Can a deacon be an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion?

Let me back up and represent my question based on what I experience at Daily Mass. I attend and participate in Daily Mass. Many time I see that when it come time for Holy Communion the Ordained Deacon remains in the pew and his wife goes up and acts as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. To me this does not make sense! It seems to me that all the Deacons present, vested or not, (cloths do not make the man!), would go up and assist the priest, before a layperson does. This is not just one Deacon, but at least 4 or 5 I have observed at different parishes throughout the Diocese.

When I have asked several of the Deacons about this I am told the following. In the Diocese of Orange, the Deacons, who are Ordained Ministers, are instructed that unless they are robed or vested that they should not participate in distributing Holy Communion at the Masses they attend.

This does not make sense to me and I get various answers from different sources which totally confuses me. I called in to Patrick Madrid’s radio show yesterday and he agreed with the practice. However, I asked a visiting Priest, from another Diocese, this morning and he said I was right, that the Deacons should be first to go up and then if needed EXTRAORDINARY Ministers.

The issue here seems to be that it has not been sufficiently directly addressed. The role of a deacon in liturgical documents essentially only refers to them when they are the Deacon of the Word or Deacon of the Eucharist. Outside of those two roles, there really is no such thing as a “concelebrating deacon” (i.e. a deacon who is part of the Mass but not in one of those two roles). And since the diaconate is relatively recent in the Latin Church (only about 40 years or so) there isn’t a unified tradition that can be pointed to.

Unless someone would be so kind as to PM me a document that specifically spells out the role of a deacon when he’s not fulfilling a deacon’s role within the Mass, I would have to say that the local Bishop is within his right to spell out a diocesan wide policy on the matter.

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