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R New



November 2012


Deacons and the Year of Faith Ashley Beck and Tony Schmitz


Continuing the Dialogue Sara Butler


Ordinations to the Diaconate Vincent Nichols


Reviewed: Ethnicity and Mixed Marriage Tarcisius Mukuka


Reviewed: Making the most of the Lectionary Ashley Beck


Deacons and the Praxis of the New English Translation of the Mass Ashley Beck


The Permanent Deacon – social intermediary and minister of the threshold Bridie Stringer


Reviewed: The Pilgrim City Ashley Beck


Baptising Babies and Clearing Gutters Brendan Cleary and Bridie Stringer


Emotional Exhaustion and Satisfaction in Permanent Deacons Brendan Cleary and Mike Cox


Diaconal identity Brendan Geary


International Theological Commission: Theological Nuances after Trent Tony Schmitz


Activities of the IDC Stefan Sander


Issue 9



Published November & May each year by: International Diaconate Centre – North European Circle (IDC-NEC) 77 University Road, Aberdeen, AB24 3DR, Scotland. Tel: 01224 481810 (from outside UK: +44 1224 481810) A Charitable Company Registered in England In association with The Pastoral Review, The Tablet Publishing Company Ltd, 1 King Street Cloisters, Clifton Walk, London W6 0GY, UK. Website Board of the IDC–NEC Tony Schmitz (Chair), Ashley Beck, Göran Fäldt, Justin Harkin, Nelleke Wijngaards-Serrarens, Wim Tobé, John Traynor, Benas Ulevicius, Guy Vermaerke, Paul Wennekes, Leo McNicholas Editors Tony Schmitz Ashley Beck Contributions are welcome from readers. Please send material to the editors at the e-mail addresses above. For style details please consult the website of The Pastoral Review Editorial consultants Dr John N Collins Australia Rt Revd Gerard de Korte Netherlands Revd Dr William Ditewig USA Revd Prof Dr Michael Hayes Ireland Revd Prof Bart Koet Netherlands Rt Revd Vincent Logan Scotland Most Revd Sigitas Tamkevicius Lithuania Most Revd Peter Smith England & Wales Advertisement manager Sandra Townsley Tel: 01463 831133 (from outside UK: +44 1463 831133) Designer James Chasteauneuf © The Tablet Publishing Company Limited ISSN 1759-1902 Subscriptions and membership of IDC-NEC IDC-NEC, Barclays Bank, Account No. 33875717 Sort Code: 20-91-48 IBAN GB89 BARC 2091 4833 8757 17 SWIFTBIC BARCGB22 1 year = £15 / 20 euros (or equivalent in other currencies) By post: IDC-NEC, 77 University Road, Aberdeen AB24 3DR, UK Online: (main currencies)


Deacons Ashley Beck and Tony Schmitz


s this issue goes to press the Church all over the world has just begun a special ‘Year of Faith’, inaugurated by Pope Benedict last month. Many dioceses are organizing special training and support for clergy and laypeople to enable the Church to gain the most from this period of renewal. What are the special gifts or insights which deacons can bring to this year? The first ought to be obvious. The year is taking place primarily to celebrate the golden jubilee of the opening of the Second Vatican Council in October 1962. While the way in which we celebrate the year will reflect on the importance of the Council’s teachings in the life of the Church, there is one thing which may be overlooked: the call in Lumen Gentium 29 for the permanent diaconate to be restored, which led Pope Paul VI to do so after the Council. For those who read this journal, therefore, perhaps the primary fruit of the Council is that there are deacons at all. As so often we will all find that this will be overlooked in much of how the Council’s work is assessed fifty years later, so it will be the task of deacons and those involved in diaconal formation to point this out. Of course, the call did not happen in isolation. It was part of how that document in particular renewed our understanding of the nature of the Church as the people of God. The place of deacons within the whole community is what matters about how you minister: you are never in isolation. All these years later people’s failure, even at senior levels in the Church, to understand the diaconate often stems from an inadequate understanding of the Church. If our ecclesiology is faulty, our view of ordained ministry will easily become narrow and functional, and if this

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Year of Faith happens ordaining deacons will hardly seem worth the effort. If the diaconate, like other forms of ministry, is rooted in a proper understanding of the Church, and also reflects the symbolic and mystical meaning of the idea of service, then its place in the Church will be strengthened and safeguarded. The second insight really flows from the idea of service itself. The Council’s documents, particularly Gaudium et Spes, explore the concept of the Church being at the service of God’s world. This of course is not subservience, and the Council (in spite of what is often claimed nowadays) did not stress humble service at the expense of prophecy, of denouncing manifest evils in the world. One of the big issues we have grappled with over the last fifty years is this: how do we combine an assertive sense of identity as Catholics, grounded in faith, with the need to be at the service of the world? The lives of the saints, especially those who gave their lives in the service of the poor, offer a good example for the whole Church. In much of the world – particularly western Europe – the years since the Council have seen many signs of numerical decline and this has created a different context for the relationship between the Church and the world from what the Council Fathers might have suggested. As deacons are modeled on Christ the Servant and have enabled the Church to be of service to the world in new ways, they should be able to help people’s reflection. The third insight comes from that branch of moral teaching in which deacons are supposed to have a specialist knowledge, the social teaching of the Church. The Year

of Faith is being celebrated, as in the recent Synod of Bishops, through what we call the New Evangelisation. Over the whole period of the half century since the Council, one of the great watershed teaching documents was Pope Paul VI’s apostolic letter Evangelii Nuntiandi from December 1975 – in response to the 1974 Synod of Bishops which was devoted to evangelization. Consider these words: ‘Evangelisation involves an explicit message, adapted to the different situations constantly being realized, about the rights and duties of every human being, about family life without which personal growth and development is hardly possible, about life in society, about international life, peace, justice and development – a message especially energetic today about liberation’ (29). This is as true now as it was nearly forty years ago, but again it should be deacons who constantly remind the Church that evangelization has to include these things. We hope that you find this issue of the New Diaconal Review stimulating. We still desperately need more paying subscribers, or it will not be possible for us to continue in printed form. We are the only English-language academic journal devoted to the diaconate in the world – please become a subscriber and encourage others to do so. We also urgently need people with particular skills in fundraising and business management – please contact us if you can help. ■

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Ashley Beck and Tony Schmitz


Sister Sara Butler MSBT continues the dialogue from previous issues of this journal on women in the diaconate


n the May 2012 issue of this journal Gary Macy, William Ditewig, and Phyllis Zagano (hereafter, “Macy et al”) replied to my essay, “Women Deacons and Sacramental Symbolism.”1 I am grateful to them for their critique and to the editors for the opportunity to continue the dialogue. My review of the historical evidence inclines me to support the view that the diaconal ministry to which women were once ordained2 was distinct from the diaconate conferred on men by the sacrament of Holy Orders,3 that is, it was not simply the equivalent of the male diaconate, but was an ecclesiastical ministry that complemented it. (To underline this, I will refer to these women as “deaconesses,” rather than “women deacons” in this essay).4 This,


the Dialogue on


in the Diaconate

together with the theological question of the unity of the sacrament of Holy Orders, was identified by the International Theological Commission (ITC) as an “indication” that tends to weigh against the admission of women to the diaconate.5 My reasoning, in brief, is that early sources portray the diaconal ministry exercised by women as a “gendered” role. Deaconesses were entrusted with the care of other women, and a feminine typology was invoked both in explanations which justify their exercise of ministry in the Church and, in the ordination prayers or rites, to serve as models or “icons” of that ministry. The icons for male deacons are Jesus Christ and St. Stephen, while the icons for

1 See the May 2011 issue of the New Diaconal Review, pp. 38-49. 2 I use “ordain” with the understanding, explained by Gary Macy, The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 23-48) that until the 12th century this term was used in the broad sense to signify that one was designated to take up a certain function in the service of the community. I say “were once ordained” because my argument is based on evidence from the early Church. 3 This position was defended by Aimé G. Martimort, Deaconesses: An Historical Study, trans. K.D. Whitehead (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), and more recently by Gerhard L. Muller, Priesthood and Diaconate: The Recipient of the Sacrament of Holy Orders from the Perspective of Creation Theology and Christology, trans. Michael J. Miller (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002), pp. 53 and 205-211. 4 In doing this I follow a convention some scholars use to distinguish the two positions. 5 I grant that the ITC document itself does not – as Macy et al point out – identify these as obstacles. However, the Commission published a “Clarification” in L’Osservatore Romano (30 October 2002, p. 12) precisely to counter a claim in La Croix about the document’s conclusion. According to this statement, the ITC did not conclude “that the possibility that women could be ordained to the diaconate remains open,” but identified two theological “indications” tending to exclude this possibility. The ITC acknowledged, however, that “it belongs to the Magisterium to pronounce with authority on the question.” An English translation of the ITC document, From the Diakonia of Christ to the Diakonia of the Apostles (Chicago/Mundelein: Hillenbrand Books, 2004), can now be accessed on-line at, by following the links from Roman Curia to Congregations to Doctrine of the Faith to ITC. (We have been publishing a new and more accurate translation of the document in this journal – Eds.)


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deaconesses are Mary, the Mother of the Lord, women from the Old and New Testaments, Phoebe, and the Holy Spirit. This, along with the fact that men and women were ordained separately, suggests to me that they had distinct offices. To date, the difference between deacons and deaconesses has been examined chiefly in light of their diverse responsibilities in ministry and certain differences in their ordination rites. What interests me is the typology, or sacramental symbolism, that is invoked in these sources. It seems to me, in fact, that this may pertain to the “unity” of the sacrament of Holy Orders. Does this “unity” require that the “subject”6 of Holy Orders in every grade be a baptized male?

To date, the difference between deacons and deaconesses has been examined chiefly in light of their diverse responsibilities in ministry and certain differences in their ordination rites The International Theological Commission wrestled with a related question raised by ambiguity in certain post-conciliar texts, namely, does the deacon act in persona Christi capitis Ecclesiae or in persona Christi servi?7 Subsequently, Pope Bene-

dict came down in favor of in persona Christi servi in his motu proprio Omnium in mentem (2009). Does this determination have implications for the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate? To put it another way, is the permanent diaconate gender-neutral? My dialogue partners, Macy et al., pose several questions, but perhaps their principal objection is that my analysis carries over into this discussion categories or criteria used in the debate over the ordination of women to the priesthood.8 Their insight, in my opinion, is very helpful; this was not a deliberate strategy, but it might have been! They contend that these categories are not germane on the grounds that deacons are ordained to the ministry, not to the priesthood. First, they use the tests for the doctrinal affirmation or datum to demonstrate that they do not exclude a diaconate of women, and with this I agree. Second, they dispute whether my analysis of sacramental symbolism, which appeals to the feminine typology found in the Tradition, applies to the diaconate, and they set out an alternative interpretation of magisterial teaching related to the iconic argument. Here, I disagree. In this essay I will offer a reply to my colleagues’ essay, explain more fully my reason for appealing to the iconic argument, and state why this seems to be integrally related to the unity of the sacrament. In the course of this reply, I will eval-

6 In addition to the matter and form and the properly authorized minister with the intention to do what the Church intends, sacramental theology considers the “subject” or person who receives the sacrament. 7 See From the Diakonia of Christ to the Diakonia of the Apostles, pp. 94-96. 8 These are found in a document of the Congregation for the Faith, Inter insigniores (On the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood), 1976. New Diaconal Review Issue 9


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Sara Butler

uate certain other objections and claims in their essay.

The Will of Christ and the Warrant for Including Women in the Diaconal Ministry As Macy et al. notice, I am examining the question of women deacons in light of categories used to respond to the question of women priests. In addressing the case of women in the priesthood, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith distinguished the doctrinal affirmation or “fundamental reasons” for the Church’s teaching from the “theological arguments” that show the fittingness of this norm and its coherence with Catholic faith in the mystery of Christ and of the Church.9 The fundamental point of reference is to the will of Christ made known in the testimony of the Scripture and the living Tradition and interpreted by the Magisterium. The theological arguments, such as the “iconic argument,” rely upon this foundation and do not stand alone.10 Macy et al take up the four points Inter insigniores makes relative to the “fundamental reasons” for reserving ordination to the priesthood to men. They point out, correctly, how the question of women deacons differs.11 Whereas (1) there is a constant tradition of reserving the ministerial priest-

hood to men, there is ample evidence that women were admitted to the diaconate in many places and over a long period of time. Whereas (2) fidelity to Christ’s will was seen to exclude women priests, this objection was not raised against women deacons. Whereas (3) the apostolic church followed Christ’s example with regard to the priesthood, its practice supports the diaconal ministry of both men and women (Phoebe; 1 Tim 3:13). Whereas (4) the Church always took the male priesthood to be a universal norm, there was no similar universal norm prohibiting women deacons. I agree with this analysis. In fact, my essay provides further support for it. My point was to show that certain early sources argue in favour of admitting women to diaconal ministry by appealing to God’s plan of salvation and Jesus’ example.12 It seems that the admission of women to diaconal ministry initially required some justification, perhaps because of aberrations among heretical sects that admitted women to the priesthood and episcopacy,13 perhaps because of prejudicial attitudes towards women. What strikes me as significant is that the same line of reasoning that is used to account for their exclusion of women from the ministerial priesthood is used to account for their inclusion in the diaconal ministry. In both cases, God’s

9 See Inter insigniores, chapters 1-4 and 5-6. I make this point in “Women’s Ordination: Is It Still a Question?” The Dunwoodie Review 30 (2007): 141-56 and The Catholic Priesthood and Women: A Guide to the Teaching of the Church (Mundelein/Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2007). 10 See Inter insigniores, art. 5 and the official Commentary, Origins 6 (February 3, 1977): 52431. All of the pertinent documents may be found in a single volume by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [CDF], From “Inter Insigniores” to “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis”: Documents and Commentaries. Washington, D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 1998. 11 Pp. 18-19. 12 For some reason Macy et al assume (13) that these sources oppose the ministry of women. They oppose women’s ordination to the priesthood, but not to “the ministry of women.” 13 Paul N. Bradshaw, in Ordination Rites of the Ancient Churches of East and West (New York: Pueblo, 1990) p. 86, suggests that it was necessary to justify the liturgical ministry of women in face of some opposition.


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plan and the Lord’s example provide the norm.14 If God did not call women to the Levitical priesthood,15 he nevertheless filled the women prophets – Miriam, Deborah, Anna, and Huldah – with his Holy Spirit and he will pour out that same Spirit on the women presented for ordination to

If God had wanted women to offer sacrifice as priests, he would have chosen the Virgin Mary over anyone else in the New Covenant, given her great dignity the diaconate.16 If God had wanted women to offer sacrifice as priests, he would have chosen the Virgin Mary over anyone else in the New Covenant, given her great dignity.17 Nevertheless, since God chose her, a woman, to give his Son human birth, he is known to be willing to grant this deaconess grace and the Holy Spirit for her ministry.18 If the Lord Jesus did not call his mother or the worthy women in his company to

belong to the Twelve and to baptize and teach,19 nevertheless, by accepting the ministry of these holy women himself he demonstrated his approval of women’s diaconal ministry – a service which involved anointing and instructing women catechumens at their Baptism.20 The sources name other women from both Old and New Testaments (including Phoebe) to defend and explain how women, who cannot be priests and bishops, can nevertheless serve the Church as deaconesses. As regards the warrant for women’s access to the diaconate, then, the ancient Eastern sources appeal to the will of God and the example of the Lord Jesus. In my opinion, this evidence supports and augments the “argument from authority.” As Macy et al point out, three of the sources I have used (the Didascalia Apostolorum, the Constitutiones Apostolorum, and the Panarion of St. Epiphanius) belong to the same “family” and might, in fact, be regarded as only one source.21 I grant this, but in my judgment this family of sources, in its narratives and in its prayer for the ordination of a deaconess (Apostolic Constitutions 8,3,1920) attests to the existence, validity, and necessity of women’s diaconal ministry22 much more explicitly than the Western

14 One wonders why Macy et al introduce the question of natural law or ecclesial law on p. 20. The Church traces these determinations to divine revelation. 15 The reservation of the priesthood not just to men but to particular men (the high priests, the Levites) is given much attention in the ancient church orders. See, for example, Apost. Const. 8,5,46. 16 Apost. Const. 8,3,20. 17 Epiphanius, Panarion 79,3. 18 Apost. Const. 8,3,20. 19 Epiphanius, Panarion 79,3-4,7. 20 “For this cause we say that the ministry of a woman deacon is especially needful and important. For our Lord and Saviour also was ministered unto by women ministers, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the daughter of James and mother of Jose, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee [Mt 27.56], with other women beside.” Didascalia 16,3,12 and Apost. Const. 3,6,1-2. 21 P. 13. I dispute the claim that these texts oppose the ministry of women. 22 Didascalia 9,2,6; 16,3,12-13; Apost. Const. 2,26; 3, 6, 9-11; Panarion. 79,4. It is not surprising, then, that this office has been restored in two Orthodox Churches (Armenian and Greek) that accept this witness. New Diaconal Review Issue 9


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sources.23 Without claiming divine institution for the office of deaconess, they justify the admission of women to ecclesiastical ministry on the basis of examples drawn from biblical revelation. What about the second category, the appeal to “theological arguments,” and in particular, to the “iconic argument”?

The Iconic Argument and the Feminine Typology for Deaconesses My emphasis on the presence of feminine typology serves to highlight the fact that women were ordained separately from men, and to a distinct feminine ministry. Macy et al observe correctly, however, that attention to this difference suggests that I intend to set out an “iconic argument” analogous to the one employed to defend the male priesthood. In fact, this is reasonable to assume, though I did not make an explicit argument to that effect in my essay. The evidence presented shows that Christ approved the admission of women to diaconal ministry, but it does not directly comment on or compare them to the male deacons. Were women admitted to the same office? How is this office of any deacon, male or female, a sacrament, a “grade” in the sacrament of Holy Orders?24 Does the unity of the sacrament allow for the difference in symbolism introduced by the presence of women?

In my review of the material I notice that the ordination rites for deacons and deaconesses employ gendered typology and I call attention to four feminine “types” for women deacons: the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and women of the Old and New Testaments.25 The women from the Old Testament are Miriam, Deborah, Anna (or Hannah?), and Hulda, and (by allusion) the women who kept the holy gates in the Tent of Meeting (Ex 38:8 and 1 Sam 2:22). In addition to the Virgin Mary (by allusion), the New Testament prototype is Phoebe.26 I suggest that this “deliberate emphasis on female ‘icons’ of ministry seems to tell in favor of an ecclesiastical order of women, established by the Church to meet a pastoral need, an order which differed from, and was complementary to, the order of male deacons.”27 In response, Macy et al point to my conviction that the “fundamental reasons” have real priority over the “theological arguments” in Inter insigniores. In their view, the same judgment should apply to the case of women in the diaconate; in other words, the implied iconic argument may be viewed as entirely secondary if not theologically obsolete. They maintain that I confuse the two cases (priesthood and diaconate) by attempting “to restore the abandoned ‘iconic argument, which reduces to a physicalism uniformly discarded by both theologians and the magis-

23 I do not dispute the importance of these Western sources, but they seem ambiguous by comparison to the Eastern ones. 24 The ITC report spends most of its time examining this question. Towards the end of the report, it identifies several questions that remain to be “harmonized” by theologians; clearly, these have a bearing on the admission of women to Holy Orders in this grade. 25 Pp. 45-49. It is interesting that Moses and his sister Miriam are the typological counterparts in the medieval rites for abbots and abbesses in the West. See Macy, Hidden History, pp. 14356. 26 In addition to Bradshaw, Ordination Rites, the texts of these prayers (in English) can be found in John Wijngaards, Women Deacons in the Early Church: Historical Texts and Contemporary Debates (New York: Crossroad, 2002); for Western texts into the Middle Ages, see Gary Macy, Hidden History, pp. 133-42. 27 “Women Deacons and Sacramental Symbolism, p. 49.


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terium.”28 They claim that the iconic argument has been “discarded,” but in describing it, they seem to have misunderstood the Magisterium’s view of what it means that the ordained are icons of Christ, and in act in persona Christi. I will respond to each allegation. First, is it correct to say that the Magisterium has abandoned the iconic argument? I think not. It is true that Pope John Paul II did not invoke the image of Christ the Bridegroom in setting out the Church’s definitive teaching in Ordinatio sacerdotalis. According to then-Cardinal Ratzinger, he deliberately chose to formulate an exact statement of the doctrine as found in Scripture and Tradition. His intention was simply to confirm the Church’s faith.29 While this statement focuses on the will of Christ for the priesthood, known through his example of choosing only men to belong to the Twelve, it also fleshes this out by referring to their specific and intimate association with Christ’s mission, a mission of representing him, their Lord and Redeemer.30 In that sense, the apostolic letter includes the essence of the iconic argument. Cardinal Ratzinger comments: [The Church knows] that the twelve men, with whom according to the faith of the Church priestly ministry has its origin …, are bound to the mystery of the incarnation and are thereby appointed to represent Christ – to be, as it were, living and acting icons of the Lord.31 The Pope does not repeat the theological

argumentation supplied in chapter 5 of Inter insigniores, but he does not thereby discard it. In what Ratzinger refers to as a “self-imposed limitation,” he leaves to theologians and philosophers the task of interpreting more fully the sacramentalsymbolic and anthropological implications of the Church’s teaching.32 It is doctrinally certain, however, that the priest acts in persona Christi, that is, acts “in specific sacramental identification with ‘the eternal High Priest.’”33 Quite apart from the theological argument that explains the fittingness of the male priesthood in terms of the nuptial symbolism found in the whole economy of salvation and of the fact that the priest represents Christ “who was and remains a man” as Head and Bridegroom of the Church,34 this doctrine regarding the priest’s “sacramental identification” with Christ is already firmly in place.

What does being an icon of Christ mean in the context of the sacrament of Holy Orders? Does it include “gender correspondence” between the subject of ordination and Jesus Christ? What does being an icon of Christ mean in the context of the sacrament of Holy Orders? Does it include “gender correspondence” between the subject of ordination and Jesus Christ? If so, must it include this kind of correspondence in each of the

28 P. 19. 29 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, “Introduction,” in CDF, From “Inter Insigniores,” pp. 8-9. 30 Ordinatio sacerdotalis, 2. 31 Ratzinger, “Introduction,” p. 5. My emphasis. 32 Ratzinger, “Introduction,” p. 9. The Pope himself builds on Inter insigniores 5 when he offers this sort of interpretation in the apostolic letter Mulieris dignitatem (1988), no. 26 and the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici (1988), no. 51. 33 Pope John Paul II, letter Dominicae Cenae, no. 8. 34 This, in brief, is the theological argument advanced in Inter insigniores, 5. New Diaconal Review Issue 9


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three grades of Holy Orders? For Macy et al, being an icon of Christ cannot be reduced to a “physicalism,” that is to say, it does not involve the person as a concrete subject, as man or woman. They hold, instead, that

It appears that they do not think bodily sex and gender contribute anything to the sign of Holy Orders as a sacrament distinct from Baptism. I submit, then, that their understanding of “icon” differs from the one assumed by the Magisterium. according to the Gospels and biblical theology “all persons are essentially and substantially icons of Christ.” Women, for example, are “icons of Christ in their many roles of service to the Church.35 It appears that they do not think bodily sex and gender contribute anything to the sign of Holy Orders as a sacrament distinct from Baptism. I submit, then, that their understanding of “icon” differs from the one assumed by the Magisterium. The Magisterium explicitly links the sacra-

mental configuration effected by Holy Orders to the person of the Savior in his incarnation (“Christ who was and remains a man”), and situates it in the biblical economy of salvation as a whole. Macy et al, by contrast, disregard Christ’s concrete reality as a male and associate iconic resemblance instead with a deeper configuration to Christ through grace and Christ-like virtue or behavior. It is true, of course, that every Christian is configured to Christ by Baptism,36 but Holy Orders does not simply intensify this baptismal resemblance, it is a different sacrament.37 This new sacrament, then, requires some visibility; the person, the “subject” or recipient of Holy Orders,38 contributes to the constitution of the sacramental sign. In Holy Orders, the sacramental sign is not just the “matter” (imposition of hands by the bishop) used in the rite of ordination; it is also the ordinand himself. As Inter insigniores 5 explains, with respect to the priesthood: The same natural resemblance is required for persons as for things: when Christ’s role in the Eucharist is to be expressed sacramentally, there would not be this “natural resemblance” which must exist between Christ and his minister if the role of Christ were not taken by

35 See p. 20. According to Elizabeth A. Johnson (She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse [New York: Crossroad, 1992], p. 73), “The image of Christ does not lie in sexual similarity to the human man Jesus, but in coherence with the narrative shape of his compassionate, liberating life in the world, through the power of the Spirit.” Elsewhere (“Disputed questions: authority, priesthood, women,”’ Commonweal 123 [January 26 1996], 8-10), the same theologian writes, “The naive physicalism that reduces resembling Christ to being male is so deviant from Scripture and so theologically distorted as to be dangerous to the faith itself.” This line of reasoning is, indeed, often proposed, but it fails to take into account the difference between Baptism and Holy Orders. 36 See Gal 3:37; Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18; 1 Jn 3:2; Acts 9:4-5. 37 The ITC report observes (p. 94) the problem involved trying to coordinate the teaching of Lumen Gentium 10 (that the difference between the common priesthood rooted in Baptism and the ministerial priesthood conferred by Holy Orders is a difference in kind, not only in degree) with the teaching on the diaconate. But see pp. 101-102. 38 The person is the “subject,” not the “matter” of the sacrament. Speaking of the priest, it assumes that his person as a male has theological relevance because he is commissioned to act in persona Christi.


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a man: in such a case it would be difficult to see in the minister the image of Christ. For Christ himself was and remains a man. According to Louis Ligier, Christ is the principle of identity among Christians by virtue of Baptism, but he is also, as the Head and author of mission, the principle of difference among them by virtue of Holy Orders, for he sends one (the priest) to the others, the members of his Body. Ligier maintains that “the res [grace reality] of one sacrament cannot act as sacramentum tantum [visible sign] of the following one.”39 Being a baptized Christian cannot be the

Is another “natural sign” – that is, something beyond baptismal incorporation into Christ – also required to make Christ the Servant of the Church visible? sacramental sign of Holy Orders. Another “natural sign” (a baptized male) is required to make Christ visible as Head and Bridegroom of the Church.40 Is another “natural sign” – that is, something beyond baptismal incorporation into Christ – also required to make Christ the Servant of the Church visible? The iconic argument was proposed to

explain the fittingness of reserving the priesthood to men: priests are sacramental signs; they act in the person of Christ, Head and Bridegroom of the Church. Does this argument apply to permanent deacons who act in the person of Christ the Servant? If women are to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders as deacons, what will be the “natural sign” of their new configuration to Christ? Does the feminine typology traditionally linked to women’s diaconal ministry find a place here? Is the icon of Christ the Servant gender-neutral? Is it best carried by both men and women deacons?41 It seems to me this pertains to our debate, and to the question of the unity of the sacrament. The ITC, in fact, considering how the representation of Christ as Head is related to his representation as Servant, finds it problematic to distinguish the two. It seems, rather, that those who represent the Head should also render visible Christ the Servant.42 Pope John Paul II, addressing this, also seems to want to keep the two together.43 Indeed, for some feminist theologians, the fact that Christ the Head and Bridegroom takes on the role of the Servant allows them to appreciate that his (and the priest’s) male identity can subvert patriarchy in a way that is liberating for women.44 It is unlikely that they would applaud a solution that allowed women to be ordained as icons of Christ the Servant, but not of Christ the Head.

39 See “Women and the Ministerial Priesthood,” Origins 7:44 (20 April 1978), 694-702, at 700. See also pp. 697-99 for a fuller treatment of the nuptial symbolism. This article is available on-line at 40 The iconic argument in Inter insigniores has reference to the male sex. It takes gender correspondence between the priest and Christ to be sacramentally significant. 41 If the sacramental symbolism carried by gender correspondence is rejected, does the diaconate become purely functional? 42 Ch. 7, pp. 94-96. 43 See his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Pastores dabo vobis, 21. 44 See Sandra M. Schneiders, Women and the Word: The Gender of God in the New Testament and the Spirituality of Women (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1986), pp. 56-63 and Elizabeth A. Johnson, Consider Jesus: Waves of Renewal in Christology (New York: Crossroad, 1990), p. 111. New Diaconal Review Issue 9


Theology & History of the Diaconate

Continuing the Dialogue on Women in the Diaconate – Sara Butler

The Unity of the Sacrament of Holy Orders It is evident that participants in this debate bring many presuppositions to the discussion. The question cannot be resolved solely by an appeal to historical sources; it requires a theological solution. Because the theological question resides at the intersection of several fundamental doctrines (Christology, ecclesiology, sacramental theology, anthropology) it is quite complex. The achievements of the Second Vatican Council, e.g., its teaching on the sacramentality of the episcopate and its relation to apostolic succession, all have consequences for sacramental theology and for the diaconate that remain to be integrated. If the bishop possesses the fullness of the sacrament of Orders (Lumen Gentium 21), how does this affect the understanding of the priest and the deacon? The ITC looked first to establish the theology of the diaconate as a sacrament, and touched on the possible accession of women to the permanent diaconate only in that context. The solution to this second question cannot be divorced from one’s understanding of the unity of the Holy Orders as a sacrament. In the past, this unity was approached in light of the centrality of the Eucharist; it was rooted in, the office of the priest as the one who has the sacred power to confect the Eucharist and offer the Eucharistic sacrifice. The minor orders, major orders, and episcopate were all interpreted in light of their relation to the Eucharist. Since the council, the unity of the sacrament is seen to be rooted in the office of the bishop who possesses the fullness of Orders and trans-

mits the apostolic ministry in diverse degrees to priests and deacons.45 Since the council, “the fact that the diaconate belongs to the sacrament of Holy Orders is sure doctrine,”46 and the minor orders have been suppressed. Bishops, priests / presbyters, and deacons all participate in their own way in the prophetic, priestly, and royal offices of Christ. The ITC identified two tendencies. Some theologians stressed “the unity of the sacrament and applied to the diaconate principles that were valid in proportionate ways for the three degrees of the sacrament.”47 On this understanding, deacons would belong to the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood, not just the common priesthood. Others, however, “insist strongly on the distinction expressed by the formula ‘non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium.’”48 They highlight the difference between the sacerdotium of bishops and priests and the ministry of deacons. Both, however, must acknowledge the Council’s teaching that as a sacrament reality, diaconal ministry is rooted in Holy Orders, not Baptism. These two diverging tendencies appear to account for other differences identified in the concluding chapter of the ITC report. Here is how I imagine they line up in relation to the question of admitting women to the diaconate. The first tendency would not easily accommodate the unity-in-diversity that would be introduced by the ordination of women deacons.49 It is committed to a single sacramental principle that would value a consistent Christological symbolism

45 ITC, From the Diakonia of Christ, pp. 97-98. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (§ 1536) refers to Holy Orders as the sacrament of the apostolic ministry. 46 ITC, From the Diakonia of Christ, p. 310. It is true, as Macy et al maintain (p. 17), that the Council Fathers approached the renewal of the diaconate as a permanent grade of the hierarchy by way of the doctrine of grace, not typology, but at the time they did not have the question of women deacons in view. 47 ITC, From the Diakonia of Christ, p. 101. 48 ITC, From the Diakonia of Christ, p. 101.


New Diaconal Review Issue 9

Continuing the Dialogue on Women in the Diaconate – Sara Butler

and see Christ’s offices as Head and Bridegroom and his office as Servant as integrally related. Beginning with the office Christ entrusted to the Apostles, which includes the mission of representing him, this approach would expect deacons to be configured to Christ just as bishops and priests are, as sacramental signs of Christ who was and remains a man. The diaconal ministries of women in all their variety would be valued as complementing the ministry of ordained men in an ecclesiology of communion. Women would not be admitted to Holy Orders as permanent deacons, but

It is committed to a single sacramental principle that would value a consistent Christological symbolism and see Christ’s offices as Head and Bridegroom and his office as Servant as integrally related the Order of Deaconesses could be rejuvenated where it seems pastorally useful. The second tendency is more open to the diversity-in-unity represented by deacons of both sexes because it envisions a sharp distinction between the sacerdotium of bishops and priests and the ministerium of deacons.50 It would expect both branches of the diaconate, male and female, to serve the bishop in the ministries now entrusted to men who are permanent deacons. It would assume that deacons receive a sacramental character, but not that they would be configured to Christ in his male

identity as Head and Bridegroom. They would be icons of Christ the Servant understood not in his priestly identity or as the complement of his headship role, but in his radical solidarity with all humanity.

... the burden of proof remains with those who advocate change. And the determination of the conclusion rests with the Magisterium Perhaps this sketch outlines my differences with Professors Macy, Zagano, and Ditewig. I am convinced that both the historical evidence and the conciliar theology of apostolic ministry favours the first position. In particular, I wish to show how from the admittedly scanty sources, there is a consistent appeal to feminine icons of ministry that support the view that women have and do exercise a distinct feminine ministry in the Church. My dialogue partners may recognize themselves in my description of the second position. Given that the first is “in possession,” however, the burden of proof remains with those who advocate change. And the determination of the conclusion rests with the Magisterium. ■

49 Gerhard Müller’s book, Priesthood and Diaconate: The Recipient of the Sacrament of Holy Orders from the Perspective of Creation Theology and Christology, trans. Michael J. Miller (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002), is representative of this tendency. 50 Phyllis Zagano’s book, Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church (New York: Crossroad, 2000) is representative of this tendency New Diaconal Review Issue 9


Theology & History of the Diaconate

Continuing the Dialogue on Women in the Diaconate – Sara Butler

Vincent Nichols

On 21 July 2012 three permanent deacons were ordained for the Archdiocese of Westminster – Nick Agule, Anthony Curran, and Brian McMahon – in Westminster Cathedral. This is the text of the homily preached by the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most is the one to whom the words of Isaiah in Reverend Vincent Nichols today’s Gospel reading point: the one in whom all nations, all peoples, are called to place their hope. Christ is the Great Hope surpassing all others. He fulfills the longing Westminster Cathedral for that something more, something infi21 July 2012 This weekend in London a remarkable series of concerts is taking place. There are six Christ, true man, satisfies open-air concerts in various places, connected by the river. Five of them are featuring completely our deepest music from the five different continents of human longing. Christ, true the world. There is music from 204 different God, does so by a divine gift nations, with over 1,500 musicians taking part. It is a remarkably diverse, rich, expres- which we cannot attain by sion of the cultures in which we live today. ourselves These and other similar events connected with the Olympics, got me thinking about the challenge of proclaiming the Gospel today in our contemporary cultural situation. You and I live and move in these different cultures, these different ways of seeing the world, of expressing ourselves, of doing things. At times these cultures are contradictory, but the very variety of them can mean that we can easily experience life as having been broken into fragments, lacking a unified story, or overall sense of direction.

nite, which remains within us like a summons even when our all our other hopes are fulfilled. Christ, true man, satisfies completely our deepest human longing. Christ, true God, does so by a divine gift which we cannot attain by ourselves. As Pope Benedict says:

Yet proclaiming the Gospel is our calling and privilege. It’s a challenging opportunity. This is why Pope Benedict calls for a “New Evangelization”. We need freshness and new vigour in our ways of proclaiming the Gospel, which he describes as “the ever new proclamation of the salvation worked by Christ which makes humanity participate in the mystery of God and in his life of love and which opens it to a future of strong, sure hope” (Speech 30 May 2011).

“God is the foundation of hope; not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end, each one of us and humanity in its entirety. His Kingdom is not an imaginary hereafter, situated in a future that will never arrive; his Kingdom is present wherever he is loved and wherever his love reaches us. His love alone gives us the possibility of soberly persevering day by day, [without ceasing to be] spurred on by hope, in a world which by its very nature is imperfect. His love is at the same time our guarantee of the existence of what we vaguely sense and which nevertheless, in our deepest self, we await: a life that is ‘truly’ life” (Spe salvi 31).

This strong, sure hope is Christ himself! He

Our challenge is to find new languages and


New Diaconal Review Issue 9

to the

Diaconate new approaches to enable the unchanging face of Christ, in all his radiant spendour, to be seen in all the cultures we experience today; to find new ways to allow others, even in the confusion of so much of living today, to discover the joy which comes through a living relationship with Christ. For it’s in this relationship that the fundamental direction of our lives is made clear, integrity given to them and their beauty fully revealed. In this relationship with Our Lord we are liberated to be fully alive! So how can I as a bishop meet this challenge? Not on my own, that’s for sure! I should certainly call on the intercession of the great Capuchin preacher and Doctor of the Church, St. Laurence of Brindisi, whose memoria it is today. He said: ‘Preaching is an apostolic task, an angelic task, a Christian task, a divine task.’ I could do with something of his amazing capacity for languages to communicate the Gospel of Hope in a setting where so many different cultural tongues are spoken. But, of course, I’m ably assisted by my fellow bishops and by priests too. Together bishops and priests must serve to strengthen the powerful witness given by, you, the lay faithful, who in many respects are at the front line of the New Evangelization. Your family lives, work places, leisure activities provide rich opportunities to let the face of Christ be seen and his voice heard. “But what about deacons?” I hear you ask. “This is meant to be, after all, a homily for an ordination to the diaconate!” Nick, Anthony, and Brian, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten you! As deacons you will have a pivotal role in the New Evangelization. The diaconate is vital to the Church’s proclamation of Hope within the array of cultures in our diocese today.

As the inside front cover of the Order of Service explains, you are being ordained to assist me, the bishop, and to work with the priests; but so too are you ordained to ‘promote and sustain the apostolic activities of the laity’. As John Paul II explained, to the extent that you are more involved in secular environments and structures, you should feel encouraged to foster closeness between the ordained ministry and lay activities, in common service to the Kingdom of God – and I would add, particularly through a generous commitment to the New Evangelization. This homily is not the place to spell out in detail how you can do this. But I do want you and your brother deacons to think imaginatively about how your diaconal ministry can

I do want you and your brother deacons to think imaginatively about how your diaconal ministry can contribute to finding new ways, new languages to proclaim the Word contribute to finding new ways, new languages to proclaim the Word that the Church must constantly proclaim. Perhaps an image arising out of the first reading you chose for today’s celebration may help your reflections? We heard that the tribe of Levi was charged with a particular service regarding the Tent of Meeting, or Tabernacle, the place where God dwells among his people. Elsewhere we read that the Levites, who assisted the priests, performing sacred but not priestly

New Diaconal Review Issue 9


Ministry of the Word


Ordinations to the Diaconate – Vincent Nichols

functions, had the privilege of carrying the Ark of the Covenant (see Num. 1: 49-53, 4). As you know, the Ark was carried at the head of the Israelites on their journey through the desert to the Promised Land. The Ark was the sign that God was with his people on their journey, leading them home, guiding them through all their struggles, even through apparent defeat, to ultimate victory. I invite you and your brother deacons to seek the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so as to find wise answers to questions such as these: how can you furnish places, fashion opportunities, where people of our age can meet God in their midst, encounter Christ, God ‘tabernacled’ in our human flesh? How can you be bearers of the Ark of the Covenant for our world? That is, how can you lift up Christ, He who is God the Son with us in our every trial, showing us the way to the Father? How can you be effective heralds of the Gospel of Christ our Hope?

In seeking answers to these questions I know that you will never underestimate the importance of prayer, not least the liturgy of the hours – the office of prayer in the Church - which you promise to celebrate faithfully for the Church and the entire world. By maintaining and deepening your spirit of prayer you will “never turn away from the hope which the Gospel offers”, even in the face of personal tragedies (quotation from the Pontifical’s Homily for the Ordination of a Deacon), and so you will be trustworthy ministers through whom many hearts are turned to that same hope. You’re fully aware that this won’t always be easy, but there’s a marvelous promise to sustain you. For if you remain steadfast in your vocation, then, “Finally, on the last day, when you go to meet the Lord, you will hear him say: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord’”. (Homily as above) Amen

Book reviews Ethnicity and the Mixed Marriage Crisis in Ezra 9-10: An Anthropological Approach Author: Katherine E. Southwood ISBN: Date: 2012 Price: £70.00 Publisher: Oxford University Press (Oxford Theological Monographs) Katherine E. Southwood, lecturer in Biblical Studies at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham and Kennicott Research Fellow at the Oriental Institute, Oxford, brings a welcome contribution to both biblical criticism and social-cultural anthropological debate on issues of ethnicity, hybridity and mixed marriages in her Ethnicity and the Mixed Marriage Crisis in Ezra 9-10. Being a PhD thesis turned book, this is not an easy read but perseverance in trawling through intricate issues 16

related to ethnicity, migration, hybridity and mixed marriage in Ezra 9-10 and in socialcultural anthropology is richly rewarded by the insights the book shades on contemporary debates of the same issues. The issues that Katherine Southwood has explored are not only academically relevant but on a popular level are always pertinent, issues such as: ethnicity, hybridity, race, marriage and intermarriage. Just to give one example: The British-born, Canadian Psychologist, J. Philippe Rushton has even attempted to demonstrate statistically and scientifically that blacks have a larger membrum virile and smaller brains than Whites or Orientals and that there is an inverse correlation between penis size and brain power” (Rushton 1995 and 2000). Rushton applies the r-K Life-History Theory to explain differences in Orientals, Whites and blacks. One

New Diaconal Review Issue 9

can imagine the backlash such racist research under the guise of academic research is bound to unleash. Ethnicity and the Mixed Marriage Crisis in Ezra 9-10 is an examination of the Jewish post-exilic proscription of mixed marriages by Ezra using social cultural anthropology as a point of departure. Southwood’s core contribution to this debate is the importance of return migration within the post-exilic community in Yehud. My only regret is that material cut out from the original thesis on Nehemiah’s intermarriage crisis which does not appear in this book would have complimented Ezra’s proscription but as Southwood points out this material is found elsewhere as “Ethnicity, Language, and Nehemiah’s intermarriage crisis” in Journal of Theological Studies 62(1): 1-19. What I found most useful in Southwood’s approach is that she shifts the argument on post-exilic intermarriage crisis from textual historical veracity à la biblical historical maxi-

malism to its narrative significance through the polymorphous lenses of ethnicity and hybridity, helping to eschew binary and dichotomous choices between primordialist approaches on one hand and instrumentalist approaches on the other. I was particularly pleased with the acknowledgement of James Clyde Mitchell’s research on the Copperbelt in Zambia where I hail from. Mitchell notes how urban migrants used individualized terms to refer to physically and socially more proximate groups but reverted to generalized labels when referencing migrants from elsewhere. The date of Mitchell’s The Kalela Dance cited in this example ought to read 1956 rather than 1950. As far as I am aware Mitchell only began his research on the Copperbelt in 1951 and his findings were first published only in 1956. Southwood’s discussion on myth of return, particularly the section on reverse culture shock, struck a personal note for me. As someone living in the Diaspora for the last decade and a half when I undertook a field trip to Zambia in 2010 I could not believe how I perceived myself as a stranger. The section on returned migration was particularly relevant in light of many instances of ethnic cleansing through notions of superiority between “returnees” and “stayees” as evidenced in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Rwanda. Pertinent too was the discussion on ethnicity and intermarriage, particularly in light of national front type politics in the UK and France, especially that such groups would seem to employ marriage as a boundary marker between communities as Ezra was suggesting in 5th century Yehud. Southwood’s thesis may be read, as I did, as an example of how not to deal with the emotional debris of return migration or any ethnic rupture for that matter. If I might add, it offers the possibility of turning hybridity, understood negatively in Ezra 9-10, on its head as a force for integration through tolerance and mercy, by turning boundaries and limits into the in-between spaces through which the meanings of cultural, political and

New Diaconal Review Issue 9


Ministry of the Word

Book reviews

Ashley Beck

ethnic fissures can be negotiated, to paraphrase Bhabha. Tarcisius Mukuka, St Mary’s University College, Twickenham Making the Most of the Lectionary A User’s Guide Author: Thomas O’Loughlin ISBN: 978-0-281-06587-5 Price: Year: 2012 Publisher: SPCK Most Catholics, apart from those who believe that the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite is beyond improvement, would acknowledge that one of the best innovations of the Order of Mass promulgated in 1970 was the Lectionary, issued the previous year. Overnight the whole way in which we listened to the scriptures in Church changed radically – in particular through the introduction of a three year cycle of Sunday readings, the addition of a first reading on Sundays (normally from the Old Testament, which hitherto Catholics had hardly ever heard read) and provision of a mostly two year cycle of weekday Mass readings. Fr Tom O’Loughlin from Nottingham University in this very readable new study examines in detail the Sunday lectionary, alongside other lectionaries used by different churches which relate to the one which we use in the Catholic Church. As he points out after over forty years it is still clear that many clergy have not really taken on the rationale and philosophy of the lectionary, so he looks clearly at how the compilers have made their selection. He also points out ways in which the Common Worship Lectionary used by Anglicans and the Free churches differs from ours. The book also contains a good historical and theological survey of why we hear the Scriptures in church and their place within 18

the liturgy. O’Loughlin is not afraid to point to ways in which our lectionary does not always ‘get it right’ – as in the view of the Old Testament which is revealed in the selection made and the links with the gospel, but he is also critical of radical suggestions which are made from time to time for major changes (e.g. the idea of a fourth ‘year of John’). He also points out some provisions in the lectionary rubrics of which many are unaware: for example, as he has written elsewhere, one is not bound to follow the set readings for each of the four Masses of Christmas: the account of the birth of the Lord can be used at the third Mass of the day. The book also contains very helpful tables of readings at the back which show how the compilers’ selection fits in with the structure of the gospels. Many will welcome O’Loughlin’s exasperation with the increase in special days of prayer of Sundays which can (but need not) displace the lectionary readings – even more of a problem now, in England and Wales, is the shifting of so many Holy Days of Obligation to the nearest Sunday: perhaps if this book is widely disseminated that policy can be reversed. There is a very sensitive discussion of the issue of ‘inclusive language’ and what is particularly welcome is that O’Loughlin avoids dogmatism in relation to different translations, making it clear that some translations work well for some biblical books, and others for other books. For deacons engaged in the ministry of the Word this book is essential reading, and readers will find out many things they did not know: I had never before come across the word ‘eclogadic’ (p.56). This is an outstanding book and I hope O’Loughlin produces a similar volume for the weekday lectionary. Ashley Beck, co-editor of New Diaconal Review

New Diaconal Review Issue 9

Deacons and the Praxis of the

New English Translation of the Mass I

t is nearly a year since the new English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal came into use. In this paper I want to offer some practical advice to deacons as people become more familiar with the new texts.

What to avoid I want to start by urging you now, a year into the beginning of the full use of the texts, to move away from endless discussions of the merits or demerits of the translation. There are as many views about this as there are Catholics in a room, and I suspect for most people there are some things we like and some we don’t – as in most areas of life. What is depressing is the way in which views about the translation, rather like reactions to the scandal of child abuse, tend to be drawn up on ‘party’ lines, so that one’s views about the Missal, one way or the other, become a litmus test of one’s ‘soundness’ or otherwise. Now that people are beginning to get used to it we do need to see the texts as a ‘given’ now and I think deacons in particular, like other clergy, have a responsibility to help people pray the Mass more deeply through the new texts and not get bogged down in arguments or suggest that the versions will be changed again in the near future. There is a theological reason for this: deacons are tied in a particular way to the ministry of the bishop. The bishops, in union with the Holy Father, have urged us to be nurtured by the new

In our last issue Fr David Gibbons of the Southwark Centre for Catholic Formation drew our attention to the changes in the new translation of the Missal which affect the public liturgical role of the deacon. In this article Fr Beck complements what he wrote with some random observations about how deacons can exercise a fruitful ministry in the day-to-day ‘embedding’ of the new texts which is now happening in parishes and institutions all over the English-speaking world

texts and the task of deacons is to be part of this process – it is certainly not acceptable for deacons (or priests) to voice criticisms of the texts in homilies. Perhaps we should apply to the Missal these words which Professor Tom O’Loughlin writes about the lectionary in his book about it which is reviewed elsewhere in this issue – ‘That’s what we do, and we do it week in and week out! The task is not to change it, but to appreciate it.’1

Know the rationale Having said that, people may still be asking questions about the translations. If you have been able to attend some of the training sessions which dioceses have offered, then you should be in a position to answer some of the ‘why?’ questions. So you should know that the mid-1970s translation was never intended to be long-term, you should know why ‘we’ has changed to ‘I’ in the creed, and you should be able to point out that (apart from Portuguese) English was the only language in which until last year et cum spiritu tuo was not translated literally. It may hard not to get drawn into arguments about whether a change is good, but remember that your task is to deepen people’s Eucharistic spirituality.

1 Making the Most of the Lectionary A User’s Guide (London: SPCK 2012), p. 55 New Diaconal Review Issue 9


Ministry of the Altar

Book reviews

Know the texts It is essential that as deacons you are actually familiar with the Missal. Not in the same way as a priest, for obvious reasons, but in a particular way because of your ministry of the altar. While this will be particularly important if your priest is elderly and finds the Missal difficult, it is simply part of your job to be at home with the book and know your way round it. Every parish should ensure that a study edition of the Missal is available for the deacon; apart from the practical importance and the advisability to look at texts beforehand you should also use the new texts to deepen your own prayer and the way in which you prepare for Mass. If you are in a parish where deacons are involved in the preparation of the liturgy, it is particularly important for you to know texts which others might overlook. I am thinking primarily of the Eucharistic prayers, although this is a sensitive area as it is often seen to be the preserve entirely of the priest (obviously it is in terms of saying the prayer aloud – but I am thinking of reflection, planning and sharing options in advance of a celebration). For a variety of reasons I think that it is even more the case than it was in the past that many priests are only saying the second Eucharistic prayer. If as deacons you are involved in discussions about the liturgy you might gently challenge this as the wealth of Eucharistic prayers is one of the richest sources of spiritual renewal in the ordinary form of the Roman rite. The new Missal for the first time brings before most people (including most priests) the two Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation and the four Eucharistic Prayers ‘for Use in Masses for Various Needs’ which were previously in separate books, having been produced after the 1975 Missal. These are all very fine prayers (and I think the new translations of them are excellent) and this should ensure that they are used more often than in the past: but it may take a deacon to suggest this. 20

Secondly, there are more ‘Masses for Various Needs’ and votive Masses than in the earlier volume, but again people will only know they are there if you tell them.

Deacons and the Praxis of the New English Translation of the Mass – Ashley Beck

indeed the other readings) may be sung by the deacon as they suggest tones for this. When readings are in English singing them completely has been rare, so clearly there is an opportunity now to do this.

Preaching from the Missal I have found that the new texts of the Eucharistic Prayers and the proper prefaces offer good opportunities for preaching, and the deacon should not be afraid of doing this just because he does not say the prayers aloud himself. Christians have always seen the sacred liturgy as a resource for helping us expound God’s word and the new texts give us an opportunity simply because they are new – people will often notice the difference.

The Missal and the national calendars The incorporation of the national calendars into the main body of the proper of saints, rather than in a supplement, has been helpful for the ‘embedding’ of the most recent changes, in England and Wales, to the national calendar (which I think have been paralleled in other countries). In England and Wales the most noticeable change has been the inclusion of more saints from the Anglo-Saxon period – again, there are many opportunities for weekday Mass homilies and reflections, especially as we begin the Year of Faith. It seems to be taking a long time for some diocesan supplements to appear, as in the past.

The new translation and music As deacons you may have a particular role in a parish’s ‘music ministry’. The ‘default’ plainsong texts included in the Missal are easy to sing and should enable people to get used to singing more of the Mass more often – you may be in a position to help people learn the music. It is interesting that, in contrast to the earlier version, the sections on music at the back of the Missal seem to envisage that the gospel reading (and

New Diaconal Review Issue 9

The bishops have encouraged parishes to commission new musical settings of the new texts. I think this is preferable to the adaptation of familiar settings, which has happened; the Liturgy committee of the Bishops’ Conference is checking compositions carefully. If you have good musicians in your parish who are able to compose it is worth encouraging them to do so: we have commissioned a very fine setting in my parish from a young music student2. What deacons and priests do have to do is ensure that musical versions which use the old words, or paraphrases, are phased out. However much one may like the Israeli Mass or the Clapping Gloria they are no longer allowed.

Deacons and the books themselves This may seem rather an odd heading, but there have been criticisms made of the cost of the altar missals – and yet most would acknowledge that the quality of the books, especially the principal altar edition, is very good (there are problems: the tabs in the chapel edition easily tear away, and in our main altar book the stitching holding the markers together is coming away from the binding). In our teaching in parishes, perhaps we need to point out that the quality needs to be good because Missals are sacred books. Things which are of high quality often have a high cost, but altar servers and sacristans do need to be reminded to treat the books with care. This is the reason why directives have been issued to stop priests from saying Mass from electronic equipment, even though laypeople are certainly using ipads and the like in the pews. ■

2 St Edmunds Mass, by Ruth McConkey, due to be published in 2013.

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Ministry of the Altar

Deacons and the Praxis of the New English Translation of the Mass – Ashley Beck

Bridie Stringer

In this article Dr Bridie Stringer explores the role of the permanent deacon in today’s Church. She is a visiting lecturer at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham. This article first appeared in The Pastoral Review, volume 7, issue 2 (March/ April 2011)


n recent years, The Pastoral Review has provided a platform for animated discussion about the role of permanent deacons in the contemporary Roman Catholic Church. Some contributors have argued that the permanent diaconate is a ministry mainly of service, based on an interpretation of Acts 6 which emphasises the “table waiter” role of the Seven in ministering to the Hellenist widows. Others have argued on the basis of the deacon’s ministry as a state of being rather than doing. Anecdotal evidence points to confusion and tensions which exist in some parishes about the deacon’s ministry – lay ministers who perceive him as a threat to the lay apostolate, lay faithful who struggle to understand the significance of his sacramental roles and some presbyters who see him as pursuing some sort of “pastoral hobby” in his spare time. For me, these debates triggered an interest in the diaconate which finally came to fruition in doctoral research. Archbishop Robert Runcie is attributed with the comment that the Church is “like a swimming pool with most of the noise coming from the shallow end”1. Applying his simile to the diaconate, I wanted to take some theological sonar readings from the deep end to find out more about this ancient ministry which was restored at the Second Vatican Council. In this article I would like to share some

reflections based on my findings within Southwark Province (Dioceses of Portsmouth, Arundel and Brighton, Plymouth and the Archdiocese of Southwark) as this was the geographical area in which I carried out my empirical research. All 172 deacons in the province were invited to share the story of their call to ministry, their formation, their lived experience as deacons in the parish and the impact of their ministry on their marriages, their family lives and their professions. The honesty and generosity of their accounts was heartening and affirming both personally and academically, and we now have the testimony of 31% of the deacons of the province (53) who have ministered over 600 accumulated years of diakonia from the 1970s to the present day. I would particularly like to focus on the deacon’s role as “social intermediary” and set this in the context of the public witness of his service within the community of faithful i.e. the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. The reason for choosing this starting point is Deacon Christopher Road’s article in the March/April 2005 The Pastoral Review in which he advocated for a “context that integrates the diaconate into the Church”. He suggested that this could be achieved by marrying two propositions (1) that the Church is the Body of Christ, a living body “made by the Eucharist”2 and (2) that “the diaconal ministry has its point of departure and arrival in

1 Cited in a sermon preached in Peterhouse Chapel on the Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity, 19th November 2000, by the Rt Revd Michael Ball, OGA. ministry 13/12/2010 2 Road cites Henri de Lubac as the source of this expression, possibly from “The Church – from Paradox to Mystery” written in 1967.


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– social intermediary and minister of the threshold the Eucharist”. The latter expression comes from the Basic Norms for the Permanent Diaconate (9) and is used to emphasise that the deacon’s ministry cannot be reduced to “simple social service”. It appears, however, that little has been done in the intervening five years to achieve the theological synthesis which would give the deacon’s ministry a truly Eucharistic context. The deacons of Southwark Province clearly identify with their munus docendi – to proclaim the Scriptures and break open the Word in their homilies. However, the teaching documents on the Eucharist from the Bishops’ Conference – With Hearts and Minds (2005) and the earlier One Bread, One Body (1998) offer no insights into the symbolic role of the deacon in the Eucharistic assembly or even distinguish his input from that of the lay faithful who engage in ministries which are similar to his – proclamation of the Word (first and second readings), General Intercessions (when the deacon is not present), distribution of Holy Communion. Some of the Southwark Province deacons spoke movingly of the moment in the Mass when the priest bestows his blessing upon the deacon prior to the proclamation of the Word whilst one respondent felt most “diaconal” when kneeling at the Consecration. The majority nominated their ministry of the Word in the Eucharistic celebration and the taking of Communion from the Eucharistic Assembly to the sick and housebound as defining aspects of their ministry. For the parish community however, these roles may simply be perceived as functionary rather than symbolic. The dea-

con as a symbolic figure is not clearly elaborated within the Eucharistic gathering and is not explored in religious education, formation or catechetics.

The Deacon as a social intermediary The role of “social intermediary” has been a facet of the deacon’s ministry from the days of the early church, when, as the representative of the bishop, it was the deacon’s task to articulate the needs of the people to the bishop and to undertake the role of emissary on the bishop’s behalf. This function was reaffirmed in the Basic Norms3 for the restored diaconate but can be somewhat overlooked in the deployment of deacons to address sacramental deficits caused by the shortages of presbyters. In seeking to explore this particular facet of diakonia the question can rightly be asked, “Who are the people whose needs are to be articulated by the deacon?” Canon 383 provides some helpful indicators. Can. 383 §1 speaks of the bishop’s concern for ... all the Christian faithful entrusted to his care, of whatever age, condition, or nationality they are, whether living in the territory or staying there temporarily; he is also to extend an apostolic spirit to those who are not able to make sufficient use of ordinary pastoral care because of the condition of their life and to those who no longer practice their religion. Even more challenging is the need to provide for the ...

3 Paul VI. 1967. Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem Part V.21.9-11 New Diaconal Review Issue 9


Ministry of Charity

The Permanent Deacon

needs of the faithful of a different rite in his diocese, ...(providing) for their spiritual needs either through priests or parishes of the same rite or through an episcopal vicar. He is also to act ... with humanity and charity toward the brothers and sisters who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church and is to foster ecumenism as it is understood by the Church. Finally, ... he is to consider the non-baptized as committed to him in the Lord, so that there shines on them the charity of Christ whose witness a bishop must be before all people. Against the backdrop of priestly shortages, how can bishops hope to meet the needs of these diverse and disparate groups as well as providing the sacramental goods of the Church to the practising believer? How can they commit resources to evangelisation, mission and outreach to those who are not members of parish communities? In seeking to address the sacramental deficits caused by the dwindling number of active priests, deacons provide a limited solution as ordinary ministers of Baptism and Holy Communion. In addition, they may bless marriages and conduct funerals but are, of course, unable to preside at Eucharist and minister the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Sacrament of the Sick. In terms of the Southwark Province deacons, their ministry is predominantly weighted towards liturgy and sacrament rather than direct works of outreach to the marginalised. It would of course be simplistic and naive to treat the tria munera of Word, sacrament and works of charity as in some way mutually exclusive. However, it is important to identify which aspects of the deacon’s ministry are now regarded as normative for 24

attracting and selecting candidates and forming them for ministry. The gifts and attributes required for “frontier” ministry to those on the margins of society may be different to those needed for the altar where a certain liturgical dexterity is the primary requirement. Similarly, those who can

There is, perhaps a danger that the deployment of deacons to shore up a dwindling presbyterate may displace aspects of diakonia which a deacon can best deliver empathise with the sick, suffering and bereaved may not be comfortable carrying out liturgical ritual and delivering homilies. There is, perhaps a danger that the deployment of deacons to shore up a dwindling presbyterate may displace aspects of diakonia which a deacon can best deliver. Within the Sacrament of Order, the deacon’s opportunity to witness in the workplace and in civic life is not permissible for either the priest or bishop. Deacons may hold public office and are therefore well-placed to articulate the needs of the dispossessed on behalf of the bishop and the local church. It is these needs which he can symbolise at the Eucharistic celebration and help to animate the witness of the faithful in works of charity to the wider community. As part of the research project the Southwark Province deacons were invited to complete the sentence “I feel I am most a deacon when...”. Some respondents nominated more than one facet of ministry, but it was sacramental preparation, proclamation of the Word and ministry to the sick and dying which they identified most with their diakonia. Whilst some expressed their calling in non-specific

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The Permanent Deacon – social intermediary and minister of the threshold – Bridie Stringer

terms like “making God’s love and mercy known”, “seeing the action of the Spirit in my actions” and “getting people back into relationship with God”, there was little evidence to indicate that Catholic Social Teaching was a major animator of the deacon’s witness although some provided chaplaincy to parish outreach groups like St Vincent de Paul and the Knights of St Columba. The pastoral practice of contemporary deacons in Southwark province points mainly to ministry within the Catholic community. However, if the deacon is configured to the Bishop’s ministry of service to all his people, then the requirements of Canon 383 offer other areas of ministry which could be especially relevant for the deacon. Let us return to Road’s argument4 that the deacon’s ministry needs to be situated within the Eucharist since it is here that the Church becomes the living Body of Christ. As the source and the summit of the lives of Catholic Christians5, the means of nourishment and the wellspring of grace for mission, it is wholly fitting that the deacon, within the Sacrament of Order represents the diakonia of all members of the community and demonstrates this symbolically and sacramentally in the Eucharistic assembly. This is most clearly demonstrated in the duties performed by the deacon at Mass. He has been described as the “minister of the threshold6” constantly affecting movement between the nave and the altar. In some parishes, he welcomes the community at the beginning of the celebration, reflecting his role in the early church as the minister of good order in the gathering. He proclaims the Word of God to the people

and helps them to break open its riches in the homily. In receiving the Offertory gifts and preparing the altar table, he is accorded the privilege of articulating the mystery of the Incarnation in the co-mingling of the water and wine. Sadly, this goes largely unnoticed in the assembly as it is uttered sotto voce by the deacon and probably during an Offertory Hymn which only comes to an end before the” Pray Brethren..” which precedes the Eucharistic Prayer. He enjoins the people to be Christ to one another in the Sign of Peace and, as an Ordinary Minister of Holy Communion, assists the priest in the distribution of Communion, most particularly, administering the chalice. At the close of the liturgy, he

... it is disappointing that the documents on the Eucharist emanating from the Bishops’ Conference have not explicated the uniqueness of the deacon’s role as the “minister of the threshold” urges the faithful to go out and become Christ to the world. As noted earlier, it is disappointing that the documents on the Eucharist emanating from the Bishops’ Conference have not explicated the uniqueness of the deacon’s role as the “minister of the threshold” . One Bread One Body7 published in 1998 and With Hearts and Minds published in 2005 both fail to draw forth the theological significance of the deacon’s presence in the Eucharistic celebration. With Hearts and Minds8

4 The Pastoral Review Vol 2. Issue 2. March/April 2005 pp.32-36 5 Dogmatic Constitution on the Church 1964 Lumen Gentium 11 6 McKnight, W.S. 2001 The Latin Rite Deacon: Symbol of Communitas and Social Intermediary among the People of God. Pontificam Athenaum.S Anselmo De Urbe p.240 7 Catholic Bishops Conference of England And Wales 1998. One Bread One Body. files/cbcew_publications/(offset)/30 13/12/2010 8 Catholic Bishops Conference of England And Wales Liturgy Office. 2005. With Hearts and Minds. London: CTS. pp.30-32. New Diaconal Review Issue 9


Ministry of Charity

The Permanent Deacon – social intermediary and minister of the threshold – Bridie Stringer

The Permanent Deacon – social intermediary and minister of the threshold – Bridie Stringer

Book reviews

A further challenge to the understanding of the deacon’s symbolic role in the Eucharist comes from the revival of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite Mass, signalled in Summorum Pontificum9 in 2007. In short, the permanent deacon has no role in the Extraordinary Form Low Mass. The rubrics state that “the priest alone performs all the ceremonies and recites all the prayers with the assistance only of a server10”. The deacon has a very limited role within the Extraordinary Form High Mass but his presence in this rite, together with

that of the Subdeacon (an order discontinued in Ministeria Quaedam in 1972) are enacted by priests. The symbolism of the Extraordinary Form High Mass reflects the Cursus Honorum which shows the sub-diaconate and diaconate as transitional clerical states en route to priesthood. So, in

... there is a clash of symbols – one rite reflecting medieval ecclesiology whilst the other reflects post-Vatican II ecclesiology with its inclusion, not only of permanent deacons, but lay people in roles of reader and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion summary, in terms of our Eucharistic ritual, there is a clash of symbols – one rite reflecting medieval ecclesiology whilst the other reflects post-Vatican II ecclesiology with its inclusion, not only of permanent deacons, but lay people in roles of reader and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. If the term “Lex Orandi Lex Credendi11” still holds true then the current ambiguity contributes to the tentativeness which still prevails about the permanent deacon’s ministry almost half a century after its restoration. ■

9 Benedict XVI. 2007. Summorum Pontificum b16summorumpontificum.htm 10 The Roman Missal 1963 11 “The law of prayer or worship is the law of life”


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The Pilgrim City St Augustine of Hippo and his Innovation in Political Thought Author: Miles Hollingworth ISBN: 978-0-567-48010-1 Price: Date: 2010 Publisher: Continuum The University of Durham in northern England has become a power-house of studies of St Augustine of Hippo. Following in the steps of work done by Professor Lewis Ayres (for example, his Augustine and the Trinity [2010]) this book by a research fellow at St John’s College (traditionally associated with the Evangelical movement in the Church of England) is a major contribution to Augustinian studies. Since permanent deacons are expected to have a specialized knowledge of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church, works which explore the relationship between the theologian whom we encounter most frequently in the Divine Office and political thought are going to be important. Miles Hollingworth’s book is a reworking of his doctoral dissertation. At the heart of Hollingworth’s work is the claim that Augustine’s thought has often been misrepresented ‘by thinkers motivated by agendas other than his own’ (p. 1). What he is doing is to give ‘a fresh perspective on the greatest and most troubling mystery of Augustine’s doctrine of the Two Cities: namely, questioning what ‘…kind of life the citizens of the City of God must lead during this pilgrimage.’ Hollingworth begins with a thorough introduction to his theme, which, briefly stated, is that Augustine’s pessimism about earthly political structures and ideas has often been obscured: ‘his political ideas are singular depressing in their original disposition; indeed, it is difficult to imagine a less inspiring set of

remarks on man, society and the state.’ (p. 7) The first main chapter is an exploration of Augustine’s influence on the western political tradition. Hollingworth reminds us that in book XIX of the City of God Augustine makes a big break with that tradition by rejecting Cicero’s concept of a ‘multitude united in fellowship by common agreement as to what is right and by a community of interest.’ This doesn’t work for Augustine because of inherent injustice and false religion – it’s a house built on sand. In our own day when politicians are so keen to recruit Christian and other religious leaders behind the same sort of Ciceronian mirage, we would do well to re-read Augustine. He was realisistic – but as Hollingworth shows the fall of the Roman empire at the same time as he lived gradually created a triumphant model of Latin Christendom: “Nothing could be further removed from the stark image of the Pilgrim City, a sojourner in a hostile world… ‘ambushed and beset by fugitives and deserters, under their leader, the lion and the dragon’” (p. 34, quoting Confessions VII, 21, 27). What the rest of the book shows is how medieval Christianity got Augustine so wrong by forgetting his realism: ‘the so-called political Augustinianism of the medieval period was the most cynical attempt to reject the vision insofar as it greedily prostituted the carefully wrought distinctions of Augustine’s leading political ideas in the name of temporal power.’ (p. 36) In short, the big mistake people have made

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Ministry of Charity

refers to the substitution of other readers when there is no deacon present in carrying the Book of the Gospels in the entrance procession or in announcing the General Intercessions. There is no explanation as to why the deacon proclaims the Word in the Gospel and why this duty cannot be accorded to a lay reader. Such omissions reinforce a mindset that the deacon is “an optional extra” at Mass and that he carries out duties which have minor significance. Only robust catechesis, religious education and formation will address the lack of understanding of the deacon’s role at Mass. Perhaps the catechesis planned to support the introduction of the new translation of the Missal could include resources to facilitate a better understanding of the deacon’s liturgical and sacramental roles. As the minister of the threshold, the deacon is an essential figure at the Eucharistic assembly, particularly the Sunday celebration since this is where the community gathers to honour the Lord’s Day and to affirm what it truly is – the Body of Christ. If the deacon’s contribution to the life of the parish is normative, then he can no more be absent from the Sunday assembly than the priest who presides or the congregation.

Brendan Cleary and Bridie Stringer

about Augustine is to see him sanctioning some sort of equality or balance between State and religious power. These are so often portrayed as both having a legitimate claim on humanity – and one should not interfere with the other. Hollingworth goes on to show how false this is, by looking in subsequent chapters at classical and medieval political philosophy and his doctrine of the Two Cities and how that doctrine has been received, linking this to his own early life and the formative influences on him. Two further chapters look in more detail at the Earthly and Heavenly cities and the final chapter, ‘The Pilgrim City’. Augustine, drawing on St Paul, is always clear about humanity’s limitations, and this has to be the basis for our efforts to resist the claims of politicians and the growing power of the State. Hollingworth writes towards the end of the book: ‘The citizens of the Pilgrim City are in this


world but not of it; their independence consists in their love of God and their corresponding willingness to repeatedly die to their old lives in the actual present.’ (p. 208). This is a masterful study which is packed with scholarship and an easy style – deacons, committed to explaining our social teaching, should read it. One thing is surprising: the author seems not to have considered very similar work on Augustine done by scholars such as John Milbank (in Theology and Social Theory) and Bill Cavanaugh (in Torture and Eucharist). In our age, whatever civil polity we inhabit, one of the greatest challenges facing Christians of all traditions is how we resist the power of the State, the earthly City. In this task a correct reading of Augustine should be a great source of strength and Hollingworth’s study is an important aid. Ashley Beck, co-editor of New Diaconal Review

Baptising babies and clearing gutters Introduction Neither of us has ever been a huge fan of Donald Rumsfeld, the former United States Secretary of Defence, but we are grateful to him for his rather tortured summary of American intelligence in the early days of the Iraq conflict: “There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know”.




Inviting Authors New Diaconal Review welcomes readers to submit articles with a view to publication ● They should be in keeping with the journal's aims, and mindful of pastoral implications. Ideas or topics for articles can be emailed to the editors... Tony Schmitz or Ashley Beck who are happy to comment on their suitability and advise about word length. ● Guidelines for house-style can be found at The Pastoral Review website, under 'Contact us'.


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This pretty much sums up the level of knowledge on the ministry of the permanent deacon we had when we began our related research projects in 2006 and 2008 respectively. We knew that Roman Catholic permanent deacons were men in Holy Orders -married men mostly- that their ministry had been restored at the Second Vatican Council, that they could baptise babies, officiate at weddings, preside at funerals and lead prayers at Benediction. We also knew that there were seminarians who were ordained as “transitional” deacons about one year before becoming priests. These were celibate men who passed through their diaconal year rather like an adolescent en route to becoming an adult. We did not know that widower deacons were required to observe perpetual celibacy on the decease of their wives, a discipline which could only be dispensed in very specific and exceptional circumstances. In the “didn’t know we didn’t know” category was an appreciation of the deacon as a “social intermediary” i.e. some-

This article begins a series of pieces detailing recent research among permanent deacons in Great Britain. Dr Brendan Cleary FMS is Provincial of the Marist Brothers’ Province of EuropeCentre West and is based in the Netherlands. He was formerly Director of Human Formation at Ushaw College in northern England and was one of the editors and contributing authors of The Dark Night of the Catholic Church, a book which described the child sex abuse scandal in the Church. Dr Bridie Stringer is a Visiting Lecturer at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham.

one who makes the needs of all the people known to the bishop, including the needs of non-believers. Also that he can be seen as a “minister of the threshold” – one who helps people prepare for sacramental rites of passage and is a bridge between the nave and the sanctuary in the Eucharistic celebration. Before studying the deacon’s ministry, our only experience of it was what we witnessed in various parishes – compassionate and selfless ministry to those who were vulnerable and distressed. We had also been aware of parish priests who felt that their deacons were pursuing some type of pastoral hobby. Bridie had also seen the emergence of a parish “hierarchy of credibility” which also included the deacon’s wife. Our intention therefore was to search beneath the surface. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, was attributed with the statement that the church was like a large swimming pool, with most of the noise coming from the shallow end. We wanted therefore to take our theological sonar into the deep end, making use of research with deacons, and theological reflection on what emerged from the research. As a Roman Catholic laywoman and a member of a Religious Order of Brothers, none of whose members is ordained, we have had the

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Book reviews

privilege of being a type of “honest broker” for those who took part in our projects. We are not formally associated with any particular diocese in the way that ordained clergy are incardinated. Brendan did his research while working at Ushaw College (2004 – 2009) and Bridie lives and did her research in the south of England. We would like to say “thank you” for the support that Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool and the bishops of Southwark Province gave us in encouraging deacons to take part in our work, and of course our greatest “thank you” is to the deacons themselves who participated. What was the purpose of our projects? Quite simply – to explore how the contemporary church perceives the permanent diaconate, to explore what is happening in practice, and to understand how the deacons themselves understand their role. The lens used for this examination was the deacon’s own experience – in other words, the understanding which was reflected back to him by the parish community – lay faithful and lay ministers, the parish priest, the bishop, the deacon’s own family and his colleagues at work. Although this gives a limited perspective, it would have been unethical to have undertaken work which could not guarantee the anonymity of the participants. Doing case studies in parishes would have identified the deacon and his community and this carried unacceptable ethical risk. So, with those health warnings and caveats, the findings are offered to a readership which we hope will be include deacons and their families and those who are seeking to discern if they might have a call to the permanent diaconate, and those involved in forming deacons and seminarians. In this year, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council at which the permanent diaconate was restored, it seems a fitting time to reflect on how this ministry has been received, how it is developing and the state of the theological questions which arise from it. Most lay 30

people, like ourselves, have never been given any adult formation or catechesis about the deacon’s ministry and are likely to be puzzled, not only by what the deacon can or cannot do, but more importantly regarding what the deacon is called to be. We would hope that after reading this series of articles they would be able to say “That makes a lot more sense now.”

Baptising babies and clearing gutters – Brendan Cleary and Bridie Stringer

of the permanent Deacons in Scotland, England and Wales. Some of the material was analysed in a dissertation that was submitted as part of the requirements for the Diploma in Psychology at Newcastle University (2007). The data was also presented as a written document and PowerPoint presentation at the Colloquium.

Method Why the title? It comes from the response given by one of Bridie’s project participants when explaining how his diaconal ministry complemented the ministry of the priest and bishop, “Primarily by being married, by living in the real world where the mortgage has to be paid, the gutters cleared, the kids’ vomit mopped up, the groceries bought. By standing in the dole queue. By having sex. By suffering. Very few priests and bishops have done all that. So the people can talk to you about it, in the belief that you will understand.” This article is the first in a series where we hope to share what we learned from our two related research projects. We will begin by describing the approach used in the two projects, and some of the more significant results that we wish to share, before discussing points of convergence. In our conclusion we will provide an outline of the articles, emerging from our research, which will be published in forthcoming editions of the Diaconal Review.

The Ushaw Survey on the Diaconate in Scotland, England Wales Ushaw College, the former seminary for the North of England, celebrated its bicentenary in 2008. As part of the celebrations to mark this event, a colloquium on the future of ministry was held in the College from 19 – 24th January 2008. There were presentations on ongoing empirical research on priesthood, lay ministry and diaconate, which contributed to the theological reflection on the future of ministry. Brother Brendan Geary, the Director of Human Formation, undertook a study

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The survey package that was sent to deacons in 2006 involved quantitative (filling in questionnaires) and qualitative (open ended questions) data. These two sources provide different, but complementary, information, both of which provide data on the emerging role and understanding of the deacon in the Catholic Church on the island of Great Britain.

Participants Every deacon in the directories of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and Scotland was contacted, resulting in a total of 692 deacons. A number of packages were returned indicating that the deacon had moved house or had died, and some could not be used because of a lack of data. This led to being able to make use of data from 229 surveys, 35.7% of the total, which is considered acceptable for this kind of survey. The following table offers a snap shot of the profile of Deacons in the United Kingdom at that time (excluding Northern Ireland): ● Average Age

65 (40 – 85)

● British


● Married


● Retired


This data is comparable with data on the profile of Deacons in the United States.

Vocation and formation: The deacons were asked a range of questions regarding their path to diaconate, whether or not they were invited to consider diaconal ministry, or if this was something that they did from their own initiative. They also provided data on their vocational history and their formation: ● 2 – 4 year course of formation


● Specialist Theological Education 18.3% ● Positive about formation


● Considered a vocation before 18


● Time in seminary or Novitiate


● Personal Sense of Vocation


● Approached by Parish Priest


We can see from this data that most deacons have participated in a formation programme lasting between 2 – 4 years, and just under one in five have undertaken specialist training in theology. Significantly, just over half of the group had considered a religious vocation before their 18th birthday, and almost 14% had spent some time in a seminary or house of religious formation. Perhaps most importantly, more than a third were invited to consider diaconate by their local priest.


● Third Level Education 50.7% ● Converts to Catholicism30.0% ● Full Employment


The survey offered an opportunity to enquire about the range of activities that deacons in Britain are involved in. When asked where they spent their ministry time, 7.8% said most was spent on the ministry of the Word, 11.7% said the Eucharist / Liturgy, and 17.4% said Pastoral Care. The majority assist at Mass (71.7%) and proclaim the Gospel (67%) more than weekly.

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Baptising babies and clearing gutters – Brendan Cleary and Bridie Stringer

Preaching, one of the distinguishing features for deacons, is a less regular occurrence, with half of the group indicating that they did this about once a month. With the exception of Stations of the Cross, where just under half said they did this on a weekly basis (presumably during Lent), deacons do not appear to be heavily involved in leading traditional devotional activities (Benediction, novenas, leading the recitation of the rosary, organising or leading days of prayer / reflection). Two areas of pastoral ministry where there is more involvement of deacons are presiding at funerals and Baptisms. Over a third of deacons (35.2%) preside at funerals about once a month or more often, and most have some involvement in organising funerals. A larger number (40.9%) perform Baptisms once a month or more often. Less than10% said that they never did either of these things. While some deacons are never involved in aspects of parish organisation, it is clear that this is an area of church life where they contribute to varying degrees. The other area that appears to involve deacons is the organisation of funerals, where over a third (35.6%) are involved about once a month or more often. Almost two thirds of deacons (64.3%) visit the sick and housebound on a weekly basis or more often, and almost a quarter (23.4%) are involved in counselling or pastoral care of people in difficulty or distress with similar frequency. Most deacons have no involvement in chaplaincy work, while the others range from less than monthly to full time work. More deacons are involved in hospital chaplaincy than any other area, with the least involvement in prisons.

Well-being in ministry Considerable research has been undertaken in relation to the well being of priests,

particularly regarding levels of stress and burn out. The deacons completed questionnaires that attempted to measure satisfaction in ministry and emotional exhaustion in ministry, using scales that had been used with clergy, which made valid comparisons possible. The deacons recorded higher satisfaction and also higher exhaustion in ministry than the clergy. One possible explanation of this puzzling finding is that deacons derive great satisfaction from their ministry, but, given their family, and, for some, work commitments, this is also a source of greater stress. The high levels of marital fulfilment that they recorded suggest that, while their diaconal ministry sometimes adds stress to their marriage, that overall their level of marital fulfilment provides a buffer against the challenges and demands of their ministry. To borrow a phrase used by Dr. Leslie Francis of Warwick University, they are “happy but exhausted.”

in the title embraces both lay faithful and clergy, although the lens through which the views were gauged was that of deacon. The empirical findings of the project were derived from fifty-three deacons who completed narrative questions about their collective six hundred years of experience in ordained ministry. The research methodology was mainly qualitative using an adapted Grounded Theory2 approach to explore the themes which emerged from the respondents’ own testimonies. These included the discernment of their vocations, their formation programmes, what helped or hindered them in the early days of ministry and how the parish priests and their communities received them. As a theological consideration of the permanent diaconate, the project invites:


● an understanding of the episcopate as

The Ushaw survey explored issues related to deacons’ sense of identity. The most significant areas of difficulty noted by the deacons in the survey were relationships with priests or bishops, and not feeling valued. Most said that they had the feeling of being “second-rate priests” to some degree and some felt this strongly. Interestingly, the deacons who identified themselves more strongly as clergy experienced more satisfaction in ministry. Diaconal identity is a complex issue, which will be discussed in greater detail in a subsequent article.

The Southwark Province Research Project1 This doctoral research project sought to address the question “What is the ecclesial understanding of the role of the permanent diaconate in the contemporary Roman Catholic Church, with specific reference to Southwark Province. The term “ecclesial”

1 This project is described in more detail, above pp.22ff.


Baptising babies and clearing gutters – Brendan Cleary and Bridie Stringer

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● a richer scriptural interpretation of

diakonia than a simplistic reading of Acts 6. the “fullness of order” from which are extended the two “arms” of the bishop’s pastoral oversight- diaconate and presbyterate. ● a praxis which reflects the diaconate as a

unique and full order. The chief findings from the research were as follows:

Serving the “People of God” It was clear from the outset that the Second Vatican Council which restored the permanent diaconate provided a profound-

ly different ecclesiological context in which the permanent deacons would serve – namely in a community of believers now called the “People of God” or a “Pilgrim People” mandated by Baptism to participate fully in the work of the Kingdom of God. It is therefore not helpful to regard the contemporary permanent diaconate as merely a restored ancient ministry but one that is located within and responsive to a contemporary ecclesiological context.

Scripture revisited Although Acts 6 has been regarded as the foundational Biblical text for diaconal ministry both ancient and modern, fresh insights supplied by contemporary Biblical scholars and theologians invite a more comprehensive consideration of diakonia. As a Christian value, it permeates all aspects of the lives of believers and cannot be exclusively assigned to those in Holy Orders. Instead, the deacon symbolises service to Word, Sacrament and works of Charity to which all the faithful are called and he represents this value within the Sacrament of Order. Within this interpretation, there is no false dichotomy between the sacred and the secular since the lay faithful are themselves called to be “religious in the world”3. Collins urges deacons to revisit, not only Acts 6 but also Acts 1.8 in which Peter invites the followers to find a replacement for Judas’ diakonia and also the accounts in Mark 10, Matthew 25 and Luke’s use of table fellowship as the symbol of the presence of God. Seen in this light, the ministry of the deacon becomes more than social service offered in the name of the Church but a symbolic representation of the diakonia of Christ to which all are

2 Grounded theory is a method of analysis commonly employed in the social sciences. It does not test pre-determined hypotheses but instead invites narrative responses to open questions. This helps to indentify a set of themes and topics which can be further developed as the research proceeds. The researcher devises a set of codes under which the data can be classified and analysed. 3 See Hayes, M.A. 2010. “Reclaiming the Secular and the Religious” in Pastoral Review Vol 6, Issue 2. March/April 2010 pp.2-3. New Diaconal Review Issue 9



Baptising babies and clearing gutters – Brendan Cleary and Bridie Stringer

Baptising babies and clearing gutters – Brendan Cleary and Bridie Stringer

The “People of God” ecclesiology of Vatican II has produced a rich harvest of lay ecclesial ministry and offers the modern Church an inclusive and diverse self -image, one in which all believers are empowered to a full participation in the work of the Kingdom. This has implications for both the permanent diaconate and the presbyterate in terms of local leadership and empowerment. It is of course acknowledged that, in institutional terms, participation varies in kind and degree, depending upon the vocation to which each individual is called5.

Diaconate in the Threefold Ministry Forty years after the restoration of the diaconate as a permanent ministry within the threefold order of priesthood, there is still lack of clarity about what the deacon is called to be or to do. The sacramental relationship between the deacon and the bishop is not made explicit in roles which link the diaconate to the episcopate and the relationship between the diaconate and the presbyterate can be similarly problematic. As a result, the deacon may be regarded as a second-rate priest or a “filler of gaps” in sacramental provision. Some respondents to the research questionnaire identified

their role as one of filling in gaps when the priest was overstretched or being a first responder or safety net supporting frail presbyters. Whilst these roles contribute to the overall well-being of the faith community, they can “prevent the diaconate from developing its own unique identity and purpose as a legitimate and beneficial order among the people of God” (McKnight in Keating 2006: 79). Foundational to the identity of the permanent deacon is the ontological change brought about through ordination. As an ordained minister, the deacon is a member of a clerical group that is sacramentally “marked” by the conferral of Holy Orders. Whether he exercises his ministry or not, he is sacramentally configured to Christ in a way which lay people are not6. It is therefore inappropriate to regard the deacon as a layman with an additional mandate for ministry or as “semi-lay” because he is a family man or has a secular profession. In this regard, ordained ministry is not graduated. Bishops are not more ordained than presbyters, who in turn are not more ordained than deacons. The evidence from Southwark Province indicates that this understanding of their ontologically changed state is fundamental to the deacons’ self-understanding and gives their entire lives a ministerial dimension. Simply put, a deacon is a deacon whether he is at the altar, the office or mowing his lawn. One respondent expressed it as follows, “I feel I am most a deacon when I am not being a deacon.”

4 National Vocation Office statistics indicate a 7% drop in active diocesan clergy over the period 1994-2003, a 28% decrease in ordained members of religious orders and a 29% increase in the number of retired clergy. 5 See “Differences in Kind and Degree” issued by senior Vatican officials on 15 August 1997 5081997_en.htmlin 31/01/2010 6 “The sacrament of Holy Orders..confers an indelible spiritual character and cannot be repeated or conferred temporarily” Catechism of the Catholic Church (abbreviated to CCC) CCC1582. With regard to those who are no longer able to discharge the obligations and functions of orders, CCC1583 states that those in Holy Orders cannot become laymen again “in the strict sense because the character imprinted by ordination is for ever. The vocation and mission received on the day of his ordination mark him permanently”.


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Formation Programmes Whilst formation for deacons has become theologically more robust over the past decade, there remain gaps in ongoing formation, both theologically and pastorally, with an underdeveloped structure for the deacon to be properly supervised in his ministry. There are few formation opportunities for priest seminarians and aspirant deacons to share their understanding of their respective roles. As a result, it is difficult to develop models of collaborative leadership which honour the giftedness of both the presbyter and the deacon while provide a nurturing environment for the giftedness of the lay faithful too.

The Deacon’s Spouse The pastoral role of the deacon’s wife remains unclear. Although, in the main, she is an animator of her husband’s witness and compensates for his lack of time with the family, there is little evidence that the concept of “diaconal marriage”, as a basis for joint ministry, is developing.

The discipline of celibacy for widower permanent deacons reflects a limited and sacerdotal understanding of what it means to be a sacred minister in Holy Orders. Although dispensations for remarriage are possible, these exceptional concessions may restrict the theological unfolding of the concept of diaconal marriage.

Conclusion The demographic data that emerged from both studies was consistent in what it revealed about the profile of deacons in England and Wales, and Scotland. Both studies touched on issues of well-being, identity, ministerial role, theological understanding and formation. These issues will be explored in the articles that make up this series. We hope that the data that has emerged, with the reflections we offer, will contribute to the ongoing understanding of the permanent diaconate on the island of Great Britain and to its development as a ministry in the Church. ■

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called. Cast in this role, the deacon is less likely to be perceived as a limited functionary permitted to undertake relatively minor liturgical roles ostensibly to shore up a presbyterate, which, in terms of numbers, appears to be in decline3.

Baptising babies and clearing gutters – Brendan Cleary and Bridie Stringer

Brendan Geary and Mike Cox

Dr Brendan Cleary FMS and Dr Mike Cox here describe their research into emotional exhaustion and satisfaction among a group of deacons. Dr Mike Cox is Lecturer in Psychology at Newcastle University.


onsiderable research has been conducted on Roman Catholic and Protestant Clergy. The issues of stress and burnout, in particular, have been the subject of psychological investigation.1 There has also been some research into the topic of resilience2, partly as a result of the influence of the growing positive psychology movement3. Comparisons between Protestant groups are possible, but this becomes difficult with Roman Catholic groups as almost all Roman Catholic priests are celibate, whereas Protestant and Orthodox clergy are predominantly married. The recent decision to allow ordained Anglican Clergy to become Catholic priests has brought about some change in this otherwise uniform population, however this group brings the added confound, from a psychological perspective, of being converts to Catholicism. The situation in Catholicism has changed in the past thirty years with the reintroduction of what is known as the Permanent Diaconate. Deacons in the Catholic Church are drawn from committed Catholic Men who are either invited or feel called to serve the church in this way. While diocesan policies vary, they are usually over 40 years of age,

continue in their profession until retired or semi-retired, remain at home with their families, and do not draw a salary or regular remuneration for their services. At the same time as this development has been emerging in the church, there has also been a parallel movement to develop lay ministry. This has led to theological discussion about the nature and appropriate role of deacons, as well as the opportunities and desirability of promoting greater lay involvement in what were previously con-

... decline in priestly vocations and ageing of the members of the clergy has resulted in a situation where there is a need for more support in order to continue a range of church services sidered clerical roles. While the number of priests in the England and Wales has declined from 7,808 in 1965 to 5,732 in 20004, the number of deacons has risen from none immediately after the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 65) to 778 in 20065. The significant decline in priestly vocations and ageing of the members of the clergy has resulted in a situation where

1 Rodgerson, T.E., & Piedmont, R.L. (1998). Assessing the incremental validity of the Religious Problem-Solving Scale in the predication of clergy burnout. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37 (3), 517-527. 2 Meek, K.R., McMinn, M.R., Brower, C.M., Burnett, T.D., McRay, B.W., Ramey, M.L., Swanson, D.W., & Villa, D.D. (2003). Maintaining personal resiliency: Lessons learned from Evangelical Protestant clergy. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 31 (4), 339 – 347. 3 Snyder, C.R., & Lopez, S.J. (2005). Handbook of positive psychology. OUP. 4 Hornsby-Smith, M. (1999). Catholics in England 1950 – 2000. London: Cassell. 5


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and Satisfaction in Permanent Deacons there is a need for more support in order to continue a range of church services. At the same time, the sacraments of Eucharist, Reconciliation, and Anointing are reserved to ordained priests. In the light of these important developments it seemed opportune to conduct an empirical survey of the permanent diaconate in Great Britain. The data for this study was collected in 2006. The first aim of the study was to gather data on both satisfaction in ministry and emotional exhaustion in ministry, which would provide important information on the psychological well-being of this group. Emotional exhaustion is related to the concept of burnout,6 and refers to a set of symptoms which develop over time leading to an erosion of spirit. It tends to affect highly motivated people in the caring professions, and manifests itself in a lack of energy, exhaustion, and loss of idealism. It is particularly relevant to clergy as the debilitating mature of the condition adversely affects their ministry and their own well-being.7 Data published by Francis, Kaldor, Robbins and Castle8 allows for comparisons to be made with other clergy groups. It will also be possible to explore which ministerial variables are related to exhaustion and satisfaction

in ministry, and to explore the relationship of these variables with spiritual maturity and marital fulfilment.

Literature review Latcovich9 conducted research on “The effects of the ministerial environment on Roman Catholic Deacons and their spouses.” He suggested that Deacons identify themselves with the traditional family roles of husband and father, but that deacons who continue in employment may experience role conflict which can negatively affect their marriage and their ministry. The presence of younger children in the family can also contribute to stress and necessitate limiting time for ministry. He also noted high levels of marital fulfilment, which is maintained to some extent through the deacon’s personal spirituality and the influence of diaconal training. In a report on The Fourth National Assembly of Deacons in England and Wales,10 it was mentioned that permanent deacons complained of feeling undervalued by both parish priests and bishops, and some said they were treated as “second-rate priests.” Concerns were also raised about how to manage the dual demands of marriage and ministry, and the particular difficulties experienced by deacons with young families.

6 Maslach, C. (1982). Burnout: The cost of caring. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. 7 Loudon, S.H., & Francis, L. (2003). The naked parish priest: What priests really think they’re doing. London: Continuum. 8 Francis, L.J., Kaldor, P., Robbins, M. & Castle, K. (2005).Happy but exhausted? Work-related psychological health among clergy. Pastoral Sciences, 24 (2) 101-120. 9 Latcovich, M.A. (1996). The effects of the ministerial environment on Roman Catholic permanent deacons and their spouses. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Case Western Reserve University. 10 The Tablet, (11th February, 2006). ‘We’re treated as second-rate, deacons complain’. The assembly, entitled ‘The Deacon: Icon of Christ’ was held in Lowestoft, 4-6 February 2006. New Diaconal Review Issue 9



Emotional Exhaustion

Research11 on the psychological profiles of 139 Catholic Deacon aspirants in the United States showed that the average age of the aspirants was 50.59 years of age (SD = 9.17) and mean years of education was 14.7 (SD = 3.5). They note that 25.2% were converts to Catholicism. The authors noted that those accepted for training showed lower levels of neuroticism, addiction proneness, and anger than those who were rejected. The aspirants scored higher on measures of dominance, responsibility and ego strength. These are important as the role of deacon can be stressful, especially as it involves balancing family, church, and sometimes job commitments. They are also expected to offer a model of Christian living, to be of service, and undertake roles of leadership in the parish, all of which call on resources of personal resilience, interpersonal skills and time management. The authors conclude that the aspirants appeared “quite normal” and similar to priesthood applicants studied by Plante et al (1996). They also showed high levels of marital fulfilment and other indicators of personal maturity, including a desire to be of service to others, and good judgment. The lack of empirical data on the wellbeing of deacons invites a review of research on married clergy from other denominations and of Roman Catholic celibate priests. Francis, Kaldor, Robbins

and Castle12 report two broad traditions of clergy well-being research. One tradition seeks to investigate levels of satisfaction and generally finds that clergy have positive feelings about their work and lives. Rose13 for example, reports that clergy have the second highest level of satisfaction from their jobs, based on data from the British Household Panel Survey. The second tradition focuses on issues such as burnout and emotional exhaustion, and generally reports findings indicating high levels of clergy stress. This is reflected, for example, in The Becket Project,14 which investigated the Emotional Breakdown of Priests. Rachel McGovern15 carried out similar research in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle and concluded that work overload and time pressures were the main stressors. While the emerging data from these two avenues of research are apparently contradictory, they also conform to Bradburn’s16 model of balanced affect. It is possible – if not likely – that clergy experience stress and high levels of satisfaction, both directly linked to their chosen vocation and to personality factors. Francis, Kaldor, Robbins and Castle17 used two specially designed scales to measure Emotional Exhaustion in Ministry and Satisfaction in Ministry at the same time. They conclude from their research with a cohort of 6,680

11 Gamino, L.A., Sewell, K.W., Mason, S.L, & Crostley, J.T. (2007). Psychological profiles of Catholic deacon aspirants. Pastoral Psychology, 55: 283 – 296. 12 Francis, L.J., Kaldor, P., Robbins, M. & Castle, K. (2005).Happy but exhausted? Work-related psychological health among clergy. Pastoral Sciences, 24 (2) 101-120. 13 Rose, M. (1999). Explaining and forecasting job satisfaction: The contribution of occupational profile. Unpublished working paper 2, Department of Social and Policy Science, University of Bath. 14 The Becket Project (2005). Emotional breakdown of priests. Private publication. 15 McGovern, R. (2003). Stress in Catholic priests. Unpublished Diploma in Counselling dissertation. 16 Bradburn, N.M. (1969). The structure of psychological well-being. Chicago, Illinois: Alsine. 17 Francis, L.J., Kaldor, P., Robbins, M. & Castle, K. (2005).Happy but exhausted? Work-related psychological health among clergy. Pastoral Sciences, 24 (2) 101-120.


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Emotional Exhaustion and Satisfaction in Permanent Deacons – Brendan Geary and Mike Cox

male and female clergy from Australia, New Zealand and England, that the clergy are “happy, but exhausted.” Von Stroh, Mines and Anderson18 and Hatcher and Underwood19 highlight the problems of demands on time, as well as the pressures involved in being seen as a source of strength for others, but not always being successful at managing their own life stresses. The expectations of parishioners that the clergy will be experts on moral and ethical issues can result in external and internal expectations to live and practice the requirements of faith to a higher standard. Research20 conducted in the United States examined whether relationships between well-being and religious coping are moderated by the salience of religion to the individual’s identity and social roles. Rather than focus simply on clergy, they drew their participants from clergy, elders and members of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Roman Catholic Deacons are somewhat akin to elders, as they have a designated role within the church, with increased responsibilities, but are not in the position of ultimate leadership and responsibility. They are also married, but retain their secular employment until retirement. Elders reported higher positive affect than ordinary members, and clergy and ordinary members had more depressive affect than

the elders. Regarding religious coping, they note that religious coping was more important for the well-being of elders and clergy than for ordinary members. They write, “For better or worse then, it appears that religion has more significant effects for those whose roles and identities are more closely tied to religion.”21 This may be of significance in attempting to measure the Emotional Exhaustion and Satisfaction in Ministry of Roman Catholic Permanent Deacons, who have moved from the position of being ordinary members, to the more public role of an ordained minister. Hatcher and Underwood22 also comment on the concept of role and identity. They conclude that a positive self-concept is an important resource in coping with stress. This is of particular importance for RC permanent deacons given the ambiguity of their role, and the complaint, referred to above, of being treated as “second rate priests.” Latcovich’s research (1997) suggests that role ambiguity may be strongest for those who are trying to juggle marriage, ministry, and job. Meek et al. (2003), report findings regarding factors that contribute to resiliency from research with a group of Evangelical Protestant clergy in the United States. They suggest that “intentionality” is crucial to thriving in ministry. This involves the establishment of healthy boundaries, maintaining some separateness from their clergy role, crafting time away from pas-

18 Von Stroh, S., Mines, R.A., & Anderson, S.K. (1995). Impaired clergy: Applications of ethical principles. Counseling and Values, 40 (1), 6 – 14. 19 Hatcher, S.W., & Underwood, J.R. (1990). Self-concept and stress: A study of a group of Southern Baptist ministers. Counseling and Values, 34 (3), 187 – 196. 20 Pargament, K.I., Tarakeshwar, N., Ellison, C.G., Wulff, K.M. (2001). Religious coping among the religious: the relationship between religious coping and well-being in a national sample of Presbyterian clergy, elders, and members. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 40 (3) 497 – 513. 21 Op cit. pp. 11 – 12. 22 Hatcher, S.W., & Underwood, J.R. (1990). Self-concept and stress: A study of a group of Southern Baptist ministers. Counseling and Values, 34 (3), 187 – 196. New Diaconal Review Issue 9



Emotional Exhaustion and Satisfaction in Permanent Deacons – Brendan Geary and Mike Cox

toral duties and protecting their marriages and families. The importance of spouses in supporting spiritual life and providing emotional and work balance were also mentioned by clergy in their sample. The second important factor contributing to resiliency was spirituality; the development of a strong personal relationship with God.

clear identity, interpersonal conflict, and a lack of clear boundaries emerge as salient factors that may lead to emotional exhaustion. Conversely, marital fulfilment, role clarity, a sense of being valued, and high levels of spiritual maturity emerge as factors that contribute to satisfaction in ministry, and act as buffers against stress.

The importance of religion and spirituality is the focus of a study by Filsinger and Wilson (1984) who report that more than socio-economic rewards and family development characteristics, religiosity was the

Hall writes; “While empirical investigation into pastors’ personal lives has increased from the early to mid 1980’s, in some ways it is still in its infancy” (1997, p. 250). The data from this research will provide a better understanding of this emerging group, as well as identifying issues related to emotional exhaustion, satisfaction in ministry and diaconal identity.

The presence of young children, feeling undervalued, lack of a clear Method identity, interpersonal Participants conflict, and a lack of clear Surveys were sent to all Roman Catholic boundaries emerge as salient deacons in England and Wales listed in the Catholic Directory for England and Wales, factors that may lead to 2006, and from all deacons listed in the Catholic Directory for Scotland, 2006 i.e. emotional exhaustion strongest predictor of marital adjustment. It may provide norms to live by, as well as being a source of adaptation, vitality, and strength. Hall (1997) writes of the need to examine the spiritual maturity of ministers due to its importance to their well-being and role as spiritual leaders. He refers to a Keddy, et al. (1990) who note that pastors with significant interpersonal difficulties tended to have similar difficulties in their relationship with God. The third factor highlighted by Meek et al. was self-awareness. This may relate to the levels of personal maturity and “normality” identified by Gamino, et al. (2007) in their study of the profiles of successful diaconate applicants. This brief overview suggests that there may be a number of factors that contribute to emotional exhaustion among Roman Catholic Deacons. The presence of young children, feeling undervalued, lack of a 40

665 deacons from England and Wales, and 27 from Scotland. Deacons were contacted by post in nearly November 2006. Data sets were received from 233 deacons, but four were deleted due to incomplete data. The response rate was therefore 35.12% which is considered acceptable for this kind of study.

Measures Satisfaction in Ministry Scale and Scale of Emotional Exhaustion in Ministry Emotional exhaustion in ministry was measured using Francis, Kaldor, Shevlin and Lewis’ (2004) revised version of the Scale of Emotional Exhaustion in Ministry (SEEM). This comprises 11 items which are assessed on a five-point scale: disagree strongly (1), disagree (2), not certain (3), agree (4), and agree strongly (5). Satisfaction in ministry was assessed by the Satisfaction in Ministry Scale (SIMS),

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Emotional Exhaustion and Satisfaction in Permanent Deacons – Brendan Geary and Mike Cox

which was devised by Francis, Kaldor, Robbins, and Castle (2005). This scale comprises 11 items which are assessed on a five-point scale: disagree strongly (1), disagree (2), not certain (3), agree (4), and agree strongly (5).

The Faith Maturity Vertical Scale The Faith Maturity Vertical Scale (FMS) is a measure of spirituality that forms a subscale of the shorter form of the Faith Maturity Scale. Faith Maturity is defined as “the degree to which a person embodies the priorities, commitments, and perspectives characteristic of vibrant and life-transforming faith, as these have been understood in ‘mainline’ Protestant traditions” (p. 3). The original scale was developed as part of the National Study of Protestant Congregations in 1987. The vertical subscale evaluates the individual’s relationship with God.

used to create items for the survey. Items were measured as follows: never, less than monthly, about once a month, on a weekly basis, and more than weekly.

Spiritual Practices Questionnaire. Items were created from knowledge of the spiritual and religious practices of Roman Catholic men and women, particularly members of the clergy. Items were scaled as follows: never, about once a month, a few times month, once a week, a few times a week, once a day, and more than once a day.

Survey of Diaconate Experience Research related to diaconal theology and the experiences of deacons in ministry led to the creation of items used in this scale. Response options appropriate to each question were used for this survey instrument.

Results The Comprehensive Marital Satisfaction Scale The Abbreviated (14 item) Comprehensive Marital Satisfaction Scale (ACMSS), comprises 7 positively and 7 negatively skewed items from the 35 item CMSS constructed by Albert Mehrabian (2005). The items clearly deal with aspects of married life.

Demographic Data This questionnaire was constructed for the survey. It has items relating to age, country of origin, ethnicity, employment, level of education, diaconate training, health and marital status, religious background (denomination), vocational history, location of diaconal ministry, and information about work as a deacon.

Diaconal Ministry Questionnaire This questionnaire was constructed after data received from a group of 15 deacons from the archdiocese of Liverpool on 18 – 19th. March 2006. Information regarding Roman Catholic liturgical, pastoral, and church management practices was also

Demographic Data The mean age of the sample was 65.29 years of age. The majority of the group is English (86.1%) with 3.9% Scottish, 3.5% Irish, 1.3% Welsh, and 4.3% from other countries. Only 50 of the deacons (21.7%) are in fulltime employment, with 30 part- time or episodic (13%), and 7 deacons (3.0%) reporting none. The majority (60.4%) are retired. The group of deacons is evenly divided between those with third level education (50.7%) and those who did not have third level educational experience (49.7%). Almost the whole group (95.7%) had undertaken a 2 – 4 year course of church-sponsored diaconate training. Most of the deacons are married (85.2%), with 6.1% single, 6.5% widowed, and 1.0% (2 deacons) divorced or separated. Most of the sample report Good – Excellent health (73%) with 25.7% reporting Average – Poor health. Just over half of the group (51.7%) considered a vocation to priesthood or religious life before adulthood, and 7.4% had spent time in a junior seminary, while 13.9% (32)

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Emotional Exhaustion and Satisfaction in Permanent Deacons – Brendan Geary and Mike Cox

spent an average of 4.7 years in a senior seminary or religious order. Seventy percent (161) have been members of the Catholic Church since birth. Fiftyone (22.2%) were formerly Anglicans, with one former Presbyterian, two formerly Congregational or Free Church members, and eight who reported “Other.” The deacons report working an average of 18.9 hours per week in diaconal ministry. Responses ranged from 3 – 78 hours, with one person reporting 168 hours. The majority (69.1%) do not receive any remuneration for their work as a deacon.

Well-being in ministry The deacons in the study had high scores for emotional exhaustion in ministry (mean = 23.86, sd = 6.21), satisfaction in ministry (mean = 44.52, sd = 4.39) marital fulfilment (mean = 42.82, sd =12 .68), and spirituality (mean = 44.59, sd = 6.63).

Emotional Exhaustion in Ministry and Satisfaction in Ministry Independent samples t-tests were undertaken to explore relationships between exhaustion in ministry and satisfaction in ministry. Independent samples t-tests enable an investigator to compare two groups on the same variable, to see if there is a statistically significant difference between the groups. For example, people of high and low intelligence could be compared to a variable related to sporting achievement, to see if there was a difference between the two groups in relation to sporting ability. The deacons were divided into two groups: high and low levels of exhaustion in ministry (SEEM), high and low levels of satisfaction in ministry (SIMS). These were measured against the following variables; having children under 18, frequency of performing Baptism, being seen as a second-rate priest, identity as a member of the clergy, being valued in ministry, and relationship with parish priest. 42

A pattern emerged from the independent samples t-tests with the SEEM and SIMS whereby the deacons who are in full employment, baptise, preside at funerals, and do pastoral visits on a regular basis have significantly higher satisfaction in ministry. They do not feel that they are regarded as second-rate priests; they see themselves as members of the clergy, and feel valued in their work as deacons. On the other hand, those who experience higher levels of emotional exhaustion seldom or never perform Baptisms or lead funeral liturgies, feel they are regarded as secondrate priests, and do not identify themselves strongly as members of the clergy. They do not enjoy good relationships with their parish priests.

Emotional Exhaustion and Satisfaction in Permanent Deacons – Brendan Geary and Mike Cox

exhaustion differs from clergy whose ministry constitutes both their full-time employment and style of life. This may have some validity as the ministerial involvement of Roman Catholic deacons is undertaken in addition to their already existing family and (for those in employment) work commitments. The deacons indicate a mean of 18.9 hours of diaconal ministry each week, with a minimum of three hours and a maximum of 78 hours (excluding the participant who indicated 168, who may be making a theological point!) This suggests that the deacons are a highly committed group of men, and it would hardly be surprising if this level of commitment did not involve significant stress and exhaustion during the course of ministry.

Spirituality Spirituality was divided into high and low spirituality groups, by dividing the group at the mean. When the high and low spirituality groups are compared there were significant differences between the SEEM, the SIMS, and the Marital Satisfaction Scale (ACMSS). The group with the higher level of spiritual maturity has significantly lower scores on the SIMS and significantly higher scores on the SEEM and ACMSS.

Discussion One of the main aims of this study was to investigate levels of emotional exhaustion and satisfaction in ministry in a sample of deacons. Francis et al’s (2005) SEEM and SIMS were both used in order to make valid comparisons with available data on clergy. The most striking information to emerge from deacons’ data is the significantly higher levels of both emotional exhaustion and satisfaction in ministry in this group. A first impression might suggest that deacons are both happier and more emotionally exhausted than other members of the clergy. It is also possible that as a group, the deacons’ perception of satisfaction and

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It is also important to consider the high levels of satisfaction in ministry reported by the deacons. Again, it is possible that the deacons find their ministry particularly satisfying and, as result, they are prepared to live with or absorb the stress and exhaustion of their involvements because of its

It is worth noting that the deacons in full employment reported higher levels of satisfaction in ministry than those who were retired from work or not in full employment inherent rewards. It is worth noting that the deacons in full employment reported higher levels of satisfaction in ministry than those who were retired from work or not in full employment. It is likely that those in full employment will be younger, and will have children less than 18 years of age. Independent samples t tests were conducted to compare those with and without children under 18 on the SEEM. No signif-

icant differences were recorded between the groups. Daniel Nettle (2006) writes that personal control is a better indicator of happiness than income. It is possible that those deacons who have a greater sense of control and efficacy in their ministry experience higher satisfaction. This suggestion is borne out by the independent samples ttests on ministerial activities. The following activities led to significant differences between those who are involved on a frequent basis and those who do these things never or rarely; presiding at Baptisms, leading funerals, and counselling or pastoral care of people in difficulty or distress. This suggests that diaconal activities where the deacon has a degree of autonomy, as well as direct contact with members of the congregation in roles that require leadership or pastoral sensitivity, contribute to satisfaction in ministry. It is also possible that these activities reinforce a sense of diaconal identity more than liturgical functions, and that this also increases satisfaction and buffers against emotional exhaustion. Evers and Tomer (2003) mention a poorly organised work situation, administration, pastoral care, work pressure, and especially conducting funerals, to be emotionally taxing. Lack of support and lack of personal validation have been found to be related to stress in ministry (Morris & Blanton, 1994, Meek et al, 2000). Deacons in the Catholic Church do not have the burdens of administration or the main responsibility for care of the parish, in all its manifestations. It is possible that sharing in the ministerial activities – even ones that priests and ministers may find difficult, such as conducting funerals, affects deacons differently.

Identity Role ambiguity has been identified as a contributor to stress and burnout (Evers and Tomic, 2003). It was stated in the

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Emotional Exhaustion and Satisfaction in Permanent Deacons – Brendan Geary and Mike Cox

introduction that there is considerable lack of clarity about the precise role of deacons in the Roman Catholic Church, especially given the extraordinary range of duties which, until recently, were the preserve of ordained priests, and the growing number of church activities which are deemed to be the proper domain of lay members of the parish community. The data would appear to suggest that the deacons who have a stronger sense of clerical identity, who do not feel strongly that deacons are considered as second-rate priests, and who undertake a range of ministerial roles on a regular basis have most satisfaction and least emotional exhaustion.

Spirituality and Marital Fulfilment There is evidence to suggest that spirituality and marital fulfilment both act as buffers against stress (McMinn, Lish, Trice, Root, Gilbert & Yap, 2005). The deacons in this group indicated high levels of spiritual maturity and marital fulfilment. When the cohort was divided into low and high spirituality groups, there were significant differences between the high group and the low group on the three scales of interest. Those with higher levels of spiritual maturity had higher levels of fulfilment in ministry and marriage, and lower levels of emotional exhaustion. This is consistent with authors who noted the role of spirituality in marriage and ministry (Hall, 1997, Keddy et al.1990). Latcovich (1997) writes that the formation of the deacon may heighten his interior focus and that the skills developed for ministry may have an impact on his marriage. The deacons in this sample reflect high levels of marital fidelity. It is not clear whether diaconal ministry supports fidelity, or deacon aspirants are drawn from a pool of male Catholics whose lives and marital fidelity are consistent with the teachings and values of the church in which they now serve as ordained ministers. Meek et al (2003), write about pastors who have healthy levels 44

of resiliency, “They are keenly aware of God’s ongoing work in their lives, the reality of His power in whatever successes or failures they experience, and their need for God’s forgiveness and mercy” (2003, p. 334)

Conclusion This study has provided demographic data on the emerging group of permanent deacons in the United Kingdom. It has also provided data on emotional exhaustion in ministry and satisfaction in ministry, which can be compared with other clergy samples. Independent samples t – tests helped to identify the following factors which appear to contribute towards increased emotional exhaustion for this group: not feeling valued, infrequent performance of significant diaconal roles such as Baptism, funerals and pastoral care of members of the congregation, a poor relationship with the parish priest, suggesting the presence of conflict in this crucial relationship. On the other hand deacons who were in full employment, felt valued, saw them-

Contrary to expectations, the presence of children under 18 was not related to increased levels of emotional exhaustion selves as members of the clergy and regularly performed a range of diaconal roles evinced higher levels of satisfaction in ministry. This group also indicated higher levels of spiritual maturity and marital fulfilment. Contrary to expectations, the presence of children under 18 was not related to increased levels of emotional exhaustion. As well as helping to identify possible stressors and buffers against stress, this research also suggests that a sense of diaconal identity may be emerging for this group comprising a sense of identity as a member of the clergy and performance of rewarding diaconal tasks. ■

New Diaconal Review Issue 9

Brendan Geary

Diaconal identity T

he late Bishop Michael Evans wrote recently that, “The challenge is to focus on the distinctive identity of the diaconate.”1 One of the purposes of the Ushaw survey on the diaconate was to try to understand the sense of identity that is held by deacons in Britain, and to bring that into dialogue with current theological insights. It has been noted that Vatican II was rather timid in its approach to the diaconate, and that it left many questions unanswered. While this provides room for development, it also points to a lack of clarity. The International Theological Commission notes that one of the problems with working to establish an identity for deacons is that it tends to take the identity of priesthood as its starting point. The deacon is often regarded (with good reason) as the person who replaces priests in tasks that were formerly the priest’s preserve. Numerous writers have also pointed out that there is very little – apart from some liturgical functions – that deacons do that lay people cannot do. In an age where many are encouraging the emergence of legitimate lay ministry, this is problematical for those who are ordained as deacons. The issue of the identity of deacons is something that the Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran and Catholic Churches struggle with, as the Diaconate has been restored in various ways in our churches. The Hanover Report

In this second article Dr Geary reflects on Diaconal Identity

for example, notes that, “No ecumenical consensus has yet emerged on the nature and forms of the diaconate and diaconal ministry.”2 There are questions regarding ordained or lay status, being an assistant to the bishop or someone who is attached to a congregation or ministry of service, a replacement for clergy in congregational worship or a group of believers called to work at the frontiers of ministry. This idea of being called to be a model or pioneer in new forms of ministry is developed by the Methodist church which has created a Religious Order of Deacons.3 While sharing many of the features of the other churches, there appears to be a developing identity around the idea of ministry in non-traditional areas. Identity is therefore both a formational and an ecumenical issue.

Role ambiguity Role ambiguity has been identified as a contributor to stress and burnout for ministers (Evers and Tomic, 2003).4 As has been shown, there is considerable lack of clarity about the precise role of deacons in the Roman Catholic Church, especially given the extraordinary range of duties which, until recently, were the preserve of ordained priests, and the growing number of church activities which are deemed to be the proper domain of lay members of the parish community. The data from the Ushaw study would appear to suggest that the deacons who have a stronger sense of

1 Evans, M. (2006). The Deacon: An icon of Christ the servant. The Pastoral Review, 2 (4) pp 28 – 32. This paper was originally given at the Lowestoft assembly referred to in footnote 10, p. 27 above. 2 Anglican-Lutheran International Commission. (1996). The Hanover Report: The Diaconate as Ecumenical Opportunity, 2. 3 Methodist Conference (2004). What is a deacon? 4 Evers and Tomer (2003) New Diaconal Review Issue 9



Emotional Exhaustion and Satisfaction in Permanent Deacons – Brendan Geary and Mike Cox

clerical identity, who do not feel strongly that deacons are considered as second-rate priests, and who undertake a range of ministerial roles on a regular basis have most satisfaction and least emotional exhaustion. This may be an attempt to deal with the issue of role conflict, which has been iden-

... role ambiguity can often be an asset for ministers, as it gives them room for flexibility and creativity in their ministry, but that, when combined with role conflict it can contribute to anxiety and stress tified as a source of stress for ministers. Kemery, for example, suggests that role ambiguity can often be an asset for ministers, as it gives them room for flexibility and creativity in their ministry, but that, when combined with role conflict it can contribute to anxiety and stress. He writes: Role ambiguity may be a two-edged sword. On the one hand, role ambiguity accords decision latitude necessary to address unexpected occurrences and to encourage and nurture creative ministry. On the other hand, when conflicts arise, this same role ambiguity results in the lowest appointment satisfaction. Thus, when clergy receive incompatible requests, work under incompatible policies and guidelines, work with groups that operate quite differently, and when role ambiguity is high, clergy appointment satisfaction is at its lowest.5

Diaconal identity – Brendan Geary

According to William McKnight,6 the results of a survey of American deacons showed that deacons report satisfaction with their decision to be ordained, but that they experience anxiety due to the differing expectations of clergy and lay people regarding their role and status in the church. A number of deacons have suggested that identifying clear roles for deacons would be helpful. This may be a reflection of the difficulties experienced where there is a lack of clarity in their role, especially if there is a change in parish or diocesan leadership, or with changes of policies or guidelines in various aspects of ministry. Some deacons, for example, reported that they had been told to stop preaching when a new priest arrived in the parish. Another area where there are different policies, or policies have changed with the appointment of a new bishop, is that of dress. One way in which clergy are clearly identified is by their dress. Yet even here there is uncertainty with regard to practice. In some dioceses bishops insist that deacons wear clerical dress while involved in ministerial activities, while in other places this is not the case. In the December, 2006, Bulletin for the Liverpool Order of Deacons for example, there is a report of an “Italian Monsignore,” a member of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, who answered a question from a bishop at an Assembly held in Bournemouth in 1998 about appropriate dress for deacons by saying that in Italy they wore the “accepted street dress of men in his country.” The Bulletin goes on to say that in the eyes of the people the deacon is, “just one of us, with added commitment.” It is not difficult to see how the lack of clarity about dress can contribute to confusion about diaconal identity, or changes

5 Kemery, E.R. (2006). Clergy role stress and satisfaction: Role ambiguity isn’t always bad. Pastoral Psychology, 54: 561 – 570. 6 McKnight, W. (2006). The deacon as medius ordo: Service in promotion of lay participation., in James Keating (ed.). The Deacon Reader, p. 125


New Diaconal Review Issue 9

in parish or diocesan policy can lead to ambiguity or conflicting expectations. (Note: Perhaps to include something about symbolic interactionism and how our stock knowledge of clerical persona is derived from a celibate priesthood. Also to note the confusion which can occur in the healthcare chaplaincy context where diaconal clerical dress raises the expectation of being able to receive either the Sacrament of the Sick or Reconciliation. It seems somewhat problematic that the first explanation of the deacon’s role can be couched in negative terms - “I am not a priest”. Perhaps the opportunity to explore the concept of role-taking and role-making and that the role-making of the deacon is inhibited by his adoption of priestly modes of dress, conduct and speech. Clerical dress can be more diverse than black shirts and Roman collars. Lapel pins can designate the deacon’s role in much the same way as members of religious orders tend to wear particular types of crosses to identify their religious order. )

in the parish as there had been a number of changes of parish priest in recent years. Given that the younger deacons are still involved in a career, it is interesting that just over 5% have moved diocese since ordination, and more than half said they would not move diocese to change jobs and only 14.3% said they would do so. John Collins suggests from his reading of the Scriptural and Patristic evidence, that, among other things, “Deacons are to be alive to the possibilities for change.” He continues: “From their advantageous position within the congregation, deacons ought to be available for evaluations which precede, accompany and follow change.”7 There were a few references to being an agent of change, and to “ambivalence” as an asset, but these were clearly individual responses and did not reflect the thinking of the majority. As has been said already, the picture that emerges is one of stability – not agents of change.

Rootedness and stability

Identity – The Deacons’ perspective

One important theme that emerged from the qualitative data was that of rootedness and stability - coming from the parish and serving the parish. One deacon wrote, for example, that “The deacon is an ordained member of the clergy who remains in his parish or origin, unlike the priest (1000).” This is interesting in the light of the theology of the diaconate which situates it in relationship to being special assistants to the bishop. The data reveal that 85% of the deacons say that their ministry is completely or to a large extent parish based, as compared with 15% who say that their ministry is completely or to a large extent diocese based. Most deacons live in the parish where they minister, and have only worked in one parish since ordination. Some deacons wrote that they represent continuity

The responses to the question, “What, if anything, do you believe is distinctive about the ministry of a deacon?” are clearly important in this context. Given how much this idea has been emphasised in recent writings on the diaconate8 it is not surprising that the concept of the deacon as servant received a lot of responses. Some highlight the visibility of their service as deacons, for example, “A visible focus of service in the world (50).” Other respondents pointed to a service that is focused more than other ministries on society and its issues: “A compassionate voice and listening ear to the challenges that society has to face (91).” Service seen as commitment was a theme picked up by some of the respondents. One respondent saw his service as being ‘spiritual and helpful,’ (348)

7 Collins, J. N. (2002). Deacons and the Church. Harrisburg PA; Gracewing, p. 126. 8 Evans, M. (2006). The Deacon: An icon of Christ the servant. The Pastoral Review, 2 (4) New Diaconal Review Issue 9



Diaconal identity – Brendan Geary

while another saw his ministry as being one of ‘hope and laughter’ (1008). One deacon saw his ministry as an opportunity to ‘give something back to the Lord’ (66). The largest group of responses, however, related to sharing a common way of life with the people they served. A large number mentioned their experience of marriage, of bringing up a family, and of the world of work etc., as being distinctive assets that they brought to ministry. We can see this in the following examples: ● The fact that in a majority of cases he is

married [means that] his ministry can be exercised in spheres to which a ‘herald of the Gospel’ has not easily been admitted in the past. (590) ● As a clergyman who is married [with

children] the deacon is able to share the experiences and problems of lay people in a way that priests cannot. (388) ● The distinctive role of a deacon involves

. . . sharing your life with parishioners and serving them as a friend. (217) A deacon can be what the worker priests wanted to be – one foot in the workplace, one in the sanctuary. (58) A number of deacons mentioned the idea of being a bridge between priests and people. ● Fulfilling a conduit role between parish-

ioners and parish priest. (334) ● A deacon usually comes out from a com-

Diaconal identity – Brendan Geary

of thinking, emerged during Vatican II and may have been presented as part of diaconal training in some places. The theology of diaconate presents priests and deacons as having different but complementary functions, with both looking to the bishop as head of the diocese. However, in this context, the following diagram may be more helpful: Bishop Priest


We could shift our perspective and consider priesthood not so much as a progression from diaconate which brings with it more powers and more status, to seeing diaconate as a parallel ministry, with different functions and a different relationship to the bishop and his ministry. The difficulty here, of course, is that priests are ordained deacons as a necessary step towards ordination to priesthood. This reinforces the sense of priesthood as a “higher” calling. Priests are also able to perform more functions, e.g. consecration, which has more status within the church. Something similar to this is proposed by Anthony Gooley, a deacon from the Archdiocese of Brisbane in Australia. He writes: Deacons are primarily those who proclaim the Gospel, in the name of their bishop, to the assembled community and those dispersed. Like the bishop, whom they serve, they have a diakonia to build up the community of faith and reach out to dispersed Christians and to those who have yet to hear the Gospel.9

munity – a foot in both camps. (538 Interestingly only two deacons mentioned this as a positive aspect of diaconal ministry, and both were sensitive to the fact that priests may find this claim difficult. This idea, which reflects a hierarchical way

The difficulty with this sort of statement, however, is that some texts on priesthood also say the primary role of the priest, as coworker with the bishop, is to proclaim the Gospel.

9 Gooley, A. (2006). Deacons and the servant myth. The Pastoral Review, 2, 5.


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Gooley builds on the research of John Collins, who questioned the emphasis placed on service in the understanding of diaconate. Gooley writes that this was a useful response when ministry was being looked at in a functionalist perspective, but that the vocation and identity of a deacon suffers significantly if seen only (or mainly) through the prism of function, as it inevitably raises issues of the proper roles of laity and clergy. Interestingly, the deacons who see themselves as members of the clergy tended to report more satisfaction in ministry and less emotional exhaustion than those who did not see themselves in such a clear way as members of the clergy. It is interesting to note that just over half the sample had considered a vocation to religious life or priesthood before they were 18 and that 60% of those under 65 said they would choose to be ordained as priests if that were possible in their current life circumstances. (It should also be added that the question of ordination to priesthood did not emerge strongly in suggestions for development of the vocation of the deacon, and the responses in favour of the possibility of priestly ordination were elicited when the issue was prompted by a specific question rather than allowed to emerge in an open way). This touches on the issues of the theology of vocation and diaconal identity. Is it possible that these men feel a vocation to ministry, and that diaconate is the only form of ministry available to them? In the Anglican Church, for example, they would be able to become non-stipendiary ministers, but that option is not available in the Catholic Church. The clerical state certainly confers an identity that is clear and different, and it is interesting that those who more strongly associate themselves with this appear to be more satisfied in their ministry.

Few respondents identified the liturgical role of the deacon as being a distinctive feature of their ministry and only one person made reference to this in the section on additional comments. This is interesting

Far too often, the deacon’s liturgical / sacramental ministry is put first, followed by the ministry of the word, with the ministry of charity coming a poor third given Michael Evans’ observation that, “Far too often, the deacon’s liturgical / sacramental ministry is put first, followed by the ministry of the word, with the ministry of charity coming a poor third.”10 When asked where they spent most of their ministry time, more highlighted pastoral care than ministry of the Word or Eucharist / Liturgy. There also appears to be high involvement of deacons in ministries like visiting the sick and housebound, counselling or pastoral care of people in difficulty or distress, or care of the bereaved. While the majority of the deacons proclaim the Gospel regularly, less than half appear to preach on a regular basis. There were a number of responses that mentioned approachability and availability generally in comparison with priests. This also touches the issue of what they feel has been positive in their lives since ordination, which was also asked in the section of open questions. A large number of responses covered the three dimensions of ministry of altar, Word, and charity, with the largest number being in the area of pastoral ministry (charity) and pastoral work. As has already been pointed out, this may relate to the fact that deacons have more autonomy in these areas. Also, the kind of men who are invited to become deacons or who

10 Evans, M. (2006). The Deacon: An icon of Christ the servant. The Pastoral Review, 2 (4), p. 30 New Diaconal Review Issue 9



Diaconal identity – Brendan Geary

respond positively to the invitation, are likely to be those who derive personal satisfaction from the care of others, so this kind of ministry would be both validating and rewarding for them. The largest number of responses regarding what the deacons found positive in their lives as deacons covered the aspect of personal relationships with members of congregations, or with people who were encountered in ministry. The deacons often referred to the privilege of having access to people’s spiritual lives, sharing their joys and sorrows, being present at significant moments etc. A number mentioned the sense of personal (vocational) fulfilment, marital happiness, personal spiritual growth, and the sense of being valued by others (parishioners). Issues of identity surfaced again in this section; the benefits of being clergy – but not a priest, being a link between priest and people (2), the feeling of confidence and authority that came from ordination to a public ministry, and the feeling of brotherhood among the deacons.

Being and doing The issue of diaconal identity can often appear to become stuck on the question of what deacons can do that is different from a lay person or a priest. This is understandable as there are distinctive “powers” and roles that distinguish priests and bishops. As numerous authors have pointed out, there is very little that a deacon can do that a lay person cannot do, and the few liturgi-

Diaconal identity – Brendan Geary

cal roles that are entrusted to deacons can also be performed by priests and bishops. However, as the International Theological Commission points out, reducing this discussion to functionalist arguments can only take us down a theological cul-desac.11 The Commission suggests that the identity of the deacon must be found in who he is, rather than only in what he does, i.e., in being rather than doing.12 They develop this idea in various ways in their final chapter. They state that the diaconate must be developed in relation to the real needs of the Christian community.13 This can be seen in the areas of the First World where the reduction in numbers of priests has coincided with a rise in a group of educated lay people who feel called to and are capable of assuming leadership roles in ministry. Among these there are men with varying degrees of theological and pastoral training who have come forward to take on these roles in the capacity of ordained deacons.

In persona Christi (representative symbolism) Michael Evans entitles his article on the diaconate, “The Deacon: an icon of Christ the servant.”14 He writes that the identity of the deacon is firmly rooted in being a sacramental sign of Christ the servant. This is discussed by the International Theological Commission, but the Commission also discusses the difficulties inherent in this as everyone is called to follow Christ as servant, and this is also recognised as part of all ordained ministry.15 Only 5.2% of the

11 International Theological Commission. (2003). From the diakonia of Christ to the diakonia of the apostles, p. 94 12 International Theological Commission. (2003). From the diakonia of Christ to the diakonia of the apostles, p. 85. 13 International Theological Commission. (2003). From the diakonia of Christ to the diakonia of the apostles, p. 86. 14 Evans, M. (2006). The Deacon: An icon of Christ the servant. The Pastoral Review, 2 (4) 15 International Theological Commission. (2003). From the diakonia of Christ to the diakonia of the apostles, p. 95.


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deacons made reference to being an icon of Christ, sharing in Christ’s ministry or the personal relationship with Christ as a distinctive feature of the diaconate. Whatever of the theological perspectives on this issue, it would appear that this has not found a deep resonance in the self-understanding of the deacons themselves – as a distinctive feature of diaconal ministry.

Ordained Clearly one thing that is distinctive about deacons is that they are ordained and, as such, are clergy, and members of the hierarchy. 9.2% of the deacons wrote about role visibility or ordained status as being distinctive features of the diaconate. The large number of responses that indicated a sense of personal fulfilment and personal spiritual growth since ordination also relate to this aspect of diaconal identity. While it is true that lay people can perform most of the roles and functions of deacons, it would appear that being ordained makes a difference in the lives of the deacons, their wives, and the people among whom they minister. This may relate to the issue of being a public witness, or the public commitment involved in being ordained to ministry.

Mediating function The International Theological Commission also discusses the issue of the mediating function of deacons.16 This is echoed in other churches. The Hanover Report for example, writes: Diaconal ministry typically not only seeks to mediate the service of the church to specific needs, but also to interpret those needs to the church. The “go-between” role of diaconal ministry thus operates in both directions.”17

The Methodist Document, “What is a deacon?” says, “Deacons are messengers authorised to proclaim the Good News and intermediaries with a particular responsibility to make connections between Church and World.”18 A number of the deacons reflected this thinking in their responses. 14.% wrote in some way about finding diaconal identity in being a bridge between priest and people (although, interestingly, very few wrote about this when asked about the positive aspects of diaconal ministry). Is it possible that this is an idea that has been heard during diaconal training, and which offers an intellectual rationale for diaconate, but which is not reflected in the reality of ministry? The International Theological Commission writes that this idea needs clarification. In the first place the deacon is not to be found half-way between ordained and lay faithful. He is a member of the clergy. However, they accept, and this is also reflected in the responses of the deacons, that their experience of family and marital life, and the world of work and civil society, can give

... greater availability, greater approachability, being rooted among the people and bringing stability to parish life them a perspective that may not be part of the lived experience of many priests. This “in betweenness” is reflected in various ways by the deacons; greater availability, greater approachability, being rooted among the people and bringing stability to parish life.

16 International Theological Commission. (2003). From the diakonia of Christ to the diakonia of the apostles, p. 103. 17 Anglican-Lutheran International Commission. (1996). The Hanover Report: The Diaconate as Ecumenical Opportunity, 51. 18 Methodist Conference (2004). What is a deacon? 5.4. New Diaconal Review Issue 9



Diaconal identity – Brendan Geary

Diaconal identity – Brendan Geary

Paul McPartlan explores this idea in terms of being a bridge between the sacred and the secular, rather than a bridge between two parts of the church community. He writes, “By being visibly at home in both places, the deacon embodies the great message of Vatican II, namely that the whole world is taken up in what happens at the altar and that the sacrifice of the altar is celebrated for the sanctification of the whole world” 19 For McPartlan the deacon represents the seamlessness between the church and the world, with the deacon as a sign of this solidarity. He also reminds his readers that the worker priest movement had just come to an end and that deacons, in a certain sense, filled the void created by this movement of ministerial and sacramental insertion (the priest as an ordained minister, present in the world of work). The deacons stand as examples and reminders of the universal call to service following the model of Christ. The deacons themselves seldom articulate this bridging role as articulately as McPartlan. Some, it has to be said, have had the experience of being rejected by the lay or clerical side of the church as not quite “one-of-us”20. This is reflected in the responses of a minority of the deacons in the survey. Keating writes of the deacon being “embedded in the world,” able to empathise with lay people and clergy, and in this way acting as an emissary facilitating and healing misunderstandings when they arise. This rather idealistic proposal is not reflected in the responses in this survey.

as a result of their ordination and ministry as a deacon. There are concerns about conflicts that arise due to family and ministry commitments, and concerns about not being valued. A significant number have had painful experiences in interaction with priests and sometimes with bishops or laity. The issue of identity is clearly

... pastoral ministry, and liturgical functions which the deacons perform on their own appear to provide a deeper sense of satisfaction not resolved, though pastoral ministry, and liturgical functions which the deacons perform on their own appear to provide a deeper sense of satisfaction, which would help to create a sense of personal identity. The deacons who see themselves as members of the clergy also seem happier in their ministry. Liturgical functions did not appear to provide as strong a sense of identity as one might expect, and the theological image of the deacon as an Icon of Christ the Servant was not highlighted in the responses. It does appear, though, that being a deacon enables levels of relationship and connection that are qualitatively different from what these men experienced previously, and this is valued by them, and is of value to those among whom they minister. ■

Conclusion The deacons in this survey emerge as a group of men who are generous and committed. The vast majority find their ministry fulfilling, and say that they have grown humanly, spiritually, and in their marriage 19 McPartlan, P. (2006). The deacon and Gaudium et Spes, in James Keating (ed.). The Deacon Reader, p. 67 20 Keating, J. (2006). The moral life of the deacon, in James Keating (ed.). The Deacon Reader, p. 125


New Diaconal Review Issue 9

Diaconia in an Intercultural Context Invitation to the


International Studies Conference of the IDC

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

June 13–16, 2013 in Velehrad / Czech Republic

Full of joyful anticipation, I would like to extend a cordial invitation, on behalf of the IDC Board to the International Studies Conference which will take place between the June 13–16th 2013 in Velehrad, Moravia, Czech Republic! This shrine so rich in traditions is preparing to celebrate, also in 2013, the jubilee of the 1150 anniversary of the mission of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the apostles of the Slavs. Due to these two saints this place of particular spiritual force is also a programme in itself: they initiated some processes which we now call inculturation, mission and ecumenism. It is these topics that we will approach – of course, from a diaconal perspective. People from around the world can and will contribute to this debate and in so doing they will enter discussions which are very relevant to our times and which are taking place not only between Christian denominations, but also with people who do not profess Christianity. May St. Cyril and St. Methodius become the patron saints of our conference “Diaconia in an Intercultural Context”! In the hope of being able to welcome you in a country in which almost 200 permanent deacons are at work, for now I extend my heartfelt greetings to all of you.

Klaus Kießling President of the IDC New Diaconal Review Issue 9


Diaconia in an Programme

Organisational Information

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

7:00PM Opening of the studies conference Prof. Dr. Klaus Kießling, President of the IDC

7:30AM Mass

7:30PM Greeting & welcome speech Msgr. Ján Graubner, Archbishop of Olomouc followed by informal conversations and meetings

Friday, June 14, 2013

followed by Breakfast

Conference Venue 9:15AM The diaconate for a New Evangelization in a Pluralistic Context Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Mumbai / India Discussion

7:30AM Mass 11:00AM Workshops followed by Breakfast 12:30PM Lunch 9:15AM Opportunities for Evangelisation in Today’s Czech Republic ThLic. Msgr. Jaroslav Lorman, Prague Discussion 11:00AM “Mission Impossible”? Diaconate in a Culturally Plural World Prof. Dr. Klaus Kießling, President of the IDC

starting 1:30PM: Meetings of the individual regions, networks, etc. 3:30PM The Significance of Social Service in the Orthodox Churches with a Special Focus on the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Kiril of Varna and Veliki Preslav, Bulgaria 5:00PM Plenary Session: Diaconia in an Intercultural Context and the Future of Faith

Discussion 12:30PM Lunch

7:00PM Cultural evening with music and gastronomical specialties of the region

2:30PM Workshops 4:00PM IDC General Assembly Opening and welcome speech: Dr. Gebhard Fürst, Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Protector of the IDC

8.15AM Breakfast 9:30AM Solemn Closing Mass Farewells

7:30PM Elections for the IDC Board and Delegates

Velehrad, one of the most important pilgrimage places in Moravia/Czech Republic is closely linked with a tradition of the two Apostles of the Slavs Cyril and Methodius. They dedicated themselves to the creation of an alphabet for the Slavic language and to the translation of biblical texts and other religious books from Greek to Slavic. As patron saints of Europe they represent a bridge between East and West as well as a process of ecumenical rapprochement and of intercultural dialogue. In the early Middle Ages Velehrad was the See of the first archbishop of Great Moravia, St. Methodius and also the administrative capital of the Kingdom of Great Moravia. The beginnings of today’s Velehrad can be traced back to the 13th century when the first Cistercian abbey in Moravia was founded here. Towards the end of the 19th century the Jesuits took up residence here. Pope John Paul II visited Velehrad and its renowned basilica in 1990. Earlier on, in 1927 Pope Pius XI had given it the status of a pontifical basilica. The year 2013 will mark for this shrine the 1150th anniversary of the mission of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles of the Slavs.

Please register for the conference no later than March 15, 2013. You can do so in writing (using the enclosed registration card), by email ( or by fax (+49 7472 169 607). Please send the conference fee within 14 days receiving a registration confirmation registration from us. The costs for the studies conference, including accommodation, meals and relevant printed material amount to 199 Euros (double room) or 269 Euros (single room). A bus transfer from Vienna airport and back will be organised (Vienna–Velehrad approx. 90 min). Airport transfer (round-trip) 25 Euros. The working languages of the conference are English, Spanish and German. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided. The conference’s official currency is the Euro (C). The studies conference will take place in the Stojanov Retreat House and in the Archiepiscopal High School Stojanovo gymnázium in Velehrad / Czech Republic. Please address all your questions to:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

6:00PM Dinner


Intercultural Context

12:30PM Lunch

New Diaconal Review Issue 9

The conference will take place in the Archiepiscopal High School Stojanovo gymnázium which has a big conference hall for plenary meetings, as well as several additional rooms adequate for conferences. Beside the high school, accommodation and meals will also be provided in the Stojanov Retreat House as well as in some nearby houses.

Internationales Diakonatszentrum Geschäftsführer Dr. Stefan Sander Postfach 9 D 72101 Rottenburg Fon +49 7472 169 737 Fax +49 7472 169 607 Mail idz@bo.drs .de

New Diaconal Review Issue 9


Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz continues his fresh and more complete translation of the International Theological Commission’s key research document Le Diaconat: Évolution et Perspectives, Editions du Cerf, Paris, 2003. Deacon Tony Schmitz is Director of Studies of the national diaconate formation programme for the Diaconate Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland and co-editor of the New Diaconal Review. What follows is Section III and IV of Chapter Four. To be continued.

III.Theological Nuances after Trent After the Council of Trent, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a majority of theologians upheld the sacramental character of the diaconate, whilst only a minority questioned or denied it. However, the form in which this sacramentality was defended was full of nuances and it was generally considered to be a point that whilst it had not been dogmatically defined by Trent, it was a doctrine that was reasserted in the Roman Catechism when it describes the functions of deacons.1 Thus, for example, F. de Vitoria (+ 1546) considers as probabilissima the opinion that “solum sacramentum est saeerdotium” and that all the other orders are sacramentals. D. de Soto (+ 1560), for his part, although in favour of the sacramentality of both the diaconate and the sub-diaconate, held the view that anyone who followed Durandus was not to be censured.2

Robert Bellarmine (+ 1621) described well where the status quaestionis stood at that point. He established the sacramentality of Holy Orders (“vere ac proprie sacramentum novae legis”) as a fundamental principle admitted by all Catholic theologians and denied by heretics (Protestants). But as regards the sacramentality of each of the orders he believed it necessary to make a distinction, because although there was unanimity in respect of the sacramentality of the presbyterate, there was no such unanimity in respect of all the other orders.3 Bellarmine declared himself clearly in favour of the sacramentality of the episcopate (“ordinatio episcopalis sacramentum est vere ac proprie dictum”), as against the scholastics of old who denied it; and he considered this affirmation of his an assertio certissima, based on Scripture and Tradition. Moreover, he spoke of an episcopal character that was distinct from and superior to the character of the presbyterate. As regards the doctrine of the sacramentality of the diaconate, Bellarmine adopted it, considering it very probable; however, he did not take it as an ex fide certitude since it could not be deduced from the evidence of either Scripture or Tradition nor had there ever been any explicit determination of the question on the part of the Church.4

1 See Catechismus Romanus p. II, can. VII, q. 20. 2 Cf F. Vitoria, Summa sacramentorum , n. 226, Venezia 1579, f. 136V, D. de Soto, In Sent. d24 IV q1 a4 concl. 5 (633ab). 3 Cf. R. Bellarminus, Controversiarum de sacramento ordinis liber unicus, in: Opera Omnia V, Paris 1873, 26. 4 Ibid. 27-28.


New Diaconal Review Issue 9

Theological nuances after Trent Bellarmine was also in favour of the sacramentality of the sub-diaconate, basing his opinion for that on the doctrine of character, on celibacy, and on the common opinion of theologians, although he recognised that this doctrine was not as certain as that of the diaconate.5 In his view the sacramentality of the other minor orders was even less certain.

IV. The Sacramentality of the Diaconate at the Second Vatican Council The sacramentality of the diaconate in both its permanent and transitional forms is presupposed in the texts concerning deacons or the diaconate in the texts of Vatican II(SC 86; LG 20,28,29,41; OE 17;CD 15; DV 25; AG 15,16). Sometimes it is simply affirmed in passing, or indirectly, or faintly. Taken all together, Vatican II simply re-stated what had been the majority opinion in theology up to that time, but it went no further. Neither did the Council clarify several of the uncertainties expressed in the course of the debates.

1. In the Conciliar Debates The sacramentality of the diaconate was a theme tackled in various interventions in the second period of the Council (1963). The result was a majority in favour of this sacramentality, particularly among those who supported the establishment of the permanent diaconate; this was not so amongst those who opposed such a restoration.6 In the relatio of the Doctrinal Commission, we find some explanatory notes on the text which are of interest for its interpretation. The notes give the exegetical reason for not directly mentioning Acts 6:1-6,7 and also explain the moderate way in which the sacramentality of the diaconate is mentioned, as caused by an unwillingness to give the impression of condemning those who questioned it.8 Effectively, unanimity in respect of the sacramental nature of the diaconate was not attained in the conciliar debate. The nuances introduced into the summary

5 Ibid. 30. 6 Cf., in favour: AS II/II, 227s. 314s. 317s. 359. 431. 580; showing doubts concerning the sacramentality of the diaconate or else calling it into question: AS II/II, 378. 406. 447s. 7 “Quod attinet ad Act. 6,1-6, inter exegetas non absolute constat viros de quibus ibi agitur diaconis nostris correspondere...” [as regards Act 6, 1-6, there is no agreement amongst exegetes that the men concerned correspond to our deacons] AS III/I, 260. 8 “de indole sacramentali diaconatus, statutum est, postulantibus pluribus... eam in schemate caute indicare, quia in Traditione et Magisterio fundatur. [As regards the sacramental character of the diaconate it is established that, when many ask about it, it should be indicated with fine judgement, since it is grounded in Tradition and the M|agisterium] Cf. further the Trindentine canon cited in: Pius XII, Const. Apost. Sacramentum Ordinis, DS 3858 ff. ... Ex altera tamen parte cavetur ne Concilium paucos illos recentes auctores, qui de hac re dubia moverunt, condemnare videatur”. [On the other hand caution is to be exercised lest the Council seemed to condemn those few more recent authors who entertain a doubt in this matter.] ibid. New Diaconal Review Issue 9



International Theological Commission:

of the discussion are also interesting for the interpretation of the texts. Amongst the arguments in favour of the restoration of the diaconate, mention was first made of the sacramental nature of the diaconate, of which the Church should not be deprived. Among the arguments against its restoration celibacy was indubitably the principal one. But others were added, such as whether or not there was a need of the diaconate for tasks which could be carried out by the laity. Here the following questions were posed: whether all the tasks were to be considered, or only some of them; whether such tasks were of a regular character or were out of the ordinary; whether or not there was a privation of the special graces linked to the sacramentality of the diaconate; whether negative or positive influences on the apostolate of the laity could be considered; whether it was appropriate to recognise ecclesially, through ordination, the diaconal tasks which were in fact already being exercised; and whether one could consider the condition of a deacon (and especially of a married deacons) as properly a “bridge” between the higher clergy and the laity.9

2. In the Texts of Vatican II In Lumen Gentium 29, the proposition according to which there was an imposition of

... an imposition of hands on deacons “non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium” was to become a key reference for the theological understanding of the diaconate hands on deacons “non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium” was to become a key reference for the theological understanding of the diaconate. However, many questions have been left open up until the present day for the following reasons: the suppression of the reference to the bishop in the formula which was settled upon;10 the dissatisfaction of some about the ambiguity in that formula;11 the interpretation given it by the Commission;12 and the scope of the actual distinction between sacerdotium and ministerium. In Lumen Gentium 28a, the word ministerium, in its turn, is used in a double sense: (a) in reference to the ministry of the bishops, who as successors of the Apostles, share in the “consecration” and “mission” received by Christ from his Father, which share they hand on in various degrees to different subjects, without explicit mention being made of deacons;13 [and] (b) in refer-

9 Cf. AS III/I, 260-264; AS III/II, 214-218. 10 The original read: “in ministerio episcopi”. On the origin and variations on this formula, cf. A. Kerkvoorde, Esquisse d’une théologie du diaconat, in: P. Winninger et Y. Congar, Le diacre dans l’Église et le monde d’aujourd’hui (Un Sa 59), Paris 1966, 163-171, which, for its part, warns: “It would be wrong to make this formula …. the basis of a future theology of the diaconate.” 11 The expression is ambiguous: “nam sacerdotium est ministerium”, AS III/VIII, 101. 12 The words of the Statuta are interpreted as follows: “significant diaconos non ad corpus et sanguinem Domini offerendum sed ad servitium caritatis in Ecclesia” [They signify that deacons are not for offering the Body and Blood of the Lord, but for the service of charity], ibid. 13 “Christus... consecrationis missionisque suae per Apostolos suos, eorum successores, videlicet Episcopos participes effecit, qui munus ministerii sui, vario gradu, variis subiectis in Ecclesia legitime tradiderunt” [Christ by the agency of his Apostles, has made their successors, the Bishops, have a share in his own consecration and mission; this charge of their ministry they have legitimately handed on, in varying degrees, to various subjects in the Church], LG 28a.


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International Theological Commission: Theological nuances after Trent – Tony Schmitz

ence to the “ecclesiastical ministry” as a whole, that is of divine institution in different orders, encompassing those who, from antiquity, have been called bishops, priests and deacons.14 In the relevant note, Vatican II makes reference to Trent, session 23, chapter 2 and canon 6.15 Effectively, the same sort of caution can be observed in the

The expression “gratia sacramentalis” is cautious, appropriate for an interpolation, and much more nuanced than the formula “sacramental ordination” used in the earlier project of Lumen Gentium in 1963

enim sacramentali roborati, in diaconia liturgiae, verbi et caritatis populo Dei, in communione cum Episcopo eiusque presbyterio, inserviunt” [with the strength of sacramental grace they serve the People of God, in communion with the Bishop and his presbyterate, in the diaconia of the liturgy, the word, and charity]; and also in Ad gentes 16: ut ministerium suum per gratiam sacramentalem diaconatus efficacius expleant” [that their ministry would be made more fruitful through the sacramental grace of the diaconate]. The expression “gratia sacramentalis” is cautious, appropriate for an interpolation, and much more nuanced than the formula “sacramental ordination” used in the earlier project of Lumen Gentium in 1963. Why was this caution apparent in the expressions finally used? The Doctrinal Commission addressed itself both to the basis in tradition of what is affirmed, as well as to a concern to avoid giving the impression that those who had doubts on the subject were being condemned.17 ■

expressions which relate to the diversity of grades: “ordinatione divina” (Trent), “divinitus institutum” (Vatican II); “ab ipso Ecclesiae initio” (Trent), “ab antiquo” or else “inde ab Apostolis” according to Ad gentes 16 (Vatican II).16 The affirmation that relates most directly to the sacramentality of the diaconate is to be found in Lumen Gentium 29a: “gratia 14 “Sic ministerium ecclesiasticum divinitus institutum diversis ordinibus exercetur ab illis qui iam ab antiquo Episcopi, Presbyteri, Diaconi vocantur” [In this way the divinely instituted ministry of the Church is exercised in different orders by those men who, from ancient times, have been called Bishops, Priests, and Deacons], ibidem. 15 DS 1765. 1776. 16 Cf. These are diverse references to Trent in the conciliar debates: some identified ministri with diaconi, although their semantic equivalence does not justify making an instant theological identification between the two; others considered that it had been defined dogmatically at Trent that the diaconate constitutes the third grade of the hierarchy, an evaluation that seems to go beyond what had been intended there. Cf. supra and note 6. 17 Cf. AS III/I, 260. New Diaconal Review Issue 9



International Theological Commission: Theological nuances after Trent – Tony Schmitz


Activities of the IDC O

n September 1st 2012 a change took place in the management of the IDC. For the past four years the position of director was held by Erik Thouet who recently accepted the appointment as Head of Formtion for Permanent Deacons of the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart. His successor comes from the Diocese of Osnabrück in Northern Germany. Dr. Stefan Sander is married and the father of two, with a long carreer in the formation of deacons and as advisor to the Bishop, an author of several theological books and IDC member. The IDC Delegates’ Board and Delegates’ meetings took place in Mumbai, India the beginning of September. Beside thorough discussions on the future of the IDC, on the new by-laws and election regulations, the Board and the Delegates also considered the collaboration between the IDC and the already existing regional structures.

cons in the slums, it was a very moving and enriching experience We spoke in great detail about the next IDC Studies Conference to be held in Velehrad/Czech Republic between the 13th and the 16th of June 2013. The participants will tackle the topic of “Diaconia in an Intercultural Context”. The speakers at the conference will include besides the IDC President, Prof. Klaus Kießling, Bishop Graubner of Olomouc, Czech Republic, Bishop Gebhard Fürst of RottenburgStuttgart, Germany, Cardinal Gracias, Mumbai ,India and Orthodox Metropolitan Kiril of Varna and Veliki Preslav, Bulgaria. Please find more details in the enclosed invitation. In 2015 the IDC will celebrate its 50th anniversary. This jubilee will take place in Rome and Assisi. A detailed schedule will be worked out in the near future.

A personal note One of the outstanding moments of the time we spent in Mumbai was the meeting with Cardinal Gracias who informed us about the stuation of Catholics in India and especially Mumbai and underscored the importance of the permanent diaconate for the Church inIndia. The Board and the Delegates also spoke personally to the deacons and the deacon candidates. They work with a very strong commitment in the Mumbai slums for the good of, and together with, the poorest of the poor. Health prevention, education and empowerment are among the tasks to which they dedicate themselves. It is fortunate that the IDC could convince the foundation Diaconia Christi Internationalis to support a project of the deacos in the slums with the initial amount of 5.000.- Euros. In this way, the deacons will be able to be very close to the people and bring the love of God to all those who would otherwise be forgotte. For all of us who visited the dea60

Dear Readers of the New Diaconal Review, I have started my tenure as IDC director just a few weeks ago. But the diaconal aspect of our Church has been high on my agenda for a long time. Being involved as I am with the formation of future deacons I constantly meet men and women through which the love of God and f one’s neighbour becomes incarnate. Such people live from a deep relationship to Christ and commit themselves totally to serving the Church. I rejoice in the possibility that I’m offered, as IDC director, to make a small contribution to support such a commitment at world-wide level. I extend my heartfelt greetings to you and I look forward to future contacts and to meeting you, perhaps even as soon as next year in Velehrad/Czech Republic! Sincerely,, Stefan Sander

New Diaconal Review Issue 9

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New Diaconal Review