Since Summorum Pontificum went into effect, questions about the older, pre-Conciliar form of Mass have, as was inevitable, begun to surface.
The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" (PCED) is, at this time, the clearing house for these questions, since the Commission has competence in all things concerning the older liturgy.
I received via e-mail a copy of a letter someone received from the PCED. A question was raised about the service of deacons for the older forms of liturgy.
Every once in a while questions pop upo about deacons ordained with the newer books and the older form of Mass, and also about the service of permanent deacons. For example, some people question if men ordained as deacons with the newer book De ordinatione, that is, who are not ordained with the older form of the Pontificale Romanum as deacons or subdeacons, can function as sacred ministers in the older Mass. In a nutshell: not ordained with old book – can’t be sacred minister.
I contend that a deacon is a deacon is a deacon. Men who were ordained with older books are no more deacons than men ordained with the newer books.
Similarly, some people think that permanent deacons are somehow a lesser sort of deacon and therefore cannot function as a sacred minister in the older form of Mass. I respond again: a deacon is a deacons is a deacon.
Now we let us see the business part of text of the response sent by the PCED forwarded to me with my emphases.
The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, just as the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei, presupposes that any deacons, transitional or permanent, may function as deacons in the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal, provided, of course, that they are familiar with the rites and can function with sufficient ease. The local Ordinary can not impede a deacon in good standing from functioning as a deacon in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite provided that the deacon is qualified.
With prayerful wishes I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. Msgr. Camille Perl
First, this letter clarifies that the ability of the deacon to serve does not depend on which book was used to ordain him. Thus, men ordained with the newer book can serve as sacred ministers with the older form.
Second, it makes no difference if a man is a permanent deacon or a transitional deacon. A "transitional" deacon usually identifies a man promoted to the holy order of the diaconate as a stage before his being ordained a priest. So, these are usually seminarians in the last stages of their formation. The point here is that a permanent deacons and transitional deacons are equally deacons. This may seem like a point to simple to need clarification, but it does come up.
Third, note the statement that the "local Ordinary" (usually the local bishop) can’t "impede" a deacon in good standing from functioning as a deacon in the extraordinary form. This would have an impact on seminarian transitional deacons. The idea is this: if a deacon is in good standing, he can function as a deacon in his rite. Men ordained for the Roman Rite can function in their Roman Rite. The Roman Rite has two forms.
Bishops cannot tell their seminarian deacons who are in good standing that they can serve in the ordinary form but can’t serve in the extraordinary form. If you can serve in one, you can serve in the other, provided you know what to do.
What I find interesting about this is that during the rite of ordination of a deacon, the ordaining bishop explicitly asks someone speaking on behalf of those responsible for the formation of the deacons whether or not he knows they are worthy of ordination. That worthiness would refer not only to their reputations and moral life, but also their concrete training.
If a man is going to be ordained for the Roman Rite, should not knowledge of the older form of the Rite be included in the formation of men to be ordained deacons, transitional or permanent? If someone responsible for the training of deacons is going to answer that question about the worthiness of the men presented to the bishop for ordination, should he not know they were prepared for the celebration of the Roman Rite?