Sunday, November 04, 2012

Attention Protestant Clergy Thinking About Rome (or Catholics thinking about the Diaconate)

Dr. Ed Peters, a leading canon lawyer of the Roman Catholic Church has written something that you should consider very carefully if you are married. Roman Catholic canon law does not currently allow for any exceptions to the requirement that ALL clergy of the Latin Rite, including those who were married before being ordained, MUST maintain perfect continence from the time of their ordination. This includes permanent deacons and presumably married Protestant clergy who are received into the Roman Church and then ordained.


Anonymous said...

Perfect continence????


No need to mention what that brings up vis-a-vis RC priests in recent years, right?

Nathaniel said...

To be fair, in Greek custom, continence is proscribed in preparation for liturgy. The main difference between Eastern and Western practice on this point seems to me to hinge on the Western custom of daily Mass. The natural outcome of a daily Eucharist is full-time continence. In fact there have been numerous occasions within Orthodoxy where priests complained to a bishop that his expectation of a daily liturgy was "cramping their style." In short, any married priest who looks to come to Orthodoxy to serve a daily Mass without sexual implications is sure to be disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Ed Peters offers "his" views on why he thinks clerical continence is better in the Latin church. He does not say, it's etched in stone.


John (Ad Orientem) said...

I think you misread his post. He is not arguing that it is better. He is arguing that as canon law currently stands, there is no wiggle room. Canon law in the Roman Church is much more easily altered than in the Orthodox. But that has no bearing on what the law currently says.

Anonymous said...


US Bishops responded to this.

In January, the USCCB issued the following letter to bishops, from Bishop Robert Carlson (Chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations) and Archbishop Timothy Broglio (Chairman of the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance).

"In recent months, published opinions have appeared in scholarly journals and on Internet blogs that have raised questions about the observance of diaconal continence by married permanent deacons in the Latin Catholic Church. The opinions have suggested that the clerical obligation to observe “perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (c. 277, §1 CIC) remains binding upon married permanent deacons, despite the dispensation provided to them in canon law from the obligation to observe celibacy (c. 1042, 1° CIC).

In response to repeated requests for an authoritative clarification on this matter, the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations and the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance requested the assistance of the USCCB President in seeking a clarification from the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

Earlier this week, we were informed that Cardinal-designate Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, with Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, Secretary, has forwarded to Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan the Pontifical Council’s observations on the matter (Prot. N. 13095/2011).

The observations, which were formulated in consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, clarify that married permanent deacons are not bound to observe perfect and perpetual continence, as long as their marriage lasts.

Should you have any questions about this response, please contact Reverend W. Shawn McKnight, Executive Director of the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations. In addition, please feel free to share this response with those within your diocesan curia who will find it helpful."


Dr. Edward Peters said...

Savvy, the whole point of my recent post is, of course, to critique that very letter. I am either right in my critique, or I am wrong, but I am hardly unaware of it, nor avoiding its terms. Best, edp.

August said...

I have been somewhat surprised to find myself feeling quite anarchistic regarding such things, though I suppose it has finally dawned on me that the Church suffers from the same ills as any political body. I would appear the Spirit provides no vaccine against the petty and bureaucratic.
The pharisees will have something to say against us in their defense.

Conchúr said...

Whatever the relevant canon says it isn't observed and hasn't been, if ever, for a very long time. And that goes all the way to the top. More than likely it will eventually be changed to conform to actual practice rather than the opposite.

Anonymous said...

"Roman Catholic canon law does not currently allow for any exceptions to the requirement that ALL clergy of the Latin Rite,"

This is a canonical interpretation that has been contested. Please don't quote or post canon law as though this interpretation is authoritative.