“Deaconesses”: Phoebe A Red Herring

“Deaconesses”: Phoebe A Red Herring

“Deaconesses,” Strictly Speaking, Never Existed
On Francis’ New “Deaconess” Panel

by John Vennari   – Catholic Family News

woman_minissterIf “deaconesses” are approved, we will face an embarrassing imitation of contemporary Protestant practice – ministerettes in goofy robes pretending to be men, usurping activities that belong to the priest alone. 

There never was nor can there ever be the office of “deaconess” in the Catholic Church.

When I use the word “deaconess” in this context, I mean a female counterpart to the male office of deacon. There was never any such office.

If the term “deaconess” appears in Church history, we find it to be an imprecise term that will vary not only from age to age, but from one geographic location to the next. Father Aimé George Martimont, author of the scholarly and definitive work on the subject titled Deaconesses, An Historical Study, observes “The Christians of antiquity did not have a single, fixed idea of what deaconesses were supposed to be.”1

Yet on August 2 of this year, Pope Francis created a commission to study the possibility of allowing women to serve as deacons in the Catholic Church. Pursuing such a venture can only ignite further chaos in the Church and confusion among the faithful.

Extremely Limited Function

There was never an office of deaconess in the Latin Church.2 We do come across references to deaconesses in various Greek and Eastern Rites. Yet the office is not uniformly found in the Oriental churches, and all mention is sporadic between the second and tenth centuries. Some Eastern Church territories, such as the church in Egypt, Ethiopia and the Maronites never accepted any office of deaconess.3

The women who were called “deaconesses” were not ordained in any sacramental sense of the word, but received a kind of blessing for certain ecclesiastical service. These “deaconesses” were primarily consecrated women whose work was highly restricted – usually limited assistance to other females. This included assisting women at baptisms and other services where the presence of men would have offended modesty.

“Moreover,” writes Father Martimort, “it must be even more strongly emphasized that deaconesses were never allowed to teach or preach in public.”4

It is of no use to appeal to St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans in which Phoebe the “deaconess” is mentioned. The mind of the Church on this matter is summarized in the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas. We read, “The Angelic Doctor commenting on the New Testament … saw Phoebe in the Epistle to the Romans only as one of those women who ‘served’ Christ and the Apostles, or who carried out works of charity in the manner of widows of 1 Timothy 5:10.”5

As for the Latin Church, we provide three ancient and authoritative texts that demonstrate how foreign was any idea in the early Church of women deaconesses, women’s ordination, and women serving in the sanctuary.

As early as the 4th century, there is the fiery directive from the bishops of the Council of Nimes in 396 A.D.:

“Equally, it has been reported by some that, contrary to the apostolic discipline – indeed a thing unheard of until now – it has been observed, though it is not known exactly where, that women have been raised to the ministry of deacons. Ecclesiastical discipline does not permit this, for it is unseemly; such an ordination should be annulled, since it is irregular; and vigilance is required lest in the future anyone should have the boldness to act in this fashion again.”
The Council of Orange in 441 A.D. spoke likewise,

“In no way whatsoever should deaconesses ever be ordained. If there already are deaconesses, they should bow their heads beneath the blessing which is given to all the people.”6

Then there is the forceful decree Necessaria rerum of Pope Gelasius, addressed to the bishops of southern Italy, dated March 11, 494. While not dealing directly with deaconesses, it manifests how alien was the idea of women in the sanctuary performing any form of priestly function:

“It is with impatience that we learned this: divine things have suffered such a degradation that female ministers serving at the sacred altars have been approved. The exercise of roles reserved to men has been given to the sex which they do not belong.”7

What would the Bishops of Nimes, the Council of Orange and Pope Gelasius say about the plethora of lady-readers, altar girls, “let us pray to the Lord” prayer leaders, liturgical dancers and Eucharistic ministerettes now fluttering in great numbers throughout post-Conciliar sanctuaries?

No Continuity

As we follow the work of Father Martimont – whose calm, meticulous, thorough scholarship includes vast historical references from liturgical texts, euchologies (Eastern Rite), pontificals, ecclesiastical legislation, homilies, letters and other pertinent documents – we learn “the continuity of true ecclesiastical discipline was lacking in the case of deaconesses.”8 There is no continuity from the ancient days of the Church until now. Only a modernist pick-and-choose antiquarianism – forbidden by the Church – could “justify” any thought of establishing the office of deaconess.

Even in Eastern Rites the practice was not observed “always, everywhere and by everyone.” The presence of deaconesses was so infrequent and scattered that we see in the writings of St. Jerome, a man who traveled widely in the East and knew it well, he “nowhere spoke about deaconesses, not even in his letter 394 to the priest Nepotian, to which he indicates the proper attitude to adopt toward virgins and widows.”9

As noted earlier, the institution of deaconesses was most often involved with the baptism of adult women. In various Eastern Rites at the time, in a ritual that connects baptism with Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, adults were baptized naked – a practice happily long extinct.10

Thus writes Father Martimont, “’As long as adult baptism were the norm, the necessity that brought about its creation [the office of deaconess] was geographically limited and rapidly becoming obsolete.” Even during this time the woman assisting the adult women being baptized did not necessarily have to be a “deaconess” but could be a pious matron of the congregation.11 Again, the practice only occurred in various churches of the Eastern Rite, never in the Latin Rite.

A concise summary of the deaconess’ limited function is contained in the Canonical Resolutions of James of Edessa (Eastern Rite) written somewhere between 683 and 708 A.D. The instruction proceeds in a dialogue format:

Addai: Does the deaconess, like the deacon, have the power to put a portion of the sacred Host into the consecrated chalice?

James: In no way can she do this. The deaconess did not become a deaconess in order to serve at the altar but rather for the sake of women who are ill.

Addai: I would like to learn in a few words what the powers of the deaconess in the Church are.

James: She has no power over the altar, because when she was instituted, it was not in the name of the altar, but only to fulfill certain functions in the Church. These are her sole powers: to sweep the sanctuary and to light the lamps, and she is only permitted to perform these two functions if no priest or deacon is available. If she is in a convent of women, she can remove the sacred Hosts from the tabernacle [= cabinet], only because there is no priest or deacon present, and give them out to the other sisters only or to small children who may also be present. [Comment: Keep in mind this is within the context of the Eastern Rite where the consecrated Eucharist is not touched by human hands, but delivered to the communicant by means of a small spoon – JV] But it is not permitted to her to take the Hosts off the altar, nor carry them to the altar nor indeed in any way to touch the table of life [the altar]. She anoints adult women when they are baptized; she visits women who are ill and cares for them. These are the only powers possessed by deaconesses with regard to the work of the priests.”12

Even if we come upon ancient Eastern Rite rituals that speak of “ordination” of deaconess, the word “ordination” is here used in a loose sense that has nothing to do with the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The Patriarch Severus of Antioch, writing in the sixth century, explains, “In the case of deaconesses … ordination is performed less with regards to the needs of the mystery than exclusively with regard to doing honor.” He continues, “In the cities, deaconesses habitually exercise a ministry relating to the divine bath of regeneration in the case of women who are being baptized.”13

Anachronism and Ambiguity

The office of deaconess – sporadic as it was – virtually disappeared by the time of the eleventh century. So much so that Greek and Eastern Canonists of the Middle Ages did not even know who or what deaconesses were, for by then deaconesses had long since ceased to exist.14 The office had become an obsolete curiosity.

Nothing could be more anachronistic than an attempt to “revive” the office of deaconess in a manner unrelated to its limited practice in the early Church, and use it as an official title to formalize today’s raging novelty of women in the sanctuary and “lay ministers” of the Eucharist. ratzinger-lutheran

Yet this is precisely the aim of Francis’ new deaconess panel, which consists of six men, six women – a politically-correct gender-balanced structure rather than a panel of scholars of unquestionable competence regarding the Catholic Faith of all time.

The panel includes Phyllis Zagano, senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University in New York, a bold advocate of women’s ordination.15 It’s not hard to guess what the panel’s conclusions may be – a forgone conclusion in favor of approving some form of “deaconesses.” As we know from the British satire Yes, Prime Minister, “The government never publicly opens the debate until it has already privately made up its mind.”

We are painfully aware of the distasteful tactics of modern discussions that seek to introduce more revolution: Muddying the historical waters, imprecision of terms, clever use of anachronisms, calculated ambiguity, significant silence concerning any historic fact that frustrates the forgone conclusion of the panel’s ultimate aim. Combine all this with the massive ignorance of today’s un-catechized Catholics who are children of the Vatican II revolution, under the sway of the bucking-bronco Bergoglio pontificate that favors novelty and deprecates alleged “small-minded rules.” The results can only be lethal for doctrinal and liturgical integrity.

“Fraught with ambiguity”

There is no need to re-study the matter of deaconesses, especially when the definitive work of Father Martimort already demonstrates that the ancient, sporadic office of deaconess has nothing to do with women performing priestly functions.

We can do no better than close with the final paragraph of Father Mortimort’s superb work. He writes: “The complexity of the facts about deaconesses and the proper context of these facts prove to be quite extraordinary. There exists a danger of distorting both the facts and the texts whenever one is dealing with them secondhand. It is also difficult to avoid anachronisms when trying to resolve the problem of the present by reference to the solutions appropriate to a past that is long gone.”

Father Martimort concludes: “For the fact is that the ancient institution of deaconess, even in its own time, was encumbered with not a few ambiguities, as we have seen. In my opinion, if the restoration of the institution of deaconesses were indeed to be sought after so many centuries, such a restoration itself could only be fraught with ambiguity.”16

Any move toward the establishment of “deaconess” stands already condemned by the consistent teaching of the Popes, manifested in that of Benedict XV who warned, “We wish to have this law of the ancients held in reverence,‘let nothing new be introduced, but only what has been handed down.’ This must be held an inviolable law in matters of Faith.”17

A new office of deaconeness introduced in the post-Conciliar Church will resemble nothing of history and contain nothing that has been handed down. The practice existed only sporadically in various geographical locations of the Eastern church, was severely restricted in its activity, and had disappeared by the 11th century.

If “deaconesses” are approved, we will face an embarrassing imitation of contemporary Protestant practice – ministerettes in goofy robes pretending to be men, usurping activities that belong to the priest alone. The office of deaconess will further accustom Catholics to see women in roles of ecclesiastical leadership and pave the way for more discussion of “women priests.”

The introduction of the destructive novelty of “deaconess” can only lead to further degradation of the Church and the priesthood. It must be firmly resisted. Source


We’ve covered this topic from time to time in the newsletter, pointing out that female deaconesses in the early Church had a very limited role indeed, and never did this role involve participation in liturgy, similar to male deacons.  The Pope has already stressed that there can be no women priests. Assuming that he is not changing his mind about that, does he not, then, realise that he is giving false hope and propaganda material to the proponents of women’s ordination by creating this entirely unnecessary “study” into the possibility of allowing “deaconesses” in the Church?  I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with John Vennari’s closing remarks that “the introduction of the destructive novelty of “deaconess” can only lead to further degradation of the Church and the priesthood [and] must be firmly resisted.”  What about you? Do you agree? 

Comments (34)

  • Petrus

    I agree wholeheartedly with John Vennari. Weren’t these early “deaconesses” simply nuns before that term was in use?

    I think feminism and pride has a lot to do with these women clamouring for some sort of ordination. If they truly want to dedicate their lives completely to God why not become a religious?

    August 13, 2016 at 12:05 pm
  • Laura

    That whole article by John Vennari is rivetting. I didn’t know the half of it. Really fascinating stuff.

    I totally agree with his conclusion – we have enough confusion in the Church and degradation of the priesthood without adding more to the mix. Female ministers look silly, IMHO, and there is no need for more women prancing around in the sanctuary.

    August 13, 2016 at 12:23 pm
  • Margaret McGowan

    what a disgraceful diatribe against women. I know many well educated catholic women who have walked away from the church after being ridiculed and belittled because they honestly believe that God would welcome their gifts and talents being used for the greater glory of God. The statement about women ‘prancing’ around the sacristy is primary school form of insult and bullying.
    It would seem that the only solution to the many millions of able and prayerful women is to ensure that they are not allowed to raise their heads above the parapet . Woman editor you should be utterly ashamed of yourself !!

    August 13, 2016 at 1:21 pm
    • editor


      Really? Utterly ashamed of myself for upholding the Church’s unchangeable, infallible teaching on male-only priesthood, instituted by Christ?

      Was Our Lord wrong then?

      August 13, 2016 at 4:34 pm
    • Gerontius

      Margaret McGowan

      I know many well educated Catholic women who have walked away from the Church after being ridiculed and belittled because they honestly believe that God would welcome their gifts and talents being used for the greater glory of God.

      Hmmm…… God certainly welcomed St Therese, St Faustina, St Claire, St Catherine, St Bridget and many, many more. Of course these great and noble women were NUNS. And God did welcome THEIR gifts and talents being used for his greater glory.

      Perhaps these women you speak of, who walked away from the church after being ridiculed and belittled, were in fact humbled by God for daring to put themselves in front of, or worse, in a position above the Holy Mother of God.

      And you madam should be utterly ashamed of yourself for insulting Editor, a woman that we rightly hold in the highest regard!

      August 13, 2016 at 7:03 pm
      • editor


        Check your bank balance first thing on Monday. You’ve soared up the payscale!

        I think the feminists are SO not “cool” any more. Their tired philosophy and “wounded-ness” is just too, too, too, ridiculous for words. Too. 😀

        August 13, 2016 at 7:47 pm
    • Petrus

      I’ve never heard such garbage.

      Again, what we see here is pride and rampant feminism. A true woman doesn’t want to be like a man and do things that men do – a true woman is content doing the things that she is infinitely better at than any man!

      There’s nothing less attractive, or less feminine, than a woman who is desperate to be the same as a man.

      August 13, 2016 at 7:20 pm
    • Athanasius

      Margaret McGowan

      “I know many well educated catholic women who have walked away from the church…”

      What has intellect got to do with anything? No one is talking about women’s brains or lack thereof. It seems you may be on the wrong track, Margaret. We’re discussing the supernatural and your fixed on the superficial. There have been lots of very clever women Catholics down through the ages who would never have considered setting foot in the Sanctuary of God. Why? Because they had humility to match their intelligence. The women you speak of were clearly upset because their ego was dented. My guess is that it was never about serving God for them, it was about serving themselves.

      August 13, 2016 at 8:32 pm
    • RCA Victor

      I know many well-educated Catholic women who have walked away from the church (sic)….

      Well then, Margaret, they are no longer Catholic!

      …after being ridiculed and belittled…

      Why, because they were actually told the truth, that women could not be priests or deaconesses? If they feel ridiculed and belittled by the truth, then obviously they are in the wrong place, and should get themselves hence to a place where they can be perfectly happy with lies.

      …because they honestly believe that God would welcome their gifts and talents being used for the greater glory of God.

      What gifts and talents might those be, Margaret? And where did you get the idea that God would be glorified by turning the Church into a collectivist democracy, when He established it as a hierarchical monarchy?

      Since you presume to speak for “millions of prayerful women,” perhaps you would care to cite the source of your knowledge about all these women not being allowed to “raise their heads above the parapet.”

      I would also like to point out two other things:

      1.Your choice of words indicates (a) an extremely unhealthy curiosity about what’s going on “above the parapet,” and (b) a complete lack of humility and knowledge about womanhood and the Church’s teachings thereof.

      2. Your attitude is identical to that of the heretical tone and content of Amoris Laetitia, so your post is a perfect illustration of the damage being done to the Church, to the Faith and to the faithful by that despicable document.

      August 13, 2016 at 10:00 pm
      • Therese

        RCA V

        I wish you’d stop saying what I want to say just before I want to say it! Granted, you say it better, but that’s not the point. Ladies first, you know….

        August 14, 2016 at 8:49 pm
      • RCA Victor


        Editor does keep telling me I have a big mouth…. 🙂

        Tell you what: I’ll send all my posts to Editor first, so she can put them in the proper queue. Of course, with the extra workload, she’ll have to cut back on all that pubbing and clubbing….fewer Columbo episodes…sounds like a good penance to me!

        August 14, 2016 at 10:54 pm
    • Christina

      Margaret, in my young day, as I know from experience, well-educated Catholic women were in very great demand in the Church for their ‘gifts and talents’, especially in order to exercise these in various vocations, such as nursing and teaching, where such gifts and talents could pre-eminently be used ‘for the greater glory of God’. Since the flight of so many able religious and laywomen from these, and other essential callings, in favour of silly illusory feminist pretensions, the Church has suffered immeasurable harm, not least of all in an increasingly emasculated priesthood, where many are too often content to be hen-pecked into the abdication of their God-given responsibilities.

      As for your last remark – ‘It would seem that the only solution to the many millions of able and prayerful women is to ensure that they are not allowed to raise their heads above the parapet’ – O come on, you must be kidding! Are millions of able and prayerful women intent only getting their feet into the sanctuary? All the ones I know are busy raising families or are fully and prayerfully occupied in carrying out their duties of state in the manner ordained by God. They help priests with prayer and with such works as are needed without illicitly attempting to usurp any functions that properly belong to the ordained.

      August 13, 2016 at 10:14 pm
    • pew catholic

      Margaret, I knew you would get a pasting from the Catholic Truth bloggers (it happens to me from time to time), so I’ll come out in sympathy with your views, except for your attack on Editor, for whom I have a respect, even though I can guess what she will say in answer to this!

      Women are undervalued by the Catholic Church, and given a bit of authority could help greatly in these times of trial. However, I don’t think this papal commission can be taken seriously. Our Pope – now there’s an example of male-only ordination – has been quoted as saying that if you want nothing to happen, set up a commission.

      It won’t come to anything, and just isn’t worth arguing about.

      August 14, 2016 at 9:08 pm
      • Therese

        Pew Catholic

        Will you please tell me how women are undervalued by the Catholic Church? I’ve heard this a lot in recent years, and I simply cannot understand how anyone can believe such a thing, but please, enlighten my ignorance. In what way are we undervalued?

        August 14, 2016 at 10:13 pm
      • editor

        Pew Catholic,

        Listen, no need for the flattery, you’re already doing well on the pay-scale but you do need to improve your attendance if you want to get the Christmas bonus. Having said that, keep the flattery coming… 😀

        Seriously, however, we need to get down to brass tacks, in order to have a clear understanding of this business of women being “undervalued” in the Church. Try to undervalue me, moi, and one’s head will soon be separated from one’s shoulders. Yip. Just introduce me to the guy who would get away with “undervaluing” me or moi, or both of us, really…

        But, Pew Catholic, what, with the Church describing Our Lady as “the highest honour of our race” and “the most important human being who ever lived”, and with great female saints being made Doctors of the Church (Catherine of Siena, Therese of Lisieux) and with women, even way back in the middle ages being charged with setting up, running and financing their own convents and monasteries, schools and hospitals, I don’t get this “undervalued” bit at all.

        Now, of course, if you think that the Church is a purely human institution and that whoever is “in charge” of running it is the most important person/people, and that men and women should be able to do any job on offer (just don’t send me a wee skinny lassie to rescue me if the multi-storey flat in which I live goes on fire) then, you may have a point. If you gotta be a man to be a Catholic, then you definitely gotta point.

        But the Church is NOT a purely human institution and it is NOT about jobs for the boys and/or girls.

        It’s about the means to holiness and we have St Paul’s word for it – yip, that old male-dominated man, that patriarchal So & So – that IN CHRIST there is no male or female; that each human being without exception HAS EQUAL ACCESS TO GOD’S GRACE AND THE MEANS OF HOLINESS. Don’t mean to shout – just saying… out loud… 😀

        That’s the only kind of equality that makes any sense at all in the Church.

        Do you agree? (Before you respond, think: Christmas bonus…)

        August 14, 2016 at 10:14 pm
  • spudeater

    Well I suppose if Billary Clinton becomes President, there won’t be many more areas for the feminazis to target so what better than smashing (literally) the stained-glass ceiling. Just one more dispiriting step in the destructive process of manufacturing a Church conformed to the World rather than to Christ.

    I must disagree on one point though with John Vennari. I’ve been unfortunate enough to witness many and varied ministrettes engaging in pincer movements around the sanctuary and I think that I can safely say that, to a woman, their fluttering days are long gone.

    August 13, 2016 at 1:29 pm
    • editor


      “Billary Clinton” – love it! Just what I’ve been thinking watching his delight at all the praise heaped on her during their “convention” – almost rubbing his hands with glee at the thought of HE being president again!

      As for that feminists’ “smashed stained-glass ceiling” – love that too! You’ve got quite a way with words even if you can’t master the technique of attaching an avatar to your name. 😀

      August 13, 2016 at 7:50 pm
      • spudeater


        My limpet-like adherence to absolute honest means I have to admit plagiarising the term ‘Billary’ but you’ll get no disagreement from me that I’m allergic to avatars.

        August 13, 2016 at 9:49 pm
      • RCA Victor


        Perhaps he is hesitant to post an avatar of a potato….

        August 13, 2016 at 10:04 pm
      • editor

        RCA Victor,

        Nope, believe it or not, Spudeater DID try to post an avatar of a potato. Yip. You heard it here first… Takes all sorts…

        August 13, 2016 at 11:00 pm
  • Athanasius

    What they are attempting now with deaconesses is exactly how they introduced the abomination of Communion in the hand. Apostolic Tradition forbade that abuse, as it does deaconesses, so they just perverted the writings of Sacred Scripture, the Fathers and the saints to say something different from what was intended. They are masters of ambiguity, dishonest men who have lost the Catholic Faith but remain in the Church to Protestantise her. There is nothing more unnatural for the true Catholic than to see women doing party pieces in the Sanctuary. It’s even more nauseating to see them dressed up in the clerical vestments of a divinely instituted male priesthood.

    August 13, 2016 at 1:51 pm
    • editor


      “nauseating” is precisely the word. Very few people, if any, look so ridiculous as a woman dressed like a priest. Utterly hilarious.

      August 13, 2016 at 7:52 pm
      • Elizabeth

        I agree that the ones with the dangly earrings look absurd but would not say that they all look ridiculous.
        I have been thinking a lot about the subject of Anglican priesthood and in particular female priests.i know well two women who are ordained and both have quite extraordinary stories of their “call to ministry”. One was a confirmed atheist who attended a friends funeral. After the service she wandered back into the church and was suddenly filled with the most profound conviction that not only did Gid exist but she was being called to serve him in the priesthood. She fought this feeling for a long time but eventually submitted and now is a quite amazing prison chaplain doing great work among the men.she radiates holiness.
        The other was an artist who also felt for many years an insistent call to priesthood. She also did her best to resist this for a long time. She is now a much loved, gentle curate in a rural parish.
        Neither of these women centre their ministry around the Eucharist however. I do not think they see priesthood as essentially sacrificial in the way we do. But neither do I think that their callings were no more than pious illusions.
        It is confusing but I do not believe we could or should ordain women as deacons in the Catholic Church however.

        August 14, 2016 at 9:50 am
      • RCA Victor


        Those are touching stories, but if you believe what the Church teaches about the priesthood, then I don’t see how you can believe that God would or could call any woman to that state. It is not confusing at all. Moreover, if neither of these women center their ministry around the Eucharist (thank God), then ipso facto they cannot be called “priests.”

        Moreover, there are no Anglican priests – their ordinations are invalid, and their eucharists are not eucharists. The best one could say about these women, despite the fact that they “do good work,” is that they are Protestant ministers laboring under Protestant ignorance and delusion.

        So what we have here is a misuse of the word “priest” in two dimensions: one, via a non-eucharistic service which is not a sacrifice; two, there is no such thing as a female priest.

        August 14, 2016 at 6:16 pm
      • editor


        I repeat, and emphasise, that there are few sights so utterly ridiculous, as a woman dressed as a priest. Wearing a Roman collar and pretending to be a priest, is just ridiculous. It amazes me that any Catholic would think differently, given that Pope Leo XIII declared Anglican Orders to be null and void, way back in 1896:

        36. Wherefore, strictly adhering, in this matter, to the decrees of the pontiffs, our predecessors, and confirming them most fully, and, as it were, renewing them by our authority, of our own initiative and certain knowledge, we pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void.” Apostolicae Curae

        For us, as Catholics, to argue that women (like the Anglicans you describe) can feel a “call” to priesthood and fight it before eventually “submitting”, is to argue that God got it wrong.

        God does not “call” us to do something that contradicts His divine plan for us, His holy will. He does not “call” us to a false religion, or to promote a false religion (including Anglicanism) and he does not call any women, anywhere, to be priests. God established His Church, and it is through that Church, the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, that souls are saved. It is a seriously false charity not to make that clear to the adherents of false religions and “churches” which have their roots in the Protestant – (male!) priest-led – rebellion of the 16th century.

        God did NOT “call” those women whom you describe to priestly ministry, any more than He called the Yorkshire Ripper to restore morality to the streets of London by murdering prostitutes. If the “Ripper” thought that God was calling him to kill the street women, he was wrong. Plain and simple.

        Your friends interpreted their sentimentalism, their personal desires, as calls from God. They were/are wrong. It is a basic theological tenet that God cannot change. He is immutable. Unchangeable. And He has guaranteed that when His pontiffs speak with authority, repeating a belief always held by the entire Church, everywhere, at all times, as Pope Leo XIII has done in Apostolicae Curae, then we are hearing His voice. Anglican Orders are not null and void because Pope Leo XIII said so. They are null and void because God says so. And if you follow the ecclesial and theological logic, that is because there is one, unchangeable, immutable, all knowing, all seeing God, who established one Church for the salvation of souls. The Catholic Church, known by that name since the earliest times.

        To enter into the possibility that one of the schismatic groups – in this case the Anglicans – may be acceptable, that God works through them and calls women to the priesthood, when even the male priesthood is “absolutely null and utterly void” is, as I said above, to argue that God has been wrong all along.

        As for the woman whom you say “radiates holiness” – you can test that by seeing her reaction to the news that the only place on this earth where God has revealed the fullness of truth, and the means of salvation, is the Catholic Church. If she reacts by wanting to know more, and setting herself to research, and to prayer for the necessary grace to embrace the Faith (even while not fully understanding – that’s what “faith” is, remember!) and if she does all of this with the same “profound conviction” that she felt about being called to priesthood, then you may well be right.

        I’ll be watching this space!

        August 14, 2016 at 6:36 pm
      • Lionel

        I totally agree with what you write.

        August 14, 2016 at 11:11 pm
      • editor


        I know they talk about the wise men from the east, but I think the wisest man of all comes from France! 😀

        August 14, 2016 at 11:52 pm
      • Lionel

        Not really!

        August 15, 2016 at 12:40 am
      • Athanasius


        St. Paul warns us that the devil often appears disguised as an angel of light. While I do not question the good will of the two women you mentioned, I think it is absolutely correct to point out, as RCA Victor, Editor and Lionel have, that the apparent good these women do cannot obscure the glaring contradiction they represent in supernatural terms.

        If God were truly the instrument behind the anomoly they represent then He would at least have guided them to the true religion. That they both ended up in a false religion with no valid priesthood should be evidence enough that God is not the author of this business, however well intentioned the two ladies in question may be and however much good they may superficially appear to be doing. Perhaps social work was their true calling and they just misread the signs. They most certainly were not called by God to the clerical state.

        August 14, 2016 at 7:36 pm
  • Petrus

    Two other things came to mind. Some of the eastern churches may have had the non-ordained role of “deaconess” but they have long since abandoned the practice.

    Secondly, I think introducing the Permanent Diaconate was also a mistake which has muddied the waters. There may have been married deacons in antiquity – we also had married priests – but the Church abandoned the practice for good reason.

    August 13, 2016 at 8:00 pm
  • Lionel

    They are currently promoting the “Priesthood” of women:

    REMINDER: FROM THE FEMALE DIACONATE TO THE “PRIESTHOOD” OF WOMEN (14th March 2005): nobody is actually being deceived on this issue. Women can never have access to the Priesthood, because it is not included in the plan of God. Even if a bishop was to conduct an “ordination”, it would not be valid, it would be a travesty and sacrilege which, in my opinion, would be of an extreme gravity as there would be a risk of rupture in the “apostolic succession”. That we must fear most.

    Throughout all eternity, God chose to incarnate in a man through the Virgin Mary Immaculate who, more than any other woman, would have deserved to be ordained priest. The Sacrament of Holy Order being closely linked to the Eternal Priesthood of Jesus Christ who died on the Cross to save us, every priest is the icon of Christ, despite his failings, in a totally supernatural relationship that transcends us and that we will discover, I believe, in the hereafter. Moreover, as I just mentioned, the Priesthood is not separable from the Sacrifice of the Cross perpetuated over time by the Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice and it is a man who died on the Cross, Jesus Christ, the Priest ultimately and not a woman. Therefore, for those who, wherever possible, know how to evaluate the importance and the value of the Everlasting Priesthood in the light of the constant teaching of the Church and the witness of saints, it is unthinkable that a woman has access and any “ordination” would, in this case, be invalid and sacrilegious with certainty.

    One can always argue that protestants have already made the “ordination” of women. Well, it does not matter because they have long since broken the “apostolic succession” and their celebrations are therefore only mock sacraments. They can mimic the Church, but their ceremonies have no consistency, they are devoid of the presence of God and the fact to let anybody believe, knowingly, that their clergy is invested in Priesthood and can therefore act in communion with Catholic or Orthodox clergy who has not broken the “apostolic succession”, is a real sin.

    “Ordination” of women is simply impossible, because it was not planned from the outset.(July 24, 2010 at 1:51 pm) The Catholic Church venerates Our Lady as the pinnacle of womanhood, both as Mother and Virgin. For a woman to seek priesthood would assume a dimension distinct from the fulfilment of womanhood achieved by Our Lady. It would diminish Our Lady as the model of perfect and complete womanhood by introducing a further role for women, one in which she does not partake.

    The arrival of women priests would mean that Our Lady, despite her position as Mother of God and Virgin of virgins, no longer represents the pinnacle of womanhood. It would be an admission that she is lacking in her fulfilment of that role since she has missed out on a further role which is the priestly ministry. Clearly, for Catholics this would be an intolerable position. Our Lady is God’s perfect creature whom He has crowned as Queen of Heaven. She has received God’s favour and is lacking in nothing. Female ministry would be a contradiction of her position and therefore a contradiction of the marvels that God has done for Her.(14th May 2016 à 0 h 14 min) Exactly. We must also say that a woman cannot be a priest, because it is God who chooses his priests, and not the reverse. One must be called. I do not know why suddenly God would call women while He never called any before. In short, it is still a bad shot from that dirty grapple.

    August 13, 2016 at 10:20 pm
  • westminsterfly

    Apologies if anyone has posted this already, but it is definitely worth a read on this issue:- “Pope Appoints Commission to Study Matter Exhaustively Studied by Earlier Papal Commission” http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2016/08/pope-appoints-commission-to-study.html#.V7LLlE36sdU

    August 16, 2016 at 9:18 am
  • John Kearney

    In the 1980′ the movement for women priests in England was in full flow. Women Academics especially were pushing for it and it appeared that the English bishops were fully behind them. Indeed a Mary Greay from Louvaine University appeared in the Portsmouth Diocese and set up a band os screaming feminists who looked unstoppable. Mary Grey herself confessed recently that she believed that at that time Women Priests were inevitable. But it somehow all went wrong. The Bishops suddenly cooled and it all went down the sink with the dirty water including the destruction by the feminists of a Catholic Teaching College called La Sainte Union, which was notorious for its anti-catholic practices. Although there are women who still dream – the day of a serious campaign for women priests is over.

    August 16, 2016 at 1:38 pm
  • editor

    I’ve received the following message from our French blogger, Lionel – apart from the fact that my command of foreign languages is about as good as Pope Francis’ command of elementary theology, I am preparing for visitors coming from the furthest reaches of Scotland today, and my cooking skills match my command of foreign languages, so I need to concentrate on that (!) and don’t, therefore, have time to do the necessary homework. If anyone else is able to check the accuracy of his translation, that will be much appreciated. I’ve already told him that his grasp of English is impressive and I’m sure the translation is perfectly accurate, but since he’s made the request, I’d like to comply:


    “…some correspondents in Rome and in France and Switzerland and somewhere else, asked me to translate your topic on “deaconess”. You can check if the translation is correct. All the best LD”



    Nous avons couvert ce sujet de temps à autre dans le bulletin d’information, en soulignant que les diaconesses dans l’Église primitive ont eu un rôle très limité en effet et que ce rôle n’a jamais inclus de participation à la liturgie similaire à celle des diacres. Le pape a déjà souligné qu’aucune femme ne peut avoir accès au sacerdoce. En supposant qu’il ne change pas sa position à ce sujet, ne va-t-il pas, alors, se rendre compte qu’il donne de faux espoirs et du matériel de propagande aux partisans de l’ordination des femmes en créant cette « étude » tout à fait inutile sur la possibilité d’autoriser l’instauration du « diaconat féminin » dans l’Église? Je suis tout à fait d’accord avec la conclusion de John Vennari qui fait remarquer que « l’introduction de cette nouveauté destructrice de « diaconesses » ne peut conduire qu’à une dégradation supplémentaire de l’Église et du sacerdoce [et] qu’il faut s’y opposer fermement”. Qu’en pensez-vous? Êtes-vous d’accord? Éditeur de Catholic Truth (Écosse)

    RAPPEL: DU DIACONAT FÉMININ AU “SACERDOCE” DES FEMMES (14 mars 2005): personne ne s’y est laissé tromper. Les femmes ne pourront jamais avoir accès au Sacerdoce, car ce n’est pas inscrit dans le dessein de Dieu. Même si un évêque procédait à une « ordination », ce ne serait pas valide, ce ne serait qu’un simulacre sacrilège et ce qui, à mon avis, revêtirait une extrême gravité, c’est qu’il y aurait un risque de rupture dans la « succession apostolique ». C’est cela qu’il faut craindre le plus.

    De toute éternité, Dieu a choisi de s’incarner dans un homme par l’intermédiaire de la Vierge Marie Immaculée qui, plus que toute autre femme, aurait pu mériter d’être ordonnée prêtre. Le Sacrement de l’Ordre étant étroitement lié au Sacerdoce éternel du Christ Jésus mort sur la Croix pour nous sauver, chaque prêtre est l’icône du Christ, malgré ses défaillances, dans une relation totalement surnaturelle qui nous dépasse et que nous découvrirons, je pense, dans l’au-delà. De plus, comme je viens de l’évoquer, le Sacerdoce n’est pas dissociable du Sacrifice de la Croix perpétué dans le temps par le Saint Sacrifice Eucharistique et c’est un homme qui est mort sur la Croix, Jésus Christ, le prêtre par excellence et non pas une femme. Par conséquent, pour ceux qui, dans la mesure du possible, savent évaluer l’importance et la valeur du Sacerdoce éternel à la lumière de l’enseignement constant de l’Eglise et du témoignage des saints, il est impensable qu’une femme y ait accès et toute « ordination » serait, dans ce cas, invalide et sacrilège d’une façon certaine.

    On pourra toujours objecter que les protestants ont déjà procédé à « l’ordination » de femmes. Eh bien, ça n’a aucune importance, car ils ont depuis longtemps rompu la « succession apostolique » et leurs célébrations ne sont par conséquent que des simulacres de sacrements. Ils peuvent singer l’Église, mais leurs cérémonies n’ont aucune consistance, elles sont vides de la présence de Dieu et le fait de laisser croire, en connaissance de cause, que leur clergé est investi du Sacerdoce et peut donc agir en communion avec le clergé catholique ou orthodoxe qui lui n’a pas rompu la « succession apostolique », constitue un véritable péché.

    « L’ordination » de femmes est tout simplement impossible, car ça n’a pas été prévu dès l’origine.

    (24 juillet 2010 à 13h51) L’Église catholique vénère Notre-Dame comme le summum de la féminité, à la fois comme Mère et Vierge. Pour une femme de demander le Sacerdoce suppose une dimension distincte de l’accomplissement de la féminité réalisé par Notre-Dame. Elle diminuerait Notre-Dame en tant que modèle de la femme parfaite et complète en introduisant un autre rôle pour les femmes auquel Elle ne participe pas.

    L’avènement de femmes prêtres signifierait que Notre-Dame, en dépit de sa position en tant que Mère de Dieu et Vierge des vierges, ne représente plus le summum de la féminité. Ce serait un aveu qu’Elle fait défaut dans son accomplissement de ce rôle depuis qu’Elle a été privée d’un autre rôle qui est le Ministère Sacerdotal. De toute évidence, pour les catholiques ce serait une situation intolérable. Notre-Dame est une créature parfaite de Dieu qu’Il a couronnée en tant que Reine du Ciel. Elle a reçu la faveur de Dieu et ne manque de rien. Le « ministère de la femme » serait en contradiction avec sa position et donc en contradiction avec les merveilles que Dieu a réalisées en Elle.

    (14 mai 2016 à 0h14) Exactement. Il faut dire aussi qu’une femme ne peut pas être prêtre, parce que c’est Dieu qui choisit ses prêtres, et non l’inverse. Il faut y être appelé. Je ne vois pas pourquoi d’un seul coup Dieu appellerait des femmes alors qu’Il ne les a jamais appelées avant. Bref, c’est encore un mauvais coup de ce sale grappin. END.

    August 22, 2016 at 10:31 am

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