ASK FATHER: Are permanent deacons necessary? | 9/27/2019 | View all posts by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf →
JimmyJoeJimmyJoe (Posted by) Level 3


What is your take on the state of the permanent diaconate? Permanent deacons don’t seem to have a “home” in the Church. Many in the traditional community bemoan permanent deacons as a Vatican II oddity, while many in the liberal community reject the permanent diaconate as an unnecessary form of clericalism. In my own diocese, permanent deacons seem to be only tolerated, and not utilized or appreciated. I write this as a newly ordained permanent deacon. Do we need permanent deacons? Are they necessary? What is your take on the state of the permanent diaconate today?

Things - Introduction

A couple things as an introduction.

A deacon is a deacon is a deacon. Whether the intention is that diaconate be a step to priestly ordination or not, diaconate is the diaconate. A man is not more of a deacon because he is a transitional deacon.

Mind - Sphere - Function - Deacons - Time

Also, keep in mind that, in the traditional sphere, priests function as deacons all the time. All deacons are permanent deacons, even if later they are ordained to the priesthood. Bishops quite properly wear dalmatics beneath their chasubles. They didn’t stop being deacons with priesthood.

My entrance into the Catholic Church was facilitated in part by a terrific permanent deacon, an Englishman who had immigrated and had a distinguished career teaching and as an executive is a world-famous, Minnesota-based company. He was in the Westminster school, in London, and he formed all the altar boys at the great St. Agnes in St. Paul, back in the day of Msgr. Schuler, according to the liturgical style of Westminster Cathedral of the 1930’s. He knew everything about liturgy, gave great help to the pastor by way of sick calls and catechesis, and was a man of parts. He is missed.

Default - Position - Deacons

Therefore, my default position is to be favorable toward permanent deacons.

That said, I have encountered...
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