The controversial and outspoken Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas — recently the subject of an apostolic visitation from the Vatican — has released a pastoral letter to his flock. Among other things, he talks about the issue of ordaining women as priests and deacons:
As Sacred Scripture tells us, Christ ordained only men as apostles. Sacred Tradition and the Ordinary Magisterium of the Church have affirmed throughout the ages that the Church has no authority whatsoever to ordain women to the priesthood. This cannot be changed because Christ instituted a male priesthood in order to image Himself as the bridegroom with the Church as His bride. As St. John Paul II solemnly stated in his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis: “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.”
It is imperative to state, though, that Christ would never want a “lesser” role for women than He wants for men. Women have made and continue to make indispensable contributions in the history and life of the Church. From the greatest and most perfect of God’s creation in all of history, Our Blessed Mother, the Queen of Heaven and Earth; to some of the greatest saints and Doctors of the Church; to our holy and faithful women in religious orders and convents; to the countless women who have and continue to impart the faith to their families and communities; Christ instituted His Church in a way that calls for women to have “more” of a role in Him than could ever be found in the world. However, as God did not call men to be mothers, God did not call women to be fathers, and to be sacramentally ordained as a minister for Christ in His Church, Our Lord calls for men to be spiritual fathers and bridegrooms to His bride, The Church. This role can only be filled by one properly ordered to this role.
‘As God did not call men to be mothers, God did not call women to be fathers, and to be sacramentally ordained as a minister for Christ in His Church, Our Lord calls for men to be spiritual fathers and bridegrooms to His bride, The Church.’
For those who would inquire about the potential for female deacons in the Catholic Church, I would offer this: Scripture tells us that from the earliest days of the Church, women served as faithful servants (Greek: diakonos) of the members of the Church. (cf. Rom 16:1). Historians and scholars tell us that women served in many important roles of service in the early Church, including acts of charity for the poor, caring for the sick, preparing other women for baptism, etc. However, we see in the Acts of the Apostles that there is another type of servant (diakonos) called specifically by the apostles and set apart from other servants in the Church; the apostles laid hands on these particular servants, and these servants then received a sacramental ordination to fulfill their unique role. Scripture tells us that the apostles said, “Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, who we appoint to this task.” (Acts 6:3). And then, “They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them.” (Acts 6:6). Although many (both men and women) have faithfully served the Church as servants/diakonos throughout history, the sacramental ordination to the diaconate—as one of the three degrees of the sacrament of Holy Orders (deacon, priest, bishop)—has always been reserved for baptized males alone. All three degrees act as instruments of Christ in persona Christi Capitis, (in the person of Christ as the Head), but with distinct functions for each office. Because sacramentally ordained deacons share in the apostolic ministry with priests and bishops, the Church has decreed that they must also be men, as were the apostles Jesus chose.
The Canons of the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) state in reference to women who have been granted a certain status of service: “We refer to deaconesses who have been granted this status, for they do not receive any imposition of hands, so that they are in all respects to be numbered among the laity.” (Canon No. 19).
There’s much more. You can read the whole document here.