A very enthusiastic reader sent the following list of questions.
I don’t like lsits of questions. I generally like to deal with them one at a time.
Still… I will give some response according to my lights.
My emphases and comments.
Dubiums [dubia] about the Old Rite, regarding minor orders, the subdiaconate, married men or single men from a parish, etc:
1) May a married permanent deacon ordained in the new rite function as a deacon in the old rite? [YES! He is a deacon.] I have heard he may, and that makes sense: a deacon is a deacon is a deacon. May he thus also presumably act as subdeacon or one of the minor orders? [Of course.]
2) Do the Minor Orders and Subdiaconate conferred under the ’62 books, such as in seminaries using the Old Rite, maintain their validity as sacramentals in the ritual context of the Old Rite (ie, giving actual graces to assist the carrying out of their respective liturgical ministries) even though they no longer have canonical effect when it comes to the clerical state and obligations thereof? [I don’t know what graces they confer. You cannot make a person a sacramental. You can consecrate him or her as a sacred, consecrated person. But you cannot make people into "sacramentals".]
3) Does an approved reception of the Old Rite minor ordination to Lector now have the same or equivalent canonical effect as the New Rite Institution to the Ministry of Lector? [No.]
4) Under the principle of "higher orders contain the lower" does the reception of Old Rite minor ordinations HIGHER than lector (ie, Minor Exorcist and Acolyte) and/or Subdiaconate…now have the same canonical effect as the New Rite Institution to the Ministry of Lector, even if the minor ordination to lector has not previously been preformed? [No.]
5) Similarly, does the reception of the Old Rite minor ordination to Acolyte now have the same canonical effect as the New Rite Institution to the Ministry of Acolyte? [No.]
6) Under the principle of "higher orders contain the lower" does the reception of Old Rite subdiaconate…now have the same canonical effect as the New Rite Institution to the Ministry of Acolyte, even if the minor ordination to acolyte has not previously been preformed? [No. I am sensing a theme.]
7) If his bishop is willing, is there any canonical block to a married man preparing for ordination to the permanent diaconate being ordained using the Old Rite diaconal ordination? [Not that I can tell. A bishop can choose to use the older form of ordination if he wishes.]
8) Similarly, may such a man also go through the ceremonies of first tonsure, Minor Orders, and subdiaconate if he wishes and his bishop is willing? [May he? Sure! He doesn’t have to, however.]
9) If a bishop is willing, may men from a parish receive first tonsure and/or some or all of the Minor Orders, such as if they want the special graces to serve in such capacities in the Old Rite? [I don’t accept the premise that this confers special graces. We don’t know what it does.] And if the answer to #8 is affirmative, does this imply even married men in a parish may receive a sort of "permanent subdiaconate" or "permanent acolytehood" if they wish and a bishop is willing (perhaps upon the recommendation of a pastor or after some training)? [No. There is no "permanent subdiaconate". There is now the ministry of acolyte according to Ministeria quaedam.]
10) Men in minor orders or merely first tonsure were traditionally not bound to celibacy. Up until the subdiaconate, they could decide to marry with no consequence. Does this remain true for those who have received the Old Rite minor orders? [The minor orders were SUPRESSED. This needs to be the clear principle. Men can go through whatever rituals, and I think they are meaningful, and they probably do something… what I am not sure. But they don’t have any effect in the sense of binding them by law, unless perhaps some religious group would connect them to vows or promises men take as a part of membership in that group, etc.] I assume so seeing as they have no longer canonical effect. But if such a man marries, should he be considered to have terminated that liturgical status or forfeit the special graces of the sacramental, or may he continue to be considered as maintaining it? [A man may participate in the liturgy in those ministries which are open to him according to law. If he is a layman (not ordained at least DEACON, then those ministries are fairly well defined.]
11) Subdeacons, on the other hand, WERE traditionally bound to celibacy. [There are no subdeacons today, in the sense that there were once. The DIACONATE is where a man is bound to celibacy (unless he is ordained to the permanent diaconate and is already married.] Presumably, if married men may now become deacons, and the answers to #7 and #8 are affirmativ e, married men may also receive the sacramental of old rite subdiaconal ordination (either transitioning to the permanent diaconate, or as "permanent subdeacons"). [Why would they? If there is going to be some traditional group that has married deacons… well… I just need to get my mind around that one.] However, though married men may be ordained deacons, once they are ordained they can no longer marry. Traditionally, this has held for the Major Orders (including subdiaconate), but not for the Minor, where marriage was possible after ordination, even while retaining the status. However, since the subdiaconate no longer has canonical effect in terms of clerical obligations, may it now be treated like the Minor Orders when it comes to the possibility of marriage after reception of it (ie, not binding/may be left without consequence)? If such a man marries, should he be considered to have terminated that liturgical status or forfeit the special graces of the sacramental, or may he continue to be considered as maintaining it? [The answer is the same: the ministries open to laymen and to clerics are well-defined. In this sense it is as if the old minor order of subdiaconate didn’t exist. A man in one of these groups who is made a subdeacon doesn’t have any more right to a liturgical role than any other baptized layman. Internal to these groups, they can do as they please. If men don’t like that, they can leave.]
I would like to know if you have answers to these questions, and if and how a dubium could be submitted to Ecclesia Dei or whatever department of the curia is relevant. [I wouldn’t bother. The principles here are pretty clear. ] I understand some of the questions would have to be more streamlined, but I would like to make sure the question is understood properly on the other end. Any help you could give would be great.
Remember: Even though there are religious groups of men who go through these old minor orders, in the Latin Church the clerical state begins at ordination as a deacon, either permanent or transitional. At that point a men either makes promises of celibacy or he doesn’t (if he is already married). If these groups have their own internal practices about the old minor orders, and they decide among themselves that they are going to treat those rituals with gravity and make them a part of what they do, fine. But they don’t have juridical force. I have no idea what spiritual effects they might confer. I suppose that depends on their spiritual state and God’s benignity.