There is some writings of the early Church were we see they, in some places, may have presided over the Eucharist, but of course that was seen to be invalid.

Their role in the early Church was one of ministry. Instruction of female catechumens, helping with the baptism of females, etc.



I guess this is where questions arise for me. What would be the modern role of these deaconesses? It seems their ancient roles are obsolete today.

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I guess I’m just a patriarchal sexist male then who believes Christ was male, chose male apostles. If you want to see ordained women, I hear there’s a nice Lutheran church in your neighborhood calling to you.

You ordain women and you are saying that Christ is female, that is blasphemy.

Allowing women to be deacons is going to fuel the debate for women to be priests. “We made them deacons, why not priests now?” Every feminist group (and many female deacons, you wait and see) will be pushing harder than ever before to accomplish this and they will not rest until they succeed in tearing down the Church.

You are so naïve if you think if women are ordained to be deacons it will put an end to the debate of women being priests once and for all. Au contraire, it will only fuel the push for them to be priests like never before.

But what do I know? It’s a new age right and we must be open to all new ideas yes? Guess I’m just a sexist male pig who’s trapped in the Middle Ages.


Since Scott84 was quoting Bishop Sheen at the end of his post I suppose you have an issue with what the Bishop said? The Bishop wasn’t defining sexism. He was pointing out that it is not sexism to recognize the different functions and roles of men and women.

  1. the Deaconesses from history in the Catholic Church were not the same as the Deacons. The deaconess had no role to play during Mass, other than hold the door closed (which was eventually taken over by the Porter).
  • The Deaconess was a kin to the minor orders of Porter, Lector, Exorcist & Acoyte, plus the major order (but did not receive Holy Orders of Sub-Deacon. In reality, the Deaconess was most like the Porter, because the Lector, Acoyte & Sub-Deacon all had roles to play during Mass, because the Porter’s only job was to hold the door.

  • The Church eliminated the minor orders in the Latin Church (but we still have them in the Eastern Catholic Church and in the traditional religious orders).

  1. Yes, SOME Orthodox still have the deaconess OR have reinstated the deaconess, but the role and wisdom of such a thing is under attack. Not all of Orthodox Churches allow this.
  • Additionally, the role they would play is under must debate.
  • There are also difference between Catholics and Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy generally isn’t OK with laity having leadership roles. However, the Catholic church doesn’t have an issue with Laity in leadership and is slowing growing this.

I think Father Longenecker does a great job of explaining this. What would be the purpose of a deaconess in the Catholic Church? If we want her to be the exact same thing as a Deacon, we already know from Catholic history that this was not the case. So we would be creating a new job with an old name. But if her job was just service, for what reason do we need to ordain lay people to do jobs they are already doing?

God bless


I thought Fr. Longenecker was spot on in his article.

I, also, agree with others if women are allowed to be deacons, it will only increase the push for women priests.


I agree with fr Longenecker that ordination of women as deaconness will be of no necessary if we want them to fullfill their original role. If we do, it would be to do the same job as deaconess, such as work on the peripheries of Church (with thoses people who are not “very” catholic), and supply the shortage of priests for some role such as marriage and baptisms.

But i disagree with him that what we currentlty need is to expend the roles of laity. Now, what is the problem is that we do not have any priest available in many circunstances because they are less and less…

Saying that we shouldn’t allow them to be deacons because they’ll start pushing for more simply isn’t a good argument against it at all. Should we also not allow women to do other stuff (e.g. Getting a job) because they’ll start pushing for more as a result (e.g. Abortion)?

I think female deacons may not be necessary because women are already doing these roles, unless the Church wants to formally recognize them. If so, I don’t really care.


I would hope that the deaconess would serve as they did in the ancient Church. There would definitely have to be solid teaching on this so that there is not some idea that the deaconess was a step toward the priesthood.

I know that the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria has recently looked into this as well. I wonder if the Coptic Orthodox Church as deaconesses?


This is all about women as priests.

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That article is coming up restricted for me. Can you summarize it?

For many pushing for it in the West, I imagine that is the case. It certainly isn’t in those Orthodox Churches that recently reinstated the order of deaconess. Heck, the Orthodox don’t even allow altar girls, or women to step foot in the sanctuary period.


If the Church returns to the practice of naked baptisms, there would probably be a role for deaconesses.

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