Sunday, October 3, 2010

When will it* go away?

A couple of years ago a letter to Homiletic and Pastoral Review (reproduced here -- first letter in post) exposed an apparent discrepancy in the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Roman Catholic Church. Part of the letter reads as follows:
Thank you for publishing the article by Rex H. Pilger, Jr., “The Ministry of the Deacon” (Homiletic and Pastoral Review, (November 2006) on the restored permanent diaconate. However, the author seems unaware of the current lively discussion of 1983 CIC 277 and the formal requirement of continence for all men in Major Orders.
Several persons responded to the initial letter, and the author who initiated the discussion in HPR eventually doubled down on his argument in another letter (also included in the same post).

I responded with my own letter to HPR (also included -- the last letter --- in the same post referenced above), which offered several arguments that married deacons are excluded from Canon 277 and, therefore, permitted married chastity with their wives: 1) There are no "Major Orders" in the Roman Rite post Vatican Council II. 2) Formal logical analysis of Canon 277 excludes married clergy from the requirement of perpetual continence. 3) A preliminary schema which explicitly exempted married deacons and was removed from the promulgated 1983 Code wasn't necessary because the Code recognizes the existence of marital rights in the Sacrament of Matrimony. 4) The diaconal ordination rite does not include a promise of continence for married candidates, while it includes a promise of celibacy for unmarried candidates. 5) The liturgical office of the deacons is not united with the offering as the diaconate, while clerical, is not a degree of the ministerial priesthood (based on Lumen Gentium and the Catechism). 6) The Spirit continues to inspire the post-Conciliar Church just as He did the early Church.

A seventh argument can be added: the Directory for the Ministry and Life of the Permanent Deacon,* promulgated by the Congregation for the Clergy, implicitly acknowledges that intimate relations are part of the life of the married deacon:
The Sacrament of Matrimony sanctifies conjugal love and constitutes it a sign of the love with which Christ gives himself to the Church (cf. Eph. 5:25). It is a gift from God and should be a source of nourishment for the spiritual life of those deacons who are married. (No. 61)
The issuance of Omnium in Mentem, which harmonizes Canons 1008 and 1009 with Lumen Gentium and the Code of Canon Law, strengthens argument number 5.

As the rights of married deacons and their wives to live marital chastity are still being questioned (see, e.g., the latest comments at this link), especially by those both inside and outside of the Church who first raised the issue, each of the arguments advanced above, and elaborated elsewhere might be worth addressing.

Perhaps the most significant point I've advanced is the formal logical argument (no. 2 above). To quote myself:
... consider the logical content of part of Canon, 277: The obligation of continence implies the obligation of celibacy. An equivalent, complementary, form of this statement is: the non-obligation of celibacy implies the non-obligation of continence. Married persons, then, are not obligated to continence within the state. (Of course, all persons have the obligation of continence outside of marriage, as rooted in natural and divine law.)
No one has satisfactorily responded to this line of argument. One attempt was initially incoherent, while the subsequent attempt fell back on appeal to authority (the author's). The same source also cast doubt on one suggestion of mine -- that the incompatibility of Lumen Gentium and the Catechism with Canons 1008 and 1009 would probably lead to a change in the Code -- by questioning my personhood (who was I?); well, the Code was indeed changed, not because of me (!), but because of an inconsistency which a number of people previously observed. Curiously, Omnium in Mentem came as a surprise to many, even going so far as to undermine their understanding of the sacramental theology of the diaconate in relation to the priesthood, as it should. Deacons are clerics but they are not priests; priests are clergy; clergy are not necessarily priests.

Should the teaching authority of the Church proclaim anything different from that which I have inferred, I will humbly submit to that teaching.
* The new clericalism.
** Authority of the Vatican Directory.
[Corrections to the text have been made since its first posting.]

Omnium in Mentem - English Version

The Vatican has now made an English translation of Omnium in Mentem available:

For a discussion of the content of this Moto Proprio as it relates to the diaconate, see this earlier post.

As of the date of this post (October 3, 2010), the English version of the Code of Canon Law has not been completely updated to incorporate these changes.

The [update, 1/23/2011: currently online] text of the two canons reads as:

Can. 1008 By divine institution, the sacrament of orders establishes some among the Christian faithful as sacred ministers through an indelible character which marks them. They are consecrated and designated, each according to his grade, to nourish the people of God, fufilling in the person of Christ the Head the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing.

Can. 1009 §1. The orders are the episcopate, the presbyterate, and the diaconate.

§2. They are conferred by the imposition of hands and the consecratory prayer which the liturgical books prescribe for the individual grades.
Revised paragraph three is missing. It is should read:
§3. Those who are constituted in the order of the episcopate or the presbyterate receive the mission and capacity to act in the person of Christ the Head, whereas deacons are empowered to serve the People of God in the ministries of the liturgy, the word and charity.
Watch this space as I'll be watching the Canon 1009 space.

[update, 1/23/2011]: The modified text of the two Canons, in light of the revised English version should read:
Can. 1008 By divine institution, some of the Christian faithful are marked with an indelible character and constituted as sacred ministers by the sacrament of holy orders. They are thus consecrated and deputed so that, each according to his own grade, they may serve the People of God by a new and specific title.
Can. 1009 §1. The orders are the episcopate, the presbyterate, and the diaconate.
§2. They are conferred by the imposition of hands and the consecratory prayer which the liturgical books prescribe for the individual grades.
§3. Those who are constituted in the order of the episcopate or the presbyterate receive the mission and capacity to act in the person of Christ the Head, whereas deacons are empowered to serve the People of God in the ministries of the liturgy, the word and charity.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sacrament of Service

Who is the servant, the suffering one…who will not crush the reed. Who empties himself? Not clinging to his divinity? Who assumes the form of a slave? Who washes feet? Who pours out himself as a libation, running the good race? Who waits on table, seeing that widows and orphans are fed? Who binds up wounds, and proclaims liberty to captives? Israel, the prophet, the Messiah, the apostle, the deacon, the priest.

Hidden in the Old and revealed in the New is Christ Jesus. Further discovered in the New are the apostles, disciples, elders, and servants – those who comprise the Church. Hidden even in the New is that which provides for the continuation of the Church – the written word itself, and the Word made sacramentally flesh in the remembrance which is to continue from east to west, the perfect sacrifice of praise.

In the preserved, extraordinary bloodless sacrifice of the altar, for centuries celebrated in Latin, the deepest mystery of the Gospel in the church was made real day after day, year after year. The practical mystery of a fading language, unfamiliar to the masses, expressed in its non-vernacular the hidden mystery of Eucharist.

Four Centuries of Latin rite came to a watershed transformation with the beginning of the celebration of Eucharist in the vernacular, following the directives of Vatican Council II. Mass in English, Spanish, German…the language of the people…was the most dramatic of the changes introduced by the Council. Fasting and meat abstinence disciplines were relaxed; new, free-standing altars were erected, so the celebrant faced the assembly. The ministry of bishops, priests, and laity were rearticulated, with special emphasis on the call of all to both holiness and the apostolate.

For some, the changes after Vatican II did not go far enough, and profound discontent arose, with numerous priests and religious leaving their ministry to marry. Expectations of changes in moral teachings were similarly unfulfilled, as the post-Council reflection on the constancy of Church teaching produced recognition of such teaching as persistent, constant, and, therefore, ordinary and unchangeable. The Gospel is both changeless and ever adaptable to changing circumstances. The same yesterday, today, and forever is the Lord, so, too, is his message, hidden in the Old and revealed in the New.

(Scribbled February 24, 2004, but never published or posted until now.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

October – The Month of the Most Holy Rosary

Did you know…? October 7, the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary, owes its origin to a remarkable victory of European Christians (the Holy League) over Muslim Turks in the eastern Mediterranean Sea in 1571. The destruction of the Turkish fleet ended dominance of the Ottoman Empire over the Mediterranean and the threat of further expansion of the Muslim world into Christian Europe. The league of European countries who won the battle attributed their success to the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary, as thousands of Catholics in Rome prayed the beads in support of their ships in battle, far to the east.

While other popes instituted and refined the name and date of the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary, Pope Leo XIII, one the great pontiffs of the Nineteenth Century, extended emphasis on praying the Rosary throughout the month of October. Brother Knights of Columbus are strongly urged to pray the Rosary, and are given a special rosary upon entering the Order. Isn’t it fair to say that we are very much today engaged in battle, Christians, especially Catholics, against rampant evils in the world: abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, embryo destruction for “scientific” research, terrorism…? Our Lady, tradition tells us, tasked the Dominicans with spreading the Rosary, and subsequently inspired men and women and children (remember Fatima) down through the ages to faithfully pray, asking her intercession with her Son. We need action to fight these evils, but that action must be undergirded with prayer. Our late John Paul II treasured the beads and even added five more mysteries (the Luminous) for us to meditate on.

Welcome the Rosary beads onto your fingers, meditate on the mysteries, and offer your concerns and those of the whole world into the hands of the Lord, via the prayer that honors his extraordinary Mother.

In Christ Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary,

Deacon Rex Pilger

KC Council 12392 Knights Talk October 2010