Putting deacons in their place?


Omnium in Mente, “In the Mind of All”,  a document written by Pope Benedict XVI in October but released on December 15, 2009 “clarifies” the role of the Permanent Deacon, by updating Canon Law in a new third paragraph, [Canon 1009].  The revision states in part,

…while deacons are enabled to serve the people of God in the diaconate of the liturgy, the word and charity.

According to Zenit and the National Catholic Reporter, the change brings the canon in line with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and clarifies the role of bishops and priests, as distinctly different than permanent deacons. Makes sense?  As I read the change, the “while” in the new paragraph has a “line in the sand” quality… a demarc point that doesn’t reflect the balance of the current canon.

What do you think?  Here’s a link to the current canons…  ORDERS

5 responses to “Putting deacons in their place?

  1. Deacon William M. Griffin, sfo

    What I most enjoy about the Diaconate is being a Servant, going about my daily work, family life, and work in my parish and among those I meet each day, realizing that I have made a commitment to serve the Lord and allow Him to use me as His instrument. I often pray that I may reflect His Light to others and draw them to Him without my knowing the work that He is doing so that I don’t mess it up. We touch lives every day and we never really understand the effects which we have on others. May we stay true to our calling and be given the grace to draw others to Christ and His Church.

  2. Tim, regarding your blog comments, the “line in the sand” has always been there. Some of us are reminded of that on a regular basis. The clarity of that line is directly proportionate to the frequency and depth of interaction between the deacon with presbyterate/episcopate. With this said, I doubt this change in Canons 1008, 1009 will have any dramatic effect on our ministry.

    While it is not uncommon for the deacon “to be put in his place”, I also agree with Richard that we deacons should not aspire to be something we are not. The line, pronounced or not, should always serve as a source of energy for us to be better servants to the People of God.

    Deacon Gayden Harper

  3. Deacon Griffin – Thank you for your comment. That we never really know the impact of our vocational call and ministry is so true!

    Although this blog is primarily for the deacons of the Diocese of Syracuse, please feel free to submit a post for publication, homily or your thoughts on the ministry.

    Thank you!

    Deacon Tim McNerney

  4. A few thoughts from a Deacon in the UK. The diaconate is still relatively new over here and although it is growing quite rapidly (whilst priestly vocations continue to decline),priests and laity alike, are generally very supportive of the ministry, although many are still a little unsure about what the ministry is all about! As a married family man working in the secular world, I really welcome Rome’s clarification of the difference between a Priestly and Diaconal vocation. It takes away some of the mystery and gives the diaconal ministry a distinct role and one that people are able to understand. Is there a deacon that would like to occasionally exchange emails between the UK and America to compare experiences and news?

  5. Deacon Steve – Thanks for your thoughts about Rome’s clarification removing some of the “mystery” from ordained ministry. I’m sure others agree with you, and I encourage the “senior” deacons to weigh in as well.

    Our 65+ active deacons in the diocese have over 20 years of ordained ministry in many cases, but we’re just beginning to leverage the Internet to exchange views, etc. If we don’t see some additional traffic here, I’ll pass your comments along to some of the men who I know would be interested in keeping in touch.

    Blessings on this Octave Day of Christmas and Feast of Mary, the Mother of Christ here in the U.S.

    Dc. Tim

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