Rorate Caeli

GENERAL DECREE OF THE
CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH:
Automatic excommunication for "ordination" of women

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

General Decree

On the delict of attempted sacred ordination of a woman

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in virtue of the special faculty granted to it by the Supreme Authority of the Church (cf. Can. 30, Code of Canon Law), in order to safeguard the nature and validity of the sacrament of Holy Orders, decreed, in the Ordinary Session of December 19, 2007:

In accordance with what is disposed by Can. 1378 of the Code of Canon Law, he who shall have attempted to confer holy orders on a woman, as well as the woman who may have attempted to receive Holy Orders, incurs in a latae sententiae excommunication, reserved to the Apostolic See.

If he who shall have attempted to confer Holy Orders on a woman or if the woman who shall have attempted to received Holy Orders is a faithful bound to the Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches, he is to be punished with the major excommunication, whose remission remains reserved to the Apostolic See, in accordance with can. 1443 of the same Code (cf. can. 1423, Code of Canons of the Oriental Churches).

The present decree enters in force immediately after its publication in L'Osservatore Romano.


William Cardinal Levada
Prefect
Angelo Amato, s.d.b.
Titular Archbishop of Sila
Secretary

(Published in L'Osservatore Romano of May 29, 2008 - permanent link)

___________________________________

Congregatio Pro Doctrina Fidei

Decretum generale

de delicto attentatae sacrae ordinationis mulieris

Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, ad naturam et validitatem sacramenti sacri ordinis tuendam, vigore specialis facultatis sibi a suprema Ecclesiae auctoritate in casu tributae (cfr can. 30 Codicis Iuris Canonici), in Congregatione Ordinaria diei 19 Decembris 2007, decrevit:

Firmo praescripto can. 1378 Codicis Iuris Canonici, tum quicumque sacrum ordinem mulieri conferre, tum mulier quae sacrum ordinem recipere attentaverit, in excommunicationem latae sententiae Sedi Apostolicae reservatam incurrit.

Si vero qui mulieri sacrum ordinem conferre vel mulier quae sacrum ordinem recipere attentaverit, christifidelis fuerit Codici Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium subiectus, firmo praescripto can. 1443 eiusdem Codicis, excommunicatione maiore puniatur, cuius remissio etiam reservatur Sedi Apostolicae (cfr can. 1423 Codicis Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium).

Hoc decretum cum in L'Osservatore Romano evulgabitur, statim vigere incipiet.

Gulielmus Cardinalis Levada
Praefectus
Angelus Amato, s.d.b.
Archiep. titularis Silensis
a Secretis

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Pope Benedict!

Anonymous said...

I wish you had a clapping, cheering icon here, New Catholic.

It's proclamations like this that make me rejoice in the Divine authority with which the Petrine office is vested.

Anonymous said...

When is the Pope going to define EX-CATHEDRA that only baptized men can receive the Holy Orders? This is a must! :)

FranzJosf said...

Cardinal Ratzinger, when Prefect of the Holy Office, declared JPII's statement infallible:

(Paraphrase)

It is to be definitively held by all Catholics that women cannot receive holy orders.

prof. basto said...

Actually fransjosf, the CDF, under Cardinal Ratzinger, clarified, in a Response to a Doubt, that the doctrine of the Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was infallible, and that it was therefore to be definitively held by all Catholics that women cannot receive holy orders.

That respose to a doubt was then approved by Pope John Paul II himself.

Thus, there is a papal seal of approval on the (quite obvious) clarification that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is indeed infallible.

The only thing is that it is not infallible as an discharge of the extraordinary magisterium (such as the proclamation of a divinely revealled dogma, or other ex cathedra solemn declaration of a dogmatic fact), but as a final judgement that confirms the constant and universal magisterium.

Therefore, the doctrine of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis falls in the same category as the doctrine of Apostolicae Curae (a final judgement of the ordinary magisterium that confirms the constant holding of the Church on a subject) but it is still infallible, even though it is not a solemn act of extraordinary magisterium like a dogmatic proclamation on matters of Faith or morals by a General Council or by the Pope speaking ex cathedra.

And now, with today's decree, we have the censure of automatic excommunication that will be incurred by all those who attempt a sacrilegous fake ordination in violation of the doctrine of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

Anonymous said...

The really impressive thing about this is that it SO short,compared to most wishy washy, long and complicated Roman documents, with plenty of room for wiggling out.
Alan Robinson
rpienne@eircom.net

LeonG said...

While this is excellent news, Pope John Paul II's (RIP) Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis has obviously been completely ignored [shades of Ecclesia Dei there in some respects]. I am sure most radical feminist postmodernists will respond with further acts of disobedience. This is the nature of such a rebellious beast.

In one sense the post-conciliar church has been foisted with its own petard. Were we not told there would be no more condemnations but only "dialogue" and gentle persuasion? And all of this in an atmosphere of religious liberty and the primacy of conscience.

Ultimately, therefore, this approach can be appreciated for what it is. If the church would only restore the customary Roman Catholic decorum in public worship taught by St Paul and maintained throughout the church's pre-conciliar history, then women would not be encouraged to imagine that they might just....just manage an illicit liturgical vocation. Frankly speaking the hierarchy must comprehend they just should not be on the altar. Amen! In fact, it is time to remove all unnecessary lay-people, both men and women, from the sanctuary. Once again, we can understand the wisdom of leaving established traditions alone for the sake of the long term peace of the church itself. The more feminisation is propagated, the more radical feminisers, following the dictates of insensitive consciences assisted by the current un-Catholic environment of liberal religious liberty, will continue to push for concessions against "the patriarchal church and its patriarchal hierarchy". Eventually, collegiality will have to come to the same end since there are many bishops and priests out in the provinces who foment such rebellions.

Anonymous said...

FranzJosf, but the doctrine on the impossiblity of women to receive Holy Orders IS divenely revealed, why not make it explicit with an EX-CATHEDRA definition? Because it is evident, it must be made explicit, just as the divinity of Jesus Christ, which was obvious, had to be defined.

FranzJosf said...

Prof. Basto: Thank you for your lucid clarification. (I always enjoy your posts.)

Anonymous 5: I wasn't meaning to be argumentative; I was trying to provide a little more information. I'm no canonist, by Prof. Basto's explanation seems to point toward no ex cathedra pronouncement is needed or appropriate, because it is already infallible, if I understand correctly. But I get your point. The ignorant need to be blessed with instruction.

Anonymous said...

"no ex cathedra pronouncement is needed or appropriate, because it is already infallible"

The doctrine on the infallibility of the ordinary pronouncements by the magisterium is a non-infallible pronouncement of Vatican II, so I am not convinced that such a pronouncement is neither needed nor appropiate; on the contrary, for the sake of an issue which is at the heart of the authority of the hierarchy, it must be made explicit, although I recognize that in practice there is no difference between an ordinary or extraordinary pronouncement by the magisterium, since the Pope alone decides what is infallible and what is not, so he can decide in what way he makes the definition and how are faitful to recieve such pronouncements.

Anonymous said...

but in the case of ordination of women, the issue is divinely revealed.

Anonymous said...

For and Ex-Cathedra definition to exist the Holy Father must be:

1. Intending to teach
2. by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority
3. a matter of Faith or morals
4. to be held by the universal Church.

This is defined by Bl. Pius IX. Please note that there is no such thing as an infallible document. The Church has never defined that a document can be infallible. It HAS, however defined that the POPE is infallible under certain conditions. This is important as it removes special language, grammar, phrases, and historical code words from the mix that EVERYONE IS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR!!

Also note that many people try to suggest that the OS says that the teaching must be definitivly HELD (Tenenda) rather than BELIEVED (Credenda). This is incorrect. The definition of an Ex-Cathedra definition by Bl Pius IX says TENENDA not credenda.

In addition, CCC declares that the definition must be manifestly evident. The one or two pages of OS is sufficient to cover that. The definition does not gain any more manifestation by being burried in 50 pages of curial fluff.

It should also be obvious by now that the definition in OS is a real definition and does actually satisfy all the conditions for an Ex-Cathedra definition in ADDITION to being infallible. Therefore OS is a DOGMA.

Anonymous said...

"Therefore OS is a DOGMA."

But OS only refers to the priesthood, and regarding diaconate no infallible pronouncement has been made. Yes, the wording had changend from the way Pius IX and Pius XII used it, and we are lead to compare today's wordings with those. Still why not make explicit and root out equivocate language. And the same DUBIA by CDF which interpreted OS, explicitly stated that the issue of the ban on ordination of woman could be futher enhanced by an extraordinary definition, EX-CATHEDRA, by the Pope in the future. Why not make it now?, the time is ripe. Enough of these equivocate language which is so destructive.

Anonymous said...

Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

I'm not a latinist but Sacerdotalis doesn't sound like 'priestly' to me even though it is often translated thus. It sounds more like 'clerical'. Therefore I believe it includes all ordination that changes a man from a layman to a cleric and therefore includes diaconate. I don't believe any further definition is required nor possible. It is already a Dogma.

Anonymous said...

Sacerdos most certainly only means priests and bishops. Sacerdos is the Latin word for a holy man who offers sacrifice. It is used in the Vulgate Jewish Scriptures, for example, as the name for the Levtical priests and Gentile priests and also when referring to Melchisedek as a priest.

In canon law, it is only used to refer to a man who is in the order of priests or bishops to the exclusion of deacons. For example, when referring to the ordinary minister of Anointing of the Sick, it uses sacerdos. When canon law wants to refer to all three orders, it will explicitly say "cleric". It does this when listing, for example, the requirements of an ecclesiastical judge, the obligations of the clerical state, and so forth.

LeonG said...

The underpinning atmosphere of all papal pronouncements & church teaching on the priesthood, of which the diaconate is principally a stage, has always comprehended an all male sacerdotal & diaconal condition. To pretend that women can ever be deacons let alone priests confounds basic canonical principles and understanding. Women cannot be either. If this female priestly presence should ever materialise then we are witnessing yet another abomination in the holy places such as we read of when The Chosen people lapsed into idolatry and women desecrated the Holy Temple with their idolatrous performances. The attempt to feminise the priesthood per se is not only pagan in essence but it is also preeminently political in its contemporary orientation. It has been incited by post-conciliar policies as suggested elsewhere and by overoptimistic neomodernists who wish to overthrow entirely every vestige of The Roman Catholic Church. They want to create Almighty God in their own image and likeness so anthropocentric has become their faith. This has been fed on an indigestible diet of false biblical exegesis & fabricated profane liturgical praxis which invites all to imagine that they participate directly in the sacred priesthood of Our Blessed Lord.

St Paul's teaching on decorum in public worship is much profounder than is often understood.

Anonymous said...

Those who sift for Rome's spiritual deficits by hairs and increments should be most grateful that it's not a mutual activity! Do we need an agonizingly official re-decree of every nuance of everything that has consistently been declared unchangable? Well, unless we are Pharisees, no.

Lastly, how did Jesus correct/employ the women of His day? With gentleness and respect. He didn't send them crashing to their "proper" spot. He lifted them up to it. Absolutely, tho', anyone who ordains a woman knows better (as should any woman), and thus, they are both culpable. But for those who are enraged by the very idea that some women aspire to some clerical role in the Church, remember part of what has confused them: No, not (cue the smoke) the Council! Rather, it was the fact that a) Jesus was incarnated of a Woman --He took His flesh and blood from her; and b) it was also a woman who was Sent to His Apostles to tell them He had risen, because their own love (faith) was weak.

Things are changing; I see improvements (for lack of a better word) in my local parish every week. Let's be patient. Things of God work like leavening throughout.

(Carol)

Anonymous said...

Regarding the thesis that only a baptized man can be ordained; I recall a papal letter to a bishop in the 7th or 8th Century, on the question, which seems to support the thesis that an unbaptized man can be validly, but illicitly, ordained....

This seems reasonable, since the validity of the sacrament requires only that the proper form and intention and matter be present. The matter is a man; his disposition of grace is an accident to his nature, though essential to the liceity of the act, rather than to the validity of the same....It is the ordination which consecrates him, and his holiness as a priest is first of all based upon that, not his baptism, when we speak strictly, rather than in toto ente: for of course his baptism is the source of his holiness as a human person....

Br. Alexis Bugnolo
www.franciscan-archive.org

Ione said...

It is interesting that Levada, of all people issued this ruling. I am a SF Catholic where he was (alas) our archbishop, and he was no friend to traditionalists, outlawed the Tridentine Mass in the diocese, supported same-sex city codes, and "back in the day" was said to support this very cause of women in orders.

He is an untrustworthy and self-seeking individual, and arguably the most disreputable member of the curia (Kasper notwithstanding).

Levada even invited the now famed "gay marriage mayor" Gavin Newsom to his creation as a cardinal, and Newsom turned it into a political stunt by refusing to attend on "grounds of conscience," thus making Levada look the fool.

I have to imagine Benedict, who I respect greatly, had a reason for appointing this disgraceful man to such an important post, and a seat on the Ecclesia Dei comminson.

Whichever way the wind blows there you will find Levada.

ione said...

Regarding JP2's document, Vatican insiders always claim that JP2 wanted to decree against women's ordination as an infalliable doctrine, but it was then-Cardinal Ratzinger who advised him to make it instead a declaration of Peter.

Anonymous said...

"Regarding JP2's document, Vatican insiders always claim that JP2 wanted to decree against women's ordination as an infalliable doctrine, but it was then-Cardinal Ratzinger who advised him to make it instead a declaration of Peter."

I have my suspicions on JR. He is not the "God's Rotweiler" that the press has tried to sell us.

Joe B said...

I think we are seeing liberals like Levada just doing what they have to do to position themselves deeper and deeper into the power structure to increase the chances of the next pope being one of them. He hasn't converted, of course. He's just totally politically driven.

Anonymous said...

"He's just totally politically driven."

You mean totally power driven.

Ione said...

Joe B: I don't think Levada is part of some left-wing Church cabal, it was Benedict who appointed him. I just think Levada wants to glorify Levada, regardless of how duplicitious or insincere he must be.

If Levada could elect himself Pope he would, not to serve some progressivist agenda necessarily, but just to see his name "in lights."

So my question, why did Benedict create him to the cardinalate in the first place?

Anonymous said...

Gosh, those are pretty harsh words for a human being. You are portraying Levada as liar and of the worst kind of people.

Jordanes said...

Regarding JP2's document, Vatican insiders always claim that JP2 wanted to decree against women's ordination as an infalliable doctrine,

You mean "wanted to issue an ex cathedra definition." There is no doubt that the inability of the Church to ordain women is an infallible doctrine, and there's no doubt that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis also teaches infallibly, even though it is not ex cathedra.

but it was then-Cardinal Ratzinger who advised him to make it instead a declaration of Peter.

I've heard that rumor. It might be true. Certainly it is good for Catholics to see that the Church does not need ex cathedra papal definitions in order to teach infallibly and irreformably.

I don't think Levada is part of some left-wing Church cabal, it was Benedict who appointed him. I just think Levada wants to glorify Levada, regardless of how duplicitious or insincere he must be.

You have no right to judge his soul. Let God take care and that, and keep to matters that you're qualified for.

So my question, why did Benedict create him to the cardinalate in the first place?

Because to the Pope's mind, he has shown himself to have the qualifications needed for the post of Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and because he and the Pope see eye-to-eye doctrinally and seem to have a similar philosophy about the best role and function of the CDF. They also know each other from the grand and supremely important project of preparing the new Catechism.

Ione said...

Jordanes:

I disagree, I think Benedict appointed him because he knows Levada is power-driven, and Benedict can use Levada's lust for power to his own advantage in getting things done. To turn one's sin into good, sort of thinking.

They do not see eye to eye philosophically, I am a San Francisco Catholic, and I assure you that unless Benedict is a crypto-revisionist then he and Levada are manifestly different.

While you were telling me not to judge Levada by judging me (irony eh?) I will point out that I was merely commenting on his character and cannot speak for the state of his soul.

What Levada did in SF though makes one think that he will have much to answer for on the before the throne of the Lord.

The last individual the Church would want on the Catechism commission is Levada, you should look at his writings from the 1970s, look at what he did in Portland and San Francisco, he is no friend to the Church of the ages.

As to your analysis of the women's ordination proclamation, you are incorrect. It was specifically stated by JP2 by the "power of Peter," which is not the same as an infallible proclamation. And actually JP2's use of that verbage was the first time such a formula has been used in Church history.

When the Church leaves something in ambiguity there is a reason, and if this proclamation was to be infallible/ex cathedra then it would be clearly stated. Official documents do not come out of Rome without every letter and punctuation being carefully measured.

Jordanes said...

I disagree, I think Benedict appointed him because he knows Levada is power-driven, and Benedict can use Levada's lust for power to his own advantage in getting things done. To turn one's sin into good, sort of thinking.

Yes, it's clear you have an extremely low opinion of Cardinal Levada, and given his poor performance as a bishop of a diocese, your opinion is understandable. However, your speculation about Pope Benedict's motives are not based in anything that we know about Pope Benedict. And really, if Cardinal Levada really is as evil and morally perilous a man as you insist he is, then the Pope has made the worst mistake he could possibly make by giving him so important a post as Prefect of the CDF.

They do not see eye to eye philosophically, I am a San Francisco Catholic, and I assure you that unless Benedict is a crypto-revisionist then he and Levada are manifestly different.

The facts do not bear out your assertion. Look at Cardinal Levada's contribution to the Catechism, and compare how he and Cardinal Ratzinger have exercised their office as CDF Prefect -- they obviously have a very similar if not identical philosophy about how the CDF ought to function.

While you were telling me not to judge Levada by judging me (irony eh?) I will point out that I was merely commenting on his character and cannot speak for the state of his soul.

You are obviously doing far, far more than merely commenting on his character. Also, Cardinal Levada is a real person. "Ione" and "Jordanes" are pseudonyms.

What Levada did in SF though makes one think that he will have much to answer for on the before the throne of the Lord.

No doubt he will -- as will you.

The last individual the Church would want on the Catechism commission is Levada, you should look at his writings from the 1970s, look at what he did in Portland and San Francisco, he is no friend to the Church of the ages.

Have you considered the possibility that you are not privy to all of the facts, and Pope Benedict might know more about Cardinal Levada's qualifications than you do?

As to your analysis of the women's ordination proclamation, you are incorrect. It was specifically stated by JP2 by the "power of Peter," which is not the same as an infallible proclamation.

Wrong again -- it's not the same as an "ex cathedra" proclamation, but not all infallible proclamations are issued as ex cathedra definitions. My analysis of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, being the Church's analysis, is obvious correct. You apparently don't like what the Church has said about Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, but your dislike doesn't make you right and the Church wrong.

And actually JP2's use of that verbage was the first time such a formula has been used in Church history.

That doesn't mean Ordinatio Sacerdotalis does not convey the truth infallibly and irreformably. There are many ways to assert a truth infallibly.

When the Church leaves something in ambiguity there is a reason,

Ordinatio Sacerdotalis unambiguously teaches that the Church has no power to ordain women, and that all Catholics must hold that as the truth. That doctrine was already infallible in the ordinary magisterium, and no ex cathedra definition is necessary, as it would be redundant.

and if this proclamation was to be infallible/ex cathedra then it would be clearly stated.

It was clearly stated that it is not ex cathedra, and that it is infallible.

Ione said...

Jordanes:

We in San Francisco sparred with Levada personally, trying to get a Tridentine Mass in the diocese. If you had ever interacted directly with him, as we had to, you would not be so quick to defend him. You are dealing with an abstraction, we had to deal with a reality.

There are nice things to say about him, undoubtedly; and it must be argued that being Archbishop of San Francisco has got to be the most challenging See to manage in the United States.

Also his work on the Catechism is to his credit in that he removed the gender-neutral language ("feminist reading") of the text and gave a more authentic interpretation.

Levada is plenty capable as a manager as his time with the USCCB demonstrates. These truths in tact do not discount his personal capriciousness and oscillating religiosity.

I still cannot agree with your analysis of the women's ordination proclamation, it is not explicitly infallible. If it was we would not be squabbling about it on this site. (ie: when was the last time we debated the Assumption on this blog)? The Church, for good reason, subsists in ambiguities, because over two-thousand years it has learned that definitive statements are subject to change.

A good example is the 1988 excommunication of the SSPX. In JP2's apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei he said they have engaged in a "schismatic act," which for twenty years the faithful have interpreted as meaning the SSPX is in schism. Whereas Cardinal Castrillon recently clarified that the SSPX is in a state of "canonical irregularity," and their 1988 participation in schismatic acts is not equivalent to being in schism. (I don't mean to debate the SSPX, this blog has enough of that, I am only giving an example of Church linguistic imprecision).

I am sure the present pontiff has far more intimate knowledge of the Prefect than I could ever portend. Benedict is not ignorant though of the man's theological character flaws and well-known history in the US.

I pray for Levada, every time I attended the Mass in San Francisco we prayed for him, I prayed for him for years whilst at Mass. I continue to pray for him and the entirety of the Curia, I have probably prayed for him more than most Catholics because of my geography.

Thus I assert I am not judgmentally defaming him, I am addressing the questionable past of the former Archbishop and how that may influence his position with the CDF.

Jordanes said...

Though you have had disappointing, disturbing, or unpleasant experience with Cardinal Levada when he was your bishop, still your language here has been immoderate -- and does not help anyone understand the Church's doctrine that Christ calls only men to Holy Orders.

You also still seem to be blurring "ex cathedra" with "infallible." Also, the fact that someone disputes or disbelieves something does not mean there is ambiguity. Finally, if as you say definitive statements of Catholic truth are subject to change, what would be the point of an ex cathedra definition of this doctrine?

Anonymous said...

"Finally, if as you say definitive statements of Catholic truth are subject to change, what would be the point of an ex cathedra definition of this doctrine?"

This is not a matter of expediency it is a matter of what is true. This discipline (that only baptized men may receive Holy Orders) has been revealed by Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and as such it requires a dogmatic definition by the Pope. This pertains to one of the Church's foundations, the hierarchycal foundation of the Church, and as such demands a dogmatic defintion from the Pope to close this matter for all eternity.

Jordanes said...

Maybe so, Anonymous, but if Ione is right that definitive statements of the Church are subject to change, there is little if any point in the Church having an infallible Teaching Office, whether exercised ordinarily or extraordinarily.

Anonymous said...

jordanes, Iones is wrong. There hasn't been a single case where a definitive doctrine (dogma) has been institutionaly changed. That there have been clerics who have flirted with apostasy, we find every day, but not at the level of definitive (dogma) doctrine.