Continence and married deacons/priests

Yet another about deacons.  This would also concern priests in the Latin Church who, as married ministers in other churches, were received into the Roman Church and ordained.

A few days ago distinguished canonist Ed Peters posted on his fine blog an entry about CIC 1983 277, which concerns clerical “continence”.

I particularly liked his statment:

Canon 277 (and the immemorial tradition behind it) either means what I say it means, or it doesn’t.

The Catholic Encyclopedia defines “continence”:

Continence may be defined as abstinence from even the licit gratifications of marriage. It is a form of the virtue of temperance, though Aristotle did not accord it this high character since it involved a conflict with wrong desires–an element, in the mind of the philosopher, foreign to the content of a virtue in the strict sense. Continence, it is seen, has a more restricted significance than chastity, since the latter finds place in the condition of marriage. The abstinence we are discussing, then, belongs to the state of celibacy, though clearly the notion of this latter does not necessarily involve that of continence.

Prof. Peters has stirred up the ant hill, for sure.

Now he has posted: “Why Canon 277 § 3 does not allow bishops to exempt clerics from the obligation of continence

I shall carefully watch the unfolding drama.

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90 Responses to Continence and married deacons/priests

  1. CJC says:

    Thank you for posting this. This came to my attention through his son’s blog American Papist. This definitely deserves attention and careful scholarly investigation.

  2. Bornacatholic says:

    Altar Girls and Communion in the hand became normative through a process of disobedience and it seems as though a married Priesthood will be achieved via Canonical anomie.

    I pray the Holy Father regularises the SSPX so I can die on peace in union with their Tradition.

  3. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you for this posting. I have wondered why the Church in America, and indeed, in other countries, had not emphasized this aspect of the deacons’ formation. I think the USCCB should make all the training the same and should follow Canon Law, as well as the Spirit of the Law in this matter. I read the entire entry suggested above and it seems solid as well as logical, which the Tradition of the Church is–Faith and Reason.

    As to married priests, we in the Latin Rite obviously have a different tradition than the Catholic Byzantine Rite. It would be useful if these Latin Rite strands of Tradition and Teaching were clarified by a Papal statement of some sort.

  4. Brian2 says:

    I could be way off base and totally wrong, but I believe that the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, have slightly modified continence requirement for clerics — priest and deacon — wherein continence is not required 365 days a year for life, but only for the days (nights?) immediately preceding the celebration of the divine liturgy. This is (I’m told) one reason why daily mass isn’t quite so common in the east while vespers and the hours in general are more common.
    If this is the case, then perhaps, the canon could be changed in the case of deacons and married priests (e.g. in the Ordinariate) to mirror this practice. Still a bit of continence, but not turning the world, and a marriage upside down. and still part of the great stream of the tradition rather than something brand new whole cloth.

  5. PghCath says:

    An interesting legal point. On a practical level, though, surely the Church will be estopped (that is, denied) from enforcing Canon 277 on permamant deacons who have already been ordained because of its longstanding approval of sex within a deacon’s marriage. Especially when the USCCB’s National Directory for the Formation, Ministry, and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States contains statements like:

    “A married deacon, with his wife and family, gives witness to the sanctity of marriage. The more they grow in mutual love, conforming their lives to the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality, the more they give to the Christian community a model of Christ-like love, compassion, and self-sacrifice.” (p. 34)

    The Code should either be changed to reflect the current practice or enforced as it is written with regard to future deacons. But to force continence upon current permanant deacons would be the worst kind of “bait and switch.”

  6. Fr. Basil says:

    In the Orthodox tradition, not only married clergy are expected to abstain from sex the night before and after celebrating, but married laity before and after receiving Communion.

    Furthermore, during the four fasting seasons–Great Lent, Advent, Apostles, and Theotokos–all married people, clergy or not, are expected to abstain.

    This also applies to most Wednesdays and Fridays, which are usually kept as fast days.

  7. Allan S. says:

    If you link all the way through to the actual, published pdf work, and read through to the final two pages, you will see that the author also concludes that notwithstanding any of this, the reality is that married Deacons are likely not bound to continence after all:

    “Despite the reservations expressed above on the applicability of Canon 4
    to issues of the obligations of continence on married deacons, it is nevertheless
    consistent with, I suggest, a deeper principle that is relevant here, namely,
    that one cannot be held to have surrendered fundamental rights without an
    express awareness that that is being done. Thousands of married men have
    been ordained to the permanent diaconate in recent decades. Neither they
    nor their wives have been informed as to the possibility, let alone as to the
    canonical conclusion explored herein, that admission to major orders in
    the Western Church carries with it the obligation of “perfect and perpetual
    continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” These husbands and
    wives, therefore, cannot be held to have consented to the surrender of a right to
    something as fundamental as conjugal relations and for that reason it seems
    that they should not be bound to observe c. 277, which provision would
    otherwise be clearly applicable to clerics in their position and their wives.”

  8. pseudomodo says:

    Canon Law already make distinctions between different clerics and either does not directly impose the same life conditions on them or it allows the local ordinaries and Bishops conferences to regulate the matters.

    Can. 236-3 makes a distinction.
    Can.274-2 mentiones and impediment (perhaps marital obligations)
    Can. 276-3 makes a distinction between clerics who are transitional deacons and permanent deacons.
    Can 277-3 give the local ordinary jurisdiction over the observance of obligations in Can.277

    References:
    Can. 236 Those who aspire to the PERMANENT DIACONATE are to be formed in the spiritual life and appropriately instructed in the fulfilment of the duties proper to that order, in accordance with the provisions made by the Episcopal Conference:

    1° young men are to reside for at least three years in a special house unless the diocesan Bishop for grave reasons decides otherwise,

    2° MEN OF MORE MATURE YEARS, WHETHER CELIBATE OR MARRIED, ARE TO PREPARE FOR THREE YEARS IN A MANNER DETERMINED BY THE SAME EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE.

    Can. 274 §1 Only clerics can obtain offices the exercise of which requires the power of order or the power of ecclesiastical governance.

    §2 UNLESS EXCUSED BY A LAWFUL IMPEDIMENT, clerics are obliged to accept and faithfully fulfil the office committed to them by their Ordinary.

    Can. 276 §1 Clerics have a special obligation to seek holiness in their lives, because they are consecrated to God by a new title through the reception of orders, and are stewards of the mysteries of God in the service of His people.

    §2 In order that they can pursue this perfection:

    1° they are in the first place faithfully and untiringly to fulfil the obligations of their pastoral ministry;

    2° they are to nourish their spiritual life at the twofold table of the sacred Scripture and the Eucharist; priests are therefore earnestly invited to offer the eucharistic Sacrifice daily, and deacons to participate daily in the offering;

    3° priests, AND DEACONS ASPIRING TO THE PRIESTHOOD, are obliged to carry out the liturgy of the hours daily, in accordance with their own approved liturgical books; PERMANENT DEACONS are to recite that part of it determined by the Episcopal Conference;

    4° they are also obliged to make spiritual retreats, in accordance with the provision of particular law;

    5° they are exhorted to engage regularly in mental prayer, to approach the sacrament of penance frequently, to honour the Virgin Mother of God with particular veneration, and to use other general and special means to holiness.

    Can. 277 §1 Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, and are therefore bound to celibacy. Celibacy is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can more easily remain close to Christ with an undivided heart, and can dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and their neighbour.

    §2 Clerics are to behave with due prudence in relation to persons whose company can be a danger to their obligation of preserving continence or can lead to scandal of the faithful.

    §3 THE DIOCESAN BISHOP HAS AUTHORITY TO ESTABLISH MORE DETAILED RULES CONCERNING THIS MATTER, AND TO PASS JUDGEMENT ON THE OBSERVANCE OF THE OBLIGATION IN PARTICULAR CASES.

  9. Ave Pater. Too many threads for me to keep track of, but this Canon 277.3 red-herring keeps coming up. Folks should see: http://canonlawblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-canon-277-3-does-not-allow-bishops.html

    Best, edp.

  10. dcs says:

    I must admit that I had not carefully considered this matter at all until reading Dr. Peters’ article a couple of years ago. Nevertheless, he makes a good case. In addition, common sense would seem to lead one to the same conclusion — if a married man is to enter the diaconate, he needs his wife’s permission. Why? A wife does not have authority over her husband, except in one area — the marriage debt (1 Cor 7:4). So it would seem that the diaconate involves the debt somehow.

  11. mpolo says:

    I think that the practice of the married clergy in the Eastern rites probably reflects better the mind of the legislator than the words of the Canon currently do. I think that somebody ought submit a dubium (Discipline of the Sacraments or Legislative Texts?) so that a definitive answer can be given by the competent authorities, though the case may involve the Pope himself having to make a statement if the solution is (as I have guessed above) to modify the CIC to match the practice of the CCEC (not sure of correct abbreviation).

  12. Katherine says:

    Furthermore, during the four fasting seasons–Great Lent, Advent, Apostles, and Theotokos–all married people, clergy or not, are expected to abstain.

    In that case, someone needs to do some explaining about the birthdates of several children of Orthodox laity and clergy I know of! Seems we have found another unenforced canon.

  13. Geoffrey says:

    Yikes! I was unaware of this, and I think many many good bishops and deacons are also unaware of this. Talk about falling through the cracks!

  14. Bornacatholic says:

    If one could identify the number of American male Christian Catholics who think the Church will not rationalise away this requirement and fromalise its repudiation then you’d have enough men to, just barely, form a baseball team.

    Viva la revolucion indeed.

    I am the same age as Israel and the changes in the Church in my lifetime have been unending since the 1960s and the changes – save for Summorum Pontificum and a few other notable, and ignored, Encyclicals – the changes have been in the direction of laxity and accommodation to the World, The Flesh, and The Devil.

    And, of course, we can all see in which direction The Barque of Peter is sailing and so it is only natural that appeals to the tradition of the Eastern Church and The Orthodox be appealed to because that is only fair and kind to the Deacons, etc etc.

    Heaven forfend The Eastern Rite Catholics or The Orthodox change to mimic The Latin Church.

    Nope. It is always and everywhere the case that The Latin Rite must change its traditions, its Mass, its orthopraxis so it will be just like others – the new liberal definition of Diversity.

    If The Mass is too vexing to The Protestants, change it to please them; if women want to serve at the Altar, let Ecclesiastical malfeasance be rewarded by allowing Altar Girls; The Church says no Communion in the hand…pfft, ..do what you want and force the Magisterium to back down..etc etc , et in saecula saeculorum.

    A Married Priesthood is coming to the Catholic Church. I know it. You know it.

    “After all, it is only a Discipline” is the way over two thousand plus years of Orthopraxis of Continence (absolutely documented in its Apostolic Origins) will be blithely explained away.

    God. This relentless change is all so depressing.

    When I was young the stablest institution on the Planet was The Roman Catholic Church but now it changes with alacrity and explanations accompanying radical changes are a rarity.

    Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf. I am going to stop posting responses for awhile. I am courting despondency; pray that Satan does not respond to me by plighting his troth.

    The Catholic Church also exists for men like me; weak, sinful, and, yes, dog-tired after all of these relentless changes that show no sign of abating.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    Bornagaincatholic,

    Go to Mary. Say your rosary. Please, and I shall pray for you. It is difficult.

  16. Dr. Eric says:

    Katherine,

    Fasting and abstinence in the East are given as standards to aspire not minimums that can’t be transgressed. One’s parish priest or Spiritual Father can allow one to be exempt from the rigorous Fasts in The East. Fasting laws are more fluid in The East (as if it’s one thing) than in the Latin Church.

    This does make me wonder about whether or not I should consider entering the Latin Diaconate.

  17. TJerome says:

    I don’t doubt Dr. Peters’ scholarship on this issue. However, there is a concept in the civil law known as “detrimental reliance. ” The married diaconate was sold to many fine Catholic men on the basis that they could continue to be married men in the fullest sense of the term with their current wives. Now, they all knew that they could not remarry if their wife died. But to find out now that they are violating Church law by having sexual relations with their wives might be a bit much. It might cause some to seek laicization.

  18. Precentrix says:

    ‘Clerical Celibacy in East and West’ by (Fr) Roman Cholij
    ISBN-10: 0852441541 ISBN-13: 978-0852441541

    is probably worth a look for anyone seriously interested who hasn’t already read it (historical treatment of canons and praxis). It was an oddly interesting read.

  19. priests wife says:

    I believe that this sex issue should be clarified for both East and West- deacon and priest- first and foremost- sex is a good thing created by God for marriage.

    Perhaps to get really back to tradition, we should forbid women to come to church during their cycle (and after of course so they can become clean)- and don’t forget 40 days after they have given birth (I think this small t tradition is just a practicality to help a woman recover). Personally, I feel it is unseemly to constantly be wondering about the married sex life of a deacon or a (usually Eastern) priest.

    Remember A Modest Proposal by Swift? I guess 150 years ago, Catholics of all stripes were supposed to abastain from the marriage bed during the Great Lent- so it follows that there would be a surplus of babies 9-10 months after Easter. Should people calculate the births of my kids to make sure we didn’t ‘enjoy being married’ during one of the many, many Eastern fasting periods? I say- be happy with a deacon who is in a stable, Catholic marriage and worry only about his (and hers) theological education- but that’s just me.

  20. jesusthroughmary says:

    “first and foremost- sex is a good thing created by God for marriage. ”

    That fact is both self-evident and completely irrelevant to this discussion.

  21. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Dear Bornacatholic,

    You said, “Heaven forfend The Eastern Rite Catholics or The Orthodox change to mimic The Latin Church.” I do not think the East or the West needs to mimic each other because this has often led to the watering down of our separate respective traditions, and in the case of the Byzantine Rite there were egregious latinizations forced upon the Eastern Catholics that are still being purged to this day. It would be charitable and wise to simply allow each rite within the Church to be “herself”.

  22. priests wife says:

    bornacatholic- please read your history. In the US, the Eastern Catholic churches were very “Latinized’ – to my knowledge, my husband was the first married man ordained (9 years ago) in the US for an Eastern rite since the Irish-born bishops had the Holy Father issue an order against our 2,000 year old tradition in 1926 (might be 1923…sorry I am a bit emotional). Ruthenian Catholics still have to go to Rome to ask on a case by case basis even though that church is supposedly sui uris.

    Because we submit ourselves to Rome, we will always be latinized to a certain extent- but we Eastern Catholics have lost hundreds of thousands of believers in the US either to
    1. Roman rite priests telling families that they would have to change rites so that their children can go to catholic schools (this problem is getting better)
    2. churches becoming Orthodox because our tradition of a married priesthood was disrespected and forbidden

    In Romania- my husband’s country of origin- 12 Byzantine Catholic bishops died under communism (either quickly or slowly). They died- not for huge theological reasons- so they could continue to pray for the Pope and be under his Holy Catholic Church. Please respect our traditions as we must respect and live under yours as your percentage of the Church makes us insignificant.

    By the way- if Russia or Greece ever submitted to Rome, their Divine Liturgies would change very little. The Church is bigger than my tiny little rite and it is bigger than the Roman rite.

  23. Norah says:

    Father Basil, I have been married to a Greek Orthodox man for 30 years and have mixed widely in the lay Greek Orthodox community. I do not know of one person who abstains from sex on the times you mention in your post. This comment does not apply to GO priests since I don’t know any of them or their wives well enough to know if they do or do not abstain on the days commanded.

  24. pseudomodo says:

    This canon will kill the ordinariate along with any potential conversions from Anglicanisn not to mention the diaconate.

  25. pseudomodo: For Pete’s sake!

    This canon has been around since 1983.

    It hasn’t been a secret.

  26. Supertradmum says:

    pseudomodo,

    Many of the Anglican priests who are coming in under the Ordinariate have chosen celibacy already as Anglican ministers. This will not interfere with conversions, either. The Ordinariate appeals to the more ” Anglo-Catholic” branch of the Anglican Church, which honors the discipline of celibacy more than the Low Church Anglicans.

    The Anglicans are losing the Low Church people to the Evangelicals and the High Church people to us. It was inevitable given the odd schizophrenic nature of the Compromise Church.

    I sincerely doubt that if any statement from the Vatican were made to clarify marital relations that this would interfere with real conversions to Rome.

  27. Supertradmum says:

    sorry about the typos..I think I have the flu.

  28. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    I would add to the priest’s wife comment that my diocese left the Byzantine Catholic Church officially in 1938 for Orthodoxy because the Vatican had betrayed the Union of Uzhorod which allowed for: 1) equal status with the Roman clergy socially and politically 2) retention of liturgical and ritual customs (including married clergy) 3) and the right to elect their own bishop. Sadly all three of these tenets were violated by certain American Catholic bishops and even the Vatican itself, and our people had enough.

    They would have been happy to remain Greek Catholic if they had only been respected by the Irish Catholic bishops in America. The most hostile of the Roman bishops was Archbishop John Ireland of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His outright hostility to the Greek Catholic married clergy is well documented historically.

  29. Henry Edwards says:

    Norah: I do not know of one [Greek Orthodox] person who abstains from sex on the times you mention in your post.

    Interesting information about the Orthodox. I had no idea they were so open about sex. My Catholic friends do not talk so much about their personal sexual activity for me to be able to say, one way or the other, what they do behind closed doors, in season or out. But now it occurs to me that perhaps—with no need to complain constantly about the liturgy—the Orthodox must find something else to talk about.

  30. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    It would be good to speak of the “martyrdom” married clergy often go through by having to place their parish and family always first. Celibacy too is a “martyrdom”. In the end the married and unmarried clergy will be judged based upon how they lived their vocations out in a martyric way.

    Also, part of being a good husband is giving your wife the love and affection she needs. Sex in a Christian marriage is meant to be a kenotic giving of oneself to the beloved. I think this is often overlooked.

  31. pberginjr says:

    pseudomodo:

    It will not kill the ordinariate and it will not kill the diaconate. It may fix the ridiculous proportion of deacons to priests in the US, after this is sorted out (I’m not suggesting a mass laicization of deacons, but, rather, a drop in future diaconal vocations). As dcs mentioned “common sense would seem to lead one to the same conclusion — if a married man is to enter the diaconate, he needs his wife’s permission. Why?” Isn’t this obvious? It would also lead to a more distinct difference between the clergy and laity, something that, in many cases it seems, needs to be drastically reclarified.

  32. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Henry Edwards,

    Well, we do not have to complain our liturgy. :)

  33. priests wife says:

    borncatholic- the first sentence of my post addressed to you sounds rude on my rereading it- I apologize. I would have emailed you directly but your name is ‘unclickable’

  34. Daniel Latinus says:

    I get the feeling this is something that probably fell through the cracks between the revival of the permanent diaconate, the establishment of the pastoral provision, and the recodification of (Roman) Canon Law in the twenty years following Vatican II. Another postconciliar bureaucratic glitch.

    It seems that either the canon can be changed to make an exception for permanent deacons and priests ordained under the pastoral provision, or else, individual dispensations from the canon will become part of the permanent deacon/pastoral provision process. Or possibly amending the legislation concerning the permanent diaconate/pastoral provision/Anglican ordinariate to include an exception to the canon.

  35. AnnAsher says:

    I haven’t seen any permanent Deacons who, along with their wives, are of the typical child bearing years….

  36. Elizabeth D says:

    In some circumstances, maintaining full Communion with the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church can be crucifying. Doesn’t human nature always want to flee from the Cross? But, the Cross is the marriage bed of Christ and His Church, and full communion with the Body of Christ is an absolute good. If that Byzantine diocese Subdeacon Joseph refers to had only had patience in their very real suffering, we know that things would have started going better for them eventually. I am not sure what kind of church agreement could make assurances in the social and political spheres though, which pertains to secular life.

  37. Bornacatholic says:

    Dear priests wife. Don’t worry about it. I took no offense.

    I was only trying to make the point that when some controversy arises in The Latin Rite it is often the case that one of our brethren will suggest we ‘just do what the Eastern Rite or Orthodox do.’

    IOW, it is always suggested by many on our side that we change our 2000+ years of Orthopraxis.

  38. a catechist says:

    AnnAsher—some formation programs require the wives to attend all the formation classes and events, which is NOT a requirement of Canon Law or the Directory. The effect is to exclude men whose wives’ childbearing status and duties prevent her from attending. If your diocese has had a policy of requiring all wives to attend, it makes sense you’d have not seen younger deacons. But in dioceses where the attendance of the wives is usually voluntary or on a case-by-case basis, you’ll find younger deacons. The last ordination of deacons in the Dioc. of Sioux City, IA, included a deacon whose infant was there with its mother and another deacon whose wife has subsequently had another baby. Those men have decades of service to the Church to come. The Church requires of married men a certain age, several years of marriage, and evidence of the stability of the marriage.

  39. a catechist says:

    AnnAsher—some formation programs require the wives to attend all the formation classes and events, which is NOT a requirement of Canon Law or the Directory. The effect is to exclude men whose wives’ childbearing status and duties prevent her from attending. If your diocese has had a policy of requiring all wives to attend, it makes sense you’d have not seen younger deacons. But in dioceses where the attendance of the wives is usually voluntary or on a case-by-case basis, you’ll find younger deacons. Those men have decades of service to the Church to come. The Church requires of married men a certain age, several years of marriage, and evidence of the stability of the marriage.

  40. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Elizabeth D,

    The Union of Uzhorod took place in the Austro-Hungarian Empire where Orthodox clergy and their families and laity were second class citizens and extremly persecuted.

    Also please remeber that the Orthodox Church has a valid Eucharist and episcopacy which logicaly concludes we are Catholic. Can it get more Catholic than the Eucharist?

  41. Fr. Basil says:

    \\In that case, someone needs to do some explaining about the birthdates of several children of Orthodox laity and clergy I know of! Seems we have found another unenforced canon.\\

    I have better things to think about, myself.

    **Father Basil, I have been married to a Greek Orthodox man for 30 years and have mixed widely in the lay Greek Orthodox community. I do not know of one person who abstains from sex on the times you mention in your post**

    Norah, I can’t help it if your Orthodox friends don’t observe the tradition of the Church. I know that Old Calendarist Greeks are very strict about this.

    Frederica Mathews-Green hints delicately at this matter in her book FACING EAST in the chapter called “A Different Kind of Fasting.”

    Trust me. It’s mentioned in seminaries. There’s a story about an old Orthodox seminary professor who told a questioning married student, “What do you think the Lord gave you the afternoon for?”

    On other issues mentioned here, I know that most Greek and Antiochian woman observe the discipline about not receiving Communion during their menses, but this canon is based on a false understanding of the physiology of menstruation.

    For the 40 days after childbirth during which a new mother stays away from Church, most Orthodox in this country don’t count them strictly. I’ve heard that in traditionally Orthodox countries new mothers are treated like queens by their women friends during this period.

  42. DominiSumus says:

    In my diocese, we have about 6 young permanent deacons. In fact, we had one who was ordained some time ago at the age of 35. My husband, God willing, will be ordained in a few years at the age of 39 and I will be 34.

    He is in the youngest in his class, by a few years, but there are two other men in formation who have young children. It is wonderful to see our children playing together at various events.

  43. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    (This section was added while I was responding to the post on Fr. Hunwicke’s article. Here is the section relevant to this discussion. )

    As to the whole celibacy of deacons in the West question, Thomas Peters’ comment on the objection “But if Deacons can’t have sex they’ll all leave!” is fascinating:

    He writes: “We must recall that the Church is not in the numbers game.”

    Yes, and what is all this discussion for the past several decades regarding the shortage of priests about then? Is it only a numbers game when we discuss the presbyterate? Do numbers not matter at all when the diaconate is discussed?

    While I generally admire the work of both Thomas and his father, I can only scratch my head and wonder what they hope to accomplish by promoting this very provocative article by a well known and respected canonist especially as the Holy Father’s Anglican Ordinariate now seems to be gaining traction and building momentum.

    So to my mind it is not a matter of the substance of his argument per se, but of the prudential judgment exercised in deciding to publish and promote it so widely.

    If this in fact is such a pressing question, why not seek clarification discreetly through official channels? What could possibly be the motivation to publish far and wide this particular point at this auspicious moment, interjecting doubts which will unnecessarily plague the consciences of some and discourage the noble efforts of others?

    It is beyond any reasonable doubt that should the Latin Church attempt to enforce such a canon, it will effectively destroy the presence of the permanent diaconate within this particular sui juris Church and I would venture to say even the Holy Father’s initiative with the Anglican Ordinariate. If anything is to be learned from certain fiascos of Rome in the early 20th century and its attempt in North America to impose celibacy on Eastern Catholic Churches who have a longstanding tradition of married and not continent priests and deacons, people will vote with their feet and the Western Orthodox and continuing Anglican jurisdictions will experience large-scale growth as people jump Canterbury’s sinking ship. We have only to look at the OCA and ACROD to see the contemporary fruit of such nonsense.

    And I should also mention that the Orthodox Churches are watching as well to see how the West will treat its married clergy. Thus far, its treatment of Eastern Catholic clergy outside of traditional jurisdictions has been tragically instructive and unfortunately predictable.

    The effective destruction of the permanent diaconate in the Latin Church and the grinding halt of the AO movement are hardly concordant with the images of covenant renewal Dr. Peters attempts to evoke in his comparison of the “rediscovery” of this canonical mandate to continence in the Latin West and the rediscovery of divinely revealed law by King Josiah. And I can only hope by referencing it he is not attempting to make a ridiculous comparison between the sexual and idolatrous decadence of Israel and the need to somehow assuage God’s divine anger for the exercise of marital relations by married clergy and their wives, although his references to “sacrilege” seem to hint at this. Such a deliberate comparison would be offensive to the other sui juris Churches who have maintained the venerable, ancient, hallowed practices of married, non-continent clergy since the time of the primitive Church, as affirmed explicitly by the Council Fathers of Vatican II.

  44. Haskell_Catholic says:

    As a married man in formation for the deaconate, I too, shall carefully watch the unfolding drama. I have a sense that this issue will get worked out somehow by people more learned than I. When it does, I shall be obedient and follow the guidance of Holy Mother Church. Given the history of things, however, I strongly suspect that no resolution will be reached before the end of my early pilgrimage. How was this overlooked during the restoration of the permanent diaconate? Simply ineffable.

  45. Federico says:

    While I agree with Dr. Peters’ conclusion, not all do, and in good faith. We need a definitive answer to this genuine dubium iuris. Until then, married deacons cannot be bound by this law.

    A classmate of mine recently completed his JCD dissertation on this topic, and it provides a very interesting survey of different viewpoints, along with some good conclusions for further clarity. It is available online at: http://test.aladin.wrlc.org:8060/dspace/bitstream/123456789/718/1/McLaughlin_cua_0043A_10068display.pdf

    Federico

  46. catholicmidwest says:

    Seems like there are several people in here with sizeable conflicts of interest on this topic. But I think the original post links to a canon law expert who seems just to be interpreting the text.

  47. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    An expert in the theology of the diaconate, Deacon Bill Ditewig, PhD addresses some of Dr. Peters’ points.

    http://pilgrimsfootsteps.blogspot.com/2011/01/so-i-leave-town-for-few-days-and-look.html

    As to so-called “conflicts of interest”, are you suggesting that we should recognize such conflicts and discount his perspective the next time a celibate priest writes an article making an argument for the canonical mandate of celibacy for Latin priests? I should hope not…

  48. SimonDodd says:

    TJerome says:

    I don’t doubt Dr. Peters’ scholarship on this issue. However, there is a concept in the civil law known as “detrimental reliance. ” The married diaconate was sold to many fine Catholic men on the basis that they could continue to be married men in the fullest sense of the term with their current wives. Now, they all knew that they could not remarry if their wife died. But to find out now that they are violating Church law by having sexual relations with their wives might be a bit much. It might cause some to seek laicization.

    I’m inclined to agree. Perhaps as a matter of legal exegesis this is correct–in which case it should be changed, unless the goal is an exodus from the permanent diaconate and to eliminate applications to it.

  49. rob_p says:

    SimonDodd & TJerome:

    I doubt that laicization would be easily given by the Holy See regarding this point. The fact that each and every one of these men knew that at one point or another they may become widowers and then would be bound to perpetual continence, under your interpretation of the law, that to allow them to be laicized and lay down the obligations that they have taken up would be a real miscarriage of justice.

    If a deacon’s wife dies the day after his ordination he is bound to celibacy and perpetual continence for the rest of his life. It seems a bit of a stretch to pull out ‘detrimental reliance’ as any enforcement would only be effective as to any future relations he may have had with his wife.

    I believe that Dr. Peters interpretation is a correct one. The law states that all clerics are bound to perpetual continence. The law also states that clerics are bishops, priests and deacons. There is no dispensation in the law for permanent deacons with regards to this point as there are in many different areas. The legislator(the pope) may amend the law at any time to correct errors that were not intended. The law as we have it is what we must interpret. Absence in the law of anything to the contrary in this case is actually pretty good evidence of what the legislator intends.

  50. Fr. Dcn. Daniel, if you’d like to see my responses to Dcn. Ditewig’s thoughtful post, they are here: http://canonlawblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/some-thoughts-on-dcn-ditewigs-comments.html

  51. Supertradmum says:

    If a man decides to become a deacon, his life changes drastically, or it should. It is not merely a question of what he does, but who he is. He changes in his being, through ordination. I would hope that deacons would not act the same as other laymen. There should be a qualitative difference in his life and the life of his family. And no offense, but marital relations are not the only way to love a spouse. Jacques and Raissa Maritain made a vow of permanent celibacy for the sake of his work in the world as a traveling teaching of Neo-Thomism. Raissa admitted in her diary that it was harder for her than for him, but the struggle created a saintly relationship beyond what they could have experienced in a “normal marriage”. I do not mean to sound harsh, but what is the big deal about marital relations when one is called to serve the Church in a new and intimate way as a deacon? If a wife cannot agree to celibacy, the man should not proceed with the deaconate program, if continence is demanded. Americans especially over emphasis the sexual love over detached and objective love found in many lives of saintly couples besides the Maritains. If one is called to be a deacon, and if the Church does demand continence, then a wife, if she saw this call in her husband, would naturally agree with this. I personally think we have allowed our deacons to “be just like every other guy” and this is not the truth of the calling. Having children is a vocation as well, and if one is called to have many children, maybe that is a sign that the deaconate is not for that particular man.

  52. Supertradmum says:

    If a man decides to become a deacon, his life changes drastically, or it should. It is not merely a question of what he does, but who he is. He changes in his being, through ordination. I would hope that deacons would not act the same as other laymen. There should be a qualitative difference in his life and the life of his family. And no offense, but marital relations are not the only way to love a spouse. Jacques and Raissa Maritain made a vow of permanent celibacy for the sake of his work in the world as a traveling teaching of Neo-Thomism. Raissa admitted in her diary that it was harder for her than for him, but the struggle created a saintly relationship beyond what they could have experienced in a “normal marriage”. I do not mean to sound harsh, but what is the big deal about marital relations when one is called to serve the Church in a new and intimate way as a deacon? If a wife cannot agree to celibacy, the man should not proceed with the deaconate program, if continence is demanded. Americans especially over- emphasize the sexual love over detached and objective love found in many lives of saintly couples besides the Maritains. If one is called to be a deacon, and if the Church does demand continence, then a wife, if she saw this call in her husband, would naturally agree with this. I personally think we have allowed our deacons to “be just like every other guy” and this is not the truth of the calling. Having children is a vocation as well, and if one is called to have many children, maybe that is a sign that the deaconate is not for that particular man.

  53. bookworm says:

    What I’d like to know is, does any documentation exist of what Pope Paul VI’s intention was in this regard when he restored the permanent diaconate? I have a very hard time believing that this issue didn’t cross his mind at least a few times. “Legislative intent” is often used as a tool in attempting to interpret civil law — what were the people who made the law thinking when they made it? Is there a similar principle in canon law?

  54. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    Yes, thank you Dr. Peters. I was wondering if you had responded to Deacon Bill’s posts.

  55. Fr. Basil says:

    \\He changes in his being, through ordination. I would hope that deacons would not act the same as other laymen\\

    Deacons are not laymen, supertadmum.

    Were you that trad, you would know this.

  56. Supertradmum says:

    That is my entire point. I am saying that he is not like a lay person. I know this. The problem is deacons act like ordinary laymen when they are clerics. I am sorry I did not say it to your liking. You seem sarcastic in your comment about me not being trad. I forgive you. I am so trad that I wish our diocese was a bit more careful about its choice of deacons, to which I have referred in other comment boxes. Deacons have not given a good representation of clerical behavior where I live. I had to leave RCIA formation as I could not be in a position to argue with heretical views of deacons in front of the class members. List: pro-homosexual, pro-women priests, pro-choice…

  57. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Supertradmum,

    You said, “I had to leave RCIA formation as I could not be in a position to argue with heretical views of deacons in front of the class members. List: pro-homosexual, pro-women priests, pro-choice…”
    Are you suggesting that most married deacons, or even priests, would espouse these points because they are married and having conjugal relations?

    As a married priest (I used to be a subdeacon) I find that opinion a tad insulting. There have been many fine married deacons and priests (and at one time even bishops) who had families and were saints. If a married deacon or priest is doing his job he will live as laymen in that he has a family, however, the ministry he functions in will not allow him to do certain things or jobs a laymen could do such as serve in Holy Orders, or run a parish. Another example, no cleric in the Orthodox Church can own a tavern, not even a Reader.

    I am perplexed as to why some Latin-Rite Catholics equate sexuality and the clerical state as incompatible, as if lawful intercourse is some kind of impure act of spiritual defilement, especially for deacons who were ordained as married men (I can only imagine what some will say of married former Anglican pastors who become priests and still have children because they love their wives, and love family life, and this is helping in the salvation of their soul, and aiding them in growing in the image and likeness of God). Maybe you can see why Byzantine and Orthodox Catholics sometimes scratch our heads at this type of juridical and legalistic approach to Canon Law.

    Also, it was the East where monasticism was born, and it was the monks who wisely defended the married parish priesthood and diaconate in Christ. I respect the West’s position to maintain priestly celibacy for most, but it seems the letter of the law is getting in the way of the spirit of the law when it comes to a lawfully married deacon simply doing what is good and lawful for a married deacon to do, which is to serve the Most High God at His Altar, and to be a good husband, neighbor, and family man.

  58. Stephen Matthew says:

    What is the practice in Rome itself?

    If the Pope is ordaining permanent deacons who are not required to be continent, it goes to reason this would prove what the mind of both the highest legislative and judicial authority is.

  59. Bender says:

    I am perplexed as to why some Latin-Rite Catholics equate sexuality and the clerical state as incompatible, as if lawful intercourse is some kind of impure act of spiritual defilement

    Subdeacon — I submit that this statement of yours is a wholly disingenuous strawman. Surely you are well aware of the actual reasoning put forth by the Magisterium regarding celibacy and Holy Orders, which have absolutely NOTHING to do with sex being dirty or inherenty sinful or impure, etc.

    If you would please be so kind as to direct your arguments directly to those actual points, which I am sure you know, even if you did not cite them here, your comments and concerns might carry a little more weight.

  60. Bender says:

    If the Pope is ordaining permanent deacons who are not required to be continent . . .

    Even if the Bishop of Rome is not doing that himself, he is most certainly aware that it is being done, and has been done for years, elsewhere. And thus his failure to speak out against it already “prove[s] what the mind of both the highest legislative and judicial authority is.”

  61. Supertradmum says:

    Subdeacon Joseph,

    No I did not say or imply your conclusion at all. I was pointing out two different things entirely in the two comments. First, let me share that I was a Byzantine for years when I lived in an area withoutthe Latin Rite and was very happy with my married priest, who still is, with his wife, among my good friends. I also went to a Latin Rite Church in England, where a former Anglican priest resided with his wife and children. No problem. My point in the first comment was that if the Church intended continence for deacons, this should not be a problem for those who are called to the deaconate. I tended to agree with Dr. Peter’s interpretation, after reading all the references here posted, plus in previous blogs by Father Z. My reference to a lay couple, the Maritains, indicated that a call to continence is not unheard of, even among the laity, and could be part of the discerning process for those called to the deaconate, if this is, indeed, what the Church asks. I have no problem with married clergy. However, if the Latin Church has not promulgated a key teaching on continence to the permanent deacons, this is a problem which needs to be corrected.

    My second point was in regard to the lack of clerical behavior and clerical obedience to the Church among the deacons in my own diocese. I do think that a deacon, in a teaching position, should reflect the Teaching Magisterium and not his own opinion. In addition, I think that clerics should act differently than the laity. My examples of heresy had nothing to do with continence, as in at least one case, the deacon who holds those opinions is not married. However, I do think that wives of deacons should conduct themselves in manners in keeping with the clerical lives of their husbands. The wives of the priests I know are exemplary, and take an active part in the parish and diocesan good works. The wives of some of the deacons where I now live not only are actively against Church teaching with regard to sexual ethics, but gamble at casinos, openly speak of homosexual and lesbian couples as having rights, and are basically liberal in politics, etc.

    You made an unnecessary connection between two separate comments. I expect my deacons to act like the clerics they are, given the tremendous graces of the Sacrament they have received. And, I do think that Catholics have a hierarchy, which includes a hierarchy of spirituality and quality-that there is an intrinsic distinction between the clerical call and the lay call. I am sure you would agree with that.

  62. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Bender,

    As an Orthodox Priest I never studied Roman Catholic theology in depth. Nonetheless my understanding of the Western Church’s priestly celibacy is that it is done as a discipline which rests on positive enactment of ecclesiastical law, and it is grounded in the understanding of the excellence of virginity.

    Now I wrote in the above that “some” Roman Catholics have such a view, not all. One who does is Mr. Ivan Gobry who states in his article THE CONTROVERSY OVER CELIBACY FOR DEACONS (Translated from an article appearing in Controverses, April 1997 and printed in English in the August 1998 issue of The Angelus.): “Hence we are forced to perceive a sacrilege and a profanation in the prostration of the deacon, sign of the engagement of a life of perpetual continence, next to his wife, who awaits the hour when she will rejoin him in bed.
    He is not consecrating his body to Christ the Savior; he saves it for her. As soon as he leaves the temple where he makes a small offering to God, he will lay away the white alb, and hold her in his arms again.” This does not seem like a positive ecclesiastical statement to me. Also, he first gave his life to his wife, and then to God with her consent, and the bishop’s approval.

    Mr. Gobry in citing canon 1 of Nicea completely distorts it in law and in interpretation in order to back up his point. He uses this canon to reference that all clerics are to be celibate, when in actuality it states: “The great Council has forbidden generally any Bishop, Presbyter, or Deacon, or anyone else at all among those in the clergy, the privilege of having a subintroducta. Unless she is either a mother, or a sister, or an aunt, or a person above suspicion.” What he fails to realize is that this canon only applied to unmarried clergy, not married clergy.

  63. Sixupman says:

    As I have previously stated: a Trojan Horse to undermine the Consecrated Priesthood and give way to a form of Presbyterianism, complete with married ministers. The question with regard to married clergy: where is their first and overriding resonsibility; to Mother Church and their flock, or, their spouse? Rhetorical.

  64. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Sixupman,

    Married priests are also consecrated in that they have taken Sacred and Holy Orders from their diocesan bishop.

  65. priests wife says:

    Sixmanup- the way a married deacon or priest (Eastern Catholic) serves his wife and children is an extension of how he serves his parish and the Church as a whole- for the family is the domestic church.

    you speak of strawman arguments- my husband has volunteered to be a police chaplain for a local department that has been without a Catholic priest chaplain for 18 years. He makes time to volunteer with the support and flexibility of his family. Both vocations are together- or should we get into ‘lifeboat’ philosophy can decide who gets thrown overboard?

  66. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    Father Joseph and priests wife,

    Very well said!

    Here are a couple of links which I think help to address some of the issues here:

    “A Critical Consideration of The Case for Clerical Celibacy”, by Dr. Anthony Dragni
    http://www.east2west.org/mandatory_clerical_celibacy.htm

    “Priesthood and Celibacy”, Patriarch Maximos IV (scroll down midway through the page)
    http://www.melkite.org/xCouncil/Council-8.htm

    “Clerical Celibacy”, Fr. Laurent Cleenewerck (OCA)
    http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/celibacy

    Although I should say that I do not endorse everything on this particular site, Fr. Laurent is generally good at presenting a fairly balanced treatment of the issues dividing Orthodox and Catholic Christians.

    This article also contains a relevant speech of St. Paphnutius to the Council Fathers of Nicea as mentioned in a text by Socrates the Historian (c. 450):

    “Paphnutius was bishop of one of the cities in Upper Thebes: he was a man so favored divinely that extraordinary miracles were done by him. In the time of the persecution he had been deprived of one of his eyes… ‘I shall now explain another thing which came to pass in consequence of his advice, both for the good of the Church and the honor of the clergy. It seemed fit to the bishops to introduce a new law into the Church, that those who were in holy orders, I speak of bishops, presbyters, and deacons, should have no conjugal intercourse with the wives whom they had married while still laymen. Now when discussion on this matter was impending, Paphnutius having arisen in the midst of the assembly of bishops, earnestly entreated them not to impose so heavy a yoke on the ministers of religion: asserting that ‘marriage itself is honorable, and the bed undefiled’; Hebrews 13:4 urging before God that they ought not to injure the Church by too stringent restrictions. ‘For all men,’ said he, ‘cannot bear the practice of rigid continence; neither perhaps would the chastity of the wife of each be preserved:’ and he termed the intercourse of a man with his lawful wife chastity… And these sentiments he expressed, although himself without experience of marriage, and, to speak plainly, without ever having known a woman: for from a boy he had been brought up in a monastery, and was specially renowned above all men for his chastity.’ The whole assembly of the clergy assented to the reasoning of Paphnutius: wherefore they silenced all further debate on this point, leaving it to the discretion of those who were husbands to exercise abstinence if they so wished in reference to their wives.”

    Finally, just to be clear, when I wrote “We have only to look at the OCA and ACROD to see the contemporary fruit of such nonsense,” my intent here was not so say that the OCA and ACROD are “nonsense” but rather the tragic loss of so many Greek Catholic faithful was the fruit of the nonsense coming from Rome (and the U.S.) at that time on this particular issue.

  67. Seraphic Spouse says:

    One thing I have heard otherwise completely unrebellious older Catholic ladies saying, upon receipt of a brand-new ex-Anglican married priest, is “Why can’t OUR boys be married priests?”

    I think it important to stress over and over why married Roman Catholic priests are, literally, the exception to the rule. And as for deacons, it would be great if their marriages were not so overemphasized. Married Protestant clergymen do not take their wives with them to classes, so why do Roman Catholic candidates to the diaconate? The women themselves are not become deacons, and they do not take their husbands to their own professional training. Perhaps mothers should start attending their sons’ seminarian training so they, too, can better understand what it is their sons will be doing for the Church and can better help them in it? And what of Single deacons? May only married men apply?

    At a time when feminist theologians are screaming nonsense about “priests are Catholics, first class” and “laywomen are Catholics, second class,” it seems folly to create a new married-clergy class, people to whom married laymen and the rest of the laywomen are expected to take as their own models for marriage. Give me a break. Next thing you know, our children will be told to look up to the altar servers or to kiss the cantor’s ring.

    If you think I am afraid of the emergence of an unofficial order of bossy “clergymen’s wives,” you are right. I recommend a relaxing reread of “Barchester Towers,” a mediation upon Mrs Proudie and research into how vicar’s wives managed not to become virtual vicaresses, alienating every other woman around.

  68. Henry Edwards says:

    Subdeacon Joseph: Supertradmum: . . . pro-homosexual, pro-women priests, pro-choice . . . Are you suggesting that most married deacons, or even priests, would espouse these points because they are married and having conjugal relations?

    I do not recall seeing this suggestion in any comment by Supertradmum or by anyone else in this thread, and therefore wonder whence it came from.

    In any event, I am unclear as to what light an extended discussion of Eastern clerical and marital practices sheds on particularities of Latin canon law.

  69. SimonDodd says:

    rob_p says:

    SimonDodd & TJerome: I doubt that laicization would be easily given by the Holy See regarding this point. The fact that each and every one of these men knew that at one point or another they may become widowers and then would be bound to perpetual continence….

    Totally different, and so totally irrelevant. If the rule is that married men can be deacons, the rule must also be that everything entailed in marriage is compatible with being a deacon; to now say “oh, we didn’t mean it” is bait and switch, and if there are exceptions–certain parts of marriage that deacons can’t do–they should be made clear. Obviously marrying or not after one’s spouse’s death has nothing to do with the situation of actually being married. Deacon Greg is right.

    As you say, “[t]he legislator(the pope) may amend the law at any time to correct errors that were not intended.” If Peters is correct, the Pope should do so, with some alacrity. I can scarcely imagine how someone on the verge of ordination to the permanent diaconate will feel on seeing this news.

  70. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Henry Edwards,

    Supertradmum did say the quote above. It is still up there and I suppose you simply missed it.

    I was quoting Canon 3 of First Nicea (Ecumenical Council) in a response to Bender that demonstrated how some, not all, traditional Latin Rite Catholics distort this canon and describe the married deacon as, “Hence we are forced to perceive a sacrilege and a profanation in the prostration of the deacon, sign of the engagement of a life of perpetual continence, next to his wife, who awaits the hour when she will rejoin him in bed.
    He is not consecrating his body to Christ the Savior; he saves it for her. As soon as he leaves the temple where he makes a small offering to God, he will lay away the white alb, and hold her in his arms again.” This was quoted from THE CONTROVERSY OVER CELIBACY FOR DEACONS (Translated from an article appearing in Controverses, April 1997 and printed in English in the August 1998 issue of The Angelus by Mr. Ivan Gorby):

    When a person in the Latin Rite distorts a Canon concerning married deacons and priests (please refer to one of my previous posts to see this point fully addressed) I simply and humbly want to set the record straight( However in my previous post I’m speaking of I wrote the wrong Canon, it is 3 of First Nicea which Mr. Gorby misrepresents) . Just because I am Eastern, does it mean I have nothing of value to offer to theological discourse? Plus, I care about Roman and Byzantine Catholics and their hopeful future communion with the Orthodox Catholic Church. I believe in building bridges.

  71. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    Henry Edwards,

    Supertradmum did say the quote above. It is still up there and I suppose you simply missed it.

    I was quoting Canon 3 of First Nicea (Ecumenical Council in East and West) in a response to Bender that demonstrated how some, not all, traditional Latin Rite Catholics distort this canon and describe the married deacon, and I suppose the priest would thus be described this way too, as being in a state of “sacrilege” and “profanation” (You can read the full text quoted with a reference in a previous post).

    When a person in the Latin Rite distorts a Canon of an Ecumenical Council concerning married deacons and priests I simply and humbly want to set the record straight( However in my previous post I’m speaking of I wrote the wrong Canon, it is 3 of First Nicea which Mr. Gorby misrepresents) . Just because I am Eastern, does it mean I have nothing of value to offer to theological discourse? Plus, I care about Roman and Byzantine Catholics and their hopeful future communion with the Orthodox Catholic Church. I believe in building bridges.

  72. Hidden One says:

    The bit about this discussion sabotaging the Personal Ordinariates is nonsense. Our incoming Anglican friends have been informed that they have/shall get a canonical exemption. Continence shall not be required of married priests of the Ordinariate. Given that Anglican clergy looking to swim the Tiber, alone or en masse, are highly motivated to make sure that they aren’t walking into a ‘trap’, so to speak, one could hardly expect otherwise.

    In any case, even were they to be bound, as married deacons canonically are (non-canonical arguments notwithstanding), it would be better for them to know it now than to find out later, as the outrage and squirming that is presently permeating the diaconal blogosphere has amply demonstrated.

  73. everett says:

    I’m not sure why celibacy in the east vs. west is having such a large role in this discussion. No one is saying that deacons are required to be celibate (not get married). The discussion is entirely about continence, which according to current canon law, is mandated for all clerics. In the church there is a clear tradition of continence within marriage, both among lay and clerics. Really the question should be what approach should be taken in regards to the current canons that require continence of clerics. As to the answer to this question, I’ll leave it to those more qualified than I.

  74. dans0622 says:

    Regarding the Anglican Ordinariate clerics, there is this remark in Anglicanorum coetibus:

    “§ 2. The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as a derogation from can. 277, §1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.”

  75. priests wife says:

    S Spouse- ” If you think I am afraid of the emergence of an unofficial order of bossy “clergymen’s wives,” you are right.”

    So you have never had to deal with a gatekeeper secretary or a member of the church council? :)

    No- the wives I know are never part of the church council, will lead singing until someone else wants to do it, will clean the church and vestments until someone else wants to do it, will cook after-church supper until someone wants to do it, will find something else to do after church if Father has confession, counseling, meeting- she doesn’t know which because she respects his authority as priest, etc, etc, etc

    But I do agree with you 100% about NOT having wives in with their future deacon’s education. A few meetings and a retreat is sufficient. The requirements for us Easterners (whoops- there I go again!)- she must be a practicing Catholic and agree to his ordination

  76. Seraphic Spouse says:

    PW, if I remember this clearly, you’re Eastern Rite, correct? I imagine this means that there is already a time-tested understanding of what it means to be a clergyman’ wife in your tradition. In the Roman Catholic tradition, there isn’t one–at least not one older than 40 years and from what is perhaps the most bizarre, theologically unstable period in church history.

    The lesson a lot of us Romans have learned is that Roman Catholic “progressives” have no problem imposing their own ideas and “prophetic” “authority” onto everyone else, with nary a thought for Scripture, tradition, canon law or even what those of the other Churches and ecclesial communities have experienced. One famous priest, rather progressive himself, named Father Andrew Greeley, wrote in one of his many books of his discomfort with laypeople “in ministry” who run roughshod over other laypeople, making up rules of which the parish priests know nothing. So you can see why I might be a bit nervous about a Deacons’ Wives Club. YOU sound marvellous!

  77. James Joseph says:

    I thought everybody was susposed to abstain from sex on Sundays and other Holy Days, just as we abstain from meat and alcohol.

  78. James Joseph says:

    I always thought a priest is required to wash his own vestments.

  79. Henry Edwards says:

    Henry Edwards @ 8:49 am said:

    Subdeacon Joseph: “Supertradmum: . . . pro-homosexual, pro-women priests, pro-choice . . . Are you suggesting that most married deacons, or even priests, would espouse these points because they are married and having conjugal relations?”

    I do not recall seeing this suggestion in any comment by Supertradmum or by anyone else in this thread, and therefore wonder whence it came from.

    Subdeacon Joseph @ 10:18 am said:

    Henry Edwards, Supertradmum did say the quote above. It is still up there and I suppose you simply missed it.

    Here is what Supertradmum actually said @ 12:24 am:

    I had to leave RCIA formation as I could not be in a position to argue with heretical views of deacons in front of the class members. List: pro-homosexual, pro-women priests, pro-choice . . .

    She is simply implying she has heard such views expressed by deacons. I see no suggestion by her that these views are a consequence of their marital status. Indeed, she most likely has also heard (as have many of us) these same views expressed by celibate priests. In which case, any reference to conjugal relations would be the unwarranted red herring which I pointed out in her defense.

  80. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    “I thought everybody was susposed to abstain from sex on Sundays and other Holy Days, just as we abstain from meat and alcohol.”

    Actually, the practices from the earliest days generally regard Wednesdays and Fridays as traditional days of fasting and abstinence. The faithful and all clergy should generally fast and abstain generally from Vespers until one receives Holy Communion in the Divine Liturgy, although usually it is mitigated to Midnight to Holy Communion. (The minimum fasting requirement in the West is one hour before Holy Communion.)

    Sundays, however, as the Lord’s Day and the Day of Resurrection is not really a day of penance, and Saturday is generally not as well. (Although in general this principle is largely ignored in the East which tends to emphasize a more monastic rigor throughout the Great Fast and the three other fasting periods, with small accommodations for Saturday and Sunday.) After Sunday services during ordinary liturgical periods, it is definitely a time for feasting and not fasting and abstinence!

    I should also mention that the Eastern liturgical day follows the ancient observance of Sundown to Sundown.

  81. Federico says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    The account by Socrates the Historian regarding Paphnutius’ intervention at the council is regarded a fabrication by most scholars I’ve met and I would bet a majority (although I haven’t done a survey). Doubts about the authenticity of the account are not modern at all and, in any case, neither the intervention nor reference to it is contained in the council’s official documents.

    A few interesting sources: Friedhelm Winkelmann, “Paphnutios, der Bekenner und Bishof,” in Probleme der Koptischen Literatur (Wittenburg: Institut fu?r Byzantinsk der Martin Luther Universitat Halle-Wittenberg, 1968) 1: 145-154; Christian Cochini, Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990) 197; Roman Cholij, Clerical Celibacy in the East and the West (Hereford, England: Fowler Wright Books, 1988) 92; Hans George Beck, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 62 (1969) 159; Wilhelm Gessel, “Besprechungen,” Annuarium Historiae Conciliorum 2 (1970) 422-423; and George Denzler, Das Papsttum und der Amtszo?libat (Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 1973-1976) 1:9-10.

  82. Fr. Basil says:

    \\If a deacon’s wife dies the day after his ordination he is bound to celibacy and perpetual continence for the rest of his life.\\

    The same obligation rests upon widowed priests and deacons in Orthodoxy. Some few have been voluntarily deposed, especially widowers with young children.

    _______

    **\\He changes in his being, through ordination. I would hope that deacons would not act the same as other laymen\\

    Deacons are not laymen, supertadmum.

    Were you that trad, you would know this.
    Supertradmum says:
    18 January 2011 at 12:24 am
    That is my entire point. I am saying that he is not like a lay person**

    But that’s exactly what you did type: ” I would hope that deacons would not act the same as other laymen”

    The word “other” might have been a typo–or Freudian slip–but it means that deacons are merely laymen. (I’ve seen this opinion expressed by laypeople in Catholic periodicals, btw.)

  83. Fr Deacon Daniel says:

    “I’ve seen this opinion expressed by laypeople in Catholic periodicals, btw.”

    I have as well, Father Basil, which is ridiculous and contrary to Catholic-Orthodox patrimony.

    I think Supertradmum simply made a typo. If only life and blogposts had undo buttons…

  84. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    A bishop may also dispense a young married deacon or priest to remarry if he is widowed with young children out of ?????????. I have seen this done before. Thus the bishop allows the deacon or priest a second marriage, and to continue as a cleric in order to honor his vocation and his need for help in raising his young children. While this is contrary to canon law the bishop can lay this law aside for the greater needs of the Church too. Thus it aids both the cleric and the Church. An instance like this demonstrates where the letter of the law may not be in the spirit of its intent.

  85. Subdeacon Joseph says:

    I typed oikonomia in Greek above and it read it as ???????? Sorry!

  86. Katherine says:

    I believe also nothing has been changed in regard to the Church’s longstanding custom of (upon petition) granting laicization to clergy in order to marry and produce an heir for an hereditary noble title that otherwise would go into abeyance.

  87. Andrew says:

    Anyone ready to discuss celibacy, virginity, continence, better get ready for war. Just ask St. Jerome about it.

  88. Andrew. LOL! Best, edp.

  89. cl00bie says:

    Being in formation for ministry (and ultimately discerning the Permanent Diaconate) I was told that my primary vocation had to be my marriage. I was not informed that my primary vocation would be diminished. I am ready to accept celababy should my wife die. I don’t believe either of us are ready to accept celibacy (or “perfect continence”) until.

    I will have to approach the director of Diaconal formation for guidance before spending any more of my time on this pursuit.