Ladies & Gents and children of mature ages: may I draw your attention to the center-ring, where the Wrangling Deacons will amaze and astound you with arguments about countenancing continence and canon law! You’ll laugh! You’re cry! You’ll scream in terror as they wrestle the issue of celibate-deacons to the ground, and you’ll wonder why I couldn’t find a better way to describe that!
Introducing–weighing in on Canon 277–Edward “the Examiner” Peters!
Peters invites the competent ecclesiastical authority to articulate in canonically compelling terms why the obligation of continence should not be applied to married permanent deacons, or to take the steps necessary to assure that formation programs for married permanent deacons conform to the requirement of clerical continence so that candidates for ordination and their spouses can make an informed decision. [enp trans]
Introducing–Deacon Greg “What-the-What” Kandra:
Does anyone seriously think that tens of thousands of married deacons — not to mention the hundreds of married priests — are now suddenly going to commit to stop having sex with their wives? Does anyone think the vocation could even survive such a 180 degree turnaround? The restoration of the diaconate is one of the great success stories of the Church in the last half century. Do they really want to screw that up?
The Examiner responds:
If a sexually active (married) diaconate, and a fortiori, a sexually active (married) priesthood is, in the end, a contradiction of canon law and Western tradition—and neither I nor Dcn. K get to decide that—then only two choices will ultimately be available: (a) change the law and abandon the tradition, or (b) accept the law and observe the tradition, in which case, obviously, reasonable accommodation must be made for the thousands of men who were ordained without being advised of the requirements of their state. Those are important questions, not trivial ones.
In the center, the referee: Deacon Bill “the DocDeac” Ditewig
The problem for me is this: Its absence from the Code does not seem dispositive. It’s not there. No one in authority has explained why it is not there. It just isn’t. Therefore, I don’t believe I can take that silence or absence to reach any fully substantiated conclusion; neither can Dr. Peters: he can’t use “silence” to prove his case any more than I can use it to make mine. However, what may I nonetheless infer from that silence? One, I can infer that Dr. Peters’ conclusion is correct and that married clerics are bound to continence. Two, I can infer that there was a mistake made and that particular statement exempting deacons was left out simply by a clerical (no pun intended) error. Three, I can infer that those responsible for the drafting of the Code felt that such a statement was not necessary because of other statements in the Code itself which would indicate this obligation did not bind married clerics. For sake of argument, I’m going with inference #3.
Keep your eye on that Center Ring folks. The wrangling is only just beginning, and there’s bound to be a canon-induced “ka-boom” before the show is over!
UPDATE: Biblical Scholar John W. Martens weighs in at America Magazine