Irish bishop caves under pressure, won’t ordain only male deacons

Over at Crisis I saw that there is a piece by the esteemed Anthony Esolen called The Serpents Return to the Irish. That seems to be the case not only in these USA but also in the “old country” itself.

I saw this at Rev. Mr. Kandra’s blog, Deacon’s Bench:

Irish bishop bows to pressure, says he will postpone introduction of permanent deacons


Protests over the proposed introduction of a male-only lay ministry [oops!] in the Catholic diocese of Killaloe have forced the local bishop to back down and postpone the move.

In a letter read out in parishes on Sunday, Bishop Kieran O’Reilly acknowledged the concerns raised by lay women and groups in the western diocese about the permanent diaconate. [permanent deacons are not lay men.  They are clerics.]

The move came after Kathleen McDonnell, a member a parish pastoral council in west Clare, had criticised the move to set up the men-only lay ministry and had called on the diocese to create a ministry for all.  [Good grief.]

It also provoked a poster campaign opposing the new ministry which appeared on parish noticeboards across the diocese.

It comes as over half of Killaloe’s 82 priests are now aged 66 or older and between them they minister to 56 parishes across Co Clare as well as parts of Offaly, Laois, Tipperary and Limerick.

In his letter, Bishop O’Reilly told his flock that in light of the conversations held over the past weeks: “I will not now proceed with the introduction of the permanent diaconate at this time in the diocese.” [He caved in?  Only men can be ordained, so let’s not have anyone ordained.]

It is understood that a number of men had already put themselves forward for consideration as candidates for training to become deacons.


Check out the rest over there.

His smacks of what happened in the Diocese of Saginaw.  The late Bishop Untener didn’t want to ordain men until he could also ordain women.  Guess what that did to vocations.

In my opinion, the ordination of Permanent Deacons is not solution to the lack of priests, but it’s not nothing.  I don’t mean that “not nothing” to be dismissive, but the fact is that deacons cannot say Mass, absolve sins or anoint.

But to buckle under this ridiculous protest?  Really?

What is going on when bishops caved in to protest pressure like this?

Pray for our bishops, friends.

Moderation queue is ON.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. ByzCath08 says:

    Nothing surprises me anymore. As Cardinal Ratzinger said:

    “The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.

    She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members….”

  2. Adam Welp says:

    I almost believed this was a story from Eye of the Tiber until I double checked Deacon Greg’s blog. Sad state of affairs in this Diocese if the laity think Permanent Deacons are lay ministers. I will have to share this story with my Deacon father-in-law. I bet I will be able to hear his eyes roll from where I live (over an hour away).

    Dear Lord, please send this Diocese a Bishop with a spine and young orthodox priests that can actually teach the faithful the true ways of the Church. Amen.

  3. *sigh*

    “In my opinion, the ordination of Permanent Deacons is not solution to the lack of priests, but it’s not nothing.”

    Indeed. As you say, permanent deacons can’t say Mass, absolve sins, or anoint. However, they are extremely useful in their own capacity, especially when they’re orthodox.

    Our church is pretty big–about 3,000 families. We have two wonderful priests, but they can’t be everywhere at all times, and, poor guys, they deserve a peaceful evening now and again when they can get it. We’re blessed to have four wonderful, holy permanent deacons assigned to our parish, too.

    I teach preparatory classes for infant baptism which are attended by parents and godparents. During these classes, thanks to the egregious state of catechesis in the last several decades, I have to explain what a canonical penalty is, especially as it pertains to irregular marriage situations. (Godparents can’t be married outside the Church/re”married” without prior annulment/etc.

    It both delights and infuriates me that after these classes I almost always have a couple come to me and ask how they can get their marriage situation remedied. I’m thrilled that they want to get married in the church, of course, but furious when I hear from them, as I almost inevitably (say, about 80% of the time) do, “No one ever told us we had to get married in the Church, so we got married by a JOP/Protestant minister/friend ‘ordained for a day’/our pet lemur.” Those in charge of catechesis for the last several decades have quite a lot to answer for.

    It is, however, extremely pleasant to be able to say, “I’m so glad you want to pursue this! Tell you what, if you have a few minutes, Deacon Smith is always in his office on Wednesday evenings, and he’d be happy to discuss this with you. He has a lot more knowledge of the process involved than I do.” I can then walk the couple over to Deacon Smith’s office, knock on the door, introduce the couple, point them in the direction of the coffee machine, and walk away knowing I’ve left them in very capable hands which will strike while the iron is hot, so to speak, and which have had much more training in matters pastoral than I. One can’t expect our overworked priests to be in their offices 24/7, and having good, holy men who are willing to spend their time in the way I just described is invaluable.

  4. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    If the story weren’t true, it would be funny.

  5. Siculum says:

    Clearly, it looks like there’s just a general ignorance in that diocese about what ordination to the permanent deaconate actually is. Notwithstanding our personal opinions on its application (or misapplication), however….

    I hearken back to Father Z’s perennial (and important) poll about whether an all-male sanctuary fosters vocations to the priesthood. An all-male sanctuary can, of course, include permanent deacons practicing sacramental ministry, and often does.

    But to make a point here that recently occurred to me: When I was a teenager, and I was guest-serving at another parish which had female altar servers, there was a girl serving there that I found rather cute. There developed a bit of flirting between her and me. (Not during Mass, but still…) But it was a distraction, truth to be told, from the task at hand, and also a detraction from focus on God. (Let alone from a priesthood-vocation damper, which, I could see, for many young men, clearly was.) And then there was another altar boy who she liked, but didn’t like her back…. messy. The altar (and sacristy) are not places where the “dance” between males and females should occur.

    Similarly, can we imagine the issues that would come from a priest and a pushy permanent deaconess in the sacristy together, or…. a permanent deacon and a permanent deaconess together? And then someone gets slighted and wants revenge or whatever? And….. yish. Lead us not into temptation. A married deacon-deaconess couple? Trying to run things in a parish — and bumping heads with the priest-pastor, but two against one? How would that turn out?

    At least I’m criticizing a straw man, because the female permanent deaconate isn’t legal, but for those clergy out there actually considering female deacons as a good idea, just think about the above scenarios and ask yourselves if this is really what you want.

  6. LarryW2LJ says:

    Unfortunately, this is how PC works. Someone makes a statement about how they are “offended” by something, and however ridiculous or not, people become afraid to speak out to the sense of the matter. Fear overcomes common sense.

    Charlton Heston was correct, “Political Correctness is tyranny with manners”.

  7. murtheol says:

    Good grief. Has word of article 29 of the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church not yet reached Ireland? Fr. Z, if you think Deacons are impaired because they do not say Mass, absolve, or anoint, then you have not understood correct patrology: [?!? “impaired”? Who said that? “I haven’t understood correct patrology”? HA HA HA HA HA!] There is no Church without the Deacons. [Ummm…] What only a few have understood is this: With the permanent Deacons, the Holy Spirit has abandoned twenty centuries of apostolic tradition. The Holy Spirit is doing a new thing, and most persons and priests are not on to it just yet. [I suggest that you go back and read what I actually wrote. Try that. You seem to be going on about something entirely different.]

  8. tm30 says:

    That’s really amazing. Holy Orders is a male-only sacrament. Each level (episcopate, presbyter, deacon) shares in the same charism, although the episcopacy has the fullness of the charism, priests lesser, and deacons the least. Introducing women to the diaconate is a non-starter. Many are angling for deaconesses because it would crack open the theological door for female priests. i.e. If a woman can have some of the charism, why not more? Cardinal Muller wrote an excellent book on the subject, “Priesthood and Diaconate” (available at Amazon) .

    I am in the diaconate formation in my diocese, and we are having successive classes of 30+ men. The Lord is calling for workers to go into the vineyard, and if priestly vocations are still depressed, there are many men who can fulfill the ministry of charity and help their bishops spread the spiritual and corporal works of mercy in their dioceses. But throwing out the ministry because of a bunch of malcontents (who will be just as mal-contented 50 years from now), is bizarre.

  9. tm30 says:

    @Murtheol [We use the @ at Twitter. This isn’t Twitter! o{]:¬) ]

    The diaconate became transitional, in part, because in the early Church, deacons had tremendous influence with bishops because they were the chief administrators, while priests were “in the field”, so to speak. Many deacons — who do not and did not enjoy the same fullness of Holy Orders as a priest — were named bishops because of this tight connection to the shepherd. Over time, this influence decreased and deacons began transitioning to the priesthood, since the bishop-priest relationship was becoming much more important as the Church grew. But that didn’t eliminate the diaconate from its place among the rank of Holy Orders. Heck, St. Francis was a deacon. Vatican II restored the “permanent” diaconate, not as an innovation, but because the office was never removed in the first place. The diaconate has profound foundations in Scripture and Tradition. This isn’t a “new” thing being done by the Holy Spirit. It’s actually quite old.

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    1. Male permanent deacons aren’t a “new thing.” They’re a re-introduced in the Latin Rite thing. The correct Bible quote would be the steward who can pull old stuff out of the storeroom. (Not that he can’t pull new stuff too, but this ain’t it.)

    2. It’s sad but amusing that the people lobbying most for the return of deaconesses to the Latin Rite are exactly the kind of people whom the ancient and medieval deaconesses, or Eastern deaconesses, would want to stay far far away from being deaconesses. They aren’t old and grave enough, they’re not orthodox, they’re not generous and wise, they have no common sense or prudence, and they make no secret of being crazed for power while projecting their craze on others. Not a lot of them are physicians or nurses or people who run orphan homes and hospitals. Don’t mostly seem to be wives of deacons, either (although that’d presumably be hard to tell, since presumably most deacons’ wives aren’t mouthing off in public about policy matters of any kind, because they have to stick with their husbands and their husbands with their bishops).

    3. Anybody flirting with anybody in the sacristy should be smacked, unless a bride and groom are hanging out in the sacristy right before the wedding for some sufficiently good reason. If girl and boy servers (or anybody else) are flirting, girl and boy servers (or anybody else) should be chaperoned. There’s a time and a place, and Mass preparation time ain’t it.

  11. yatzer says:

    This sounds” like deja vu all over again” from my Episcopalian days in the 70s: “I won’t ordain (___) until women can (_____).” It is appalling that an actual Catholic bishop would say something like that. Shepherds and hirelings.
    The other thing is that I’ve met some permanent deacons in our diocese and some who didn’t make the cut. From my limited vantage point, the ones not chosen seem to be the more devout and the chosen the ones of a more progressivist bent. That could be my learned suspicion, though.

  12. Lavrans says:

    I am discerning the permanent diaconate, and should I pursue it, would love to assist at OF and EF Masses. One nice thing about a permanent deacon is that there can be less EMHCs, if at all.

  13. Kathleen10 says:

    The Providence Journal just took a poll in a roundabout way about the upcoming Synod, and the results were shocking only to anyone who thought Rhode Island was not chock full of people who think polls should run the faith. On the question of “Should the church give communion to people who have been divorced and remarried” or something like that, 91% of respondents said “yes”. This produced a very surprising comment from the formerly stalwart Bishop Tobin that “something has to be done” and he alluded to the many people he sees who are in this exact situation. So instead of holding the bar high for the indissolubility of marriage the church should capitulate and make life easier for them I suppose. I am disappointed in Bishop Tobin, but they say even one drop of water can wear away stone so he must just be tired of resisting the relentless onslaught. It is hard to hold the line when so many people, parishioners, the culture at large, the media, all go up against you, not to mention your fellow-Bishops and clergy. It must be lonely making and you would have to be made of very special stuff to hold out permanently, especially when you perhaps see higher level persona relegated to the outer regions for carrying that same type of banner.
    Anthony Esolen, God bless him, he is a gift, just a fine, fine writer who knows how to add something new and communicate something important. He does remind me a bit of my favorite author, C.S. Lewis, because of the way he uses such clear and accessible language. He is well worth reading regularly.

  14. FrAnt says:

    Who wears the pants in the Diocese of Killaloe, it seems like someone on the parish pastoral council does. Will someone please get the successor of the Apostles a pair of pants?

  15. murtheol says:

    TM30 and Suburbanbanshee: You are not getting this. For 20 centuries clerical continence was the custom and rule for all clergy. Married or not. This means no sexual relations for married priests and deacons. The Holy Spirit is indeed doing a new thing because deacons are no longer required to abandon marital relations. [The Holy Spirit is doing that?] That is indeed a remarkable thing. As I said, most persons and priests have not fully grasped the enormity of what has happened. [But you have! Thanks.]

  16. jeffreyquick says:

    “what happened in the Diocese of Saginaw”
    Well, THAT sent me to my search engine! I grew up there (not Catholic) and when I come back to visit my dad, I’m struck by certain elements of the ars celebrandi at the churches I visit, and their theological implications. Now I can see very clearly where a lot of that came from… and they haven’t rolled it back yet.

  17. murtheol says:

    Once more. Even with the Pastoral Provision wherein married Protestant clergy may be ordained to the priesthood, that decision is not part of the Magisterial decision to abandon continence for Permanent Deacons.

  18. vandalia says:

    I have found that one will cave to a protest only if it is something that the “caver” actually agreed with deep (or maybe not so deep) down. After decades of observation, I have yet to find an exception to this rule of mine.

  19. JTH says:

    Sadly, otherwise faithful women support the idea of women priests/deacons. I’d guess the influence of feminism and society’s insistence on ‘equality’. This is fairly common in my parish where women get head up about such things, having been allowed to take on the rolls normally held by males (Lector, Sacristan, Extraordinary Ministers, altar boys). And my parish is a conservative parish in a conservative diocese.

  20. Deacon Augustine says:

    murtheol, Fr. Z did not say that deacons are impaired – he quite correctly stated that we are not the answer to the priest shortage. Our ministry can be of great assistance to priests in sharing the load of baptisms, weddings, funerals, benediction, preaching etc,, but the diaconate is a quite separate and distinct ministry from the priesthood. The only way in which I can see that we have helped the priest shortage is in those instances where deacons have been able to take up positions in diocesan curias which do not have to be occupied by a priest, thus allowing priests to be deployed in the vineyard instead of tied to desks.

    As for your waxing lyrical about “Magisterial decisions” to abandon continence for Permanent Deacons, I am not aware that such a decision has been made. If you would care to cite chapter and verse of said document, I would be very interested to know….OTOH if you are just assuming that a Magisterial decision has been made, I would be interested to know that fact too,

  21. Uxixu says:

    They’re using all the words but don’t seem to know how to put them together. Sounds like just a terribly written article that I hope is being distorted from the sources (which are otherwise themselves vastly ill-informed)

    Part of it reflects on the… awkwardness of the very concept of “lay ministry” renaming what were previously called the Minor Orders which ends up right back at Ministeria Quaedam, which was never fully implemented since it specifically reserves institution in the “lay ministries” to men (citing ancient tradition) and thus the confusion heaped on by the routine use of substitutes of either sex.

  22. Moro says:

    Much catechesis is needed about deacons, especially permanent deacons. There is a vocation to this state much like there is to marriage, celibacy, religious life, as a brother, etc. Unfortunately many see it as a sort of priesthood for guys who want to get married, which it is not. I’ve heard a priest belittle its importance, but the reality is the deacons can help priests in many ways not excluding preaching, baptisms, marriages, burials, distributing communion, etc. They free up the priest’s time to do more important things like hear confessions.

    I’m discerning such a vocation myself either in the married or celibate state.

  23. Uxixu says:

    I initially had many of the same objections as murtheol but that was only when I conflated the ministry of the diaconate with that of the priesthood as many do. It is distinct. This ties in again to the larger problem of equating the clerical state with major orders, which is a historical anomaly also seen by many otherwise mainstream in the Church in such triviality as denying diaconate clericals (much less the cassock). Married or no, they ARE clerics by explicit papal legislation.

    Council of Trent Session 23 Chapter XVII nullifies that argument and explicitly allowed for married clerics, which at the time were defined by first tonsure, and is quite explicit that they should still wear tonsure & clerical garb. It seems a very cyclical thing that the minor orders were allowed to diminish followed by a renewal. Speaking of Trent Session 23, also called for the restoration of the minor orders to the cathedral, collegiate and parochial churches of the diocese. Going forward, I pray the Holy Father does the same.

  24. Allan S. says:

    Murtheol has clearly not read Canonist Edward Peters extensive analysis of the question, wherein he concludes that the requirement of clerical continence extends to permanent Deacons too, the nearly universal ignorance of same notwithstanding.

  25. murtheol says:

    Deacon Augustine: If you could take the time to read Lumen Gentium (LG) it would be manifest immediately what I am saying. Gerharcd Mueller: ” Using theological criteria, the 2nd Vatican Council offers a fundamental declaration about the divine institution of the one hierarchical, i.e., sacramental ministry of the various orders of bishop, presbyter, and the deacons as it has become impressed upon and clearly defined in the sacramental economy of the Church under the guidance of the Spirit.”; that from Gerhard Mueller and LG 18, 28. Mueller: ” Sacramental ordination creates a personal relation to Christ by virtue of a vocation, mission and authorization, so that the ordained man, by a ‘configuratio cum Christo’ is able to act, in the person of Christ as Head of the Church within the Church and upon the Church as the Body of Christ. This abandonment of clerical continence is thus of the Holy Spirit. If you are not aware that such a decision has been made, then ask your wife if you are married. She will help you become aware.

  26. murtheol says:

    At the end of the citation should be quotes: “…..Christ. Also, Deacon, Article 29 of LG should also be of assistance.

  27. Charivari Rob says:

    There seem to be at least a few reactions to this along the lines of …what’s happening in this diocese…, the mindsets, etc…

    The local mindsets (of all the assorted parties) certainly plays a part. However, I don’t think anybody has mentioned a significant part of the context of that mindset.

    The permanent diaconate largely does not exist in that country. Mostly it’s only the last couple of years that it’s been explored in any dioceses there.

  28. TWF says:

    Sadly, many parts of the world still have no instituted formation programs for the permanent diaconate, favoring instead the “empowerment” of largely female lay ministers. In large, rural dioceses where one priest may be responsible for 4 or 5 or more parishes, wouldn’t it be nice to have a deacon administering the parish and leading communion services when Father isn’t available rather than a lay woman?

  29. AidWater says:

    This is shocking but surprises me in the diocese, which I regularly go to on my summter holidays. The laity seem to think they have a right to do everything there include choosing the new bishop, when Bishop Keiran was elavated to bishop there was a shock that the person was not from Killaloe, which the most recent bishops had being. He has instited some changes, such as changing postures in Mass (which was not well recieved, (introduced at time of New Translation))
    They often say the Final doxology as a congregation, in West Clare anyway, around 10 EMHCs, they changes the Mass, the Sunday sermon is too short to be significant, i could go on

    The churches are soleless, even had football anthems at mass, (thankfully that priest has moved on). Most of the churches in the diocese where rebuilt in the 60s under the spirt of Vatican 2

    I constantly pray it may get better, and it was getting there slowly till I read this
    I am also glad to get back to Catholic Lancashire afterwoods

  30. Cafea Fruor says:

    Actually, the Bishop will never ordain any deacons but men deacons. Anything else is impossible.

  31. murtheol says:

    Allen S. your comment is exactly what I am saying: The Permanent Diaconate is 50 years out of the station. There is not going to be legislation concerning clerical continence in the case of Permanent Deacons. The brilliant Ed Peters notwithstanding, the Catholic Church now has a married clergy with no limitations in and upon the marriage as was the case for 20 centuries. The conclusion reached by Dr. Peters is not supported by the Magisterium of the Church in its recent Council nor in its day to day ministry. [You might be out of your depth. Let’s see what happens.]

  32. Athelstan says:

    Folks here seem to think that Kathleen McDonnell and her allies are confused about the non-lay status of deacons. I suggest you aren’t giving them enough credit.

    In fact, as a Tablet story on this development makes clear, they know well what deacons are (even if she does not grasp, or more likely is obfuscating, the fact that deacons can do some things that laity cannot), and they don’t like it. In fact, the objection is really to the exclusion of women from holy orders – of any kind. She denounces the permanent diaconate as “another ordained exclusively male ministry. We have too many layers already.”

    This represents a great teaching moment for the good bishop. Either his effort to explain the teaching didn’t stick, or he’s decided it’s not worth the pain and effort. So he’s back to square one on his vocations crisis. Unfortunately, Ms McDonnell is just as likely to fight any new efforts he makes to draw new priestly vocations as well.

  33. Athelstan says:


    “In large, rural dioceses where one priest may be responsible for 4 or 5 or more parishes, wouldn’t it be nice to have a deacon administering the parish and leading communion services when Father isn’t available rather than a lay woman?”

    To the Kathleen McDonnells of the Church – and indeed a few former U.S. bishops I could name – that premise is not granted at all.

  34. Cantor says:

    I would like to give Bishop O’Reilly a slight bit of the benefit of the doubt. He has halted the procedures at this time, the article says. But not permanently. Perhaps he realizes that his diocese has failed to instruct the laity adequately in the meaning of the Diaconate.

    Many PIPs seem to figure that the Permanent Deacon is rather an altar boy on steroids, and can just as easily be a woman. The bishop may feel that it will take a while for the facts of Holy Orders to sink in, and he doesn’t need yet another Church-bashing frenzy.

  35. CharlesG says:

    Of course it’s just ridiculous that the bishops cave in on this. A lot of “traddies” don’t think too highly of the permanent diaconate either, but I say the more deacons the better — more chanting of the Gospel and the Exsultet, more deacons and “subdeacons” available for full EF solemn high masses, etc.

  36. murtheol says:

    Fr. Z, I acknowledge that I might be out of my depth. But I am not out of my mind. There is a palpable energy about the Permanent Deacons and this we [?] attribute to the Holy Spirit, who had to begin somewhere, i.e. humble beginnings, mediocre formation that is steadily improving. The Spirit was at work 50 years into the future 50 years ago, to the point where Deacons today are being asked to become parochial administrators. The Holy Spirit is moving mightily and could be described as the Gentle Destroyer. [?!?]

  37. Gaz says:

    Our Bishop ordained 3 transitional Deacons today. Regretfully, I couldn’t attend. Praise God! Please join me and pray for them and him who ordained them.

    In his regular column in the diocesan paper, the Bishop explained what he was preparing to do, and also the Church’s teaching on the nature and function of the Diaconate. Although there isn’t a permanent diaconate program in the diocese, he included an explanation of the permanent diaconate also.

  38. Gaz says:

    I agree with Father and don’t see that the Diaconate is the answer to a crisis in priestly vocations.

    In reply to those who say, wouldn’t it be good if Deacons could run the Communion services presently run by women” I say, wouldn’t it be good to have priests who could celebrate Mass for them. The Diaconate is a special ministry. My view is that it can be very effective in ministering both to priests and to the laity.

  39. TNCath says:

    As a regular visitor to the Diocese of Killaloe, I can personally vouch for the fact that as the diocese is a complete disaster. Two and three parishes are being run by one or two priests at a time, yet Mass attendance continues to be quite good, even daily Mass. Nonetheless, the liturgies celebrated there are quite abysmal. The only place that is somewhat decent is at Mt. St. Joseph Abbey in Roscrea, a Cistercian abbey and boarding school, that is holding its own.

  40. VexillaRegis says:

    Dear Murtheol; are you pulling our legs?

  41. Alaina says:

    Clearly, the poor bishop has some issues of his own to address, since he allowed himself to be bullied into making such a decision. He deprived a group of men to be ordained as deacons for no valid reason. I like the comment that Kathleen10 made about polling. So many have dumbed down faith to be treated on the same level as politics. Catholics should take moment to realize the honor that God has placed upon Women in our faith, instead of listening to manipulated “polls” and the loud individuals who only have “individual” agendas. The LCWR is a group that is very good at this game and they were featured in an article I read yesterday. Maybe Ms. McDonnell is helping them to add lay-ministry to their group. Seems as though the LCWR numbers are not what they have been purporting and could use a little boosting. Here’s the article:

  42. arga says:

    The late and unlamented bishop of Richmond, Wally Sullivan (may he rest in peace) had the same policy. As a result, there were years when Richmond hadn’t a single vocation to the priesthood. Just what he wanted, as well, I am sure: pressure to ordain women as deacons might as well become pressure to ordain women as priests.

  43. murtheol says:

    VexillaRegis: I am not pulling any collective leg. I am saying that in Permanent Deacons the Holy Spirit is doing a new thing. Not merely warming over an historical event past, but a new thing. And it is this: With Permanent Deacons the Spirit has abandoned twenty centuries of Apostolic tradition. Where once married Deacons were obliged to continence that is no longer the case. This is a big deal and it happened 50 years ago at Vatican II. All of this is in the context of a confused laity in Ireland, perhaps everywhere. It seems unimaginable to them that the Catholic Church has a married clergy. So deacons must really be lay people, because like only priests can be clergy and stuff like that.

  44. Imrahil says:

    Dear murtheol,

    while I happen to agree to your opinion on the opinion of Dr Peters (including the statement that he is brillant),

    1. The idea that priests are unmarried while deacons may be married is not without sense (I could give arguments but don’t.)

    2. It is quite well-known that there is nothing inherently wrong with married clergy (and clergy practicing this marriage), and was so long before the Permanent Deaconate was even introduced. Yet, aptness is an entirely different thing.

    3. I fail to see any practical benefit from the introduction of married priests (with the allowance to consummate their marriage).

    [The great practical reason to do so for deacons was that for restoring the deaconate as a practical reality without them just going on to be priests (though there always was the one or the other exception, I guess, who remained in the deaconate, as did St. Francis), it was practically necessary had to admit a class of men which lacks the canonical ability to become priests, preferably not by a personal blemish. Note that of course introduction of a married priesthood with the right to consummate their marriage will make the Permanent Deaconate re-disappear; it will then by almost necessity become a station on the way to married priesthood.]

    4. and most importantly: The fruits of the Holy Spirit are, as commonly listed, charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. How this fits with the image of a Destroyer, however gentle, I cannot comprehend; especially since about the Second Person of the Trinity it is said: A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

  45. Hans says:

    There is another better, if more discouraging, article in the Irish Times:

    Kathleen McDonnell, who is involved with catechesis, retreat facilitation, as well as in parish and diocesan pastoral councils, said what was needed in the Catholic church was not another layer of male-only clergy but arrangements which could accommodate all. She called for “an opening of the windows” in the church, along lines called for by St John XXIII.

  46. Gail F says:

    Sounds like a lot of vocal people there didn’t know what the permanent diaconate is.

  47. murtheol says:

    Imrahil: My comments have nothing to do with a married priesthood. I do not support a married priesthood. Restoration was not a practical reality. It was a theological reason for the restoration. Your idea that a married priesthood ( heaven forbid) will make Permanent Deacons disappear is silly. The Holy Spirit is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Gentle Destroyer ( of false images of clergy) is what the Holy Spirit does. [Okay… enough of this.] Your misuse of scripture is embarrassing.

  48. joan ellen says:

    Offering a prayer for Bishop O’Reilly. And other bishops as well re: this topic of men and women clergy. Besides the prayer, I offer my observation years ago…during Mass with girls as altar servers…the very excellent priest, confessor, and homilist sp…said to one girl…hey, …flirtatious adjective here…”Would you get me that…noun…over there?” Less than a year later he was laicized, married, and now has a family. I ‘observe’, on occasion, young priests eyeing ‘scantily clad’ pretty young women with whom they are speaking. We women some times forget that priests are men and that we can make it more difficult for them to keep custody of their eyes and their minds vertical. This post seems to show me that increasing the numbers of permanent deacons could help priests and, therefore, bishops in this horizontal matter. Or, even more males serving.

  49. Imrahil says:

    Dear murtheol,

    it may be misuse, and unintentional, but forgive me: I fail to see how it is embarassing. I did not like the image of a Destroyer applied to God, and said so, and used the first Scripture verse that came to my mind, which is from Jesaja and applies to our Lord: not the Holy Spirit, but the Sceond Person of the Trinity of which the Holy Spirit is the Third. Which is why I said so.

    I misunderstood you indeed, sorry, I took you for supporting a married priesthood. But the what were you hinting at?

  50. Imrahil says:

    but then

  51. VexillaRegis says:

    I asked, because you come off as teasing, serious, annoying, insulting, humourous, knowledgeable and crazy – all at the same time.

    Thank you, dear Imrahil, for your solid and polite posts!

  52. murtheol says:

    Thank you, dear Imrahil, for you solid and polite posts! :)

  53. letchitsa1 says:

    I don’t suppose they could be lucky enough for the biological solution to occur sooner rather than later? Lord have mercy! Seems like more than just the bishops need our prayers, though they certainly do as well.

  54. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Murtheol,
    I am not really sure what you are trying to say, but you wrote:

    “I am saying that in Permanent Deacons the Holy Spirit is doing a new thing. Not merely warming over an historical event past, but a new thing. And it is this: With Permanent Deacons the Spirit has abandoned twenty centuries of Apostolic tradition. Where once married Deacons were obliged to continence that is no longer the case.”

    You seem to be confusing the remote and proximate actions of the Holy Spirit. The language of Vatican II, specifically, the motu proprio, SACRUM DIACONATUS ORDINEM (1967), which re-establishes the office of the permanent diaconate, had no intention of removing itself from Apostolic continuity.

    Indeed, it cites 1 Timothy 3:8 – 13, to show the intention to connect its decision with that of the Scriptural warrant. The discipline of a married or celibate diaconate, however, is a prudential decision of the Magisterium, capable of being modified by time and circumstances by its power to bind and loose. Since prudence is a virtue and virtues are influenced by the Holy Spirit, one may say that whenever the Church changes a discipline in a prudential fashion, it is a remote action of the Holy Spirit. The Church could, for quite equally prudential reasons, decide to re-establish a celibate diaconate and that would be a working of the Holy Spirit, as well. There has been no abandonment of twenty centuries of Apostolic tradition. Deacons were allowed to be married in Apostolic times, but that was a discipline, not a doctrine, capable of being modified by more modern successors of St. Peter.

    Given that there was no destruction of a doctrine, merely a change in discipline, it hard to understand how you can refer to the Holy Spirit as the, “Gentle Destroyer”. The Holy Spirit is the Lord and Giver of Life. Can you cite a reference that uses this term, because I have read extensively on pneumatology, going back to Old Testament times and I don’t remember encountering this term. Of the seven times the word destroyer is used in Scripture, the Hebrew word, shed, is used in the Old testament to describe a destroyer, but the term is applied to the Devil; the verb, shachath, is used in the general sense, to destroy, but is only applied to God through secondary causes; the word, olothreut?s, is used only once in the New testament to refer to the vipers that bit the Isrealites.

    There are thousands of books on the Holy Spirit, so, perhaps I missed this term. If it is a neologism, then it seems as if you mean to say that the Holy Spirit refines, but destroy seems to be too strong of a term under ordinary use, especially when one compares this to the language of the Creed.

    The Chicken

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