Responsive image
Nederlands/Vlaams Deutsch Francais English language Spanish language Portuguese language Catalan Chinese Czech Malayalam Finnish Igbo
Japanese Korean Romanian Malay language Norwegian Swedish Polish Swahili Chichewa Tagalog Urdu


Has the Church never
ordained women?

“From the earliest centuries on, until our own time, the constant practice of the Church has been not to ordain women to the priesthood.”

Inter Insigniores § 6-8, 23
The Congregation for Doctrine in Rome

Congregation for Doctrine
in Rome

“Yes, women did perform some ministries in the Early Church, but such ministries of women had no relation to the sacramental priesthood.”

Commentary on Inter Insigniores § 57, 71-77.

Background music?

Apart from some exceptions, women have not been ordained priests. OK!

But this happened because of a threefold prejudice that made the exclusion invalid.

Women were judged to be:
* inferior by nature and by law;
* in a state of punishment for sin;
* ritually unclean!

Study the facts, please!

  In spite of cultural prejudice, the faithful remained aware throughout the centuries that men and women are equal in Christ. They knew, in their heart of hearts, that women could be priests. We call this latent tradition.

Some examples of this latent tradition are:
* the extremely strong devotion to Mary as priest;
* the devotion to Mary Magdalen who was seen as a woman minister.

‘Le sacerdoce de la Vierge’ (close up), early 15th century, school of Amiens, France.
Last not least, for nine centuries the Church has actually admitted women to Holy Orders when she ordained them to be deacons.

The rite of ordination, with the imposition of the right hand and invocation of the Holy Spirit, was the same for women and for men.

Women too received a full sacramental diaconate.

Therefore, tradition cannot be used as a valid reason to exclude women from the priestly ministry.
Go to the next step?

You are in a simplified, pictorial mode.
To switch to academic mode, click here!

A full documentation on all the ancient
Women Deacon Texts
is now available in print!

Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

Visit also our websites:Women Deacons, The Body is Sacred and Mystery and Beyond.

You are welcome to use our material. However: maintaining this site costs money. We are a Charity and work mainly with volunteers, but we find it difficult to pay our overheads.

Visitors to our website since January 2014.
Pop-up names are online now.

The number is indicative, but incomplete. For full details click on cross icon at bottom right.

Join our Women Priests' Mailing List
for occasional newsletters:
An email will be immediately sent to you
requesting your confirmation.