Should women be able to preach at mass and be deacons?

Should lay women be able to preach at Mass, and should they be able to become deaconesses?

If yes, why?
If no, why?

If more than this, why?

Only those with Holy Orders can preach a Homily, because a Homily is not a mere speech, but rather something taught by the Church Herself, and integrated in eternity, like the rest of Mass.

To put it another way, in a Homily, the preacher is acting in persona Christi, which is why even a Deacon can preach a Homily. Historically, Bishops would sit down while preaching a Homily because when Christ Preached He would often sit down. Pulpits in older churches (I mean medieval and renaissance) are often up higher too because the Word of God often came from high mountaintops, like with Abraham, Moses and the Burning Bush, Moses and the Commandments, Christ’s Transfiguration, Christ’s Cruxifiction, Christ’s Sermon of the Mount, etc. Simply saying, the Homily has a sort of characteristic that makes it loftier than a mere speech, but I’m not sure what to call it (it’s in a way infallible by the ordinary Magisterium, which is when the Ordained teach what the Church has always taught on faith and morals).

Its important to remember that, roughly speaking, the Clergical hierarchy corresponds to the hierarchy of ancient Judaism (I include this information becsue its insights might make it easier to understand why the Catholic views of the clergy are the way they are):

Deacon == Rabbi

Presbyter/ Catholic Priest == Temple Priest

Bishop == Temple High Priest

Notice that only Bishops and Priest can perform the Sacrifice of the Mass, just as only the Priest and the High Priest performed the Temple Sacrifices and rituals. This is because the Bishop/Priest is partaking in Christ’s eternal Priesthood, which is based in Jewish Temple Sacrifice.

So, simply, because a preacher preaching a Homily is acting as Christ, he must be ordained, as the Ordained Clergy are organ of His Body specifically meant to perform such duties. Basically, all the reasons a woman cannot be a priest is the same reasons she cannot be a deacon.

Christi pax,


What about the fact that this notion of only priests and deacons can preach originated in the 13th century and does not reflect the ways of the first millennium?

Redemptionis Sacramentum (RS)

“As was already noted above, the homily on account of its importance and its nature is reserved to the Priest or Deacon during Mass. As regards other forms of preaching, if necessity demands it in particular circumstances, or if usefulness suggests it in special cases, lay members of Christ’s faithful may be allowed to preach in a church or in an oratory outside Mass in accordance with the norm of law. This may be done only on account of a scarcity of sacred ministers in certain places, in order to meet the need, and it may not be transformed from an exceptional measure into an ordinary practice, nor may it be understood as an authentic form of the advancement of the laity. All must remember besides that the faculty for giving such permission belongs to the local Ordinary, and this as regards individual instances; this permission is not the competence of anyone else, even if they are Priests or Deacons.” (RS 161)
I believe this makes it very plain to anyone who wishes to hear. The Church is not bound to consider the ministry mores of the early Centuries after Christ. It can decide by changes to its Canon Law and determinations by its delegated authorities to frame its worship within the culture of the day. Thus the New Order of the Mass.

I don’t vote on polls as if the Church is a democracy. What it teaches it teaches. Better not to foment debate about issues that are set within the ministry of the Church.

Vatican newspaper essays say women should preach at Mass

Is that what this thread is about?

Keep in mind that this has nothing at all to do with women’s ordination which is moot point.

This is a matter of a liturgical discipline which (as with all disciplines) can change.

Do I think it should? No.

There’s no need to fix something that isn’t broken.

No! The first sacrifice of the Mass was administered by a Man and that Man ordained only men to continue it.

No, priests need to talk to their flock. Many people only hear their priest talk during the homily, as they don’t come to Church any other time.

In most parishes, Deacons only give the homily once a month, if at all.

Most cantors and lectors are women, women play a huge part in the mass already. Also, many women do preach or teach at RCIA, CCD, Adult Faith Formation events, etc.

We don’t need the laity giving homilies.

God Bless

The answer to this first part (about preaching) must clearly be in the negative, per the words of the Holy Spirit speaking through St. Paul: “As in all the churches of the holy ones, women should keep silent in the churches, for they are not allowed to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. But if they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home. For it is improper for a woman to speak in the church.” (1 Cor. 14:33-35). Given that other passages of the Pauline epistles presuppose that women prophecy and the like, it seems clear that he has in mind preaching. Nor can this be merely explained as a custom of the time, seeing how calls the discipline universal, and of the law.

To the second question, most orthodox theologians are of the opinion that a woman cannot be ordained to any grade of holy orders validly, since the Church only has the power to regulate this sacrament’s administration as regards liceity, not validity, but canon law (CIC 1204) clearly states that only males can be validly ordained (no mention of just the priesthood), and thus it seems that women cannot be ordained sacramentally. In regards to the historical deaconesses, this must be regarded either as a non-sacramental office, or an error.

So in short, the reply to both questions is, in the negative.

Benedicat Deus,

Women are not able to be deacons.

Every priest in the world could lay hands on a woman, go through the rite of ordination and nothing would happen.

She would think she is a deacon but she would not be. She would no more be a deacon than a tree would be a deacon if it were ordained. It just isn’t possible.


Aside from tradition…where exactly does it say in the original biblical text “Women can’t be ordained” , simply put like that? I’m sure you realize that the vague information presented now can be manipulated easily. And I’m also sure that once you acquire a certain position and title…nothing can deny that. :rolleyes:

There is not a definite yes or no to this question. Other churches from Orthodoxy have female deacons. For example within the Armenian apostolic church. And the catholic church made an agreement with them in which they recognised their clergy, this includes these deaconesses. In a document talking about this subjet of female ordination they outruled female ordination to the priesthood or to become a bishop. There wasn’t anything about female deacons, because there is evidence to suggest the reverse, that women were in fact ordained deacons. Though this is disputed, wether or not these deaconesses received holy orders is a discussion.

If any member from the Armenian Apostolic, Russian orthodox, Bulgarian orthodox, Romanian orthodox or Japanese orthodox church could shed some light unto this that would be a big help.

Those who flatout say yes or no are in the wrong. The church hasn’t spoken about this subject.

The question I would ask is, are these “female deacons” sacramentally ordained like their male counterparts are? Or is it an office of sorts?

I read this last night on a website that summarized another opinion piece in some Italian magazine. I have not had time to search the omniscient GOOGLE for the evidence of this. If you do, could you please link to some sources?


Wow, OK, I didn’t see this post before. Where did you get that from? If anything, the council of Nicea, from much before the 13th century, already settled this issue. :confused:

Likewise in the case of their [Paulianists] deaconesses, and generally in the case of those who have been enrolled among their clergy, let the same form be observed. And we mean by deaconesses such as have assumed the habit, but who, since they have no imposition of hands, are to be numbered only among the laity.

*]If deaconesses were permitted, why not allow them to be rebaptized and ordained, like their male counterparts? Why number these women among the laity, instead of just ordaining them to the diaconate correctly, as was done with their male counterparts?
*]This interpretation make Canon 19 bizarrely redundant. You would have to conclude that the Canon says that (a) none of the ordinations of any of the Paulianists are valid, and then (b) none of the ordinations of any of the Paulianist women are valid. The second part would add nothing that wasn’t already the logical conclusion of the first part. If the Paulianist ordinations are invalid, then obviously, the ordinations of Paulianist women are invalid.
*]This interpretation would mean that the Canon wasn’t just redundant, but outright misleading. Why single out the deaconesses and say that they should be “numbered only among the laity,” if what you really mean is that all of the Paulianist clergy are numbered among the laity?

I’m glad the op tacked on…‘and be deacons’… because that of course would be a step to what is the real intention of those liberals who constantly bring up the issue…women ‘priests’.

Notice that the question is never asked…‘why the laity can not preach during Mass?’ Not as emotional inducing. :slight_smile:

I voted no. The Church says that women can’t be priests. That’s good enough for me.


Can you link to or post anything from the Council of Nicea that says only Priests and Deacons can preach at mass?

I’m not doubting you, I just don’t have time to search myself, and I think it would be good for the discussion (though I realize that those set in their ideas are not easily persuaded by online discussions)


post before. Where did you get that from? If anything, the council of Nicea, from much before the 13th century, already settled this issue. :confused:


Can you link to or post anything from the Council of Nicea that says only Priests and Deacons can preach at mass?

I’m not doubting you, I just don’t have time to search myself, and I think it would be good for the discussion (though I realize that those set in their ideas are not easily persuaded by online discussions)


More specifically, the council of Nicea only seems to speak of who is and isn’t properly sacramentally ordained; I am operating on the principle that it is only those who are sacramentally ordained can preach/give homilies.

Digging around a bit, I did find this quote from Tertullian.

How wanton are the women of these heretics! they dare to teach,.to dispute, to carry out exorcisms, to undertake cures, it may be even to baptize.

It is not permissible for a woman to speak in church, nor may she teach, baptize, offer, or claim for herself any function proper to a man, and least of all the office of priest.

The Apostle Paul (I Tim. 2:11-14) said, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

To the church at Corinth he said (I Cor. 14:34), “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak.” The spiritual order is explained in I Cor. 11:3, and it is explicitly set forth as: 1- God the Father, 2- Christ, 3- man, 4- woman.


Women, or any laity, giving homilies is a no-no. And women can’t be ordained, ever.

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