Skip to comments.Use Deacons as Priests
Posted on 06/28/2007 7:33:54 PM PDT by tnarg
The number of priests is declining. The Pope however cautions his congregations not to put in place of priests the laity for that could lead to an over reliance on laypersons and finally fade out the priestly presence.
However, parish after parish is discovering that it is forced to call upon laypersons to act on behalf of the church. The reason? There simply is no priest within miles.
In some cases, nuns are doing much of the priestly spiritual work. When nuns are not there, to whom can the congregations turn to but their own laypersons?
In other words, the Vatican still proclaims the historic Catholic ideal a church led by ordained priests. The reality however spells out another paragraph in local church life, that is, laypersons are left without ordained priests; but they are not left without their own lay commitments to the church.
The number of permanent deacons has increased from 11,371 in 1995 to 15,027 in 2005. The United States has more deacons now than the rest of the world combined.
A lay person, with the bishops approval, can conduct prayer services and distribute the Eucharist that a priest has previously consecrated, while deacons have the further ability to preach homilies.
Canon law gives preference to the deacon as parish leader and, Some bishops use deacons as the first line of replacement in priestless parishes. And the fact that they are ordained has ecclesiastical significance.
Deacon John Bresnahan of Lynn, Mass., said, What needles deacons in some dioceses is theres a push to use lay administrators rather than tap the diaconate.
One of the biggest arguments you hear for ordaining women is the shortage of priests, he said. Well, the number of deacons is up. Lets look at this positively and use them, per Gail Besse via National Catholic Register at http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=20205
Feminists are itching to take over Catholic pulpits. The Vatican resists their moves at every turn. Therefore, the reasonable turn is to ordain deacons to see through the work of the priests, that is, utilizing the commitment of ordained deacons as fully recognized priests.
It could very well be that future reality of priests diminishing to practically a zero level will force the hand of ordained deacons acting out all the duties of the ordained priests. Why not?
According to Stephen Bates of the Guardian: Father Radcliffe, now a monk in Oxford but tipped by some as a leader of the Catholic Church in England, said: It is clearly the case that in many parts of the world celibacy has actually largely broken down in many countries in Latin America, parts of Africa, to some extent in the United States.
"If it turns out to be the case that it is being largely ignored or bypassed, then a very negative witness is being given; and so we have to ask is it possible now either we have to provide celibate priests with considerably more support or we have to explore the possibility of them being married."
In addition, I have another suggestion. It is that ordained deacons be permitted to become the married priests.
"Id bet a nickel to a donut that youre a priest-wanna-be," I offered the newly ordained Catholic deacon.
We were seated in his dining room. His wife sat alongside him, smiling knowingly.
It did not take long for this Maine Lakes Region college professor to respond. "I guess you're 'right on'," he laughed heartily. With that, he showed me his ordination photos prayers by clergy, congratulations from friends, priests greeting family. John surely was one proud fellow.
When I came upon Ken, another ordained deacon, both he and his wife were exceptionally pleased that in his retirement years he could serve his church as a deacon.
Since then, John has become Catholic chaplain at Maine Youth Center. Ken has become executive of the Knights of Columbus in another state. Both are beaming with fulfillment.
So there you have it, I thought. They are ordained to ministry. They are married.
A Lakes Region practicing Catholic shared with me: "With what's going on in my church, I wonder what's going to be the end result."
I posited that with the statistics of priests taking a downturn, it just could be a practical move to see those ordained as deacons becoming full-fledged priests. "Seems like history is taking a stand on this issue," I suggested.
The next time I attended Mass, I read Father Richard P. McBriens candid column, "Gays in the Priesthood." It was published in Maine's Catholic weekly, "Church World" (April 4, 2002, page 16).
This popular Catholic university professor stated forthrightly: "In recent weeks (there has been) increased expressions of antipathy toward gay priests, of whom there are surely thousands in the United States alone. Even though prominent psychiatrists and psychologists have been reminding us on television . . .that there is no necessary link between homosexuality and pedophilia, the popular view to the contrary still holds sway in many parts of the Church and in society at large. In such precincts the solution is easy: Get rid of gay priests and well finally be rid of this horrible problem of sexual abuse of children.
"Surprisingly the starkest expression of this view emanates from one of the highest sources in all central administration of the Catholic Church: Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the popes official liaison with the media and psychiatrist by training. The Vatican spokesman has questioned whether homosexuals can validly be ordained, comparing the situation of a gay priest who may not realize that he is gay to that of a gay man who marries a woman while also unaware of his sexual orientation.
"Dr. Navarro-Valls pointed out that just as such a marriage can be annulled on the grounds that it was invalid from the start, so, too, the ordination of a gay man might similarly be declared invalid. A few priests have privately observed that, if this were actually to happen, the Roman Catholic Church might lose two-thirds of its priests under the age of 45 and some bishops as well. At the same time, many of its seminaries could be emptied of all but a handful of students."
Well, I mused, all the more it sounds reasonable to celebrate ordained deacons as full-fledged priests, thus alleviating the dwindling priest supply while at the same time putting into full-time ministry dedicated married servants of the church.
It would also open up the priesthood to more consecrated heterosexuals who presently shy away from the calling due to scandal attached to the priesthood.
Copyright © 2006 by J. Grant Swank, Jr. http://www.truthinconviction.us/weblog.php
So, as a non-catholic, can deacons be married? If so, why not Priests? Not to push a point, but allowing Priests to be married would solve some of the problems. There is nothing Biblical that requires a leader of a church (priest) to be celibate. The Bible suggests that if a person can be celibate, be celibate, otherwise marriage is acceptable.
Educate me ... please.
As a convert to the Church, I’d be more than happy to “educate you.” ;-) In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church (i.e., the Roman Catholic Church, with which you are, no doubt, most familiar), the tradition is for deacons to be drawn from the married or single men of the Church, while priests and bishops are drawn from the single (and widowed) men of the Church.
In practice, the Latin Rite does allow (as an exception) the ordination of a few married men to the priesthood, but these men are given a special papal dispensation from the normal priestly promise of celibacy. This happens when a married man who has been ordained in another Christian church (usually from an Anglican/Episcopalian or Lutheran church) converts to the Catholic Church and specifically asks to be allowed to seek ordination as a Catholic.
On the other hand, the tradition in the Eastern Churches (read Eastern Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches) is for deacons and priests to be drawn from the married and single men of the Church while bishops are chosen solely from among the single (or widowed) men.
Hope that helps!
It won’t happen, thank God. The priesthood is alive and well, the same can’t necessarily be said for families who attend the Catholic church and contracept and/or discourage their boys from the priesthood or parishes that encourage altar girls and are sissified in their liturgies.
A remnant will be preserved. The rest will starve for the Eucharist until they return to the faith and traditions that produce the priesthood, imho.
“Biblical evidence for the discipline of celibacy can be found in both the Old and the New Testaments. In the Old, Jeremiah was forbidden by God to take a wife in order to enable him to fulfill his ministry better. “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place’” (Jer. 16:1-2).
Also in the Old Testament, God asked even married couples to practice celibacy on certain occasions. For example, Moses asked the Israelites to abstain from marital intimacy while he ascended Mount Sinai (Ex. 20:15), and Jewish tradition attests that he remained celibate for life following the command of Exodus 9:15 and Deuteronomy 5:28. The Lord also asked that the priests refrain from sexual relations with their wives during their time of service in the temple. In yet another example, the priests ordered King David and his people to abstain from marital relations on the occasion of eating the holy bread (1 Sam. 21:4).
In all these instances, there is a theme of abstaining from marital relations due to the presence of something very holy. It is not that the marital act is sinful, but that when one is in such proximity to God, it is right to offer him an undivided mind, heart, and body. If it was fitting under the Old Covenant to serve the temple, to approach God, and receive the holy bread with a consecrated body, it is no surprise that permanent celibacy is fitting for a Roman Catholic priest, since his priestly service is continual.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus states, “Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it” (19:12 NAB). This is an invitation from Christ to live as he did, and there can be nothing unacceptable in that.
Paul recognized the wisdom in this, and encouraged celibacy in order to free a man to be anxious about the things of the Lord and to serve him undividedly (1 Cor 7:8,32-35). In his words, “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. . . . I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. . . . he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better” (1 Cor. 7:8, 32-35, 38).”
Lot of biblical suggestions, but no requirments.
Still looking for a biblical requirement that all church leaders be celibate.
As a person that believes and trusts in the Bible, I need biblical references, not references extra- biblical.
The Permanent Diaconate is a separate vocation from the priesthood. Decimating the deacons ranks is not an answer. Moving from the ranks of the Permanent Diaconate to the priesthood must remain the exception, rather than the rule.
I'm stilling looking for a biblical requirement that all Christian religious belief and practice must come from the Bible.
As a person that believes and trusts in the Bible, I need biblical references, not references extra- biblical.
Belief and trust in the Bible is not the same as Bible only.
you are so right re biblical data.
there are no biblical references that all clergy be celibate. none.
Yes, deacons can be married. However, if a wife dies, the deacon cannot remarry. At that time if the deacon would like to pursue the priesthood he may.
The diaconate is the first in a series of Holy Orders in the Catholic Church — ordained positions.
diaconate — deacon
presbyteral — priesthood
epicopate — bishop
Our archdioces has several married priests who were grandfathered in after attending theology classes. Both were former Anglican priests.
The western part of the Catholic Church has always interpreted St. Matthew 19.27-29 ("everyone who has left house ... wife, children ... for my name's sake", etc.) as obliging celibacy on the clergy. See also St. Luke 18.28-30.
Similarly, 1 Corinthians 7.7-8 ("I would that all men were even as myself ... I say to the unmaried ... it is good for them if they so continue, even as I"), 1 Corinthians 7.32 ("He that is without wife is solicitous for the things of the Lord", etc.), Romans 8.8-9 ("They who are in the flesh cannot please God" etc.)
The Catholic Church interprets 1 Corinthians 9.5 ("Have we not power to bring about a woman, a sister" etc.) to refer to woman about whom there could be no suspicion of scandal if travelling or living with a priest. Thus the Council of Nicea decreed in its 3rd Canon which officially interprets this verse: "This Great Council has strictly forbidden any bishop, priest or deacon, or any member of the clergy from having a subintroduced woman unless she be a mother, sister, aunt or person who is above suspicion." Notice the absence of a "wife" being mentioned.
Similarly, the Church has interpreted 1 St. Timothy 3.2 and St. Titus 1.15 ("The husband of one wife" etc.) as imposing celibacy, as the requirement in the verse was not that the man be married, but rather, that being married only once he would be able to observe continence after ordination, whle diagamists were automatically disqualified by their remarriage after the death of the first spouse, which indicated an inability to control and master their sexual desires.
In the Old Testament, the Levites were compelled to stay away from their wives during their time of service in the Temple. The Christian Priest has an indefinitie and permanent appointment of service to the Church, not a temporally punctuated one. Therefore, he should always abstain from sexual intercourse.
OK, another thing on the education.
Deacons can perform the Sacraments of Baptism and marriage. They can also preside at a funeral severice.
Priests alone can perform the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Annointing of the Sick, Holy Eucharist and Confirmation. (along with the other three, of course.)
So deacons can not say a Mass. What they can do is preside at a Communion Service and distribute the hosts already consecrated by a priest. So a priest still has to visit these parishes.
A married man can receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders. That is true in both Eastern and Latin Christianity (whether the particular church is in communion with Rome or not). A man, once he has been sealed with the Sacrament of Holy Orders, may not receive the Sacrament of Matrimony. Again, both in Eastern and Latin Christianity.
As far as whether this is Biblical or not, I would ask you to show me a Biblical example of where a man who is identified as a deacon, presbyter (priest), or bishop, has been married after he has been ordained.
OK, so we agree on that so far, right?
As far as a married man receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders, that is a matter of practice. You’ve already in earlier posts seen guidance suggesting that being single is the best way for somebody to live in the life of full-time service.
To the best of my knowledge, nobody may be ordained into the episcopate (bishop) who is married. That applies to both Eastern and Latin Christianity.
To the best of my knowledge, married men may be ordained into the diaconate (deacon) in both Eastern and Latin Christianity.
To the best of my knowledge, married men may be ordained into the presbyterate (priest) in both Eastern and Latin Christianity; however, as a matter of practice, the Latin Church does not send married men to seminary and strongly supports single men for the priesthood. As others have pointed out, though, there are dispensations granted when deemed necessary allowing married men to be ordained into the presbyterate.
But the above is a matter of practice. It is not directed in either Holy Scripture or Holy Tradition. It is a good practice, though. In fact, if you were to check with ordained people in both the Eastern and Latin Churches, I believe you’d find that it is considered a gift.
As others have pointed out, the reason why there is a shortage of priests is not celibacy, but is a narcissism that has taken over our society, including many Catholic families. This narcissism causes parents to neither display nor encourage self-sacrifice...and the one thing that is required for ordination and to have a successful ministry after ordination is a complete abandonment of self to and for Christ. It’s sort of hard to do that when one has a family to deal with.
The reason there’s a shortage of priests is that they keep replacing them with deacons, EEMs, nuns, and just about anybody who can breathe. Dioceses where there are good bishops who have a genuine understanding of who and what a priest is do not have a shortage.
This “use deacons as priests” thing is yet another attempt to push priests out the door.
Also, you need to use the original publication date, not the date you finally stumble across it on a blog. Joaquin Navarro-Valls retired in July of 2006 and this piece was written in June of 2006.
Here’s a thought though... BAck in the day if a young man became a priest he made his mama proud. Would she really be proud of him for being a priest now? Have they presented an image that many young men would want to emulate? Would not a parent worry that they might be persuaded to become homosexual in Seminary or service? Is a priest of sexual age not regarded at best as an eunuch and at worst as an ipso facto homosexual?
I’m not saying the above is universal, but we need more priests like Father Corapi who would likely kick your ass if you called him a homosexual.