QUAERITUR: permanent deacons and the TLM

I got this question via e-mail.  I have treated it here on the blog a couple time already but it bears a review.

Dear Father,

                     I am a seminarian and I have a quick question that I would like your input on. It may also provide an interesting post topic.

            I know that many within the SSPX and related groups are very opposed to the idea of permanent deacons, especially if those deacons are married. My question is, what would you have to say about a permanent deacon assisting at solemn high mass in the EF. I suppose it must be technically allowed, but is it advisable?

 I see no problem with it; first, because the Church in her Wisdom decided to bring it (the permanent deaconate) back, and second because if the EFis supposed to be a living part of our liturgical life (as you point our re. the new Good Friday prayers for the Jews) than it would make sense that they be allowed. However, I recognize that there may be legitimate differences of opinion, and I would appreciate your input.

Of course permanent deacons can function in the TLM.  It is not only possible it is a great idea!  That makes the possibility of solemn Masses greater.  Also, since deacons are deacons are deacons, they should be deacons.

 

This is also the position of the Pont. Comm. Ecclesia Dei which I wrote about here.

Here is an image of the letter.

 

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70 Responses to QUAERITUR: permanent deacons and the TLM

  1. dominic1962 says:

    Certainly, a permanent deacon is ordained and is just as much a deacon as a transitional deacon. However, on a practical note, I rarely see a permanent deacon who knows his way around the NO, let alone the TLM-which is much more involved. Not saying that there are none out there that could swing it, but it seems that their level of liturgical formation is kind of lackluster.

    Secondly, I know that many folks who are fond of the TLM see permanent deacons as a step towards a married priesthood. While this is not explicitly true, the way some of them are trained, I can see where folks are coming from. However, I would think that if a permanent deacon was interested in participating in the Extraordinary Form, he most likely wouldn’t have such predilections.

    Lastly, since the MP is such a great gift to priests with which they can better understand their priesthood, I would think the same should prove true with deacons.

  2. Tony says:

    That letter ends the debate.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    I’m just curious: What about subdeacons? Would it be odd to have a Solemn Mass with a priest-celebrant, a permanent deacon, and a priest acting as a subdeacon?

  4. Guy Power says:

    Wouldn’t the position of Permanent Deacon be the perfect vehicle for married Anglican ministers who convert to Catholicism?

    –Guy

  5. “Certainly, a permanent deacon is ordained and is just as much a deacon as a transitional deacon. However, on a practical note, I rarely see a permanent deacon who knows his way around the NO, let alone the TLM-which is much more involved. Not saying that there are none out there that could swing it, but it seems that their level of liturgical formation is kind of lackluster.”

    One could say the same thing about most priests. Right? Surely you
    wouldn’t want to impose an exam for deacons who want to serve in the
    Extraordinary Form, do you?

    As to the subdeacon question, I believe Fr. Z. has posted serveral
    times on this too–giving an E.D. responsum to the effect that
    installed acolytes may serve as subdeacons. Although I may be wrong about that.

  6. Geoffrey: Would it be odd to have a Solemn Mass with a priest-celebrant, a permanent deacon, and a priest acting as a subdeacon?

    Not really, no. I think it depend on whom is capable of doing what.

  7. KJ MacArthur says:

    I was talking a few weeks ago with a man, inclining toward traditionalism, in St. Louis who was discerning his vocation to the permanent diaconate. It occurred to me that maybe now I understood why, three decades ago, the permanent diaconate was established. If the TLM is going to more widely offered, and if the solemn Mass (which requires a deacon and a subdeacon) is supposed to be the norm, how else can the solemn Mass be offered in our day without permanent deacons?

    Three quarters of the year I live in a very large city and there are enough priests, and even transitional deacons, for some parishes to offer the TLM, if they wish. The remaining quarter of the year I live in the country near a small town. In this area there is one priest for every two parishes and no transitional deacons within 120 miles. There is probably only one parish in sixty miles that could offer a solemn TLM if they had to rely on only priests to act as deacon and subdeacon.

    There are, however, permanent deacons in most of these parishes. And, on those occasions when the deacons preach, we in the pews can in most cases rely on hearing more orthodox theological content and a higher level of piety than when the priests in those parishes preach. In these small towns, I would bet that the permanent deacons would be more favorable toward the TLM and more apt at learning it than most of the pastors.

    I say this as someone who has had a great deal of skepticism toward the permanent diaconate. It is simply that the evidence of my experience is that many (not all) permanent deacons do a better job, homiletically and liturgically, than the priests they are assisting. And remember that I am only talking about my experience. I am sure that many of you have horror stories about awful permanent deacons.

  8. Father M says:

    Indeed, the problem for priests living in rural areas is real. However, I have a (very orthodox, very faithful)parishioner in our diocesan permanent diaconate program now and he has been serving some of our weekday TLMs. I also am looking at a well-trained TLM sacristan who visits here frequently as a possible instituted acolyte. I imagine my imaginings are imagined by many rural priests.

  9. Stephen Morgan says:

    Let us remember that the diaconate as a permanent and stable order, open to married men was first called for by the Council of Trent (Session XXIII, Cap XVII, 1563).

    The comments regarding the liturgical capacity of many permanent deacons are, of course, demonstrably true. I would hope, however, that those of us (I am a permanent deacon) who do have some liturgical facility and knowledge will be able to exert a gravitational pull in this area.

    Actually, I think objections to permanent deacons assisting at Masses in the EF stem from a general desire to reject any development of doctrine, discipline or praxis which certain traditionally minded Catholics see as having developed following or out of the Second Vatican Council. I would suggest that the focus on the marital status of the minister comes from a profoundly manichaen attitude to sex and ritual purity. It purports to exalt one sacrament at the expense of another. That is not how the sacraments, that is not how God’s grace works. When I live out the reality of my marriage, including engaging in what here we might call (for sake of delicacy) call the marital act, that is a graced act: both an expression of and a channel of God’s grace. It does not make me ritually impure, nor does it put me in a state of sin: quite the contrary. When I serve the Church as a deacon, whether in a liturgical or pastoral way, I am living in a sacramental matrix, co-operating (please God) with the grace of orders. To propose a conflict as arising by the nature of those sacramental imperatives expresses an extremely attenuated understanding of the sacramental economy and, furthermore, is a profound insult to our brothers and sisters in the Eastern Catholic Churches not to mention those whose ministries existed in the Latin Chuch, licitly, in the past.

  10. Patrick says:

    “Let us remember that the diaconate as a permanent and stable order, open to married men was first called for by the Council of Trent (Session XXIII, Cap XVII, 1563).”

    That chapter of the Council speaks of married men taking on the four minor orders, but says nothing of the diaconate or subdiaconate. Please check!

  11. For Dominica In albis, we sung the entire mass, Kyriale and Proper. A Permanent Deacon was present ; of course, he did not bring a Dalmatic (that is a pity, for Dominica Infra octavam Paschae in the OF). He was not able to sing the Gospel. Of course, we wanted him to sing “Ite Missa est, alleluia, alleluia”, but he was not able either.
    The problem with permanent deacon is that they have no notion of liturgy. they do not even understand they are also ordained “for the liturgy”…. In France there is no training for liturgy for “conventional” priests. I let you imagine what kind of liturgical training the permanent deacons receive….

    Perhaps it is different in the US ?

  12. Peter says:

    This is an excellent idea (imho) and the letter from the commission makes things very clear.

    However, as a number of posters have already alluded to, it is likely to be viewed with suspicion by some of the ‘traditionally minded’ (I also try to refrain from using traditional-’ist’ and -’ism’ – beware ‘isms’), including amongst the clergy. There would be similar resistance to the functions of the subdeacon being performed by those not ordained as such. Collisions of current canon law with what obtained in 1962 – the ‘chapel veil debate’ only bigger?

    It will require sound leadership and catechesis from pastors.

    In relation to liturgical capability and formation, one may suspect that in cases where a permanent deacon shows an inclination to embrace a role in the EF then he will do the work to become proficient.

    Peter

  13. John Spangler says:

    I wish there were a central location where rulings of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei were readily available. Since the PCED does not post these on the Vatican web site, why not here, Father Z, on your blog site???

    And why is it necessary to redact the Prot. No. and date? I can understand the name and address of the recipient being removed for the sake of privacy, but if writing to the Commission or one’s local ordinary, the other information would be most helpful.

    Pax et bonum omnibus vobiscum!

    John Spangler

  14. Mark says:

    In what conditions is semi-solemn Mass allowed?

  15. mpm says:

    For what it’s worth, the permanent deacon in my parish serves the
    TLM along with the priest, he has taken special training in Nebraska,
    I think, to do so, and he also serves the NO when needed.

    We never have a “solemn” or “pontifical” High Mass because the
    conditions of the parish do not permit it, but we do have Missa Cantata,
    and he takes all the proper diaconal parts.

    And because the pastor has a physical disability, he also helps
    distribute Holy Communion.

    When he first came on the scene, the pastor felt greatly obliged to
    explain all the “canonical” reasons for the “innovation”, probably
    so as not to “scandalize” certain “sea lawyers” in the congregation,
    but I felt all that explanation was unnecessary: a deacon is
    a deacon is a deacon, and not a layman.

    Our deacon wears appropriate clericals in and out of church, and has
    access to all the proper diaconal vestments when serving the Liturgy.

  16. Alessandro says:

    What about a acolyte (NO) serving as subdeacon? Is that possible today as it was in the past?

  17. I think I have heard (well before Summorum Pontificum) of an FSSP parish somewhere in the US where two married permanent deacons served, doing the part of deacon and subdeacon at traditional rite masses.

  18. As for acolytes serving as a subdeacon, even if it is licit, it is highly unlikely. The reason is that, while the instituted ministries of acolyte and lector are supposed to be conferred on laymen, in practice, they are only conferred on laymen studying for the diaconate and priesthood. So, if you want an acolyte, you’ll need to go to the seminary or diaconal training center.

    [My hypothesis is that, because these two ministries are limited to men in Pope Paul VI's letter establishing them, the bishops have been unwilling to restore them in parish life because they fear the wrath of those who will cry foul about "gender inequality". Instituted acolytes and lectors would, of course, receive preference over lay people in serving Mass, being extraordinary ministers of holy communion and reading the scriptures--since most of these are doing it on a "temporary basis"--even if it's been decades. And that would mean men getting preference over women in many cases to fill these roles, and we can't have that!]

  19. Romulus says:

    For the record, our parish has a permanent deacon whose Latin is shaky but who nevertheless has mastered the EF rubrics and takes them seriously. He has been a great help to me as MC. We now are able to celebrate Solemn Mass almost every week, something that would be impossible if we didn’t have this man available.

    May I say: there’s something disordered with the notion that lawful marital relations defile a man so that he is unfit for service at the altar. I’m aware that the Eucharistic fast of married priests in the Eastern churches frequently includes abstention from marital relations (and for all I know some permanent deacons in the Latin rite may privately adopt the practice). The horror of married deacons evident in some SSPX circles indicates something seriously wrong with their understanding of marriage and its rights.

  20. dominic1962 says:

    Fr. Augustine,

    No, I’m not calling for some exam for permanent deacons, I’m just pointing out what I have seen. In my experience (which I’m not claiming to be universal) permanent deacons do not seem to have much of a knack for liturgy nor do they have much sense of being clergy (which they are). I’d chalk much of that up to their training. It seems (from talking with them) that liturgical preparation is not much of a priority, YMMV. The situation Francois mentions sums up the sorts of things I’ve seen.

    However, if I were a priest who celebrated the TLM and I had a permanent deacon who wanted to serve as a deacon in that Mass, I would be happy to have him. The very fact that he shows interest would lead me to believe he either has some decent understanding of liturgy and the liturgical function of deacon or that he is willing to learn.

  21. Tom says:

    I accept that these guys are validly ordained deacons; but I have to disagree with Romulus: the problems I suppose the SSPX has with these “permananent” deacons are these: 1) admission of married men to the diaconate is a prudentially disasterous concession that only fuels the fire of the advocates of a married priesthood; 2) It’s theologically innacurate to call men who will advance to the priesthood “transitional” deacons; they will not cease to exercize the functions of the diaconate by virtue of ordination to the priesthood– their diaconal powers are not transitional; 3) the formation of the these deacons is woeful, both academically and liturgically, as has been noted above. This inadequacy tends to bring into disrepute the sacred office these men hold; 4) the fact that few, if any, of these deacons are entirely devoted to the sacred office they hold also tends to diminish the importance of the diaconate; e.g., Fred the Plumber might fix your toilet on Saturday and be administering Holy Communion on Sunday; Joe the lawyer might be suing you for damages on Firday and preaching the gospel on Sunday.

    It really has nothing to do with any supposed misunderstanding of marriage, any more than a celibate priesthood evidences such a “misunderstanding.”

    I suspect if the “permanent” diaconate were restricted to men who could devote themselves exclusively to sacred ministry after a period of serious and substantial education and training, most traditionally-minded Catholics would have no issue with it.

  22. Maureen says:

    People who want women’s ordination don’t seem to like deacons at all. The kind of people
    who want female “lay pastoral ministers” in charge of everything also seem to dislike deacons.

    Deacon programs, in short, do not seem to be particularly “progressive”. Anybody who thought t
    they were going to be, turned out to have greatly discounted patristic tradition and the
    “viri probati”.

  23. Czech American says:

    So… how does one become a “permanent deacon?”

  24. dominic1962 says:

    Romulus,

    I don’t know about SSPX circles, but in legit traditional circles it is more of a concern about the muddled clericalization of the laity and laicization of the clergy and the liberal/modernist push for married priests and womenpriests. I don’t think the issue of the marital act as “defiling” plays into the matter.

    Deacons (who are clergy) do not wear clericals or do much externally “clerical”, almost as a rule yet they can do (in the simple faithful’s eyes) practically all that the priest can do. Also, erroneous notions held (at least with some people) or allusions to the deacon and his wife being some sort of team or kind of “co-ordained” puts them off as well.

    I personally do not mind the idea of a permanent deaconate, but I wish it were more clerical. If they are ordained clergy, they should act, dress, and carry themselves like it (and so should priests who don’t do these things). The same maladies that have infected the priesthood seem to have gotten the permanent deaconate right off the bat.

  25. dominic1962 says:

    Like any other leftists, the advocates of women’s ordination see certain things (i.e. permanent deacons, altar girls, women pastoral administrators, liturgical ‘ministers’) as means to an end. If they outlive their usefulness some day (like the married permanent deaconate)-they’ll just be eliminated. Kind of like Lenin’s useful idiots.

    Were the heretical feminists to have their way, I’m sure they’d nix any exclusively male roles in the Church. However, in the meantime, some of them see any break up of the “monopoly” hold on power (its all about power to them) that the celibate male clergy have can be used to some end.

  26. TS says:

    It is a sad fact that part of the traditionalist package seems to
    be a disdain for permanent deacons (i.e. married men with orders), as
    if their married status somehow makes them “unclean” or “less holy.” That is
    certainly not the Church’s theology but it is something you
    will hear mumbled under the breath by a few traditionalist
    faithful. The comments expressed by ‘Tom’ shows what type of
    attitudes a permanent deacon will face if he proposes to get
    involved in the TLM.

  27. Gregg the obscure says:

    Topic of major interest to me as (1) I am in discernment about potentially entering formation for the permanent diaconate and (2) I am drawn to the TLM. Information available to me indicates that several demands are made on the deacon’s wife, at least here in Denver, both during formation and on an ongoing basis, which could lead to some misunderstandings of the role of the deacon’s wife.

  28. Bigt says:

    With regards to the plumber comment, my idea of the ideal permanent deacon is that of the retired gentleman who basically already lives at the parish; is already a big help to the pastor and associate pastor; and who could be an even greater help with additional responsibilities.

  29. Gregg the obscure says:

    I can’t speak for any diocese other than Denver, but Denver requires a three year formation program for permanent deacons which includes academic and practical training as well as spiritual direction. A summary is available at: this site, or if that link didn’t work, try the appropriate link at this site instead.

  30. Michael says:

    Why must the “adequate” always be the enemy of the best we can offer? Shouldn’t we always strive for perfection even as we realize that we will never (on our own) achieve it? That being said, why is it so offensive to say that while the married state is good and honorable, the celibate state is better? Why such a vehement reaction to the notion that a married diaconate is perhaps not the best idea?

  31. Dave Deavel says:

    I have wondered about the lack of any sort of discipline of continence for permanent deacons. My understanding of married priests and deacons in the East is that they are expected to be continent the night before they celebrate at the altar. This is considerably easier without the practice of a daily divine liturgy. Someone might accuse me of “manichaeism” but such a practice was required of the priests of the old covenant; how much more should we think of these things in the new where shadows have given way to something greater. Besides, I’m not just thinking of sex either, since I would favor returning to a longer fast before anyone receives the eucharist.

  32. Joseph says:

    To Czech American, re: How does one become a PD>

    Each diocese sets its own program and requirements, as I understand it.

    Basically you have:

    A three to four year formation, usually night and/or weekend classes sponsored by the diocese.

    A requirement that, if you are married your wife concur with your decision, explicitly with some hard provisions, which might include her attending some classes.

    If you are not married, you are bound to lifetime celibacy.

    An understanding that should your wife die, you cannot remarry.

    And I am sure, at the beginning of all of these, some discernment period, background checks and the like.

    Those are the basics as I understand them, having had friends go through, certainly I am no expert here, so someone else please fill in any gaps.

  33. Gregg the obscure says:

    Joseph – your summary is largely correct as to Archdiocese of Denver.

    There are more details available at this site if anyone is interested.

  34. Ken says:

    I think the traditionalist dislike of so-called permanent deacons also has to do with the part-time element (practically) of their ministry. Many Catholics are uneasy with their doorman, for instance changing out of that uniform and putting on clerical vestments for a shift. It really does have a lot to do with appearance and perception. This is why, in order to gain respect, deacons should always wear cassocks and collars, as allowed by Rome, even if their local bishop disagrees with the Vatican and tries to illicitly prohibit such dress.

  35. I have to agree. Deacons are members of the clergy, they should act like it. Deacons should be deacons.

    The liturgical formation for Deacons is a problem. I know that here in a place named after NSDLA, the focus is more “social justice” rather than liturgical.

    I have no problem, just form them properly in their liturgical duties.

  36. Rob F. says:

    I am happy to say that Steve Cavanaugh may be wrong about the likelyhood of instituted acolytes serving as subdeacons, although I think his analysis is spot-on. The reason is that Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, the Archbishop of Galveston, has instituted a well populated ministry of acolytes in his archdiocese in response to the expiration of the indult allowing for laymen to purify the sacred vessels.

    Now I suspect that most American clergy will happily dissent from Rome on this matter, but I also suspect that most bishops will eventually follow Galveston’s very visible lead as a course of least resistance. After all, it’s one thing to tolerate dissent in your diocese, and quite another thing to be seen as requiring it.

  37. Peter says:

    A number of contributors have posed concerns (if not objections) to the permanent diaconate (as a vocation and state decided and conferred by the Church) not just the involvement of permanent deacons in the EF.

    It seems (to me) that most of these have to do with ‘optics’ (day job/clerical role) or the practical circumstances of formation in particular places or are expressions of wider concerns (potential to erode the western discipline of celibacy).

    As I understand it, the day job/clerical job issue is one (often) outside the control of the permanent deacon or aspirant, especially if they are married and have a family to provide for. One may surmise that this has more to do with reluctance of their bishops or the faithful to provide for them or provide other pastoral work (teaching, catechesis etc) in a way they would for priests. Perhaps this is because they do not really admit their clerical role.

    In short if noone is prepared to pay, then they have little choice but to maintain secular employment, despite having had holy orders conferred.

    Peter

  38. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    I agree with Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s conclusion on this subject. Since there is only one Code of Canons at any time and only one valid law at any time, we must accept the permanent diaconate. Therefore, permanent deacons can do what any deacon can do. We needn’t agree that a permanent diaconate was a good idea in the first place, but that is another matter entirely. I suppose that the main argument against having a permanent diaconate in the first place is that it might be seen by some as a move towards a married priesthood. In other words, the argument here is a practical, not a doctrinal one.

    But I do not much like Fr. Z.’s approach with this idea that, somehow, in order for our Traditional Rite to be ‘alive’, there must be changes to it. That is false. There were no changes in the text of our Ordinary, for example–not so much as a comma–from 1637 to 1884. Does that mean that our Ordinary was not ‘living’ for some 250 years? Not at all. I sense that this ‘living’ business comes ultimately from the Pope’s claim that tradition must be ‘living’ and the the rejection of this notion by the S.S.P.X. It is absurd to suggest that a change to our liturgy (e.g. the very bad change, which we should ignore, to the Good Friday Prayer) is somehow necessary to make our Mass legitimate. Where does such a notion come from? It has been invented. What if the Pope had not made this change? Would this mean that our Mass was not living? Of course not.

    Logically, at least in the strict sense, it is nonsense to assert that tradition itself is ‘living’. By definition, tradition is that which is handed down. At the instant that it is handed down, it cannot be a changing thing but only a stable thing, since the ‘present’ is only a convention: time is fluid. Only liberals, who deny the existence of an objective reality, can deny that anything can be stable. Now, of course, our Pope is very intelligent and realises this entirely. He obviously means something else when he claims that tradition is ‘living’. I think that he means that the *product* of tradition (e.g. prayers, actions, beliefs, and symbols), in order to be beneficial to souls, and therefore good, must change in accordance with need; and that our understanding of the meaning of teachings, prayers, and symbols, for example, can be more and more enriched over time.

    The S.S.P.X wants to say that the teachings of the Church can never change, and must be understood in the sense in which they were originally formulated, in accordance with divine inspiration. The grounding for this is that God never changes but is the same, ‘yesterday, today, and tomorrow’. It seems to me that the original sense intended by the formulators of teachings must be legitimate, since, otherwise, God is not protecting His Church; and we can never be made to share in any richer sense of things as a strict duty, for God gives us what is adequate. However, the Pope, I imagine, would add that, without reversing or denying the original sense, a deeper understanding can be *added*, so that meaning can be added but not taken away.

    I imagine, that when, deo volente, it comes time for the S.S.P.X to discuss the definition of tradition with the Holy See, the Holy See will admit the Society’s interpretations as legitimate but will refuse to limit the meanings of some teachings to those favoured by the Society. Rome, I think, will even allow the Society to hold the view that the traditional interpretations are the *only* correct interpretations and the complete interpretations, but will nevertheless refuse to impose this view on faithful, at least in the case of some doctrines. This is essentially how the Holy See has dealt with the so-called ‘Feeneyites’. The question, I guess, is how the S.S.P.X will react to this. But here my faith forces me to come down on the side of Rome because it is Rome (typically through the C.D.F. but ultimately in the Pope) alone which has the divine authorty to bind or loose, and to restrict the meaning of teachings or to decline to do so. God calls us to have faith that the gates of Hell will not prevail. But this means that it sometimes takes decades, even centuries, for the Church to impose binding restrictions on doctrinal meanings. It doesn’t matter. We follow what we must follow and concentrate on avoiding sin.

    As for practices and prayers, they can obviously change but according to estabished standards. For example, in regard to the liturgy, the tradition has been to add and alter propers over time but to resist alteration of the Ordinary after the end of its formulative period (cf. this with the situation in languages. In the case of English, we could consider the fifteenth century). According to “Sacrosantum Concilium”, changes should not be made unless the good of the Church “genuinely and certainly” requires them. I’m not sure that the alteration to the Good Friday prayer, the words of which were over a thousand years old (even though two of them were omitted in 1959), ‘genuinely and certainly’ required alteration. If this was done to appease the masoretes, it appears to have failed miserably. And whereas one can see that the change preserved essential doctrine, one wonders why the old version was ‘genuinely and certainly’ inappropriate. All we have derived from the change doctrinally is the claim made by Cardinal Kasper in favour of his heretical ideas about the conversion of faiths, an interpretation he did not think to apply to the old version of the prayer.

    In conclusion, yes, the permanent diaconate can function in the Traditional Rite of Mass; but this is NOT because changes are necessary in order to make a rite ‘living’. It is simply because positive law was changed by the legitimate legislator, who acted within his powers.

    P.K.T.P.

  39. M Kr says:

    All through the Middle Ages, every parish church was required to have a clerk who would serve daily Mass, sing the epistle at Sung Mass on Sundays (if there were not enough ministers for a High Mass with deacon and subdeacon), alternate with the priest in singing the psalm verses at Matins and Vespers, act as sacristan, ring the church bell, catechize the children, etc. Of course, many larger churches had enough ministers, but this practice ensured that even smaller churches had adequate provision for carrying out the full services of the Church. In most cases, these clerks were married laymen, the only clerical privilege they had was that they were subject to the ecclesiastical courts, rather than the secular. Further, the role of subdeacon at High Mass could be played by a layman.

    Perhaps the Church could consider reviving such an office. There would be no issue with married men in orders, while priests would have valuable helpers.

  40. Matt Q says:

    Ken wrote:

    “I think the traditionalist dislike of so-called permanent deacons also has to do with the part-time element (practically) of their ministry. Many Catholics are uneasy with their doorman, for instance changing out of that uniform and putting on clerical vestments for a shift. It really does have a lot to do with appearance and perception. This is why, in order to gain respect, deacons should always wear cassocks and collars, as allowed by Rome, even if their local bishop disagrees with the Vatican and tries to illicitly prohibit such dress.”

    )(

    Yes, Ken, this is true, but I agree with various bishops not letting deacons run around in clerics. It gives mixed messages about the sacerdotal priesthood, its appearance is socially awkward with a wife hanging on to him, and it further adds to the appearance of the lack of continuity why the Sacerdotal priest cannot marry while a deacon can. Granted, ministries are not the same but nonetheless difficult for the non-Catholic and uncatechized to grasp. My opinion.

    ==========

    Joe wrote:

    “I have to agree. Deacons are members of the clergy, they should act like it. Deacons should be deacons.

    The liturgical formation for Deacons is a problem. I know that here in a place named after NSDLA, the focus is more “social justice” rather than liturgical.

    I have no problem, just form them properly in their liturgical duties.”

    )(

    Joe, you and I are on the same page and same chapter. Interesting. :-)

    Personally, on this point, I don’t see a need for deacons. What the Church thinks, that’s fine, but in my personal life, I couldn’t care less if there is one or not, but they are here to stay so let them be formed properly. I don’t like the idea of deacons and their wives traipsing down the aisle holding hands during the Processional. It’s so Espicopalian-looking, and offensive to fellow Catholics who know this has no place in the Mass.

  41. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Question for Fr. Zuhlsdorf:

    Out of curiosity, I would like to know how long, in accordance with the case law of the Church, a liturgy could remain unaltered before it would ‘die’ and therefore presumably lose its legitimacy somehow. Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Church made no changes at all to the Ordinary or propers of the Traditional Rite of Mass for 250 years, and, during that time, legislated no changes to the Office or the Mass or to any liturgical service. Now, of course, local alterations and practices will change, but let us suppose that none of these were enacted universally by the Supreme Legislator or by the force of universal custom. And let us suppose that such a liturgy were celebrated faithfully for that period. Would that liturgy be dead? Would it require a Pope Benedict XVI to swoop in like an eagle and make a change to resurrect it for any reason (especially to appease infidel whiners)?

    Does the actio Christi, then, depend on our actions, or does it only respect and accept our actions? I submit that it is Christ Himself Who makes our Liturgy a living Liturgy, not the legislative actions of prelates or the customs of mere men. I would like to know where, in the Code of Canons or in the general law of the Church, Fr. Zuhlsdorf finds the principle that legislive alteration of the liturgy is somehow necessary to keep it alive. I don’t think that God needs even the pope. It is we who need God, and He offers Himself to the Father in the Mass. That is what makes it alive–and nothing else.

    Pardon me if I am a little too accusatory in this post. I find that traditionalists tend too easily to see a papolater in every conservative.

    P.K.T.P.

  42. Jordan Potter says:

    Matt Q said: I don’t like the idea of deacons and their wives traipsing down the aisle holding hands during the Processional.

    I don’t like that idea either, and I’m glad I’ve never seen it anywhere in my diocese (Peoria, Ill.). It had never occurred to me that some parishes might be doing that. As a rule, unless a person has a place in a liturgical celebration, one oughtn’t be in the Processional. The only exceptions to that rule I’ve seen in my diocese are in pontifical liturgies at the cathedral, when a Catholic knight joins in the Processional even though he doesn’t have a role in that liturgy.

  43. Kate Asjes says:

    Yes, in my experience, most dioceses make a very strong requirement of the deacon-in-training’s wife, stating outright that they are a team and the wife must be a part of the whole “deacon” package. In fact, at our parish a couple of years ago, a deacon’s wife gave the homily on Mother’s Day. She’s the deacon’s wife, for goodness sakes! My husband pointed out to me that most deacons we have met are deacons because their wives wanted the deacon’s wife role. Also, the training implies the kind of work for the wife that a pastor’s wife might have, which adds to the fear of deacons just waiting in the wings for ordination as priests in the “enlightened” post-Vatican II Church that the progressives, in and out of the heirarchy, envision.

    I, myself, wonder how many deacons take seriously the requirement that a deacon remain celibate if his wife were to die. That is a requirment, isn’t it?

  44. DeaconPaul says:

    I am a Permanent Deacon and I am appalled and offended by some of these posts.

    Matt Q wrote: “Personally, on this point, I don’t see a need for deacons.” Well Matt, why don’t you enlighten yourself and read Acts Chapter 6 (you cannot get much more Traditional than that, can you)? Today I visited and took communion to about 30+ people at the area hospital. I do that a couple times a week, plus getting called in at odd hours when there is a death. I also work in my parish in a variety of ways to the point that I serve as a Deacon in some way every single day. I do not take a dime from the Church – never have, never will. I own my business and make up the time away from my office serving by working nights and off hours. I do not wear a collar, nor do I wear a cassock. I never will either, I am a Deacon, not a priest. You may not realize it, but the Deacon represents the Church out in the real world.

    I also “know my way around the NO”, Holy Hours, Stations, Funeral Vigils, Committals, and have done my share of them.

    Hey Fr. Augustine Thompson, OP – I know some priests that do a very poor job presiding at Mass. I am surprised that a priest would denigrate the order of Diaconate.

    The Diaconate is primarily about SERVICE. If you do not believe me, read John 13. Also read about the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Do you know he was a Deacon?

    If any of you have a problem with the Diaconate, I have a suggestion for you. Go to your pastor and ask to assist in visitation to the sick and shut-ins. Then you will see what the Church is really about and maybe get a clue about the ministry of the Diaconate. I consider my ordination to the Diaconate a great honor and very humbling.

    Some of you guys have no clue on what you are talking about.

  45. Chris says:

    DeaconPaul:

    Take a deep breath. I think you owe Fr. Thompson an apology, if only for your tone towards a good priest.

    The problem many of us traditionals have is two basic things, not to dumb it down, but simply: number one, they are all formed by NO instructors and the NO faith and culture, which doesn’t translate to the Traditional Latin Mass. Second, if you’re going to hospitals, I supposed your giving them Holy Communion. That too is a problem since, as Thomas Aquinas taught, only consecrated hands should ever touch the Body of Christ.

    Those are two sticking points we just cannot see past. There’s no offense intended sir, just our thoughts.

  46. DeaconPaul says:

    Hey Chris. One thing I learned during my Diaconate formation was something I took for granted my whole life prior. And that was the Pharisees. Now, I shudder when I think of them.

    Have you ever just visited a shut-in or an elderly person in your parish? There are a lot of hurting people out there.

    Church is 24/7, not just at Mass. It is your whole life.

  47. DeaconPaul says:

    One more thing Chris… St. Thomas Aquinas is one of my life heroes. I know his life and his writings well. I am sure he would not have a problem with the service I did this day for those people in the hospital.

  48. Jordan Potter says:

    Kate Asjes said: I, myself, wonder how many deacons take seriously the requirement that a deacon remain celibate if his wife were to die. That is a requirment, isn’t it?

    Yes, it is, and I must assume the deacons in my parish accept it, as our deacons have mentioned it on more than one occasion when explaining their role and obligations as deacons.

    Chris said: Second, if you’re going to hospitals, I supposed your giving them Holy Communion. That too is a problem since, as Thomas Aquinas taught, only consecrated hands should ever touch the Body of Christ.

    Then St. Thomas was wrong. St. Justin Martyr describes how in the early Church, it was the responsibility of the deacons to take the Sacrament to those who were unable to be present at the Eucharistic liturgy.

    Tom said: Fred the Plumber might fix your toilet on Saturday and be administering Holy Communion on Sunday;.

    And St. Paul mended tents for you on Saturday and then celebrated the Eucharist on Saturday night . . .

    Imagine that, the co-founder of the Roman Church was a “part-time” apostle and bishop!

    DeaconPaul said: Hey Fr. Augustine Thompson, OP – I know some priests that do a very poor job presiding at Mass. I am surprised that a priest would denigrate the order of Diaconate.

    What did Father Augustine say that denigrated the order of the diaconate? His one and only comment on the diaconate was this:

    One could say the same thing [i.e. "their level of liturgical formation is kind of lackluster"] about most priests. Right? Surely you wouldn’t want to impose an exam for deacons who want to serve in the Extraordinary Form, do you?

    I just don’t see how that denigrates the diaconate.

    Also, I think what Matt Q meant by, “Personally, on this point, I don’t see a need for deacons,” is NOT that he sees no need for the existence of the Order of Deacons, but that he personally doesn’t see a need for deacons who are formed and ordained according the reformed Roman Rite to be taking part in the pre-Vatican II Roman Rite. Now, I emphatically disagree with his personal opinion on this matter, but at least it should be said that he isn’t calling for an end to the Order of Deacons, something that is just as possible as women’s ordination or a dogmatic decree that the Pope never teaches infallibly.

  49. RBrown says:

    Some of you guys have no clue on what you are talking about.
    Comment by DeaconPaul

    You are to be commended for the work you have done. But you seemed not to have totally misunderstood what Fr Augustine wrote. He was actually quoting, then responding to, a previous comment.

    You blew that one big time.

    Re Permanent Deacons:

    IMNSHO,

    1. Deacons, whether transitional or permanent, are clerics. Thus they should wear clerical garb.

    2. Deacons, whether transitional or permanent, should–like other clerics–be obligated to the entire Divine Office–not just some part of it.

    3. I think there should be almost no difference in theological training between a transitional deacon and a permanent deacon.

    4. The Vat II reason for the re-establishment of the permanent deacon was to provide the Sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony in certain 3rd world areas where a priest could only visit a couple of times a year.

    5. But in first world dioceses where the permanent diaconate has been re-established, it has become little else than a “lay” diaconate.

    To me the permanent diaconate is another Vat II idea that was good, but whose implementation was badly bungled.

  50. RBrown says:

    Should be:

    But you seem not to have understood what Fr Augustine wrote. He was actually quoting, then responding to, a previous comment.

  51. RBrown says:

    Tom said: Fred the Plumber might fix your toilet on Saturday and be administering Holy Communion on Sunday;.

    And St. Paul mended tents for you on Saturday and then celebrated the Eucharist on Saturday night . . .

    Imagine that, the co-founder of the Roman Church was a “part-time” apostle and bishop!
    Comment by Jordan Potter

    Your comment would also seem to endorse Worker-Priests.

    Videtur mihi that the qeustio

  52. dominic1962 says:

    It is interesting to note that Archbishop Lefebvre was in favor of permanent deacons. Remember, he was Superior of the Holy Ghost Fathers and a bishop in Africa-a missionary territory. Missionary territories generally do not have priests in abundance and would be greatly helped by deacons precisely for baptisms and marriages (not to mention catechists and other local folks who have been properly trained and can act as an in-between of the clergy and the locals in matters of language and cultural understandings). I think he probably understood that the Church needs clergy to perform their proper roles. Shoe-horning lay people into clerical roles does not help to form the Church in a healthy way.

    As I said before (in agreement with RBrown), Deacons are clerics-they should dress like it (what better way to represent the Church in the ‘real world’?), act like it and pray like it. They should pray the whole Office-it really isn’t that hard.

    It should also be noted that the practice of the early Church (just to throw it out there, not that we need to do things just because it was so back then) was for married priests and deacons to remain completely continent along with the unmarried celibate clergy. The East developed a different practice and the West held to the earlier one until celibacy became mandatory. The wife often went to a convent-of their own free will of course. If there was an issue of not wanting to be continent, then he shouldn’t get ordained.

    Obviously though, deacons are not priests and thus have different roles. That is great that they do pastoral visits and other such things that priests also should do but sometimes cannot. However, this aspect of deaconal ministry shouldn’t overshadow the liturgical ministry of deacons. I do not think anyone has denegrated the deaconate-it has been denegrated by its being held up as “laicized clerical” or “clericalized lay” position. One need not be ordained to make pastoral visits.

  53. Jordan Potter says:

    RBrown said: Your comment would also seem to endorse Worker-Priests.

    It’s not an endorsement of Worker-Priests, it’s some historical and scriptural perspective for those uneasy about deacons being involved in a trade. If someone has a problem with Deacon Fred the Plumber, what will he do about Bishop Paul the Tentmaker?

    Also, I don’t know what “Videtur mihi that the qeustio” means (or what language(s) it’s written in). “Looks to me that the question”?

    I agree with your points on the permanent diaconate, especially the part about the bungled implementation. Seems there was a lot of that going on after Vatican II.

  54. Matt Q says:

    Deacon Paul wrote:

    “I am a Permanent Deacon and I am appalled and offended by some of these posts.”

    )(

    Whether you are offended or not, isn’t the point. Also, you didn’t read well what I said. I prefaced my comment on whatever the Church values in a deacon, I said **fine**. Loud and clear right here.

    Secondly, whatever I feel the value of a deacon is is my personal opinion, so if you are not happy with it, oh well.

    As far as you being a Deacon “representing the Church out in the real world,” is that to be construed in opposition to priests in the pretend world?

    You also stated, “I also “know my way around the NO”, Holy Hours, Stations, Funeral Vigils, Committals, and have done my share of them.”

    Good for you. Now learn your way around the Tridentine Mass.

    Deacon Paul wrote further, “Hey Fr. Augustine Thompson, OP – I know some priests that do a very poor job presiding at Mass. I am surprised that a priest would denigrate the order of Diaconate.

    The Diaconate is primarily about SERVICE. If you do not believe me, read John 13. Also read about the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Do you know he was a Deacon?

    If any of you have a problem with the Diaconate, I have a suggestion for you. Go to your pastor and ask to assist in visitation to the sick and shut-ins. Then you will see what the Church is really about and maybe get a clue about the ministry of the Diaconate. I consider my ordination to the Diaconate a great honor and very humbling.

    Some of you guys have no clue on what you are talking about.”

    )(

    No one here is doubting your abilities or resume but your self-trumpeting is a bit loud. It’s rather judgmental of you to accuse us of not knowing what we are talking about because you don’t like our opinions of a deacon.

    In closing, priests do all the selfless, tiring activities you do, Deacon, however they can say Mass and hear Confession. You CAN’T.

    God bless you in your ministry.

  55. F C Bauerschmidt says:

    I’d advise my brother deacon Paul to take a deep breath. As others have pointed out, you misread Fr. Thompson’s remark, but I think this is understandable, given that you were seeing red from some of the other comments.

    Many who style themselves “traditionalist” seem to be simply people in love with their own prejudices, which are largely uninformed by tradition. There is much that might be constructively criticized about various deacon formation programs and there are certainly interesting questions to be raised about how clerics in the permanent diaconate ought to conform to the model of the cleric that has prevailed since the Council of Trent. Unfortunately, some of the comments here are uninterested in either constructive criticism or interesting questions.

    Paul, keep up the good work and don’t let the carping get you down.

  56. Gordon says:

    This debate has gone from whether or not perm deacons can assist at the old Mass to being about to have or not to have permanent deacons or if so is it a good or bad thing. There seems great misunderstanding of what a deacon’s role is in the liturgy also. Chris asked about deacons giving out Holy Communion. That has always been one of the functions of deacons even in older times. The greatest permanent deacon of recent times was the brilliant Cardinal Conslavi, Secretary of State to Pius VII, from 1800-1823. Not only was he an absolute genius, but a man of great and heroic faith, Fighting against Napoleon for the rights of the Papacy & Church. It seems many are unware that cardinal deacons were until quite recently only deacons.Perhaps up to 100 years ago or so. While I do understand reservations some ppl have regarding the perm diaconate, (especilly married ones for I have heard of times where the wife does not agree at all) that is totally a different matter to what the deacon’s functions are both in the liturgy & the the things they can do to assist the priest in general. Perhaps if the upheaval of the 1500s never happened, the permanent diaconate for parish clergy might not have stopped.What’s good enough for the Pope’s cardinals & Secretary of State (and only Pacelli was considered a better one than Consavli) …..should be good enough for the rest of us!!

  57. The following is what the Catholic Church teaches in regards to a real and coherent practice of Orders. Please note that it is a canonical text and therefore binding on Catholics, regardless of one’s private opinion. Since Section 75. refers not only to the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church but also to the Latin rite, it is canonically binding on Latin rite Catholics in regards to the real and coherent practice of Orders, viz. bishops function in the liturgy as bishops, priests as priests, deacons as deacons, and for those rites that have subdeacons, those who are subdeacons act as subdeacons, cantors as cantors,readers as readers. It would seem, and this is only my own opinion that instituted acolytes or even laymen might act as as subdeacons when serving according to the extraordinary form of the Latin rite, since the subdiaconate no longer is part of the Latin rite.

    On January 6th 1996, the Congregation for the Eastern Churches published “Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.”

    Section 75. A real and coherent practice of the Orders is sought
    “The minor Orders and the diaconate are not mere formalities in preparation for presbyterial ordination. They provide a specific service in the Church, and as such are to be effectively exercised in a definitive way by those who do not intend to enter the presbyterate, and in a sufficiently ample way by those who are to be ordained presbyters. This is espcially valid for the diaconate. In this sense, misgivings should not be had toward conferring minor Orders and even the diaconate on those who comport themselves well, are suitable and appropriately prepared for the responsibility they assume, and declare themselves available for the service of the Church, even if they must continue to live with their families and practice their own trades. Thus, the ministers necessary for a dignified and fitting celebration of the liturgy are obtained, avoiding the practice, different also in this case from the Latin Church in which it is no longer in use, of having ministers of a higher range (the most frequent case is that of presbyters functioning as deacons), or of permanently appointing to the laity liturgical tasks expected of a minister: practices to be eliminated.”

  58. Carolina Geo says:

    “I think I have heard (well before Summorum Pontificum) of an FSSP parish somewhere in the US where two married permanent deacons served, doing the part of deacon and subdeacon at traditional rite masses.”

    This was the case at St. Francis de Sales outside of Atlanta; two permanent deacons served as deacon and subdeacon. The Masses were tremendous. Sadly, as of about 6 months ago they are no longer celebrating solemn Masses every Sunday, though there is hope that they will resume eventually.

    FYI

  59. RBrown says:

    RBrown said: Your comment would also seem to endorse Worker-Priests.

    It’s not an endorsement of Worker-Priests, it’s some historical and scriptural perspective for those uneasy about deacons being involved in a trade. If someone has a problem with Deacon Fred the Plumber, what will he do about Bishop Paul the Tentmaker?

    Your argument nonetheless supports worker priests.

    To continue to put it in historical and scriptural perspective, we must realize that St Paul lived when the Church was not yet established in the cities where he journeyed. As a missionary it was all but impossible for him to work as a priest 24/7.

    A similar situation existed with a man in my residence hall in Rome who had been an underground priest, then bishop in the USSR. By day he was an engineer.

    Also, I don’t know what “Videtur mihi that the qeustio” means (or what language(s) it’s written in). “Looks to me that the question”?

    Sometimes I write that out of habit. Usually, I remember to get rid of it. This time I didn’t.

    I agree with your points on the permanent diaconate, especially the part about the bungled implementation. Seems there was a lot of that going on after Vatican II.
    Comment by Jordan Potter

    There are some professions that are appropriate for a priest, and some that are not. But I tend to think that if permanent deacons wore clerical garb and were obligated to the entire Divine Office, there would be a trickle down to which professions were involved.

  60. Michael says:

    “Fred the Plumber might fix your toilet on Saturday and be administering Holy Communion on Sunday”

    I’m pretty sure he’d wash his hands first.

  61. Stephen says:

    From what I have observed in 5 countries, deacons in the Orthodox churches are clerics, wear clerical garb for all church relationed activities and functions, wear secular garb for their day jobs, there is no expectation that it is preparation for the priesthod, they are trained for their very involved, unique and distinct liturgical roles and extra-liturgical duties, must pledge fealty and obedience to their ordinary, and must prepare themselves to receive the Holy Mysteries like every Orthodox – cleric or lay – by fasting from all foods and drinks from midnight the night before reception of the Eucharist, and from relations with their wives, and to have recently confessed their sins according to the rule of their spiritual father. (Old time Natural Family Planning. If one abides by the canons and regularly recevies communion, one can only have relations with a spouse during non-fasting times, which are the weeks after Pascha and Little Pascha(Christmas in the west), most Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays during ordinary time, ie. no relations during Lent, Advent, the week before Dormition (Assumption) and most Wednesdays and Fridays)

  62. Jordan Potter says:

    RBrown said: Your argument nonetheless supports worker priests.

    Well, it shows that there’s nothing absolutely wrong with worker priests. As you say, there are times and places when the Church judges such arrangements to be acceptable or beneficial, though it isn’t helpful or prudent in most cases today. The Church has judged worker deacons to be acceptable at this time, and I can’t see the fact that a deacon has a full-time job outside of his ecclesiastical functions as a good reason to think less of him or to find him unfit to have a liturgical role in the extraordinary use of the Roman Rite.

  63. Patrick Rothwell says:

    I, for one, think that the reintroduction of the permanent diaconate has been one of the greatest success stories to come out of the Second Vatican Council. In my neck of the woods, I would have to say that, as a gross generalization, as a group the permanent diaconate are higher caliber men than the priests. In many, many ways, they serve both as an anchor to the parish and as a kind of “mediating” institution between the laity as a whole and the rather closed world of the Catholic presbyterate – thereby making the parish an environment more connected to the everyday realities of Catholics than it otherwise would be. So, yes, I’m all in favor of fully integrating the permanent diaconate into the life and liturgy in the Church, including the old rite.

    I have heard many, many rude and unwarranted comments about permanent deacons by traditionalists over the years, even calling them disparagingly as “lay deacons.” That is totally and completely unacceptable.

  64. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    I think there could be a role for Deacons, but it would require financial sacrifice and a much more limited role in the world (ie work). Why not put the deacons in the empty rectories with their families. Let them pay the bills, run the catechism programs, ensure the lawns are mown and the sidewalks shoveled. A modest salary would support them, seeing that their room and board are being provided for. This would free the priests to say Mass and forgive sins. Unfortunately, as Deacon Paul’s post seems to indicate, the permanent deacon tends to be in the practical order a combination of layman and cleric. BTW with regard to never marrying again after the death of a spouse, this is the “rule” but there must be ways around it. The deacon at my childhood parish became a widower, and he re-married without leaving the deaconate. Hopefully, the Church will figure out what to do with them in the future. I will also add that one of their roles should be in realm of social justice, if they are to represent the deacons in the early Church or St. Lawrence.

  65. roydosan says:

    “Would it be odd to have a Solemn Mass with a priest-celebrant, a permanent deacon, and a priest acting as a subdeacon?”

    Not in the UK where there are traditionalist permanent deacons like the revd dr Lawrence Hemming, who frequently assist at the EF. He also happens to wear a cassock and collar outside of Mass, which permanent deacons are permitted to do – see http://www.deacons.net/Articles/Dress_and_address_of_deacons.htm

  66. In the Eastern Catholic Churches and in the Orthodox the canons and regulations for clerical attire apply equally to bishops, presbyters, and deacons. While there are some activities that do not lend themselves to clerical attire, e.g. swimming, clerical attire is to be worn at all times regardless of the cleric’s order. I always wear the cassock at work. I teach school. “Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches” states in Section 66. “As for the non-liturgical dress of the cleregy, it is appropriate that the individual Churches sui iuris return to the style of the traditional Eastern usage.” This means not to wear the attire of the Latin Church, no sack suits with clerical shirts and Roman collars, no Roman style cassocks with Roman collars, but rather the inner rason/cassock, the outer rasaon which has rather wide sleaves worn over the inner, and the appropriate clerical head covering. Usually, indoors only the inner rason is worn, unless it is a formal occasion. There is a short article with photos in regards to the clerical attire and vestments of deacons in the Byzantine Rite at http://www.saintelias.com Look under clergy, click Protodeacon David and locate the article. [Now to Mattins on the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt followed by Divine Liturgy. If any readers are in the Toronto, Canada area please pay us a visit at St. Elias in Brampton. Liturgical life will not be a disappointment.]

  67. DeaconPaul says:

    Christopher Sarsfield wrote: “Unfortunately, as Deacon Paul’s post seems to indicate, the permanent deacon tends to be in the practical order a combination of layman and cleric.”

    That is not what I intended at all. Some of the points in some of the above posts give an inaccurate view of the Deacon’s role. A Deacon is a cleric immersed out in the secular world. That was the point I was trying to make. John Paul II stated “The deacon’s task include that of ‘promoting and sustaining the apostolic activities of the laity.’ To the extent he is more present and more involved that the priest in secular environments and structures, he should feel encouraged to foster closeness between the ordained ministry and lay activities, in common service to the kingdom of God.”

  68. RBrown says:

    Well, it shows that there’s nothing absolutely wrong with worker priests.

    No, it shows that you see absolutely nothing wrong with worker priests.

    As you say, there are times and places when the Church judges such arrangements to be acceptable or beneficial,

    No, I never said that. The man I mentioned was an undercover priest/bishop–not a worker/priest. In fact, once I asked him whether he thought the Communists knew that he was a cleric. He shook his head and drew his forefinger across his throat, as one does to indicate throat-slitting.

    though it isn’t helpful or prudent in most cases today.

    The Church has judged worker deacons to be acceptable at this time, and I can’t see the fact that a deacon has a full-time job outside of his ecclesiastical functions as a good reason to think less of him or to find him unfit to have a liturgical role in the extraordinary use of the Roman Rite.
    Comment by Jordan Potter

    I never made any mention of thinking less of any permanent deacon or thinking him unfit. Nor did I mention any liturgical role in the Roman Rite.

    To me it’s significant that Opus Dei, which exists only for the mission to the the workplace, does not have any permanent deacons.

  69. Jordan Potter says:

    RBrown said: No, it shows that you see absolutely nothing wrong with worker priests.

    I didn’t say “absolutely nothing wrong,” I said “nothing absolutely wrong.” BIG difference.

    And if you disagree that there is nothing “absolutely wrong” with worker-priests, then you must believe that St. Paul sinned, and the underground priest sinned, when they held down non-ecclesiastical jobs.

    No, I never said that.

    But you did. If it were intrinsically evil for priests and bishops ever to have non-ecclesiastical jobs, then the bishops and priests of the early Church, and in various missionary roles, or in dangerous situations such as you describe, would be guilty of sin. Therefore you must conclude that there are times and places when the Church judges such arrangements to be acceptable or beneficial — for anything not evil must at least sometimes be acceptable or beneficial.

    The man I mentioned was an undercover priest/bishop—not a worker/priest.

    He was a priest/bishop who was a worker.

    I never made any mention of thinking less of any permanent deacon or thinking him unfit. Nor did I mention any liturgical role in the Roman Rite.

    I didn’t say you did — but others here said or implied as much.

  70. RBrown says:

    RBrown said: No, it shows that you see absolutely nothing wrong with worker priests.

    I didn’t say “absolutely nothing wrong,” I said “nothing absolutely wrong.” BIG difference.

    OK

    And if you disagree that there is nothing “absolutely wrong” with worker-priests, then you must believe that St. Paul sinned, and the underground priest sinned, when they held down non-ecclesiastical jobs.

    No, I never said that.

    But you did.

    No, I did not. See below.

    If it were intrinsically evil for priests and bishops ever to have non-ecclesiastical jobs, then the bishops and priests of the early Church, and in various missionary roles, or in dangerous situations such as you describe, would be guilty of sin.

    Incorrect. See Veritatis Splendor.

    Therefore you must conclude that there are times and places when the Church judges such arrangements to be acceptable or beneficial—for anything not evil must at least sometimes be acceptable or beneficial.

    Disagree.

    First, intrinsic evil can produce good, e.g., a baby from from an adulterous union.

    Second, just because a human act isn’t of intrinsic evil doesn’t mean it is good. Malum intrinsecum refers to human action, but the morality of a human act (acc to St Thomas) is not merely the action but rather the proportion between the action and the effect (which he calls the moral object). Thus an action which is in itself not an intrinsic evil can nonetheless be evil in its moral species because of its relation to the effect.

    This illustrates a major difference between the moral theology of St Thomas and that of the Counter Reformation (which mostly just considers the morality of the act according to action).

    The man I mentioned was an undercover priest/bishop—not a worker/priest.

    He was a priest/bishop who was a worker.

    Not the same thing. St Paul’s tent-making was not his apostolate but was a means to support himself so that he could teach in the evening. If St Paul or the undercover priest/bishop would have been independently wealthy (e.g., Google stock), they wouldn’t have worked.