ACTION ITEM! Still time to sign up for women’s ordination MOOS!

Some folks who are Catholics for the Ordination of Women (C.O.W.s) are now offering their MOOS to the general public.

Not tweets… MOOS!


I saw at, where else, the National Schismatic Reporter (aka The Fishwrap) that MOOS are yours for the asking!

Our old pals Phyllis Zagano and Rev. Mr. Ditewig are diligently peddling their dubious notion that women should be ordained deacons.

No, no!  Wait!

You’ll be pleased to learn that they are hosting a free online seminar, which is apparently a “Massive Online Open Seminar”!

Perhaps you, dear readers, could give them a little help? Yes, there’s still time! Click HERE and follow the links to their MOOS.  They will have a discussion board, too.

If you sign up, I suspect that you might not be allowed actually to participate, and they will use your registration as a statistic in their favor.  But… hey!  Then we can say that – in a spirit of openness – we helped them, right?

Still time to sign up: Online seminar on women deacons!  Make this MOOS massive!

After you follow the Fishwrap link, be sure to click the correct button at the school’s site.  Here’s a helpful screenshot.

I read one of the little booklets on the topic referenced on The Fishwrap‘s page.  It was an experience.  It was like – how to put this – walking through one of those halls of mirrors that are all different shapes: the images you get have some relation to truth, but … not really.

Alternatively, you could spend your time reading this:

Deaconesses: An Historical Study by A. G. Martimort. This is about the best you can get right now in the English language on the issue. I suspect that more will be forthcoming, even from the Holy See. I would not be at all surprised if, before too very long (in Church-time) there could be something along the lines of Diaconorum ordinis… or maybe Ordinatio diaconalis.  I would very much like it to be from Pope Francis, who has no time for the ordination of women.

After all, what a shame it would be were women to clericalized, which, these days, is about as bad as you can get!  As Pope Francis himself put it:

“Women in the Church must be valued, not clericalized!”


Mooderation… um… Mudderation… the queue is switch ON.


Card. Müller, Prefect of the CDF, also has a book:

Priesthood and Diaconate: The Recipient of the Sacrament of Holy Orders from the Perspective of Creation Theology and Christology


Everyone… please click on that image of Deaconesses, above, and then click that you want the book for Kindle. Please?

You might have to scroll down a little and look on the right.

And if you don’t yet have a Kindle, order one!  I use mine all the time.  I read now more than ever and that was a lot.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mike says:


    As well, Cardinal Muller has a book on deacons, translated into English, available via Ignatius. HERE

  2. Sonshine135 says:

    This post has been milked for all its worth. I’m not in the moo-d to discuss women’s ordination. I’m udderly speechless about this!

  3. Mike says:

    Irrespective of what planets men and women are said to come from (or were said to come from, back in the ancient 1990s when it was generally agreed that there were two sexes), feminism is from Hell.

    Except for a prayer to St. Michael, little more need be said.

  4. benedetta says:

    I do not really feel myself drawn to the office of deacon, or, deaconess, whatever the preferred nomenclature. Rather I desire peace, for myself, and offspring, and those entrusted to me, including minors, at home, at work, in my car, and, at my church. Shall I set up an online seminar? Perhaps fishwrap will feature this experience…I suppose if Ms. Zagano and Rev. Mr. Ditewig could undertake this important duty of deacons to look after those who are oppressed then I could find more largesse to entertain their wild campaign. Until then, this just seems more bread and circuses from the powers that be.

  5. Cafea Fruor says:

    A MOOS about a bunch of bull? Un-herd of!

  6. acardnal says:

    “Zagano Watch!”

  7. Cool Catholic says:

    And it’s the same thing rolling on in Ireland

  8. Gail F says:

    I don’t have the time or energy for that, even in order to see what it’s about and who does it… It doesn’t take a month of readings and discussions to be clear on the issue, it takes maybe a weekend. It would take a month of readings and discussions to rationalize whatever you want to from the clear opposing evidence, though. What a massive waste of time.

  9. Elizabeth D says:

    I signed up weeks ago. Such a valuable opportunity, for free. I love to argue.

    In other valuable news, Suor Cristina won the final thing on Voice of Italy.

  10. James Joseph says:

    My favorite word in Italian incidentally is ‘mucca’. I enjoy the descriptive nature of good words. It reminds me of ‘moo-cow’.

    Alas more word play…

    If I were a Dominican friar I would insist that I am the constituent part of ‘Peter’s Bark’.

  11. Deacon Bill says:

    Fr. Z.,

    “Diligently peddling”? I’m sorry, but I’ve never “diligently peddled” anything. [So, you are not involved in the MOOS?]

    Among the various books, chapters and articles I have written over the years, I once contributed a chapter to a book examining the question of women deacons. My chapter reviewed contemporary church teaching and theology with regard to the diaconate in general, and asked if this Church teaching should be applied to the question of the women and the diaconate. Each author involved in the volume was responsible for our own work. Dr. Gary Macy of Santa Clara University authored a chapter on the history of the question; I wrote on contemporary church teaching; and Dr. Phyllis Zagano examined issues that might affect the future the question. Of course, if people are encouraged to avoid our work, there is no way for it to be competently judged. Consequently, criticisms are raised which actually have little to do with the actual content of the book itself.

    As for this course being hosted through Hofstra, that is an initiative of that University and its faculty. Dr. Macy and I are associated at Santa Clara University, not Hofstra. We gave permission for our work to be used within the course, but we are not actively engaged in the course or its management. [But she is promoting the ordination of women, using your work. Is that okay?]

    What I am “diligently” involved with are many issues of ecclesiology and in the formation of the Church’s laity and clergy. I research and write and teach on a wide variety of topics, from lay ministry, ordained ministry, the relationships between the orders of ministry in the Catholic Church, the relationship of ecclesiology to canon law, and so on. That’s what I do as an academic. In addition I have diocesan leadership responsibilities involving faith formation, the diaconate and pastoral planning, and a full life of diaconal ministry at one of the best parishes in the world. For the record, I am a deacon in good standing of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, (my diocese of incardination) as well as the diocese where I am currently employed and assigned.

    Like you, Father Z, I appreciate it when people portray my work and ministry accurately. That is why I apologized to you recently for inaccuracies contained in one of own blog postings. Sarcasm leads to distortion, which can only create additional confusion.

    In Christ,

    Deacon Bill Ditewig

    [I made sure to refer to you with the title Rev. Mr. in the top entry. Your status is not in question. I am glad that you are not involved in the MOOS! Thanks for the clarification. The Fishwrap piece said, “The seminar is free and registration is now open. It will feature authors William T. Ditewig,….” Apparently that is untrue. You can also use this combox as your opportunity to renounce the ordination of women. That would help.]

  12. William Tighe says:

    An historical note. When the campaign for the pretended ordination of women got under weigh in the Church of England in the early 1970s, the original name of the organization pushing that absurdity was, hold on!, the “Campaign for the Ordination of Women.” Evidently no one bethought themselves about the most unfortunate (or, perhaps, providential, as well as suitable) acronym, COW, that resulted. Very soon, the organization changed its name to Movement for the Ordination of Women. Although its tutelary spirit was manifestly the Zeitgeist, nevertheless in this case, as in so many others, Providence proved to have a sense of humor.

  13. L. says:

    I feel compelled to suggest that permitting these women to become Priest(esses) would at least make the clergy in some places much more masculine, but making that suggestion would be wrong.

  14. The Cobbler says:

    Hmmmm… I think I’ve herd of this before…

  15. Elizabeth D says:

    Deacon Ditewig and Dr Gary Macy are announced in multiple places as people presenting the seminar, and I know when I signed up Deacon Ditewig was part of the course syllabus schedule. I just looked and it is still the same, Week 3 T, June 24 Part I: Power Point: Dr. Ditewig, The Diaconate to the Present (25 minutes); W, June 25 Video Lecture; Dr. Ditewig, Women Deacons, Present Chapter (28 minutes); Th, June 26 Diocese of Santa Clara Faith Formation Lecture, Dr. Ditewig: “The Diaconate in the Contemporary Church” (53 minutes). Also, under the course’s faculty section Deacon Ditewig and Dr Macy are listed as faculty for the course with their contact info and photo, in fact Deacon Ditewig is listed first perhaps because of alphabetical order.

    That is good to hear if he is not now part of the project, hopefully Phyllis Zagano will update the course to reflect that and clear his name and make sure she doesn’t violate his copyrights.

    I also hope Deacon Ditewig will clarify that he does understand women cannot receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

  16. benedetta says:

    “Sarcasm leads to distortion.” OK I’ll bite…I was being sarcastic above about the wild campaign part…looking it over, it doesn’t seem all that wild. More like tired. But all the rest was not sarcasm or joking at all.

    But as we have the presenter for the MOOS conference here on board, let’s discuss it openly. Is the contemporary movement for deaconesses based upon “historicity” or “modern feminism”?

  17. Elizabeth D says:

    I think it is preposterous for Deacon Ditewig to give permission to Phyllis Zagano to use any of his material in a course that is very clearly promoting the idea of sacramentally ordained women deacons, something that is not at all possible, but an idea dangerous to ecclesial communion. It was preposterous for him to be involved in a book promoting that idea. He can now do a service to Christ and to the People of God by being publicly clear that women, while clearly profoundly important in the Church (as Pope Francis put it, women are more important in the Church, as Mary is more important than Peter), and clearly able to be leaders in service, cannot be and will never be able to be validly sacramentally ordained, because the Church has no authority to confer Holy Orders on women.

  18. acardnal says:

    Rev Mr Ditewig, sounds like you got some “splaining” to do.

  19. Deacon Bill says:


    1) Have I given permission to use some of my work in this course? Yes. I have prepared introductory material to be used as an introduction to that work as it is being used in the course. So, to that extent, you could say that I’m “involved” in the course. However, I am not involved in “running” the course, I will not be grading papers, conducting discussion groups, or any of the other myriad things that go along with teaching a course. If participants have a question for me, they can always e-mail me (as any other students would) and I’ll respond to it. However, the way I see it, it’s little different than when another professor uses my material as part of their own course. As I say, I have prepared some things that can be used in the course as introductory and background material.

    2) Without cutting and pasting my whole chapter and its research, I will say that every bit of the official documentation of the papal magisterium has deliberately limited the question of the ordination of women to the sacerdotal orders of presbyter and bishop. As affirmed by the International Theological Commission, under the direction of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (at the time, then-Cardinal Ratzinger), following more than ten years of research into the question, concluded that the Magisterium of the Church has never spoken definitively against the possibility of ordaining women to the diaconate. Cardinal Ratzinger himself, when asked that very question by bishops, canonical groups (such as the CLSA) and so on, he would reply that the question of women deacons had not been addressed. The question being asked was whether the teaching of documents such as “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” applied to the diaconate as well as the sacerdotal orders. The ITC concluded that, while it was skeptical of the idea of ordaining women as deacons, the specific question had not been addressed definitively by the Magisterium and that “it remains for the Church’s ministry of discernment” to address the question (I have that in quotes, and I think it’s accurate, but I’m away from my copy of the document.)

    3) The editio typica of the Catechism of Catholic Church distinguished two modes of participation in the one Sacrament of Order: the sacerdotal orders of presbyter and bishop, and the diaconal order. This teaching was later incorporated into a revision of the Code of Canon Law (see “Omnium in Mentem” which effected that change to the law.) This deliberate distinction between the two modes of participation further raises questions about who may or may not be called to ordained ministry.

    4) So, to remove any doubt, I accept, teach and profess what the Church teaches on the subject of the ordination of women to the sacerdotal orders. However, as a theologian I would be remiss in my professional responsibilities if I didn’t accept the challenge of developing the issues surrounding matters that are not yet definitively settled. I am not a wild-eyed radical pushing any particular agenda other than that of the Church we love and serve! As I said before, I work on many issues of ecclesiology and canon law, not simply this one. I will also tell you that I reviewed my work with my own Cardinal-Archbishop, who was at the time serving as Chair of the USCCB’s Doctrine Committee, and he praised the work. That doesn’t mean he necessarily agreed with everything, but it does mean that he found nothing doctrinally objectionable with it. We are dealing with questions that are being asked in the Holy See itself.

    I’m loathe to get more involved in a discussion via comboxes because we cannot deal adequately with every question or concern. Still, if there are questions and concerns, feel free to contact me at

    God bless,

    Deacon Bill

  20. KylieP says:

    This is gonna be a blast. I can’t wait.

  21. Deacon Bill says:

    PS I’d like to clarify a point in paragraph #3 above:

    I wrote: “This deliberate distinction between the two modes of participation further raises questions about who may or may not be called to ordained ministry.” I would like to be more precise:

    “This deliberate distinction between the two modes of participation further raises questions about who may or may not be ORDAINED INTO THE ORDER OF THE DIACONATE.”


    Deacon Bill

  22. jesusthroughmary says:

    Elizabeth D –

    You are slightly misrepresenting what St. John Paul defined, and the gap is what Deacon Bill is exploiting here. He defined that “the Church has no authority to confer priestly ordination (ordinatio sacerdotalis) on women”. He did not make any such definition regarding ordinatio diaconalis.

  23. jesusthroughmary says:

    NB. When I posted my brief comment regarding ordinatio sacerdotalis vs. ordinatio diaconalis, Deacon Bill’s much more thorough treatment of the same point hadn’t yet appeared in the thread, at least on my screen.

  24. Elizabeth D says:

    jesusthroughmary, I take it for granted we all know and can quote what the last three Popes have affirmed, that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women. The point is, diaconal ordination is not something different, it is the same thing, which cannot be conferred on women. It’s simply not an open question, though because of the harm that comes from those who treat it as such Fr Z is right it grows ever more likely Francis will opt to issue a “Ordinatio Diaconalis” ie a statement spelling it out so even Deacon Bill Ditewig can understand there can be no sacramental diaconal ordination for women. You don’t have to take my word for it. Listen to Cardinal Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

    The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has questioned the notion that a special office could be created for women deacons.

    Archbishop Gerhard Müller said that in order to create a specific, non-sacramental office for women deacons, it would be necessary to prove that such an office was necessary. He was responding to a proposal by Cardinal Walter Kasper to create a specific deacon’s office for women an expression of the common priesthood of all the faithful.

    He pointed out that women were already doing charitable and catechetical work besides being pastoral assistants and recalled that, according to Church teaching, only men could validly be ordained as deacons.

    “One would have to prove that a specific, non-sacramental ministry for women analogous to that of women deacons in the Early Church was necessary today,” Müller concluded.

  25. Geoffrey says:

    I do not really see any “gap” at all. Saint John Paul II said: “Declaramus Ecclesiam facultatem nullatenus habere ordinationem sacerdotalem mulieribus conferendi, hancque sententiam ab omnibus Ecclesiae fidelibus esse definitive tenendam [We 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]” (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 4).

    Venerable Paul VI said: “Institutio Lectoris et Acolythi, iuxta venerabilem traditionem Ecclesiae, viris reservatur [In accordance with the ancient tradition of the Church, institution to the ministries of lector and acolyte is reserved to men]” (Ministeria quaedam, VII).

    To illustrate the current ministries in the Western Church:

    The Instituted Ministries
    – Lector
    – Acolyte (Subdeacon)

    The Ordained Ministries (Sacrament of Holy Orders)
    – Deacon
    – Priest
    – Bishop

    Let us consider that you have to be ordained a deacon before you can be ordained a priest, and you have to be instituted a lector and an acolyte before you can be ordained to the diaconate.

    Ven. Paul VI makes it clear in that only men can be instituted ministers, regardless of whether they are going to receive sacramental ordination or not (hence why there are very few stable instituted ministers, but that’s another story!). St John Paul II makes it clear that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood. It would therefore seem obvious that women cannot be ordained to the diaconate.

    Now, a non-sacramental “ministry of deaconess” with no connection to the ordained ministry of diaconate is another story.

  26. Elizabeth D says:

    Incidentally, as far as I am aware Deacon Ditewig continues to be barred from speaking engagements on Catholic premises in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia due to his involvement in promoting belief in sacramental diaconal ordination of women.

  27. VexillaRegis says:

    HEY! That’s not a COW in the picture, Fr Z, it’s a BULL! Your grades in biology must have been lousy ;-), hehe

  28. JonPatrick says:

    I would have a concern here that even if the Church was somehow able to find a loophole that allowed for the ordination of women to the Diaconate, this will create in effect a 2-tiered structure where men can move on to become Priest or Bishop, whereas women can never go farther than Deacon, which will further embolden those who look at these vocations strictly from a standpoint of who exercises power in the Church and will cry foul at the “glass ceiling”. In other words this will not decrease the pressure for ordaining women to the Priesthood but increase it.

  29. benedetta says:

    So the “ministry of discernment” is to be carried out, in Deacon Bill’s rendering, by theologians who would be remiss not to “develop”?

    And this is progress why?

    I see that an answer to the question of what the contemporary justification would be is thoughtfully omitted. I guess I’ll wait to hear back from those here who are taking the course.

    I also take a side issue with the dig about comboxes. It seems as the inclination is to shut down debate and our open consideration of this here for fear of comboxes.

  30. Scott W. says:

    I feel compelled to suggest that permitting these women to become Priest(esses) would at least make the clergy in some places much more masculine, but making that suggestion would be wrong.

    Yep. Many priests need to go to the storage locker and blow the dust off of their Y chromasone, women “priests” would be the proverbial chopping off a head to cure pneumonia.

  31. Imrahil says:

    Well, dear @Elizabeth D,

    the Rt. Hon. Deacon Bill (I’ll use the forum name) has any right to do what he does. It is quite true that Magisterium has not declared future ordinations of women to the deaconate impossible.

    In addition, there can be many interesting things about the role of woman in salvation history, but, pace the Holy Father and all those pious women out there, I do not believe it simply can be said that “woman is more important in the Church”. If the role of woman is to be projected to the Blessed Virgin, man’s projective point, Lord forgive us our unworthiness, is not St. Peter, but our Lord himself.

    That being said, dear Rt. Hon. Deacon bill, when Cardinal Ratzinger said something to that effect, he was simply commenting on the contents of Ordinatio sacerdotalis and other documents. It is quite true that they don’t contain anything w.r.t. deacons, and so he said, then.

    However… well, however.

    There is such a thing as a sensus fidelium, and anyone can note that wishing the Church to introduce women deacons does not seem the Catholic thing to do. (This is not yet a real argument, I know.) Is there anyone out there who thinks we should if we could (not: we could) ordain women to the deaconate – anyone, that is, who accepts as binding forever the decision of Ordinatio sacerdotalis? Is there any good reason to give women the deaconate, or, for that matter, the title of deaconess in a sacramental, other than “we can”? I do not consider this a good argument in a Holy Orders context. For we cannot, to higher orders; thus this amounts at the very least to introduce a natural, insurmountable distinction hitherto not there into the Sacrament of Holy Orders of those who can and those who cannot receive the higher orders. Such a distinction would need to have a positive justification.

    It is undisputable that there never was, in the Catholic Church, a woman who had the liturgical responsibilities attached to the deaconate. But just as the priesthood principally exists for giving the Sacraments, so the deaconate has for an indispensable characteristic to help the priest in giving the Sacraments (the Sacrament of Holy Orders is one), viz. in liturgical responsibilities. There is nothing a woman deacon, or, for that matter, someone titled “deaconess” (which is far less problematic and, other than a female deaconate, has actually happened in Church history – which does not mean it is prudent now), could do which a laywoman could not principally do, or – possibly, I do not know, with the exception of reading the Gospel for Mass – does do at the moment.

    That the Catechism makes some distinctions because the other thing about unity of the Sacrament was contained in the CIC as it then was, and the CIC is a decade later changed to sound like the Catechism, is peripheral to the issue. “Change of opinion” does not seem to be mens legislatoris for omnium in mentem, and if it isn’t, the old law retains – not, of course, its juridical, but – its magisterial value.

  32. Marissa says:

    What I see in this movement is a bunch of weak men and rebellious women. Adams and Eves.

  33. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    The Fishwrap covered the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s refusal to allow Ditewig to speak:

    “A former key U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference staffer has been told he is not allowed to speak publicly in the Philadelphia archdiocese because he co-authored a book investigating the possibility of ordaining women as deacons. William Ditewig, a theologian and deacon who previously served as the head of the bishops’ secretariat for the diaconate, has been told his public presence in the archdiocese would cause ‘doctrinal confusion.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

    I cannot find any statement on this from the Diocese of Monterey where Deacon Ditewig is currently employed as director of faith formation, diaconate and pastoral planning, on whether his views cause doctrinal confusion there. Perhaps the Most Reverend Richard Garcia, if questioned, would be willing to give his view.

    Most Reverend Richard Garcia, Diocese of Monterey, 425 Church Street, P.O. Box 2048, Monterey, CA 93942 Email: Phone: 831-373-4345

  34. AnAmericanMother says:

    Just from a practical point of view – leaving aside all the theological speculation in which I am eminently unqualified to engage –

    do we REALLY want to start down the same path that destroyed the Episcopalians?

    I was there, and it wasn’t pretty, and it was the first step towards all the lunacy that has engulfed that denomination. I suppose it had some good consequences because it brought us to our senses and into the Catholic Church, but still . . .

  35. PA mom says:

    Our 5th grade textbooks shows how simple this is. Within the sacrament of Holy Orders there are three levels of ordination, diaconate, priest and bishop. It explains the role of each of the three.

    This is not a sacrament for women. That’s ok. Remember that God is perfect in His simplicity and stop trying to wiggle room for falsity to enter.

    Put the effort into humble, clear explanation of the teachings of the Church instead.

  36. VexillaRegis says:

    Ah, thanks for changing the cattle picture, Fr Z. MOOOO!

  37. William Tighe says:

    People who post comments should strive not only to be accurate, but to be literate. There is no such word as “deaconate;” and so its use should be avoided. The correct word is “diaconate.”

  38. acardnal says:

    I’m going to ask my pastor if I can be a minister of discernment.

  39. Elizabeth D says:

    Imrahil, in fact Cardinal Muller’s words that I quote above reflect the Church’s understanding that women cannot receive Holy Orders at all. Maybe Fr Z had not let my comment through moderation before you expressed your confusion? Holy Orders is not two different things when ordaining a deacon, or ordaining a priest. It is the same sacrament and the issue of whether women could receive it validly is not something different.

    So why did the document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis refer only to priests? Because this is the most acute issue of all, for one thing, because it bears on the validity of the Eucharist. Speaking directly to this and putting a sharp point on the matter that everyone could understand was very important for halting sacrilege and halting schism. The deacon issue, while still serious, is relatively less acute! Also, the fact of theological distinction between a deacon and a priest, and the historical fact of an office CALLED “deaconess” in the early Church requires separate and additional explanation for the issue of women and diaconate that did not have a place in that particular document. There was a need for additional theological research and development of this matter, and quite likely it is now at the stage where this point that women cannot be sacramentally ordained as deacons can also be stated formally by the Magisterium for the benefit of those who are sophisticated theologians and therefore cannot see what is obvious to many simpler people.

  40. Imrahil says:

    Dear Elizabeth D,

    I think I had not read the other comment, but nevertheless the thing is that the issue is a bit more complex here.

    Cardinal Müller says that there cannot possibly be any deaconate for women on account of the unity of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. So say you; and so, in fact, say I.

    The problem is that this Cdl. Müller’s statements, while perhaps magisterial, are certainly not infallible.

    Hence, and this part of the argument is quite true, there has not been to date any infallible statement that would exclude woman deacons.

    I am already seeing a comment by the dear Rt. Hon. Deacon Bill to the effect that, 1st, Cdl Müller is speaking as a private theologian (or at least fallibly – and at least that would be right), 2nd, he is repeating an old view of his very own which, 3rd, has a basis in the CIC before the change by Omnium in mentem (there is a quote of Cdl Müller around to the effect).

    Which is why I pointed out that there is nothing to indicate Omnium in mentem were intended to allow a woman deaconate in some future, and hence, the old form of the CIC does retain its magisterial value in that respect.

    All the same… would it be too unashamed to wish for an Ordinatio diaconalis to settle the matter?

  41. jesusthroughmary says:

    “There was a need for additional theological research and development of this matter…”

    Isn’t that what Deacon Bill is doing?

  42. Kathleen10 says:

    Another voice totally unqualified to discuss the theology of this, only an opinion.
    To create an office of deaconess does not seem in the least likely to appease those promoting women clergy. It would be a sad put-on of appeasement and would probably be seen as such. It’s like offering a “junior clergy” kit. It’s also like civil unions, an unwise attempt at a compromise, and we all see how long that satisfied anyone.
    Better to say no and hold on to that like grim death. Don’t appease. Don’t apologize. Explain and move on. Expect to say no, and no, and no, until Jesus returns.

  43. Elizabeth D says:

    “Isn’t that what Deacon Bill is doing?”

    And what Cardinal Muller has done in truer conformity to the mind of the Church, for instance in his own book on the subject. Deacon Ditewig’s arguments contribute insofar as they illustrate the confusion that exists.

    Here is my quick attempt to treat this in the form of St Thomas Aquinas in the Summa (please note that I spent very little time crafting this and that I am not a theologian):

    “Whether it is possible for there to be sacramentally ordained women deacons?”

    Objection 1: It would seem that there can be women deacons because there were women called deaconesses in the early Church and there was a ceremony to make women deacons that was pretty similar to the ceremony for men deacons, and deaconesses seemed to do many of the same things as men deacons.

    Objection 2: Ordinatio Sacerdotalis didn’t specifically say “the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer diaconal ordination on women” therefore it seems like the reason for the omission is that that’s a possibility.

    Objection 3: In the past people were misogynists and now we know misogyny is bad. Therefore the Church must ordain women as deacons as a matter of justice or else the Church is evil.

    On the contrary, Jesus Christ granted to His Church no authority whatsoever to confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders on females, and there have never been and never will be any sacramentally ordained women deacons.

    I answer that women cannot validly receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders, neither the order of Deacon any more than priest or bishop.

    Reply to Objection 1: See Martimort’s book, the ceremony for deaconesses was not the selfsame ceremony for conferral of Holy Orders on men receiving the order of deacon. Our Lord, via the Apostles as described in the Book of Acts, chose only men for the sacramental order of deacon.

    Reply to Objection 2: The Church has always understood that at the Last Supper Jesus conferred on the Apostles the fullness of Holy Orders, making then bishops, and this contained the degrees also of deacon and priest. By the same logic by which Ordinatio Sacerdotalis teaches authoritatively that Christ chose only men to be priests and the Church cannot do otherwise, Christ chose only men to be bishops, and Christ chose only men to be deacons, and the Church cannot do otherwise. Thus, it is a logical necessity that the infallible teaching of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in regards to the Church’s lack of authority to sacramentally ordain women as priests, also goes the same in regard to deacons.

    Reply to Objection 3: The Church is indefectibly holy. It is, rather, misogynistic to speak or act as though women only have their full dignity and value if they can do things specific to males, such as be husbands or fathers or receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Pope Francis said, “Women in the Church must be valued, not clericalized!”

  44. Lavrans says:

    Lord save us from theologians.

    Anyhoo, if Christ meant for women to be ordained anything, He would have ordained His Mother.

    He didn’t.

    Moving on. You can study it all you want, but the answer will always be “no” regarding the ordination of women to anything.

  45. janeway529 says:

    If Fr. Z and others would like to know the content of the talk, I would guess this earlier talk from Dr. Gary Macy would probably provide some interesting historical points. Who knew that the most complete liturgy for the ordination of a deaconess occurs in the 10th Century Romano-Germanic Pontifical? Or that in the early 12th Century women celebrated Mass, distributed Communion, read the Gospel, heard confessions, and preached? Or that the powerful Abbesses of Las Huelgas, Spain exercised episcopal power as late as 1874? Fascinating and complex histories, but theologically different understandings due to language.

    [I enjoy science fiction!]

  46. Imrahil says:

    Dear Kathleen10,

    we all see how long that satisfied anyone.

    Well, in Europe, where civil unions have been introduced the call for same-sex marriage has vanished and, with the exception of France, not hitherto reappeared. (And France had before opened the civil union to normal couples as a surrogate for marriage, for what reason I do not know.)

  47. Massachusetts Catholic says:


    It breaks my heart to think of Catholic parents who pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to give their children a Catholic education when I see a video such as the one to which you linked. Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara should offer tuition refunds for their hosting of Gary Macy.

    At the former Weston School of Philosophy in the Boston area, a sister/theologian used to proclaim the Gospel and give a homily at the midday Mass. It was the custom; it was allowed by the local authorities — Jesuits!– but that did not make it right. The Church fought and won battles over false teachings and wrong practices that have sprung up from within its ranks over the centuries.

    Since this MOOS is being offered through Hofstra, let me add contact information for Cardinal Dolan of New York. If anyone wants to ask him if he finds this course — originating in his jurisdiction — to be spreading doctrinal confusion, here is the contact information:[Removed… Hofstra is not in the Archd. of New York. It is, I believe, in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. It is a private secular school.]

  48. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Excuse me — Weston School of Theology! Now part of Boston College.

  49. robtbrown says:

    I have not read any of the books noted above.

    I do think, however, that:

    1. It is said that a spiritual character is imprinted by the ordination of a deacon because it is part of Holy Orders.

    2. Sacerdotal ordination is limited to men.

    3. It cannot be held that whatever a deaconess might have been or would be, a spiritual character would be imprinted. Thus, it would not be a Sacrament.

  50. robtbrown says:


    What’s the difference between a civil marriage and a same sex union?

  51. robtbrown says:

    Elizabeth D says,

    Why did the document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis refer only to priests?

    Because there have been deaconesses that were not Sacramental. Carthusian nuns had a deaconess who would read the Gospel at the end of Matins but not considered in Holy Orders.

    IMHO, this confusion about deaconesses is a direct effect of Ministeria Quaedam.

  52. Imrahil says:

    Dear robtbrown,

    that the latter is not called marriage, and sodomy is not officially part of the definition (which is “2 of the same sex taking responsibility for each other”). As Dr Peters pointed out in some comments, this is morally an entirely different thing.

  53. robtbrown says:

    Imrahil says,

    Dear robtbrown,

    that the latter is not called marriage, and sodomy is not officially part of the definition (which is “2 of the same sex taking responsibility for each other”). As Dr Peters pointed out in some comments, this is morally an entirely different thing.

    Morally, you’re right, but that wasn’t my point.

    The concept of civil marriage in law concerns rights and obligations of the partners and relevant heirs. How would civil unions be different?

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