Wednesday, January 2, 2013

ConCon commentary: It's simply logical

The two reproduced letters in the immediately preceding posts (here and here with reference source texts inserted) deal in part with the question whether married deacons and their wives are obligated to sexual continence, according to canon 277 of the Code of Canon Law, and invite some commentary. (The letters, especially the second, also address related questions for which answers there is very little dispute.)

Perhaps the concise, definitive statement relative to the controversy is provided in the first letter of (now Cardinal) Archbishop Coccopalmario (with the Canon Law Society of America, CLSA, unofficial translation):
Permanent deacons who are married prior to ordination do not have the obligation of celibacy (and therefore of continence) during the marriage. 
In this statement there is more than a hint of logic: celibacy implies continence, which is inherent in Canon 277.

In the second letter, Cardinal Coccopalmerio, in the name of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts of which he is president, notes an additional subtle, but important logical consequence:
In can. 277, § 1 CIC, the requirement of perfect and perpetual continence is inseparably linked to the obligation of celibacy to which all clerics, in principle, are bound. 
I believe that the logical interpretation of the canon intuited by many after publication of the 1983 Code (including Rex Pilger, i.e., me, as a deacon candidate in the mid-1980s), and which I asserted years later in a letter to Homiletic and Pastoral Review (and expanded upon in subsequent blog posts, linked via this post), is affirmed by the simple statements of Cardinal Coccopalermio and the Pontifical Council.


  1. Hello Dc. Rex. I only just noticed your posts on the two letters from the PCLT. I address both of those letters in detail here:

    That neither letter constitutes a "ruling" on this matter is, I suggest, clear from the form and context of the letters themselves.

    Sincerely, Dr. Edward Peters

  2. Perhaps the non-normative and illogical interpretation (as opposed to the logical claim, which I have advanced) doesn't require a "ruling." on ConCon commentary: It's simply logical.