Can the Permanent Deacon of a Catholic Church have a girlfriend after the passing of his wife?

Dear Dan,

A Catholic permanent deacon is required to live a life of celibacy after the death of his spouse.

It is sometimes possible for a deacon to receive a dispensation from the Holy See to marry after the death of their spouse in very restrictive circumstances

- The deacon has very young children who require the care of a mother
- The deacon has obligations in justice to care for elderly and sick parents and would be assisted in this by a spouse, or
- The ministry of the deacon is so significant to the diocese that his seeking laicization to marry would place an unbearable burden upon the local Church.
A man on requesting ordination as a deacon must assume that he is to live a celibate life should his spouse predecease him. This requires careful discernment. It cannot be assumed that the Pope would grant a dispensation for a deacon to re-marry or do so in a timely manner. In practice, such dispensations are the exception rather than the rule.

Hope this answer is helpful

Deacon Shane 

Can women become deacons? If not, why not?

Dear Veronica,

This is a question that has attracted quite some interest in recent times.
One of the things that Vatican II did was to instruct the Church to restore the ministry of deacons. In the early history of the Church, deacons had shared with priests and bishops the responsibility of providing care for Christians and together they were known as the Major Orders. Over time, the deacons became less important and became little more than a temporary phase (of six to twelve months) that men went through in the path of becoming a priest. Nowadays, however, it is quite common to see again permanent deacons men who will spend their whole ordained life as a deacon.

At present, the Church, as a question of discipline, admits only men to Major Orders (ie deacon, priest and bishop). The Church teaches that this is not a matter of faith but rather of the discipline of the sacraments. There has always been some evidence that during the early church there were women deacons. Some ways of translating the ancient Greek of the Bible would suggest there were women deacons even in biblical times but probably the honest answer is that it simply is not clear. There is much stronger historical evidence, however we have texts of ordination ceremonies of female deacons and references to them in ancient letters.

Last year. the International Theological Commission of the Vatican was asked to consider the question of female deacons. The Commission accepted that there were women deacons until the sixth century but then died out with deacons generally as their role was taken over by the priests. The Commission left it an open question whether theologically it is possible for there to be women deacons today.

The short answer, then, is that there are no Women Deacons in the Church as Church discipline limits the reception of the Sacrament of Holy Orders to men. The reason is largely historical even though it is likely that there have been women deacons in the past, when the role of deacons disappeared it became just a temporary step to becoming a priest and that has only ever been a male role in the Church.

Dear Sister, I have an honours degree in philosophy. Would I need to take a degree in theology before applying to become a permanent deacon?

Dear Jason,

Thanks for both your emails.

I honestly am not too informed about the requirements for becoming a deacon, but suggest that you make contact with the Australian Deacons' association. They have a very good website, which is accessible through our ozvocations website. Click on to Deacons on our home page, then on the find out more about deacons in Australia button. There's an email list that will get you in touch with 'those in the know. And lots of other information as well

I hope you find the answers to all your questions
You're in my prayers

Sr Mary Ryan 

What is the criteria of becoming a deacon? Whom do I contact?

Dear John,

Here is the list of criteria for becoming a deacon that I have taken from the Australian Deacons' website http://www.ausdeacons.org/guidelines.htm
I suggest that you visit this site, and, if you're interested in exploring this further, that you make contact with Shane O'Dea, whose details are below.
Hope all of this is helpful
Shalom from the National Vocations Office,
Sr Mary Ryan

Bishops' Coordinator / Promoter of the Permanent Diaconate
Rev Deacon Shane O'Dea
Tel 08 8277 7790
Fax 08 8277 6190
shane@ausdeacon.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it  

Candidacy and Formation for Diaconate

20. This section of the Guidelines should be read in the light of the Basic Norms for the Formation of the Permanent Diaconate, promulgated by the Congregation for Catholic Education, 22 February 1998.

Initial Steps

21. It is the responsibility of the diocesan bishop to discern a vocation to the diaconate.

22. To be a suitable candidate for ordination to the diaconate, a person must be a Catholic man of sound moral character and mature faith who has shown a sense of vocation to service.

23. He must demonstrate prayerfulness and an openness to further spiritual formation.

24. He should be at least thirty years of age (cf. can. 1031 §2) and should be involved already in parish or other apostolic life. He should not normally be older than the commonly accepted retirement age.

25. He should have the ability to complete undergraduate studies and be able to make time for formation without detriment to his family and work commitments.

26. He must have adequate physical and mental health.

27. If married, he must have the active support of his wife (and family). If not married, or if widowed in the future, he must be willing to accept a lifelong commitment to celibacy.

28. He must have the support of his parish priest or other equivalent church leaders.

29. A bishop or his delegate will interview an applicant and obtain appropriate documents, certificates and references. An applicant’s wife should also be interviewed.

30. The applicant will be provided with written information about the formation process including the time involved, the role of deacons within the diocese, and expectations during formation and after ordination as a deacon.

What is the role of a deacon and how does that differ from a priest?

Dear Andrew,

Thanks for your question. The role of a deacon differs in a number of ways from that of a priest. It actually complements that of the priest.

I'd suggest you visit the priest and deacon sections of our OzVocations website. There's a lot of information in both of these that should answer help your question. If you're discerning whether you might be called to be a priest or a permanent deacon, you might like to contact some of the deacons and priests whose details appear on their respective homepages.

I hope that this reply is helpful for you.
God bless,

Sr Mary 

What rights do deacons have?

Dear Jason,

Deacons have much the same rights in the church as a priest or religious. I am not sure exactly, but if you want to find out the details may I suggest you borrow the Code of Canon Law, either from your parish, or a theological library, and I'm sure you will find all that you are looking for in that.
You might like also to check out the deacons' website http://www.deacons.asn.au/

Thank you for your question.  Happy reading.

God Bless
Fr Brian


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