Ordination of women and the Catholic Church
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In the liturgical traditions the Roman Catholic Church the term ordination refers to the means by which a person is included in one of the orders of bishops, priests or deacons. The teaching of the Catholic Church on ordination, as expressed in the Code of Canon Law, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, is that "only a baptized man (Latin: vir) validly receives sacred ordination" and "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." Additionally, the Roman Catholic Church currently ordains only men as deacons.
- 1 History
- 2 Church teaching
- 2.1 Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood
- 2.2 Ordinatio Sacerdotalis
- 2.3 Doctrinal Commentary on Ad Tuedam Fidem
- 2.4 Decree on the Attempted Ordination of Some Catholic Women
- 2.5 Catechism
- 2.6 2008 excommunication order
- 2.7 Pope Francis
- 3 Female deacons
- 4 Ordination and equality
- 5 Dissenting views
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
While references are made within the earliest Christian communities to the ordination of men (through the laying on of hands), there are several references to the role of women. Paul's letter to the Romans, written in the first century AD, for example mentions a woman deacon:
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the holy ones, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a benefactor to many and to me as well.— Rom 16:1, 
In AD 494, in response to reports that women were serving at the altar in the south of Italy, Pope Gelasius I wrote a letter condemning female participation in the celebration of the Eucharist, a role he felt was reserved for men. Inscriptions near Tropea in Calabria (Italy) refer to "presbytera", which could be interpreted as a woman priest or as a wife of a male priest. Furthermore, a sarcophagus from Dalmatia is inscribed with the date 425 and records that a grave in the Salona burial-ground was bought from presbytera Flavia Vitalia: selling burial plots was at one time a duty of presbyters. There have been some 15 records so far found of women being ordained in antiquity by Christians; including the Catholic Church.
In the church of Santa Praxedis, where "Theodora Episcopa"—episcopa is the word for "bishop" in feminine form—appears in an image with two female saints and Mary. Ecclesiastical tradition explains that Theodora was mother of Pope Paschal I, who built the church in her honour and graced her with the title Episcopa due to her being the mother of a Pope. Dorothy Irvin has argued that Theodora was an unmarried woman, because she wears a coif in the image; this argument is inconclusive, however.
Nevertheless, many Church Fathers did not advocate for or permit the ordination of women. Clement of Rome taught that the apostles chose only men to succeed them, which is evidenced by the Successors of Peter. The First Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council, subsequently decreed that a Paulinist deaconess was not an ordained minister but a laywoman, and required them to be rebaptized and, because they did not receive the laying on of hands, were to be considered lay persons.
Concerning the "constant practice of the Church", in antiquity the Church Fathers Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Epiphanius, John Chrysostom, and Augustine all wrote that the priestly ordination of women was impossible. The Council of Laodicea prohibited ordaining women to the Presbyterate, although the meaning of Canon 11 has long been disputed. In the period between the Reformation and the Second Vatican Council, mainstream theologians continued to oppose the priestly ordination of women, appealing to a mixture of scripture, Church tradition and natural law.[Note 1] Even so, mainstream theologians did not dismiss the ordination of women as deacons.
Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood
In 1976, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood which taught that for doctrinal, theological, and historical reasons, the Church "does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination". Reasons given were the Church's determination to remain faithful to its constant tradition, its fidelity to Christ's will, and the iconic value of male representation due to the "sacramental nature" of the priesthood. The Church teaching on the restriction of its ordination to men is that masculinity was integral to the personhood of both Jesus and the men he called as apostles. The Church sees maleness and femaleness as two different ways of expressing common humanity (essence).
In April 1976, the Pontifical Biblical Commission released a study examining the exclusion of women from the ministerial priesthood from a biblical perspective: "The masculine character of the hierarchical order which has structured the church since its beginning ... seems attested to by scripture in an undeniable way. ... As a matter of fact, we see in the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles that the first [Christian] communities were always directed by men exercising the apostolic power." However, in the conclusion of the document, they write:
It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate.
On May 22, 1994, John Paul II issued Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. In it he stated that the Church cannot confer priestly ordination on women:
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.
Pope John Paul II, in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, explained the Roman Catholic understanding that the priesthood is a special role specially set out by Jesus when he chose twelve men out of his group of male and female followers. John Paul notes that Jesus chose the Twelve (cf. Mk 3:13–14; Jn 6:70) after a night in prayer (cf. Lk 6:12) and that the Apostles themselves were careful in the choice of their successors. The priesthood is "specifically and intimately associated in the mission of the Incarnate Word himself (cf. Mt 10:1, 7–8; 28:16–20; Mk 3:13–16; 16:14–15)".
Pope Paul VI, quoted by Pope John Paul II in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, wrote, "The Church holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the example recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing his Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing only men; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God's plan for his Church." John Paul did not mention the question of ordination of women to the diaconate in this document, and reintroducing women to the ordained diaconate was expressly left aside in Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood.
Response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
On Oct 28, 1995, in response to a dubium concerning Odinatio Sacerdotalis, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said:
- Dubium: Whether the teaching that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, which is presented in the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to be held definitively, is to be understood as belonging to the deposit of faith.
- Responsum: Affirmative. This teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium 25, 2). Thus, in the present circumstances, the Roman Pontiff, exercising his proper office of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32), has handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration, explicitly stating what is to be held always, everywhere, and by all, as belonging to the deposit of the faith.
Doctrinal Commentary on Ad Tuedam Fidem
On July 15, 1998 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a doctrinal commentary on Ad Tuedam Fidem. In it, the Congregation gave examples of Catholic doctrines owed the full assent of faith, including the reservation of ordination to men only:
A similar process can be observed in the more recent teaching regarding the doctrine that priestly ordination is reserved only to men. The Supreme Pontiff, while not wishing to proceed to a dogmatic definition, intended to reaffirm that this doctrine is to be held definitively, since, founded on the written Word of God, constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. As the prior example illustrates, this does not foreclose the possibility that, in the future, the consciousness of the Church might progress to the point where this teaching could be defined as a doctrine to be believed as divinely revealed.
Decree on the Attempted Ordination of Some Catholic Women
On December 2, 2002, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the Decree on the Attempted Ordination of Some Catholic Women. In it the Congregation states that the doctrine of ordination was definitively proposed by John Paul II in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis:
In addition there is the doctrinal aspect, namely, that they formally and obstinately reject a doctrine which the church has always taught and lived, and which was definitively proposed by Pope John Paul II, namely, 'that the church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women' (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 4). The denial of this doctrine is rightly considered the denial of a truth that pertains to the Catholic faith and therefore deserves a just penalty (cf. Canons 750 §2; 1372, n. 1; John Paul II, Ad Tuendam Fidem, 4A).
The Congregation further stated that to deny the dogma is to oppose the magisterium of the Pope:
Moreover, by denying this doctrine, the persons in question maintain that the magisterium of the Roman Pontiff would be binding only if it were based on a decision of the college of bishops, supported by the sensus fidelium and received by the major theologians. In such a way they are at odds with the doctrine on the magisterium of the successor of Peter, put forward by both the First and Second Vatican Councils, and they thereby fail to recognize that the teachings of the supreme pontiff on doctrines to be held definitively by all the faithful are irreformable.
The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles...The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.
2008 excommunication order
The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued and published on May 29, 2008, in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, a decree signed by Cardinal William Levada, on the existing ban on women priests by asserting that women "priests" and the bishops who ordain them would be automatically excommunicated latae sententiae.
Pope Francis said "that door is closed" regarding women's priestly ordination, affirming the teachings of his two predecessors, Saint Pope John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He expanded on this in a November 2016 informal statement on the return flight from his papal visit to Sweden to commemorate the Reformation,: "On the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the final word is clear, it was said by St. John Paul II and this remains." Francis added that women are very important to the Church, specifically from a "Marian dimension. In Catholic ecclesiology there are two dimensions to think about ... The Petrine dimension, which is from the Apostle Peter, and the Apostolic College, which is the pastoral activity of the bishops, as well as the Marian dimension, which is the feminine dimension of the Church." The Church is depicted as the bride of Christ, as a woman. Francis has authorized a commission to see if women again could be made deaconesses. On June 20, 2018 Francis said, "We cannot do this with Holy Orders (women priests) because dogmatically we cannot. Pope John Paul II was clear and closed the door and I'm not going to go back on that. It [John Paul's decision] was serious, it was not a capricious thing."
The ordination of females to the diaconate is being discussed by many scholars, including Roman Catholic historians and theologians, as well as Pope Francis. There are two distinct but interrelated questions: whether some women in the early Church received true sacramental ordination, or whether all were merely called such for functional or honorific purposes; and, whether the prohibition against ordaining women to the diaconate is also a matter of unchangeable divine law, or potentially changeable ecclesiastical law. If some women did receive true sacramental ordination, then the current prohibition would be ecclesiastical rather than divine law.
While both women and men were styled "deacon" in the early church, it can also be verified that the term "deaconess" was employed in late antiquity; the word, like "deacon", comes from the Greek word diakonos (διάκονος), meaning "servant, messenger". The earlier term for women who served in the Church was diakonos. The term "deaconess" was often used to refer to women who assisted the priest in receiving women into the Church for baptism by full immersion (which is still practiced by the Eastern Catholic Churches and by some parishes in the Western or Latin Church as well). These women also ministered to sick women and often served in similar positions to male deacons. Male deacons did not anoint the sick. The only woman in Scripture called a deacon is Phoebe (Romans 16:1).
Further historical evidence points to women serving in many areas of the Church in the West as well as in the East. Monastic women deacons in the East received the stole as a symbol of their office at ordination, which took place inside the sanctuary. Historical-theological work by K. K. Fitzgerald, Phyllis Zagano, and Gary Macy argue for the sacramental ordination of women as deacons. A significant contribution on this aspect was made by a future cardinal, Jean Daniélou, in an article in La Maison-Dieu in 1960 (translated into English as "The Ministry of Women in the Early Church" by Glyn Simon, Anglican Bishop of Llandaff).
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote in 1977 that the possibility of ordaining women as deacons was "a question that must be taken up fully by direct study of the texts, without preconceived ideas." The opinion that women received sacramental ordination (in certain times and places) is given by Roger Gryson. In response, Aimé Georges Martimort contends they did not. Both Gryson and Martimort argue from the same historical evidence, and Martimort agrees the matter is not settled. For example, the ecumenical First Council of Nicaea (325) stated that deaconesses of heretical sects "do not receive any imposition of hands, so that they are in all respects to be numbered among the laity." However, 126 years later, the ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451) decreed "A woman shall not receive the laying on of hands as a deaconess under forty years of age, and then only after searching examination." Gryson argues that the use of the verb cheirotonein and of the substantive cheirothesia clearly indicate that women deacons were ordained by the laying on of hands. Martimort argues that the "laying on of hands" refers only to a special blessing, although cheirotonein is clearly used with an invocation of the Holy Spirit. He concludes, however, that the matter is not settled.
Women deacons ceased to function in the West in the 13th century, although women deacons are still ordained in some churches of Orthodoxy. Until recently, a few Catholic theologians and canonists still considered the exclusion of women from ordination, including to the diaconate, as having a divine origin and therefore remaining absolute. In recent decades, many more theologians and canonists presented the argument that the prohibition of women from the ordained diaconate was a matter of merely ecclesiastical rather than divine law. This renewed theological assessment was spurred on by the Second Vatican Council's revival of the permanent diaconate, which lifted the question from a purely theoretical matter to one with immensely practical consequences. Based on the theory that women deacons received and are capable of receiving the sacrament of Holy Orders, there have been continued modern-day proposals to ordain female permanent deacons, who would perform the same functions as male deacons and be like them in every respect.
In 2003, Father Ronald G. Roberson, a staff member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated in a presentation on the diaconate in the Latin Church to annual meeting of the U.S. Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Consultation: "The possibility of ordaining women to the diaconate is still an unsettled question in the Catholic Church. Latin rituals for ordaining deaconesses exist from as late as the 10th century, but the precise sacramental nature of these ordinations has not yet been determined authoritatively. There are recent indications that the Holy See intends to continue the exclusion of women from this office."
In October, 2015, Archbishop Jean-Paul Durocher, of Gatineau, Quebec, called for the restoration of women to the diaconate at the Synod of Bishops on the Family.
In May 2016, Pope Francis said he would create a commission to study women deacons in the early church, to help answer the question of whether women could also serve as deacons today. The Commission, established on August 2, 2016, includes twelve scholars and is under the presidency of Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, Prefect of the International Theological Commission. The first Commission meetings were held November 25–26 in Rome. The International Theological Commission prepared a document between 1992–1997 that was positive, but its president, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, refused to promulgate it; between 1997–2002 a new configuration of the International Theological Commission again studied the question and its report was approved for publication by the then-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The 2002 document states that the matter is one for the Magisterium to decide. In January 2019, two members of the Pontifical Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women reported that a report had been submitted to Pope Francis from the Commission. 
Ordination and equality
The Roman Catholic Church states that the hierarchical structure that includes the ordained ministerial priesthood is ordered to benefit the holiness of the entire body of the faithful, and not to ensure the salvation of the ordained minister.
In Mulieris dignitatem, Pope John Paul II advocated for Christian complementarianism, writing: "In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. In doing so, he exercised the same freedom with which, in all his behavior, he emphasized the dignity and the vocation of women, without conforming to the prevailing customs and to the traditions sanctioned by the legislation of the time."
In Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, John Paul II wrote: "the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, received neither the mission proper to the Apostles nor the ministerial priesthood clearly shows that the non-admission of women to priestly ordination cannot mean that women are of lesser dignity, nor can it be construed as discrimination against them. Rather, it is to be seen as the faithful observance of a plan to be ascribed to the wisdom of the Lord of the universe."
The Roman Catholic Church does not regard the priest as the only possible prayer leader, and prayer may be led by a woman. For example, outside the context of a Mass and in the absence of a priest or deacon, lay people (both men and women) "are to be entrusted with the care of these [Sunday] celebrations." This includes leading the prayers, ministry of the word, and the giving of holy communion (previously consecrated by a priest). Also during these assemblies, in the absence of an ordained minister, a layperson may request God's blessing on the congregation, provided that the layperson does not use words proper to a priest or deacon, and omits rites that are too readily associated with the Mass.
While religious life is distinct from ordination, women are also able to live the consecrated life as a nun, and throughout the history of the Church it has not been uncommon for an abbess to head a dual monastery, i.e., a community of men and women. Women today exercise many roles in the Church that they were previously not able to participate in. They can run catechetical programs in parishes, do spiritual direction, serve as readers and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and teach theology. Also, in 1994, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments formally interpreted the 1983 Code of Canon Law, stating that women could assist at Mass as acolytes or altar servers. Still many people see the Church's position on the ordination of women as a sign that women are not equal to men in the Catholic Church, though the Church rejects this inference.
Since 2002 Roman Catholic Womenpriests has "successfully" ordained women as deacons, priests and bishops, claiming that these ordinations are valid because the first ordinations were done by a validly ordained Catholic male bishop (Romulo Antonio Braschi, who left the Roman Catholic Church in 1975) and therefore they are in the line of apostolic succession. However, these ordinations have been rejected by the Catholic Church and considered invalid and all those involved have been excommunicated. Based on their interpretation of the works of certain Catholic scholars (for example, former minister John Wijngaards, liturgical reformist Robert W. Hovda, and theologian Damien Casey), they claim intrinsic doctrinal support for the ordination of women.
They also make the claim that the document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis does not provide historical facts sufficient to ensure the infallibility of the Catholic Church's Magisterium, nor any indication of how the historical facts claimed by the Church were verified. They therefore argue that if it is indeed possible for the Church to ordain women to the priesthood, this would not necessarily contradict the Church's dogma regarding infallible teachings.
Women's Ordination Worldwide, founded in 1996 in Austria, is a network of twelve national and international groups whose primary mission is the admission of Roman Catholic women to all ordained ministries, including Catholic Women's Ordination (founded in March 1993 in the United Kingdom), Roman Catholic Womenpriests (founded in 2002 in America), Women's Ordination Conference (founded in 1975 in America) and others. The first recorded Catholic organization advocating for women's ordination was St. Joan's Alliance, founded in 1911 in London. In February 2011, 144 German-speaking academic theologians (making up one-third of the Catholic theology professors in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) submitted a document styled as Church 2011 calling for, among a long list of actions, "women in (the) ordained ministry." 
In 2014 the Bishop of Basel, Felix Gmür, allowed the Basel Catholic church corporations, which are officially only responsible for church finances, to formulate an initiative appealing for equality between men and women in ordination to the priesthood. Also in 2014, the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland stated that the Catholic church must ordain women and allow priests to marry in order to survive.
Other notable dissenters on the subject of women's ordination are the Austrian-based Call to Disobedience, also as of 2013 a minority in the American "Association of U.S. Catholic Priests" favor ordaining woman as priests and the majority of that organisation favour allowing woman deacons.
Erin Saiz Hanna of the Women's Ordination Conference says that the Pontifical Biblical Commission had once concluded that there were no scriptural or theological objections to the ordination of women. Hanna accused Pope Francis of citing only precedents he personally favors:
Pope Francis' cop-out rationale illustrates a very selective theology: to blame a previous pope for his stance on women priests, and then in the very same interview contradict his predecessors by acknowledging an open understanding for gay priests. ... He could have quoted the Vatican's own the [sic] Pontifical Biblical Commission that concluded in 1976 that there is no valid scriptural or theological reason for denying ordination to women.
The Pontifical Biblical Commission had stated in 1976 on the matter, "It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate. However, some think that in the scriptures there are sufficient indications to exclude this possibility, considering that the sacraments of Eucharist and reconciliation have a special link with the person of Christ and therefore with the male hierarchy, as borne out by the New Testament. Others, on the contrary, wonder if the church hierarchy, entrusted with the sacramental economy, would be able to entrust the ministries of Eucharist and reconciliation to women in light of circumstances, without going against Christ's original intentions." 
Catholic women religious were major participants in the first and second meetings of the Women's Ordination Conference. In 1979, Sister Theresa Kane, then the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, spoke from the podium at Washington, DC's Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and asked Pope John Paul II to include women "in all ministries of our Church." In the audience were nearly fifty sisters wearing blue armbands, symbolizing women's ordination.
Pew Research has demonstrated that among American Catholics, 58 percent think the church should ordain women.
A "History of the women's ordination movement in the U.S. Roman Catholic church" has been recently published, summarizing the efforts of those in the USA to have women ordained in the Roman Catholic Church.
There is at least one organization that calls itself "Roman Catholic" that ordains women as priests at the present time, Roman Catholic Womenpriests; and several independent Catholic jurisdictions have been ordaining women in the United States since approximately the late 1990s. These organizations are independent of and unrecognised by the Roman Catholic Church. There are several others calling for the Roman Catholic Church itself to ordain women, such as St. Joan's International Alliance, Circles, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Catholic Women's Ordination, and Corpus, along with others. Recently (April 19, 2009), Womenpriests elected four bishops to serve the United States: Joan Mary Clark Houk, Andrea Michele Johnson, Maria Regina Nicolosi, and Bridget Mary Meehan. The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a decree in 2008 declaring such "attempted ordinations" invalid and that, since Canons 1378 and 1443 apply to those who participate in these ordinations, all were excommunicated. Edward Peters, a doctor of canon law, explains that their excommunication results in virtue of a combination of other canons which arise from application of Canons 1378 and 1443. In response, Womenpriests said its members are "loyal member of the church who stand in the prophetic tradition of holy disobedience to an unjust law."
- Mulieris dignitatem, a 1988 apostolic letter by Pope John Paul II
- Women in the Catholic Church
- Priest shortage in the Catholic Church
- LGBT clergy in Christianity § Roman Catholic
- Some translated extracts from contemporary theological textbooks are given here 
- Codex Iuris Canonici canon 1024, c.f. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1577
- "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (May 22, 1994) - John Paul II". w2.vatican.va.
- See LGBT clergy in Christianity § Roman Catholic for details.
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- Rom 16:1, New International Version
- Osiek, ed. and transl. by Kevin Madigan and Carolyn (2005). Ordained women in the early church: a documentary history (Johns Hopkins pbk. ed.). Baltimore, Md. [u.a.]: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press. p. 186. ISBN 9780801879326.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
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- New Advent: Clement of Rome's Letter to the Corinthians 44 Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry.
- Nicaea Council I, Canon XIX Likewise in the case of their deaconesses, and generally in the case of those who have been enrolled among their clergy,...And we mean by deaconesses such as have assumed the habit, but who, since they have no imposition of hands, are to be numbered only among the laity.
- Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1:13:2
- Tertullian, "Demurrer Against the Heretics" 41:4–5; "Baptism" 1; "The Veiling of Virgins" 9
- Hippolytus, "The Apostolic Tradition" 11
- Epiphanius, "Against Heresies" 78:13, 79:3
- John Chrysostom, "The Priesthood" 2:2
- Augustine, "Heresies" 1:17
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- Inter Insigniores section 5
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 355, 383, 369–72, 1605, 2333.
- Biblical Commission Report, "Can Women Be Priests?" http://www.womenpriests.org/classic/append2.asp
- RESPONSUM AD PROPOSITUM DUBIUM CONCERNING THE TEACHING CONTAINED IN “ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS”
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- John Paul II, Fidei Depositum 3 The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I approved 25 June last and the publication of which I today order by virtue of my Apostolic Authority, is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium.
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- The Ministry of Women in the Early Church, Collegeville, MN, Liturgical Press, 1976.
- Deaconesses: An Historical Study, translated by K. D. Whitehead, San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 1986.
- Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils Archived 2008-09-15 at the Wayback Machine First Council of Nicaea, canon 19
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- The Canonical Implications of Ordaining Women to the Permanent Diaconate, Canon Law Society of America, 1995, p. 19.
- Commentary by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Declaration Inter Insigniores
- The Canonical Implications of Ordaining Women to the Permanent Diaconate, Canon Law Society of America, 1995.
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- Pope John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem 26 In calling only men as his Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner.
- Pope John Paul II, Ordinatio Sacreditalis 3 Furthermore, the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, received neither the mission proper to the Apostles nor the ministerial priesthood clearly shows that the non-admission of women to priestly ordination cannot mean that women are of lesser dignity, nor can it be construed as discrimination against them. Rather, it is to be seen as the faithful observance of a plan to be ascribed to the wisdom of the Lord of the universe.
- The Congregation for Divine Worship: Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest chapter 2, paragraph 30.
- The Congregation for Divine Worship: Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest chapter 3, paragraph 39.
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