The Church has not yet defined whether women can be ordained to the diaconate or not.
If they can be, it does not mean that they can be priests or bishops. The three orders are distinct. A bishop is an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders. If women can be deacons then they can only be permanent deacons - not priests or episcopate.
Archbishop Kallistos Ware of the Orthodox Church believes that Orthodox women ordained as deacons (Orthodoxy at least in Greece has revived the practice) are validly receiving the sacrament the same as male deacons. He bases himself on authentic tradition which to his mind clearly confers the grace of ordination upon women who become “deaconesses” or “female deacons”.
However Holy Mother Church has defined that “priestly ordination” is closed to women, or rather to express this better, the Church has never ordained women to the priesthood or episcopate and does not have the power to do so.
You will find people who are uncomfortable with the truth that the Church might one day ordain women to the diaconate (note: might), since many regard it as a “step” towards women priests. This is a fallacy because the idea of women priests is heretical and will never happen.
From another post of mine on this forum:
It is an open question. And we must leave it up to the Magisterium.
“Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32)** I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly** ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” (Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, n. 4.)
Notice they key word? “PRIESTLY”. John Paul II did not address the issue of the “diaconate”, which is still open for discussion whether people like it or not.
As per the revision of Canon Law by Pope Benedict (which, in my opinion, widened the already-open door to allow the possibility of women deacons):
“§3. Those who are constituted in the order of episcopate or presbyterate receive the office and faculty of acting in the person of Christ the Head, while deacons receive the power to serve the people of God in the diaconia of liturgy, word and charity”
Thus, priests and bishops are configured to Christ, and act in persona Christi. Deacons do not. Similarly, in Benedict’s reworking of this piece of law, priests and bishops are configured to a specific gender — the male Christ — but deacons are not.
Once more, clear proof that this question is still “open”.
If the Magisterium tells me that women were not ordained as deacons, then women cannot be deacons. Period. If it tells me that women can be ordained as deacons, then they can be. And that’s that.
I really don’t know, its up to the Holy Spirit guiding the Church.
Perhaps it might of use to consider our beloved Orthodox brothers’ opinion on this matter…
Bishop Kallistos Ware wrote:
“…The order of deaconesses seems definitely to have been considered an “ordained” ministry during early centuries in at any rate the Christian East. … Some Orthodox writers regard deaconesses as having been a “lay” ministry. There are strong reasons for rejecting this view. In the Byzantine rite the liturgical office for the laying-on of hands for the deaconess is exactly parallel to that for the deacon; and so on the principle lex orandi, lex credendi—the Church’s worshipping practice is a sure indication of its faith—it follows that the deaconesses receives, as does the deacon, a genuine sacramental ordination: not just a χειροθεσια (chirothesia) but a χειροτονια (chirotonia)…”