Deacons in the Center Ring! UPDATE

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 277Edward “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

Also chiming in:
Fr. John Boyle
Thomas Peters

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Mark

    I’ve read over it all and I must say that I am puzzled as to why Peters chose to push this to a more public airing via his son’s blog. It bespeaks an inflated sense of self – of both father and son.

    My suspicion is that this is all politics. Perhaps Peters has attempted to find a hearing for his paper among other canonists and the hierarchy but has been rebuffed and decided to go the blog-route in frustration. Perhaps both Peters are privy to conversations and rumors regarding the requirement of mandatory celibacy for Latin Rite priests in light of the permanent diaconate and the Ordinariate – and as traditionalists – are concerned. Hoping to do their part to nip it in the bud.

    I agree that the *apparent* discrepancy could use a clarification via a dubium but honestly – what this will all come down to is a frank appraisal of the Catholic tradition on sex. Theology of the Body notwithstanding the tradition of clerical continence is rooted in an age when sexual activity even between married couples was always tinged with sin (venial at best) and there was no question that the celibate continent clergy and religious were of a “higher” state than the married. The old picture in the Baltimore Cathechism – a picture of a married couple is “good” a picture of a priest is “better.” No matter how much TOTB advocates try to smooth over the distinctions there is no question that the traditional emphasis on clerical continence and celibacy was rooted in a belief that sexual intercourse was defiling not only for the passions it induced but for the contact with women it necessitated.

    Do we still believe that? Some do – obviously. But is this what the Church teaches? If so – clerical/diaconal continence makes sense. If not – it doesn’t anymore. We’re not Eastern either with their long tradition of both clerical and lay fasting from food *and* sexual intercourse pre-and post Eucharist.

    Just admit it: there’s discontinuity. Deacons and newly-ordained ordinariate priests are caught right in the middle of it.

  • http://yimcatholic.blogspot.com Frank Weathers

    This may not be for the squeamish but… this is how “development” develops.

  • gord

    This issue is not a joke, nor should we be disrespectful to our clergy many of whom where unaware of canon 277.

  • JoyS

    And how, may I ask, would this “development” actually positive.

    Let’s suppose that God, through Cannon Law, has asked deacons to be celibate…even those who are already married…how would a deacon be honoring his marriage vow, a known grace-giving Sacrament, by no longer fulling that vow?

    Holy Orders isn’t given to deacons, it is only given to priests. The Vatican made an exception (i.e. Cannon Law made this exception) for those married and from a different background (Eastern Church or now Western Church of former protestants like Anglicans). And then the same question applies–how can one be granted one Sacrament at the sacrifice of another.

    I smell politics–as in, let’s make it harder, MUCH harder for Anglicans to return….let’s tell them about the “obligation of continence” and then say only “competent ecclesiastical authority” can discuss it.

    I am an adult in the Anglo-Catholic faith….I am as competent as any ecclesiastical authority to discuss the Sacrament of Marriage and that is what is being abused with the idea that continence must be held by those brought into the Deaconate or the Priesthood.

    I have a few pins for those “competent authorities”—they can used their heads for Angel counting; it will prove as worthwhile as the storm they intend to brew with a continent deaconate.

  • craig

    Why is it that, whenever I think I am finally making peace with the idea of the Catholic Church as a divine institution, something like this shows up and re-convinces me that anyone who does so is invariably thrust into the position of Flounder?

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  • R.C.

    I’d like to chime in merely to state that I am very impressed by the humility, the patience, and the commitment to truth exhibited by Ed Peters.

    It absolutely stinks to be the person who is convinced something is true for good reasons, knowing that it’ll cause an uproar, and willing to be convinced otherwise if anyone can provide sound arguments, but unwilling to act convinced merely to avoid the uproar.

    I know it stinks, being the sole member of my otherwise Evangelical family to come to the Catholic faith as an adult. Uproar ensues as expected; I wish I could do otherwise or think otherwise but, having dealt with the evidence and all the arguments I can’t in good conscience do or think other than as I do and would everybody please stop shooting the messenger?!

    Anyhow, Dr. Peters seems to be handling the whole issue rather more graciously than most. I have even seen him be very restrained in dealing with folk whose questions or objections are already quite clearly answered in his original article — the article that they really should have bothered to read before commenting on it.

    For all I know Dr. Peters will, five minutes after this post is posted, lose his temper and go postal against every poster who shows his posterior by deciding a posteriori what Canon Law has to mean.

    But at the moment, he’s taking deep breaths and answering in measured tones. Right or wrong, that’s a good man.

  • Kozaburo

    This isn’t the first time Thomas Peters made a fool out of himself claiming something about the whole church. Not long ago, he made a crack about full immersion baptisms when a child tragically died in Romania during one.

    Full immersion baptism is standard practice in the Eastern Catholic Churches. So for that matter is the ordination of married men.

    Eastern Rite Catholic priests are under no restrictions re. celibacy and sexual relations with their wives. Only the monks (and bishops) are so “restrained”, which goes with the definition of the word “monk”. Good grief.

    I don’t know why Ed Peters doesn’t sit down with his son and give him a lesson about this stuff. He clearly understands it and is careful to use expressions such as “In the West” and “Western” throughout his article.

    Good grief.

  • http://www.canonlaw.info Dr. Edward Peters

    Thanks, R.C. There have been times. For example, Mark’s comments above are a real challenge. As you say, deep breath time.

    Mark, I did not push this topic to a more public hearing, period.

    I published my research in a peer-reviewed, highly respected, professional journal five years ago. I said NOTHING about it publicly until its arguments were invoked by others in a debate. (Really, all you need to do is read my webpage on this matter to see, http://www.canonlaw.info/a_deacons.htm). Even then, I basically said only as much as was necessary to defend the points challenged. Over the years, my thesis has been commented upon by others and in the last year or so, those comments increasingly appeared on various blogs. Almost always, however, folks had to rely on summaries or snippets of my research, rather than being able to access the original. So I asked for and received permission to post the original article on my website.

    As for whether my paper “received a hearing” in Rome, how should I know? That’s not how these things work. I do know that it occasioned at least one doctoral dissertation (at CUA last year) which is pretty darn quick for academe to take up a journal article. And I understand there is at least one other related thesis underway. I am quite content to let my peers assess my research and arguments. Posting on the net, of course, inevitably invites comments from less thoughtful persons. Fine. I can handle it. And Thomas does not need my permission to link to things on the net. He is perfectly capable of reaching his own conclusions.

    My goal is not to push the Church toward or away from any position, but to point out what the law says on an important issue and to suggest, utterly reasonably, that where law and practice are in such obvious disagreement, one or the other needs to be changed. If you had the read article, I think you would have seen that.

  • John O.

    I wish I could draw.
    I have in mind a cartoon. There are two deacons in a room, perhaps a sacristy, and behind them is an elephant. It has an expression on it’s face of “don’t shoot me I only work here” and on it’s side are written “Canon 277″ and “Continence”. One deacon says to the other, “Does it smell a little elephanty in here to you?”

  • Chris

    It is the tradition in the Eastern Church that married Priests and Deacons not have marital relations on days the Mass is offered.
    I think Cardinal Alphonse Stickler has a very good explanation of what the Church’s tradition from earliest times on this.
    There has been NO restoration of the diaconate. Only that some no longer go on to be ordained to the Priesthood.
    Perhaps obligations of the clerical state have not been spelled out!

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  • Bummed

    Lovely timely, five days before my wife and I head off to an informational meeting on joining the permanent diaconate. This canon law argument comes completely out of left field. The only reference to celibacy in the materials I was given and bought said deacons have to be celibate after their wives die.

    Looks like we might be wasting our time this weekend. I’m 45 years old, my wife is a smidgen older, and she’ll probably outlive me.

    A pity, since all but one of my parish’s deacons are 70 or older.

    [Don't be bummed...remember, the angel stirred the waters, and God healed...perhaps waters just need stirring, right now so that God can do something. Have faith! :-) -admin]

  • http://BetweenTheBurghandTheCity.com Paul Snatchko

    Somewhere there’s a shut-in parishioner who needs a Communion call …

    Somewhere there’s a bunch of Catholic youth that need organized into a youth group …

    Somewhere there’s a group of parishioners who want to organize a Bible study …

    Somewhere there’s a fallen-away Catholic who is looking for someone to pray with …

    Somewhere there’s a Catholic school that needs a good fundraiser …

    And, WHAT are we talking about?

    REALLY?

  • Bender

    (1) We should not confuse mere canon law for theology or even tradition, much less Sacred Tradition and the deposit of faith. Canon law is merely a set of rules for the governance of the Church and at the service of the faith, not the other way around. And, unlike doctrine, canon law can be changed or abolished at the snap of a finger, for good reasons or no reason at all (so long as any new rule is not in conflict with the faith).

    (2) It is a fundamental rule of statutory construction that separate provisions of law are to be interpreted in a manner so as to be consistent with each other and any single provision is to be interpreted in a manner that is consistent with the entire body of law, as it has been previously understood and practiced. Canon 236, pertaining to permanent deacons, expressly makes a distinction between celibate and married men. Canon 277 states that “clerics” are obliged to observe continence and “are therefore bound to celibacy.” The “therefore” language of Canon 277 thus specifically ties the obligation of continence to celibacy. Canon 236 distinguishes between celibate permanent deacons and married permanent deacons. Reading the two provisions together, the only reasonable construction is that the “clerics” referred to in Canon 277 are only the celibate permanent deacons, such that the obligation of contience of Canon 277 does not apply to married permanent deacons. To read “clerics” in Canon 277 as referring also to married permanent deacons is to destroy the distinction that is made in Canon 236, such that that cannot be a reasonable construction.

    (3) The fact that no one (e.g. bishops, the Popes) heretofore had thought to insist that married deacons should refrain from having sexual relations with their wives should be a signal that Canon 277 was never intended to be interpreted to apply to married deacons. It should also be a signal that canon lawyers and bloggers should probably refrain from going out of their way to find issues and controversies that are not there.

  • Bender

    Reading the above comments now, we learn that this argument was first put forward FIVE YEARS AGO. And that it was published in a “peer-reviewed, highly respected, professional journal.” Thus, this highly visible argument could not have escaped the attention of the relevant authorities in Rome, including Cardinal Levada and Pope Benedict.

    If they thought the argument had any merit, they would have said something, yes? so as to bring to a screeching halt the scandal that otherwise would be occurring. The fact that, in these past five years, neither Cardinal Levada nor the Pope nor anyone else in a position of authority have jumped up and said that, because of this invaluable discovery in Canon 277, married permanent deacons are now prohibited from having sexual relations with their wives, would be a conclusive indication that such a construction and interpretation of that Canon is totally erroneous. Their silence on the issue, together with the continued practice of ordaining married (and sexually active) deacons, is all the canonically compelling authority that is needed to reject the argument.

  • FrMichael

    Bender, I suggest you read Dr. Peters’ paper a little closer.

    He points out that Pope Paul VI certainly, and Pope John Paul II probably, intended that clerical continence be applied to all deacons. That can be read in Paul’s establishment of the permanent diaconate as well as John Paul’s removal of wording in earlier canonical schema that would have clarified the issue as AmChurch would approve.

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  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    I’m puzzled by something here. If the Council fathers wanted to restore the diaconate as a permanent order, then why did they then make the explicit choice to open that order to men who are married?

    And, if they wanted those married men to also be continent — an extraordinary state for a married individual, and a significant form of sacrifice that would be daunting for all involved — why did they not make such a stipulation clear?

  • Deacon Tom Dubois

    The intention of American bishops regarding the sexual behavior married deacons is reflected in the 1984 USCCB document “Permanent Deacons in the United States” (the red book). Paragraph 107 states: “The married deacon must never loose sight of a practical order of priorities. The sacrament of matrimony preceded the sacrament of orders and thus established a practical priority in the deacon’s life…The marriage bond should be enriched by the sacrament of orders just as the public ministry is enriched by married ordained ministers of the Gospel.”

    The Catechism underscores this same point: CCC 1579 “All ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate ‘for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.’”

    There really is no issue here. Married deacons are bound to chastity — as are all the baptized — but not to continence unless his spouse dies.

  • brencel

    What fun; reinstating women deacons would really bring the debate to a new level!

  • http://www.canonlaw.info Dr. Edward Peters

    Dcn TB. The US bishops don’t get to decide whether married deacons must be continent, but even if they did, the text you cite simply does not say, let alone mean, what you seem to think it says. Ditto for the CCC. Really, just read the quotes you offered. As for the obligation to remain continent after the death of the spouse, well, gee, that’s obvious from natural law and Christian morality, no?

  • francesca

    Agree with Paul Snatchko. Isn’t this a canon law issue? How many of us can reasonably say we are at all equipped to weigh in on this? We can all give our reactions to these snippets of canon law cited but since there are so few experts on the topic shouldn’t we leave the work of debate and sorting out to those who are knowledgeable? Just because we may have visceral reactions at first glance to any number of topical concerns, doesn’t mean that we know everything there is to know about them.

  • Father Lewis Berry

    As a celibate priest in the Traditional Anglican Communion(TAC) who is on the road to the Ordinariate soon to be established in the US under the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus”, as a civil lawyer, and as a canon lawyer from a much simpler canon law universe, I would express the opinion that I find Dr. Peters reasoning to be unconvincing. I say this as one who greatly appreciates the value of the celibate tradition of the Catholic Priesthood and who has publicly expressed the view that the Ordinariates should strongly encourage celibate vocations even though Anglicanorum Coetibus makes provision for a continuing path to the priesthood for married men.

    I do not agree that the language of Canon 277&1 which states that the requirement of celibacy is premised on the value of continency in any way necessitates the corresponding view that the dispensation from the requirement of celibacy leaves the obligation of continency in place; I believe that the inference is quite the reverse. Nor do I accept that “…Pope John Paul II probably, intended that clerical continence be applied to all deacons” based on “…(his) removal of wording in earlier canonical schema that would have clarified the issue…” referred to by FrMichael, above. The supposed “clarifying” language was redundant at best and its inclusion could be seen as shifting the inference of the language actually adopted to that suggested by Dr. Peters, thereby introducing into collateral issues the very “problems” discovered by Dr. Peters.

    The marriage “right” or “usage” is derived from both natural and revealed law and cannot be considered to have been waived by mere implication of either law or collateral event.

    Dr. Peters – and some of those supporting his view – have, I think, permitted their personal view of what the perfect situation ought to be to misinform their view of what it is. As well as being a great teacher and guide, the law can kill if not kept caged in its proper and quite narrow place.

    With regard to Anglicanorum Coetibus, these matters have been thoroughly discussed by TAC representatives with the CDF (beginning with then Cardinal Ratzinger) and I can assure Ordinariate bound married clergy – who will be ordained in the Catholic Church – that they will not be considered to be required or expected to be bound by a rule of mandatory continence.

  • Chris B

    If the canonical question is so blindingly obvious, one would expect that some bishop in a diocese that ordains married deacons would’ve raised the issue, right?
    For example: does anyone familiar with the Church in the US seriously believe that… Archbishop (now Cardinal) Raymond Burke ( no liberal squish he) would’ve ordained married men as deacons when he was in Saint Louis, without mentioning… and insisting, that canon law required abstinence from his married deacons? Burke had the reputation for being the leading canonist of his generation even before taking over the Signatura. I think he would’ve mentioned it. Or refrained from ordaining married men at all. Needless to say, he did ordain married men as p-d’s.
    In my diocese, we currently have 23 men in formation for the diaconate myself among them. All of us are married, all have children, all are under 65. (Most are solidly orthodox, FWIW) None of us would, or could, in good conscience, in essence abandon our marital vocation, which is what requiring total continence would entail.
    To ordain married men, while requiring them to abandon one of the defining characheristics of a Christian marriage-physical intimacy- would make no sense. If Dr. Peters is correct (And I don’t claim any expertise in canon law), what is his proposed solution? Amend the canon in question? Or flush the entire re-established order down the drain?
    After reading the response to Dcn Dubois… is Dr. Peters then denying that physical intimacy is an essential part of the marriage bond? That’s the implication I get, and with respect, that’s not what the Church teaches.

  • http://THEDEACON'SSTUDIO THE SCULPTOR

    there seems to be a lot of time waisted on this subject — AS the saying goes ” AT EASE MEN SMOKE IF U HAVE THEM”

  • jcd

    Part of the intended results of Vatican II were to create a new heretical church which would look more protestant than the Traditional Church.
    One only has see the confusion, loss of faith, loss of Holy reverence, loss of belief in the Real Presence, loss of devotions, loss of vocations, etc. to see that we now have a Modern American Church and NOT the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

  • David Martin

    A deacon cannot be married because canon law requires all deacons to be continent, and because the diaconate is the preparatory step to the priesthood. However, a deacon may not give the sacramants as in the priesthood since he has no authority or commission from Christ to do so.

    Generally, religious cannot be familiar of personal with the opposite sex for they thereby show themselves to be undedicated and worldly. When religious lose their spiritual common sense this way it is the clearest indication that the Holy Spirit has departed from them.

    Daid Martin
    jmj4today@att.net

  • http://www.pettag.co larry

    Much has already been said.
    Personally I could care less if a priest or deacon is married or not.
    Clearely the bible teaches a married spouse to submit to each other. Any teaching other than that is clearly evil. The same would be said of allowing same sex marriage or abortion. It’s clearly against the bibles authoritive teaching. Where some scripture needs understanding this is as simple as thou shalt not steal.
    Only evil can come up with an argument. I know that the church has it’s fair share of lawsuits that have no merit and exist just to destroy it’s credibility. But this is worse, forcing a spouce to submit to the church, this is pure evil and should never ever be considered.

  • Max Lindenman

    I really admire Deacon Greg for speaking so bluntly. It takes courage to counter an ideological argument with a pragmatic one. As for me, I’m not a canon lawyer, or a historian of canon law, so I haven’t the foggiest notion of why the code is unclear, or what the nodms governing the diaconate should be. However, I do know that if I were a deacon, and my bishop ordered me to quit sleeping with my wife, I’d tell His Excellency, in the most filial, charitable terms, to put down his crack pipe.

  • Max Lindenman

    Oh, and another thing. Herr Doktor Peters seems awfully bthered that — how did he put it? — less thoughtful people might weigh in on an a subject he’s studied so diligently. Now, I’ll freely admit, I’m as thoughtless any human being can be without suffering traumatic brain injury. A brute, an intellectual featherweight, a founding member of the booboisie — I am all of these and less.

    But one thing cave dwellers like me are pretty good about bearing in mind is the human element. “Will it play in Peoria?” is a question beneath the dignity of any professional Luftmensch to consider, but that doesn’t mean it lacks all importance. No matter how airtight you make the case for continence, it won’t make it seem less oppressive to the folks who have to live it. Continence will alienate some good people from the diaconate, and possibly drive some deacons and their wives ’round the bend. To an intellectual or an ideologue this is fine — the cost of doing business, you might say. But a Church does not thrive from intellectual consistency alone.

    I’m reminded of an essay that appeared recently in First Things. The author, whose name I’ve forgotten, argues that perhaps the Church shouldn’t be quite so quick to laicize priests credibly accused of sex abuse. He sees it as a threat to the theology of the priesthood, and he makes a good case. The only hole in his argument is that it was partly that theological baggage that ensured that abuse became endemic. Exactly how the Church was meant to prevent history repeating itself, the author didn’t say. He was a thinker, after all, not an administrator.. His piece’s close reasoning and yawning gap made it at once one of the most logical and one of the most illogical pieces I’d ever read.

    Save a place at the table for common sense, is all I’m saying..

  • wiley

    How I see it:

    1. Clerics must be continent, therefore they must be celibate. But, some are not required to be celibate. It is logical to conclude those need not be continent.

    2. Silence is approval.

    3. The Magisterium has been silent in the face of the widespread belief that continency is not obligatory for married deacons when it could easily intervene.

    4. A doubtful law does not bind. (am prepared to address the notion of the ‘safer’ moral option.)

    5. Thoughtful, learned persons have raised a doubt, asking, in effect, for a responsum ad dubium from the Magisterium.

    6. In the normal discipline, married men seeking the priesthood in the Latin Rite must cease co-habitation.

    7. Permanent deacons and converted Anglican priests are not ordered by Church law to cease co-habitation.

    8. Co-habitation for those barred from sexual relations is a proximate occasion of sin.

    9. Permitting married clerics to co-habitate, while binding them to continency would cause a proximate occasion to sin. The Church would be violating the first maxum – the salvation of souls.

    10. The marriage vow confers conjugal rights under the natural law, which supercedes all other law. Canon law must yield to natural law.

    11. Only the married cleric is bound by obligations of the office of Orders. Deacons’ wives are not thereby bound, nor are they bound in the present discipline to profess their own vow of celibacy/chastity, nor are they bound to cease co-habitation by any decree of the Church. They therefore do not forsake their marital rights. They may claim the conjugal right under the natural law and the husband must satisfy that right.

    Weighing all those factors makes it nearly impossible to abide the notion that the Church intends married deacons and converted Anglican priests to remain continent.

  • http://www.canonlaw.info Dr. Edward Peters

    Most of the (substantive) comments offered against my thesis concerning clerical continence focus on various aspects of Marriage. That’s understandable, in that we are talking, after all, about MARRIED deacons and priests. Now, after 25 years of marriage, and 10 years in tribunal work, and 10 more years of teaching and writing about, inter alia, Christian marriage and marriage canon law, I see how much more I still have to learn the Great Mystery that is Matrimony! I appreciate the kind efforts of some to make sure that I understand what marriage is all about.

    But this exclusive discussion of marriage in regard to married deacons and priests misses the fact that we are, obviously, talking about married DEACONS AND PRIESTS, in other words, that one must consider the doctrine, theology, and canon law of HOLY ORDERS in order to understand this issue, and not just continue to ruminate on Marriage. Virtually no one (besides me, and in places, Dcn. Ditewig) seems to be talking at any length about the demands that HOLY ORDERS makes upon men (and, if they are married, upon their wives). But folks, I gotta say, that’s rather like trying to win the Tour de France on a unicycle. One might be moving, but one is not going to get very far.

    In the article, I discuss canonical issues related to holy Orders at length.

  • Charles

    Yes, this “issue” is a joke. How many canon lawyers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    There’s less than nothing here. Any body of law developed over decades (let alone centuries) is bound to have overlapping rules that either blatantly or subtly contradict one another.

    In this non-controversy, the intent of the law as a whole has been made clear by the reality of married deacons living as married men.

  • Bender

    A discussion focused on the doctrine and sacramental theology of Holy Orders would be welcome, and plenty of people have, in fact, written on these matters.

    But you didn’t base your argument on doctrine or theology. You grounded it in a peculiar construction of a section of canon law.

    Canon law is not co-extensive with doctrine or theology. Canon law is not even the unicycle, much less the bicycle, but is merely the ground rules for conducting the Tour.

  • Fr. John

    Just another sign that points to the demise of the Catholic Church in the United States. Look ahead to the year 2087 and you will see complete destruction of the US Church as we know it. By that time the majority of Americans will be Spanish Speaking with a Church that is far removed from Rome. The USCCB will completely dissapear and the country will look and act a great deal like Mexico today. So why worry about Deacons who at best are nothing more than assistants to the Ordained Priest. They are the second step to married clergy. The first was of course the Episcopal Priests that have become Catholic Priests starting back in the 1960′s when a priest shortage was dreamed up by the USCCB. Why did we not rely on God to solve our problems? Power my friend, nothing more than power. How many times have you heard a Bishop speak of feeding the poor while he lives in grand splendor? May God forgive us…..

  • Steve

    Hey, Fr. John, a priest is only a stand-in for a bishop. You are just an assistant, too.

  • Tag

    Lawyers attempting to turn Canon Law into into the shambles that is civil law. Trying to micro-analyse the obvious to display their law acumen. Peacocks I say. Bet sensus fidelium would have a field day with this mockery.

    And Fr. John, you have no clue what the diaconate really is about. Or are the deacons you work with really that ill trained? Have you read anything substantive on the order? How disappointing to hear those words from a priest.


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