Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The clock is ticking... or is it?

In the past few days, the canonical "issues" with conjugal rights for married deacons have been raised again, this time by Edward Peters' son. He states:
In simple terms, permanent deacons are obligated by law to refrain from sexual relations with their wife once they are ordained. [emphasis in original]
Fair warning: the argument is air-tight
Why? Because his father says so, apparently. Yet, he also notes:
No, the argument is not air-tight. Fundamentally and formally, the argument is illogical, as I first noted here (last letter) and here. Deacon William Ditewig makes the same observation:
If clerical CELIBACY flows from the desire for clergy to be CONTINENT, then wouldn't the very removal of the requirement for CELIBACY in the case of certain clerics not also remove the requirement for CONTINENCE? (I'm not shouting here; I'm simply typing for emphasis.) All clerics are to be continent. Therefore, all clerics are to be celibate. But not all clerics are celibate. Therfore [sic], not all clerics are continent. [EMPHASIS in original]
Father Lewis Berry comes to a similar conclusion (third comment):
I do not agree that the language of Canon 277&1 which states that the requirement of celibacy is premised on the value of continency in any way necessitates the corresponding view that the dispensation from the requirement of celibacy leaves the obligation of continency in place; I believe that the inference is quite the reverse. The marriage "right" or "usage" is derived from both natural and revealed law and cannot be considered to have been waived by mere implication of either law or collateral event.
Is the foundation of the controversy really just smoke and mirrors?

And, why the big push now, since the 2005 Studia Canonica article has been out there for going on six years? Near the end of the paper we read:

Finally, however, because such a practice is, it seems certain [sic], one actually "contrary to canon law," it could obtain force of law only if it was "legitimately" observed for "thirty continuous and complete years." The norm in question, of course, c. 277 of the 1983 Code, while consistent with earlier law, has itself been in place only for some twenty years. (p. 178-179).
2013 is only a couple of years away. It further appears that the author is not disinterested and wants his interpretation to be affirmed by Church authority:
This welcome articulation of the value of celibacy in its own right appeared in the 1982 Schema Codicis, c. 279, §1,67 and, as we have seen, was carried into the final form of the canon in the 1983 Code without amendment. (p. 169) [Emphasis added]
As a number of people have observed, either in their comments on existing posts or in their own blogs, proper Church authority has already acknowledged the legitimacy of married deacons exercising their marital rights:
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. (Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons & Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons No. 61)
Yes, higher Church authority could redefine the rights and obligations of married deacons. Until then, if ever, I think the "question" is resolved.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Illogic and Law

The new/old clericalism continues to assert itself. Unintentionally, perhaps, attacks on the married diaconate may indicate that the restored ministry is critical to the Holy Spirit's plan for the Church. The argument that Canon 277 of the Code requires continence for married deacons is illogical, if not irrational.Further, the contention that removal of an explicit provision for diaconal marital relations from a preliminary draft of the Code implies the opposite is similarly fallacious. Since the scholastics of the Middle Ages, the consistency of reason and faith has been recognized as orthodox; if a contention is fallacious, it is not an argument.  
Further, an authoritative implementation of the Code (the Directory for the Ministry and Life of the Permanent Deacon) explicitly recognizes conjugal love as nourishment for the spiritual life of the married deacon. The contention that married deacons are to abstain from intimacy within marriage is inconsistent with both Divine and natural law and not supported by Canon Law.
Married deacons, trust in the Lord and in His Spirit Who lead the Church!
See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? (NAB)
Behold I do new things, and now they shall spring forth, verily you shall know them: (D-RB)