NEW can. 1379 § 3 makes a canonical crime an attempt to ordain a woman to ANY of the three sacred orders (episcopate, priesthood, diaconate)

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“.

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.

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  1. Julia_Augusta says:

    I’m glad I won’t be seeing Susan from the Parish Council in clerical garb.

  2. teomatteo says:

    Ah.. but when Susan turns into a man. Then what?

  3. JabbaPapa says:

    I understood what this canon teaches and establishes some months ago.

    Pope St. Gelasius I forbad all Bishops from ordaining any women into the priesthood.

    Vatican II dogmatically established that the priesthood has three orders – Deacon, Priest, Bishop.

    Pope St. John Paul II established ex cathedra that Pope Gelasius’ teaching is dogmatic.

    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger clarified from his Pontiff’s teaching that the Church has no authority to ordain women into the priesthood (as established by Vatican II, as Bishops, Priests, or Deacons).

    The Deaconesses of old were not *ordained*, though the likelihood is not that they were just “instituted”. My opinion is that they were Consecrated.

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  5. InFormationDiakonia says:

    Susan will still be a woman as she can’t turn into a man as biologically, that is impossible. But she could move to Germany and join the new schismatic, heretical German National Church. Maybe Bishop Batzing and others can ordain her as a priest so she can officiate at the next “Love is love” mockery of marriage lovefest.

  6. Archlaic says:

    In light of what has transpired in the world and the culture in recent years, I wonder -seriously- how the Church might be able to satisfy Herself – and the Christian faithful – that this will not occur (that is, when it’s not a member of the pantsuit-sisterhood garbed in a garish polyester poncho and standing next to Bishop Moonbat – or “Bishop” Gertrude!)
    Consider: the benighted “People’s Republic” of Massachusetts, wherein I reside, has a legal provision for changing the “gender” on a birth certificate. Let us posit the (all-too-common) case wherein an innocent but confused girl is perceived by parents (or e.g. a therapist) to have expressed the notion that perhaps she might have been happier as a boy… it is entirely possible (here and now) that this could set in motion a sequence of events that culminate in this poor child receiving hormones and ultimately surgical “reassignment”, and of course a correspondingly-mutilated birth certificate! Let us further suppose that after completing HS and college in male imposture, and without divulging these horrific facts to any peers, this person then seeks admission to a seminary. Knowing – presumably – that the Church does not recognize her as a male, she simply lies as necessary. Some may say this is far-fetched… perhaps, but when has the Church not been the target of infiltration?

  7. Archlaic says:

    n.b. When I refreshed after posting I noted that my concern had largely been raised – and far more succinctly – by others. I wasn’t intending to jump on a bandwagon – I know the rules around here! Thought it might be useful to clarify ;-)

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  9. TonyO says:

    Archlaic: your concern is valid. It probably will be, however, very minor in terms of actual numbers: most trans people DO NOT try to hide their change from ALL reports and sources, so the change will (usually) be available for discovery with even a modest effort. I think what you are pointing to is that seminaries will need to learn to DO that modest effort of checking to see if any candidates are trans-“males”.

    In concept, this problem isn’t actually any worse than the case of men who were ordained as priests, who then later found out that the rite of baptism by which they received baptism was invalid. There have been, thankfully, few of these, but they are ought there. It is a shocking and terrible thing to discover, and I shudder to think what all their parishioners / confessees must go through, (not to mention the couples for whom he received their wedding vows). That’s a bit of a nightmare. But the Church has to take steps to solve these, so I imagine she can take steps to solve the problem you raised.

  10. Just when one is tempted to give up altogether, some ray of hope such as this appears to reassure and console. For a change, it’s not lily-livered waffling– it’s just a clear, unambiguous statement not admitting of “dialogue.”

  11. AA Cunningham says:

    teomatteo says:
    2 June 2021 at 10:57 AM

    Ah.. but when Susan turns into a man. Then what?

    The mutilated Susan will still be a woman just as the mutilated Richard Levine who calls himself Rachel, pretends to be a woman and works at the HHS is still a man.

  12. Fr. Pius, OP says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, Fr. Z!

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