Lay off it

Dear media writer/religion reporter/journalist…

I know you have a busy life.  I know you are under deadline.  I know it’s easy to stumble and make mistakes.  Believe me, I’ve been there.   

But please, try to avoid making the  blunder that this writer made, in an otherwise fine piece:  referring to Catholic deacons as “lay deacons.”

There ain’t no such animal.

For future reference — and please, pass this along to any of your colleagues — Catholic deacons are clergy.  Many are married.  Many have jobs outside the church. 

But that doesn’t mean deacons are lay people.  Catholic deacons are clergy.    Like priests.  Like bishops.  Like the pope.   A quick call to the local chancery could clear up any confusion you might have, and I’m sure they can answer any other questions you have about this unique vocation.   

Thank you. 

Have a nice day.

Comments

  1. You know, i saw that and it made me scratch my head too.
    i have a certificate from my diocese as a lay minister, and was wondering if that’s what they actually meant (which just makes me a glorified catechist at my parish).
    I suppose it’s asking too much for the clergy to know the dif. between clergy and lay state. maybe because they think some deacons are married that they aren’t clergy.

  2. I worked for the state human services department for thirty years and read a lot of articles about welfare that were totally off the wall. Many newspersons do not have a clue about welfare. Some of it is probably not their fault because of deadlines, etc. (Let me add that many legislators are also lacking in the facts about welfare.)

  3. Unfortunately, I have met too many deacons who do not realize that they are ordained clerics!

  4. Ooops! I commented on the wrong post.

  5. Okay. I have fasted from the web for too long. This was the right post. Sheesh.

  6. Furthermore, their very nature is changed at Ordination, and they are deacons forever, not just until death.

  7. naturgesetz says:

    Hopefully, this is a problem that will diminish over time, but as Will’s comment #2 points out, this is a specific instance of a wider problem in the news media: reporters having to report about things they don’t understand.

  8. Gerard Nadal makes an interesting point, that their is an ontological change due to their ordination.

    Interestingly, the Eastern Orthodox categorically reject the idea of an indellible mark on the soul with their ordination. They say that there is nothing in the ancient tradition about this (their view of the sacraments follow the Cyprianic rather than Augustinian view).

    Does anyone know of any articles that discuss this difference?

    thanks

  9. Thanks. I would have probably made that mistake myself. Now I know. ;)

  10. (Soon to be) Rev Mr Flapatap says:

    Unfortunately, a tin foil hat is no longer required to be skeptical of what we read/see/hear in the media nowadays. These types of errors are too common. Whether they are talking about religion, science, or statistics the ignorance shown some times is incredible.

  11. Every news article I have ever read about something I had personal/first-hand knowledge of (maybe 10 articles) has contained factual errors and wording or omissions that confused the who, what, where, when, and why. Hence, I always assume factual errors exist in anything I read.

  12. I just read the term “lay deacon” somewhere else recently… People do not understand and not enough research or fact checking is done by the reporters or anyone it seems.

  13. The USCCB’s Office of Media Relations has published a slim guide, “How to Cover the Catholic Church.” It’s free to members of the media. It addresses this and many other common (and unacceptable) errors.

    Journalists: Do your homework. Check out page 61, the Glossary.

  14. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    I get a little upset when I see in the media lines like: “All Catholic clergy must be celibate.”
    But all Catholic deacons are clergy and most are married. Also, there are thousands of married priests in Eastern Churches in communion with Rome. Also, the number of convert Protestant ministers with families and who are eventually ordained priests continues to grow.

  15. Several different varieties of protestants also have personnel that they call “deacons.” Is the term “lay deacon” a term of art in some other denomination?

  16. Mike Kelly says:

    I’m the newspaper columnist who has been accused of making a “blunder” by the author of this website. My column told a story of a hero, and you folks are focusing on one word. I find that sad, but fully understand your sentitivity. I used the word deliberately. While I am fully aware of the issues that you all correctly cite, I am writing for a largely non-Catholic audience. Hence, I wanted to point out that many deacons straddle the secular as well as clerical worlds. Hence, I resorted to the vernacular — “lay.” A mistake? If I had the opportunity for a do-over, I’d find another word. But I hope my clumsiness did not get in the way of you understanding a true story of an authentic hero. Judging from your comments, I fear it did. Mike Kelly, columnist, The Record. email: kellym@northjersey.com

  17. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Thank you for the clarification, Mike. It’s a great story, beautifully told. But as you can see, those three little letters cast a long shadow over the piece. As a journalist, I appreciate what you were trying to do, and understand the impulse behind it. But it was done at the expense of accuracy and, unfortunately, misrepresenred an increasingly important part if the Catholic clergy to your secular audience.

  18. I don’t accept the excuse that reporters have to report on things they don’t understand. Their job surely is to ask the right questions so that they do understand what they’re writing about? Maybe I’m naive. I freelance for a NYT Regional – I have zero journalistic training *gasp* and I have had to write about things that I’ve never come across before – teenagers and tattoos anyone? But I always ask what must sometime seem like ridiculously basic questions, so that I can first understand what I’m attempting to relay to readers. It’s not rocket science!

  19. Joe Cleary says:

    Mr. Kelly

    In fairness to Deacon Greg he has a separate blog post and link to your well written and in fact inspirational story.

    While I can empathize with the absolutely correct point Dcn. Greg and other make about the deacon being a member of the clergy, my ( on-line but I do owe him a cup of coffee for real someday) friend Greg is experiencing on this side of the Fourth Estate what the rest of us often experience with the media- they frequently do not get fine details correct and it drives those of us who understand the difference in terms or words crazy.

    Over time I have become a bit more understanding of the media and usually put the fine accuracy expectations in line of the background and beat of the writer. I expect a business writer to be more precise then others on finance issues and terms . Or a statehouse political writer to write with more precision on Trenton then the local beat person in Atlantic City. Or a writer for the Catholic weekly would be expected to be more precise in his terminology. I allow I am more understanding then others.

    You wrote a great story about a true hero – thanks

  20. Jim Dotter says:

    Annie:

    If you in fact have no journalistic training; then you are way ahead of the game. Oh, how I long for the days of REPORTERS, and not journalists.

  21. Mike Kelly,

    We all have the responsibility in our chosen professions to do our due diligence, however that is defined by the profession. Given how much journalists write about all things Catholic, I should think that perhaps you would cultivate relationships with priests/ deacons/religious, and ask them to look over what you are writing to assure that you are presenting Catholicism faithfully to your readers.

    I am a Ph.D. Molecular and Medical Microbiologist who hosts a well-read pro-life science blog. I have cultivated relationships with OB/GYN’s and routinely submit articles for critique when discussing details of obstetrics. They do the same with matters of lab research.

    Deacon Kandra is quite correct in that your deliberate choice of the vernacular distorted the truth about these men who are clergy, not laity. As for your non-Catholic audience, the simple truth would be both edifying and accurate:

    Deacons are ordained Catholic clergy in the first of three stages of Catholic clerical hierarchy; the other two stages being priests and bishops. Of the three, only permanent deacons (as opposed to deacons preparing for priesthood) are permitted to be married.

    Simple, edifying, and accurate. Journalists get into trouble when they don’t trust the intelligence of their readers, or when they have an axe to grind against the group of whom they are speaking. Trust your readers, Mike.

  22. John Fitzgerald says:

    Did you become a Deacon to be noticed by the media? Did you become a Deacon to wear robes and be seen? Did you become a Deacon for all the wrong reasons or did you become a Deacon to serve and proclaim the word?

  23. RP Burke says:

    Part of the problem is that other churches — not Anglican/Episcopalian but low-church types — have members of their congregation elected as “deacons” who are not ordained according to their denomination’s process. I was a ringer in a Congregational church choir many years ago, and this “First Church” in a New England town had a whole board of “deacons” who were in fact lay people.

    Thus there is such a thing as a lay deacon, just not a Catholic lay deacon.

  24. John F.,

    Are you normally given to false dichotomies? Perhaps you are familiar with the generally deplorable state of catechesis in the Church, fueled in no small part by the media?

    Deacon Kandra’s defense of his Divine Office is a function of the responsibility that comes with that office. Within the Church there is no shortage of priests who regard deacons as little more than glorified altar boys. Such attitudes make their way to the laity, many of whom have complained to me over the years that they “only” had a deacon to baptize their baby, perform their wedding, or grandma’s funeral service.

    The People of God have the right to know that deacons are ordained clergy, and not overgrown altar boys, that the dignity of their sacraments does not get diminished because of who and what these men are. In fact, these men are the salvation of the Church during this period in time when the numbers of priests continues to plummet.

    When I was a graduate student, I taught college courses and was addressed as “Gerry” by my students. When I completed my doctorate, I continued to have my students address me as Gerry, and not “doctor”. That’s when I ran afoul of the dean in my first post-doctoral teaching post. When queried as to why I was addressed by my first name, I shared that many of my faculty in undergrad in the late 70′s, early 80′s did so, and that I regarded the doctorate mainly as a union card that permitted me to do the work I wanted to do. I didn’t slave away in grad school for a title.

    He patiently explained that the dignity of the college experience suffers when students go home and talk about that “Gerry guy” teaching them, instead of Dr. Nadal, my molecular biology professor. He stressed that the title not only reflected the quality and accomplishments of the faculty member, it also conferred a certain degree of standing on the classroom and the college, that attitudes change when people perceive a certain degree of gravitas that comes with the office of those teaching them; that the title and the robes are the outward signs of the high degree of erudition of the one professing knowledge. So, it was for the sake of the students and the institution that we do not hide our light under a bushel.

    When I spoke to other faculty, they agreed. In the intervening years, I have come to appreciate those words of wisdom. I believe that they apply equally to deacons. It’s important to establish the weight of their office, not for their egos but for establishing the import of what it is they do. They are radically different from lectors and eucharistic ministers, and when they perform weddings and baptisms, when they walk into a funeral home to perform the service, it is vital that the laity know that these men are not second-stringers or “priest substitutes”.

    You may wish to reevaluate your harsh criticism of Deacon Kandra. He knew full well that there would be a John Fitzgerald waiting to pounce when he upheld the dignity of his office, yet he did so anyway. That’s not vanity. That’s guts. That’s Deacons.

  25. Fr. John says:

    I agree with Deacon Kendra’s correction of the term “lay Deacon.” There really is no such thing. However, I have always noticed that permanent deacons seem to be very touchy about their clerical status–much more so than priests. It strikes me that permanent deacons feel almost “persecuted.” I don’t believe they are.

    I do believe that many permanent deacons don’t really have a defined mission as clerics. Proclaiming the Gospel at Mass is nice, but as a priest, I certainly am under no obligation to surrender my preaching time to a deacon. I do wish that many more deacons could understand that the liturgical role of the deacon is not indispensible. If they did, they might be a little more open to helping out priests and bishops where we really need it–in the life of the parish. Having a full-time job prevents this from happening, understandably. But a person making the mistake of using the term “lay deacon” should be forgiven as well.

    The truth is, the permanent diaconate can be a wonderful ministry, but much of the time (if not most) it is wasted. The Church never, ever gave as the reason for re-instituting the permanent diaconate that She merely wants married men serving at the altar. The permanent diaconate was established to assist the Church in places where it was truly needed–places where priests were scarce.

    I know deacons do a lot of great things, but too many of them walk around feeling hurt because their clerical status isn’t always recognized as such. Perhaps, at least partially, it is their own fault.

  26. I made the first comment about the “lay deacon” after Deacon Kandra posted the original article. The story was truly wonderful.

    I am sensitive to the lay deacon comment, because it is not correct. Language is important, when you lessen the position of the Deacon who is the subject of the of the article through imprecise language, you lessen his position as a man and Deacon, and you diminish the Church. In the Catholic Church, a Deacon is a member of the clergy, whether or not he is married or will become a priest.

    I have been touched profoundly by four different Deacons in my life, once at my wedding and three other times in retreat. These are good and holy men who reflect the light the Lord shines upon them and I’d never want to diminish them or their call.

  27. naturgesetz says:

    Mike Kelly — Your desire to help your readers understand the permanent diaconate more clearly is, of course, a good thing. The fact that you were reporting on men who had various occupations now being ordained might have been sufficient. To clarify it further perhaps a sentence would have been needed, rather than just an adjective.

    Thanks for explaining, and best wishes.

  28. You guys are being WAY too sensitive about this–and clerical. The man wrote a positive article about the Catholic Church, when most of the media is attacking us like crazy! And all you can do is wallow in your own hurt feelings. Get over it! Big deal–he made a little–very little–and relatively unimportant–mistake is the vast scheme of things.
    He also apologized, so you are obliged to accept it and not dwell on it. It’s not that big a deal. Permanent deacons need to act a little more secure in themselves.

  29. One more thing to Mr. Nedal: there is absolutely no definitive teaching from the Catholic Church that an ontological change takes place at diaconate ordination. It might be true–but the Church doesn’t define it because She doesn’t know for certain. We don’t know foe certain that someone is ordained a “deacon forever.” This is ONLY known for certain at priestly ordination.

  30. Fr. Sal,

    You not only come off as one of those priests who has little regard for deacons, but also as one who is not the brightest candle on the altar. I call your attention to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 1570:

    “1570 Deacons share in Christ’s mission and grace in a special way.[55] The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint (“character”) which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the “deacon” or servant of all.[56] Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity.[57]”

    When I was a seminarian, I recall Cardinal O’Connor stressing this indelible imprint as an ontological change. So, I’m going with O’Connor and the CCC.

  31. yes yes yes…

    This could be emphasised by deacons wearing clerics (and people can ask if they need to know if he is deacon or priest)

  32. Fr. Sal,

    “Get over it! Big deal–he made a little–very little–and relatively unimportant–mistake is the vast scheme of things.”

    Actually, Father, he didn’t make a mistake at all. He said it was deliberate. The very essence of journalism is to bring clarity to matters that are confused or muddled. This man could have done so very easily, but sought not to.

    Yes, it was a very good piece overall, but it contained the predictable dagger by intentionally diminishing the clerical status of the deacon.

    And yes, I AM being clerical about the clerical status of deacons, if for no other reason that you, a priest, have not defended them as such. A further point about that indelible mark…

    Pope Benedict XVI wants priests to wear dalmatics under their chasubles because they did not cease being deacons when they were ordained priests. I don’t know where you were educated, or how many classes you slept through, but your slight regard for fellow deacons, combined with your ignorance of who you are ontologically have spoken volumes here.

  33. Asperity Ipswich says:

    Dear Gerard Nadal:

    You would do well to avoid casting stones in regard to Father Sal, especially as you do not seem to be the brightest light in the firmament on certain issues yourself.

    In your latest acerbic comment, you wrote the following:
    “Pope Benedict XVI wants priests to wear dalmatics under their chasubles because they did not cease being deacons when they were ordained priests. I don’t know where you were educated, or how many classes you slept through, but your slight regard for fellow deacons, combined with your ignorance of who you are ontologically have spoken volumes here.”

    According to your CV, you spent some time at a fine seminary, which certainly has a wonderful theological library. In between your own naps or visits to the student center, you certainly could have visited the library and looked up the Ceremonial of Bishops (a slightly important book), which forbids priests and deacons from wearing a liturgical garment not proper to them – i.e., priests do not wear dalmatics under their chasubles – only bishops are allowed to do so. Your liturgical information is inaccurate – and ascribing such a desire to the Holy Father is stunningly wrong.

    Now, I am sure that you made a simple mistake, but did not Mr. Kelly and Fr. Sal make simple mistakes as well? Thus, your own comments go against your maxim from above: “Simple, edifying, and accurate.” Nevertheless, you sacrificed accuracy on the altar of petty nonsense. Well done…

    I am sorry for being so direct, but (again in your words from another comment above): “That’s not vanity. That’s guts.”
    Enjoy your holiday weekend.

  34. Dear George,
    Perhaps I was at fault for saying there was no evidence for an ontological change, as you pointed out. However, the imprint which the deacon receives is not the same as that of a priest, and the language used in the Catechism is clear that the deacon “serves” but the language is certainly not as clear as role of the Priest.
    Second, this reporter was in no way being uncharitable. You, however, were extremely uncharitable, and quite frankly, you need to go to Confession. I did not attack anyone, nor did Me. Kelly. If I were him, I wouldn’t write any more positive pieces about the Church, considering the treatment he got on this blog by Deacon Kendra, yourself, and some others. When, in this day and age, someone writes a positive piece about the Church, it is no time to concentrate on petty points such as a term as “lay deacon.” People are naturally confuse by the permanent diaconate, because while they may be clerics, they certainly do not live the same life as a priest or bishop.
    One mistake: Pope Benedict never said he wants priests to wear dalmatics.
    As I said, you need to exercise a bit more charity in your life.

  35. Oops. Got your name wrong–my post was directed to Gerard. Sorry.

  36. Joe Cleary says:

    Gerald

    I must disagree with your assessment of Mr Kelly and to be specific your assumptions as to his motives and his desire to intentionally diminish the clerical status of the deacon.

    I know you are very scholarly but I must ask did you read the same article I read and his response?

    Your earlier comparisons to scholarly documents that you run by various subject matter experts- do you typically complete this in the same hour or two that you write the document in the middle of the night? ( nearly every newspaper in America is a morning paper which means they are often written and edited in the middle of the night) I am not creating excuses since news and deadlines are what they are, but as I noted earlier such imprecision in the general media on finer matters is and has been very common in my observation.

    In my opinion you are being uncharitable to assume he was not sincere when he said he he called him a ‘lay deacon’ to express to his readers that he was still a man with a regular job working for a company , family etc. as well as taking on church roles and was not trying to diminish his cannon law status as a member of the clergy. If in fact he did this as a “dagger” as you suggest, why would he say he would have selected a different word next time. I think his response here was sincere and see not one shred of evidence to suggest otherwise.

    This was a well written news story ( with a positive spin on the Church to boot!) about a true hero. The story included phrase that the author said would redo if he realized how it would be understood but frankly that phrase did not reallydiminish the story of this hero for most readers. Nor for me.

  37. Joe, quite correct about bishop rather than priest wearing the dalmatic. That’s what I get for writing on the fly myself.

    However, I reiterate that Mr. Kelly himself stated that he intentionally misstated things. So that changes the equation substantially, taking the issue out of the realm of deadlines or lack of familiarity with the finer points of detail. My year in the major seminary didn’t cover these topics, and was a quarter of a century ago. I’m not ordained, but would presume that one who is would be aware of his own ontological status.

    Fr. Sal,

    I never said that the deacon’s imprint was the same as the priest’s. I said a deacon is a deacon forever, and you (wrongly) said I was in error, that the Church had no defined teaching in this area. I in no way conflated the ontological realities of priest and deacon, so I don’t see where you are dragging in the priest’s ontological change in all of this. As a matter of fact, I went out of my way to remind you that you have BOTH.

    As for uncharitableness and the need for confession, to borrow from Deacon Kandra’s title, lay off of it. You came here and suggested that Deacon Greg’s objection was over a very little thing, which it is not. I suggest that you consider your trivialization of this in light of the fact that you were completely in the dark concerning your own first set of Holy Orders, and the ontological change that came with Deacon’s Orders. A man who is in the dark about his own ontological identity, criticizing a man trying to correct the record concerning his.

    Kelly could have simply and efficiently established the gravitas of the office this hero entered into. He stated here that he intentionally did not, which diminished the story in the process. I took him to task for his intentional obfuscation, and in your purview, that’s uncharitable and worthy of confession?

    Sorry, Father. You led off by belittling the Office of Deacon, diminishing it yourself, and misstating Church teaching in the process. You belittled Deacon Greg for correcting the record, and now me, accusing me of committing sin in so doing. Thanks, but I have more competent spiritual direction.

  38. alter Dan S. says:

    The clerical state has nothing necessarily to do with sacred ordination or its indelible mark. It is a legal category, not sacramental. It could change tomorrow, if the Pope so desired. Ordination/the sacrament of orders is another matter.

  39. Have it your way. I at least had the courage to admit my mistake. Your spiritual director is doing something wrong, obviously. God bless you.

  40. naturgesetz says:

    Gerard — I find your use of the word “intentionally” with respect to Mr. Kelly’s using an incorrect adjective troubling. I think any fair-minded reading of his comment here leads to the conclusion that he was trying to make a point and chose a word which he thought would do so, but which was technically incorrect and failed to adequately serve his legitimate purpose.

    It’s not as if he set out saying to himself, “How can I misrepresent the diaconate to my readers?” I really think you are being very unfair to him in your repeated use of the word “intentionally.”

  41. naturgesetz,

    Kelly said:

    ” I used the word deliberately. While I am fully aware of the issues that you all correctly cite, I am writing for a largely non-Catholic audience. ”

    All the more reason to sharpen the definition and educate the reader, rather than taking a critical point of distinction that might escape the reader and using an obfuscating word “deliberately”.

    The whole point of journalism is to bring clarity to a topic, to edify, not to slum with those who are ignorant of the subject through no fault of their own. Most people appreciate being edified. What Kelly did was a lesson in what NOT to do as a journalist.

    I would hate it if I read an article about a Hindu festival, and in conversation with a Hindu cleric discover that I was according that cleric lesser stature because some journalist who wrote a story “used the word deliberately. While I am fully aware of the issues that you all correctly cite, I am writing for a largely non-Hindu audience. “

  42. And they will know they are Christians by their love…

  43. Give the man a break!

  44. momor in #11, you said:
    “Every news article I have ever read about something I had personal/first-hand knowledge of (maybe 10 articles) has contained factual errors and wording or omissions that confused the who, what, where, when, and why. Hence, I always assume factual errors exist in anything I read.”

    That has been my expeirence too! Every single article that I had personal knowledge.

  45. With all the discussion of accuracy, i find the fallowing statement: “Of the three, only permanent deacons (as opposed to deacons preparing for priesthood) are permitted to be married..” Had the words “in the Roman rite” been included the statement would have been more correct. This seems to indicate a lack of knowledge of the Eastern rite Catholic Churches, and also dismisses those who have converted and been ordained in the Roman rite.

    Now I have to wonder what mistakes I made in that statement. I have to note that we ALL make mistakes, and Christ told us to look to our own before we look at the mistakes of others.

    It saddens me to see such division in the Church and lack of love and understanding among its members. It seems to me that the mark of Christians is no longer how they love one another, but how they condemn one another, sometimes over major issues and sometimes over simple words. It seems more and more I see attacks on people rather than a discussion of their believes, ideas, or comments.

    I very much dislike the idea of “my way, or get out.”

    Mike L

  46. I agree with those who think the response to the article may have been overkill, and as mentioned by others it does make one wonder if there isn’t some insecurity in the type of response made? I am not sure what the point about “clerical”, it is only a term from canon law. before Vatican II one became a cleric when he received tonsure as the first step in minor orders. one is ordained to the diaconate and not to some “clerical state”. for the sake of communication the term ‘permanent deacon’ is probably most helpful for the ordinary lay person to get the point (although it is not PC for many deacons, I know already).

    IMHO and all corrections, clarifications, challenges and overkill attacks are welcomed !!

  47. I cannot believe that some of you men are making such a fuss over something so trivial. Get over it and grow up, already.

  48. richard the pup says:

    I was glad to see the comment from the original author about the deliberate choice of words. It helps show that the problem is much larger than just ignorance of an obscure but important aspect of the Catholic Church. So many commentators are getting things wrong. Professional commentators who make mistakes this year include all the commentators who could not distinguish between the flow of the MS river and the amount of that flow being diverted.

    In matters of science I usually cringe when facts are presented. The ignorance shown during the Japan earthquake coverage and the nuclear plant failures thereafter was enormous.

    What worries me is that in a democracy, people make decisions based on their opinion of what they know. If what they know is wrong, … in the end disaster.

  49. It just shows you the gross ignorance our media has on all matters concerning the Catholic Church

  50. George McHenry says:

    Mister Fitzgerald, it seems by your comment that you somehow resent Deacons being considered as clergy (even though the Catholic Church defines them as such). Truth is important in the Catholic Church, whether it is with the definition of clergy, doctrine, or pastoral issues. Are you at odds with the truth of the statement?

    My son-in-law is a Deacon, a member of the ordained clergy. When he was first ordained, one of the older priests who did weekend masses at his parish, would always call him “lay deacon.” After a holiday mass where he wished everyone holiday wishes (on behalf of the pastor, himself, the sisters, and the lay deacons and other lay ministers……) I questioned the priest about it (nicely)

    The priest told me that “in his mind” only celibate bishops and priests were Catholic clergy and that Permanent Deacons (the correct, and more precise term) were just lay ministers, just like an extradinary minister of Holy Communion.

    My son-in-law, to his credit, took me aside and asked me to let it go (which I did out of respect for him). He later told me that he became a deacon not because he wanted to have his cake and eat it too (that celibacy issue again), but because he had a deeply felt calling to a life of service to the Lord. However, he would gently correct this to the people as needed.

  51. George McHenry says:

    Dear Father John. How would you feel if your clerical status isn’t recognized? Your comment: “Proclaiming the Gospel at Mass is nice, but as a priest, I certainly am under no obligation to surrender my preaching time to a deacon” smacks of clerical arrogance. You have the absolute right as a priest to never allow your deacons to preach at mass — to do so would deprive your congregation of insight and wisdom in interpreting the readings that you may not have. Perhaps you should be more concerned about the proper instruction of the faithful, rather than the amount of your own “stage-time.”

    Perhaps this blog, and the parishioners in your care, would be better served if you focused not on your exalted clerical presence, but rather on your role as a servant of the Lord and how better to minister humbly to others. My son-in-law, a permanent deacon, works long hours to meet the needs of his pastor and parish (while holding a full-time job) and rarely complains. Fortunately, he has a wonderful pastor and there is a mutual respect for the gifts that each offer within their distinct ministries.

    I wonder why you are so critical of deacons, Reverend Father. Is it perhaps because you have an innate insecurity of your own abilities? Perhaps your spiritual director can help you in this regard — it is not healthy to keep these things festering in your soul.

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