Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Clergy Congregation Lauds Diaconate Directory

Archbishop: Document Gives Basis for Renewal

LANCASTER, England, FEB. 10, 2011 ( The Congregation for Clergy is praising the recent publication of a Directory for the Permanent Diaconate by the Diocese of Lancaster.

Archbishop Celso Iruzubieta, the congregation’s secretary, wrote a Jan. 17 letter affirming that this directory “is clear, concise and presents unambiguously the obligations of permanent deacons along with principles that should assist in possible areas of difficulty,” Kristos Media reported.

The prelate added, “The manner in which the particular charge of the priest, namely the cura animarum, and in which the relationship of the deacons with the lay faithful is considered provides a positive basis for the right praxis that governs various responsibilities in the Church, in accord with her doctrine and discipline.”

Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue, former head of the Lancaster Diocese, commissioned a report of the Fit for Mission? Permanent Diaconate Review Group. His successor, Bishop Michael Campbell, oversaw the publication of the resulting directory three years later.

Archbishop Iruzubieta noted that this document “ought to provide a solid basis for the renewal of the formation of candidates for the permanent diaconate, and for the ongoing formation of those who have already assumed this sacred office.”

Bishop Campbell responded, “It is very encouraging that the congregation has given its endorsement to our Directory for the Permanent Diaconate.”

Gift of the Spirit

He continued: “It is a welcome recognition of the years of work, reflection and prayer that have gone into its creation by priests, permanent deacons and laity in the Diocese of Lancaster.

“I take very seriously the future development of this sacred ministry, seeing the permanent diaconate as a gift of the Holy Spirit to help the Church humbly serve our society, particularly the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized.”

In the introduction to the directory, the bishop noted that the restoration of the permanent diaconate “in the life of the Church by Vatican II as a permanent order open to single and married men restores to the hierarchy men’s rich experience of married love, the family and the world of work.”

“In the light of this,” he continued, “I very much share the opinion of the venerable Pope John Paul II when he describes the permanent diaconate as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the modern Church.”

“However,” the prelate stated, “like all gifts of the Holy Spirit in Christian life, it takes time and experience to begin to appreciate the true nature of what has been given.”

He affirmed, “We are only gradually realizing and dealing with the challenges and possibilities that are being offered to the Church by the gift of the permanent diaconate.”

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