The question of women deacons

The Church does not have the authority to ordain women to the priesthood.

But does the Church have the authority to ordain women to the deaconate?
And is the answer to this question an open question?

The diaconate is a sacrament of Holy Orders. Women may not validly receive Holy Orders in the CC, to the best of my knowledge.


I would have to agree with Fides concerning Holy Orders and the Church not being able to ordain women deacons.

However there is still the question of the position of deaconess, of which the Church has a history, that may be a possibility for women.

see here and here and here

The consensus seems to be that these women were given the TITLE but not Holy Orders.

At least thats how I read this.


Very much agreed that this title was not associated with Holy Orders as such regarding the diaconate, priesthood and episcopate, this was some station entirely different. I am pretty sure one of the early councils did mention the ordaining of deaconess and the restrictions thereof. Now this position had certain duties such as preparation of women for baptism and assisting in the baptism of women along with some other duties. I will look it up when I get home for the reference.

The question was not about the priesthood. It was about the diaconate.There’s a difference, according to Catholic sacramental theology and practice.

The church recognizes there is nothing in the New Testament that precludes ordaining women to the diaconate.There is nothing in tradition either. So it’s an open question.

Ordinatio Sacerdotalis teaches that the Church does not have the authority to ordain women to the priesthood. But nothing is said about the deaconate. Currently, women cannot be ordained to the deaconate. But the question is whether the Church has the authority, if She so chooses, to ordain women deacons.

My opinion is that the Church has the authority to ordain women deacons, because it is a substantially different type of role than priest. A priest stands in persona Christi, and deacon does not. Also a deacon does not dispense any Sacrament that a layperson cannot also dispense in extraordinary circumstances.

So my answer is that, Yes, the Church has the authority, however this is in the realm of theological opinion. The Church has not yet decided the question.

You hit the nail soundly on the head!

IMHO a woman should not be a deacon. I’m sure feminazis would disagree, but leadership roles that require a vestment should only be occupied by men. Deacons are allowed to read the Gospel, hence, only a man should be in that position. My wife agrees with this opinion as well BTW.
Please dont label me a woman basher as I am married to a wonderful women who has blessed me with two children. I have the utmost respect for women, but women and men have different roles to play in life.

The only problem here is that the diaconate is a participation in ordination into Holy Orders and canon law states the following.

Can. 1024 A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly.

So until canon law is changed a woman can not be ordained a deacon.

Wait a second here!! Did someone hack into Ron Conte’s account? I have been lurking around here for a while and his posts and website seem quite the contrary to what his OP asked! :shrug:

from his own “catholic planet” website:

"Women should not be political leaders. In politics, a woman should not be President or Vice President or Senator or Representative or Governor or a State legislator. A woman should not have any elected or appointed political position with authority over men, because it is contrary to the teaching of Scripture. A woman should not be Judge in any court of law, because courts have authority over men.

In general, women should not be law enforcement officers, though some exceptions to this rule can be made when a female is specifically needed for certain tasks (e.g. undercover law enforcement work or work involving women prisoners or involving children). Women should not be soldiers. Women should never be military officers with authority over male soldiers; this is an abomination in God’s eyes."

Wow! I really think someone hacked his CA account!!

Can you site Church document supporting this postion?



Wikipedia has a summary of this matter (see here). The final paragraph is:

In 2003, Father Ronald G. Roberson gave a presentation on the diaconate in the Latin Church to annual meeting of the U.S. Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation. He summarized the state of deaconess issue as follows: “The possibility of ordaining women to the diaconate is still an unsettled question in the Catholic Church. Latin rituals for ordaining deaconesses exist from as late as the 10th century, but the precise sacramental nature of these ordinations has not yet been determined authoritatively. There are recent indications that the Holy See intends to continue the exclusion of women from this office.”[33]

Thanks for the quote.

Still no know Church teaching to this effect then. i.e. The summary opinion of one priest does not a “Catholic” teaching make.


Canon law is clear on who can be ordained.

Can. 1009: The orders are the episcopate, the priesthood and the diaconate.
Can. 1024: Only a baptised man can validly receive sacred ordination.

Author and noted apologist Peter Kreeft has a free and highly insightful recording of a speech regarding women in Holy Orders. In this, he notes that the only place where women had ever been part of a priesthood as a matter of course were in pagan religions. Women were never *ordained *in either Judaic or Christian faiths.

Catholic Answers has a tract that summarizes official Church teaching on the matter.

A deacon is just as much of an ordained member as a priest for the powers given of that title.

The Wiki article has multiple references. Check out the one for this sentence:

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote in 1977 that the possibility of ordaining women as deacons was “a question that must be taken up fully by direct study of the texts, without preconceived ideas.”[24]

I found the actual document (see here):

In some writers of the Middle Ages however, there was a certain hesitancy, reported by Saint Bonaventure without adopting it himself and noted also by Joannes Teutonicus in his gloss on Caus. 27, q.1, c.23. This hesitancy stemmed from the knowledge that in the past there had been deaconesses: had they received true sacramental ordination? This problem has been brought up again very recently. It was by no means unknown to the 17th and 18th century theologians who had an excellent knowledge of the history of literature. In any case, it is a question that must be taken up fully by direct study of the texts, without preconceived ideas; hence the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged that it should be kept for the future and not touched upon in the present document.

It depends on what you mean by deacons and ordination.

Does the church have the authority to have a ceremony, after which a woman is called a deaconess, and she can then perform baptism of female converts?

Absolutely. There’s ton of precedent.

Is it the same as a man’s ordination to the diaconate? Is she a deacon the same as him, but only with different naughty bits?

Those are open questions.

So, I voted yes because whether or not we can “ordain” “deaconesses” is not open. It’s definitely true. What we mean by ordain and what we mean by deaconess is open.

What position, exactly? I am not clear what exactly you are referring to. Thanks.

Well of course! But the point is, changing the ecclesial discipline regarding ordination to the diaconate is fundamentally different (and theologically and canonically simpler) than changing the current practice and legislation regarding the presbyterate.

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