Permanent Diaconate: Issues and Questions


#1
  1. Does this statement make anyone else uncomfortable? This is from georgiabulletin.org/local/1991/06/20/a/
    Deacon Kevin Lyday toyed with the idea of a religious vocation as a 19-year-old and spent time in a Franciscan monastery searching for direction. *Now at 35 *[me interjecting: minimum age for ordination to diaconate], married and the father of three children, *he believes ordination as a permanent deacon is a "wonderful opportunity to have your cake and eat it too." * [emphasis mine] ... He said he is "very comfortable" with the range of diverse spiritual opportunities open to Catholics today.

  2. Another concern I have is this: many deacons say they have one foot in the Church and one in the World. How is this the case in situations where deacons have (a) a full-time job with the Church, (b) 10-20 hours of ministry in the Church outside this; and (c) whose other activities consist almost exclusively of Church-related activities (K of C meetings, retreats, etc.)? There are faithful, orthodox priests I know of who are more involved "in the world" than this. Isn't this a contradiction to the theology of the diaconate?

  3. The permanent deacon is required to put his family first. Isn't it true that four years of formation for the diaconate itself forces the prospective deacon to put his diaconate first? Doesn't he miss out on many family events, children's sporting events, music recitals, parties, etc.? And doesn't this continue after he is ordained? It seems as though from the outset he is forced to sacrifice his family in favour of the ministry, and this is a pattern that continues. In fact, Deacon Dillweg makes just this point - that children must learn to support their deacon-father and be understanding that his "vocation" to ministry may take him away from the family from time to time. Does this not make it difficult for him to properly fulfill his primary call as husband and father? I know a man who wanted to pursue the diaconate (coming to conversion after he married, and who wishes he had converted earlier so that he could have become a priest instead), and a deacon-friend of his told him that he should wait until after his children had grown up and left the house before pursuing the diaconate, because he learned first-hand that this "divided" him (citing 1Corinthians 7:33-34).

  4. I know that the wife must give her consent, but isn't it true that some wives may give permission and not fully desire that he be a deacon because of the toll it will take on the family? And if she does give consent, is it not true that sometimes this is because he wants it so much that she does not want to hold him back from his desires? Shouldn't such a man pursue the diaconate if his wife does not enthusiastically embrace it? Can we be so sure it is an authentic "call" if she is not fully behind it?

  5. Do some of these issues cause the faithful some discomfort regarding the permanent diaconate? Does this leave the impression that some men want to "have it both ways" [which is basically what Deacon Lyday said] - the ability to do as many of the functions priests do or are allowed as well as enjoy and have the sex life, marriage, and family? Do some perhaps sense that there is a lack of a spirit of sacrifice among such a man - that he is not willing to give up anything for a greater good and thus seeks to have as much of everything as possible? Do such people sense that the only "sacrifice" made is the sacrificing of the happiness of his spouse and children while he seems to do what he wants to do? And does this not seem that perhaps such deacons are convincing themselves that this is a "call" when it is not, when in fact it may just be a "desire" that originates from the self instead, or that God allows in order to test the individual and help him grow and learn (about vocations, himself, sacrifice, the duties of marriage / parenthood, etc.)?


#2
  1. I see nothing wrong with this at all.

  2. a) Most permanent deacons have a secular job and help out at the Church, I would hazard and educated guess that the majority of deacons are not employed full-time by the Church.
    b) Where do you get this “10-20 hours of ministry in the Church”? This would vary by diocese.
    c) Again, this would vary by deacon. There is no contradiction that I see or am aware of.

  3. 4 years of part-time formation, they are not in formation full time for the 4 years of study before ordination to the diaconate. I am aware of some places that have a 2 year program.

  4. Yes a wife must give her consent and there is no way that one can judge that her consent is not full as it is impossible for us to know the mind of the wife.

  5. I am not aware of any discomfort with the diaconate.


#3

Thanks for your response, Br. David. I will return to it once I have more time and respond to your responses.

The fact is, I am trying to work through this issue in my mind, so I must play "devil's advocate". In fact, as a lay person who hopes someday to marry, I have to consider whether or not this is something I may someday be called to at least discern, if not join.

For now, I want to add a Number 6 (for you and everyone else):

  1. Consider the fact that the majority of deacons whose wives have died young (before the deacon turned 50) have either (a) applied for a dispensation to allow them to remarry, (b) applied to be dispensed from the clerical state (in order that they may have the freedom to remarry), or (c) have applied to study for the priesthood (against the Vatican document "On the Ministry and Life of Deacons", paragraph 5, which states: "ordination [of a permanent deacon] to the Priesthood . . . must always be a very rare exception, and only for special and grave reasons").

A. From this, does it not seem as though one of the following is true: (a) that permanent deacons in general are not able to remain celibate after having lived for so many years with a wife and exercising the sexual faculty; or (b) that the permanent deacon either did not seriously consider whether or not he could handle celibacy, or just crossed his fingers and hoped she would not die (which is what the USCCB document on deacons says in paragraph 72: "Tragically, some deacons who were married at the time of ordination only begin to face the issues involved with celibacy upon the death of their wives. As difficult as this process is, all deacons need to appreciate the impact celibacy can have on their lives and ministry".).

B. Does this perhaps indicate that the permanent deacon had no real desire or commitment to live a celibate life if his wife were to die, and that he always "trusted" the "out-clause" (one of the first two listed above) because he knew one of these were always possible? Is this not problematic? Perhaps that is why Deacon Scott Dodge (who is quite young) always says on his blog, "permanent deacons whose wives die are not allowed to remarry without a papal dispensation". Most documents warn that this is rare - Dcn. Scott never does. He just mentions the dispensation as though it is an additional step that one must go through to get remarried (as though it is a viable option for any deacon). This runs contrary, like I said, to what the Vatican says, as quoted by the USCCB in paragraph 77).

C. And regarding those deacons whose wives die younger and who then decide to study for the priesthood, does not this fact perhaps indicate that they really wanted the priesthood all along, but the most the Church would allow them is diaconal service? Does this not perhaps indicate that many men choose the diaconate because they want to have "the best of both worlds"?


#4
  1. Please provide a source for your claim that " the majority of deacons whose wives have died young (before the deacon turned 50) have either (a) applied for a dispensation to allow them to remarry, (b) applied to be dispensed from the clerical state (in order that they may have the freedom to remarry)".

Also, I know of at least one diocese that has stated that it is not the norm for a deacon whose wife has passed away can be considered for the priesthood. While they may ask for such the bishop of this diocese has stated that it is not the norm for them to receive a positive answer, that is he does not want to be ordaining such men to the priesthood.


#5

Please do continue the discussion you two. I know nothing of this topic. I simply want to just say as a woman that many husbands work long hours at one job or two, are on call, or are in Iraq, etc. No one knows truly the sacrifices of any calling until living through it. Wives of deacons would know this just as a wife of a priest would (my Byzantine background). Same with dealing with celibacy if a wife dies. How could a married man fully understand the implications of celibacy unless he has to live it? After being married? This is no reason to doubt a calling.


#6

Br. David,

  1. This is the problem I see with it: By saying this, what he means is he gets to do many things that are generally associated with priestly ministry, but he gets to also get married and have children. Thus, what he is saying is that what he really wants is not the diaconate, but the priesthood. However, because the priesthood does not allow him to be married, the permanent diaconate is a nice “consolation” in lieu of that. However, because the permanent diaconate is supposed to be a different kind of call (which deacons make very clear since they do not want people to think that they are becoming a deacon just because it is the closest they can come to exercising priestly functions; and because the Vatican itself has said deacons whose wives die should not be permitted as a rule to become priests because the diaconate is not to be considered just a “step towards the priesthood” but a different kind of call), he should not be entering the diaconate if what he really wants is priesthood.

  2. Most permanent deacons are not employed by the Church, but for those who are, and who have little if any activities outside the Church (as I spoke of in the initial question), how can they say their diaconate means they have “one foot in the Church, one foot in the world?”

  3. The formation consists of three weeks in the winter, three weeks in the summer; plus every fourth Saturday throughout the year (with wife in attendance, children not allowed to come), and this for four years. Keep in mind, this is outside the prospective deacon’s 40 hours a week at work and all his other activities outside work. With this in mind, I would refer you back to the initial question.

  4. There is no way to know. But in cases where it does, shouldn’t the Church be taking steps to ensure this does not happen? Shouldn’t the Church interview the wife to find out if she is just “going along with it”, or whether she really and truly wants him to do this?

  5. In these forums, you can find some posters who have made these very arguments. I have also had a young man in his early 40s who is studying to be a permanent deacon that in his experience, the permanent diaconate is seen as sort of the “ugly stepsister” of the Church (those were his words). He told the story of how a friend of his, after being ordained a deacon, got little respect, and some even frowned upon him and was criticized for being a married cleric.

  6. I cannot provide a source. I think this is probably true, because (a) in this rare situation (most deacon’s wives, if they do predecease them, usually do not die until they are in their 60s, 70s, or later), I have only heard about four men whose wives died before they turned 50, and in every case, they applied for the dispensation to remarry [if anyone has heard of or know of such a case, please post it here]; and (b) my common sense tells me that most men whose wives die at this age and who have children still at home would certainly desire to marry again and thus would apply for this dispensation since it is allowed. It would take enormous strength and devotion to resist the temptation to apply for a dispensation to remarry. I don’t believe most are that strong or willing.


#7

(was on my e-mail; before I unsubscribe, I must…)

  1. The deacon who said, “have cake, eat it to” is exhibiting the wrong disposition for the vocation and should be chided.

  2. Because they are MARRIED, usually with children. We lay love that!

  3. Four years of discernment. Great!

  4. Again, 4 years of discernment to address these potential problems. More than to get married in the first place or in a more comprable case, a job transfer or career change.

  5. “Ugly stepsister” is a byproduct of the notion to live without sex and a wife is “higher” than to live with sex and a wife. Ridiculous. Try raising a special needs child (precludes a lot of sex) or be married to a spouse incapacitated by accident or illness. Are these men weaker? Can these men stay faithful to their vocation without “proper marital relations?”

  6. If this were true, there would be no priests. Second, see #5. And the “procure a wife to raise the kids” concept in the time of single fatherhood? How retrograde. Worrysome.

Finally, a celibate priest or a deacon should NOT be thinking the grass is greener on the other side, nor that they are “special” because of the life-style they chose. There are many single men and many married men, clergy or not.


#8
  1. All secular clergy live with a foot in both worlds. They have to be concerned with their own upkeep, that is clothing and everything else a person must be concerned with in the "world". They must also be concerned about their transportation, their health insurance, their retirement, and for those not liveing in a rector, a place to live. They also work with parishoners who live in the "world".

  2. Again they are working with those who live in the "world".

  3. This depends on the program, not all diaconate programs are the same. The one I considered was a three week stay at the seminary during the summer and a retreat at another time during the year. The program was 4 years long.

  4. As I am not a mind reader I will not contiue to discuss this. The wife gives consent, we must take her word for it. Anyways this affects the deacon's ordination in no way as there is no theological requirement for this consent.

  5. Again, I am not aware of any discomfort by the laity about deacons, to the contrary, where there are deacons that I have seen they are loved by the parish.

  6. As you can not provide a source I will not continue to discuss this as it is only your opinion with made up statistics.

So, if you wish I will continue to discuss all but questions 4 and 6 as those are not true questions but opinions and an attempt at mind reading.


#9

[quote="Michael_Saint, post:1, topic:195266"]
1. Does this statement make anyone else uncomfortable? This is from georgiabulletin.org/local/1991/06/20/a/
Deacon Kevin Lyday toyed with the idea of a religious vocation as a 19-year-old and spent time in a Franciscan monastery searching for direction. *Now at 35 *[me interjecting: minimum age for ordination to diaconate], married and the father of three children, *he believes ordination as a permanent deacon is a "wonderful opportunity to have your cake and eat it too." * [emphasis mine] ... He said he is "very comfortable" with the range of diverse spiritual opportunities open to Catholics today.

  1. Another concern I have is this: many deacons say they have one foot in the Church and one in the World. How is this the case in situations where deacons have (a) a full-time job with the Church, (b) 10-20 hours of ministry in the Church outside this; and (c) whose other activities consist almost exclusively of Church-related activities (K of C meetings, retreats, etc.)? There are faithful, orthodox priests I know of who are more involved "in the world" than this. Isn't this a contradiction to the theology of the diaconate?

  2. The permanent deacon is required to put his family first. Isn't it true that four years of formation for the diaconate itself forces the prospective deacon to put his diaconate first? Doesn't he miss out on many family events, children's sporting events, music recitals, parties, etc.? And doesn't this continue after he is ordained? It seems as though from the outset he is forced to sacrifice his family in favour of the ministry, and this is a pattern that continues. In fact, Deacon Dillweg makes just this point - that children must learn to support their deacon-father and be understanding that his "vocation" to ministry may take him away from the family from time to time. Does this not make it difficult for him to properly fulfill his primary call as husband and father? I know a man who wanted to pursue the diaconate (coming to conversion after he married, and who wishes he had converted earlier so that he could have become a priest instead), and a deacon-friend of his told him that he should wait until after his children had grown up and left the house before pursuing the diaconate, because he learned first-hand that this "divided" him (citing 1Corinthians 7:33-34).

  3. I know that the wife must give her consent, but isn't it true that some wives may give permission and not fully desire that he be a deacon because of the toll it will take on the family? And if she does give consent, is it not true that sometimes this is because he wants it so much that she does not want to hold him back from his desires? Shouldn't such a man pursue the diaconate if his wife does not enthusiastically embrace it? Can we be so sure it is an authentic "call" if she is not fully behind it?

  4. Do some of these issues cause the faithful some discomfort regarding the permanent diaconate? Does this leave the impression that some men want to "have it both ways" [which is basically what Deacon Lyday said] - the ability to do as many of the functions priests do or are allowed as well as enjoy and have the sex life, marriage, and family? Do some perhaps sense that there is a lack of a spirit of sacrifice among such a man - that he is not willing to give up anything for a greater good and thus seeks to have as much of everything as possible? Do such people sense that the only "sacrifice" made is the sacrificing of the happiness of his spouse and children while he seems to do what he wants to do? And does this not seem that perhaps such deacons are convincing themselves that this is a "call" when it is not, when in fact it may just be a "desire" that originates from the self instead, or that God allows in order to test the individual and help him grow and learn (about vocations, himself, sacrifice, the duties of marriage / parenthood, etc.)?

[/quote]

It would seem to me that you are making a lot of assumptions and generalizations here that are not supported by any concrete data. Please remember that you are talking about individuals and their choices. Every situation is different for each person who is called to the diaconate. Each situation is different for each deacon who has a wife that has died at a young age, there may be young children involved or other factors that one might not be aware of.

I would suggest that rather than looking at individuals who have been ordained deacons, we are are all human and still sinners by the way, you should study the ministry itself, the history and present day formation and what is expected of the deacon in the Church. This will give you a better ideal of what the diaconate should be rather than the reality of those individuals that seem not to make the mark.


#10

As mentioned by another poster, you make many generalizations in opinion that you cannot back up with fact; so please temper your statements.

I am a candidate to be ordained in December, God willing. I have been in formation 3.25 years with 8 months to go, this is after formal discernment which started in June of ’06. We were delayed five months by hurricane Katrina. Our diocese requires a five year total, one discernment year; the first formation year is a year of aspirantcy then three years of formation. The norm for formation is three years of formation following a year of formal discernment, wives are encouraged not required to attend and participate; my wife took the classes for credit towards a master catechesis degree up until last November. She now has chosen to be a full time mom because we just adopted a daughter, which gives us three teenage children when added to our two sons.

I am not going to list my objections to your assertions as a list; I will just give you a little insight to my situation. On remarriage, I do believe that I was called to be a married man; that doesn’t mean I never considered being a priest. I did as a teen discern briefly the priesthood. However, I know behind a shadow of a doubt that I was supposed to marry my wife and we have a great relationship. I do believe that if something would happen to her I would not remarry because I am married to her, only. Anyone can say that I don’t know what I am saying, but I can say the same for anyone rebutting my statement, so what’s the point?

You must understand most importantly that the diaconate is NOT THE PRIESTHOOD “LITE”! These are two totally separate and different ministries. The deacon’s duties are not “almost anything a priest can do”. His duties are exactly what the ministry of diaconate says they are, all flowing from the diocesan bishop. The part most see is the “clean ministry”, or what you see him doing at mass with the priest. This is only a small portion of the deacon’s duty. The deacon is the minister of service; nursing home, home bound, hospitals, prisons, teaching the faith etc.

My wife and I have had many late night discussions about ordination. She knows exactly what the “yes” will mean and she has stated emphatically that she will say yes if I still feel called on that day in December. She sees what God has done in our family while walking this walk toward ordination. She sees the change in me, our kids and most of all our extended family and friends. We both see the changes in everyone around us, we have all grown in our faith. I guess that’s why it pains me to read some of your assertions, because they come from not knowing what it is to be inside these decisions and the process of formation. Until you have experienced it for yourself be careful forming conclusions of others even after reading the writings you site. One cannot read something and see the true meaning or intent without knowing everything about that person.

One of the comments you made is about one foot in and one out. Can’t you see what that means? Yes he may work mostly in the Church. Yes he may have most of his waking moments on a daily basis working for something “churchy”; but he goes home to his bride and family and deals with bills and home life just as any married man does. That, my friend, is having one foot in the Church and one in the world.

It seems like you have some misgivings of your own about the diaconate. Please learn more about this topic to see the other side of your arguments.

There is so much more I would like to say, but I have to get home to the world. Just kidding, I work in the world too.:thumbsup:

In Christ,
Gary


#11

Thanks to everyone for their responses. I will begin with Br. David:

  1. If “all secular clergy live with one foot in the Church and one foot in the world”, why are permanent deacons taught that the **uniqueness **of their call is that they have one foot in the Church and one in the world?

  2. Your response here presupposes that both priesthood and diaconate are supposed to live with one foot in each, when I pointed out that the way it is taught (according to the “theology of the diaconate”?), it is the deacon who in a special and unique way does that - the laity are primarily grounded in the world, the priest is primarily grounded in the Church. Do you disagree with that formulation or that understanding or theology? If so, please remember that deacons say it all the time about their “uniqueness” of their vocation.

  3. Okay, but that is a sidestepping of the issue. Let us stick with dioceses in which that is the case; with that in mind, I would refer you back to my initial questions.

  4. I take it, then, that IF that was the case, you would be opposed and have a problem with that, but that we really can’t know, so we should not concern ourselves too much with that. I can accept that. So let’s move on …

  5. I do not expect you to take my word for it. Now Brother, let us shift a bit here: in parishes where deacons serve and are loved, is it also your experience that their parishioners have, as a result of seeing deacons in action, either come to wish the Church would go ahead and ordain them priests and ordain married men who were interested in the priesthood, or who might have long longed for a married priesthood and are now more sure than before that this is what they would like to see happen because they love married clergy so much?


#12
  1. Agreed, but I wonder then: how many men who have this disposition “slip through” because of bishops who do not seem to be aware that some men have such dispositions or who do not have a problem with such dispositions? I am sure the bishop did not read it in the paper and say, "Dang! I had no idea this was his attitude. I think I made a mistake."
    His age alone should have tipped him off - it would be a red flag to me. St. Louis will very rarely even consider someone for the diaconate unless his children are in high school.

  2. The laity love married deacons. Would you say, then, that you would rather our priests marry too?

  3. But do those four years of discernment take a heavy toll on the family? Like I said, in St. Louis, men with young children are not generally accepted to the diaconate. Do you think St. Louis is wrong about that?

  4. John Paul II, “Vita Consecrata”, 32: “As a way of showing forth the Church’s holiness, it is to be recognized that the consecrated life, which mirrors Christ’s own way of life, has an objective superiority. … The Church has always taught the pre-eminence of perfect chastity for the sake of the Kingdom”.

John Paul II, “Theology of the Body” (April 7, 1982): “Did Christ perhaps suggest the superiority of continence for the kingdom of heaven to matrimony? Certainly … we must admit that Christ set it out implicitly. However, he did not express it directly. Only Paul will say of those who choose matrimony that they do ‘well.’ About those who are willing to live in voluntary continence, he will say that they do ‘better’ (1 Cor 7:38). That is also the opinion of the whole of Tradition, both doctrinal and pastoral. The “superiority” of continence to matrimony in the authentic Tradition of the Church”.

Pius XII, Sacra Virginitas, 32: “This doctrine of the excellence of virginity and of celibacy and of their superiority over the married state was, as We have already said, revealed by our Divine Redeemer and by the Apostle of the Gentiles; so too, it was solemnly defined as a dogma of divine faith by the holy council of Trent, and explained in the same way by all the holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church.”.


#13

My problem, Deacon Bill, is that men who study for the permanent diaconate promise celibacy if their wives were to die. Here is the problem: why is the Church allowing young men with young children to be ordained, but forcing them to promise to embrace celibacy if their wives are to die? Isn’t that just setting them up for a dispensation? Notice, too, that the young deacon does not promise to remain celibate “only if my wife does not die before 60” or any other such stipulation. It seems the Church is being a bit wishy-washy and irresponsible - requiring a man to promise celibacy, but providing the dispensation if she dies, and requiring a man to promise celibacy knowing that if she dies young, he will be in a difficult position, and will find it extremely difficult to remain celibate.

Yes, I know this is the practice of the East - but we cannot support a practice just by saying, “well the East does it, so it’s fine”. The Eastern practice is not necessarily right, because it is, after all, a practice, just like mandatory priestly celibacy is not necessarily right because it is merely a practice, not a dogma. That said, I would expect the East to have some good answers to these apparent problems, then. And the West - especially the deacons - should be well aware of those same answers too. What are those answers?

I appreciate your suggestion that I study it further. What would you recommend? Unfortunately, most of the resources I am aware of are by deacons who want to see the priesthood opened up to married men. I suppose that is another problem I have with the permanent diaconate - most married deacons want priestly celibacy to be optional. Or is that impression (and that is all it is) another faulty assumption?

Do I take it to mean that permanent deacons who apply for the dispensation or who apply to study for the priesthood are those who have not “made the mark”? Certainly the Vatican seems to frown on both.


#14

#15

The problem is, Bailey2, that young deacons whose wives have died have applied for a dispensation to remarry for this reason: that they need a mother to help raise the children. The Vatican allows such a dispensation in this case, and words it this way: “that he has children of such a tender age as to be in need of motherly care”.


#16

#17

[quote="Michael_Saint, post:13, topic:195266"]
My problem, Deacon Bill, is that men who study for the permanent diaconate promise celibacy if their wives were to die. Here is the problem: why is the Church allowing young men with young children to be ordained, but forcing them to promise to embrace celibacy if their wives are to die? Isn't that just setting them up for a dispensation? Notice, too, that the young deacon does not promise to remain celibate "only if my wife does not die before 60" or any other such stipulation. It seems the Church is being a bit wishy-washy and irresponsible - requiring a man to promise celibacy, but providing the dispensation if she dies, and requiring a man to promise celibacy knowing that if she dies young, he will be in a difficult position, and will find it extremely difficult to remain celibate.

Yes, I know this is the practice of the East - but we cannot support a practice just by saying, "well the East does it, so it's fine". The Eastern practice is not necessarily right, because it is, after all, a practice, just like mandatory priestly celibacy is not necessarily right because it is merely a practice, not a dogma. That said, I would expect the East to have some good answers to these apparent problems, then. And the West - especially the deacons - should be well aware of those same answers too. What are those answers?

I appreciate your suggestion that I study it further. What would you recommend? Unfortunately, most of the resources I am aware of are by deacons who want to see the priesthood opened up to married men. I suppose that is another problem I have with the permanent diaconate - most married deacons want priestly celibacy to be optional. Or is that impression (and that is all it is) another faulty assumption?

Do I take it to mean that permanent deacons who apply for the dispensation or who apply to study for the priesthood are those who have not "made the mark"? Certainly the Vatican seems to frown on both.

[/quote]

Michael,
In our diocese a man is not accepted into the diaconate until he has reached the age of 35 and they very rarely accept anyone into the program (5 Years in duration) if they have children under the age of 10. I do not think that the Church is “setting anyone up to fail” with regards to celibacy. Going into the program one is told again and again what the requirements are and one goes into orders with a free will. I also believe that you may be overstating the frequency of the need for dispensations. Out of the 80 or so permanent deacons that I know only about 7 of them have had their wives proceed them in death and none have asked to be remarried and all remain, to my knowledge, celibate. There are even 4 deacons who were not married when they were ordained and had to take the vow of celibacy upon ordination as would a priest.


#18

[quote="Michael_Saint, post:12, topic:195266"]
1. Agreed, but I wonder then: how many men who have this disposition "slip through" because of bishops who do not seem to be aware that some men have such dispositions or who do not have a problem with such dispositions? I am sure the bishop did not read it in the paper and say, "Dang! I had no idea this was his attitude. I think I made a mistake."
His age alone should have tipped him off - it would be a red flag to me. St. Louis will very rarely even consider someone for the diaconate unless his children are in high school.

  1. The laity love married deacons. Would you say, then, that you would rather our priests marry too?

  2. But do those four years of discernment take a heavy toll on the family? Like I said, in St. Louis, men with young children are not generally accepted to the diaconate. Do you think St. Louis is wrong about that?

  3. John Paul II, "Vita Consecrata", 32: "As a way of showing forth the Church's holiness, it is to be recognized that the consecrated life, which mirrors Christ's own way of life, has an objective superiority. ... The Church has always taught the pre-eminence of perfect chastity for the sake of the Kingdom".

John Paul II, "Theology of the Body" (April 7, 1982): "Did Christ perhaps suggest the superiority of continence for the kingdom of heaven to matrimony? Certainly ... we must admit that Christ set it out implicitly. However, he did not express it directly. Only Paul will say of those who choose matrimony that they do 'well.' About those who are willing to live in voluntary continence, he will say that they do 'better' (1 Cor 7:38). That is also the opinion of the whole of Tradition, both doctrinal and pastoral. The "superiority" of continence to matrimony in the authentic Tradition of the Church".

Pius XII, Sacra Virginitas, 32: "This doctrine of the excellence of virginity and of celibacy and of their superiority over the married state was, as We have already said, revealed by our Divine Redeemer and by the Apostle of the Gentiles; so too, it was solemnly defined as a dogma of divine faith by the holy council of Trent, and explained in the same way by all the holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church.".

[/quote]

(Dang, I should never peak at these things!)

1) True. That's how pedophile priest got through too. But, truly NO ONE can read a person's heart or intentions and sometimes the person themselves can't either. Also, the original statement in question may have been said in joke. People do laugh at themselves, you know. But granted, shouldn't have been said in such a public forum.

2) I think priests should have the option of marrying, yes. Like they do in the Byzantine tradition. (please don't try to convince me otherwise. won't work)

3) First question, no. Not any more strain than graduate school to change careers. Second question, not a bad idea actually..... most of the deacons I know, their kids were off to college or at least 16-ish.

5) Plenty of married Saints. Certainly superior to priests in that context.

6) All these reflections of the Vatican are stated by continent (maybe) men who know nothing of the sanctity producing married state. Also, there are many men and women not even in the clergy or religious wife who choose to live this way for careers, missionary work, or just to be single because they want to be single; it fits them. I don't thing the state itself is what makes the "superiority." It is the motivation for volunteering for that state. But then again, the purpose and intention of marriage makes marriages sacred and equal to priesthood. I know this is against all the edicts and is my opinion. But a Father cannot be in solidarity with his flock if he thinks himself better than them or "higher" than them. And he will not lead them with respect. He will lead them with a deluded sense of superiority. Not very Christ-like.


#19

If he asks for dispensation to care for his children, that’s one thing. But to procure a wife to do that is quite another. Women are not to be procured for services. Let him hire a nanny. Ideally, he would meet a woman, fall in love, and have her fall in love with him and his children. But to set out to find a wife to raise the children is disrespectful to the dignity of the woman.


#20

I am not aware that this “uniqueness” is taught in such an explicit way.

  1. Your response here presupposes that both priesthood and diaconate are supposed to live with one foot in each, when I pointed out that the way it is taught (according to the “theology of the diaconate”?), it is the deacon who in a special and unique way does that - the laity are primarily grounded in the world, the priest is primarily grounded in the Church. Do you disagree with that formulation or that understanding or theology? If so, please remember that deacons say it all the time about their “uniqueness” of their vocation.

Its a fact that all secular clergy live in such a way. Again, I am not aware of this “uniqueness” you speak of or that it is part of the theology of the diaconate.

  1. Okay, but that is a sidestepping of the issue. Let us stick with dioceses in which that is the case; with that in mind, I would refer you back to my initial questions.

Sticking with the diocese program you speak of. I believe it was 6 weeks of classes, 3 weeks in the summer and 3 weeks in the winter, plus a retreat. That is still not full-time formation, far from it actually.

  1. I take it, then, that IF that was the case, you would be opposed and have a problem with that, but that we really can’t know, so we should not concern ourselves too much with that. I can accept that. So let’s move on …

Not discussing mind reading or judging the thoughts of the wives of deacons. I take them at their word.

  1. I do not expect you to take my word for it. Now Brother, let us shift a bit here: in parishes where deacons serve and are loved, is it also your experience that their parishioners have, as a result of seeing deacons in action, either come to wish the Church would go ahead and ordain them priests and ordain married men who were interested in the priesthood, or who might have long longed for a married priesthood and are now more sure than before that this is what they would like to see happen because they love married clergy so much?

No, there is an understanding by those who know deacons that the diaconate is not, as another stated here, priesthood lite. The diaconate is its own calling and is separate from the priesthood. This is something that the laity needs to be taught.

As for a married priesthood, we already have it with the ordination of married converts as well as in the Eastern Catholic Churches. It is a discipline in the Latin Church that married men will not be ordained to the priesthood but that could change in the future but I do not see this linked to a permanent diaconate that may be married.


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