Deacons and perpetual continence

In recent months, published opinions have appeared in scholarly journals and on Internet blogs that have raised questions about the observance of diaconal continence by married permanent deacons in the Latin Catholic Church. The opinions have suggested that the clerical obligation to observe “perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (c. 277, §1 CIC) remains binding upon married permanent deacons, despite the dispensation provided to them in canon law from the obligation to observe celibacy (c. 1042, 1° CIC).
In response to repeated requests for an authoritative clarification on this matter, the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations and the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance requested the assistance of the USCCB President in seeking a clarification from the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.
Earlier this week, we were informed that Cardinal-designate Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, with Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, Secretary, has forwarded to Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan the Pontifical Council’s observations on the matter (Prot. N. 13095/2011). The observations, which were formulated in consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, clarify that married permanent deacons are not bound to observe perfect and perpetual continence, as long as their marriage lasts.
Should you have any questions about this response, please contact Reverend W. Shawn McKnight, Executive Director of the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations. In addition, please feel free to share this response with those within your diocesan curia who will find it helpful.

I’m reminded of an old joke.
A devout Catholic asks his parish priest, “Father is it permissible for my wife and I to make love before Mass on Sunday?”
And the priest replied: ”Certainly. Just don’t block the aisles.”

My wife is pleased. :smiley:

Has Dr. Peters, a major proponent of the view that married deacons do need to observe perfect continence, commented on this development yet?

Yes, and to parapfrase, he stated that this was not an authoritative letter onlt a memo and hold no water with him. I’m starting to think he doesn’t like me and my wife acting as a married couple should.

There are others in line with him, he is the loudest. I’ll look for some links and/or quotes.

Yet it is a memo stating an opinion of an official body within the Church. Those speaking out against this are not within the Church and have no authority what so ever.

When given the choice I think it is best to side with the Church.

I agree 100% ByzCath. Canon law, and the Bishops, and the committees have commented…as far as the deacons affected by these statements made by these canonists, we have moved on in atep with the Magisterium. Time will tell if they do as well. But I have a suspician that they won’t.

PS. Still haven’t been able to post the comments that I want to post, I should have time tomorrow.

Amen Brother David!:thumbsup:

I didn’t ask for Dr. Peter’s premission on my wedding night and I do not intend to ask for his permission now!


The only comment I have seen from Dr. Peters is nothing like that. I would like to know what your source is. What I have seen is at the bottom of this page:


Most of my knowledge of this topic is form different blogs, with Dr. Ed Peters and/or followers of his; one in particular who doesn’t mind sharing my name and my private comments public, but out of respect I will not mention his.

I’ve done some searching since I posted that I would link the comments I sited, but I cannot find them. Not sure if they have been removed from the blog or not, all I know is I can’t find them.

If I can, I will post the comments. I thumbed through all the links you posted on that site, this was not was I was referring to.

OK, I was kinda worried when I first started reading this post. My husband is going through formation to become a Deacon, and trust me, “perfect and perpetual continence” would be a deal breaker for both of us.**:eek:

Ed Peters says:
May 12, 2012 at 10:32 am
Hi all. I am travelling just now, but I am quite aware of this development (indeed, I have been), and what it means, and what it doesn’t mean, but the matter is complex and is not finally going to be settled on blogs anyway.

I stand by my interpretation. Cordially, edp.

These are his words on May 12, 2012 on a blog about this memo to the USCCB leader, Cardinal Dolan.

I haven’t found any more responses from Dr. Peters.

Meaning no disrespect to Dr. Peters, whom I understand to be a Canonist of some note, but: at some point, does his continuing disagreement with an authoritative interpretation and definitive finding call into question his opinions on other matters of Canon Law?

I could hardly believe my eyes when I ran across these posts! :eek:
I’m a very busy servant, hoping to do my part to serve my brothers and sisters in Christ in as meaningful a way as possible. I can’t believe anyone would waste their time engaging in a discussion about whether a married deacon can perfectly refrain from going to the bathroom or not! :smiley:

Dcn. Jim… that was awesome!

Got to admit…he got me, hook line and sinker…:o


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit