Yesterday I wrote about the new Book VI of the Latin Church’s Code of Canon Law. This new Book VI, dealing with offenses and punishments, completely replaces the older version. Some changes are mere rearranging. Others are more substantive. Yesterday I mentioned one of the substantive changes.
Can. 1379 § 3. Both a person who attempts to confer a sacred order on a woman, and the woman who attempts to receive the sacred order, incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished by dismissal from the clerical state.
However, this new canon makes it explicit: women cannot be ordained. Women cannot be ordained to any of the three sacred orders. Period. They cannot be ordained as bishops, priests or deacons.
The diaconate (order of deacon) is a sacred order. It is one of the three grades of Holy Orders.
Two “deaconette” study Commissions in Rome notwithstanding, if there were any serious notion of a possible ordination of women to the diaconate, this canon would not have been included in the new Book VI. Instead, in the interim, the older language would have been retained or expunged. But, no. It was made more explicit still.
And please note that word “attempts”. “A person who attempts to ordain…”. That excludes the suggestion that the ordination would be valid but illicit. The point of “attempt” means that the “attempt” fails and the woman in question is not ordained. But it is still such a grave crime even to try, that it incurs the censure by the fact of attempting it.
The previous corresponding canon, in the now lame-duck Book VI, said that anyone who “simulates the administration of a sacrament” was to be punished with a just penalty. Any attempt to ordain a woman to any sacred order would be simulation of a sacrament. The sacrament is not conferred, even though what happened simulated the rite of ordination.
That said, because there are some people who go on and on and on and on and on about the ordination of women either to the priesthood or to the diaconate, this new canon removes all doubt: woman cannot be ordained to any of the Holy Orders.
Other commentators, canonists, have noted this too. NB: “graviora delicta“.
The new penal law has inserted into the Code the graviora delicta of the ordination of women. With this, @Pontifex has emphatically closed the door on deaconesses, reaffirming that even ordination as deacons is a canonical crime.
— Fr. Pius Pietrzyk OP (@PiusOP) June 2, 2021
Among the changes made to #canonlaw today by #PopeFrancis is a new wording for the crime of attempting to ordain a woman – including as a deacon. How does that effect the German synodal plans? Analysis from @canonlawyered https://t.co/AcCRpUHLBH
— The Pillar (@PillarCatholic) June 1, 2021
It is a canonical crime to attempt to ordain a woman to any of the three Holy Orders.
Let us accept this new canon with both gratitude, because it gives strong guidance to those who obsessively push for the ordination of women, and also resolve, because it underscores our own responsibility in fostering vocations and in supporting those who are ordained.