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December 15, 1995     The Message
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December 15, 1995
 

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2 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Clergy Congregation: Church must better explain permanent By CINDY WOODEN Catholic News Service le VATICAN CITY (CNS) The Catholic Church needs to explain better and in greater depth the theological identity of permanent deacons and how they differ from priests and from lay people, said members of the Congregation for the Clergy. The congregation met Nov. 28-Dec. 1 to discuss a draft of guidelines for the selection, training, ministry and life of permanent deacons. Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilac- qua of Philadelphia, a member of the congregation, said the meeting did not include a dis- cussion of the possibility of or- daining women deacons, al- though the issue was raised. While the discussions cov- ered a broad range of issues, an emphasis was placed on clarifying the theological iden- tity of the deacon, Cardinal Bevilacqua told Catholic News Service Dec. 1. The deacon's identity as a man ordained for service to the bishop and to the body of priests and as a special minis- ter of the church to the poor and weak in society has been outlined in previous Vatican documents, but "there is still a lot of confusion," the cardinal said. "How are they different from priests? How are they different from the laity?" are common questions, he said. "A deacon is Diocesan deacons to celebrate anniversary By PAUL R. LEINGANG Message editor Deacons and their families will celebrate an anniversary in the Diocese of Evansville during the week of Christmas. The celebration will commemo- rate the twenty-fifth anniver- sary of the restoration of the permanent diaconate in the United States, and the celebra- tion will be held at Holy Fam- ily Church, on the Feast of the Holy Family, Dec. 31. Deacon Thomas Holsworth, diocesan diaconate coordinator, said the celebration also falls just a few days after the feast day of St. Stephen, Dec. 27. St. Stephen, whose story is told in the Acts of the Apostles, was a deacon and martyr. He is the personal patron of many dea- cons in the diocese and throughout the world. The first permanent deacons in the Diocese of Evansville were ordained in 1977. Deacon Holsworth said it was particularly appropriate for the deacons to celebrate the restoration anniversary, be- cause the diaconate is in a kind of transition period in the diocese and throughout the United States. The 1995 diocesan yearbook and directory lists 24 deacons, who are active in various min- istries in southwestern Indi- ana. Currently, the diocese does not have a program of preparation for diaconate can- didates. All deacons and their fami- lies are being invited to the an- niversary celebration at Holy Family Church. They plan to attend Mass at 10, with Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger presid- ing. A reception is planned after the Mass. Permanent deacons full-time ministers of the church, pope says By CINDY WOODEN Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Even if a permanent deacon holds a job outside the church to support his family, he is not a part-time church worker, Pope John Paul II said. "The deacon is not a part- time employee or ecclesial functionary, but a minister of the church," the pope said Nov. 30 during an audience with members of and consultants to the Congregation for Clergy. At its Nov. 28-Dec. 1 plenary meeting, the congregation was drafting a set of guidelines for the selection, training, min- istry and life of permanent deacons. Because more than half of the world's 20,000 permanent deacons serve in U.S. dioceses, the plenary meeting devoted a day to studying U.S. experi- ences with the diaconate. Although the clergy congre- gation does not include any permanent deacons among its members or consultants, Samuel M. Taub, a deacon who is executive director of the U.S. bishops' permanent diaconate office, was invited to partici- pate. Pope John Paul told the con- gregation the guidelines would offer "a providential practical orientation" for the life and ministry of'deacons, address- ing questions or problems which have arisen since the permanent diaconate was re- established in the Latin-rite church by Pope Paul VI in 1967. Two of the areas highlighted by the pope in his speech were: -- The identity of deacons as distinct both from the laity and from priests and bishops, -- The family life and obliga- tions of married deacons, in- cluding the ban on remarriage in case of the wife's death. "The vocation of the perma- nent deacon is a great gift of God to the church and consti- tutes an important source of enrichment for its mission," the pope said. The theological, liturgical and canonical identity of the permanent deacon arising from the sacrament of ordination must be respected, he said. "The sacrament of orders has, in fact, a nature and ef- fects of its own in each grade: episcopacy, priesthood and dia- conate," he said. Catholic teaching holds that only two grades include a "ministerial participation in the priesthood of Christ: the episcopacy and the presbyter- ate. The diaconate is aimed at helping and serving them," the pope said. However, all three are conferred through a sacra- mental ordination. "By virtue of the sacrament received, an indelible spiritual character is impressed, which marks the deacon in a perma- nent and real way as a minis- ter of Christ," the pope said. "Therefore, he is not longer a layman nor can he become a layman again in the strict sense." While the church allows married men to be ordained to the diaconate, "once ordained, they cannot enter into a second marriage in the case of widow- hood," he said. For more than a decade, Vatican offices have reported a handful of cases each year of permanent deacons requesting permission to marry again after their wives have died, but also to continue in their min- istry. Almost without excep- tion, the deacons are told that if they want to marry again, they must apply for a dispen- sation and leave the diaconate. The permanent, sacramental marking of a deacon has impli- cations both for how he gives himself to the church and how he behaves in every aspect of his life, the pope said. His relationship with his bishop, with priests and with the laity must serve the unity of the church and demonstrate "a diligent respect for the di- verse charisms and diverse functions" belonging to each category of church member. "Deacons are ordained for the exercise of a particular ministry which is not that of the priest," the pope said. While deacons are particu- larly called to serve the poor and promote causes of social justice, they must never do so in a partisan way or in a way which could cause division among the Catholic faithful, he said. "The exercise of the diaconal ministry -- like that of other ministries in the church -- re- quires that every deacon, celi- bate or married, has the spiri- tual disposition of full dedication," Pope John Paul said. Although it may be neces- sary for a married deacon to work outside the church in order to fulfill his obligations to his family, he must not think of himself as a part-time church professional, the pope said. He is a minister, he said, and his ability to give himself to the service of the church must be taken into account be- fore he is accepted for ordina- tion. Deacons must have a deep union with Christ if they are to have an intense personal prayer life and fulfill their ministerial duties and family responsibilities, the pope said. different from a lay person who works in the church because of the sacrament of ordination. His service is a ministry flow- ing from ordination." The cardinal said it was "just coincidental" that the congregation's meeting to dis- cuss the diaconate came so soon after the Canon Law Soci- ety of America issued a report saying it would be possible for the church to ordain women deacons. The report clearly stated that ordaining women deacons and ordaining them priests were two completely separate issues canonically, theologi- cally and in the tradition of the church. While the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is- sued a statement in November saying the ban on women priests was infallible, the Vati- can has not ruled out the possi- bility of women deacons. "In history there were women deacons, but that does not mean they were sacramen- tally ordained" like male dea- cons are, Cardinal Bevilacqua said. In fact, some historical evidence seems to indicate that the wives of deacons and of priests -- when married men were ordained to the priest- hood -- automatically were called deaconesses, although there was no special liturgical ceremony or appointment to of- ce. Because more than half of the world's are in the United country's permanent highlighted during gation's said. The very comment U.S. dioceses cons' wives in their and often ceived a from cardinals ant from other "It is only understand what band is doing," said. Canon law consent of a wife husband can be diaconate. Cardinal said the con cussed a proposal by! cons' organizations manent deacons be confer the anointing of the sicl. "The reaction cons cannot do iL "This sacrament is a priest. There is that it can be done but a prie Only two administered by is not a priest: which the couples isters and the designated lay ates; and ba be administered by a well as a priest. SCRIPTURE SE By Patricia Kasten GOOD NEWS Gospel for Sunday, December 17, ! 995 Matthew I 1:2-I I Following is a word search based on the reading for the Third Sunday in Advent, A testimony about the role of John the word clues are left to right in the order in they appear in the reading. IN PRISON FOR ANOTHER DEAF RAISED PREACHED WHAT DID PROPHET LEAST D D D P i R D D A P T I B A S G H E R W D E i F A N P T D N E X S R E H i:i CHRIST JESUS sIGHT . HEAR DEAP POOR (3000 SPEAK WIND GO SEND KINGDOM i E H C A E R P P P R O P H E T P J O G T H G ! D (3 O O D N E W S D P S P E A D C H R I S T P A i O A S E N G S E P D E S O O R D L M H D i O D B N E E D 0 U S E J D A S T O N A R O F O (cJ 1995 Air Publishing Co.