What is the reasoning for the deacon not being permitted to perform baptisms and marriages in the Traditional Rituale Romanum? A deacon cannot use the provisions in Summorum Pontificum except for the Breviarium Romanum.

Well, I don’t know about the last statement. I mean, he can serve as a deacon in solemn Mass according to the 1962 books. At any rate, though, the Eastern traditions have never to my knowledge allowed deacons to preside over baptisms and weddings. I don’t know if this faculty has varied over the course of Western Catholic history or if it was simply new with the restoration of the married diaconate under Paul VI.

In the West the parties confer the sacrament of matrimony on each other by their giving their consent. The priest or deacon is only there as the Church’s witness, not as minister of the sacrament. It is my understanding that in the East the sacrament of matrimony depends on the priest’s blessing for its validity. The deacon cannot give that blessing; this cannot confer the sacrament.

Thus ia deacon cannot conduct a wedding in the West if one of the parties is Eastern Catholic or Orthodox.

Baptisms have been a function of Deacons since Phillip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8)

It does not normally occur in the East, as a Baptism is followed by Chrismation\Confirmation and Holy Eucharist, neither of which the Deacon can confect.

In the West, they were traditionally ExtraOrdinary Ministers of Baptism. They could perform the Rite if a Priest was not available, but could not if a priest was.

That was regulated by Canon Law,

Yes, I suppose I should have been more precise with my “never allowed” in the East as most of our early liturgical sources on initiation feature the deacon in some capacity during the baptismal rite and I shouldn’t have made it sound categorical like the East believes deacons can’t baptize. But thanks especially for pointing out the extraordinary capacity in the West. I wasn’t sure at all what the history was there.

<<XIt does not normally occur in the East, as a Baptism is followed by Chrismation\Confirmation and Holy Eucharist, neither of which the Deacon can confect.>>

But an Eastern Deacon CAN distribute communion during Liturgy and, if the bishop allows, in a priestless service called Typica (basically Liturgy of the Word and a few other prayers).

Prior to Pope Paul VI restoration of the permanent diaconate, there were no permanent deacons, just transitional ones. It was even called the “diaconate year” prior to ordination.

You’re forgetting religious orders, which did indeed have men stably serve in the diaconate.

For what it’s worth, and while this isn’t really the thread for it, the more I hear it the less I like the phrase “permanent diaconate.” I think we’ve attached more impossibility of further orders than tradition really warrants, and we also create the impression that transitional and permanent deacons are extraordinarily different creatures, prompting questions as to the different functions each can perform. Short answer: whatever a deacon can do, because they’re both deacons. I know we’re trying to express a real difference in our intentions for the cleric, I’m just not sure we’ve managed to do it in a way that fully conveys the reality.

Maybe for fun we could start referring to up and coming priests as part of the “transitional presbyterate” and those we hope won’t advance as the “permanent presbyterate.”


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