The Deacon's Bench

The God Googler Mike Hayes is continuing his googling up in Buffalo, and he’s taken the time to raise a question on many minds these days:

we have welcomed married men who have had differences with us into our priestly ministry, but what about offering permanent deacons the same option?

I certainly want to uphold the ministry of deacon as a distinct calling and if celibacy was optional tomorrow, I would hope that many deacons continue to be deacons and not just become priests. Their distinctiveness is something that we should honor and be joyful for their ministry. However, might some of these Deacons felt called to the priesthood and simply chose the diaconate because they had no other option when it comes to ordained ministry? I would wonder why those who have been long time Catholics not be extended the same welcome?

Might we think about those who might feel this way and offer them an opportunity to re-examine their ministry because after all a Deacon has been a loyal Catholic and perhaps have struggled with this for some time.

While I would think most Deacons wouldn’t take the option, I do think that those that would at least want to examine what their call has manifested itself into and see if they really feel called to the diaconate or if they are only become deacons because they can’t be priests. While formation is supposed to weed out these types, I’m sure there are plenty of people who discover a call to the priesthood post-ordination to the diaconate as well.

Calling all Deacons…what thinkest thou?

Well, it is an interesting question.

One concern I’d have is that the vocation could well end up being diminished. Those who might choose this path would have to return to school for more study — plunging deeper into theology and philosophy and liturgy, among other things. Not every deacon is cut out for that, or has the time for that, and this could end up creating the perception of a kind of clerical caste system. (“Too bad about Deacon Greg. He just wasn’t smart enough to be a priest…”)

It might also re-enforce the notion that a lot of deacons are just priest wannabes. (We have enough of those already in the church — and not all of them are ordained.)

And then there is the theology of the diaconate, which holds that the deacon’s role and calling are both distinctly different from those of the priest.
So I think it’s intriguing — but problematic. Thoughts?

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