Permanent deacons have a unique role in promoting the New Evangelization, according to a chief advisor of Pope Francis.
Gracias was the keynote speaker at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the International Permanent Diaconate Center in Stuttgart, Germany on Nov. 1.
The restoration of the diaconate as a permanent ministry in the Church was called for by the Second Vatican Council, and authorized by Pope Paul VI in 1967.
Gracias said the return of the permanent diaconate “represents both a retrieval from tradition and an opening up of the Church to the world.”“In fact, the implications of the restoration of the diaconate as a full and equal order would go a long way towards the recovery of a truly organic conception of the Church and its ministry. For in this rediscovery of the permanent diaconate we recognize with a new clarity that the essential oneness of creation, symbolized by Jesus’ incarnation, as the ‘sacred’ and the ‘secular’ are united in the deacon of today,” he said.
In 2015, there were over 46,000 permanent deacons in the world, compared to over 412,000 priests.
The country with the most deacons is the United States, with over 13,000; Italy and Germany are the next highest, with around 2,500 each.
However, the number of deacons has been growing in Asia and South America, and Gracias’s own archdiocese began ordaining deacons in 2006. Today there are 16 permanent deacons and 8 candidates for the diaconate.
“With the introduction of the permanent diaconate in the Archdiocese the hierarchical structure of the Church in Bombay is indeed, complete!” the cardinal said.
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