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Instruction on Controversial Questions: Ordination of Women
by Ronald L. Conte Jr. 
May 17, 2005

1. Can women be ordained as priests?

No. The Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, “On Reserving Priestly Ordination To Men Alone,” affirms the teaching of Christ that the Church has no authority to ordain women to the priesthood. This teaching is infallible because it meets all of the criteria for an infallible papal declaration.
Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I 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. (Apostolic Letter of John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, On Reserving Priestly Ordination To Men Alone, May 22, 1994, n. 4.)
Between now and Christ's return, the Church cannot validly ordain women as priests, because Christ did not give that authority to the Church. Upon the Return of Christ, this teaching becomes moot.

2. Will Christ permit the ordination of women after His return?

The Magisterium has no teaching on this question. My opinion is that He will not do so, because men and women are intended by God to have different roles in the Church, the family, and society. Even Adam and Eve, before their fall from grace when they were sinless, did not have the same roles. Eve was the helper of Adam, not his equal. This difference in roles is also seen with Joseph and Mary in the holy family, and in the relationship of Christ and Mary towards our salvation. It is an essential part of God's plan for humanity, which can never pass away.

3. Can women be ordained as Bishops?

Furthermore, since ordination to the Episcopate (as a Bishop) is both beyond and inclusive of priestly ordination, the teaching that women cannot be ordained as priests also necessarily implies that they cannot be ordained as Bishops. Even after Christ's Return, women certainly cannot be ordained to as Bishops, because the teaching that men and women are intended by God to have different roles does not result from sin (e.g. Adam and Eve before the fall), nor from imperfection (Christ and Mary in Heaven). Therefore, women can never be ordained as Bishops, even after Christ's Return.

4. Can a woman ever be Pope?

Three things are required for a person to be a valid Pope: 1. valid election (which may or may not involve some form of voting), 2. the elected person must willingly accept the position, 3. the elected person must be ordained as a Bishop. Since non woman can ever be ordained as a Bishop, no woman can ever be a valid Pope. If any woman ever claimed to be a pope, such a claim would be necessarily and entirely invalid.

5. Can women be non-ordained deaconesses?

There is some mention of women deacons, or deaconesses, in the New Testament and in the early Church. These women were not ordained deacons, but were non-ordained deacons. In today's terminology, we might call them 'lay ministers,' rather than deacons. Women today certainly can have various roles of teaching and leadership among other women, teaching and leadership over children, and roles of service and assistance to men, women, and children in the Church and in society; such roles might fall under the term 'lay ministries.' However, in the Church at the present time, women are not properly referred to as deacons or deaconesses, even in the non-ordained sense of the word.

6. Can women be ordained deacons?

The Church, at the present time, considers this to be an open or undecided question. However, my theological opinion is as follows.

Women are not properly given the role of priest or Bishop, because such roles intrinsically include teaching, leadership, and authority over men and groups that include men. The Bible forbids women to have such roles: “Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent.” (1 Tim 2:11-12). Women are intended by God to have roles of helping and assistance with respect to men, just as Mary has a role of helping and assisting Christ in our salvation. The roles of priest and Bishop are necessarily and essentially roles of teaching, leadership, and authority over men. Therefore, such roles are forbidden to women.

However, the role of deacon is intrinsically and essentially the role of a helper and assistant. The essential nature of the role of deacons is fitting to the Biblical plan for women in Creation. Therefore, the Church does have the authority to validly ordain women to the deaconate prior to Christ's Return. Now the Church also has the authority to choose not to ordain women as deacons prior to Christ's Return. But, if you would believe me, the role of deacon is so fitting to the role given to women by God, that, after His Return, Christ will almost certainly permit the ordination of women to the deaconate.

So then, when women are ordained to the deaconate, they still remain women and they still remain under the Biblical teachings on a woman's proper role in Creation. A woman deacon must exercise this office in a way that is radically and fundamentally different from a male deacon. Certainly, she must avoid what is a mistake even for male deacons, acting as if a deacon were merely some lesser version of a priest or Bishop. But it is absolutely necessary to the role of a woman deacon that she never under any circumstances take any role of teaching, leadership, or authority over a man, or a group of men, or a group that includes adult men. If she takes such a prohibited role, she would then become an abomination in the eyes of God. Her role as a female deacon or deaconess is to exercise the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, particularly with regard to women and children. For women are better at helping other women and children than men. Even when exercising the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, a woman deacon must never take any role of teaching, leadership, or authority over men. She must never teach a Bible study or other class that includes adult men. She must never lead a prayer group that includes adult men. And she must never, under any circumstances at all, take a role of teaching, leadership, or authority during the Mass or during any other liturgical service. She must never read the Scriptures, nor give a sermon or talk of any kind, at a Mass where men are present in the assembly. She must never distribute holy communion, nor act as an usher, nor act as an altar server. For women and men are intended by God to have different roles in the Church and ordination is not an excuse to violate the Law of God.

At the present time, it would be very unwise for the Church to choose to ordain women to the deaconate. The reason for this is two-fold.

First, many male deacons do not properly understand the role of a deacon in the Church. Some incorrectly try to act like hobbled priests. They administer as many of the Sacraments as is permitted to them, and they give sermons. They speak and act with some degree of authority, and seek roles of authority in the Church. Such things are permitted to male deacons, but it is not the essence of the deaconate. At its heart, the role of a deacon takes place outside of the Mass and beyond the various buildings owned by the Church. A deacon is called to live the corporal and spiritual works of mercy within the community of believers and in society as a whole. Helping those in need and teaching without much authority are the proper roles of a deacon.

Second, the vast majority of men and women in the Church today, including Bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious, theologians and other laypersons, do not understand the proper roles that men and women should have. Thus, they are unable to provide proper guidance to women preparing to become deacons. Modern secular sinful society teaches that men and women should have the same roles and behaviors. Due to the influence of this false teaching, the members of the Church on earth today are not able to give women deacons their proper place in the Church, nor are there hardly any women able to understand and accept the proper difference between the roles of male and female deacons, and to exercise the role of deaconess, according to that understanding, and in opposition to society, culture, and many misled Catholics. Therefore, the Church is not ready to have women ordained deacons. At the present time, ordaining women to the deaconate would do a great deal of harm and little good.

by Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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