Is Holy Orders one (1) sacrament?

My question derives from my discussion with an Anglican who believes in Women ordinations.

It came from Canon 15 of the council of Tries to remember name Carthegenon?? I’m sorry I’m not prepared.

Anyways it states that a woman can be ordained to the diaconate at the age of 40.

Now if this Canon state that women can be ordained at least the diaconate, and the Sacraments of Holy Orders are one Sacrament, then does this mean that Women can be ordained priest and episcopates also?

Or is the Sacrament three (3) seperate sacraments summed up into one (1)?

Thank you for your time.

***This thread does refer back to my Galatians 3:28 separate thread.

The name ‘deaconess’ was used for women who served in the Church but not in the sense of ordained deacon, just in the basic Greek meaning of the word (διάκονος). The word"diakonos" is of Greek origin, meaning “one who serves” (literally, “one who runs through the dust” after his master). They simply helped the priest when immersion Baptism was used…and in ways that we would differently name now, ‘someone who visit sick women’ or ‘the ladies who arranges the flowers in the church’.

There is only one Sacrament of priestly Orders, which has levels of ordination within it.

Quite an extreme stretch by your liberal Anglican friend.

Here is another question: If Bishops can perform ordinations, and the Sacraments of Holy Orders are one Sacrament, then does this mean that Priests and Deacons can also perform ordinations? Of course not!

If there were absolutely no difference at all between Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, then there wouldn’t be separate names for them! So obviously there must be some differences between them.

Holy Orders is one Sacrament with three levels or “orders”–Deacon, Priest, and Bishop. A man in his lifetime may receive one, two, or all three of the Orders. A Deacon receives the first Order, A priest receives Orders one and two, and a Bishop all three. The Pope is a Bishop–no separate Orders for Pope.

The Catholic Church does not ordain women to the diaconate.

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)…”

I wondered what the Vatican was planning when I saw the revision to the canon law on the diaconate in Omnium in mentem states (Oct 26, 2009):

Can. 1009 § 3 will read: [LEFT]“Those who are constituted in the order of the episcopate or the presbyterate receive the mission and capacity to act in the person of Christ the Head, whereas deacons are empowered to serve the People of God in the ministries of the liturgy, the word and charity”.
Do you think they are contemplating deaconess holy orders?


I personally think it is possible, yes :shrug:

As I said many Catholics would be alarmed because they are not aware of the intricacies of this issue.

But see this article from 2 days ago:

An excerpt (click link to read in full):

Canon law expert endorses possibility of women deacons

September 30, 2012 By Deacon Greg Kandra

Hot on the heels of this piece from a retired auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre, another priest from that diocese has also announced his support for women deacons. He is Msgr. John Alesandro, who among other things has served that diocese as Vicar General, Chancellor and, for a time, Diocesan Administrator.

From Newsday:

It is a true that current canon law forbids it, but that is irrelevant as to a future decision by the Holy Father. To conclude that there is no possibility is quite a leap.

The question of whether women can be validly ordained as deacons is a doctrinal one, not canonical. The real question is whether the prohibition of such an ordination is, when applied to diaconate, repeating an unchangeable doctrinal teaching or, alternatively, expressing a legal prohibition that can be altered — something that has happened in many areas of law in the past.

In fact, recent amendments to the canons by Pope Benedict XVI suggest that this is a legal prohibition and that a change in this matter is quite possible. Bishop Emil Wcela, a retired auxiliary bishop from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, addresses this question in the article when he notes that, three years ago, a significant paragraph was added to distinguish the diaconate from the episcopate or priesthood. The key role of bishops and priests as iconic representations of “Christ the Head,” which is one of the principal arguments for a male priesthood, was explicitly removed from the description of deacons.

PHYLLIS ZAGANO wrote in 2007 (an excerpt):

As late as the eleventh century the right of a diocesan ordinary to ordain women deacons was confirmed, as in the 1017 letter of Pope Benedict VIII Benedict VIII which confirms that diocesan ordinary’s privileges: “We concede and confirm to you and to your successors in perpetuity every episcopal ordination (ordinationem episcopalem), not only of presbyters but also of deacons or deaconesses (diaconissis) or subdeacons.” (15)

That is, the episcopal right of a diocesan ordinary to ordain (not “appoint” or “bless”) women deacons in his own diocese was confirmed by a pope. The fact that women deacons or deaconesses are listed ahead of subdeacons supports the notion that they were ordained to major orders.

The East presents even more recent evidence. In addition to the deep history regarding women deacons in the West, some churches in “imperfect communion” with the Catholic Church–some Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches–never wholly abandoned the practice of ordaining women deacons, at least monastic women deacons. (16) They generally continued the practice well into the 11th century, and, in some places, into the 19th century.

In our century, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece The Church of Greece (Greek: Ἐκκλησία τῆς Ἑλλάδος Ekklēsía tês Helládos voted in October 2004 to restore women’s monastic diaconate, specifically to assist in the liturgy and to minister to ill sisters. But some synod members asked about a nonmonastic ministerial female diaconate as well, to provide for needs outside the monastery. (17)

The Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church The Armenian Apostolic Church (Armenian: Հայ Առաքելական Եկեղեցի, Hay Arakelagan Yegeghetzi), sometimes called the Armenian Orthodox Church or the recognize each others’ sacraments and apostolic succession. The Armenian Apostolic Church already ordains women deacons, at least three of whom belong to a religious order and run an orphanage in Lebanon. (18)

These Churches, the Orthodox Church of Greece and the Armenian Apostolic Church, speak to Benedict’s suggestion that women can be more fully incorporated into the (ordained) ministry of the Catholic Church. The synod fathers of the Orthodox Church of Greece asked for active women deacons, and the ordained women deacons of the Armenian Apostolic Church already live the active charism of “ministry” to the people of God in the technical sense Benedict refers to.

Another excerpt from the same article:

The terms Benedict XVI used on March 2, 2006, in Rome are quite clear. The pope, the principal teacher of the Church, has said that women may be able to enter into church governance and ministry. Strictly speaking, each requires ordination, but not necessarily priestly ordination.

In a German television interview broadcast August 13, 2006, Benedict repeated that women could not become priests because Christ chose only male apostles, but he seems to have indicated that canon law might change to allow women more power. The pope essentially reiterated his comments of March 2, 2006, adding: “***But there’s a juridical problem: according to Canon Law the power to take legally binding decisions is limited to Sacred Orders. So there are limitations from this point of view but I believe that women themselves, with their energy and strength, with their superiority, with what I’d call their ‘spiritual power,’ will know how to make their own space. And we will have to try and listen to God so as not to stand in their way.***” (43)

Has the Pope found the answer in his recent modification of canon law? :shrug:

Women deacons would enable woman to preach and deal with church’s funds/finance (that is governance). It would also pave the way for women “deacon-cardinals”, since the cardinalate is not an ordained ministry.

Priesthood and episcopate are eternally closed to women, however.

Cardinal George’s statements in this news article (from August) indicate that its an open question unlike what many here claim:

Cardinal George declined to answer specific questions from the Tribune, reiterating through his spokeswoman that the matter of female deacons is still an “open theological question” for the church. During his meeting with parishioners, George expressed reservations, suggesting some theological questions had to be resolved first. But he also promised to include it in his report to the pope and to raise it with key leaders during his February meeting in Rome with the church’s leadership.

I have a strange feeling that this may be the “bombshell” moment of the Benedict’s papacy.

A good article on the possibility of women deacons from two days ago:

Q: Is the diaconate a sacrament in its own right?
Müller: The Church teaches clearly that the sacrament of orders is one of the seven sacraments of the Church; as the full exercise in the Holy Spirit of the mission, unique in its origin, of the apostles of Christ, exercised in its fullness by the bishop. According to its degree of specificity, the differentiated participation in it is called presbyterate or diaconate.

Q: Is it possible to separate the diaconate of women from the priesthood of women?
Müller: No — because of the unity of the sacrament of orders, which has been underlined in the deliberations of the Theological Commission; it cannot be measured with a different yardstick. Then it would be a real discrimination of woman if she is considered as apt for the diaconate, but not for the presbyterate or episcopacy.
The unity of the sacrament would be torn at its root if, the diaconate as ministry of service, was opposed to the presbyterate as ministry of government, and from this would be deduced that woman, as opposed to man, has a greater affinity to serve and because of this would be apt for the diaconate but not for the presbyterate.
However, the apostolic ministry all together is a service in the three degrees in which it is exercised.
The Church does not ordain women, not because they are lacking some spiritual gift or natural talent, but because — as in the sacrament of marriage — the sexual difference and of the relation between man and woman contains in itself a symbolism that presents and represents in itself a prior condition to express the salvific dimension of the relation of Christ and the Church.
If the deacon, with the bishop and presbyter, starting from the radical unity of the three degrees of the orders, acts from Christ, head and Spouse of the Church, in favor of the Church, it is obvious that only a man can represent this relation of Christ with the Church.
And in reverse, it is equally obvious that God could only take his human nature from a woman and, because of this, womankind has in the order of grace — because of the internal reference of nature and grace — an unmistakable, fundamental, and in no way merely accidental importance.

As a general rule of thumb America is not a publication that I would use the word ‘good’ to describe unless you mean good is that the editors will from time to time encourage you to entertain ideas that church castigates as distortions of history, theology etc etc.


Do you have a reference for an example of this “castigation”?

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