Can women ever be ordained as deacons or priests?

I should point out a couple of theological considerations that are often ignored when women’s ordination is discussed.

1. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis only refers to priestly ordination. Now a Bishop is a type of priest, and a Pope is a type of Bishop, so women cannot be priest, Bishop, or Pope. But ordination to the deaconate is an open question.

My opinion is that the Church has the authority to ordain women as deacons, because the role of deacon is substantially different than that of priest. A deacon may only dispense the Sacrament of Baptism and preside over (‘assist at’ as Canon law phrases it) the Sacrament of Marriage, just as a lay person may do in extraordinary circumstances. The priest stands in persona Christi, the deacon does not.

In my eschatology, I predict that the Church will ordain women to the deaconate beginning in January of 2016. The Pope at that time will be a valid Pope, but one who is liberal in his theological views. Also, the Church at that time will be healing from a severe schism, caused by the great apostasy. The schismatic Church will claim to ordain women priests. The true Church will not permit women priests, but will make a number of concessions, in so far as doctrine and good judgment permit, in order to heal the division.

2. The Church only teaches that Christ did not give the authority to ordain women to the Church — not that women cannot be ordained, not that women can never be priests. So it is possible that, after Christ returns, He might give that authority to the Church.

{20:4} And I saw thrones. And they sat upon them. And judgment was given to them. And the souls of those beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the Word of God, and who did not adore the beast, nor his image, nor accept his character on their foreheads or on their hands: they lived and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
{20:5} The rest of the dead did not live, until the thousand years are completed. This is the First Resurrection.
{20:6} Blessed and holy is he who takes part in the First Resurrection. Over these the second death has no power. But they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him for a thousand years.

All the faithful, ordained and non-ordained, are members of the priesthood of all believers. But the term ‘priests of God and of Christ’ is such a strong term that it seems to refer to the ordained priesthood, not merely the priesthood of all believers. But if those given the first resurrection are ordained priests, is it possible that only men are given this blessing? No, for verse 20:4 states that those given the First Resurrection are those martyred for Christ. And we know that many women as well as many men have been martyred for the Faith. So this passage suggests that women might be ordained priests after Christ returns. (I am not certain that this will happen, but it is a tenable theological position.) These martyrs are, in my view, not only the martyrs during the time of the Antichrist, but also all Saints and martyrs throughout the history of the Church.

As for the thousand year reign, this is not a worldly reign of Christ for a thousand years. Rather, Christ ascends to Heaven a second time, and then He reigns from Heaven through the Church and the Sacraments, especially the Blessed Sacrament. After a long period of peace and holiness on earth, lasting well over a thousand years, Christ returns for the general Judgment and general Resurrection. See my book, The Second Part of the Tribulation, for more on the Antichrist’s reign and the two Returns of Jesus Christ.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and Bible translator

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