Catholic Women Priests?
So now we come to the real question at hand: can women be ordained to the Catholic Priesthood?
Short answer: NO.
The long answer requires some research into the most common arguments for the ordination of women. The one I will be focusing on today is the notion that the early Church had ordained women to the Diaconate. If the early Church did do such a thing, the next logical step is to allow women to the Priesthood.
So the question is, did the early Church allow women to be ordained to the Diaconate? The only way to answer this question is to read what the early Church has said on this topic.
Tertullian ~ The Veiling of Virgins 9 (A.D. 206)
It is not permitted for a woman to speak in the church (1 Cor 14:34-35), but neither [is it permitted her] … to offer, nor to claim to herself a lot in any manly function, not to say sacerdotal office.
Hippolytus ~ The Apostolic Tradition 11(A.D. 215)
When a widow is to be appointed, she is not to be ordained, but is designated by being named [a widow]. … A widow is appointed by words alone, and is then associated with the other widows. Hands are not imposed on her, because she does not offer the oblation and she does not conduct the liturgy. Ordination is for the clergy because of the liturgy; but a widow is appointed for prayer, and prayer is the duty of all.
Council of Nicaea I ~ Canon 19 (A.D. 325)
Similarly, in regard to the deaconesses, as with all who are enrolled in the register, the same procedure is to be observed. We have made mention of the deaconesses, who have been enrolled in this position, although, not having been in any way ordained, they are certainly to be numbered among the laity.
Council of Laodicea ~ Canon 11 (A.D. 360)
The so-called presbyteresses or presidentesses are not to be ordained in the Church.
St. Epiphanius of Salamis, Father of the Church ~ Against Heresies (A.D. 377)
• It is true that in the Church there is an order of deaconesses, not for being a priestess nor for any kind of work of administration, but for the sake of the dignity of the female sex, either at the time of baptism or of examining the sick or suffering, so that the naked body of a female may not be seen by men administering sacred rites, but by the deaconess.(ibid)
• From this bishop [James the Just] and the just-named apostles, the succession of bishops and presbyters [priests] in the house of God have been established. Never was a woman called to these. … According to the evidence of Scripture, there were, to be sure, the four daughters of the evangelist Philip, who engaged in prophecy, but they were not priestesses. (ibid)
• If women were to be charged by God with entering the priesthood or with assuming ecclesiastical office, then in the New Covenant it would have devolved upon no one more than Mary to fulfill a priestly function. She was invested with so great an honor as to be allowed to provide a dwelling in her womb for the heavenly God and King of all things, the Son of God. … But He did not find this [the conferring of priesthood on her] good.(ibid, 79:3)
The Apostolic Constitutions ~ (A.D. 400)
• A virgin is not ordained, for we have no such command from the Lord, for this is a state of voluntary trial, not for the reproach of marriage, but on account of leisure for piety. (Apostolic Constitutions 8:24)
But if in the foregoing constitutions we have not permitted [women] to teach, how will any one allow them, contrary to nature, to perform the office of the priest? For this is one of the ignorant practices of Gentile atheism, to ordain women priests to the female deities, not one of the constitutions of Christ. (ibid, 3:9)
• A widow is not ordained; yet if she has lost her husband a great while and has lived soberly and unblamably and has taken extraordinary care of her family, as Judith and Anna those women of great reputation, let her be chosen into the order of widows. (ibid, 8:25)
• A deaconess does not bless, but neither does she perform anything else that is done by presbyters [priests] and deacons, but she guards the doors and greatly assists the presbyters, for the sake of decorum, when they are baptizing women. (ibid, 8:28)
So we can see here that at no time did the Church ever ordain women to the Diaconate. What the Church did allow was women to assist the male Deacons and Priests when they were ministering to women for the sake of decency. It was not, and still isn’t, proper for a male Deacon or Priest to Baptize women in the full immersion Baptism which was common in the early Church.