Deacons saying the homily?

I have heard before that deacons aren’t suppose to say the homily. They can read the Gospel but not say the homily. Is it right??? What is your thought???

It is perfectly ok for deacons to say the homily. Maybe someone has a CCC quote handy.

The CCC, while a handy resource, is not meant to be a catch-all for everything. In matters like this, it is better to quote authoritative liturgical documents from the Holy See such as the General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM) and Redemptionis Sacramentum (RS).

This is what RS notes about just who can preach the homily:

[64.] The homily, which is given in the course of the celebration of Holy Mass and is a part of the Liturgy itself,142 “should ordinarily be given by the Priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating Priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to a Deacon, but never to a layperson.143 In particular cases and for a just cause, the homily may even be given by a Bishop or a Priest who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate”.144

Thus, the Deacon, by virtue of his reception of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, certainly has the faculties to preach the homily, occasionally.

Why were three question marks needed for this question? Did the notion of a deacon preaching sound so outlandish?

the governing document is canon law, not the CCC, and yes deacons can preach

And some of us wish they could do so more often. :smiley:

It’s amazing that we have had permanent deacons since the 1960s, but many go to church so seldom that they don’t realize this. In my baptism prep class-i have to explain about deacons and the church. Transitional vs. Permanent and the faculties they get from the bishop.

LOL, yes some deacons are excellent preachers. Though, I’ve also sat through some horrendous ones as well.

Some folks have priests who read a typed up homily verbatim for 2 and a half minutes and sit down. Those folks would love to hear a real homily now and again. Not that you would ever do such a thing. :wink:

Our thoughts are not what is important. The instructions give by the Church as to what is permissable are what is important. Deacons can give the homily and many often do. Our deacon has never given a homily that I have heard. I have no idea why not, that is between him and the pastor and the bishop.

St. Francis was a deacon, as well as an experienced and effective preacher.

I don’t see anything wrong in principle with deacons preaching- and it apparently isn’t a violation of current canon law either.

I’ve heard some Deacons do an excellent job doing homilies; even some that are humbly blessed as better speakers that “some” Priests.

All of the previous posters were incomplete. Each diocese and bishop can either withhold or grant faculties to deacons to preach. There is nothing which requires bishops to allow deacons to preach. In the same way, a bishop grants faculties to the individual priest, not to the presbyterate in general. I know of priests who are not allowed to preach because they are unable to provide sound theological insights.

In my diocese the bishop grants each deacon the faculties to preach at some point after he is ordained. I think the pastors are involved in evaluating when the deacon is ready.

There has never really been a time when the Latin Church did NOT have ‘permanent’ Deacons, they (like St. Francis) were pretty much members of religious orders.

What happened in the 60’s was the reemergence of the ‘permanent’ Diaconate back into Diocesan\parish life and especially in the admission of Latin Rite married men into the Diaconate.

The Eastern Catholic Churches, of course, have always had ‘permanent’ Deacons as part of parish life.

I have several thoughts… one is that I’m quite fascinated by the amount of hearsay that gets posted here in fear that it might be true and that people in their church have been “breaking the rules.” However, I am equally pleased that you’re trying to get the correct information before trying to take any action.

My second thought is this – to say that Deacons “can” read the Gospel is incorrect. Deacons, by virtue of their sacred ordination to the Order of Deacons must proclaim the Gospel at Mass. A Priest can and a Bishop can, but a deacon must, unless there are more than one. The GIRM is quite clear on this.

My third thought is that while Deacons can preach, there is no requirement that they must or may. However, if a Deacon is gifted with the ability to interpret scripture, speak on the teachings of the church, and do so in a way that is appropriate and inspiring, I cannot see any reason that they should not be given faculties to preach on a regular basis.

I am not being snippy. Please don’t take it that way. But as an attorney, I have always taken exception to the popular misuse of the term hearsay.

Hearsay is an out of court statement offered to prove the matter asserted. It is not synonymous with gossip or misinformation. Therefore, there are two elements to hearsay:
(1) The statement was not said in court (or in this case the forum), and (2) it is being offered to prove the truth matter at issue.

Hearsay is more than just a mere inquiry. “I heard that deacons aren’t supposed to say homilies. Is that true?” is not hearsay.

On the other hand, all the quotes that go on here from RS, the GIRM, the CCC and different members of the heirarchy are hearsay. When Benedictgal quotes RS, it is hearsay because she is using statements that weren’t made on this forum to prove her assertion. (No offense B’gal, my old college chum. But I would much rather be accused of using HEARSAY than of committing HERESY…that’s an old lawyer’s joke. :D)

And hearsay isn’t barred because it’s gossip. It’s barred because the declarant can’t be cross examined and tested for sincerity, veracity, perception, correct word usage and all the other things that courts and juries use to determine whether testimony is reliable. There are several exceptions to the hearsay rule where the situation creates an “indicia of reliablity.”

I’m sorry for the lecture on hearsay. However, this has been a crusade of mine since I took Evidence back during my midlaw year in law school.

Merriam Webster lists the following under “hearsay”

  1. Rumor
  2. Hearsay evidence

Thus, my statements were correct.


This paragraph from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (G.I.R.M - but please do not pronounce it like “germ”) should answer this question.

The Homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to the deacon, but never to a lay person. In particular cases and for a just cause, the homily may even be given by a Bishop or a priest who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate.

2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal - paragraph 66

So yes, it is possible for a deacon to give a homily. To what circumstances does the G.I.R.M. refer that would warrant this? I do not know.


I think there’s a pretty broad practical definition of “circumstances.” Most deacons I know typically preach at all the parish Masses one weekend a month, thus providing them with experience and the pastor with a homily preparation break. I know some who preach every week at one Mass, the pastor doing the others. “Circumstances” could also mean that if a deacon is “homiletically challenged,” prudence might mean his preaching faculties are withheld entirely or suspended pending post-ordination additional training. In our diocese men in formation for the diaconate receive 4 units of homiletic training, and the presumption is that they will be active preachers unless there are other “circumstances” mitigating against it. The mileage in other dioceses may vary.

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