Card. Müller on deaconettes: “No. Not possible.” – on liturgy: “crisis”

Raymond Arroyo of EWTN has a wide ranging interview with His Eminence Gerhard Ludwig Card. Müller, Prefect of the CDF.

One thing that caught my attention is his clear refutation and denial of the possibility of the ordination of deaconesses (aka deaconettes).

About the notion that, in the ancient Church, women had Holy Orders…

ARROYO: And what is your opinion? Did they have Holy Orders, or no?

MÜLLER: No. Not possible.

He also confirmed that Pope denied the possibility of deaconettes.

The part about deaconettes starts at about 14:00.

Also, Arroyo asks if he shares Card. Sarah’s views about a crisis in our liturgical worship.  Card. Müller thinks there is a crisis.  He doesn’t think that it is the fault of the Second Vatican Council.  He stressed the mystery of God.


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

    No doubt here. Very clear. Consistent with Tradition. Theologically correct. Now we shall see this poor cardinal torn to pieces…..

  2. Roy Hobbes says:

    “He doesn’t think that it is the fault of the Second Vatican Council.”

    So what is it?

    It does not take much to draw a line along Catholic tradition that did not waver all that much over a 1500 year period. Then comes VCII, and 50 years later, the Church is almost unrecognizable.

    And it will remain unrecognizable until the bishops and cardinals start speaking plainly, and recognizing VCII for what it is: the fountainhead of the present crisis.

  3. JustaSinner says:

    But Father, I SOOOO want Wombyn Theology!!!! /sarc off

    [I am contemplating losing the “y”s when I write about feminists. I may just start using, not “wymyn”, not “WMN”, but “wmn”, because they are small and empty.]

  4. Joseph-Mary says:

    It has been stated again and again so why this waste of time with yet another committee to study it???

  5. gracie says:

    “He stressed the mystery of God.”

    Man, that can cover anything. Liturgical abuses: the mystery of God. The implosion of Europe: the mystery of God. The overturning of our Constitution: the mystery of God.

    Try this as an alternative explanation: fallen human nature. Placing the responsibility on God for the mess we’re in sounds almost Calvinistic: no one could avoid what’s happened in the past 50 years. It was destined to happen. We’re just along for the ride. The mystery of God, you know.

    [You have quite an imagination if you think that that can be drawn from what the Cardinal said.]

  6. Greg Smisek says:

    You’ve misinterpreted Fr. Z. What His Eminence actually said (and Fr. Z reported) is that we need to understand that the sacred liturgy is centered on the mystery of God, that it not merely functional or even entertainment, and that this requires fostering interior participation, nor just exterior participation.

  7. Chris Rawlings says:

    Roy, it is much more accurate to say that conciliar reform of the liturgy was a response to a growing liturgical crisis, and not the cause of it. You can certainly and justifiably question whether those reforms helped or actually even hurt the budding crisis, but the fiction that all was well in the Church liturgically before the Council is simply not true at all. It was not St. Paul VI who reconfigured the liturgical calendar.

    [There are oddities in this comment. Was there a “growing liturgical crisis” before the Second Vatican Council? Probably not. So, I don’t that that is “much more accurate”. We don’t accept the premise. That is not to say that everything was perfect: there has never been a time like that in the Church. Moreover, Paul VI is not “Saint”. He was beatified in 2014.]

  8. gracie says:

    It depends on the day.

  9. asburyfox says:

    The laity did not feel there was a liturgical crisis before Vatican II. Any crisis in the liturgy was brought forth by the Vatican who went through 5 missal changes in total, in just two decades, between 1950-1970.

  10. Joy65 says:

    Catholic women need to see Our Blessed Mother Mary as their example in everything but especially in serving the Lord. She always led all to Her Son. She always was there in the background NOT seeking the limelight for herself. Women do not need to be deaconesses or priests in the Church. We have a special place given us by the Lord and we need to accept that place and do what we are called to do where we are.

  11. AnnTherese says:

    Joy65, your comment is interesting. I think we all–male and female–need to see Mary as an example in serving God. I’m not sure if you’re suggesting that men who become priests or deacons are seeking the limelight for themselves? Or, that if women were ordained they would not lead others to Jesus?

    I’m not saying I think women should be ordained. But I have always found the arguments against it curious.

    I agree that serving God out of the limelight is preferable.

  12. PA mom says:

    So, mystery of God should be emphasized, which means he likely agrees about turning toward the Lord, as Cardinal Sarah suggested.
    The crisis is the whatever percentage of priests who would be in outright defiance if it were mandated tomorrow.
    They know what is wrong but they can’t fix it without making it obvious the size of the resistance (embarrassing and confusing for much of the laity).
    A decade from now that number may be far smaller…. so maybe the plan is to wait?

  13. PA mom says:

    So, mystery of God should be emphasized, which means he likely agrees about turning toward the Lord, as Cardinal Sarah suggested.
    The crisis is the whatever percentage of priests who would be in outright defiance if it were mandated tomorrow.
    They (Cardinals Sarah and Muller) know what is wrong but they can’t fix it without making it obvious the size of the resistance (embarrassing and confusing for much of the laity).
    A decade from now that number may be far smaller…. so maybe the plan is to wait?

  14. Geoffrey says:

    God bless and protect Cardinal Müller. He is quite right in saying that Amoris Laetitia is fine if that notorious footnote is interpreted in accordance with the Magisterium of the Church. The problem is that it is not, and it is the duty of the Roman Pontiff to clarify the matter, which he is not.

  15. oldconvert says:

    Seems to me that the Church already has women deacons, and has had for centuries. Wait a minute! let me explain before you go off on one. It is overwhelmingly women in the parishes who visit the sick and housebound, clean the church, order the flowers, arrange lifts for the needy, care for the linen, etc. etc. Surely this was the original meaning of the women deacons, those who serve. Deaconesses, in fact, in the original sense. Ordination doesn’t come into it; I would bet that 99.9% of women now serving in this role would find that unthinkable. Unfortunately all the publicity is given to the strident 1% who don’t want to serve in this way, thinking it beneath them.

    Because they are so loud, those in authority mistake them for a significant protest. The Church of England made this mistake, went down the route of “well, we’ll ordain women just as deacons and that will satisfy them”. Look at what has happened.

  16. cwillia1 says:

    Yes, old convert, we have always had deaconesses. They are women, mostly religious, who serve the bishop in shepherding the flock. Back in the days, deaconesses were needed to help baptize (unclothed) adult women and to maintain order in the women’s side of the assembled church. They did not assist the bishop at the altar. They did not have orders.

  17. Ed the Roman says:

    When I read Sacrosanctum Concilium, I see nothing that commands or encourages much of what we here complain about, and some things we complain about are only barely permitted, as if grudgingly.

    But for whatever reasonS, while the Council Fathers issued guidance that was not at all a directive to do what was done, when they got home they proceeded to permit, at least, what was done, and to omit much of what was commanded. It’s not as if the people have consistently learned to make their responses in Latin, or as if Gregorian chant has musical pride of place, or as if the texts of the missal are strictly adhered to without variation.

    Why? Well, since I will never be a bishop, or make recommendations for selecting bishops, or accept the recommendations, I frame no hypothesis. But I suspect that correction will only come about with different bishops. BECAUSE NONE OF THIS [INSERT VULGARITY HERE] WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF THEY HAD THOUGHT IT WAS IMPORTANT TO STOP IT. It’s not as if they didn’t stop ad orientem and the use of Latin pretty effectively; they can stop things that they really want to stop.

  18. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If you read widely enough in Catholic materials from before Vatican II (and I mean magazines, newspapers, bulletins, and ephemera, not just books), you find an apple with a lot of soft spots, and with a lot of parishes being allowed to “experiment” or priests just slipping stuff in. This kind of stuff had been going on since before Vatican I.

    You also find a lot of places full of brittleness and craziness that was trying too hard, probably in response to the soft spots or the sudden fast pace of secular change. Those places did not prove good bulwarks against the soft spots.

    Now yes, Vatican II made things worse, because people believed all the bad reporting and all the bad experimenters took it as a mandate. But the Council documents are mostly not bad in themselves. They are good and ignored, or dippy and full of holes through which liberals drive trucks.

    The real problem was that the liberal and/or radical fleet of trucks had been in the building stages since the 1850’s, or maybe even hundreds of years before that. Priests from certain seminaries had been actively preparing for radical changes (and attacking normal lay devotions and organizations) since before WWII. Even if the Council had not happened, bad things would have happened. The Council just provided an opening that they used.

    The Council also exhausted a lot of the old bishops who were Council Fathers. People concealed their allegedly Vatican II mandated activities until the bishop got home, and then he was too old and sick to smack them down.

  19. Emilio says:

    @Ed the Roman: Paul VI issued “Jubilate Deo” in 1974 in hopes of demanding but a MINIMUM repertorie of Gregorian Chant in Latin for the Mass, and saving what he could after the devastation. Even this petition from the Roman Pontiff on his knees to save a modicum of the Church’s heritage, was ignored almost universally. In most parishes chant and Latin are never heard, or they’ll do the Agnus Dei from Jubilate Deo once in a blue moon, never a full Gregorian Mass. Cardinal William Baum in Washington DC asked all of his priests to implement Jubilate Deo at at least one Sunday Mass, and this was also mostly ignored. The Cardinal was moved to establish a Latin Novus Ordo at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, and also one in the Crypt Church of the National Shrine. The one at the cathedral is still in place today, but the one at the Shrine was done away with by Cardinal McCarrick.. believing it should be a Spanish Mass instead.

  20. Unwilling says:

    We might be reminded that calibration from the past (“it has been always thus”) can be misleading. Compare today’s pornography to the “French postcards” of a few decades ago, let alone the Arthurian cycle or the Roman de la Rose. The current dismemberment of “marriage” to the fornications of 18th C European court life. Quantity often makes quality.

    The abuses of the liturgy before V-II were more in the way of negligence than negation. The work of Dom Guéranger was wholly sound. Also the research of Christine Mohrmann. Granted that some ideas of Pius Parsch may have been a real foreshadowing of chaos. But rare and furtive, not universal and imposed. What we have now is a completely different kind of thing that has resulted not from mistakes but from malice.

  21. Angela says:

    It was a very good interview. I found the most interesting part the bit where he replied, but avoided really answering the question about the three priests who were removed at the purported insistence of the Pope. I pray for Cardinal Muller every day.

  22. JabbaPapa says:

    The argument over whether the deaconesses of old were “instituted” or “ordained” has been going on since at least the 10th century, and it is not at all helped by the fact that the Catholic understanding of what ordination constitutes has changed over the course of that period.

    It used to mean “the ritual of acceptance into any instituted Catholic Order” ; it is now understood more strictly as “”the ritual of acceptance into the three degrees of Holy Orders”. But even this does not put a complete end to the arguments, because the deaconship — even given the strict functional and liturgical dissimilarities between the deacons and deaconesses — belongs to those Orders.

    Things went one way when Abelard and Heloise argued for the continuation and preservation of the Order of Deaconesses, and lost the argument ; let’s see which way things go this time ’round.

    Nevertheless, both Vatican II and the CCC dogmatically establish that the ministry of the deacons is separate from that of the priests ; it’s one of the very few new dogmas of that Council ; whichever way this latest argument goes, this dogma must necessarily apply to the deaconesses, and because of the impossibility of ordaining women into the priesthood, there can be no “back door” for “wymmyn priestesses” given that the dogma about both the deaconship and the priesthood overtly denies that idea.

  23. JabbaPapa says:

    Joseph-Mary :

    It has been stated again and again so why this waste of time with yet another committee to study it???

    Because it’s only ever been “stated” as a theological opinion, strictly speaking — albeit one held by the great majority — but it has never been formally declared doctrinally.

    It was a political hot potato in the 12th to 14th centuries, and rather than trying to resolve it in the face of internal disagreements, the Holy See simply decided to suspend the institution of new deaconesses, even those Abbesses given the title mainly as an honorific (the institution of deaconesses as such had been stopped long before).

    The background of the political difficulties is that some Abbesses had been granted certain powers that were abusive, given that they were and are Episcopal in nature. Given that these were the only women who had the title “deaconess” in that period, that ministry as such went out with the bathwater when those abuses were curtailed.

  24. Tony from Oz says:

    Well,,,I’m sure we’re all glad that Cardinal Mueller thinks that female deacons are an impossibility – but let’s not ignore the real nugget of the interview – the proverbial elephant in the room – just preceding that segment, about Amoris Laetitia, wherein the Cardinal speaks in a very muddy way, indeed. And where he effectively throws the Dubia Cardinals under the bus.

    Cardinal Mueller – by his own utterance has rendered himself totally ineffectual. His deluded pieties about the Pope not changing doctrine – whilst all the while the Pope achieves the same via temerarious heads up nudgings to modernist churchmen and Bishop’s conferences – effectively negate his efficacy as a stabilising spokesman for orthodoxy within the Curia. It’s one step forward and three steps back. And it’s cowardice dressed up as ‘prudence’.

    One may as well purport to defend neoconservative/neocatholic positions as to defend the Cardinal’s tortuous positions in the interview. Talk about slow death by a million cuts!

  25. chantgirl says:

    I wish a footnote were the only problem with AL. The 45 theologians found many more issues that need to be addressed:

    Yes, I am glad that Cardinal Muller is holding the line on deaconettes, but I have to agree with others that his response to AL is woefully inadequate. As the head of the CDF, he should be barking the loudest over the problems in it. Where are the watchdogs, and when will our yes again mean yes, and our no mean no?

    The stance that Muller takes that it is impossible for the Pope to teach heresy is going to cause people to then wonder if Pope Francis is not the Pope. The average faithful Catholic will hear Cardinal Muller say that the Pope can’t teach heresy, and then watch the aftermath of AL, and read what the the Pope says in his homilies, and then wonder if he is even the Pope.

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