From a reader…
My pastor and several bishops have urged me to enter the diocesan permanent diaconate program. I will be beginning my studies in Sacred Theology this September. But I am having second thoughts, mainly because I have been hearing opinions from priests belonging to Ecclesia Dei communities, that they dislike the concept of married deacons, and that they would not serve at the altar with somebody who is not committed to the sacrifice by living a celibate life. I am afraid, that the traditional community would not accept me. Must I now choose between the diaconate and being a traditional catholic? Are the two really not compatible?
I can’t speak to the attitudes of priests of “Ecclesia Dei communities” in your area.
However, it is just plain silly to suggest that permanent deacons are not able to serve – or shouldn’t be allowed to serve – in the traditional Roman Rite.
Deacons are deacons are deacons.
Of course there is a debate about married deacons and continence. Ed Peters has made a strong case that married deacons should be continent. The basic argument is this. In the Latin Church clerics are bound by can. 277 to observe perfect and perpetual continence. This is supported by tradition. All deacons are clerics. Hence, all deacons, including married deacons, are bound to be continent.
I supppose that some priests of “Ecclesia Dei communities” in your area might add that, if the permanent deacons are not continent, they are not acting as deacons ought. That being the case, they shouldn’t serve. However, priests of “Ecclesia Dei communities” in your area can’t know how a deacon is living. They presume to know what they can’t, and ought not, know. So, do they commit the sin of rash judgment about the deacons whom they meet?
In any event, a deacon is a deacon is a deacon. Transitional deacons are not “more deacony” than permanent deacons.
Furthermore, given that the Solemn Mass of the Roman Rite should be preferred to the mere Sung Mass or the Low Mass, and that they cannot be celebrated without an additional priest or deacon for the diaconal roll, what are these priests of “Ecclesia Dei communities” in your area trying to accomplish?
Subsequently, if you have strong concerns, give yourself some time and talk with your confessor and with wise priests who know the score. And remember that priests of “Ecclesia Dei communities” in your area will be rotated out to serve someplace else… or at least that is what usually happens.
All these things having been considered, ponder deeply that you – as you say – have been urged to enter formation for the diaconate by “several bishops”. That’s not nothing! If bishops are asking this of you, pay attention. Service to Holy Church may or may not include service in traditional forms of the Roman Rite.