Footnotes to Fr. Ripperger’s paper
1 The proper English substantive for a female who has been raised to the diaconate is “deaconess.” The use of the term “deacon”, i.e. the masculine form, in relation to females receiving the diaconate has become wide spread. Like its counter part “female priests,” it is grammatically incorrect. The term “priest” and “deacon” are masculine and should not be used coupled with an adjective which is by nature feminine. While the English language does not depend on gender as much as other romance languages, there are certain words in English which have a gender, and the grammatical structures, for linguistic reasons, should be retained. Perhaps some wish to avoid the terms “priestess” and “deaconess” due to the terms’ pagan overtones. Mortimort in Deaconesses: An Historical Study (Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1986) uses the term “female deacon” but in a specific sense. Normally speaking, he refers to women who have been raised to the level of the diaconate as deaconesses, however, he tends to retain the term “female deacon” for a woman who has received the sacrament of Holy Orders as opposed to a “deaconess” who has not received Holy Orders but serves some function in the Church.
2 Mortimort, op. cit., passim. The entire text re-iterates this point. It should be noted, however, that there are other “periti” who consider the historical evidence as supporting the existence of deaconess receiving the sacrament of Holy Orders. Among others, see Gryson, The Minister of Women in the Early Church.
3 Mortimort, op. cit, p. 38, 112 and 241ff. among others.
4 Ibid., p. 72.
5 Ibid., passim.
6 In this article, the term “Holy Orders” will refer primarily to the sacrament of Holy Orders, i.e. the diaconate, priesthood and episcopate. However, the reader should keep in mind that traditionally there were seven holy orders. The minor orders were not considered as a sacrament but sacramentals. Moreover, it has been generally considered that the subdiaconate, which was previously considered a major order, was not, in fact, a sacrament but a sacramental. See Pesch (Praelectiones Dogmaticae, Friburg, 1924), vol. 7, tract. II, art. II, p. 289-298.
7 The historical considerations are far too extensive for an article of this nature.
8 The document does contain a short section on the doctrinal considerations on pages thirty-one to thirty-four. However, key doctrinal issues, like the one to be discussed shortly, are notably absent.
9 CLSA, The Canonical Implications of Ordaining Women to the Permanent Deaconate, (Canon Law Society of America, Washington, D.C., 1995) p. 5-18. It should be noted that a negative argument cannot be employed in order to arrive at a positive conclusion. In other words, just because the historical evidence does not decisively demonstrate they were not ordained does not necessarily support the argument that they were ordained.
10 Ibid., p. 22f. Consequently, because he restored it for men, the Church could restore it for women.
11 Ibid., p. 26-30. While this is open to debate, the discussion of it will not be broached here.
12 Ibid., p. 35-49. Part of the canonical considerations includes an analysis of the current requirements for validity and liceity for the sacrament. Aside from canon 1024 (CIC/83), the remaining canonical requirements for permanent “deaconnessate” would be the same as it is for permanent deacons.
13 Ibid., p. 38ff.
14 Ibid., p. 32.
15 The document by the CLSA does state that the Church authorities “have modified the celebration of certain sacraments, including the determination of what is necessary for their valid celebration.” Emphasis mine.
16 E.g. Baptism and the Eucharist. Even though the form of the Eucharistic consecration has varied slightly, those things which are considered essential to the validity have remained the same throughout time. Therefore, to drop “mysterium fidei” from the form of consecration of the wine does not affect validity. But the Church is not in a position to alter the words “Hoc est corpus meum” or “This is my body” with respect to the Eucharist.
17 For instance, the Church does not have the authority to stop the requirement of baptism for the valid reception of the other sacraments.
18 As time advances, a slow gathering of documentation is being mounted on both sides of this issue. However, those who fall into the same position as the CLSA document generally tend to propose the same arguments and for this reason the CLSA document is representative of most of those holding the same position.
19 Para. 4. All translations are mine unless otherwise specified.
20 The Holy Father in the above quote uses the Latin word “facultas” where I have translated it as capacity. The wording is interesting since it seems to imply that it might be possible, theoretically speaking, for a woman to receive Holy Orders, but that God simply has not given the Church permission or the “faculties,” if you will, to do so. Perhaps such a reading presses the issue too much but using the term “facultas” as opposed to “capacitas,” for instance, does seem to imply more than merely the Church lacking the authority to ordain women.
21 Incidentally, if this method of reading is to be employed, why has the possibility of women to be consecrated bishops not been proffered by those advocating the deaconnessate?
22 Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Tan Books and Publishers, Inc.: Rockford, Illinois, 1974), p. 454. See also Noldin, Summa Theologiae Moralis (Oeniponte: Lipsiae, Ratisbona, 1940), Vol. III, p. 463: “Omnes ordines ex unitate finis, ad quem referuntur, unum tantummodo sacramentum consistuunt, cum omnes ordinentur ad unum eucharistiae sacramentum et sacrificium”; Prummer, Manuale Theologiae Moralis (Herder & Co: Friburgi, 1933), Vol. III, p. 421: “Insuper omnes ordines constituunt unum sacramentum ex unitate finis, ad quem ordinantur, nempe omnes ordinantur ad eucharistiam” and Tanquerey, Synopsis Theologiae Dogmaticae (Benzinger Brothers, Inc.: New York, 952), p. 719: “Etsi plures sint ordines, unum est tamen ordinis sacramentum.”
23 See Trent, sess. VII, canon 1: Denz. 844/1601 (Denzinger, Henricus and Schönmetzer, Adolfus, eds. Enchiridion Symbolorum: Definitionum et Declarationum de Rebus Fidei et Morum. Herder: Roma, 1976).
24 That is, there would be Baptism, Confirmation, Confession, Holy Communion, Matrimony, Extreme Unction and instead of merely “Holy Orders’ as the seventh sacrament, there would be three more sacraments, viz. Diaconate, Presbyterate and Episcopate.
25 Most of them refer to the Supplementum of the Summa Theologiae, e.g. see Tanquerey, loc. cit. and Prummer, loc. cit. The difficulty with this is that the supplement is not the actual composition of Saint Thomas but is a compilation from other works by a later author. However, the common reference of the manualists to S.T. Suppl., q. 37, a. 1, ad 2 is identical to this a citation in the Sentences; see below.
26 IV Sent. d. 24, q. 2, a. 1 ad 2: “distinctio ordinum non est totius integralis in partes, neque totius universalis, sed totius potestativi; cujus haec est natura quod totum secundum completam rationem est in uno, in aliis autem est aliqua participatio ipsius; et ita est hic: tota enim plenitudo hujus sacramenti est in uno ordine, scilicet sacerdotio; sed in aliis est quaedam participatio ordinis; …et ideo omnes ordines sunt unum sacramentum.” All quotations from Saint Thomas can be found in the Leonine edition (Thomae Aquinatis Opera Omnia, Iussu Impensaque :Leonis XIII, edita., Roma: ex Typographia Polyglotta et al., 1882).
27 The use of the term “degree” can be found in many ecclesiastical documents but recently it finds its place in the joint declaration of the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Congregation for the Clergy in association with the documents on the Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons and the Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons, para. 1: “The Sacrament of apostolic ministry comprises three degrees.”
28 See Vatican II, Prebyterorum Ordinis, para. 7 and Lumen Gentium, para. 41 (Pauline Books and Media, 1994). The last reference is of interest because it indicates that priests participate to a degree in the fullness of the priesthood possessed by bishops. This counters the position that the priest possesses the fullness of the priesthood but the full exercise of the powers are loosed once one is consecrated a bishop. Regardless of one’s position on the matter, it does not affect the current issue at hand, viz. whether women can be ordained to the diaconate.
29 Even in the new code we see, “Sacram ordinationem valide recipit solus vir baptizatus” (CIC/83 – can. 1024; the CIC/17 – can. 968 is identical in wording); see also Davis, Moral and Pastoral Theology (Sheed and Ward: New York, 1943), Vol. IV, p. 25; Noldin, op. cit., p. 463. Ott, op. cit., p. 459: “The sacrament of Order can be validly received by a baptized person of the male sex only,” Prummer, op. cit, p.421-431 and Tanquerey, op. cit., p. 735.
30 This is quite clear in the case of the permanent diaconate. It is recognized that a man, who is married, can be ordained to the permanent diaconate and could, likewise, be ordained to the priesthood. What bars him from advancing from one degree to another is not some essential difference in the sacrament which makes him an unfit subject, but the Church’s positive law (i.e. something accidental) that those who are married in the Latin rite cannot become priests. In other words, by divine law, the conditions for receiving the Holy Orders in general have been set, viz. Baptism and masculinity of the subject and there does not appear to be any divine positive law regulating the advancement of one order to another, for since one can receive the lesser, he can receive the higher. However, the Church can place regulations about the advancement to Holy Orders and in Holy Orders, but these in themselves do not deny the intrinsic capacity of a man to receive all of the degrees of this sacrament.
31 My suspicion is that the Church is being cautious and is a bit leery that the historical evidence is not absolutely conclusive. She does not want to declare something about which the historical evidence has not been thoroughly parsed out.
32 Since abbesses have been given the power to bless in the past and since women now can serve at the altar, they could be allowed to perform the functions of a deacon since this prohibition is merely ecclesiastical law. Moreover, since Baptism can be conferred by anyone in cases of emergency and since marriage is something essentially contracted by the two parties, nothing would prohibit the Church from allowing women deaconesses to officiate marriages and baptize. Finally, since the prohibition to preach is merely ecclesiastical law (i.e. assuming St. Paul’s admonition that women should not speak in Church is purely advisory or “historically conditioned”), there is no reason why a deaconess could not preach. In effect, there is nothing barring a deaconess doing all the things a deacon does; she would merely lack orders.
33 Like some of the ancient “ordinations” of deaconesses in the past, there would be nothing to bar the Church authorities from having a laying on of hands and saying of a formula. The only thing that would be understood is that this action would not confer the sacrament of Holy Orders.