Tag Archives: Canon Law

Demystifying the Deacon

As a “new” clerical office, the Diaconate will confound the laity for years to come. And while deacons can look back with much pride to our “call to service” in Acts 6, many parishioners look to the law of the Church when searching for explanations about the role of deacons… what they can and can’t do.


Canon 764 on “deacons and preaching”

The Deacons’ Place Forum recently shared a helpful link about the deacon’s role according to Canon Law. The link to What Can (and Can’t ) a Deacon Do? is from the Canon Law Made Easy blog, written by Cathy Caridi, J.C.I. an American canon lawyer who practices law and teaches in Rome.

You might find this helpful in discussions with those still unfamiliar with our Diakonos… our call to charity among God’s people. In the end, only our humble example of service will truly tell the story.

What Can (and Can’t ) a Deacon Do?:

The wisdom of the Church…

Can. 1039 All candidates for any order are to make a spiritual retreat for at least five days in a place and manner determined by the ordinary. Before the bishop proceeds to ordination, he must be certain that the candidates properly made this retreat.

The upcoming Canonical Retreat for the 8 men in their final year of diaconate formation and their wives at Christ the King Retreat House, Syracuse, N.Y. confirms the wisdom of the Catholic Church in prescribing, by Canon Law, that all candidates for ordination set time aside.

SUN photo Paul Finch / July 16, 2003

Time to complete a final discernment… time to pray… to laugh… to learn… to enjoy good food and great company. The canonical retreat will be a spirit-filled time in an environment designed to provide space to reflect on four years of growing together and the changes about to occur as each of these couples takes their place in a ministry that is still being defined!

May the Holy Spirit fill their time with a peaceful resolve to serve God’s people and the courage to fully embrace their vocational call.

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