While I was studying for my Licentiate in Canon Law (JCL) at Catholic University in the late 80s, I brought up this very question, since I was already ordained as a Permanent Deacon. Rev. James Provost (RIP), a revered canonist, said that the change in status of the husband did not take away the “acquired right” of the wife to conjugal relations within the marriage, and thus canon 277, in essence, did not apply to the married permanent deacon.
Further, it would seem that the “married” cleric can in no way satisfy a strict reading of canon 277, which obliges “perfect and perpetual continence” and binds him to “celibacy”, since he is already married and therefore, by definition, no longer celibate.
The situation can be resolved, and should have been when the Code of Canon Law was promulgated in 1983, by including “cann. 277″ among those canons listed in canon 288 that apply to “clerics” in general, but “do not bind permanent deacons”.
Meantime, several deacons have commented: “What does Bill Ditewig say about all this?”
We now have our answer.
Pay a visit to his fine blog for a detailed analysis. He offers insight as a theologian, not as a canon lawyer. But his is a valuable voice to have added to this discussion.
Meantime, I’ll be off line for a bit. My printer breathed its last a few minutes ago and I just got back from Radio Shack with a new one. Pray that I figure it out. I have a hard enough time just programming my TiVo…
UPDATE: Dr. Peters has responded to Bill Ditewig’s post. You can read it here.