Have you wondered why the Church does not allow women to become deacons or priests? Do you have loved ones who are upset about this teaching? Be sure to check out this episode of The Cale Clarke Show and share with them!
Cale brings up a reference from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, where Phoebe is mentioned as a deaconess. This has led many to believe that there were female deacons in the early Catholic Church. However, Cale points out that Pope Francis and Pope John Paul II have both stated that the Church cannot sacramentally ordain women. Pope John Paul II’s 1994 letter emphasized that the Church does not have the authority to ordain women, a stance which Pope Francis has consistently supported. Cale also differentiates between the title “deaconess” and the Sacrament of Holy Orders. When St. Paul refers to Phoebe as a deaconess, he uses the Greek word “diakonos,” which means servant. This term can sometimes refer to ordained deacons but also to general servants.
Cale then cites Dr. Peter Kreeft, who co-wrote a book with Dr. Alice von Hildebrand titled “Women in the Priesthood.” Kreeft humorously points out that only men can be fathers and only women can be mothers, highlighting distinct roles. Both Kreeft and C.S. Lewis have noted that in Jesus’s time, other religions had female priests, but Jesus chose not to ordain women. Lewis even wrote an essay on this topic, challenging the argument that Jesus refrained from ordaining women due to societal constraints. Cale also highlights that labeling Jesus as sexist for not ordaining women goes against the belief in his sinless nature.
Regarding deaconesses, Cale clarifies that their role in the early Church was not equivalent to the sacramentally ordained deacon. They primarily assisted in baptisms, ensuring propriety when people were baptized, often done naked. These women were more akin to early nuns, with many taking vows of virginity. Cale recommends works by Cardinal Gerhard Mueller and Fr. Aime Martimort for those seeking a deeper understanding. Concluding his discussion, Cale refers to a 2002 Vatican document that reaffirms that deaconesses in church history were not equivalent to the sacramentally ordained deacon.