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From the Diakonia of Christ to the Diakonia of the Apostles*



The study on the subject of the diaconate was originally undertaken by the International Theological Commission in its preceding quinquennium (1992-1997). The work was carried out by a subcommission, devoted to the analysis of certain ecclesiological questions, presided over by Mgr. Max Thurian and composed of the following members: H.E. Mgr. Christoph Schönborn OP, H.E. Mgr. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, Rev. Charles Acton, Mgr. Giuseppe Colombo, Mgr. Joseph Doré PSS, Prof. Gösta Hallonsten, Rev Father Stanislaw Nagy SCI, Rev. Henrique de Noronha Galvão.

However, as this subcommission was not able to extend its work as far as the production of a text, the study was resumed in the course of the subsequent quinquennium, building on the work previously carried out. A new subcommission was formed in order to carry out the work, presided over by Rev. Henrique de Noronha Galvão and composed of Rev. Santiago del Cura Elena, Rev. Pierre Gaudette, Mgr. Roland Minnerath, Mgr. Gehrard Ludwig Müller, Mgr. Luis Antonio G. Tagle and Rev. Ladislaus Vanyo. General discussions on the subject took place in the course of numerous meetings of the subcommission, as well as during the plenary sessions of the Commission itself, held in Rome between 1998 and 2002. The current text was approved in forma specifica by unanimous vote of the Commission on 30th September 2002. It was then submitted to its President, Card. J. Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, who authorised its publication.



The Second Vatican Council, with the aim of the aggiornamento of the Church, sought inspiration and resources in its origins and history in order to announce, and more effectively make present, the mystery of Jesus Christ. Among these riches of the Church are found the diaconate ministry, to which the texts of the New Testament bear witness, and which has rendered important services in the life of Christian communities, above all in the time of the ancient Church. Having fallen into decline during the Middle Ages, it eventually disappeared as a permanent ministry and only endured as a time of transition towards the presbyterate and episcopate. This has not altered the fact that, from Scholastic times to the present day, there has been interest in its theological meaning, especially with regards to the question of its sacramental value as a grade of Holy Orders.

Following its restoration as an effective ministry, placed by the Vatican II at the disposal of the particular Churches, different receptive processes have been witnessed. Each Church has tried to become aware of the true reach of the Conciliar initiative. Taking into account the particular circumstances of ecclesial life in each context, variation according to country and continent, the ecclesial authorities continue to evaluate the opportunity or inopportunity of including the permanent diaconate in the reality of their communities.

In this receptive process, some questions have arisen regarding the interpretation of both New Testament and historical data, the theological implications of the Conciliar decision and of the extensions which have been conferred on the ecclesial Magisterium. Furthermore, although the Council did not make a pronouncement on the feminine diaconal ministry, of which mention is found in the past, this must be studied in order to establish its ecclesial status and the current reality in which it could be accommodated examined.

The International Theological Commission has examined these questions with the aim of clarifying them, through a greater knowledge of both historical and theological sources, as well as of the current life of the Church.

While it is true that facts must be rigorously established by the historical method, their consideration does not become locus theologicus except in so far that this is carried out in the light of the sensus fidei. It is necessary to distinguish between that which can be identified as the essence of Tradition itself, from its origins, and regional variations or links to a particular era of this same Tradition [1]. From this perspective, it is essential to highlight the function of the interventions in the Church which pertain to the competence of the hierarchy, namely the decisions of Ecumenical Councils and the declarations of the Magisterium. Briefly, in order to arrive at properly theological conclusions efforts of discernment have to be made in the light of these interventions, allowing for the fact that knowledge of history and its generality have the inestimable advantage of making known the life of the Church, in a specific time and place, within whom there is always a truly human element and a truly divine element (LG, 8). Only faith is capable of distinguishing the action of the Spirit of God therein. Man, a material and spiritual being, both historical and transcendent, becomes the providential recipient of an opening of God in his Word made flesh and his Spirit who, being pneuma and dynamis, grants men the capacity to identify God, who communicates by words and signs, in historical phenomena. Precisely because He opens his mystery to the community of faith by his Word and his Spirit, God erects the Church as a community of witnesses, whose testimony emanates from Revelation and represents it. Dogma is the verbalisation of the Word who is God and was made flesh, according to the expression of the Church’s profession of faith, the response to divine Revelation.

Scripture, which with Tradition is the supreme rule of faith (DV 21), presents us in living, frequently symbolic language, the mystery and mission of Christ; language which speculative theology especially tries to rigorously interpret. However, it cannot be forgotten that in all its forms, theological language always remains somewhat analogical, its ultimate criterion really residing its capacity to tell of Revelation. The regula fidei is the regula veritatis.

The present investigation has remained attentive to the divergence which characterises the diaconate ministry and the course of the different historical periods and which even today animate the debate which it stirs. The reflection presented herein is founded on the living awareness of the gift made by Jesus Christ to his Church when he communicated to the Twelve a particular responsibility in fulfilling the mission which he himself had received from the Father. The Church has never been without the Spirit, who both enables the discovery of the riches which God has made available to her and continues to bear fresh witness of her faithfulness to the salvific project which He offers us in his Son. It is because of his condition as a servant, by his diaconate assumed in obedience to the Father and for the benefit of man as, according to Scripture and Tradition, Jesus Christ carried out the divine design of salvation. Only by starting from this primordial Christological fact can the vocation and mission of the diaconate in the Church, manifested in her ministries, be understood. In this light we initially ask about the historical and theological significance of the ministry of deacons in the course of the Church’s history and what the reasons for its disappearance were in order to finally ask about the extent of introducing an effective diaconal ministry at the service of the Christian community in the present day.




I. Diakonia of Christ and Christian Existence

Through the incarnation of the Word who is God and by whom all was made (cf. Jn 1:1-18) the strangest revolution imaginable has come about. The Kyrios, Lord, becomes the diakonos, servant, of all. The Lord God comes out to meet us in his Servant Jesus Christ, the only Son of God (Rom 1:3), who, being in the "form of God", "did not see in the form of God a prize to be coveted, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave. Having become like men ... he abased himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:6-8).

The essence of being a Christian can thus be grasped in a Christological perspective. Christian existence is a sharing in the diakonia or service which God himself fulfilled in favour of mankind; it likewise leads to an understanding of the fulfilment of mankind. Being a Christian means following Christ's example in putting oneself at the service of others to the point of self-renunciation and self-giving, for love.

Baptism confers this diakonein, power of service, on every Christian. Through it, by virtue of their participation in the diakonia, leiturgia and martyria, the service, worship and witness of the Church, Christians cooperate in Christ's own diakonia for the salvation of mankind. As members of the Body of Christ, all should become servants of one another, using the charisms which they have received for the building up of the Church and their brethren in faith and love: "If anyone claims to serve, let it be as by a command received from God" (1 Pet 4:11—12; cf. Rom 12:8; 1 Cor 12:5).

This diakonia done to others by Christians can take the form of different expressions of fraternal charity, service to the physically or spiritually sick, to the needy, to prisoners (Mt 25); the help given to the Churches (Rom 15:25; 1 Tim 5:3—16); or different kinds of assistance given to Apostles, as can be seen in the case of the men and women collaborators of Saint Paul, who sends them his greetings (Rom 16:3—5; Phil 4:3).

II. Diakonia of the Apostles

Because he was the doulos, or slave, carrying out the Father's saving will in total obedience, Jesus Christ was made Lord of all creation. He made himself the instrument through which God's sovereignty was achieved, by giving his life: "The Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mk 10:45). In the same way, Jesus instituted the Twelve "to be his companions, and sent them out to preach, giving them the power to cast out demons" (Mk 3:14-15). In a way that was radically opposed to the lords and rulers of this world who abuse their power to oppress and exploit others, the disciple must be ready to become diakonos and doulos of all (Mk 10:42-43).

Diakonein, to serve, is the essential characteristic of the Apostle's ministry. Apostles are collaborators and servants of God (cf. 1 Thess 3:2; 1 Cor 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1), "servants of Christ and witnesses of God's mysteries" (1 Cor 4:1). They are "ministers of a new covenant" (2 Cor 3:6) and ministers of the Gospel (cf. Col 1:23; Eph 3:6ff.), "servants of the word" (Acts 6:4). They are, in their function as Apostles, "ministers of the Church" in order to bring about the coming of the word of Christ in its fullness to believers (cf. Col 1:25), and to organise the building up of the Church, the Body of Christ, in love (cf. Eph 4:12). The Apostles become the servants of believers because of Christ, since it is not themselves whom they are proclaiming, but Christ Jesus the Lord (2 Cor 4:5). They are sent in the name of Christ, the word having been passed on to them so that they may proclaim it in the service of reconciliation. Through them, God himself exhorts and acts in the Holy Spirit and in Christ Jesus, who has reconciled the world with him (cf. 2 Cor 5:20).

III. Diakonia of the Apostles Collaborators

Within the pauline communities, with, as well as, or after Saint Paul, Saint Peter and the other eleven Apostles (cf. 1 Cor 15:3—5; Gal 2), are to be found direct collaborators with Saint Paul in the apostolic ministry (for example, Sylvanus, Timothy, Titus, Apollos) as well as many others allied to him in apostolic activities and service to local Churches (2 Cor 8:23). These include Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25), Epaphras (Col 4:12) and Archippus (Col 4:17), who are named as servants of Christ. In the opening words of the Epistle to the Philippians (around a.d. 50) Saint Paul sends a special greeting to "their bishops and their deacons" (Phil 1:1). This necessarily calls to mind the ministries that were then taking shape in the Church.

It is of course recognised that the terminology of these ministries was not yet fixed. Reference is made to the proistamenoi (Rom 12:8) "who are at your head in the Lord and who reprimand you", and whom the Thessalonians are to hold "in extreme charity, by reason of their work" (1 Thess 5:12); reference is also made to leaders (hegoumenoi), "who have made you hear the word of God"; the Epistle to the Hebrews adds, "Obey your leaders and be docile to them" (13:7, 17; cf. 13:24; cf 1 Clem 1:3; 21:6); and reference is made to the "men who were sent" who guide the communities (cf Acts 15:22), to apostles, prophets, and teachers (cf 1 Cor 12:28; Gal 6:6; Acts 13:1; 4:14), and to "evangelists, or rather shepherds and teachers" (Eph 4:11). Saint Paul says of Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus, "the first-fruits of Achaia", "that they spontaneously put themselves at the service of the saints" (1 Cor 16:15); and he exhorts the Corinthians: "Place yourselves under such men, and under whoever works arid labours with them" (1 Cor 16:16).

The activity expressed in these terms points to the official titles which were to take shape soon afterwards. It is clear from these documents that the early Church attributed the formation of the various ministries to the action of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11; Acts 20:28) and to the personal initiative of the Apostles, who owed their sending forth on their mission to the Most High and Lord of this world, and who anchored their role of upholding the Church in the power they had received from him (Mk 3:13-19; 6:6-13; Mt 28:16-20; Acts 1:15-26; Gal 1:10-24).

Diakonein is shown to be a radical determination of Christian life, expressing itself in the sacramental basis of Christian existence, of the charismatic building up of the Church, and also of the sending out of the Apostles on their mission and of the ministry which flows from the apostolate, of the proclamation of the Gospel, and of the sanctification and governance of Churches.



I. The Diaconate in the New Testament

1. Difficulties in Terminology

The word diakonos is almost absent from the Old Testament, by contrast with presbyteros which is abundantly used. In the Septuagint, in the rare places where the word diakonos is attested, it means messenger or servant.1 The Latin Bible (Vulgate) renders it in a general sense by minister or, in a specific sense, by transliterating the Greek word to give diaconus. But the terms minister, ministerium, and ministrare are also used to render other Greek terms, such as hyperetes and leitourgos. In the Vulgate the use of diaconus is found three times,2 and in the remaining cases the word is translated by minister.3

Apart from the words diakoneo, diakonia, and diakonos, Greek could choose between the following words: douleuo (to serve as a servant), therapeuo (someone who volunteers to serve), latreuo (to serve for wages), leitourgeo (someone who holds public office), and hypereteo (governor).4 In any case, it is characteristic that the verbal form diakonein is unknown in the Septuagint, the functions of service being translated by the verbs leitourgein or latreuein. Philo only used it in the sense of "to serve".5 Josephus knew it in the sense of "to serve", "to obey" and "priestly service".6 In the New Testament, the word douleuo meant service of a very personal kind: the service of charity. In the language of the Gospels7 and at Acts 6:2, diakoneo means "ministering at table". Making a collection whose proceeds Paul would take to Jerusalem was a service of this kind.8 The Apostle goes to Jerusalem for "a ministry to the saints".9 As for the use of the words cheirotonia, cheirotesia, ordinatio, there is a degree of uncertainty with regard to these terms.10

2. Data from the New Testament

The first fundamental fact of relevance from the New Testament is that the verb diakonein designates Christ's actual mission as servant (Mk 10:45 and parallels; cf. Mt 12:18; Acts 4:30; Phil 2:6-11). This word or its derivatives also designate the exercise of service or ministry by his disciples (Mk 10:43ff.; Mt 20:26ff.; 23:11; Lk 8:3; Rom 15:25), the ministries of different kinds in the Church, especially the apostolic ministry of preaching the Gospel, and other charismatic gifts.11

The words diakonein and diakonos are widely used, with a wide range of meanings, in the language of the New Testament.12

The diakonos may mean the servant who waits at table (e.g. Jn 2:5 and 9), the servant of the Lord (Mt 22:13; Jn 12:26; Mk 9:35; 10:43; Mt 20:26; 23:11), the servant of a spiritual power (2 Cor 11:14; Eph 3:6; Col 1:23; Gal 2:17; Rom 15:8; 2 Cor 3:6), the servant of the Gospel, of Christ or of God (2 Cor 11:23). Pagan authorities are also in the service of God (Rom 13:4); the deacons are the servants of the Church (Col 1:25; 1 Cor 3:5). In the case where the deacon belongs to one of the Churches, the Vulgate does not use the word minister, but retains the Greek word diaconus.13 This fact shows clearly that in Acts 6:1-6 it is not the institution of the diaconate which is being referred to.14

"Diaconate" and "apostolate" are sometimes synonymous, as in Acts 1:17-25, where, on the occasion of the addition of Matthias to the eleven Apostles, Peter calls the apostolate "a share in our service" (v. 17: ton kleron tes diakonias tautes) and speaks of service and apostolate (v. 25: ton topon tes diakonias kai apostoles, which is sometimes translated as "the service of the apostolate". This text from Acts also quotes Psalm 109:8: "Let another take over his position [ten episkopen]". The question therefore arises as to whether diakonia, apostole, and episkope are equivalent to each other or not. In the opinion of M.J. Schmitt and J. Colson, "apostolate" is "an editorial term correcting 'diakonias'."15

Acts 6:1-6 describes the institution of the "Seven" 16"to serve at tables". The reason for this is given by Luke as stemming from internal tensions within the community: "The Hellenists complained [egeneto goggysmos] against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food" (Acts 6:1). It has not yet been ascertained whether the widows of the "Hellenists" belonged to the community or not, according to strict respect for ritual purity. Were the Apostles hoping to send to the provinces the rebellious "Hellenists" of Jerusalem who, in their preaching in the synagogue, were responsible for much provocation? Is this why the Apostles chose "Seven", which was the number of provincial community magistrates attached to a synagogue? But at the same time, through the imposition of hands, they wished to preserve the unity of the Spirit and avoid a schism.17 Commentators on Acts do not explain the significance of this laying on of the Apostles' hands.

It is possible that the Apostles appointed the Seven to be at the head of the "Hellenists" (baptised Greek-speaking Jews) to fulfil the same task as the presbyters among the "Hebrew" Christians.18

The reason given for the designation of the chosen Seven (complaints by the Hellenists) is in contradiction with their actual activity as later described by Luke. We hear nothing about serving at tables. Out of the Seven, Luke only speaks of the activities of Stephen and Philip; or more precisely, Stephen's discourse in the synagogue at Jerusalem, and his martyrdom, and the apostolate carried out in Samaria by Philip, who also baptised people.19 There is no word of the others.20

In the Churches entrusted to Saint Paul's apostolic care, deacons appear beside the episkopoi as exercising a ministry subordinate to or coordinated with theirs (Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:1-13). In the apostolic writings mention is often made of deacons with the bishop, or else of the bishop with priests. However, historical sources which cite all three together, bishop, priest and deacon, are very rare.

II. The Apostolic Fathers

The first epistle of Saint Clement of Rome to the Corinthians (first century) mentions that the bishops and deacons have a spiritual function in the community: "The Apostles received for us the good news through the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus, the Christ, was sent by God. Therefore the Christ comes from God, the Apostles come from Christ; both proceeded in due order from the will of God [egenonto oun amphotera eutaktos ek thelematos Theou]. They therefore received instructions and, filled with conviction by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthened by the word of God, with the full conviction of the Holy Spirit, they set out to announce the good news of the coming of God s kingdom. They preached in the countryside and in the towns and they established [kathistanon] its first-fruits, they tested them by the Spirit, so as to make them bishops and deacons [eis episkopous kai diakonous] of those who were to believe. And there was nothing new [ou kainos] in this; for long ago Scripture spoke of bishops and deacons [egegrapto peri episkopon kai diakonon]; for it is written somewhere, 'I shall establish their bishops in justice and their deacons in faith'."21

When the author of the Epistle of Clement speaks of liturgical functions he refers to the Old Testament;22 when he explains the institution of the episkopoi kai diakonoi, he refers to the will of God, and to the Apostles.23 The order of bishops and deacons was not an innovation, but was founded on the will of God, and therefore was a "due order"; their sending originated in God himself. The successors chosen by the Apostles were the first-fruits offered to God. The Apostles had tested the chosen ones by the Spirit; those who succeeded them would be established by the choice of the whole assembly.24 Here we find the tradition of the pastoral letters in reverse order: (1) the testing in the Spirit (cf. 1 Tim 3:1-7 and 8:10fE); (2) the use side by side of the terms episkopos kai diakonos (cf Phil 1:1),. where episkopos does not yet correspond to the present definition of bishop.25 It is worth noting the way Saint Polycarp linked the ministry of deacons with the service of Christ the Saviour: "Let them walk in the truth of the Lord who became the servant [diakonos] of all" (Letter of Saint Polycarp to the Philippians 5:2).

The text of the Didache (written before a.d. 130) at 15, 1 only mentions bishops and deacons as the successors of the prophets and the didaskaloi, and says nothing of priests: "Choose yourselves therefore bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, mild men, fair-minded, truthful and reliable, for they too fulfil towards you the offices of prophets and teachers."26 J.-P. Audet comments, "The two words admittedly sound different to us. But in Greek, at the time of the Didache, an episkopos was a supervisor, foreman, guardian, moderator, warden or steward ... whereas a diakonos was simply a servant able to fulfil different functions according to the particular conditions of his service. The two terms are widely used with a variety of meanings.... The specific way they were appointed (cheirotonesate) remains unclear. They were chosen and appointed, perhaps by election; that is all that can be said."27 The Didache does not say anything about ordination. According to K. Niederwimmer, the term cheirotonein means election.28

It is certain that at that period the deacons were responsible for the life of the Church with regard to works of charity towards widows and orphans, as was the case in the first community at Jerusalem. Their activities were doubtless linked to catechesis and also probably to the liturgy. However information on this subject is so brief29 that it is difficult to learn from it the precise range of their functions.

The letters of Saint Ignatius of Antioch point to a new stage. His statements about the ecclesiastical hierarchy with its three grades are similar to those of Clement of Rome: "Let everyone revere the deacons as Jesus Christ, the bishop as the image of the Father, and the presbyters as the senate of God and the assembly of the Apostles. For without them one cannot speak of the Church."30 And again, "All of you, follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ [follows] his Father, and the presbyterium as the Apostles; as for the deacons, respect them as the law of God."31 Saint Ignatius speaks of the bishop in the singular and of priests and deacons in the plural, but says nothing on the character of the diaconate, simply exhorting the faithful to venerate the deacons as appointed by God.

Saint Justin (fl65) gives information especially about the liturgical activity of deacons. He describes the role of deacons in the Eucharist during the oblatio and the communio: "Then there is brought to him who presides over the assembly of the brethren, some bread and a cup of water and wine mixed.... Once the prayers and giving of thanks are over, all the people present express their assent by replying Amen. When the president of the assembly has finished the prayer of thanksgiving [eucharist] and all the people have made their response, those who among us are called deacons [oi kaloumenoi par 'emin diakonoi’] give to each of those present to share in the bread and in the wine mixed with water over which has been said the prayer of thanksgiving [eucharist], and they carry it to those who are absent."32

III. Consolidation and Development of the Diaconate in the Third and Fourth Centuries

According to Clement of Alexandria there are in the Church, as in the life of civil society, positions which are intended to benefit either the body or the soul (therapeia beltiotike, hyperetike). There are also people who in themselves are ordered to the service of people of a higher grade. Priests are of the first kind, and deacons of the second.33 In Origen, the diakonia of the bishop is always the service of the whole Church (ekklesiastike diakonia). The bishop is called "prince" and, at the same time, also called "servant of all".34 Deacons are often criticised by Origen because they are particularly infected by the spirit of covetousness. Because of their responsibility for charitable works, they were more in contact with money. In a passage on the expulsion of the traders from the Temple, Origen speaks of those "deacons who do not administer rightly the tables of the money of the Church [sc. of the poor], but always act fraudulently towards them."35"They amass riches for themselves, misappropriating money meant for the poor."36

The Didascalia (third century) evidences a degree of supremacy of deacons over priests, since deacons are compared to Christ, while priests are only compared to the Apostles.37 But in the first place, priests are presented as the senate of the Church and the bishop's assessors; they are placed around the altar and the episcopal throne. The deacons are called the "third ones", which probably suggests that they come after the bishop and the priests. However, the status and activity of deacons undoubtedly seem to have surpassed those of priests. The laity ought to have great confidence in the deacons and not importune the head, but make their wishes known to him through the hyperetai, that is through the deacons, for no one can approach the almighty Lord and God either except through Christ.38 In the Didascalia the increase in the status of the diaconate in the Church is remarkable, resulting in a growing crisis in the reciprocal relations of priests and deacons. To the deacons' social and charitable responsibilities was added that of providing various services during liturgical assemblies: ushering in newcomers and pilgrims; taking care of the offerings; supervising orderliness and silence; and ensuring that people were suitably dressed.

The Traditio Apostolica of Hippolytus of Rome (f235) presents the theological and juridical status of the deacon in the Church for the first time. It includes them among the group of the ordinati by the imposition of hands (cheirotonein), contrasting them with those in the hierarchy who are called instituti. The "ordination" of deacons is done only by the bishop (Chapter 8). This connection defines the scope of the tasks of the deacon, who is at the disposition of the bishop, to fulfil his orders, but is excluded from taking part in the council of priests.

A comparison should be made between the two texts for the ordination of deacons, that of the Veronense (L, Latin version) and that of the Sahidic Ethiopian (S[AE]), because there are some differences between them. L says: "Diaconus vero cum ordinatur, eligatur secundum ea, quae praedicta sunt, similiter imponens manus episcopus solus sicuti praecipi-mus." S[AE] is clearer: "Episcopus autem instituet [kathistasthat] diaconum qui electus est, secundum quod praedictum est." There is still, however, a difference between ordinatio and institutio. The tenth chapter, speaking of the widows of the Traditio Apostolica contributes some significant elements. "Non autem imponetur manus super eam, quia non offert oblationem neque habet liturgiam. Ordinatio [cheirotonia] autem fit cum clero [kleros] propter liturgiam. Vidua [xera] autem instituitur [kathistasthai] propter orationem: haec autem est omnium.,,39 According to this text, if the imposition of hands is absent from the rite, then it is only an institution (katastasis, institutio) and not an ordinatio. Thus, in the course of the third century, the imposition of hands already constituted the distinctive sign of the rite of ordination to major orders. In the fourth century it was extended to minor orders as well.

In what concerns the liturgy, the task of the deacon was to bring the offerings and distribute them. In the administration of baptism, his role was to accompany the priest and serve him "the oil of the catechumens and the chrism and also to go down into the water with the person who was to receive baptism" (Chapter 21). Another field of work for the deacons was teaching: "Let them come together and instruct those with whom they are in the Church" (Chapter 39). Their social activity is emphasized, specifically in close union with the bishop.

According to Saint Cyprian, "The deacons should not forget that the Lord himself chose the Apostles, that is, the bishops and the heads of the Church, while in the case of deacons, it was the Apostles who instituted them after the Lord's Ascension, to be ministers of their episcopate and of the Church. Hence, just as we cannot undertake anything in defiance of God who makes us bishops, neither can they too undertake anything in defiance of us, who make them deacons."40 It seems that, from time to time, even at Carthage, the deacons wished to take the place of the priests. They had to be warned that deacons came in third place in the order of the hierarchy. While the see was vacant they also had an important role in the governance of the Church. In exile, Cyprian normally addressed his letters "to the priests and deacons" to discuss disciplinary problems. In Cyprian's writings priests and deacons were sometimes designated by the word clerus, and less frequently were called praepositi.41 The priest Gains Didensis and his deacons were both charged to offer the Eucharist, but the fifth letter indicates that in reality it was the priests who offered it, attended by the deacons.42 To deacons, on the other hand, falls the practice of charity by prison-visiting. They are described as "boni viri et ecclesiasticae administrationis per omnia devoti".43 The word administratio is found in the expression sancta administratio applied to the deacon Nicostratus in regard to the Church money that he looked after. Thus deacons would be charged not only with the practice of charity towards the poor, but also with the administration of the finances belonging to the community.44

To sum up, as well as the fact of the existence of the diaconate in all the Churches from the beginning of the second century, and the fact of the ecclesiastical nature of the diaconate as such, it can be said that the role fulfilled by deacons was basically the same everywhere, although the emphasis placed on the various elements of their commitment may have differed in different regions. The diaconate was stabilised in the course of the fourth century. In the synodal and conciliar directives of this period the diaconate was regarded as an essential element of the hierarchy of the local Church. At the synod of Elvira (c. 306-309) the diaconate's preeminent role in the administrative sector of the Church was primarily underlined. Paradoxically, at the same time as it imposed a certain limitation on the involvement of deacons in the liturgical sector, this synod attributed to them the possibility of giving absolution of sins in urgent cases. This tendency to invade the field of competences of priests, which was also manifested in the claim to preside at the Eucharist (albeit as an exception) was put a stop to by the synod of Aries (314) and particularly by the Council of Nicaea (325, can. 18).

The Constitutiones Apostolorum (CA), which forms the most impressive of the juridical collections drawn up in the fourth century, cites the different parts of the Didache and the Didascalia which refer to deacons, and comments on them in ways which reflect the point of view of the period. Also included are the statements of Saint Ignatius in his letters, thus providing a considerable amount of information. The text is characterised by a tendency to historicism, the more so since the author-editor looks for prefigurations in parallel passages of the Old Testament. He introduces his discourse with a solemn formula (cf. Deut 5:31 and 27:9): "Hear, O sacred and catholic Church.... For these are your pontiffs; your priests are the presbyters, and your Levites are now the deacons, these are your lectors, cantors and door-keepers, these are your deaconesses, your widows, your virgins and your orphans.... The deacon will attend him as Christ attends the Father."45 He describes the relation of the bishop with the deacon through the prefigurations of the Old Covenant and the heavenly models: "For you now, Aaron is the deacon and Moses the bishop; if therefore Moses was called a god by the Lord, among you the bishop shall be likewise honoured as a god and the deacon as his prophet ... and as the Son is the angel and prophet of the Father, in the same way the deacon is the angel and prophet of the bishop."46 The deacon represents the eye, the ear, and the mouth of the bishop "so that the bishop does not have to concern himself with a multitude of matters, but only with the most important ones, as Jethro established for Moses, and his counsel was well received." 47The prayer of ordination of a deacon by the bishop attests that the diaconate was envisaged as a transitory grade towards the presbyterate: "Grant that he may satisfactorily accomplish the service which has been entrusted to him, in a seemly manner, without deviation or blame or reproach, to be judged worthy of a higher rank [meizonos axiothenai bathmou], through the mediation of your Christ, your onlybegotten Son."48

In the Euchologion of Serapion (towards the end of the fourth century) there appears a prayer of ordination of a deacon whose terminology is similar to that of the Sahidic version of the Traditio Apostolica. The text of the prayer alludes to the canons of the Church, to the three hierarchical grades, and refers to the Seven in Acts chapter 6; to designate the ordination of the deacon it employs the verb katisthanai: "Pater unigeniti, qui jilium misisti tuum et ordinasti res super terra atque ecclesiae canones et ordines dedisti in utilitatem et salutem gregum, qui elegisti episcopos et presbyteros et diaconos in ministerium catholicae tuae ecclesiae, qui elegisti per unigenitum tuum septem diaconos eisque largitus es spiritum sanctum: constitue [katasteson] et hunc diaconum ecclesiae tuae catholicae et da in eo spiritum cognitionis ac discretionis, ut possit inter populum sanctum pure et immaculate ministrare in hoc ministerio per unigenitum tuum Iesum Christum, per quern tibi gloriam et imperium in sancto spiritu et nunc et in omnia saecula saeculorum, amen."49

The prayer of consecration of a deacon in the Sacramentarium Veronense speaks of the service of the holy altar, and, like the text in the Constitutiones Apostolorum, considers the diaconate to be a transitory grade. "Oremus . . . quos consecrationis indultae propitius dona conservet . .. quos ad officium levitarum vocare dignaris, altaris sancti ministerium tribuas sufficienter implere ... trinis gradibus ministrorum nomini tuo militare constituehs ... dignisque successibus de inferiori gradu per gratiam tuam capere potiora mereantur."50 The Sacramentarium Gregorianum is similar at every point to the texts already cited. It also recalls the three grades, and uses the word "constituere" to designate the ordination of the deacon.51

Behind their apparent unanimity, the declarations of the Fathers of the Church in the fourth century give a glimpse of certain dissensions which had been well known since the third century, as for example the deacons' claim to appropriate the places, rank and tasks of the priests.52

There is also evidence of the idea that the three grades (bishop, priest and deacon) were like elements of one and the same order. Pseudo-Athanasios speaks of this in his work De Trinitate as a "consubstantiality".53 In addition, Christianity was beginning to spread in provincial areas, with bishops or priests leaving the town against their will, and deacons doing so very willingly, but abusing the situation in that they used to appropriate certain of priests' rights. The historical context also contributed to this development. What had happened was that the Arians had compromised the standing of the episcopate. Contrasting with bishops and priests avid for power and money, the popularity of deacons grew strongly because of their close links with monks and laypeople. The widespread opinion in the fourth century Was that deacons had been instituted by the Apostles and the bishop ordained them in the same way as priests. Deacons belonged to the clergy, but only assisted at the liturgy.54

The sources show us that even Chrysostom did not manage to place the three grades of the ecclesial order in a clear historical continuity There were Jewish models for the priesthood, but the episcopate and diaconate were instituted by the Apostles. It is not clear what should be understood by these notions.55 Chrysostom stated that the diaconate had been instituted by the Holy Spirit.56 In the course of this century the Latins also took up the use of the Greek word "diaconus", as Saint Augustine attests.57

The fourth century marked the end of the process which led to the recognition of the diaconate as a grade or degree in the ecclesial hierarchy, placed after the bishop and the priests, with a well-defined role. Linked to the bishop himself and his mission, this role encompassed three tasks: the service of the liturgy, the service of preaching the Gospel and teaching catechesis, and a vast social activity concerning the works of charity and administrative action in accordance with the bishop's directives.

IV. The Ministry of Deaconesses

In the apostolic era different forms of diaconal assistance offered to the Apostles and communities by women seem to have been institutional. Thus Paul recommends to the community at Rome "our sister Phoebe, servant [he diakonos] of the Church at Cenchreae" (cf. Rom 16:1-4). Although the masculine form of diakonos is used here, it cannot therefore be concluded that the word is being used to designate the specific function of a "deacon"; firstly because in this context diakonos still signifies servant in a very general sense, and secondly because the word "servant" is not given a feminine suffix but preceded by a feminine article. What seems clear is that Phoebe exercised a recognised service in the community of Cenchreae, subordinate to the ministry of the Apostle. Elsewhere in Pauls writings the authorities of the world are themselves called diakonos (Rom 13:4), and in Second Corinthians 11:14-15 he refers to diakonoi of the devil.

Exegetes are divided on the subject of First Timothy 3:11. The mention of "women" following the reference to deacons may suggest women deacons (by parallel reference), or the deacons' wives who had been mentioned earlier. In this epistle, the functions of the deacon are not described, but only the conditions for admitting them. It is said that women must not teach or rule over men (1 Tim 2:8-15). But the functions of governance and teaching were in any case reserved to the bishop (1 Tim 3:5) and to priests (1 Tim 5:17), and not to deacons. Widows constituted a recognised group in the community, from whom they received assistance in exchange for their commitment to continence and prayer. First Timothy 5:3-16 stresses the conditions under which they may be inscribed on the list of widows receiving relief from the community, and says nothing more about any functions they might have. Later on they were officially "instituted" but "not ordained";58 they constituted an "order" in the Church,59 and would never have any other mission apart from good example and prayer.

At the beginning of the second century a letter from Pliny the Younger, governor of Bithynia, mentioned two women who were described by the Christians as ministrae, the probable equivalent of the Greek diakonoi (10, 96-97). It was not until the third century that the specific Christian terms diaconissa or diacona appeared.

From the end of the third century onwards, in certain regions of the Church60 (and not all of them), a specific ecclesial ministry is attested to on the part of women called deaconesses.61 This was in Eastern Syria and Constantinople. Towards 240 there appeared a singular canonico-liturgical compilation, the Didascalia Apostolorum (DA), which was not official in character. It attributed to the bishop the features of an omnipotent biblical patriarch (cf. DA 2, 33-35, 3). He was at the head of a little community which he governed mainly with the help of deacons and deaconesses. This was the first time that deaconesses appeared in an ecclesiastical document. In a typology borrowed from Ignatius of Antioch, the bishop held the place of God the Father, the deacon the place of Christ, and the deaconess that of the Holy Spirit (the word for "Spirit" is feminine in Semitic languages), while the priests (who are seldom mentioned) represented the Apostles, and the widows, the altar (DA 2, 26, 4-7). There is no reference to the ordination of these ministers.

The Didascalia laid stress on the charitable role of the deacon and the deaconess. The ministry of the diaconate should appear as "one single soul in two bodies". Its model is the diakonia of Christ, who washed the feet of his disciples (DA 3, 13, 1-7). However, there was no strict parallelism between the two branches of the diaconate with regard to the functions they exercised. The deacons were chosen by the bishop to "concern themselves about many necessary things", and the deaconesses only "for the service of women" (DA 3, 12, 1). The hope was expressed that "the number of deacons may be proportionate to that of the assembly of the people of the Church" (DA 3, 13, l).62 The deacons administered the property of the community in the bishop's name. Like the bishop, they were maintained at its expense. Deacons are called the ear and mouth of the bishop (DA 2, 44, 3-4). Men from among the faithful should go through the deacons to have access to the bishop, as women should go through the deaconesses (DA 3, 12, 1-4). One deacon supervised the entries into the meeting place, while another attended the bishop for the Eucharistic offering (DA 2, 57, 6).

Deaconesses should carry out the anointing of women in the rite of baptism, instruct women neophytes, and visit the women faithful, especially the sick, in their homes. They were forbidden to confer baptism themselves, or to play a part in the Eucharistic offering (DA 3, 12, 1-4). The deaconesses had supplanted the widows. The bishop may still institute widows, but they should not either teach or administer baptism (to women), but only pray (DA 3, 5, 1-3, 6, 2).

The Constitutiones Apostolorum, which appeared in Syria towards 380, used and interpolated the Didascalia, the Didache and the Traditio Apostolica. The Constitutiones were to have a lasting influence on the discipline governing ordinations in the East, even though they were never considered to be an official canonical collection. The compiler envisaged the imposition of hands with the epiklesis of the Holy Spirit not only for bishops, priests and deacons, but also for the deaconesses, sub-deacons and lectors (cf. CA 8, 16-23).63The concept of kleros Was broadened to all those who exercised a liturgical ministry, who were maintained by the Church, and who benefited from the privileges in civil law allowed by the Empire to clerics, so that the deaconesses were counted as belonging to the clergy while the widows were excluded. Bishop and priests were paralleled with the high priest and the priests respectively of the Old Covenant, while to the Levites corresponded all the other ministries and states of life: "deacons, lectors, cantors, door-keepers, deaconesses, widows, virgins and orphans" (CA 2, 26, 3; CA 8, 1, 21). The deacon was placed "at the service of the bishop and the priests" and should not impinge on the functions of the latter.64 The deacon could proclaim the Gospel and conduct the prayer of the assembly (CA 2, 57, 18), but only the bishop and the priests exhorted (CA 2, 57, 7). Deaconesses took up their functions through an epithesis cheirôn or imposition of hands that conferred the Holy Spirit,65 as did the lectors (CA 8, 20, 22). The bishop pronounced the following prayer: "Eternal God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, creator of man and woman, who filled Myriam, Deborah, Anne and Hulda with your spirit; who did not deem it unworthy for your Son, the Only-Begotten, to be born of a woman; who in the tent of witness and in the temple did institute women as guardians of your sacred doors, look now upon your servant before you, proposed for the diaconate: grant her the Holy Spirit and purify her of all defilement of flesh and spirit so that she may acquit herself worthily of the office which has been entrusted to her, for your glory and to the praise of your Christ, through whom be glory and adoration to you, in the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen."66

The deaconesses were named before the sub-deacon who, in his turn, received a cheirotonia like the deacon (CA 8, 21), while the virgins and widows could not be "ordained" (8, 24-25). The Constitutiones insist that the deaconesses should have no liturgical function (3, 9, 1-2), but should devote themselves to their function in the community which was "service to the women" (CA 3, 16, 1) and as intermediaries between women and the bishop. It is still stated that they represent the Holy Spirit, but they "do nothing without the deacon" (CA 2, 26, 6). They should stand at the women's entrances in the assemblies (2, 57, 10). Their functions are summed up as follows: "The deaconess does not bless, and she does not fulfil any of the things that priests and deacons do, but she looks after the doors and attends the priests during the baptism of women, for the sake of decency" (CA 8, 28, 6).

This is echoed by the almost contemporary observation of Epiphanius of Salamis in his Panarion, in around 375: "There is certainly in the Church the order of deaconesses, but this does not exist to exercise the functions of a priest, nor are they to have any undertaking committed to them, but for the decency of the feminine sex at the time of baptism." 67A law of Theodosius of 21 June 390, revoked on 23 August of the same year, fixed the age for admission to the ministry of deaconesses at 60. The Council of Chalcedon (can. 15) reduced the age to 40, forbidding them subsequent marriage.68

Even in the fourth century the way of life of deaconesses was very similar to that of nuns. At that time the woman in charge of a monastic community of women was called a deaconess, as is testified by Gregory of Nyssa among others.69 Ordained abbesses of the monasteries of women, the deaconesses wore the maforion, or veil of perfection. Until the sixth century they still attended women in the baptismal pool and for the anointing. Although they did not serve at the altar, they could distribute communion to sick women. When the practice of anointing the whole body at baptism was abandoned, deaconesses were simply consecrated virgins who had taken the vow of chastity. They lived either in monasteries or at home. The condition for admission was virginity or widowhood and their activity consisted of charitable and health-related assistance to women.

At Constantinople the best-known of the fourth-century deaconesses was Olympias, the superior of a monastery of women, who was a protegee of Saint John Chrysostom and had put her property at the service of the Church. She was "ordained" (cheirotonein) deaconess with three of her companions by the patriarch. Canon 15 of the Council of Chalcedon (451) seems to confirm the fact that deaconesses really were "ordained" by the imposition of hands (cheirotonia). Their ministry was called leitourgia and after ordination they were not allowed to marry.

In eighth-century Byzantium, the bishop still imposed his hands on a deaconess, and conferred on her the orarion or stole (both ends of which were worn at the front, one over the other); he gave her the chalice, which she placed on the altar without giving communion to anyone. Deaconesses were ordained in the course of the Eucharistic liturgy, in the sanctuary, like deacons.70 Despite the similarities between the rites of ordination, deaconesses did not have access to the altar or to any liturgical ministry. These ordinations were intended mainly for the superiors of monasteries of women.

It should be pointed out that in the West there is no trace of any deaconesses for the first five centuries. The Statuta Ecclesiae antiqua laid down that the instruction of women catechumens and their preparation for baptism was to be entrusted to the widows and women religious "chosen ad ministerium baptizandarum mulierum".71 Certain councils of the fourth and fifth centuries reject every ministerium feminae72 and forbid any ordination of deaconesses.73 According to the Ambrosiaster (composed at Rome at the end of the fourth century), the female diaconate was an adjunct of Montanist ("Cataphrygian") heretics.74 In the sixth century women admitted into the group of widows were sometimes referred to as deaconesses. To prevent any confusion the Council of Epaone forbade "the consecrations of widows who call themselves deaconesses".75 The Second Council of Orleans (533) decided to exclude from communion women who had "received the blessing for the diaconate despite the canons forbidding this and who had remarried".76 Abbesses, or the wives of deacons, were also called diaconissae, by analogy with presbyterissae or even episcopissae.77

The present historical overview shows that a ministry of deaconesses did indeed exist, and that this developed unevenly in the different parts of the Church. It seems clear that this ministry was not perceived as simply the feminine equivalent of the masculine diaconate. At the very least it was an ecclesial function, exercised by women, sometimes mentioned together with that of sub-deacon in the lists of Church ministries.78 Was this ministry conferred by an imposition of hands comparable to that by which the episcopate, the priesthood and the masculine diaconate were conferred? The text of the Constitutiones Apostolorum would seem to suggest this, but it is practically the only witness to this, and its proper interpretation is the subject of much debate.79 Should the imposition of hands on deaconesses be considered the same as that on deacons, or is it rather on the same level as the imposition of hands on sub-deacons and lectors? It is difficult to tackle the question on the basis of historical data alone. In the following chapters some elements will be clarified, and some questions will remain open. In particular, one chapter will be devoted to examining more closely how the Church through her theology and Magisterium has become more conscious of the sacramental reality of Holy Orders and its three grades. But first it is appropriate to examine the causes which led to the disappearance of the permanent diaconate in the life of the Church.



I. The Changes in the Diaconal Ministry

At Rome, from the third century onwards, each deacon was at the head of one of the seven pastoral regions, while the priests had a smaller titulus (the future parish). Deacons were charged with administering funds and organising charitable works. The Council of Neo-Caesarea, at the beginning of the fourth century, had asked that each Church, however big it was, should have no more than seven deacons, in memory of Acts 6:1-6.80This provision, still remembered by Isidore of Seville81 but infrequently observed, particularly in the East,82 heightened the prestige of the diaconal order and encouraged deacons still more to leave their original functions to other members of the clergy. They were to define themselves more and more explicitly by reference to their liturgical attributes, and come into conflict with the priests.

The functions of deacons were progressively being taken over by other ministers. As early as the Traditio Apostolica (13), "sub-deacons" were appointed "to follow the deacon". Those who "followed the deacon" soon became his "acolytes".83 The acolytes had the job of taking the fermentum, the portion of the bishop's Eucharist, to the priests of the tituli in the town. It was also the acolytes who took it to those who were absent. The "door-keepers" also fulfilled a function which had originally been the task of the deacons. It may be considered that the minor ministries resulted from a sharing-out of diaconal functions.

The state of sub-deacon approached that of deacon more closely. Towards 400, in the East, the Council of Laodicea tried to prevent sub-deacons from encroaching on the liturgical functions of deacons, stating that they should content themselves with looking after the doors.84 Sub-deacons adopted the rule of life of deacons. The African councils of the last part of the fourth century demanded continence on the part of clergy "who serve at the altar",85 The Canones in causa Apiarii (419-425) extended this requirement to sub-deacons, "who touch the sacred mysteries".86 Leo the Great (440-461) confirmed this requirement for sub-deacons.87 Leo made a ready distinction between sacerdotes (the bishop and priests), levitae (the deacons and sub-deacons), and clerici (the other ministers).88

Cyprian had already found it necessary to remind people that deacons had been instituted by the Apostles and not by the Lord himself.89 In certain places deacons must have been tempted to take the place of priests. The Council of Aries (314) reminded them that they could not offer the Eucharist (can. 15) and that they should show due honour to priests (can. 18). Nicaea forbade them to give communion to priests, or to receive it before the bishops: they were to receive communion from the bishop or from a priest, and after them. They were not to sit among the priests. "Let the deacons remain within the limits of their competence, knowing that they are the servants of the bishop and are inferior to priests in rank" (can. 19).90

Towards 378 the anonymous Ambrosiaster, composed at Rome, witnessed to the persistent tension between the presbyterate and the diaconate.91 Jerome went further, exclaiming that deacons were not superior to priests!92 Priests came to exercise more and more of the functions reserved to deacons, at the same time as they received progressively more autonomy in their responsibilities within the urban tituli and the rural parishes. Deacons, who had wanted to exercise the liturgical and teaching functions reserved to priests, now suffered from a backlash against such an attitude: they became subordinate to the priests, their direct link with the bishop faded away, and they ended up having no specific function. The clergy of the Church in the Empire progressively forgot about their function of service and maintained the concept of the sacredness of the priesthood, towards which all the other degrees of the clerical career tended. The deacons were the first to suffer the consequences of this.

Towards the end of the fifth century the thinking of Pseudo-Dionysius began to have a lasting influence both in the East and in the West. In Dionysius' hierarchically structured view of heaven and the Church, every being received its specific determination and function from the order to which it belonged. The ecclesiastical hierarchy was composed of two groups of three. The first group contained the order of the hierarchs or bishops, the order of priests, and the order of "liturges" or ministers. This latter order included the ecclesiastical orders from deacon to door-keeper. The diaconate no longer had any specific mark to distinguish it from the other orders beneath the priests.93

Still towards the end of the fifth century, the career path of the clergy was defined in function of their liturgical attributes as well as the demand of continence for those who served in the sanctuary, or related positions. Leo the Great considered that the ideal path, before proceeding to the priesthood and the episcopate, was to go through all the degrees of the clergy with an appropriate interval between each.94 The number and names of the different degrees (gradus) of the clergy fluctuated. There were eight at Rome in the time of Pope Cornelius.95 In the fifth century, the door-keeper and the exorcist were no longer included among them.96 The author of De septem ordinibus at the beginning of the fifth century speaks of grave-diggers, door-keepers, lectors, sub-deacons, deacons, priests and bishops.97 The Statuta Ecclesiae antiqua, also composed in the south of Gaul towards 480, re-proposed a list of eight officiates ecclesiae who received an ordinatio: bishop, priest and deacon received an imposition of hands, [while] the candidates for orders inferior to these (sub-deacon, acolyte, exorcist, lector and doorkeeper) were installed by a rite of handing over of the instruments of their office.98 Thus the functions which had in the past been autonomous and practical, became stages in the career path towards the priesthood. The sacramentary of Verona (around 560-580) contained a prayer of "consecration" for the bishop and the priest, and a prayer of "blessing" for the deacon. It said that the deacon was essentially ordained in view of liturgical ministry; he should be an example of chastity.99

Progress through the clerical career path was still often made per saltum. At Rome in the ninth century the sub-diaconate was the only obligatory degree before major orders. All the popes between 687 and 891 had been sub-deacons. Five had then become deacons before being raised to the episcopate, and nine passed directly from the sub-diaconate to the priesthood and then to the episcopate.

One of the former competencies of deacons, the management of the funds of the community, was also lost to them. The Council of Chalcedon (451) sanctioned this development, laying down that each bishop should entrust this responsibility to an officer chosen from "among his own clergy" (can. 26), not necessarily from among the deacons. Aid to the poor was often looked after by monasteries. Under Gregory the Great, the huge "Patrimony of Saint Peter" was managed by defensores or notarii, who were added to the clergy, in other words at least given the tonsure.

In the East, the Byzantine Council in Trullo in 692 analysed the contents of Acts 6:1-6. The Seven, it observed, were neither deacons nor priests nor bishops. They were people who were "charged with administering the common property of the community of that time.. .. They are an example of charity" (can. 7).100 At the end of the ninth century in the East, the deacons still formed a permanent order of clergy, but for liturgical needs alone. The Byzantine rite had two preparatory stages for the sacred ministry: those of lector (or cantor) and sub-deacon, conferred by cheirothesia, and obligatory before the diaconate.101 But the sub-diaconate was often conferred at the same time as the lectorate, or just before the diaconate. According to the ritual of the Constitutiones Apostolorum, which was still applied in the East, admission to the minor orders of sub-diaconate and lectorate was accomplished by the imposition of hands and the handing over of the instruments of office. In the West too, the activity of deacons was reduced, in practice, to their liturgical functions.102 When rural parishes were created the Councils insisted that they should be endowed with a priest. It did not occur to them to call for deacons.103

From the tenth century onwards, at least in the Holy Roman Empire, the rule was ordination per gradum. The reference document was the Pontifical Romano-Germanique,104 composed at Mainz in around 950. It was in direct continuity with the tradition of the Ordines Romani of the preceding centuries,105 to which it added plentiful elements from the Germanic ritual. The ordination of deacons included the handing over of the book of the Gospels, signifying their function of proclaiming the Gospel in the liturgy. The deacon here appears closer to the sub-deacon than to the priest. The priest was the man of the Eucharist; the deacon attended him at the altar. This ritual was introduced at Rome through the Germanic emperors' zeal for reform at the end of the tenth century. Rome fell into line with the per gradum career path for clergy which was the rule in the Empire. From that time on the history of the ordination rites attests perfect continuity.106 The First Lateran Council (1123) can. 7, and the Second Lateran Council (1139) can. 6, deprived of their office any clergy who contracted marriage, from the sub-diaconate inclusive. Can. 7 of the Second Lateran Council declared that such a marriage would be null and void.107 From that time on the Latin Church normally ordained only celibate men.

The patristic and liturgical texts of the first millennium all mentioned the ordination of bishops, priests and deacons, but they did not yet explicitly raise the question of the sacramentality of each of these ordinations.

The history of the ministries shows that the priesthood has had a tendency to take over the functions of the lesser orders. When the progression through the various orders became stabilised, each grade possessed the competencies of the previous grade, plus some additional ones-what a deacon can do, a priest can also do. The bishop, being at the summit of the hierarchy can exercise all the ecclesiastical functions. The fact that the different competencies fitted together in this way and that lesser functions were taken over by higher ones; the fragmentation of the original role of deacons into many different functions to be performed by subordinate clergy; and the progression to the higher functions per gradum, all go to explain how the diaconate as a permanent ministry lost its reason for existing. All that was left were liturgical tasks exercised for a given time by candidates for the priesthood.

II. Towards the Disappearance of Deaconesses

After the tenth century deaconesses were only named in connection with charitable institutions. A Jacobite author of that time notes: "In ancient times, deaconesses were ordained. Their function was to look after women so that they should not have to uncover themselves before the bishop. But when religion spread more widely and it was decided to administer baptism to infants, this function was abolished."108We find the same statement in the Pontifical of Patriarch Michael of Antioch (1166-1199).109When commenting on can. 15 of the Council of Chalcedon, Theodore Balsamon, at the end of the twelfth century, observed that "the topic of this canon has altogether fallen into disuse. For today deaconesses are no longer ordained, although the name of deaconesses is wrongly given to those who belong to communities of ascetics." 110Deaconesses had become nuns. They lived in monasteries which no longer practised works of diakonia except in the field of education, medical care, or parish service.

The presence of deaconesses is still attested in Rome at the end of the eighth century. While the Roman rituals had previously not mentioned deaconesses, the sacramentary Hadrianum, sent by the pope to Charlemagne and spread by him throughout the Frankish world, includes an Oratio ad diaconam faciendum. It was in fact a blessing, placed as an appendix among other rites of first institution. The Carolingian texts often combined deaconesses and abbesses. The Council of Paris of 829 contained a general prohibition on women performing any liturgical function.111 The Decretals of Pseudo-Isidore contain no mention of deaconesses; and neither does a Bavarian Pontifical from the first half of the ninth century.112 A century later, in the Pontifical Romano-Germanique of Mainz, the prayer Ad diaconam faciendum is to be found after the ordinatio abbatissae, between the consecratio virginum and the consecratio viduarum. Once again, this was merely a blessing accompanied by the handing over of the stole and veil by the bishop, as well as the nuptial ring and the crown. Like widows, the deaconess promised continence. This is the last mention of "deaconesses" found in the Latin rituals. In fact the Pontifical of Guillaume Durand at the end of the thirteenth century speaks of deaconesses only with reference to the past.113

In the Middle Ages, the nursing and teaching religious orders of nuns fulfilled in practise the functions of diakonia without, however, being ordained for this ministry. The title, with no corresponding ministry, was given to women who were instituted as widows or abbesses. Right up until the thirteenth century, abbesses were sometimes called deaconesses.



The sacramentally of the diaconate is a question which remains implicit in biblical, patristic and liturgical texts which have just been discussed. We now need to see how the Church first became explicitly conscious of it in a period in which, apart from certain rare exceptions, the diaconate was simply a stage on the way to the priesthood.

I. In the First Scholastic Teaching

Although "sacramentality" can have a broad, generic meaning, in the strict sense it refers to the seven sacraments (outward and effective signs of grace), among which is the sacrament of "Holy Orders". Within this sacrament were different "orders" or "grades", between seven and nine in number. The diaconate and the priesthood were always listed among the ordines sacri of the sacrament, and the sub-diaconate began to be included among them because of its requirement of celibacy; the episcopate was excluded from them in most cases.114

According to Peter Lombard (+ 1160),115 the diaconate was an ordo or gradus qfficiorum (the sixth). Although he held that all the ordines were spirituales et sacri, he underlined the excellence of the diaconate and the priesthood, the only ones which existed in the primitive Church by the will of the Apostles, while the others had been instituted by the Church in the course of time. He did not consider the episcopate to share in this excellence, saying that it did not belong to the sacramental ordines but rather to the domain of dignities and offices.116

II. From St. Thomas Aquinas (+ 1273) to Trent (1563)

1. Affirmation of Sacramentality

Saint Thomas' teaching on the diaconate117 included the fact that it was a sacrament insofar as it belonged to Holy Orders, one of the seven sacraments of the new law. He considered that each of the different orders constituted in some way a sacramental reality; however, only three (priest, deacon and sub-deacon) could strictly be said to be ordines sacri by reason of their special relation to the Eucharist.118 But it should not be concluded that their sacramentality meant that the priesthood and the diaconate were different sacraments; the distinction between the orders did not indicate that each was a universal or integral whole, but indicated a potestative wholeness.119

The way that the unity and oneness of the sacrament of Holy Orders was bound together in its different grades had to do with their reference to the Eucharist, Sacramentum sacramentorum.120 Because of that, the different orders needed a sacramental consecration depending on their type of power with respect to the Eucharist. Through ordination priests received the power to consecrate, while deacons received the power to serve the priests in the administration of the sacraments.121

The relationship of each order to the Eucharist became the deciding factor in avoiding the idea that each order gave the power to administer a specific sacrament. The same criterion also served to exclude the orders of psalmist and cantor from the sacramental orders. But this criterion was also used to exclude the episcopate from sacramentality.122 In spite of everything, although Saint Thomas refuses to recognise in the episcopate any sort of power superior to that of the priest in relation to the verum corpus Christi, he considers the episcopate to be also an ordo in a certain way, by reason of the powers which the bishop holds over the corpus mysticum.123

Because the diaconate is a sacrament, it is an ordo which imprints a character on the soul. Saint Thomas applies this doctrine to baptism, confirmation and Holy Orders. His thinking on this developed with time. Starting from the priesthood of Christ he defined Holy Orders alone as imprinting a character (In IV Sent), but finally defined the complete doctrine of character (STh).124

On the subject of the diaconate, he explained all its potestates, in relation to the dispensatio of the sacraments, as something that seemed to belong rather within the domain of what was "licit" and not within the domain of a new radical enablement with regard to the "validity" of the functions in question.125 In his turn, in Summa theologiae, III, q. 67, a. 1, he asks whether evangelizing and baptizing are part of the deacon s office, and he answers that no direct administration of the sacraments belongs to the diaconate quasi ex proprio officio, any more than any task in relation with docere, but only with cathechizare126

2. Sacramentality Called into Question

Durandus of Saint-Pourfain (+ 1334) represented a doctrinal line which was to reappear intermittently up until the present day. According to this line, only ordination to the priesthood is a "sacrament"; the other orders, including the diaconate, were only "sacramentals".127 The reasons for his position were as follows:

a. with regard to the Eucharist, the distinction between the power of consecrating, which belonged exclusively to the order of the priesthood (which should be considered a sacrament) and the preparatory actions, which belonged to the other orders (merely considered as sacramentals);

b. in the same way as with baptism, there was a "potestas ad suscipiendum sacramenta"; but it was only the priesthood that was granted a "postestas ordinis ad conficiendum vel conferendum ea", which was not granted to any of the orders inferior to the priesthood, not even to the diaconate;

c. ordination to the priesthood grants a power ad posse and not ad licere, so that the ordained priest can really do something which he could not do before his ordination. The diaconate, on the other hand, grants the capacity to do licite something that he could in fact do before, although illicitly, and this is why the diaconate can be considered as an institution or ecclesial deputation to exercise certain functions;

d. it is also demanded by the unity of the sacrament of Orders and the evaluation of the priesthood as the fullness of this sacrament, since otherwise it would be hard to preserve the meaning of what Saint Thomas said on the unity and oneness of the sacrament of Holy Orders;128

e. the distinction between sacramentum and sacramentalia did not, however, prevent Durandus from saying that each of the orders imprints a "character". He distinguished in his turn between a deputatio which had its origin in God himself, and made the order in question a sacramentum, and an ecclesiastical deputatio instituted by the Church, which only made the orders in question (all the other orders) sacramentalia. In this sense it could be said that the diaconate imprints a character; the doubt or debate concerned exactly when the character was imprinted, since some maintained that it would come "in traditione libri evangeliorum" (an opinion which Durandus rejected) while others held that it came "in impositione manuum" (an opinion which he appeared to adopt).129

3. The Teaching of Trent (1563)

The Council of Trent chose to make a dogmatic definition of Holy Orders as a sacrament; the direction of its doctrinal statements leaves no doubt on the subject. However, it is not clear to what extent the sacramentality of the diaconate should be considered as being included in this definition. The question has remained a controversial one to the present day, although very few people indeed now debate the subject. This makes it necessary to interpret the statements of the Council of Trent.

As against the denials of the Reformers, Trent declared the existence of a hierarchia in Ecclesia ordinatione divina (which led to a rejection of the statement "omnes christianos promiscue Novi Testamenti sacerdotes esse") and also a hierarchia ecclesiastica (which led to the distinction between the different grades within the sacrament of Holy Orders).130

The references by Trent to the diaconate (which it also refers to explicitly) need to be set within the general theology of the sacrament of Holy Orders. However, it is not entirely certain that the dogmatic declarations of Trent on the sacramentality and the sacramental character of the priesthood, to which Trent refers explicitly, include an intention on the part of the Council to define the sacramentality of the diaconate as well.

According to Trent deacons are mentioned directly in the New Testament, although it is not stated that they were instituted directly by Christ the Saviour. In accordance with the way the other orders are envisaged, the diaconate is also conceived of as a help to exercising "dignius et maiore cum veneratione ministerium tarn Sancti sacerdotii" and to serve the priesthood "ex officio" (it is not said to be "ad ministerium episcopi"). Furthermore, the diaconate appears to be a stage on the way to the priesthood - there is no explicit mention of a permanent diaconate.131

When Trent defined dogmatically that ordo or sacra ordinatio was "vere sacramentum",132 there was no explicit mention of the diaconate, which was included among the ordines ministrorum.133 Thus, if the dogmatic statement of sacramentality is to be applied to the diaconate, it should perhaps be applied equally to the other ordines ministrorum, which seems excessive and unjustified.

Something similar can be said on the subject of the doctrine of "sacramental character".134 In view of the expressions used by the Council, there can be no doubt that Trent referred explicitly and directly to the "priests of the New Testament", to distinguish them clearly from the "laypeople". There is no mention made of "deacons", either direct or indirect; therefore it would be difficult to see in the text of Trent any intention to establish the dogma of character for the diaconate.

Can. 6 merits particular attention ("si quis dixerit in Ecclesia catholica non esse hierarchiam, divina ordinatione institutam, quae constat ex episcopis, presbyteris et ministris, a.s."135) because of different interpretations of the word ministris: deacons, or deacons and other ministers, or all the other orders? Right up until the day before its approval (14 July 1563), the text of can. 6 said "et aliis ministris". That day, in view of petitions made by a Spanish group, the expression aliis ministris was altered to exclude the word aliis. But the reasons and scope of this change are not very clear.136

How should the term ministris, and their inclusion in the hierarchia, be interpreted? The exclusion of the word aliis means, according to some, that the dividing line within the ecclesiastical hierarchy should be drawn between sacerdotes (bishops and priests) on the one hand, and ministri on the other; the suppression of the word aliis was intended to stress once again that the bishops and priests are not "nudi ministri" but "sacerdotes Novi Testamenti". The history of the text in question, in the light of its previous formulations, would seem to suggest a broad understanding of ministri, to include "diaconos caeterosque ministros", corresponding to a triple division of the hierarchy ("praecipue episcopi, deinde praesbyteri, diaconi et alii ministri"). But it must not be forgotten that according to other authors the suppression of the term aliis meant that the subdiaconate and other minor orders were excluded from the hierarchy "divina ordinatione instituta" - an expression whose interpretation is in its turn polemical.137

To sum up, whether one interprets it exclusively or inclusively, it cannot be doubted that deacons are included in the term ministri. But the dogmatic consequences concerning their sacramentality and their inclusion in the hierarchy will differ, depending on whether the word ministri refers to deacons alone, or includes the other orders too.

III. Theological Nuances after Trent

After the Council of Trent, in the theology of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a majority of opinions maintained the sacramentality of the diaconate, with only a minority questioning or denying it. However, the form in which this sacramentality was defended had many differing nuances, and it was generally considered to be a point which had not been dogmatically defined by Trent, and which was reasserted doctrinally in the Roman Catechism where it describes the functions of deacons.138

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, considered that anyone who followed Durandus was not to be reprehended.139

Robert Bellarmine (+ 1621) well described the status quaestionis 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 (Protestant) heretics. But as regarded the sacramentality of the individual orders he felt it necessary to make a distinction, because although there was unanimous agreement on the sacramentality of the priesthood, this was not the case for the other orders.140

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 an assertio certissima, based on Scripture and Tradition. Moreover, he spoke of an episcopal character which 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 a certainty ex fide, since it could not be deduced from the evidence of Scripture nor Tradition nor any explicit pronouncement on the part of the Church.141

Bellarmine was also in favour of the sacramentality of the sub-diaconate, basing his opinion 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.142 Still less certain, in his view, was the sacramentality of the other minor orders.

IV. The Sacramentality of the Diaconate in Vatican II

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) the sacramentality of both modes (permanent and transitory) was taken for granted. Sometimes it was stated simply in passing, or indirectly, or faintly. Taken all together, the texts of Vatican II repeated what had been the majority opinion in theology up to that time, but went no further. Neither did the Council clarify a number of uncertainties which were expressed in the course of the debates.

1. In the Conciliar Debates

The sacramentality of the diaconate was a theme tackled in several interventions in the second period of the Council (1963). The result was a majority in favour, particularly among those who upheld the institution of the permanent diaconate; among who opposed such an institution, there was no majority in favour of the sacramentality of the diaconate.143

In the relatio of the doctrinal Commission, some explanatory notes on the text are presented which are of interest in interpreting it. The notes give the exegetical reason for not directly mentioning Acts 6:1-6,144and also explain the moderate way in which the sacramentality of the diaconate is mentioned, as caused by unwillingness to give the impression of condemning those who questioned it.145 The conciliar debate did not in fact reach unanimity on the sacramental nature of the diaconate.

Also of interest for interpretation of the texts are the nuances introduced into the summary of the discussion. Among the arguments in favour of restoration, mention was first made of the sacramental nature of the diaconate, of which the Church ought not to be deprived. Among the arguments against restoration the main one was undoubtedly that of celibacy. But others were added, such as whether or not the diaconate was needed for tasks which could be carried out by laypeople. The following questions were asked under this heading: whether all tasks were to be considered, or only some of them; whether those tasks were of a regular nature or were exceptional; 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, by ordination, the diaconal tasks which were in fact already being carried out; and whether deacons' (and especially married deacons') possible situation as a "bridge" between the higher clergy and the laity could be considered.146

2. In the Texts of Vatican II

In Lumen gentium 29, the proposition according to which there was 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. 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;147 the dissatisfaction felt by certain people about the ambiguity in that formula;148 the interpretation given by the Commission;149 and the scope of the actual distinction between sacerdotium and ministerium.

In Lumen gentium 28a, the term ministerium is used in a double sense in turn: (a) to refer to the ministry of the bishops, who as successors of the Apostles partake of the "consecration" and "mission" received by Christ from his Father, which they hand on in various degrees to different individuals, without explicit mention being made of deacons;150 [and] (b) to refer to the "ecclesiastical ministry" as a whole, divinely established on different levels, embracing those who from antiquity have been called bishops, priests and deacons.151 In the relevant note, Vatican II gives a reference to Trent, session 23, cap. 2 and can. 6.152 The same sort of caution can be observed in both sources in the 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).153

The statement which relates most directly to the sacramentality of the diaconate is found in Lumen gentium 29a: "gratia enim sacramentali roborati, in diaconia liturgiae, verbi et caritatis populo Dei, in communione cum Episcopo eiusque presbyterio, inserviunt"; and also in Ad gentes 16: "lit ministerium suum per gratiam sacramentalem diaconatus efficacius expleant". The expression gratia sacramentalis is prudent, appropriate for an interjection, and much more nuanced than the formula "sacramental ordination" employed in the previous project of Lumen gentium in 1963. Why was this caution apparent in the expressions finally used? The doctrinal Commission referred to the basis in tradition of what is affirmed, and to the concern to avoid giving the impression that those who had doubts on the subject were being condemned.154

3. The Sacramentality of the Diaconate in Post-Conciliar Developments

1. Mention must first be made of the document which puts the Council's decisions into effect, i.e. the Motu Proprio of Pope Paul VI, Sacrum diaconatus ordinem (1967). In what concerns the theological nature of the diaconate, it takes up what Vatican II said about the gratia of the diaconate, while adding a reference to the indelible "character" (absent from the Council texts), and it is understood as a "stable" service.155

As a grade of the sacrament of Holy Orders, it bestows the capacity to exercise tasks which mostly belong to the domain of the liturgy (eight out of the eleven mentioned). In some expressions these appear as tasks which are deputized or delegated.156 Thus it is not clear up to what point the diaconal "character" confers the capacity for some competencies or powers which could only be exercised by reason of previous sacramental ordination; since there is another way of accessing them (by delegation or deputizing, and not by reason of the sacrament of Holy Orders).

2. The most recent step taken in the Motu Proprio of Pope Paul VI, Ad pascendum (1972) refers to the instituting of the permanent diaconate (not excluding it as a transitory stage) as a "middle order" between the upper hierarchy and the rest of the People of God. In what concerns sacramentality, as well as considering this medius ordo as "signum vel sacramentum ipsius Christi Domini, qui non venit ministrari, sed ministrare", the document presupposes the sacramentality of the diaconate and limits itself to repeating the aforementioned expressions such as sacra ordinatio or sacrum ordinem.157

3. Following some positions which had already been taken up before Vatican II, certain authors expressed their doubts with regard to the sacramentality of the diaconate more explicitly and with detailed arguments, after the Council too. Their motives were varied. J. Beyer (1980) primarily presented his analysis of the conciliar texts, whose silence on the distinction between the power of "order" and of "jurisdiction" seemed to him to avoid rather than provide a solution to the questions which were still unresolved.158 The same would apply to the fluctuation in meaning which could be accorded to the term ministerium, and the contrast between it and sacerdotium. He further evaluated the caution shown in the Council texts not only as the result of concern to avoid condemning anyone, but also as a result of doctrinal hesitations.159 This was why further clarification was needed of the question: "Estne diaconatus pars sacerdotii sicut et episcopatus atque presbyteratus unum sacerdotium efficiunt?" This need was not satisfied by referring to the "common priesthood" of the faithful and excluding deacons from the "sacrificing" priesthood (cf. Philips). According to Tradition, the ministerial priesthood was "unum" and "unum sacramentum". If it was this sacramental priesthood alone which rendered someone capable of acting in persona Christi with effect ex opere operato, then it would be hard to call the diaconate a "sacrament" because it was not instituted to accomplish any act in persona Christi with effect ex opere operato.

Additionally, further careful investigation was needed into the statements of Trent and also into the normative value of its references to the diaconate.160 The acts of Vatican II, the development of the schemas, the various interventions and the relatio of the relevant Commission, also needed a careful re-reading. It could be concluded from this relatio that a solution had not altogether been found of the difficulties with regard to the following points: (a) the exegetical foundation of the institution of the diaconate (Acts 6:1-6 was excluded because it was open to debate, and consideration was limited to the simple mentions of deacons in Philippians 1:1 and First Timothy 3:8-12); [and] (b) the theological justification of the sacramental nature of the diaconate, in connection with the intention of re-establishing its permanent mode.

In conclusion: if Vatican II spoke cautiously and ex obliquo of the sacramental nature of the diaconate, it was not only from a concern not to condemn anyone, but rather because of the "incertitudo doctrinae".161 Therefore, to confirm its sacramental nature, neither the majority opinion of theologians (which had also existed concerning the sub-diaconate), nor the mere description of the rite of ordination (which needed to be clarified from other sources) nor the mere imposition of hands (which could be non-sacramental in character) was sufficient.

4. In the new Codex Iuris Canonici of 1983, the diaconate is spoken of from the standpoint of its sacramentality, introducing certain developments which deserve comment.

This is true of cann. 1008-1009. The diaconate is one of the three orders, and the CIC seems to apply to it the general theology of the sacrament of Holy Orders in its integrity162 If this application is valid, then it follows from it that the diaconate is a sacramental reality, of divine institution, which makes deacons sacri ministri (in the CIC, those who are baptized and ordained), imprints on them an "indelible character" (taking for granted what was said by Paul VI) and by reason of their consecration and deputation ("consecrantur et deputantur") renders them capable of exercising in persona Christi Capitis and in the grade which corresponds to them ("pro suo quisque gradu") the tasks of teaching, sanctifying and ruling, in other words the functions proper to those who are called to guide the People of God.

Integrating the diaconate within the general theology of the sacrament of Holy Orders in this way raises certain questions. Can it be theologically maintained that deacons, even pro suo gradu, really exercise the "munera docendi, sanctificandi et regendi" in persona Christi Capitis as do bishops and priests? Is that not something particular and exclusive to those who have received sacramental ordination and the consequent power to "conficere corpus et sanguinem Christi", i.e. to consecrate the Eucharist, which does not belong to deacons in any way? Should the CIC's expression in persona Christi Capitis be understood in a broader sense so that it can also be applied to the functions of deacons? How, then, should the Council's statement be interpreted, which says that deacons are "non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium"? Can the task of "pascere populum Dei" be considered an effect of the sacramentality of the diaconate? Would not arguing over its "powers" lead to an impasse?

It is very natural that the CIC should concern itself specially and at length with the faculties proper to deacons, and it does so in several canons.163 In cann. 517, 2 and 519 deacons are mentioned with reference to cooperation with the parish priest as "pastor proprius", and to the possibility of granting them a share in the exercise of the cura pastoralis (can. 517, 2). This possibility of sharing in the exercise of the cura pastoralis paroeciae (which refers in the first place to deacons, although it can also be granted to laypeople) raises the question of the capacity of the deacon to assume the pastoral guidance of the community, and takes up again, with different nuances, what had already been established by Ad gentes 16 and Sacrum diaconatus 5/22. Although these points referred directly to regere, can. 517, 2 speaks in a more nuanced way of "participatio in exercitio curae pastoralis". In any case, with reference to the possibility opened by can. 517, which is presented as a last solution, more precise thought needs to be given to the real participation of deacons, by reason of their diaconal ordination, in the "cura animarum" and the task of "pascere populum Dei".164

5. The recent Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae (CCE), in its definitive 1997 edition, seems to speak more decidedly in favour of the sacramentality of the diaconate.

It states that the potestas sacra to act in persona Christi only corresponds to the bishops and priests, whereas deacons hold "vim populo Dei serviendi" in their various diaconal functions (no. 875). It also mentions deacons when, concerning the sacrament of Holy Orders, it considers "ordination" as a "sacramental act" enabling recipients to exercise a "sacred power" which proceeds ultimately from Jesus Christ alone (no. 1538).

On the one hand it seems that according to the CCE deacons could also be included in a certain way in a general understanding of the sacrament of Holy Orders under some categories of the priesthood, since it mentions them from this point of view at the same time as bishops and priests in nos. 1539-43. On the other hand in the definitive version of no. 1554 it justifies the restriction of the term sacerdos to bishops and priests, excluding deacons, while maintaining that deacons also belong to the sacrament of Holy Orders (no. 1554).

Finally, the idea of sacramentality is strengthened by the explicit attribution of the doctrine of "character" to deacons as a special configuration with Christ, deacon and servant of all (no. 1570).

6. The recent Ratio fundamentalis (1998), which recognises the difficulties that exist in reaching an understanding of the "germana natura" of the diaconate, nevertheless firmly upholds the clarity of the doctrinal elements ("clarissime definita", nos. 3 and 10) on the basis of original diaconal practise and conciliar indications.

There is no doubt that we have here a way of speaking of the specific identity of the deacon which offers certain novelties in comparison with what has usually been the case up till now. The deacon has a specific configuration with Christ, Lord and Servant.165 To this configuration there corresponds a spirituality whose distinguishing mark is "serviceability", which by ordination makes the deacon into a living "icon" of Christ the Servant in the Church (no. 11). This is offered in justification of restricting the configuration with Christ the Head and Shepherd to priests. But configuration with Christ the "Servant", and "service" as a characteristic of the ordained minister, are also valid for priests; so that it is not very clear what is "specifically diaconal" in this service, what it is that might express itself in functions or "munera" (cf. no. 9) which were the exclusive competence of deacons by reason of their sacramental capacity.

All in all, the Ratio clearly affirms the sacramentality of the diaconate as well as its sacramental character, in the perspective of a common theology of the sacrament of Holy Orders and the respective character which it confers.166 Here the language is decisive and explicit, although it is not altogether clear to what extent it is the expression of more consistent theological developments or a new or better-justified base.

V. Conclusion

The doctrinal position in favour of the sacramentality of the diaconate is broadly speaking the majority opinion of theologians from the twelfth century to the present day and it is taken for granted in the practise of the Church and in most documents of the Magisterium; it is upheld by those who defend the permanent diaconate (for celibate or married people) and constitutes an element which includes a large number of the propositions in favour of the diaconate for women.

Despite everything, this doctrinal position faces questions which need to be clarified more fully, either through the development of a more convincing theology of the sacramentality of the diaconate, or through a more direct and explicit intervention by the Magisterium, or by a more successful attempt to connect and harmonize the various elements. The path which was followed concerning the sacramentality of the episcopate could be taken as a decisive and instructive reference point. Among the questions requiring deeper or more fully developed theology are the following: (a) the normative status of the sacramentality of the diaconate as it was fixed by the doctrinal interventions of the Magisterium, especially in Trent and in Vatican II; (b) the "unity" and "oneness" of the sacrament of Holy Orders in its diverse grades; (c) the exact scope of the distinction "non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium (episcopi)"; (d) the doctrine of the character of the diaconate and its specificity as a configuration with Christ; [and] (e) the "powers" conferred by the diaconate as a sacrament.

To reduce sacramentality to the question of potestates would undoubtedly be an overly narrow approach; ecclesiology offers broader and richer perspectives. But in the case of the sacrament of Holy Orders, this question cannot be passed over with the excuse that it is too narrow. The other two grades of Holy Orders, the episcopate and the priesthood, give a capacity, by reason of sacramental ordination, for tasks which an unordained person cannot perform validly. Why should it be otherwise for the diaconate? Does the difference lie in the way in which the munera are exercised or in the personal quality of the person performing them? But how could this be rendered theologically credible? If in fact these functions can be exercised by a layperson, what justification is there for the argument that they have their source in a new and distinct sacramental ordination?

The discussion of diaconal powers gives rise once again to general questions on: the nature or condition of the potestas sacra in the Church, the connection of the sacrament of Holy Orders with the "potestas conficiendi eucharistiam", and the need to widen ecclesiological perspectives beyond a narrow view of this connection.



In three places, Vatican II uses different terms to describe what it intends to do when it speaks of the diaconate as a stable rank of the hierarchy of the Church. Lumen gentium 29b uses the notion of restitutio,167 Ad gentes 16f uses that of restauratio,168 while Orientalium Ecclesiarum 17 employs the word instauratio.169 All three connote the idea of restoring, renewing, re-establishing, and re-activating. In the present chapter two points will be dealt with. First, it is important to know the reasons why the Council restored the permanent diaconate, and secondly, to examine the figure it wished to bestow upon it.

I. The Intentions of the Council

The idea of re-establishing the diaconate as a permanent grade of the hierarchy did not originate with Vatican II. It was already current before the Second World War, but was developed as a definite possibility after 1945, especially in German-speaking countries.170 The challenge of responding to the pastoral needs of communities at a time when priests were facing imprisonment, deportation or death led to serious consideration being given to this idea. Various specialists soon produced studies on the theological and historical aspects of the diaconate.171 Some men who were thinking about a vocation to the diaconate even established a group called the "Community of the Diaconate".172 A renewed theology of the Church issuing from biblical, liturgical and ecumenical movements opened up the way to the possibility of restoring the diaconate as a stable order of the hierarchy.173

Thus on the eve of the Council the idea of a permanent diaconate was very much alive in certain significant sectors of the Church, and influenced a certain number of bishops and experts during the Council.

The motivations which led Vatican II to open the possibility of restoring the permanent diaconate are mainly given in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium and the Decree on the missionary activity of the Church Ad gentes. Because of the doctrinal nature of Lumen gentium, the origin of its formulations concerning the permanent diaconate will be considered first.

During the first stage of the Council (1962)174 the question of the diaconate did not attract much attention as a particular topic: this led certain Council Fathers to point to the absence of all mention of the diaconate in the chapter dealing with the episcopate and the priesthood.175 But during the first intersession (1962-1963), a certain number of Council Fathers began to evoke the possibility of a restoration of the permanent diaconate, some pointing out its advantages in the missionary or ecumenical field, others recommending caution. However, most of them addressed practical questions rather than theoretical matters: they discussed in particular the question of the admission of married men and its consequences for the celibacy of the clergy.176

In comparison with the level of discussion of the first period, that of the second period (1963) covered more ground and proved essential for an understanding of the Councils intentions.177 Three interventions on the permanent diaconate could be considered "foundational" in the sense that they established in some measure the directions and the parameters, both doctrinal and practical, which were taken in the course of the debate. These interventions were those of Julius Cardinals Dopfher,178 Joannes Landazuri Ricketts179 and Leo Joseph Suenens.180 The other interventions took up themes which had been raised by these three.

Beginning with the Council Fathers who favoured the re-establishment of a permanent diaconate, it should be said that they stressed the fact that the Council was only examining the possibility of re-establishing the permanent diaconate at the time and in the places that the competent ecclesiastical authority should judge opportune. There was no indication to the effect that the establishment of a permanent diaconate might be something obligatory on all local Churches. The same contributors considered how the Church would benefit from such a decision from a practical and pastoral viewpoint. The presence of permanent deacons could help to resolve some of the pastoral problems caused by the shortage of priests in mission countries and in areas subject to persecution.181 The encouragement of vocations to the diaconate could thus give greater prominence to the priesthood.182 It could also help to improve the ecumenical relations of the Latin Church with the other Churches which have preserved the permanent diaconate.183 Additionally, men who wanted to commit themselves more deeply to the apostolate, or those who were already engaged in a certain form of ministry could belong to the hierarchy.184 Finally, the admission of married men to the diaconate could mean that the celibacy of priests shone out more clearly as a charism embraced in a spirit of freedom.185

The interventions also pointed to the theological basis for a re-establishing of the permanent diaconate. Some Council Fathers highlighted the fact that the question of the permanent diaconate was not merely a disciplinary matter, but was properly speaking a theological one.186 As a rank within the sacred hierarchy of the Church, the diaconate had been part of the constitution of the Church from its beginnings.187 Cardinal Dopfher stated vigorously: "Schema nostrum, agens de hierarchica constitutione Ecclesiae, ordinem diaconatus nullo modo silere potest, quia tripartitio hierarchiae ratione ordinis habita in episcopatum, presbyteratum et diaconatum est juris divini et constitutioni Ecclesiae essentialiter propria."188If the Council revived the permanent diaconate, it would not be altering the constitutive elements of the Church, but would only be reintroducing something that had been left aside. The teaching of the Council of Trent (session 23, can. 17) was often invoked. Moreover, the Fathers maintained that the diaconate was a sacrament conferring grace and a character.189 A deacon should not be considered as the same as a layman who was in the service of the Church, because the diaconate confers the grace to exercise a particular office.190 Thus a deacon is not a layman who has been raised to a higher degree of the lay apostolate, but a member of the hierarchy by reason of sacramental grace and the character received at the moment of ordination. But as it was assumed that permanent deacons would live and work in the middle of the lay population and the secular world, they could exercise the role of "bridge or mediation between the hierarchy and the faithful".191 Thus there was the intention on the part of the Fathers to restore the diaconate as a permanent rank of the hierarchy destined to penetrate secular society in the same way as laypeople. The permanent diaconate was not perceived as a call to the priesthood, but as a distinct ministry in the service of the Church.192 It could thus be a sign of the Church's vocation to be the servant of Christ and of God.193 The presence of the deacon, consequently, could renew the Church in the evangelical spirit of humility and service.

These opinions in favour of the restoration of the diaconate met with objections. Certain Fathers underlined the fact that the permanent diaconate would not be useful in resolving the shortage of priests because deacons cannot replace priests completely.194 A number expressed the fear that the fact of accepting married men as deacons might endanger the celibacy of priests.195 It would create a group of clergy inferior to the members of secular institutes, who took a vow of chastity.196 The Fathers suggested solutions which seemed less prejudicial, such as giving a share of pastoral work to a larger number of men and women, committed lay-people and members of secular institutes.197

The definitive text of Lumen gentium, promulgated on 21 November 1964, expresses some objectives which the Council set in re-establishing the diaconate as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy in the Latin Church.198

In the first place, according to no. 28a of Lumen gentium, Vatican II re-established the diaconate as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy in recognition of the divinely established ecclesiastical ministry, just as it had evolved in the course of history Hence a motive of faith, namely the recognition of the gift of the Holy Spirit in the complex reality of Holy Orders, furnished the ultimate justification for the Council's decision to re-establish the diaconate.

Lumen gentium 29, however, presented what might be termed the "circumstantial reason" for the restoration of the permanent diaconate.199 Vatican II foresaw deacons as engaging in tasks (munera) which were very necessary to the life of the Church (ad vitam ecclesiae summopere necessaria), but which in many regions could be fulfilled only with difficulty because of the discipline of the Latin Church as it existed at the time. The present difficulties caused by the shortage of priests demanded some response. Care for the faithful (pro cura animarum) was the determining factor in re-establishing the permanent diaconate in a local Church. The re-establishment of the permanent diaconate was therefore intended to respond to pastoral needs which were grave, not merely peripheral ones. This explains in part why it was the responsibility of the territorial episcopal conferences, and not the pope, to determine if it was opportune to ordain such deacons, because they would have a more immediate grasp of the needs of the local Churches.

Indirectly, Vatican II was also to initiate a clarification of the identity of the priest, who did not have to fulfil all the tasks necessary to the life of the Church. In consequence, the Church would be able to experience the riches of different degrees of Holy Orders. At the same time Vatican II enabled the Church to go beyond a narrowly sacerdotal understanding of the ordained minister.200 Since deacons were ordained "non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium", it was possible to conceive of clerical life, the sacred hierarchy and ministry in the Church beyond the category of the priesthood.

It is also worth noting that the permanent diaconate could be conferred upon men of more mature age (viris maturioris aetatis), even upon those living in the married state, but that the law of celibacy remained intact for younger candidates. Lumen gentium does not give the reasons for this decision. But the conciliar debates indicate that the Fathers wished to make of the permanent diaconate an order which would unite the sacred hierarchy and the secular life of laypeople more closely together.

Further motivations emerge from Ad gentes 16. Here it can be seen that the Council was not re-establishing the permanent diaconate merely because of a shortage of priests. There were already men who were in fact exercising the diaconal ministry. By the imposition of hands these were "to be strengthened and more closely associated with the altar" (corroborari et altari arctius conjungi). The sacramental grace of the diaconate would render them capable of exercising their ministry more effectively Here Vatican II was not motivated only by current pastoral difficulties, but by the need to recognise the existence of the diaconal ministry in certain communities. It desired to confirm by sacramental grace those who were already exercising the diaconal ministry, or showing forth its charism.

From Lumen gentium to Ad gentes, there was a shift in the Council's intentions. These intentions can be of great importance in understanding not only the diaconate but the true nature of the sacrament. Three main reasons can be discerned in favour of the restoration of the permanent diaconate. In the first place, the restoration of the diaconate as a proper degree of Holy Orders enabled the constitutive elements of the sacred hierarchy willed by God to be recognised. Secondly, it was a response to the need to guarantee indispensable pastoral care to communities which had been deprived of this because of a shortage of priests. Finally, it was a confirmation, a reinforcement and a more complete incorporation into the ministry of the Church of those who were already de facto exercising the ministry of deacons.

II. The Form of the Permanent Diaconate Restored by Vatican II

Six of the documents promulgated by Vatican II contain some teachings concerning the diaconate: Lumen gentium, Ad gentes, Dei Verbum, Sacrosanctum concilium, Orientalium Ecclesiarum and Christus Dominus. The following paragraphs will cover the key elements of the teaching of Vatican II in order to identify more precisely the form or "figure" of the permanent diaconate which has been restored.

1. Vatican II recognised the diaconate as one of the sacred Orders. Lumen gentium 29a established that deacons belong to the lowest degree of the hierarchy (in gradu inferiori hierarchiae sistunt diaconi). They are "sustained by sacramental grace" (gratia sacramentali roborati) and receive the imposition of hands "non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium". But this important expression, drawn from the Statuta Ecclesiae antiqua, and a variation on a still more ancient expression from the Traditio Apostolica of Hippolytus, is not explained anywhere in the conciliar documents.201

Vatican II taught that Christ instituted the sacred ministries for the nurturing and constant growth of the People of God. Those ministers are endowed with a sacred power to serve the Body of Christ, so that all may arrive at salvation (LG 18a). Like the other sacred ministers, deacons should therefore consecrate themselves to the growth of the Church and the pursuit of its plan of salvation.

Within the body of ministers, bishops, who possess the fullness of the priesthood, have taken up the service of the community, presiding in place of God over the flock as teachers, priests and shepherds. Deacons, with the priests, help the bishops in their ministry (LG 20c). Belonging to the lowest order of the ministry, deacons grow in holiness through the faithful fulfilment of their ministry as a share in the mission of Christ the Supreme Priest. "Missionis autem et gratiae supremi Sacerdotis peculiari modo participes sunt inferioris quoque ordinis ministri, imprimis Diaconi, qui mysteriis Christi et ecclesiae servientes" (LG 41d). Although they occupy different ranks within the hierarchy, all three orders deserve to be called ministers of salvation (AG 16a), exercising one single ecclesiastical ministry in the hierarchical communion. Strictly speaking deacons belong to the mission of Christ, but not to that of the bishop or to that of the priest. However, the specific ways of exercising this participation are determined by the demands of the communion within the hierarchy. Far from degrading the orders of priest and deacon within the hierarchy, hierarchical communion situates them within the single mission of Christ, shared in by the different orders in different degrees.

2. The functions assigned to deacons by the Council also provide indications concerning the way it envisaged the diaconal order. It is good to remember that the basic function of all the sacred ministers, according to Vatican II, is to nurture the People of God and lead them to salvation. Thus Lumen gentium 29b declared that the permanent diaconate can be re-established if the competent authorities decide that it is opportune to choose deacons, even from among married men, pro cura animarum. All the tasks which deacons are authorised to fulfil are at the service of the basic duty of building up the Church and taking care of the faithful.

As for their specific tasks, Lumen gentium 29a presented the service which the deacon renders to the People of God in terms of the triple ministry of the liturgy, the word and charity. The particular tasks of the deacon are seen as falling within the framework of one or other of these ministries. The ministry of the liturgy, or sanctification, is developed at length in Lumen gentium. It includes the faculty of administering baptism solemnly (cf. SC 68), of being custodian and dispenser of the Eucharist, assisting at and blessing weddings in the name of the Church, bringing Viaticum to the dying, presiding over the worship and prayer of the faithful, administering sacramentals, and finally officiating at funeral and burial services. The function of teaching includes reading the Sacred Scripture to the faithful, and instructing and exhorting the people. Dei Verbum 25a and Sacrosanctum concilium 35 include deacons among those who are officially engaged in the ministry of the word. The ministry of "government" is not mentioned as such, but rather termed the ministry of charity. Administration is at least mentioned.

It is clear that the function of the deacon as described by Lumen gentium is above all liturgical and sacramental. Questions inevitably arise about the specific notion of diaconal ordination "non ad sacerdotium sed ad ministerium". The form of the diaconal ministry based on Lumen gentium invites a deeper exploration of the meaning of sacerdotium and ministerium.

Ad gentes gave a different configuration to the permanent diaconate, as can be seen by looking at the functions it assigned to it, probably because it sprang from the experience of mission territories. In the first place, Ad gentes contained little about the liturgical ministry of the deacon. Preaching the word of God was mentioned in connection with catechism teaching. What is called the ministry of "government" received broader treatment in Ad gentes 16f. Deacons preside over scattered Christian communities in the name of the parish priest and the bishop. They also practice charity in social or relief work.

Vatican II showed some hesitation in its description of the permanent diaconate which it was restoring. In the more doctrinal perspective of Lumen gentium, it tended to place the emphasis on the liturgical image of the deacon and his ministry of sanctification. In the missionary perspective of Ad gentes, the focus shifted towards the administrative, charitable aspect of the figure of the deacon, and his ministry of government. It is however interesting to note that nowhere did the Council claim that the form of the permanent diaconate which it was proposing was a restoration of a previous form. This explains why certain theologians avoid the term "restoration", because it might easily suggest something being brought back to its original state. But Vatican II never aimed to do that. What it re-established was the principle of the permanent exercise of the diaconate, and not one particular form which the diaconate had taken in the past."202 Having established the possibility of re-establishing the permanent diaconate, the Council seemed open to the kind of form it might take in the future, in function of pastoral needs and ecclesial practise, but always in fidelity to Tradition. Vatican II could not be expected to provide a clearly defined picture of the permanent diaconate, because of the gap that existed in the pastoral life of those times, unlike the case of the episcopate or the priesthood. The most it could do was to open the possibility of reinstalling the diaconate as a proper, permanent degree in the hierarchy and as a stable way of life, give some general theological principles even though they might appear timid, and establish some general norms of practise. Beyond that it could do no more than wait for the contemporary form of the permanent diaconate to develop. Finally, the apparent indecision and hesitancy of the Council might serve as an invitation to the Church to continue working to discern the type of ministry appropriate to the diaconate through ecclesial practise, canonical legislation, and theological reflection.203



More than 35 years after Vatican II, what is the reality of the permanent diaconate?

To examine the available statistics is to realize the huge disparity which exists in the distribution of deacons around the world. Out of a total of 25,122 deacons in 1998,204 North America alone accounts for 12,801, i.e. just over half (50.9%), while Europe has 7,864 (31.3%): this means a total of 20,665 deacons (82.2%) in the industrialized countries of the northern hemisphere. The remaining 17.8% are distributed as follows: South America 2,370 (9.4%); Central America and the Caribbean 1,387 (5.5%); Africa 307 (1.22%); Asia 219 (0.87%). Finally comes Australasia and the Pacific, with 174 deacons or 0.69% of the total.205

One very striking point is that it is in the advanced industrialized countries of the North206 that the diaconate has developed particularly Now that was not at all what the Council Fathers envisaged when they asked for a "reactivation" of the permanent diaconate. They expected, rather, that there would be a rapid increase among the young Churches of Africa and Asia, where pastoral work relied on a large number of lay cat-echists.207 But they had laid down that it would pertain "to the competent territorial bodies of bishops, of one kind or another, with the approval of the Supreme Pontiff, to decide whether and where it [was] opportune for such deacons to be established for the care of souls" (LG 29b). It is therefore unsurprising that the diaconate did not develop uniformly throughout the Church, since the evaluation of the needs of the People of God made by the different episcopates could vary according to the specific circumstances of the Churches and their modes of organization.

What these statistics enable us to see is that there were two very different situations to be dealt with. On the one hand, after the Council most of the Churches in Western Europe and North America were faced with a steep reduction in the numbers of priests, and had to undertake a major reorganization of ministries. On the other hand, the Churches which were mainly in former mission territories had long since adopted a structure which relied on the commitment of large numbers of laypeople, the catechists.

These two typical situations need to be studied separately, without losing sight of the fact that many variations exist; and also that in both cases, a certain number of bishops may have wanted to institute the permanent diaconate in their dioceses not so much for pastoral reasons as from a theological motive which had also been invoked by Vatican II: to enable the ordained ministry to be expressed better, through the three degrees traditionally recognised.

First Typical Situation: Churches with a Low Number of Deacons

Many Churches, then, did not feel the need to develop the permanent diaconate. These were mainly Churches which had long since been accustomed to function with a restricted number of priests, and to rely on the commitment of a very large number of laypeople, mainly as catechists. The case of Africa is an example in this regard.208 It is undoubtedly matched by the experience of other young Churches.

It will be remembered that in the 1950s many missionaries and bishops in Africa had asked for the reactivation of the diaconate while thinking particularly of the catechists in mission countries. They saw it as a way of responding to the liturgical demands of the missions and the shortage of priests. These new deacons would thus be able to take care of the liturgy in the branch Churches, lead the Sunday gatherings in the absence of the missionary, officiate at funerals, assist at weddings, look after catechesis and the proclamation of the Word of God, take charge of caritas and the Church administration, confer certain sacraments, and so on.209 This perspective was what many Council Fathers had in mind at Vatican II when, in Ad gentes, the Council referred to "the ranks of men and women catechists, well deserving of missionary work to the nations".210

But in the years that followed the Council, the African bishops displayed considerable reservations and did not undertake the road to the reactivation of the diaconate. A participant at the eighth Kinshasa theological week held in 1973 noted that the proposal for a restoration of the permanent diaconate in Africa raised much more opposition than enthusiasm. The objections raised would be widely repeated elsewhere. They had to do with deacons' state in life, the financial situation of the young Churches, the consequences on vocations to the actual priesthood, confusion and uncertainty about the nature of the diaconal vocation, the clericization of laypeople who were committed to me apostolate, the conservatism and lack of critical spirit of certain candidates, the marriage of clergy and the depreciation of celibacy, and the reaction of faithful who would content themselves with the diaconate as a sort of half-measure.211

The Congolese bishops therefore adopted an attitude of caution. Why should catechists be ordained as deacons if no new power was being given to them? They decided that it would be preferable to embark on a revaluation of the lay state, and work to renew the role of catechists. Other countries would appeal for a greater participation of laypeople as "servants of the Word" or activity leaders of small communities. That could be done all the better now that the Council had so strongly highlighted the vocation of all the baptized to share in the Church's mission.

An often-heard objection, therefore, was "What can a deacon do that a layman can't?" It has to be recognised that the sacramental link which joins deacons to their bishop creates special, lifelong obligations for the bishop which can be difficult to manage, especially in the case of married deacons.212 Furthermore, it is normally a question of Churches in which the place of the ordained ministry is well-defined and retains its full meaning, even though priests may be few in number.

That said, it is nevertheless worth mentioning initiatives such as that of the bishop of the Indian diocese of San Cristobal (Mexico), Monsignor Ruiz. Faced with the fact that his diocese had never succeeded in producing vocations to the priesthood among the indigenous Indians, he decided to undertake an intensive promotion of the permanent diaconate. Accordingly he put in place a long process of formation designed to lead married Amerindian men to the diaconate. These would thus be sacramentally associated to his episcopal ministry and form the beginnings of an indigenous Church.213

Second Typical Situation: Churches Where the Diaconate Is More Developed

The second typical situation is that of the Churches where the diaconate has undergone its greatest expansion. These are the Churches which have had to face a considerable drop in the number of priests: the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, etc. The need to set about a reorganization of pastoral duties to respond to the needs of Christian communities which were accustomed to a wide range of services, and the obligation of finding new collaborators, all helped to stimulate the emergence of new ministries and an increase in the number of laypeople working full-time on parish or diocesan pastoral work.214 This also favoured the expansion of the diaconate. But at the same time it exercised a very strong pressure on the kind of tasks which were entrusted to deacons. Tasks which for a long time had been undertaken by priests without any problem because of their large numbers, now had to be given to other collaborators, some ordained (the deacons), others not ordained (lay pastoral officials). Because of this background the diaconate often came to be seen as a supply ministry for the priesthood.

This dynamic is reflected in the results of a broad study undertaken in the United States,215 which is clearly representative of the situation existing in many countries. The study shows that deacons are mainly doing what priests used to do unaided before the restoration of the diaconate. They exercise their ministry in the parish where they live, and there they fulfil mainly liturgical and sacramental functions. Their parish priests find them particularly useful in sacramental activities such as baptisms, weddings and liturgical acts. The same applies to the care of the sick and homilies. The field in which they take least part is in the ministry to prisoners and the promotion of civil rights and human rights. Lay leaders, for their part, consider that deacons are most successful in more familiar and traditional roles such as the liturgy and the administration of the sacraments. And it is predicted that their numbers will increase because of the reduction in the numbers of priests. Thus, as they accomplish tasks traditionally fulfilled by priests, there may be a danger of deacons being seen as "incomplete priests" or else as "more advanced laymen". The danger is the greater since the first generations of deacons have received much less detailed theological training than that of priests or that of pastoral officials.

A similar development is also to be found in other areas which likewise suffer from a marked reduction in the numbers of priests.216 It is the result of an effort to respond to the real needs of the People of God. It enables these Churches to guarantee a wider presence of the ordained ministry within Christian communities which are in danger of losing sight of the real meaning of that ministry. Together with the bishop and the priest, the deacon will remind them that it is Christ who is the foundation of the Church in every place and that through the Spirit he is still acting in the Church today.

In this context, however, the identity of the deacon tends to take the figure of the priest as a reference point; the deacon is perceived as the person who helps or replaces the priest in activities which previously he carried out in person. Many consider this development to be problematical, because it makes it more difficult for the diaconal ministry to evolve an identity of its own.217 For this reason, here and there efforts are made to modify this development by identifying charisms which might be those proper to the diaconate, and tasks which might suitably belong primarily to the diaconate.

Lines of Development

For their part, the most recent texts from the Roman Congregations list the tasks which can be entrusted to deacons, and group them under the three recognised diakonias, namely those of the liturgy, the word and charity.218 Even when it is considered that one or other of these diakonias could take up the greater part of a deacon s activity, it is insisted on that the three diakonias taken together "represent a unity in the service of the divine plan of Redemption: the ministry of the word leads to ministry at the altar, which in turn prompts the transformation of life by the liturgy, resulting in charity".219 But it is recognised that in these tasks taken all together, "the service of charity" 220is to be seen as particularly characteristic of the deacons' ministry.

In many regions, then, efforts have been made to identify a certain number of tasks for deacons which can be connected in one way or another to the "service of charity". Particular advantage may be taken of the fact that most of them are married men, earning their own living, immersed in the world of work, and, together with their wives, contributing their own life experience.221

For example, a text by the bishops of France published in 1970 expressed their preference "for deacons who, in daily contact with others through their family and work situation, can witness with their whole lives to the service that the People of God should render to men, following Christ's example.... Permanent deacons will thus share in their own special way in the efforts of the hierarchical Church to go out to meet unbelief and poverty, and to be more fully present in the world. They will keep all previous commitments which are compatible with the diaconal ministry."222 The mission entrusted to them, therefore, may often be situated "in the sphere of work and association or trade-union life (or even political life, particularly at the level of local government). Their mission is directed towards the care of the poor and marginalized in such places, but also in their own district and their parish, starting with home and family life."223

Hence in various places particular efforts have been made to make the diaconate a "threshold ministry", which aims to look after "the frontier Church": work in surroundings where the priest is not present, and also with one-parent families, couples, prisoners, young people, drug addicts, AIDS victims, the elderly, disadvantaged groups, etc. The tasks of deacons may be oriented towards activities in the social, charitable or administrative spheres, without however neglecting the necessary link with liturgical and teaching duties. In Latin America, the focus is placed upon . families who proclaim the Gospel in the midst of zones of conflict; a presence in extreme situations such as drugs, prostitution and urban violence; an active presence in the sector of education, the world of work and the professional sphere; a greater presence in densely populated zones and likewise in the countryside; and finally, leadership given in small communities.224 Very often, efforts are directed towards ensuring that these deacons receive progressively more thorough theological and spiritual formation.

The outcome of all this very diverse experience makes it clear that it is not possible to characterize the totality of the diaconal ministry by delineating tasks which belong exclusively to deacons because of ecclesial tradition—which is far from clear—or through a rigid distribution of tasks among the different ministers.225 A text of Vatican II seems to have intuited this, since one of the reasons it invoked for re-establishing the diaconate "as a permanent state of life" was to strengthen, "by the imposition of hands which has come down from the Apostles" and to unite more closely to the altar, "men who accomplish a truly diaconal ministry, either by preaching the word of God, or by governing far-off Christian communities in the name of the parish priest and bishop, or by exercising charity in social or charitable works" (AG 16f.).226 All of this leads certain people to propose that in order to define the character of the diaconate it is necessary to look rather at the being of the deacon. "It is in the aspect of being that the specificity of the permanent diaconate is to be sought, and not in the aspect of doing. It is what they are that gives its true meaning to what they do."227

It is in this perspective of configuration to Christ the Servant that theological and pastoral studies on the lines of development of the permanent diaconate are currently being made. This theological given is seen as providing the opportunity for an in-depth spiritual reflection which is particularly appropriate for the present era. It can also provide guidance to pastors in their choice of the tasks to entrust to deacons. In that case, the tasks selected for them will preferably be such as to highlight this particular characteristic of the diaconate. These will naturally include service to the poor and oppressed; a service which is not limited to mere assistance but which, following Christ's own example, will be a sharing of life with the poor in order to journey with them towards their total liberation.228 Their tasks will include service to those who are on the threshold of the Church and who need to be led to the Eucharist. In many countries this perspective is prominent in the minds of those responsible for deacons' formation, and a spirituality and a pastoral practise of the "service of charity" can be seen to develop in the deacons themselves. The true figure of the deacon should thus emerge little by little in the performance of various ministries, and be manifest through a definite way of doing - in the spirit of service - what all are called to do, but also through a pronounced dedication to particular tasks or functions which make Christ the Servant ever more visible. However, it seems to be an established fact that the development of the diaconal ministry must always be thought of in relation to the real needs of the Christian community. Certain Churches will not feel the need to develop it very widely. Other Churches will, on occasions, require the deacons to perform tasks other than those listed above; here one could think of those tasks which contribute to pastoral leadership in parishes and small Christian communities. The essential objective for pastors, inspired by Saint Paul, must always be that of seeing that the faithful are equipped "for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ" (Eph 4:12-13). At the service of the bishop and his presbyterium, the deacon should, in the way which is proper to him, go wherever pastoral care requires him to be.



A theological approach to the diaconate in the wake of Vatican II should start from the Council texts, examine how they were received and how they were later enlarged upon in the documents of the Magisterium, take account of the fact that the restoration of the diaconate was accomplished very unevenly in the post-Conciliar period, and above all pay special attention to the doctrinal fluctuations which have closely shadowed the various pastoral suggestions. Today there are numerous very different aspects which require an effort at doctrinal clarification. This chapter will attempt to contribute to these efforts at clarification as follows. First it will pinpoint the roots and reasons which make the theological and ecclesial identity of the diaconate (both permanent and transitory) into a real "quaestio disputata" in certain respects. Then it will outline a theology of the diaconal ministry which may serve as a firm common basis to inspire the fruitful re-creation of the diaconate in Christian communities.

I. The Texts of Vatican II and the Post-Conciliar Magisterium

In the Council texts which mention the diaconate specifically (cf. SC 35, LG 20, LG 28, LG 29, LG 41, OE 17, CD 15, DV25, AG 15, AG 16), Vatican II did not aim to offer a dogmatic decision on any of the questions debated in the course of the Council, nor to lay down a strict doctrinal system. Its true interest was in opening a path to the restoration of the permanent diaconate which could be put into effect in a plurality of ways. This is perhaps why, in the texts taken as a whole, certain fluctuations can be seen in the theology, depending on the place or context in which the diaconate is mentioned. Both with reference to pastoral priorities and in what concerns objective doctrinal difficulties, the Council texts show a diversity of theological nuances which it is quite hard to harmonize.

After the Council the theme of the diaconate was developed or referred to in other documents of the post-Conciliar Magisterium: Paul VI's Motu Proprio Sacrum diaconatus ordinem (1967); the Apostolic Constitution Pontificalis romani recognitio (1968); Paul VI's Motu Proprio Ad pascendum (1972); the new Codex luris Canonici (1983); and the Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae (1992, 1997).229 These new documents develop the basic elements of Vatican II and sometimes add important theological, ecclesial or pastoral clarifications; but they do not all speak from the same perspective, nor at the same doctrinal level.230 For this reason, in order to attempt a theological approach in the wake of Vatican II, it is appropriate to bear in mind the possible relation between the doctrinal fluctuations (in Vatican II texts) and the diversity of theological approaches perceptible in post-Conciliar proposals about the diaconate.

II. Implications of the Sacramentality of the Diaconate

As stated above (cf. Chapter IV), the most reliable doctrine and that most in accord with ecclesial practise is that which holds that the diaconate is a sacrament. If its sacramentality were denied the diaconate would simply represent a form of ministry rooted in baptism; it would take on a purely functional character, and the Church would possess a wide faculty of decision-making with regard to restoring or suppressing it, and to its specific configuration. Whatever the context, the Church would have a much greater freedom of action than is granted to her over the sacraments instituted by Christ.231 A denial of the sacramentality of the diaconate would dissipate the main reasons why the diaconate is a theologically disputed question. But to make such a denial would be to diverge from the path marked out by Vatican II. Hence it is with the sacramentality of the diaconate as a starting point that the other questions concerning the theology of the diaconate should be dealt with.

1. The Diaconate as Rooted in Christ

As a sacrament, the diaconate must ultimately be rooted in Christ. The Church, herself rooted in the free gift of the Blessed Trinity, has no capacity to create sacraments or to confer on them their salvific effectiveness.232 In order to affirm that the diaconate is a sacrament, it is theologically necessary to state that it is rooted in Christ. Moreover, this fact enables us to understand the various theological attempts to link the diaconate directly to Christ himself (whether in regard to the mission of the Apostles,233 or to the washing of the feet at the Last Supper234). But that does not imply that it is necessary to maintain that Christ himself "instituted" the diaconate directly as a degree of the sacrament. The Church played a decisive role in its specific historical establishment. That fact was implicitly recognised in the opinion (a minority one today) which identified the institution of the Seven (cf. Acts 6:1-6) with the first deacons.235 This has emerged clearly from the exegetical and theological studies on the complex of historical developments and the progressive differentiation of ministries and charisms, finally arriving at the tripartite structure of bishop, priest and deacon.236 The cautious language used by Trent ("divina ordinatione") and Vatican II ("divinitus institutum ... iam ab antiquo")237 reflects the impossibility of totally identifying Christ's and the Church's activity with relation to the sacraments, and also reflects the complexity of the historical facts.

2. The Sacramental "Character" of the Diaconate and Its "Configuration" with Christ

Vatican II makes no explicit statement about the sacramental character of the diaconate; however, the post-Conciliar documents do. These speak of the "indelible character" linked to the stable condition of service (Sacrum diaconatus, 1967) or of an imprint which cannot be removed and which configures the deacon to Christ, who made himself the "deacon" or servant of all (CCB, 1997).238The doctrine of the diaconal "character" is consistent with the sacramentality of the diaconate and is a specific application to it of what Trent (1563) said of the sacrament of Holy Orders as a whole.239 It rests on the witness of theological tradition.240 It corroborates God's fidelity to his gifts, and implies the unrepeatable nature of the sacrament and lasting stability in ecclesial service.241 Finally, it confers upon the diaconate a theological solidity which cannot be dissolved into something purely functional. However, this doctrine does raise certain questions which demand further theological clarifications. For instance, Lumen gentium 10 lays down that the distinction between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood is "essentia, non gradu tantum": in what sense should this be applied to the diaconate?242 While maintaining the unity of the sacrament of Holy Orders, how should the particularity of the diaconal character be further clarified in its distinctive relation to the priestly character and the episcopal character? What resources should be used to differentiate symbolically the specific configuration with Christ of each of the three grades?

Vatican II does not use the vocabulary of configuration but instead employs sober expressions which include sacramentality.243 It also speaks of a special share in the mission and grace of the Supreme Priest.244 In the Motu Proprio Ad pascendum (1972) the permanent deacon is considered a sign or sacrament of Christ himself245 The Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae (1997) does make use of the vocabulary of configuration, and links it to the doctrine of character.246 All these texts therefore give evidence of a further development of the Conciliar texts, starting from the deacons immediate relation with Christ by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders. It only remains to describe its precise scope.

3. Diaconal Action, "in Persona Christi (Capitis)"?

The technical expression "in persona Christi (Capitis)" is used in different ways in the texts of Vatican II. It is employed in reference to the episcopal ministry, considered either as a whole or in one of the functions proper to it;247 particularly noticeable is its application to the Eucharistic ministry of the ministerial priesthood (presbyterate) as the maximum expression of this ministry,248 because to preside at and to consecrate the Eucharist belongs to its exclusive competence.249 The perspective is much wider in other texts, where the expression may embrace the whole ministerial activity of the priest as a personification of Christ the Head, or allude to other distinct specific functions.250 However, in the Conciliar texts there is no question of applying this expression explicitly to the functions of the diaconal ministry Nevertheless, such a mode of expression does emerge in the post-Conciliar documents.251 That is currently a source of differences of opinion on the part of theologians (especially in what concerns the representation of Christ the "Head"), because of the diverse meaning which the expression has in the documents of the Magisterium and in theological propositions.

If it is applied to the sacrament of Holy Orders as a whole, as being a specific participation in the threefold "munus" of Christ, then it can be said that the deacon also acts "in persona Christi (Capitis)" (or other equivalent expressions of a specific "representing" of Christ in the diaconal ministry), since the diaconate constitutes one of the grades of this sacrament. Today, many theologians follow this line, which is consistent with the sacramentality of the diaconate, and is supported by some documents of the Magisterium and certain theological trends. By contrast, those who reserve the expression to the functions of the priest alone, especially those of presiding at and consecrating the Eucharist, do not apply it to the diaconate and find corroboration of this opinion in the latest edition of the CCE (1997).

In the final edition of no. 875 of the CCE the expression "in persona Christi Capitis" is not applied to the diaconal functions of service.252 In this case the capacity to act "in persona Christi Capitis" seems to be reserved to bishops and priests. Theological opinions are not unanimous on the question of whether this signifies a definitive exclusion or not. In a way, no. 875 of the CCE is a return to the language of Lumen gentium 28a, Presbyterorum ordinis 2c (priestly ministry) and Lumen gentium 29a (triple diakonia). Furthermore, other texts from the CCE itself do seem to apply the expression to the whole of the sacrament of Holy Orders,253 while recognising a primordial role on the part of bishops and priests.254 Thus there is a diversity of tendencies which are difficult to bring into harmony, and which are clearly reflected in the various theological understandings of the diaconate. And even if it is considered theologically sound to understand the diaconal ministry as an action "in persona Christi (Capitis)", it still has to be clarified what characterizes the diaconate s specific way (the "specificum") of rendering Christ present as distinct from that of the episcopal ministry and the priestly ministry.

4. "In Persona Christi Servi" as the Specificity of the Diaconate?

One way of doing this is to underline the aspect of "service" and see the specific characteristic, or a particularly distinctive element, of the diaconate, in the representation of the Christ the "Servant". This course appears in the most recent documents255 and in some theological essays. However, difficulties arise, not because of the central importance of the notion of service for every ordained minister, but because this is made the specific criterion of the diaconal ministry. Could "headship" and "service" in the representation of Christ be separated so as to make each of the two a principle of specific differentiation? Christ the Lord is at the same time the supreme Servant and the servant of all.256 The ministries of the bishop257 and the priest, precisely in their function of presiding and of representing Christ the Head, Shepherd and Spouse of his Church, also render Christ the Servant visible,258 and require to be exercised as services. This is why it would seem problematic to aim to distinguish the diaconate through its exclusive representation of Christ as Servant. Given that service should be considered a characteristic common to every ordained minister,259 the point in any case would be to see how in the diaconate it takes on predominant importance and particular solidity. To avoid disproportionate theological exchanges on this matter, it is appropriate to bear in mind simultaneously the unity of the person of Christ, the unity of the sacrament of order, and the symbolic character of the terms used to represent Christ ("head", "servant", "shepherd", "spouse").

5. Specific Diaconal "Functions"?

In Vatican II and the post-Conciliar documents, the functions attributed to deacons are many and diverse in varied fields, or, as Lumen gentium 29a puts it, "in diaconia liturgiae, verbi et caritatis". These documents do not discuss the fact that all those tasks and functions can be carried out (as happens today in many communities) by Christians who have not received diaconal ordination. Now, according to Ad gentes 16f there do seem to exist "actual functions of the deacon's office" previous to ordination; and in this case ordination would merely strengthen, bind more closely to the altar, and make more effective because of the sacramental grace of the diaconate.260 This statement confirms the doubts felt by some in regard to the sacramentality of the diaconate. How can this sacramentality be said to exist if it does not confer any specific "potestas" like that conferred by the priesthood and the episcopate? This same statement is taken by certain local Churches as justifying mistrust and a negative attitude towards the institution of the permanent diaconate: why, they ask, proceed to this ordination if the same functions can be fulfilled by laypeople and lay ministers, who may be more effective and more adaptable? This theological matter thus has practical and pastoral repercussions which Vatican II did not deal with explicitly and which need to be tackled in the perspective of an ecclesiology of communion (cf. section IV infra). The desire of the Council was to make it clear how each "potestas sacra" in the Church was rooted in the sacraments, and that was why the Council did not consider it indispensable to have recourse to the traditional distinction between "power of order" and "power of jurisdiction".261 In any case that did not prevent it from reappearing in the post-Conciliar documents.262

III. The Diaconate in the Perspective of the Episcopate
as "Plenitudo Sacramenti Ordinis"

Vatican II gave a clear and authentic statement of the sacramentality of the episcopate, considering it as the "fullness of the sacrament of Orders" (LG 21b).263 The reversal of views implied in this statement does not make the episcopal "fullness" any reason for depriving the priesthood and the diaconate of their proper consistency, as though their only meaning lay in being preparatory stages for the episcopate. In their participation in the one priesthood of Christ and the mission of salvation, priests cooperate with bishops and depend on them in the pastoral exercise of the ministry264 It now remains to see how the diaconate should be understood theologically from the same point of view.

1. The Unity of the Sacrament of Holy Orders

The statement of the unity of the sacrament of Holy Orders can be considered to form part of the common theological patrimony, and to have done so from the time (in the twelfth and following centuries) when the question was raised as to the sacramentality of the different degrees of Holy Orders.265 This unity is maintained by Vatican II in speaking of the different orders, including the diaconate, in which the ecclesiastical ministry is exercised.266 The post-Conciliar documents take the same line. The difficulties arise not from the assertion of this unity, but from the theological path taken in order to justify it. Traditionally, this unity was justified by the relation of this sacrament to the Eucharist, while respecting the different modalities proper to each degree.267 Vatican II modified the viewpoints and the formulations. Hence the need to seek another path to justify it. Such a path might well take as its starting point some consideration of the episcopate as the "fullness" of the sacrament of Holy Orders and the foundation of its unity.

2. "Profile" and "Consistency" of the Diaconate

There is a theological understanding of the ordained ministry perceived as "hierarchy", which has been preserved by Vatican II and in subsequent documents. This understanding268 leads to the doctrine of the different "degrees" of Holy Orders. Here deacons represent the "lowest" degree in the hierarchical scale, in relation to bishops and priests.269 The internal unity of the sacrament of Holy Orders means that each degree participates "suo modo" in the triple ministerial "munus", on a descending scale on which the higher degree includes and surpasses the whole reality and functions of the lower. This hierarchized and graded "participation" in one and the same sacrament means that the deacon is a minister who depends on the bishop and the priest.

The difficulty in giving the (permanent) diaconate its own profile and consistency in this hierarchized scheme of things has led to the proposal of other models of interpretation. It is obviously not compatible with the Conciliar texts to consider the episcopate, the priesthood and the diaconate as three totally autonomous sacraments, juxtaposed and equal. The unity of the sacrament of Holy Orders would be seriously damaged, and such a view would prevent the episcopate from being seen as the "fullness" of the sacrament. For this reason certain contemporary theological approaches highlight the tradition of ancient sources and rites of ordination in which the diaconate appears "ad ministerium episcopi". The diaconate's direct and immediate relation to the episcopal ministry270 would make deacons the natural collaborators of the bishop: that would imply for them the possibility of performing (preferentially) tasks in the super-parochial and diocesan field.

In that case what still remains to be explained more fully is the relation of the (permanent) diaconate with the priesthood. According to certain people, priests and deacons are on the same level with regard to the "fullness" of the sacrament represented by the episcopal ministry. Such people see this reflected in the ancient practise of ordinations (a deacon could be ordained bishop without necessarily passing through the priesthood, and a layman could be ordained a priest without passing through the diaconate271). These are historical facts which need to be borne in mind when delineating the ecclesiological profile of the diaconate today However, it does not seem theologically justifiable to exclude deacons from every form of help and cooperation with priests,272 and especially not with the "presbyterium" as a whole.273 The hypothesis of a "diaconal college" around the bishop, as a manifestation of the "ordo diaconorum" similar to the "presbyterium" 274and in communion with it, would require further theological study The Conciliar and post-Conciliar texts say practically nothing about this possibility275 On the other hand, some contemporary theologico-pastoral essays maintain that the idea of a diaconal college would contribute solidity to the ecclesial profile required by a ministry which entails the demand of stability (the permanent diaconate).276

3. The Imposition of Hands "non ad sacerdotium ..."

According to Lumen gentium 29a, deacons receive the imposition of hands "non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium". On this point Vatican II refers to text such as the Statuta Ecclesiae antiqua277 whose formula has remained the same until our own times in the Roman Pontifical.278 However, the formula goes back to the Traditio Apostolica (second and third centuries), which specifies something which is absent from the Council texts: "in ministerio episcopi".279 Moreover, the interpretation of the precise meaning of this divergence is disputed in the current theology of the diaconate.280 What seems excluded in this formulation ("sacerdotium") will be looked at first; after that, what seems to be stated in it (the relationship to "ministerium"). The diaconate is not "ad sacerdotium". How should this exclusion be interpreted? In a stricter sense the ministerial "sacerdotium" has been traditionally linked with the power "conficiendi eucharistiam",281 "offerendi sacrificium in Ecclesia",282 or "consecrandi verum corpus et sanguinem Domini".283 Down the centuries, the basis for the sacramental equality of bishops and priests as "priests", i.e. those who offer sacrifice,284 and the attribution of a solely jurisdictional origin to the distinction between the two,285 has been based on this close connection between priesthood and Eucharist. This same reason, then, is why deacons are not ordained "ad sacerdotium", given the impossibility for them of presiding at and validly consecrating the Eucharist, which is a power reserved exclusively to "priests". Does this restriction also imply that the diaconate is excluded from "sacerdotium" understood in a less strict sense? Vatican II did indeed place the relationship between the ministerial priesthood and the Eucharist in a wider context: that of an ecclesiology centred on the Eucharist seen as "totius vitae christianaefons et oilmen"286and that of a ministerial priesthood whose constitutive relationship with the Eucharist is rooted in a broader "potestas sacra", also relating to the other ministerial "munera".287 If the diaconate is totally excluded from the "priesthood" in all senses of the term, then it will be necessary to re-think the unity of the sacrament of Holy Orders as "ministerial or hierarchical priesthood" (cf. LG 10b), as well as the use of "sacerdotal" categories to make a global definition or description of the sacrament. Different tendencies are to be observed on this point in the Conciliar texts, in later developments, and in theological studies of the diaconate.

On one hand the texts of Vatican II which explicitly mention the diaconate do not apply terms or categories of priesthood to it, but ministerial ones.288 The same is true of the modifications introduced for the sake of greater precision into the latest edition of the CCE, which distinguishes clearly, within the single sacrament of Holy Orders, between a degree of sacerdotal participation (episcopate and priesthood) and a degree of service (deacons), and which excludes the application of the term "sacerdos" to deacons.289 On the other hand, when Vatican II speaks from the perspective of the single sacrament of Holy Orders, it seems to consider the "priestly" categories as all-inclusive and extends them beyond the distinction between "sacerdotium" and "ministerium". This is the case in Lumen gentium 10b, which states that there is a difference of essence and not merely of degree between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood.290 In the same way, when it speaks of the spirituality of different states of life in Lumen gentium 41d, the Council seems to attribute an intermediate role to deacons in the collection of different ministries (it should be noted that at that point the minor orders had not yet been suppressed), by attributing to deacons a special share in the mission and grace of the High Priest.291 For its part, the 1983 CIC, in cann. 1008-9, includes deacons within the "sacri ministri", who by their consecration are enabled to pasture the People of God and to execute "pro suo quisque gradu" the functions of teaching, sanctifying and ruling "in persona Christi Capitis".292

Since this was the state of affairs it is not surprising to find that the post-Conciliar efforts to arrive at a theological understanding of the diaconate were marked by tensions born of whether the diaconate was excluded from or included in the priestly categories. As long as the diaconate was merely a step on the way to the priesthood, these tensions were manageable. From the moment when the diaconate was instituted as a permanent state, and took shape and started to grow in many Churches,293 the theological tensions became more pronounced and developed in two different directions.

On the basis of the unity of the sacrament of Holy Orders, and in the conviction that they were being faithful to the Conciliar and post-Conciliar texts, some people stressed the unity of the sacrament and applied to the diaconate theological principles which were valid in proportionate ways for the three degrees of the sacrament. They maintained, with some differences of emphasis, that it should be generally understood and described as "sacerdotium ministeriale seu hierarchicum" (cf. LG 10b), which, they held, was borne out by the language used in the ancient tradition of the Church.294 In this line of argument the diaconate is a sacramental reality which implies a difference "essentia, non gradu tantum" (cf. LG 10b) in comparison with the common priesthood of the faithful. Hence the statement that the diaconate is "non ad sacerdotium" would then exclude only what related to the consecration of the Eucharist (and the sacrament of Reconciliation).295 But both because of its integration within the single sacrament of Holy Orders, and because of its special relationship with the Eucharistic ministry, both by reason of the broadly "priestly" significance of the "munera" of teaching and government and by its specific participation in the mission and grace of the High Priest, the diaconate should still be included within the "ministerial or hierarchical priesthood", as distinct from the "common priesthood" of the faithful.

Other opposing tendencies insist strongly on the distinction expressed by the formula "non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium". In a line of argument contrary to that just outlined, these writers tend to exclude all "priestly" conceptualization or terminology from the correct understanding of the diaconate. At the same time they highlight this distinction as a decisive step towards overcoming the "sacerdotalization" of the sacrament of Holy Orders. They hold that this sacrament comprises three degrees, of which two (the episcopate and the priesthood) belong to the "sacerdotium" and one (the diaconate) is only "ad ministerium". In this way they avoid a theological understanding of the deacon in the image of a priest whose competencies are (still) limited. It would likewise enable a greater consistency and identity to be recognised in the deacon as a minister of the Church. However, the identity of the deacon is still to be defined in the light of Lumen gentium 10b, because, as a sacramental reality, the diaconate is not to be identified with the functions, services and ministries rooted in baptism.

4. "... Sed ad Ministerium (Episcopi)"

Certain theologico-pastoral studies of the (permanent) diaconate see the specific mention "in ministerio episcopi"296as a basis for asserting that the diaconate has a direct link with the episcopal ministry297 While maintaining that this link does exist,298 Vatican II softened the force it had in the Traditio Apostolica by stating that the diaconate was only "ad ministerium", in other words a service for the people exercised in the domain of the liturgy, the word and charity, in communion with the bishop and his presbyterium.299 John Paul II stressed this dimension of service to the People of God.300 However, when it comes to specifying the theological scope of the expression "ad ministerium (episcopi)" and the possible integration of the diaconate into the ministry of apostolic succession, they return in a way to the divergences outlined above. Here too, the Conciliar and post-Conciliar texts are ambivalent.

In the light of Lumen gentium 20 and 24a, it has been stated that the bishops are the successors of the Apostles so as to prolong the first apostolic mission until the end of time.301 As for Lumen gentium 28a, it also seems to include deacons in the line of succession which prolongs the mission of Christ in that of the Apostles, that of the bishops and that of the ecclesiastical ministry.302 The CCE defines the sacrament of Holy Orders in its three degrees as "the sacrament of apostolic ministry".303 With these texts as a basis, despite the variations in their terminology ("ecclesiastical" and "apostolic" ministry),304 the diaconate could be considered as an integral part of the ministry of apostolic succession. This would fit in with the unity of the sacrament of Holy Orders, as rooted ultimately in Christ and with the deacons participating in their own way in the mission which the Apostles and their successors received from Christ.305

However, this conclusion is not shared by those who retain the distinction between "sacerdotium" and "ministerium" as a difference of quality, and give decisive importance to the latest modifications to CCE no. 1154 (where the term "sacerdos" is reserved to bishops and priests). They see these modifications as going beyond what had been said up until that point, and as a key reference point for future developments. The apostolic ministry is understood as the continuation of the "diakonia" of Christ, which cannot be dissociated from his "priesthood": the priestly offering which he makes of his life actually constitutes his diaconal service for the salvation of the world. In this sense the "diakonia" or service characterizes the "munus" of the pastors (bishops) of the People of God306 and it would not be sufficient to represent deacons as the specific heirs of the diaconal dimension of the ministry. The diaconate should be recognised as apostolic in its foundation, and not in its theological nature. That is to say, therefore, that the ministry of apostolic succession should be restricted to "priests" 307(bishops and priests), while deacons would form part of the "ecclesiastical" ministry308 and should be considered, consequently, as auxiliary collaborators towards the ministry of apostolic succession, and not, strictly speaking, an integral part of it.

5. The Diaconate as Mediating Function or "Medius Ordo"?

The interventions made at the Council, and the notes of the relevant Conciliar Commission, already attributed to the permanent diaconate a mediating or bridging function between the hierarchy and the people.309 Although this idea was not retained in the definitive Council texts, it was in a way reflected in the order adopted in Lumen gentium 29: the text speaks of deacons at the end of Chapter III as the last degree of the hierarchy, just before dealing with the subject of laypeople in Chapter IV. The same order is found in Ad gentes 16. The actual expression "medius ordo" applied explicitly to the (permanent) diaconate is found only in the Motu Proprio Ad pascendum (1972) and is presented as one way of putting into effect the hopes and intentions which had led Vatican II to restore it.310 The idea spread widely in contemporary theology, and gave rise to different ways of conceiving this mediating function: between clergy and laity, between the Church and the world, between worship and ordinary life, between charity work and the Eucharist, between the centre and the periphery of the Christian community. Whatever the context, the notion merits some theological clarifications.

It would be a theological error to identify the diaconate as "medius ordo" with a kind of intermediate (sacramental?) reality between the baptized and the ordained faithful. The fact that the diaconate belongs to the sacrament of Holy Orders is sure doctrine. Theologically the deacon is not a "layperson". Vatican II considers that the deacon is a member of the hierarchy and the CIC refers to him as "sacer minister" or "clericus".311 It is true that it belongs to the deacon to accomplish some sort of task of mediation, but it would not be theologically correct to make that task into the expression of the diaconate's theological nature or its specifying note. Additionally, there is a certain risk that the fixing of the diaconate in ecclesiological terms, and institutionalizing it in pastoral terms as "medius ordo" might end up by sanctioning and deepening, through that very function, the gap which it was supposed to fill.

These theological clarifications do not imply a total rejection of all mediating function on the part of the deacon. The notion is based on the witnesses of ecclesial tradition.312 In a certain way it is reflected in the ecclesiological position which current canon law (CIC 1983) attributes to deacons between the mission of laypeople and that of priests. On the one hand, (permanent) deacons live in the middle of the world with a lay style of life (although there is the possibility of a religious permanent diaconate) and with certain "concessions" which are not (or not always) accorded to all clergy and priests.313 On the other hand there are certain functions in which deacons and priests share alike, and in which both alike take precedence over the laity314 That does not mean that deacons can exercise completely all the functions which belong to priests (Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick). However, except in certain exceptional cases, what the CIC lays down for "clergy" in general is, in principle, applied to deacons (cf. cann. 273ff).

IV. The Diaconate in an "Ecclesiology of Communion"

Although it is based on the texts of Vatican II, what can be called the "ecclesiology of communion" was developed in greater depth in and after the synod of 1985.315This ecclesiology grants a clearer understanding of the Church as a "universal sacrament of salvation" (cf. LG 1, 9) which finds in the communion of the Trinitarian God the source and ecclesial model for all the dynamism of salvation. "Diakonia" is the realization of this model in history. It now remains to be seen how the specific sacramental configuration of the diaconal ministry is integrated within this "diakonia" as a whole.

1. The "Munera" of the Diaconate: Plurality of Functions, and Varying Priorities

Lumen gentium 29a lists and explains the diaconal functions in the field of the liturgy (which includes tasks where the deacon presides), of the word and of charity, to which administrative tasks are connected.316 Ad gentes 16f follows another order: ministry of the word/of the government of communities, and of charity.317 For its part, Sacrum diaconatus singles out eleven tasks, eight of which belong to the liturgical sphere (which is given first rank in this way) although sometimes they have the character of "supply" tasks. The charitable and social work is done in the name of the hierarchy, and also includes the duty of stimulating the lay apbstolate.318 The CIC goes into details on the faculties and tasks which properly belong to deacons; the possibility is there mentioned of conferring on deacons a share in the exercise of the "cura pastoralis" of the parish.319 With reference to the Conciliar texts of Lumen gentium 29, Sacrosanctum concilium 35 and Ad gentes 16, the CCE takes up the familiar list of relationships to liturgical life (with an explicit mention of assistance to bishops and priests), to pastoral life, and to charitable and social works.320 The Ratio fundamental presents the diaconal ministry as an exercise of the three "munera" in the specific light of "diakonia", enumerated as the "munus docendi", the "munus sanctificandi" (with the Eucharist as its point of departure and its destination) and the "munus regendi" (where charitable activities are given as the most characteristic ministry of the deacon).321 And the Directorium takes up again the triple diakonia of Lumen gentium 29, though changing the order (word, liturgy, charity). In this way it retains the diakonia of the word as the main function of the deacon; it underlines the diakonia of the liturgy as an intrinsic and organic assistance to the priestly ministry, and it considers the diakonia of charity as a different way of participating in the pastoral tasks of the bishops and priests.322

The different functions attributed to the (permanent) diaconate in the Conciliar and post-Conciliar texts general come down to us from ancient liturgical tradition, from the rites of ordination and theological studies of them. These functions are also open to contemporary pastoral situations and needs, although in that case a certain reserve is noticeable in the documents. In general a sort of triple "diakonia" or a sort of triple "munus" is recognised and serves as the basis for the diaconal functions taken together. In the documents and in numerous theological studies, charitable works are given a certain pre-eminence;323 however, it would be problematic to consider these as being specific to the diaconate, because they are also properly the responsibility of the bishops and the priests, whose auxiliaries the deacons are. Moreover, the witness of ecclesial tradition suggests that the three functions ought to be integrated into a single whole. From that point of view it is possible to point out different characteristic features in the figure of the diaconal ministry This ministry may be more strongly focused either on charity, or on the liturgy, or on evangelization; it may be exercised in a service directly linked to the bishop, or else in the sphere of the parish; and the permanent diaconate and the transitory diaconate may be preserved alike, or a clear option for one single figure may be determined. How plausible, and how viable, would such diversity prove to be in the long term? That would depend not only on the way the diaconate is understood theologically, but also on the real situation of different local Churches.

2. Communion in a Plurality of Ministries

The specific way the diaconate is exercised in different surroundings will also help to define its ministerial identity, modifying if necessary an ecclesial framework in which its proper connection with the ministry of the bishop hardly appears and in which the figure of the priest is identified with the totality of the ministerial functions. The living consciousness that the Church is "communion" will contribute to this development. However, it would be hard to arrive at a solution to the theological queries about the specific "powers" of the diaconate through practical experience alone. Not everyone considers this question to be an insoluble difficulty. Thus different propositions of contemporary theology may be observed which aim to give the diaconate theological substance, ecclesial acceptance and pastoral credibility.

There are some people who consider this question of the "powers" of the deacon to have only relative importance. For them, to make it into a central question would be a kind of reductionism, and would disfigure the true meaning of the ordained minister. Moreover, the observation, which was true in ancient times as well, that a layman can exercise the tasks of the deacon did not in practise prevent this ministry from being considered sacramental from every point of view. Additionally, neither would it be possible to reserve the exclusive exercise of certain functions to bishops and priests in great detail, save in the case of the "potestas conficiendi eucharistiam",324 of the sacrament of Reconciliation325 and the ordination of bishops.326 Other people distinguish between what is or should be the normal and ordinary exercise of the whole collection of functions attributed to deacons, and what could be considered as an extraordinary exercise of them on the part of Christians,327 determined by pastoral needs or emergencies, even on a long-term basis. A certain analogy could be drawn between this and the normal or ordinary competencies of the bishop in regard to confirmation (which the priest can also administer) 328and in regard to the ordination of priests (which according to certain papal bulls seems to have been performed by priests too in exceptional cases).329

Finally, there are some who also throw doubt on whether in fact a non-ordained member of the faithful does perform exactly the same "munera" in the same way and with the same salvific effect as an ordained deacon.330 Even if they seem to be the same functions as are exercised by a non-ordained member of the faithful, the deciding factor would be what the deacon was rather than what he did: the action of the deacon would bring about a special presence of Christ the Head and Servant that was proper to sacramental grace, configuration with Him, and the community and public dimension of the tasks which are carried out in the name of the Church. The viewpoint of faith and the sacramental reality of the diaconate would enable its particular distinctiveness to be discovered and affirmed, not in relation to its functions but in relation to its theological nature and its representative symbolism.

V. Conclusion

From the point of view of its theological meaning and its ecclesial role the ministry of the diaconate presents a challenge to the Church's awareness and practise, particularly through the questions that it still raises today With reference to deacons, plenty of witnesses from Tradition recall that the Lord chose acts of humble service to express and render present the reality of the morphe doulou (Phil 2:7) which he assumed for the sake of his saving mission. Specifically, the diaconate was born as a help to the Apostles and their successors, who were themselves perceived as servants of Christ. If the diaconate has been restored as a permanent ministry by Vatican II it is especially to respond to specific needs (cf. LG 29b) or to grant sacramental grace to those who were already carrying out the functions of the deacon's office (AG 16f). But the task of identifying these needs and these functions more clearly in Christian communities is still to be done, although the rich experience of the particular Churches which, after the Council, gave the permanent diaconate a place in their pastoral practice, is already available.

In the current consciousness of the Church there is only one single sacrament of Holy Orders. Vatican II, taking up the teaching of Pius XII,331 affirmed this unity and saw the episcopate, the priesthood and the diaconate as included within it. According to the decision of Paul VI it is only these three ordained ministries which constitute the clerical state.332 However, concerning the diaconate the Council cautiously speaks only of "sacramental grace". After Vatican II, Paul VI333 and the CCE (no. 1570) teach that the deacon, through ordination, receives the character of the sacrament of Holy Orders. Can. 1008 of the CIC states that the three ordained ministries are exercised in persona Christi Capitis.334 Following Lumen gentium 29, which attributed to the deacon the solemn administration of baptism (cf. SC 68), can. 861, 1 spoke of each of the three ordained ministers as ordinary ministers of this sacrament; can. 129 recognized that the potestas regiminis belonged to all those who have received the sacrament of Holy Orders.335

On the other hand, the difference between the sacerdotal ministries and the diaconal ministry is also underlined. The Council statement that the deacon is not ordained for priesthood but for ministry was taken up by various documents of the post-Conciliar Magisterium. Most clearly of all, the CCE (no. 154) distinguishes within one and the same ordinatio, the gradus participations sacerdotalis of the episcopate and the priesthood, and the gradus servitii of the diaconate. The diaconate, by the very nature of its way of participating in the one mission of Christ, carries out this mission in the manner of an auxiliary service. It is "icona vivens Christi servi in Ecclesia" but, precisely as such, it maintains a constitutive link with the priestly ministry to which it lends its aid (cf. LG 41). It is not just any service which is attributed to the deacon in the Church: his service belongs to the sacrament of Holy Orders, as a close collaboration with the bishop and the priests, in the unity of the same ministerial actualization of the mission of Christ. The CCE (no. 1554) quotes Saint Ignatius of Antioch: "Let everyone revere the deacons as Jesus Christ, the bishop as the image of the Father, and the presbyters as the senate of God and the assembly of the Apostles. For without them one cannot speak of the Church."336

With regard to the ordination of women to the diaconate, it should be noted that two important indications emerge from what has been said up to this point:

1. The deaconesses mentioned in the tradition of the ancient Church - as evidenced by the rite of institution and the functions they exercised - were not purely and simply equivalent to the deacons;

2. The unity of the sacrament of Holy Orders, in the clear distinction between the ministries of the bishop and the priests on the one hand and the diaconal ministry on the other, is strongly underlined by ecclesial tradition, especially in the teaching of the Magisterium.

In the light of these elements which have been set out in the present historico-theological research document, it pertains to the ministry of discernment which the Lord established in his Church to pronounce authoritatively on this question.

Over and above all the questions raised by the diaconate, it is good to recall that ever since Vatican II the active presence of this ministry in the life of the Church has aroused, in memory of the example of Christ, a more vivid awareness of the value of service for Christian life.



[1] Cf. W. Kasper, Theologie und Kirche (Maguncia 1987) 99: «Einzelne Zeugnisse haben theologisch normative Bedeutung nur, insofern sie maßgebliche Repräsentaten des gemeinsamen Glaubens der Kirche sind. Es gilt also in der Vielfalt und Fülle der Traditionszeugnisse den "roten Faden" herauszufinden. Dafür genügt historische Erudition, so unverzichtbar sie ist, nicht. Es bedarf vielmehr eines geistlichen Gespürs und Feinsinns, um die eine und gemeinsame Tradition in den vielen Traditionen erkennen zu können. Allein der sensus fidei vermag festzustellen, wo wirklicher consensus fidei und nichr verbreitete, aber zeitbedintgte Meinung vorliegt». The classic work on the subject remains Y. Congar, La Tradition et les traditions, 2 vols. (París 1960-1963).

* * *

1 Neh 1:10: "They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great power and your strong hand"; 6:3: "I sent messengers to them, saying"; 6:5: "Sanballat sent his servant to me"; Prov 10:4a (Septuagint); 1 Mac 11:58; 4 Mac 9:17; Esther (Greek) 6:13.

2 Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8, 12.

3 Cf. E. Cattaneo, I ministeri nella chiesa antica, testi patristici dei primi tre secoli (Milan, 1997), 33ff.; J. Lecuyer, Le sacrement de Vordination, ThH 65 (Paris, 1983), 131.

4 H.W. Beyer, diakoneo, diakonia, diakonos, in ThWNT 2:81-93.

5 De vita contemplativa 70 and 75.

6 Antiquitates 7, 365; 10, 72.

7 Lk 17:8; 12:37; 22:26; Jn 12:2.

8 2 Cor 8:19.

9 Rom 15:25.

10 "The meaning of the laying on of the hands in Acts 6:6 and 13:3 has been much disputed, but the stress laid on this gesture in both texts makes it difficult to see it as a mere act of blessing and not as an ordination rite.... The usual verb to denote the election of a minister by the community is eklegein, Latin eligere. The verb cheirotonein may have the same meaning, 'to choose by stretching out the hand' (Did. 15, 1), but it becomes a technical term for the appointment, i.e., the ordination of a minister, in Latin ordinate. In this meaning it is synonymous with kathistanai, Latin instituere. Another synonym is procheirizein. It is less usual and sometimes denotes the aspect of election and appointment by God. All these verbs are synonymous with cheira(s) epitheinai, but whereas the former group denotes the juridical aspect, the latter lays emphasis on the liturgical act. Moreover all the terms of the former group can be used for an appointment/ordination which does not include an imposition of hands, but there is apparently a preference for cheirotonein/cheirotonia, as they are composed with cheir-, when the imposition of the hand (or of both hands) is included. A first attempt for such a distinction is made by Hippolytus, Trad. A 10." J. Ysebaert, "The Deaconesses in the Western Church of Late Antiquity and Their Origin", in Eulogia: Melanges qfferts h Antoon A. R. Bastiaensen, IP 24 (Steenbrugis, 1991), 423.

11 Rom 11:13; 12:6ff.; 1 Cor 12:5; 2 Cor 4:1; Eph 4:llff.; Heb 1:14: "leitourgika pneumata"; Acts 21:19; Col 4:17.

12 "Amt im Sinne Jesu muss immer 'diakonia' sein; nicht zufallig, nicht nebenbei, sondern sehr bewusst und ausdrücklich wahlt die Heilige Schrift dieses Wort zu seiner Wesensbestimmung. Die griechische Sprache bot eine ganze Reihe von Moglichkeiten, das Amt in einer menschlichen Gemeinschaft - auch im religiös-kultischen Bereich - zu charakterisieren (archai, exousiai, archontes). Das Neue Testament wahltekeine davon, sondern entschied sich fur eine Bezeichnung, die weder in der jüdischen, noch in der hellenistischen Umwelt üblich war." E. Dassmann, Ämter und Dienste in der frühchristlichen Gemeinden, Hereditas 8 (Bonn, 1994), 37.

13 Phil 1:1: "curcf episcopis et diaconis"; 1 Tim 3:8, 12: "diaconos similiter ... [sicut episcopi] diaconi sint."

14 "Dieser Tatbestand zeigt, dass der Ursprung des Diakonenamtes nicht in Ag 6 zu finden ist.... Der Diakonos ist nicht nur Diener seiner Gemeinde, sondern auch seines Bischofes." Beyer, diakoneo, diakonia, diakonos, 90. Cf. M. Dibelius, "Bischofe und Diakonen in Philippi" (1937), in Das kirchliche Amt im Neuen Testament, WdF 439 (Darmstadt, 1977), 413ff.; E. Schweizer, "Das Amt: Zum Amtsbegriff im Neuen Testament", in Gemeinde und Gemeindeordnung im Neuen Testament, AThANT 35 (Zurich, 1955), 154-64: "Als allgemeine Bezeichnung dessen, was wir 'Amt' nennen, also des Dienstes Einzelner innerhalb der Gemeinde, gibt es mit wenigen Ausnahmen nur ein einziges Wort: 'diakonia', Diakonie. Das NT wahlt also durchwegs und einheitlich ein Wort, das vollig unbiblisch und unreligios ist und nirgends eine Assoziation mit einer besonderen Wiirde oder Stellung einschliesst. Im griechischen AT kommt das Wort nur einmal rein profan vor. . .. In der griechischen Sprachentwicklung ist die Grundbedeutung 'zu Tischen dienen' auch zum umfassenden BegrifF'dienen' ausgeweitet worden. Es bezeichnet fast durchwegs etwas Minderwertiges, kann aber im Hellenismus auch die Haltung des Weisen gegen Gott (nicht gegen den Mitmenschen) umschreiben"; K. H. Schelke, "Dienste und Diener in den Kirchen der Neutestamentlichen Zeit", Concilium 5 (1969): 158-64; J. Brosch, Charismen und Amter in der Urkirche (Bonn, 1951). Cf. B. Kotting, "Ämt und Verfassung in der Alten Kirche", in Ecclesia peregrinans: Das Gottesvolk unterwegs, METh 54, 1 (Munster, 1988), 429; G. Schollgen, Die Anfange der Professionalisierung des Klerus und das kirchliche Amt in der Syrischen Didaskalie, JAC, Ergbd 26 (Munster, 1998), 93.

15Cf. J. Colson, Ministre de Jesus-Christ ou le Sacerdoce de l’Evangile, ThH 4 (Paris, 1966), 191.

16 It was lrenaeus of Lyons (Adv. haer. 3, 12, 10) who first referred to the "Seven" as "deacons".

17 "Die Siebenzahl wohl nach Analogie der sieben Mitglieder, aus denen in den jüdischen Gemeinden meist der Ortsvorstand sich zusammensetzte. Dieser hiess deshalb geradezu 'die Sieben einer Stadt' oder 'die Sieben Besten einer Stadt', wahrend seine einzelnen Mitglieder . . . 'Hirten' oder 'Vorsteher' genannt wurden." H.L. Strack and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch, vol. 2 (Munich, 1969), 641.

18 E. Haenchen, Die Apostelgeschichte, Neu übersetzt und erklart, 12. neubearb. Auflage, Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar (Gottingen, 1959), 228-22; Dassmann, Ämter und Dienste, 232: "Uber die Entstehung des Diakonenamtes sind keine genauere Angaben bekannt, seitdem feststeht, dass Apg 6 nicht die Bestellung von Diakonen, sondern von Beauftragten fur die griechisch sprechende Gruppe der Urgemeinde beschreibt."

19 Cf. Acts 8:12, 26-40 and 21:8, where Philip is called "the evangelist". "The next day we left and came to Caesarea; and went into the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven [Philippou tou euaggelistou, ontos ek ton epta], and stayed with him."

20"Nicolaitae autem magistrum quidem habent Nicolaum, unum ex VII qui prirni ad diaconium ab apostolis ordinati sunt: qui indiscrete vivunt." Adv. haer. 1, 26, 3; Harvey, 1:214. Hippolytus, Philosophomena 7, 36; Tertullian, De praescriptione 33. For the opposing view, Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 2, 118, 3 and 3, 25, 5-26, 2.

21 Cf. Is 60:17, where the Septuagint does not mention "deacons", which must be an addition by St. Clement; cf. 1 Clem 42:1-5; SCh 167, 173, 168-71,

22 Cf. 40:1 and 41:2-4.

23 Colson, Ministre de Jesus-Christ, 228ff.

24 1 Clem 44:3; SCh 167, 172-73.

25"Von den zwei erwahnten Amtern, episkopoi und diakonoi, wurde das erste mit 'Episkopen' wiedergegeben, um das sehr missverstandliche 'Bischofe' zu vermeiden. Denn auf keinen Fall handelt es sich dabei um die Institution des Monepiskopats." H.E. Lona, Der erste Clemensbrief, Kommentar zu den Apostolischen Vatern 2 (Gottingen, 1998), 446. Cf. Dassmann, Amter und Dienste, 40.

26 J.-P. Audet, La Didache: Instructions des Apotres (Paris, 1958), 241.

27Ibid., 465.

28 "'Cheirotonein' heisst hier (naturlich) 'wahlen' und nicht 'ernennen'." Die Didache, Kommentar zu den Apostolischen Vatern 1 (Gottingen, 1989), 241.

29Did. 14, 1-3; 15, 1.

30 Letter to the Trallians 3, 1; SCh 10, 113.

31 Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8, 1; SCh 10, 163.

32 Apol. 1, 65, 3-5. St. Justin, Apologies, introduction, texte critique, traduction, commentaire et index par A. Wartelle (Paris, 1987), 188-91.

33 Strom. 7, 1, 3; GCS 17, 6.

34 Comm. in Mat. 16:8; GCS 40, 496.

35 Ibid., 16:22; GCS 40, 552.

36 Ibid., 16:22; GCS 40, 553.

37 Didascalia apostolorum, ed. R.H. Connolly (Oxford, 1969), 89.

38 Cf. A. Vilela, La condition collegiate des pretres au Me siècle, ThH 14 (Paris, 1971).

39 SCh 11(2), 66.

40 Ep. 3, 3: "Meminisse autem diaconi debent quoniam apostolos id est episcopos et praepositos Dominus elegit, diaconos autem post ascensum Domini in caelos apostoli sibi constituerunt episcopatus sui et ecclesiae ministros. Quod si nos aliquid audere contra Deum possumus qui episcopos facit, possunt et contra nos audere diaconi a quibus fiunt."

41 Ep. 15, 2; 16, 3.

42 Ep. 34, 1; Ep. 5, 2.

43 Ep. 15, 1; 43, 1.

44 Ep. 52, 1.

45 CA 2, 26, 4.5.6; SCh 320, 239-41.

46 Ibid., 30, 1-2; SCh 320, 249-51.

47 Ibid., 44, 4; SCh 285.

48 CA 8, 18, 3; SCh 336, 221.

49Sacramentarium Serapionis, in Didascalia et Constitutiones Apostolorum, ed. F. X. Funk, vol. 2, Testimonia et Scripturae propinquae (Paderbornae, 1905), 188. The quotation is given here in the Latin translation of the editor. The same use of the word (constituat) is found in can. 3 (33) of Constitutiones Ecclesiae Aegypciacae, De diaconis, ibid., 103-4.

50 Sacramentarium Veronense, ed. L. C. Mohlberg (Rome, 1966), 120-21.

51 Le Sacramentaire Gregorien, ed. J. Deshusses, vol. 1 (Fribourg [Switzerland], 1992), 96-97.

52 Jerome, Ep. 146, 1; PL 22, 1192-95: "Audio quemdam in tantam erupisse vecordiam, ut diaconos, presbyteris, id est episcopis anteferret. Nam cum Apostolus perspicue doceat eosdem esse presbyteros, quos episcopos, quid patitur mensarum et viduarum minister, ut super eos se tumidus efferat, ad quorum preces Christi corpus sanguinisque conficitur?" Jerome, Comm. in Ez. 6, 17, 5-6; PL 25, 183B: "Quod multos facere conspicimus, clientes et pauperes, et agricolas, ut taceam de militantium et iudicum violentia, qui opprimunt per potentiam, vel furta committunt, ut de multis parva pauperibus tribuant, et in suis sceleribus glorientur, publiceque diaconus, in Ecclesiis recitet offerentium nomina. Tantum offert ilia, tantum ille pollicitus est, placentque sibi ad plausum populi, torquente eis conscientia."

53De Trinitate 1, 27; PG 28, 1157B: "episkopos, presbyteros, diakonoi homoousioi eisin".

54 Origen, Horn, in Jer. 11, 3; Concilium Ancyranum, can. 14.

55 Horn. 14, 3 in Act.; PG 60:116: "Quam ergo dignitatem habuerunt illi [sc. the deacons and the bishops].... Atqui haec in Ecclesiis non erat; sed presbyterorum erat oeconomia. Atqui nullus adhuc episcopus erat, praeterquam apostoli tantum. Unde puto nee diaconorum nee presbyterorum tunc fuisse nomen admissum nee manifestum."

56"And rightly so; for it is not a man, nor an angel, nor an archangel, nor any other created power, but the Paraclete himself who instituted this order, persuading men who are still in the flesh to imitate the service of the angels", De sacerdotio 3, 4, 1-8; SCh 272, 142.

57 "Graecum codicem legite, et diaconum invenietis. Quod enim interpretatus est latinus, Minister; graecus habet, Diaconus; quia vere diaconus graece, minister latine; quomodo martyr graece, testis latine; apostolus graece, missus latine. Sed iam consuevimus nominibus graecis uti pro latinis. Nam multi codices Evangeliorum sic habent: 'Ubi sum ego, illic et diaconus meusV Sermo 329, De Stephana martyre 6, 3, PL 38, 1441.

58 Traditio Apostolica 10; SCh 11(2), 67.

59 Cf. Tertullian, To his wife 1, 7, 4; SCh 273; Exhortation to chastity 13, 4; SCh 319.

60 "It is at the Eastern limits of the Roman Empire that deaconesses finally make their appearance. The first document to refer to them, which is in some sort their birth certificate, is the Didascalia Apostolorum ... known since the publication in 1854 ... of its Syriac text." A. G. Martimort, Les diaconesses: Essai historique (Rome, 1982), 31.

61 The most ample collection of all the testimony about this ecclesiastical ministry, accompanied by a theological interpretation, is that of John Pinius, De diaconissamm ordinatione, in Acta Sanctorum, 1 September (Antwerp, 1746), 1-27. Most of the Greek and Latin documents referred to by Pinius are reproduced by J. Mayer, Monumenta de viduis diaconissis virginibusque tractantia (Bonn, 1938). Cf. R. Gryson, Le ministere des femmes dans l’Eglise ancienne, Recherches et syntheses: Section d'histoire 4 (Gembloux, 1972).

62 This norm is repeated in the Constitutiones Apostolorum 3, 19, 1. On the origins of the professionalisation of the clergy, cf. Schollgen, Die Anfänge der Professionalisierung.

63 The compiler was attentive to the nuances of vocabulary. At CA 2, 11, 3 he says, "We do not allow the priests to ordain [cheirotonein] deacons, deaconesses, lectors, servants, cantors or door-keepers: that belongs to the bishops alone." However, he reserves the term cheirotonia to the ordination of bishops, priests, deacons and sub-deacons (8, 4-5; 8, 16-17; 8, 21). He employs the expression epitithenai ten (tas) cheira(s) for deaconesses and lectors (8, 16, 2; 8, 17, 2). He does not seem to wish to give these expressions a different meaning, since all these impositions of hands are accompanied by an epiklesis of the Holy Spirit. For confessors, virgins, widows, and exorcists, he specifies that there is no cheirotonia (8, 23-26). The compiler additionally distinguishes between cheirotonia and cheirothesia, which is simply a gesture of blessing (cf. 8, 16, 3 and 8, 28, 2-3). Cheirothesia may be practiced by priests in the baptismal rite, the re-integration of penitents, or the blessing of catechumens (cf. 2, 32, 3; 2, 18, 7; 7, 39, 4).

64 Cf. CA 3, 20, 2; 8, 16, 5; 8, 28, 4; 8, 46, 10-11.

65 Can. 19 of the Council of Nicaea (325) could be interpreted not as refusing the imposition of hands to all deaconesses in general, but as the simple statement that the deaconesses from the party of Paul of Samosata did not receive the imposition of hands, and "were anyway counted among the laity", and that it was also necessary to re-ordain them, after having re-baptised them, like the other ministers of this dissident group who returned to the Catholic Church. Cf. G. Alberigo, Les conciles oecumeniques, vol. 2 Les decrets, bk. 1 (Paris, 1994), 54.

66 CA, 8, 20, 1-2; SCh 336; Metzger, 221-23.

67 Epiphanius of Salamis, Panarion haer. 79, 3, 6, ed. K. Holl, GCS 37 (1933), p. 478.

68 Cf. Alberigo, Decrets, bk. 1, 214.

69 Gregory of Nyssa, Life of St. Macrina 29, 1; SCh 178; Maraval, 236-37.

70 Byzantine Ritual of ordination of deaconesses: Euchologe du manuscrit grec Barberini 336, in Vatican Library, ff. 169R-17/v. Quoted by J.-M. Aubert, Des femmes diacres, Le Point Theologique 47 (Paris, 1987), 118-19.

71 Cf. can. 100 (Munier, 99). In addition, it is expressly forbidden to women, "even well-instructed and holy" ones, to teach men and to baptize (cf. can. 37, 41; Munier, 86).

72 Council of Nimes (394-396), can. 2. Cf. J. Gaudemet, Conciles gaulois du IVe siecle, SCh 241 (Paris, 1977), 127-29.

73 First Council of Orange (441), can. 26.

74 Cf. ed. H.I. Vogels, CSEL 81/3 (Vienna, 1969), 268.

75Council of Epaone (517), can. 21 (C. de Clercq, Concilia Galliae 511-695, 250: 148A [1963], 29). Blessings of women as deaconesses had become widespread because the ritual did not provide a blessing for widows, as was noted in the Second Council of Tours (567), can. 21 (ibid., 187).

76 Ibid., 101.

77Cf. Second Council of Tours, can. 20 (ibid., 184).

78 Many commentators have followed the model of Ambrosiaster in his Commentary on 1 Tim 3:11 (CSEL 81, 3; G. L. Muller, ed., Der Empfanger des Weihesakraments: Quellen zur Lehre und Praxis der Kirche, nur Mannern das Weihesakrament zu spenden (Wurzburg, 1999), 89): "But the Cataphrygians, seizing this opportunity of falling into error, uphold in their foolish rashness, under the pretext that Paul addressed women after deacons, that it is also necessary to ordain deaconesses. They know however that the Apostles chose seven deacons (cf. Acts 6:1-6); is it to be supposed that no woman was found suitable at that point, when we read that there were holy women grouped around the eleven Apostles (cf. Acts 1:14)? ... And Paul orders women to keep silence in church (cf. 1 Cor 14:34-35)." See also John Chrysostom, In 1 Tim horn. 11; PG 62, 555; Epiphanius, Haer. 79, 3 (Muller, Quellen, 88); Council of Orange (Muller, Quellen, 98); Council of Dovin (Armenia, 527): "Feminis non licet ministeria diaconissae praestare nisi ministerium baptismi" (Muller, Quellen, 105); Isidore of Seville, De Eccl. Off 2, 18, 11 (Muller, Quellen, 109); Decretum Gratiani, can. 15 (Muller, Quellen, 115); Magister Ruftnus, Summa Decretorum, can. 27, q. 1 (Muller, Quellen, 320); Robert of Yorkshire, Liber poenitentialis, q. 6, 42 (Muller, Quellen, 322); Thomas Aquinas, In 1 Tim 3, 11 (Muller, Quellen, 333); etc.

79 Cf Vanzan, "Le diaconat permanent feminin: Ombres et lumieres", in Documentation Catholique 2203 (1999): 440-46. The author refers to the discussions which have taken place between R. Gryson, A. G. Martimort, C. Vagaggini and C. Marucci. Cf. L. Scheffczyk, ed., Diakonat und Diakonissen (St. Ottilien, 2002), especially M. Hauke, "Die Geschichte der Diakonissen: Nachwort und Literaturnachtrag zur Neuauflage des Standardwerkes von Martimort über die Diakonissen", 321-76.

80 Council of Neo-Caesarea (314 or 319), can. 15, in Mansi, Sacrorum conciliomm nova et amplissima collectio, vol. 2, new ed. (Paris-Leipzig, 1901), 539.

81 Isidore of Seville, De Eccl. Off. 2, 8.

82 There were one hundred deacons at Constantinople in the time of Justinian. Cf. Justinian, Novellae 3, 1 (Corpus juris civilis, ed. Kriegel, vol. 3 [Leipzig, 1887], 20).

83 Cf. CA 2, 28, 6.

84 Cf. cann. 21, 22, 43, in P.-P. Joannou, Discipline generate antique IIe—IXe siecle, 1/2 (Rome, 1962), 139-48.

85 Council of Carthage sub Genethlio (390), can. 2, in C. Munier, Concilia Africae, CCSL 259 (Turnhout, 1974), 13.

86 Cf. can. 25 (ibid., 108-9).

87 Leo the Great, Ep. 14, 4 to Anastasius of Thessalonica; PL 54, 672-73.

88 Ibid.

89 Cf. chapter II supra, note 40.

90 Cf. Alberigo, Decrets, 54.

91 The short treatise De jactantia Romanorum diaconum (CSEL 50, 193-98) reproves deacons for wanting to work their way up into the ranks of the priests, for refusing tasks of service, and for concerning themselves with liturgical singing alone.

92 Jerome, Letter 146 to Evangelus; PL 22, 1192-95.

93 Pseudo-Dionysius, Ecclesiastical Hierarchy 5, 7; 5, 6; PG 3, 506-8.

94 Leo the Great, Ep. 6, 6 to Anastasius of Thessalonica; PL 54, 620. Leo himself was a deacon when he was elected to the episcopate. See also L. Duchesne, Liber Pontijicalis, vol. 1 (Paris: de Boccard, 1981), 238-39.

95 Cf. Eusebius of Caesarea, Hist. Eccl. 6, 43.

96 Cf. The Decretals of Siricius, PL 13, 1142-43; The Decretals of Innocent I, PL 20, 604-5.

97 Pseudo-Jerome, Ep. XII de septem ordinibus ecclesiae, PL 30, 150-62.

98 Cf. C. Munier, Les Statuta Ecclesiae antiqua, editions-etudes critiques (Paris, 1960), 95-99. The author adds the psalmist to this list. Isidore of Seville, Etymologies 7, 12 (PL 82, 290) spoke of nine degrees, including the psalmist. In his terminology, all nine ordines were also called sacramenta; cf. De Eccl. Off. 2, 21.

99 Cf. L.C. Mohlberg, Sacramentarium Veronense, RED.F 1 (Rome, 1956), 120-21.

100 P.-Joannou, Discipline generate antique IIe-IXe siecle, vol. 1, pt. 1, Les canons des conciles oecumeniques (Rome, 1962), 132-34.

101 p Mercenier and F. Paris, La priere des Eglises de rite byzantin, 2 vols. (Prieure d'Ainay sur Meuse, 1937). From the eighth century onwards, usage became fixed. The term cheirotonia was now reserved to the ordinations of bishops, priests and deacons, while cheirothesia was the term used for orders below those. Thus can. 15 of the Second Council of Nicaea (ed. G. Alberigo, vol. 2/1, 149). Cf. C. Vogel, "Chirotonie et chirothesie", in Irenikon 37 (1972): 7-21; 207-38.

102 Pseudo-Jerome, De septem ordinibus, says that deacons "do not leave the temple of the Lord.... They are the altar of Christ.... Without the deacon, the priest has no name nor origin nor function" (PL 30, 153).

103 Cf Council of Aix-la-Chapelle (817), can. 11 (C.J. Hefele and H. Leclercq, Histoire des conciles, vol. 4 [Paris, 1910], 27).

104 C. Vogel, Le Pontifical romano-germanique du dixieme siecle, 3 vols., Studi e testi 226, 227, 269 (Vatican, 1963-1972).

105 See M. Andrieu, Les Ordines Romani du haut moyen age, SSL 24 (Louvain, 1951).

106 The various Roman Pontificals of the twelfth century had as their common foundation the tenth-century Pontifical Romano-Germanique. Cf. M. Andrieu, Le Pontifical romain au moyen age, vol. 1 Le Pontifical du XIIe siecle, Studi e testi 86 (Vatican, 1938). This was widely used in the Latin Church and was brought up to date by Innocent III. See M. Andrieu, ibid., vol. 2, Le Pontifical de la Curie romaine du XIIe siecle, Studi e testi 87 (Vatican, 1940). This in its turn was included in the Pontifical composed by Guillaume Durand, bishop of Mende at the end of the thirteenth century. Cf. M. Andrieu, ibid., vol. 3, Le Pontifical de Guillaume Durand, Studi e testi 88 (Vatican, 1940). It was to serve as a model for the edition printed by Burchard of Strasbourg in 1485.

107 Cf. Alberigo, Dkrets, bk. 1, 419 and 435.

108 Cf. G. Khouri-Sarkis, "Le livre du guide de Yahya ibn Jarir", Orient syrien 12 (1967): 303-18.

109 "Long ago the cheirotonia or ordination was also done for deaconesses: and for that reason the rite concerning them was given in ancient manuscripts. In those times deaconesses were needed mainly for the baptism of women" (quoted by Martimort, Les diaconesses, 167).

110 Scholia in concilium Chalcedonense; PG 137, 441 (quoted by Martimort, Les diaconesses, 171).

111 Cap. 45 (ed. A. Werminghoff, Concilia aevi Karolini, 1:639).

112 Cf. F. Unterkircher, Das Kollectar-Pontijikale des Bischofs Baturich von Regensburg (817-848), Spicilegium Friburgense 8 (Freiburg, 1962).

113 Between De ordinatione abbatissae and De benedictione et consecratione virginum, the passage De ordinatione diaconissae occupies a few lines phrased as follows: "Diaconissa olim, nontamen ante annum quadragesimum, ordinabatur hoc modo." See Andrieu, Pontifical de Guillaume Durand, vol. 3 (1, 21-23), 411.

114 For these variations, see L. Ott, Das Weihesakrament, HbDG 4/5 (Freiburg am Breisgau, 1964).

115 Peter Lombard introduced in IV Sent., d. 24 the treatise De ordinihus ecclesiasticis which, with the exception of certain lines, was copied from Hugh of St. Victor (+ 1141), Yves of Chartres (f 1040-1115) and the Decretum Gratiani; all these authors depend in their turn on De septem ordinihus ecclesiae (fifth to seventh centuries), one of the first treatises of the Western Church (cf. St. Isidore of Seville) devoted to an exposition of the competencies of the different grades of the hierarchy.

116IV Sent, d. 24, c. 14.

117 Cf. In IV Sent, d. 24-25; Suppl, qq. 34-40; SCG 4, 74-77, De art. fidei et Eccl sacramentis.

118 In IV Sent., d. 24, q. 2, a. 1 ad 3.

119 Ibid., d. 24, q. 2, a. 1, sol. 1.

120 Ibid., d. 24, q. 2, a. 1, sol. 2.

121 Ibid.

122 Ibid., d. 24, q. 3, a. 2, sol. 2.

123 Ibid., d. 24, q. 3, a. 2, sol. 2.

124 Cf. In IV Sent, d. 7, q. 2 ad 1; STh III, q. 63, a. 3.

125 In IV Sent, d. 24, q. 1, a. 2, sol. 2.

126 STh III, q. 67, a. 1.

127 As for the episcopate, he tended to state that it was "ordo et sacramentum, non quidem praecise distinctum a sacerdotio simplici, sed est unum sacramentum cum ipso, sicut perfectum et imperfectum". Durandus of Saint-Pourcain, Super Sententias Comm. Libri quatuor (Parish, 1550), 4, d. 24, q. 6.

128 Ibid., q. 2 for what is said under a, b, c and d.

129 Ibid., q. 3.

130 Cf. DS 1767, 1776.

131 Cf. DS 1765, 1772.

132 Cf. DS 1766, 1773.

133 Cf. DS 1765.

134 Cf. DS 1767, 1774.

135 Cf. DS 1776.

136 Cf. Council of Trent, 3, 682f., 686, 690; 7/2, 603, 643.

137 Cf. K.J. Becker, Wesen und Vollmachten des Priestertums nach dem Lehramt, QD 47 (Freiburg, 1970), 19-156; J. Freitag, Sacramentum ordinis aus dem Konzil von Trient: Ausgeblendeter Disserts und erreichter Konsens (Innsbruck, 1991), 218ff.

138 Cf. Catechismus Romanus, p. 2, can. 7, q. 20.

139 Cf. F. de Vitoria, Summa sacramentorum, no. 226 (Venice, 1579), f. 136v; D. de Soto, In Sent. 4, d. 24, q. 1, a. 4, concl. 5 (633ab).

140 Cf. R. Bellarminus, Controversiarum de sacramento ordinis liber unicus, in Opera omnia, vol. 5 (Paris, 1873), 26.

141 Ibid., 27-28.

142 Ibid., 30.

143 Cf., in favor: Acta Synodalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II (AS) 2/2, 227f., 314f., 317f., 359, 431, 580; raising doubts about or calling into question the sacramentality of the diaconate: AS 2/2, 378, 406, 447f.

144 "Quod attinet ad Act. 6, 1-6, inter exegetas non absolute constat viros de quibus ibi agitur diaconis nostris corresponded" (AS 3/1, 260).

145 "De indole sacramentali diaconatus, statutum est, postulantibus pluribus ... earn in schemate caute indicare, quia in Traditione et Magisterio fundatur. Cf. praeter canonem citatum Tridentini: Pius XII, Const. Apost. Sacramentum Ordinis, DS 3858f.... Ex altera tamen parte cavetur ne Concilium paucos illos recentes auctores, qui de hac re dubia moverunt, condemnare videatur", ibid.

146 Cf. AS 3/1, 260-64; AS 3/2, 214-18.

147 The original text said: "in ministerio episcopi". On the origin of and variations on this formula, cf. A. Kerkvoorde, "Esquisse d'une theologie du diaconat", in P. Winninger and Y. Congar, eds., Le Diacre dans l’Eglise et le monde d'aujourd'hui, UnSa 59 (Paris, 1966), 163-71, which, for its part, includes the warning that "it would be a mistake ... to make it [sc. this formula] the basis for a future theology of the diaconate."

148 The expression is ambiguous: "nam sacerdotium est ministerium" (AS 3/8, 101).

149 The words of the Statuta are interpreted as follows: "significant diaconos non ad corpus et sanguinem Domini offerendum sed ad servitium caritatis in Ecclesia", ibid.

150"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", LG 28a.

151"Sic ministerium ecclesiasticum divinitus instituturn diversis ordinibus exercetur ab illis qui iam ab antiquo Episcopi, Presbyteri, Diaconi vocantur", ibid.

152DS 1765, 1776.

153 Cf. the different references to Trent in the conciliar debates. Some identified ministry with diaconi, although their semantic equivalence does not justify making an instant theological identification between the two; others considered it to have been dogmatically defined at Trent that the diaconate constitutes the third grade of the hierarchy, but this evaluation seems to go beyond what was intended at Trent. Cf. notes 136 and 143 supra.

154 Cf. AS 3/1, 260.

155 Cf. AAS 59 (1967): 698.

156 Cf. ibid., 702.

157 Cf. AAS 64 (1972): 536, 534, 537.

158 Cf. J. Beyer, "Nature et position du sacerdoce", NRTh 76 (1954): 356-73, 469-80; J. Beyer, "De diaconatu animadversiones", Periodica 69 (1980): 441-60.

159 Beyer especially disagreed with G. Philips' evaluation of this caution. Given that the Council wished to act non dogmatice, sed pastorale, even a much more explicit statement would not ipso facto imply condemnation of the contrary opinion. Hence in Beyer's view the reason for this caution was due to the fact that in what concerned the sacramentality of the diaconate the haesitatio was indeed "manifesta et doctrinalis quidem".

160 According to Beyer, the term ministri had a generic sense; it had not been intended to give a dogmatic statement only of what the Protestant reform refused. The sense in which Trent was now invoked often went "ultra eius in Concilio Tridentino pondus et sensum".

161 The biggest reason for this uncertainty lay in the fact of affirming "diaconum non ad sacerdotium sed ad ministerium ordinari, atque nihil in hoc ministerio agere diaconum quin et laicus idem facere non possit".

162 "Sacramento ordinis ex divina institutione inter christifideles quidam, charactere indelebili suo signantur, constituuntur sacri ministri, qui nempe consecrantur et deputantur ut, pro suo quisque gradu, in persona Christi Capitis munera docendi, sanctificandi et regendi adimplentes, Dei populum pascant", CIC, can 1008.

163In cann. 757, 764, 766, 767 (the homily is reserved "sacerdoti aut diacono", while laypeople may also be admitted "ad praedicandum"), 835, 861, 910, 911, 1003 (deacons are not ministers of the anointing of the sick, for "unctionem infirmorum valide administrat omnis et solus sacerdos": is this an application of the principle which speaks of deacons as "non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium"?), 1079, 1081, 1108, 1168, 1421, 1425, 1428, 1435 (they can be "judges", something which forms part of the power of governance or jurisdiction).

164Such reflection is necessary, because the principle is maintained that the pastor proprius and the final moderator of the plena cura animarum can only be one who has received ordination to the priesthood (the sacerdos). This raises the possibility of an extreme case of a sacerdos (who is not in fact a parochus, although he has all the attributes of one) and a diaconus (who is a quasi-parochus, since he has in fact the responsibility for the cura pastoralis, though not in its totality because he lacks the sacramental powers relating to the Eucharist and Reconciliation).

165"Specificam configurationem cum Christo, Domino et Servo omnium ... specificam diaconi identitatem ... is enim, prout unici ministerii ecclesiastici particeps, est in Ecclesia specificum signum sacramentale Christi Servi", Ratio, 5.

166 "prout gradus ordinis sacri, diaconatus characterem imprimit et specificam gratiam sacramentalem communicat ... signum configurativum-distinctivum animae modo indelebili impressum, quod ... configurat Christo, qui diaconus, ideoque servus omnium, factus est", Ratio, 7.

167 "Diaconatus in futurum tamquam proprius ac permanens gradus hierarchiae restitui poterit", LG 29b.

168 "Ordo diaconatus ut status vitae permanens restauretur ad normam constitutions de ecclesia", AG 16f.

169 "Exoptat haec sancta synodus, ut institutum diaconatus permanentis, ubi in desue-tudinem venerit, instauretur", OE 17.

170Cf. J. Hornef and P. Winninger, "Chronique de la restauration du diaconat (1945— 1965)", in Winninger and Congar, Le Diacre dans l’Eglise, 205—22.

171A huge dossier of theological and historical studies, edited by K. Rahner and H. Vorgrimler, was published in Germany, entitled Diaconia in Christo: Über die Erneuerung des Diakonates, QD 15/16 (Freiburg am Breisgau, 1962).

172 Cf. Hornef and Winninger, "Chronique", 207-8.

173 For example, Yves Congar explored the impact of the theology of the People of God and the ontology of grace on a renewed understanding of the ministries which could open the possibility of restoring the diaconate. Cf. "Le diaconat dans la theologie des ministeres", in Winninger and Congar, Le Diacre dans l’Eglise, especially pp. 126f.

174 The Council discussed the first draft of De Ecclesia from the 31st General Congregation, 1 December 1962, to the 36th General Congregation, 7 December 1962.

175 Joseph Cardinal Bueno y Monreal (31 GC, 1 December 1962), AS 1/4, 131. Mgr. Raphael Rabban, for his part, asked why the schema made mention "de duobus gradibus ordinis, de episcopatu scilicet et de sacerdotio" and not of the diaconate "qui ad ordinem pertinet", ibid., 236.

176 Cf. G. Caprile, 17 Concilio Vaticano II: II primo periodo 1962-1963 (Rome, 1968), 337, 410, 413, 494, 498, 501, 536.

177 The Council discussed the chapter on the hierarchical structure of the Church from 4 to 30 October 1963.

178 Julius Cardinal Dopfner (43 GC, 7 October 1963), AS 2/2, 227-30.

179 Joannes Cardinal Landazuri Ricketts (43 GC, 8 October 1963), ibid., 314-17.

180 Leo Joseph Cardinal Suenens (43 GC, 8 October 1963), ibid., 317-20.

181Cf. Mgr. Franciscus Seper (44 GC, 9 October 1963), ibid., 359; Mgr. Bernardus Yago (45 GC, 10 October 1963), ibid., 406; Mgr. Joseph Clemens Maurer (45 GC, written intervention), ibid., 412; and Mgr. Paul Yu Pin (45 GC), ibid., 431.

182Cf. Paul Cardinal Richaud (44 GC, 9 October 1963), ibid., 346-47; Mgr. Bernardus Yago, ibid., 406.

183Mgr. E Seper, ibid., 359.

184 Card. Landazuri Ricketts, ibid., 315; Card. J. Dopfher, ibid., 229.

185 Cf. Mgr. J. Maurer, ibid., 411; Mgr. Emmanuel Talamas Camandari (46 GC, 11 October 1963), ibid., 450; and Mgr. George Kemere (47 GC, 14 October 1963), ibid., 534.

186 Cf. Card. J. Dopfner, ibid., 227; Card. J. Landazuri Ricketts, ibid., 314.

187 Cf. Card. L. Suenens, ibid., 317; Mgr. Joseph Slipyj (46 GC, 10 October 1963), ibid., 445.

188 Card. J. Dopfner, ibid., 227.

189 Cf. Mgr. Armandus Fares (47 GC, 14 October 1963), ibid., 530-31; Mgr. Narcissus Jubany Arnau (48 GC, 15 October 1963), ibid., 580; Mgr. J. Maurer, ibid., 411.

190 Card. J. Landazuri Ricketts, ibid., 314-15; Card. L. Suenens, ibid., 318; Mgr. Seper, ibid., 319.

191Mgr. Yii Pin, ibid., 431.

192 Mgr. B. Yago, ibid., 407.

193 Mgr. J. Maurer, ibid., 410.

194 Anicetus Fernandez, O.P. (45 GC, 10 October 1963), ibid., 424; Mgr. Joseph Drza-zga (49 GC, 16 October 1963), ibid., 624.

195 Mgr. Franciscus Franic (44 GC, 10 October 1963), ibid., 378; Mgr. Dinus Romoli (48 GC, 15 October 1963), ibid., 598; Mgr. Petrus Cule (47 GC, 14 October 1963), ibid., 518.

196 Mgr. Joseph Carraro, ibid., 525-26.

197 Card. F. Spellman, ibid., 83; A. Fernandez, ibid., 424; Mgr. Victorius Costantini, ibid., 447.

198On 15 September 1964, Mgr. Aloysius Eduardo Henriquez Jimenez read the relatio explaining the text of the Doctrinal Commission on the priesthood and the diaconate, before the Fathers proceeded to vote on the chapter of Lumen gentium dealing with the hierarchy. Explaining the position of the text, he stated that in the Church bishops, priests and deacons shared in power in different ways and to different degrees. As at Trent, the text taught that the diaconate belongs to the sacred hierarchy, of which it is the lowest degree. Ordained for ministry and not for the priesthood, deacons have received sacramental grace and have been charged with a triple service of the liturgy, of the word and of charity. The diaconate could be conferred on married men. Cf. AS 3/2, 211-18. Mgr. Franciscus Franic presented the opposing views, ibid., 193-201.

199 K. Rahner, "L'Enseignement de Vatican II sur le diaconat et sa restauration", in Winninger and Congar, Le Diacre dans l’Eglise, 221.

200 Cf. A. Borras and B. Pottier, La grdce du diaconat (Brussels, 1998), 22-40.

201Cf. Kerkvoorde, "Esquisse (Tune theologie du diaconat", in Winninger and Congar, Le Diacre dans l’Eglise, 157-71.

202Borras and Pottier, La grâce du diaconat, 20.

203 Cf. Kerkvoorde, "Esquisse d'une théologie du diaconat", 155-56.

204 These figures and the analysis of them were kindly supplied to us in the course of the fall 1999 session of the Commission, by Prof. Enrico Nenna, Ufficio centrale statistica della Chiesa, Segretaria di Stato.

205 If a comparison is made between the numbers of priests and deacons in the different continents, the same differences are observable as before. While in America as a whole there are 7.4 priests per deacon (mainly because of the high number of deacons in North America), in Asia there are 336 priests to one deacon. In Africa there are 87 priests per permanent deacon, in Europe 27, and in Australasia and the Pacific, 31. The relative weight of the deacons within the ordained ministry therefore varies greatly from one place to another.

206 Another source of information gives a list of countries where there are the greatest numbers of permanent deacons: United States (11,589), Germany (1,918), Italy (1,845), France (1,222), Canada (824), Brazil (826).

207 Cf. H. Legrand, "Le diaconat dans sa relation a la theologie de l’Eglise et aux ministeres: Reception et devenir du diaconate depuis Vatican II", in A. Haquin and P. Weber, eds., Diaconate, 21e siecle (Brussels, Paris, and Montreal, 1997), 13 and 14.

208 For the following points, cf. J. Kabasu Bamba, "Diacres permanents ou catechistes au Congo-Kinshasa?" (Ph.D. thesis, University of Ottawa, 1999), 304 pages.

209 The author is here quoting Mgr. W. Van Bekkum, Mgr. Eugene D'Souza (India), Mgr. J. F. Cornelis (Elizabethville) and, at the time of the preparation of the Council, the (mostly European) Ordinaries of Congo and Rwanda, Bamba, op. cit., 190.

210 Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, 17a. This calls to mind the interventions of Mgr. B. Yago and Mgr. Paul Yu Pin referred to in the previous chapter.

211 Cf. Bamba, op. cit., 195, which has a reference to M. Singleton, "Les nouvelles formes de ministere en Afrique", Pro Mundi Vita 50 (1974): 33.

212 The archbishop of Santiago de Chile reported the objections of certain priests as follows: "They say for example that the diaconate is an unnecessary commitment, since its functions can be fulfilled by laymen and laywomen for given periods of time; if it works, their mandate is prolonged, and if not, it is not renewed." Mgr. C. Oviedo Cavada, "La promocion del diaconado permanente", Iglesia de Santiago (Chile), no. 24 (September 1992): 25.

213 See a long text published by the Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas, Directorio diocesano para el diaconado indigena permanente (1999), 172 pages.

214Depending on the country, these collaborators received different names: "pastoral officials", "pastoral workers or leaders", "pastoral auxiliaries", "pastoral lay agents", "parish auxiliaries", "parish assistants", "pastoral assistants" (Pastoralassistenten und Pastoralassistentinnen), etc. Cf A. Borras, Des laics en responsabilité pastorale? (Paris, 1998).

215 NCCB, "National Study of the Diaconate, Summary Report", Origins 25, no. 30 (18 January 1996).

216See for example Maskens, "Un enquete sur les diacres francophones de Belgique", in Haquin and Weber, Diaconat, 21e siecle, 217-32.

217 Thus, B. Sesboüé, "Quelle est Pidentite ministerielle du diacre?" in L'Eglise à venir (Paris, 1999), 255-57.

218 See for example the text of the Congregation for the Clergy, Directorium pro ministerio et vita diaconarum permanentium, 22 February 1998, published as Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons, in The Permanent Diaconate (London, 1998), 88.

219 Ibid., 39, 103. The text adds in the next paragraph: "It is important that deacons fully exercise their ministry, in preaching, in the liturgy and in charity, to the extent that circumstances permit. They should not be relegated to marginal duties, be made merely to act as substitutes, nor discharge duties normally entrusted to non-ordained members of the faithful."

220 See Congregation for Catholic Education, Basic Norms for the Formation of Permanent Deacons, 9: "Finally the munus regendi is exercised in devotion to works of charity and assistance and in motivating communities or sectors of the ecclesial life, especially in what has to do with charity. This is the ministry which is most characteristic of the deacon" (emphasis added). In Permanent Diaconate, 27.

221 "It is not the wife who is ordained and nevertheless the mission entrusted to the deacon obliges the couple to redefine themselves in some way, in function of this ministry", M. Cacouet and B. Viole, Les diacres, quoted in a study document on the role of the deacon's wife (Quebec, 1993). For this reason, in many countries the wife joins her husband for the initial training period, and takes part in continued training activities with him.

222 Note of the Episcopal Commission for the Clergy, cited by F. Deniau, "Mille diacres en France", Etudes 383, no. 5 (1995): 526.

223 Ibid., 527. This direction taken by the bishops was confirmed in 1996 during their gathering at Lourdes, where they expressed their desire that "the image given by deacons should not be that of supplying for priests, but of communion with them in the exercise of the sacrament of Holy Orders." "Points d'attention", Documentation Catholique, no. 2149 (1996): 1012-13.

224 J. G. Mesa Angulo, O.P., "Aportes para visualizar un horizonte pastoral para el diaconado permanente en America Latina, hacia el tercer milenio", in CELAM, "I Congreso de diaconado permanente'', Lima, August 1998, working document.

225 A certain number of tasks, of course, are reserved to deacons by canon law, but they do not account for the whole of the deacon's activity

226 Emphasis added.

227 R. Page, Diaconat permanent et diversite des ministeres: Perspectives du droit canonique (Montreal, 1988), 61.

228 V Gerardi, "El diaconado en la Iglesia", in CELAM, "I Congreso", p. 8, referring to the First International Congress held in Turin in 1977.

229 Cf. AAS 59 (1967): 697-704; AAS 60 (1968): 369-73; AAS 64 (1973): 534-40; Codex Iuris Canonici (Citta del Vaticano, 1983); Catechismus Catholicae Ecclesiae (Citta del Vaticano, 1997). [English ed.: Catechism of the Catholic Church.]

230This is the case of two recent guidance documents: Congregatio de Institutione Catholica / Congregatio pro Clericis, Ratio fundamental institutionis diaconorum permanentium and Directorium pro ministerio et vita diaconorum permanentium (Citta del Vaticano, 1998). According to Pio Cardinal Laghi, the Ratio fundamentalis is a document "di ordine eminentemente pedagogico e non dottrinale" and, according to Dario Cardinal Castrillon, the Directorium "intende presentare linee pratiche." L’Osservatore Romano, March 11, 1998, pp. 6-7.

231 "Christus, 'sedens ad dexteram Patris' et Spiritum Sanctum in Suum effundens corpus, quod est Ecclesia, iam operatur per sacramenta a Se instituta ad Suam gratiam communicandam.... Efficaciter gratiam efficiunt quam significant propter Christi actionem et per Spiritus Sancti virtutem", CCE 1084.

232 "Sunt efficacia quia in eis Ipse Christus operatur: Ipse est qui baptizat, Ipse est qui in Suis agit sacramentis ut gratiam communicet quam sacramentum significat. ... Hie est sensus affirmationis Ecclesiae: sacramenta agunt ex opere operato ... , i.e., virtute salvifici operis Christi, semel pro semper adimpleti", CCE 1127f.

233 Cf. CCJB 1536: "Ordo est sacramentum per quod missio a Christo Ipsius Apostolis concredita exerceri pergit in Ecclesia usque ad finem temporum: est igitur ministerii apostolici sacramentum. Tres implicat gradus: Episcopatum, presbyteratum et diaconatum."

234 For the application of the passage about the washing of the feet to deacons, cf. Didascalia 16, 13 (trans. E. Nau [Paris, 1912], 135f) and H. Wasserschleben, Die irische Canonensammlung (Leipzig, 1885), 26: "Diaconus [fuit] Christus, quando lavit pedes discipulorum": cf. K. Rahner and H. Vorgrimmler, Diaconia in Christo (Freiburg, 1962), 104. Recently, W. Kasper proposed seeing in the washing of the feet and in the words of Jesus at John 13:15 "die Stiftung des Diakonats", "Der Diakon in ekklesiologischer Sicht angesichts der gegenwärtigen Herausforderungen in Kirche und Gesellschaft" in Diakonia 32/3-4 (1997): 22. In reality it is the whole of the passage at Mark 10:43-45 that Didascalia 3, 13 cites in relation to deacons. For his part, St. Ignatius of Antioch considers that deacons were entrusted with "the service of Jesus Christ" (Magn. 6, 1) and St. Polycarp exhorts them to walk in the truth of the Lord, who became the "diakonos" of all (Phil. 5, 2).

235 Current exegetical debate on the consideration of Acts 6:1-6 as the origin of the diaconate goes back to the patristic texts: St. Irenaeus (second century), Adv. haer. 1, 26, 3; 3, 12, 10 sees the ordination of the "Seven" as the beginning of the diaconate; St. John Chrysostom (circa 400), In Acta Apost. 14, 3 (PG 60, HSf.) does not consider the "Seven" to be deacons, although he does interpret their post as an ordination and a share in the apostolic mission. This second opinion was adopted by the synod in Trullo (692), a synod which has the status of an ecumenical council for the Orthodox Church; cf. Concilium Quinisextum, can. 16 (Mansi, 11:949; ed. Joannou, 1/1, 132-34).

236 The differentiation into three grades or degrees appears clearly in the post-Apostolic period, first perhaps with St. Ignatius of Antioch's Ad Trail. 3, 1. On this question, cf. E. Dassmann, Ämter und Dienste in der frühchristlichen Gemeinden (Bonn, 1994); E. Cattaneo, I ministeri della Chiesa antica: Testi patristici dei primi tre secoli (Milan, 1997).

237 "Sic ministerium ecclesiasticum divinitus institutum diversis ordinibus exercetur ab illis qui iam ab antiquo Episcopi, Presbyteri, Diaconi vocantur", LG 28a, with references to Trent, DS 1765 ("in Ecclesiae ordinatissima dispositione plures et diversi essent ministrorum ordines ... ab ipso Ecclesiae initio") and DS 1776 ("hierarchiam, divina ordinatione institutam, quae constat ex episcopis, presbyteris et ministris").

238 "Non tamquam merus ad sacerdotium gradus est existimandus, sed indelebile suo charactere ac praecipua sua gratia insignis ita locupletatur, ut qui ad ipsum vocentur, ii mysteriis Christi et Ecclesiae stabiliter inservire possint", Paul VI, Sacrum diaconatus, AAS 59 (1967): 698. "Diaconi missionem et gratiam Christi, modo speciali, participant. Ordinis sacramentum eos signat sigillo ('charactere') quod nemo delere potest et quod eos configurat Christo qui factus est 'diaconus', id est, omnium minister", CCE 1570. "Prout gradus Ordinis sacri, diaconatus characterem imprimit et specificam gratiam sacramentalem communicat. Character diaconalis est signum configurativum-distinctivum animae modo indelebili impressum", Ratio fundamentalis, 7. In the measure in which can. 1008 of the CIC also refers to the diaconate, its indelible character may also be considered to be stated there.

239 "Quoniam vero in sacramento ordinis, sicut et in baptismo et confirmatione, character imprimitur, qui nee deleri nee auferri potest: merito sancta Synodus damnat eorum sententiam, qui asserunt, Novi Testamenti sacerdotes temporariam tantummodo potestatem habere, et semel rite ordinatos iterum laicos effici posse, si verbi Dei ministerium non exerceant." Council of Trent, DS 1767.

240 Cf. St. Thomas, In IV Sent, d. 7, q. 2 ad 1; STh HI, q. 63, a. 3.

241 Although it does not specifically mention the doctrine of "character", as regards the diaconate the Directorium states (no. 21): "Sacra Ordinatio, semel valide recepta, numquam evanescit. Amissio tamen status clericalis fit iuxta normas iure canonico statutas."

242 The Directorium (no. 28) speaks of the "essential difference" which exists between the ministry of the deacon at the altar and that of every other liturgical minister; however, it gives a reference not to LG 10, but to LG 29: "Constat eius diaconiam apud altare, quatenus a sacramento Ordinis effectam, essentialiter differre a quolibet ministerio liturgico, quod pastores committere possint christifidelibus non ordinatis. Ministerium liturgicum diaconi pariter differt ab ipso ministerio sacerdotali."

243 "Gratia sacramentali roborati", LG 29a; "gratiam sacramentalem diaconatus", AG 16f.

244 "Missionis autem et gratiae supremi Sacerdotis peculiari modo participes sunt inferioris quoque ordinis ministri, imprimis Diaconi, qui mysteriis Christi et Ecclesiae servientes", LG 41d.

245 «Diaconatus permanens ... signum vel sacramentum ipsius Christi Domini, qui non venit ministrari, sed ministrare", Paul VI, Ad pascendum, AAS 54 (1972): 536.

246 In reference to LG 41 and AG 16, the CCE says (no. 1570): "Diaconi missionem et gratiam Christi, modo speciali, participant. Ordinis sacramentum eos signat sigillo ('charaetere') quod nemo delere potest et quod eos configurat Christo qui factus est 'diaconus', id est, omnium minister." Meanwhile the Ratio (nos. 5, 7) links this configuration to the out pouring of the Spirit and identifies it specifically by its assimilation to Christ as Servant of all: "Diaconatus confertur per peculiarem effusionem Spiritus (ordinatio), quae in recipientis persona specificam efEcit configurationem cum Christo, Domino et Servo omnium ... is (diaconus) enim, prout unici ministerii ecclesiastici particeps, est in Ecclesia specificum signum sacramentale Christi servi... . Character diaconalis est signum configurativum-distinctivum animae modo indelebili impressum, quod sacro ordine auctos configurat Christo."

247 The sacramentality of the episcopate implies that "Episcopi, eminenti ac adspectabili modo, ipsius Christi Magistri, Pastoris et Pontificis partes sustineant et in Eius persona agant", LG 21b; at other points analogous formulas are used such as: "Episcopi sententiam de fide et moribus nomine Christi prolatam", LG 25; "potestas qua, nomine Christi personaliter funguntur", LG 27; "munus in ipsius nomine et potestate docendi, sanctificandi et regendi", AA 2b; "oves suas in nomine Domini pascunt", CD lib.

248 In LG 10b, on the subject of the essential difference between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood, it is said of the ministerial priesthood that "potestate sacra qua gaudet, populum sacerdotalem efformat ac regit, sacrificium eucharisticum in persona Christi conficit illudque nomine totius populi Deo offert"; in turn, LG 28a states of priests that "suum vero munus sacrum maxime exercent in eucharistico cultu vel synaxi, qua in persona Christi agentes ... unicum sacrificium ... repraesentant"; likewise PO 13b states that "praesertim in Sacrificio Missae, Presbyteri personam specialiter gerunt Christi."

249 The connection of "in persona Christi" with the exclusive competence of the priest to consecrate the Eucharist was underlined in the post-Conciliar documents: the synod of 1971 stated that "solus sacerdos in persona Christi agere valet ad praesidendum et perficiendum sacrificale convivium", Ench. Vat. 4, 1166; the letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Sacerdotium ministeriale, 1983, stresses that "munus tarn grave conficiendi mysterium eucharisticum adimplere valeant [episcopi et presbyteri] ... ut ipsi ... non communitatis mandato, sed agant in persona Christi", AAS 75 (1983): 1006; this is recalled in the 1983 CIC: "Minister, qui in persona Christi sacramentum Eucharistiae con-ficere valet, est solus sacerdos valide ordinatus", can. 900, 1.

250 "Presbyteri, unctione Spiritus Sancti, speciali charactere signantur et sic Christo Sacerdoti configurantur, ita ut in persona Christi Capitis agere valeant", PO 2c; the equivalent expression in PO 12a goes in the same direction: "omnis sacerdos, suo modo, ipsius Christi personam gerat". The priestly ministry as a whole is included in the references of AG 39a ("Presbyteri personam Christi gerunt ... in triplici sacro munere") and LG 37a ("illos, qui ratione sacri sui muneris personam Christi gerunt"); in SC 33a it is made more specific as a presiding at the celebration of the Eucharist: "Immo, preces a sacerdote, qui coetui in persona Christi praeest, ... dicuntur". Post-Conciliar documents: in Evangelii nuntiandi, Paul VI applies the formula to the ministry of evangelization: "Cum Episcopis in ministerium evangelizationis consociantur ... ii qui per sacerdotalem ordinationem personam Christi gerunt", EN 68, Ench. Vat. 5, 1683; John Paul II employs it when referring to the specific ministry of reconciliation in the sacrament of penance: "Sacerdos, Paenitentiae minister ... agit 'in persona Christi'", Reconciliatio et Paenitentia (1984), 29; according to Pas tores dabo vobis (1992), the priest represents Christ the Head, Shepherd and Spouse of the Church: "connectuntur cum 'consecratione', quae eorum propria est eosque ad Christum, Ecclesiae Caput et Pastorem configurat; vel cum 'missione' vel ministerio presbyterorum proprio, quod eos habiles efficit et instruit ut fiant 'Christi Sacerdotis aeterni viva instrumenta' et ad agendum provehit 'Ipsius Christi nomine et persona'", 20; "Presbyter, per sacramentalem hanc consecrationem, configuratur Christo Iesu quatenus Capiti et Pastori Ecclesiae", 21; "Sacerdos ergo advocatur ut sit imago vivens Iesu Christi, Ecclesiae sponsi: remanet ipse quidem semper communitatis pars ... , sed vi eiusdem configu-rationis ad Christum Caput et Pastorem, ipse presbyter positus est in eiusmodi relatione sponsali erga propriam communitatem", 22.

251 The 1983 CIC applies the formula to the whole of the sacrament of Holy Orders, and consequently to the diaconate as well: "Sacramento ordinis ... consecrantur et deputantur ut, pro suo quisque gradu, in persona Christi Capitis munera docendi, sanctificandi et regendi adimplendi, Dei populum pascant. Ordines sunt episcopatus, presbyteratus et diaconatus", can. 1008/9. An intervention by John Paul II includes the idea of personification, but applied to Christ the servant, cf. note 255 infra. The 1998 Directorium prefers the formula "in the name of Christ" to refer to the Eucharistic ministry of the deacon ("nomine ipsius Christi, inservit ad Ecclesiam participem reddendam fructuum sacrificii sui", 28) and in relation with the diakonia of charity ("Vi sacramenti Ordinis diaconus ... munera pastoralia participat ... quae participatio, utpote per sacramentum peracta, efficit ut diaconi Populum Dei inserviant nomine Christi", 37).

252 "Ab Eo [Christo] Episcopi et presbyteri missionem et facultatem ('sacram potestatem') agendi in persona Christi Capitis accipiunt, diaconi vero vim populo Dei serviendi in 'diaconia' liturgiae, verbi et caritatis", CCE 875.

253 «per ordinationem recipitur capacitas agendi tamquam Christi legatus, Capitis Ecclesiae", CCE 1581; "sacramento ordinis, cuius munus est, nomine et in persona Christi Capitis, in communitate servire", CCE 1591; "In ecclesiali ministri ordinati servitio, Ipse Christus, Ecclesiae suae est praesens, quatenus Caput Sui corporis", CCE 1548.

254 "Per ministerium ordinatum, prasertim Episcoporum et presbyterorum, praesentia Christi, tamquam Capitis Ecclesiae, in communitate credentium, visibilis fit", CCjB 1549.

255 For example, the Ratio fundamentalis stresses the simultaneous configuration of the deacon "cum Christo, Domino et Servo omnium" and considers it to be "specificum signum sacramentale Christi Servi", 5. John Paul II, for his part, stated (16 March 1985): "II diacono nel suo grado personifica Cristo servo del Padre, partecipando alia triplice funzione del sacramento dell' Ordine", Insegnamenti 8/1, 649.

256 The same text of St. Polycarp, Ad Phil 5, 2 (ed. Funk, 1:300), which LG 29a and the Ratio no. 5 apply to deacons, considers Christ as Lord and Servant (minister): "Misericordes, seduli, incedentes iuxta veritatem Domini, qui omnium minister factus est."

257 On the subject of bishops, LG 24a declares: "Munus autem illud quod Dominus pastoribus populi sui commisit, verum est servitium quod in sacris Litteris 'diakonia' seu ministerium significanter nuncupatur (cf. Acts 1:17 and 25; 21:19; Rom 11:13; 1 Tim 1:12)."

258 Cf. Pastores dabo vobis, 21: "Christus est Ecclesiae Caput, sui scilicet Corporis. 'Caput' est eo quidem novo et sibi proprio modo, 'servum' scilicet significandi, prout ab Ipsius verbis evincitur (Mk 10:45).... Quod servitium seu 'ministerium' plenitudinem sui attigit per mortem in cruce acceptam, id est per totale sui donum, in humilitate at amore (Phil 2:7-8).... Auctoritas autem Christi Iesu Capitis eadem est ac Ipsius servitium, donum, totalis deditio, humilis atque dilectionis plena, erga Ecclesiam. Idque in perfecta erga Patrem oboedientia. Ille enim, unicus verusque est afflictus et dolens Domini Servus, idemque Sacerdos et Hostia seu Victima."

259The CCE states (876): "Intrinsece coniuncta naturae sacramentali ministerii eccle-sialis est eius indoles servitii. Ministri etenim, prorsus dependentes a Christo qui missionem praebet et auctoritatem, vere sunt 'servi Christi' ad imaginem Christi qui libere propter nos 'formam servi' (Phil 2:7) accepit. Quia verbum et gratia quorum sunt ministri, eorum non sunt, sed Christi qui ilia eis pro aliis concredidit, ipsi libere omnium fient servi."

260 "Iuvat enim viros, qui ministerio vere diaconali fungantur ... per impositionem manuum inde ab Apostolis traditam corroborari et altari arctius coniungi, ut ministerium suum per gratiam sacramentalem diaconatus efficacius expleant", AG 16f.

261 Vatican II does not use the expression "potestas iurisdictionis" and only in PO 2b does it speak of "sacra ordinis potestas". However, in the Explanatory Note, 2, of LG, it affirms with reference to episcopal consecration: "In consecratione datur ontologica participatio sacrorum munerum, ut indubie constat ex Traditione, etiam liturgica. Consulto adhibetur vocabulum munerum, non vero potestatum, quia haec ultima vox de potestate ad actum expedita intelligi posset. Ut vero talis expedita potestas habeatur, accedere debet canonica seu iuridica determinatio per auctoritatem hierarchicam. Quae determinatio potestatis consistere potest in concessione particularis officii vel in assignatione subditorum, et datur iuxta normas a suprema auctoritate adprobatas. Huiusmodi ulterior norma ex natura rei requiritur, quia agitur de muneribus quae a pluribus subiectis, hierarchic e ex voluntate Christi cooperantibus, exerceri debent." On the different interpretations of the "potestas sacra", cf. Kramer, Dienst und Vollmacht in der Kirche: Eine rechtstheologische Untersuchung zur Sacra Potestas-Lehre des II. Vatikanischen Konzils (Trier, 1973), 38f.; A. Celeghin, Origine e natura della potesta sacra: Posizioni postconciliari (Brescia, 1987).

262 CIC, can. 966, distinguishes between "potestate ordinis" and "facultate eandem exercendi".

263"Docet autem Sancta Synodus episcopali consecratione plenitudinem conferri sacramenti Ordinis, quae nimirum et liturgica Ecclesiae consuetudine et voce Sanctorum Patrum summum sacerdotium, sacri ministerii summa nuncupatur", LG 21b. The doctrinal relatio understands the expression finally used (plenitudo sacramenti) as "totalitas omnis partes includens", AS 3/1, 238. LG 41b considers bishops to be "ad imaginem summi et aeterni Sacerdotis, Pastoris et Episcopi ... ad plenitudinem sacerdotii electi".

264 "Presbyteri, quamvis pontificatus apicem non habeant et in exercenda sua potestate ab Episcopis pendeant, cum eis tamen sacerdotali honore coniuncti sunt et vi sacramenti Ordinis, ad imaginem Christi, summi atque aeterni Sacerdotis ... consecrantur, ut very sacerdotes Novi Testamenti. Muneris unici Mediatoris Christi (cf. 1 Tim 2:5) participes in suo gradu ministerii.... Presbyteri, ordinis Episcopalis providi cooperatores eiusque adiutorium", LG 28.

265 Cf. several references in L. Ott, Das Weihesakrament, HbDG 4/5 (Freiburg, 1969). Trent, cf. DS 1763-78, takes its unity for granted as a starting point when speaking of the "sacrament of Order", as in the case of baptism and confirmation (cf. DS 1767).

266 "Sic ministerium ecclesiasticum divinitus institutum diversis ordinibus exercetur ab illis qui iam ab antiquo Episcopi, Presbyteri, Diaconi vocantur", LG 28a.

267 Cf. St. Thomas, STh III, Supply q. 37, a. 2, resp.: "Distinctio ordinis est accipienda secundum relationem ad Eucharistiam. Quia potestas ordinis aut est ad consecrationem Eucharistiae ipsius, aut ad aliquod ministerium ordinandum ad hoc. Si primo modo, sic est ordo sacerdotum."

268 Cf. LG 10b: "sacerdotium ministeriale seu hierarchicum"; the CCE gives the heading "Hierarchica Ecclesiae constitutio" to the doctrine on the ecclesial ministry which it sets out in nos. 874-96.

269 "In gradu inferiori hierarchiae sistunt Diaconi", LG 29a. With the suppression of the other degrees in Ministeria quaedam (1972), the diaconate became in fact the last degree.

270 The Directorium (8) speaks explicitly of "participation" in the episcopal ministry: "Fundamentum obligationis consistit in ipsa participatione ministerii episcopalis, quae per sacramentum Ordinis et missionem canonicam confertur." Further on, no. 11 warns against what would prejudice the "relatio directa et inmediata, quam quilibet diaconus cum proprio episcopo habere debet".

271 Cf. M. Andrieu, "La carrière ecclésiastique des papes et les documents liturgiques du Moyen-Âge", RevScRel 21 (1947): 90-120.

272 In regard to their relation with bishops, the Ratio fundamentalis (1998), 8, says that deacons "depend" on bishops in the exercise of their power; and speaks of a "special relationship" of deacons with priests: "Diaconi, cum ecclesiasticum ministerium in inferiore gradu participent, in sua potestate exercenda necessario ex Episcopis pendent prout plenitudinem sacramenti habentibus. Praeterea, necessitudinem peculiarem cum presbyteris ineunt, quippe in communione quorum ad populum Dei serviendum sunt vocati."

273  "[Diaconi] Populo Dei, in communione cum Episcopo eiusque presbyterio, inserviunt", LG 29a. The Motu Proprio Sacrum diaconatus, 23, which applies the Conciliar decisions, underlines submission to the authority of the bishop and the priest: "Quae omnia munera in perfecta cum episcopo eiusque presbyterio communione exsequenda sunt, videlicet sub auctoritate episcopi et presbyteri, qui eo loci fidelium curae praesunt." The Caeremoniale Episcoporum ... , Typ. Pol. Vat. 1985, no. 24, says with regard to deacons: "Spiritus Sancti dono roborati, Episcopo eiusque presbyterio adiumentum praestant in ministerio verbi, altar is et caritatis."

274 Deacons cannot be members of the council of priests; cf. LG 28; CD 27; PO 7; and CIC, can. 495, 1, This is confirmed by the Directorium, 42: "Nequeunt tamen esse membra consilii presbyteralis, quia ipsum exclusive presbyterium repraesentat."

275 The 1998 Directorium (6) recalls the "sacramental fraternity" which unites deacons, the importance of the bonds of charity, prayer, unity and cooperation, and that it is opportune for them to meet together; but it says nothing about the possibility of a collegial "ordo diaconorum", and it warns against the risks of "corporatism" which was a factor in the disappearance of the permanent diaconate in earlier centuries: "Diaconi, vi ordinis accepti, fraternitate sacramentali inter se uniti sunt. ... Praestat ut diaconi, consentiente Episcopo et ipso Episcopo praesente aut eius delegato, statutis temporibus congregentur.... Ad Episcopum loci spectat inter diaconos in dioecesi operantes spiritum communionis alere, evitando ne ille 'corporativismus' efformetur, qui praeteritis saeculis tantopere ad diaconatum permanentem evanescendum influxit."

276 "Specifica vocatio diaconi permanentis stabilitatem in hoc ordine supponit. Fortuitus igitur transitus ad presbyteratum diaconorum permanentium, non uxoratorum vel viduorum, rarissima exceptio semper erit, quae admitti non poterit, nisi graves et speciales rationes id suadeant", Directorium, 5.

277 LG 29a gives a reference to Constitutiones Ecclesiae Aegypciacae 3, 2 (ed. Funk, Didascalia 2, 103); Statuta Eccl. ant 37—41 (Mansi, 3:954) (but in fact it is taken from Statuta Eccl ant. 4 [Mansi, 3:951]). The text of the Statuta 92 (4), CChr SL 148, 181, says: "Diaconus cum ordinatur, solus episcopus, qui eum benedicit, manurn super caput illius ponat, quia non ad sacerdotium sed ad ministerium consecratur."

278 Cf. Pontifical Romano-Germanique (950), vol. 1 (Citta del Vaticano, 1963), 24. In the present Pontificale Romanum (ed. typ. 1968, 1989), the following expressions are found: "The mission of the deacon is a help for the bishop and his priests [episcopo eiusque presbyterio adiumentum] in the service of the word, of the altar and of charity" (opening address by the bishop); the deacon is ordained "in the service of the Church [ad ministerium Ecclesiae]" and "to provide help to the order of priests [in adiutorium ordinis sacerdotalis]" (bishop's questions to the ordinands). In the consecratory prayer it is recalled that the Apostles "chose seven men to help them in daily service". It will be noted that in the case of a priest, the question asked is whether he "wishes to become a priest, collaborator with the bishops in the priesthood, to serve and guide the people of God under the guidance of the Holy Spirit".

279 The Latin version (L) says: "In diacono ordinando solus episcopus imponat manus, propterea quia non in sacerdotio ordinatur, sed in ministerio episcopi, ut faciat ea quae ab ipso iubentur." Trad. Apost. (ed. B. Botte), SCh 11(2) (Paris, 1968), 58.

280 The interpretation given by the Council Commission is also controversial: "Verba desumuntur ex Statutis Eccl. Ant.... et significant diaconos non ad corpus et sanguinem Domini offerendum, sed ad servitium caritatis in Ecclesia ordinari", AS 3/8, 101.

281 "Et utique sacramentum nemo potest conficere, nisi sacerdos, qui rite fuerit ordinatus", Fourth Lateran Council (1215), DS 802; cf. Trad. Apost. 4.

282 "Forma sacerdotii talis est: 'Accipe potestatem offerendi sacrificium in Ecclesia pro vivis et mortuis' ", Council of Florence (1439), DS 1326.

283 Council of Trent (1563), DS 1771; cf. likewise DS 1764: "Apostolis eorumque successoribus in sacerdotio potestatem traditam consecrandi, offerendi et ministrandi corpus et sanguinem eius, nee non et peccata dimittendi et retinendi."

284 "Distinctio ordinis est accipienda secundum relationem ad Eucharistiam. Quia potestas ordinis aut est ad consecrationem Eucharistiae ipsius, aut ad aliquod ministerium ordinandum ad hoc. Si primo modo, sic est ordo sacerdotum. Et ideo, cum ordinantur, accipiunt calicem cum vino et patenam cum pane, potestatem accipientes consecrandi corpus et sanguinem Christi." St. Thomas, STh HI, Supply q. 37, a. 2, resp.

285 "Episcopatus non est ordo, secundum quod ordo est quoddam sacramentum ... ordinatur omnis ordo ad eucharistiae sacramentum; unde, cum Episcopus non habeat potestatem superiorem sacerdote quantum ad hoc, non erit episcopatus ordo." St. Thomas, In IV Sent, d. 24, q. 3, a. 2, sol. 2.

286 LG 11a. The statement of the central value of the Eucharist is repeated several times. Cf. PO 5b ("in Sanctissima ... Eucharistia totum bonum spirituale Ecclesiae continetur"), UR 15a ("celebrationem eucharisticam, fontem vitae ecclesiae et pignus futurae gloriae"), CD 30f ("ut celebratio Eucharistici Sacrificii centrum sit et culmen totius vitae communitatis christianae").

287 "Sacerdos quidem minister ialis, potestate sacra qua gaudet, populum sacerdotalem efformat ac regit, sacrificium eucharisticum in persona Christi conficit illudque nomine totius populi Dei offert", LG 10b.

288Cf. SC35d ("authorized person", which also includes deacons), LG 20c ("adiutoribus .. . diaconis"), LG 28a ("ministerium ecclesiasticum ... Diaconi"), LG 29a ("ad ministerium"), LG 41d ("ministri, imprimis Diaconi"), OE 17 ("institutum diaconatus"), CD 15a ("diaconi, qui ad ministerium ordinati"), DV 25a ("clericos omnes ... qui ut diaconi"), AG 15i ("munera . . . diaconorum"), AG 16a, f ("salutis ministros in ordine ... Diaconorum ... ordo diaconatus").

289 "Doctrina catholica, in liturgia, Magisterio et constant! Ecclesiae explicita praxi, agnoscit duos gradus paiticipationis ministerialis exsistere sacerdotii Christi: Episcopatum et presbyteratum. Diaconatus ad illos adiuvandos atque ad illis serviendum destinatur. Propterea verbum sacerdos designat, in usu hodierno, Episcopos et presbyteros, sed non diaconos. Tamen doctrina catholica docet gradus paiticipationis sacerdotalis (Episcopatum et presbyteratum) et gradum servitii (diaconatum) conferri, hos omnes tres, actii sacramentali qui 'ordinatio' appellatur, id est, sacramento Ordinis", CCE 1554. The Ratio fundamentalis, 4 and 5, also avoids applying terms of "priesthood" etc. to deacons: "Ad eius [cuiusque ministri ordinati] plenam veritatem pertinet esse participatio specifica et repraesentatio ministerii Christi ... manuum impositio diaconum non est 'ad sacerdotium sed ad ministerium', id est non ad celebrationem eucharisticam sed ad servitium ... is [diaconus] enim, prout unici ministerii ecclesiastici particeps, est in Ecclesia specificum signum sacramentale Christi servi."

290 "Sacerdotium autem commune fidelium et sacerdotium ministeriale seu hierarchicum, licet essentia et non gradu tantum differant, ad invicem tamen ordinantur; unum enim et alterum suo peculiari modo de uno Christi sacerdotio participant", LG 10b.

291 "Missionis autem et gratiae supremi Sacerdotis peculiari modo participes sunt inferioris quoque ordinis ministri, imprimis Diaconi", LG 41d. Referring to this text, CCE 1570 replaces the expression "supremi Sacerdotis" by that of "Christi": "Diaconi missionem et gratiam Christi, modo speciali participant."

292 "Sacramento ordinis ex divina institutione inter christifideles quidam charactere indelebili quo signantur, constituuntur sacri ministri, qui nempe consecrantur et deputantur ut, pro suo quisque gradu, in persona Christi Capitis munera docendi, sanctificandi et regendi adimplentes, Dei populum pascant", can. 1008. "Ordines sunt episcopatus, presbyteratus et diaconatus", can. 1009. The 1983 CIC uses the expression "sacri ministri" to designate the baptized faithful who have received sacramental ordination. On one hand its expressions are briefer than those of Vatican II, and do not quote LG 29; on the other, despite the qualification "pro suo gradu", it goes further than the explicit texts of Vatican II in applying the notion of "in persona Christi Capitis" to the diaconate.

293Cf. the data given in Chapter VI.

294 Cf., e.g., Tertullian, De exh. cast. 7, 5 (CCh SL 319, 94), in which bishops, priests and deacons constitute the "ordo sacerdotalis" or "sacerdotium"; Leo I, Ep. 12, 5; 14, 3f. (PL 54, 652, 672f.), who also adds sub-deacons as members of the "ordo sacerdotalis"; Optatus of Milevis, Contra Parmen. 1, 13 (SCh 412, 200), for whom deacons formed part of the "third priesthood" ("Quid diaconos in tertio, quid presbyteros in secundo sacerdo-tio constitutos?"); also St. Jerome, Ep. 48, 21 (CSEL 54, 387): "Episcopi, presbyteri, dia-coni aut virgines eliguntur aut vidui aut certe post sacerdotium in aeternum pudici."

295Cf. Council of Trent, DS 1764.

296 Cf. note 279 supra.

297 CCE 1569 itself, citing the formula of the Traditio and LG 29, underlines the fact that the bishop alone imposes his hands on the deacon at ordination, as a sign of a special connection with him: "Pro diacono ordinando, solus Episcopus manus imponit, ita significans diaconum in muneribus suae 'diaconiae' Episcopo speciatim annecti."

298 "Episcopos . .. qui munus ministerii sui, vario gradu, variis subiectis in Ecclesia legitime tradiderunt", LG 28.

299 "Gratia etenim sacramentali roborati, in diaconia liturgiae, verbi et caritatis Populo Dei, in communione cum Episcopo eiusque presbyterio, inserviunt", LG 29. The Directorium (22) speaks of assistance given to "bishops" and "priests": "Sic diaconus auxiliatur et inservit episcopis et presbyteris, qui semper praesunt liturgiae, praevigilant super doctrinam et moderantur Populum Dei."

300 "In this ancient text the 'ministry' is described as 'service of the bishop'; the Council lays the stress on service to the People of God", Insegnamenti 16/2, 1000.

301"Inter varia ilia ministeria quae inde a primis temporibus in Ecclesia exercentur, teste traditione, praecipuum locum tenet munus illorum qui, in episcopatum constituti, per successionem ab initio decurrentem, apostolici seminis traduces habent. ... Proinde docet Sacra Synodus Episcopos ex divina institutione in locum Apostolorum successisse, tamquam Ecclesiae pastores", LG 20; "Episcopi, utpote apostolorum successores, a Domino ... missionem accipiunt", LG 24a. In the same sense, cf. DS 1768, 3061, CCE 1555.

302 "Christus, quern Pater sanctificavit et misit in mundum (Jn 10:36), consecrationis missionisque suae per Apostolos suos, eorum successores, videlicet Episcopos participes effecit, qui munus ministerii sui, vario gradu, variis subiectis in Ecclesia legitime tradiderunt. Sic ministerium ecclesiasticum divinitus institutum diversis ordinibus exercetur ab illis qui iam ab antiquo Episcopi, Presbyteri, Diaconi vocantur", LG 28a.

303 "Ordo est sacramentum per quod missio a Christo Ipsius Apostolis concredita exerceri pergit in Ecclesia usque ad finem temporum: est igitur ministerii apostolici sacramentum. Tres implicat gradus: Episcopatum, presbyteratum et diaconatum." CCE 1536.

304 See, even, the expression "ministerial or hierarchical priesthood" in LG 10b.

305 "Apostolis eorumque successoribus a Christo collatum est munus in ipsius nomine et potestate docendi, sanctificandi et regendi", AA 2b; cf. LG 19a.

306 "Munus autem illud quod Dominus pastoribus populi sui commisit, verum est servitium quod in sacris Litteris 'diakonia' seu ministerium significanter nuncupatur", LG 24a.

307 Cf. Council of Trent, DS 1764 ("Apostolis eorumque successoribus in sacerdotio potestatem traditam consecrandi"), DS 1771 ("sacerdotium visibile et externum"), DS 1765 ("tarn sancti sacerdotii ministerium ... ministrorum ordines, qui sacerdotio ex officio deservirent"), DS 1772 ("alios ordines, et maiores et minores, per quos velut per gradus quosdam in sacerdotium tendatur").

308 Cf. LG 29a.

309 E.g., Mgr. Yu Pin thought that permanent deacons could exercise a function "pontis seu mediationis inter hierarchiam et christifideles", AS 2/2, 431; likewise the Conciliar Commission retained the idea that married deacons could constitute "quasi pontem" between the clergy and the people, AS 3/1, 267.

310"Concilium denique Vaticanum II optatis et precibus suffragatum est, ut Diaconatus permanens, ubi id animarum bono conduceret, instauretur veluti medius ordo inter superiores ecclesiasticae hierarchiae gradus et reliquum populum Dei, quasi interpres necessitatum ac votorum christianorum communitatum, instimulator famulatus seu diaconiae Ecclesiae apud locales Christianas communicates, signum vel sacramentum ipsius Christi Domini, qui non venit ministrari, sed ministrare." Paul VI, Ad pascendum, p. 536.

311 "Per receptum diaconatum aliquis fit clericus et incardinatur Ecclesiae particulari vel Praelaturae personali pro cuius servitio promotus est", CIC can. 266; cf. also cann. 1008-9, which are echoed in the 1998 Directorium, no. 1: "Per impositionem manuum et consecrationis precem ipse minister sacer et hierarchiae membrum constituitur. Haec condition ipsius statum theologicum et iuridicum in Ecclesia determinat."

312 Cf. Trad. Apost. 4, 8, 21, 24 (bridging function between the bishop and the Christian people); STh III, q. 82, a. 3 ad 1 ("diaconi sunt inter sacerdotes et populum").

313 Thus they can be married (can. 281, 3), they are not obliged to wear ecclesiastical dress (can. 284), or to abstain from holding public office in the civil sphere (can. 285, 3) or from administering property; they can devote themselves to business and commerce (can. 286) and take an active part in party politics and trades unions (can. 287, 2; cf. can. 288). In this regard, see the further clarifications made in the Directorium, 7-14.

314 E.g.: the capacity to exercise power of government or jurisdiction by reason of one's order (can. 129); to obtain posts whose exercise requires the power of order or government (can. 274, 1) although they cannot be vicars-general or bishops (can. 475); deacons can be appointed diocesan judges (can. 1421, l) and even the only judge (can. 1425, 4); they can also confer certain dispensations (can. 89; can. 1079, 2), or, as a general faculty, assist at weddings (cann. llllf.); they are ordinary ministers of baptism (can. 861, 1), of communion (can. 910, 1) and of the exposition of the Eucharist (can. 943); they can preach everywhere (can. 764) and the homily is reserved to them as it is to the priests (can. 767, 1).

315 Cf. Zukunft aus der Kraft des Konzils: Die ausserordentliche Bischofssynode 1985; Die Dokumente mit einem Kommentar von W. Kasper (Freiburg, 1986); W. Kasper, Kirche als Communio, in Theologie und Kirche (Mainz, 1987), 272—89.

316 "In diaconia liturgiae, verbi et caritatis Populo Dei .. . inserviunt ... fidelium cultui et orationi praesidere ... caritatis et administrationis officiis dediti", LG 29a. The Conciliar Commission clarified it in these terms: "Indicantur officia diaconorum in primis modo generali, brevi sed gravi sententia, in triplici campo, scilicet 'in diaconia liturgiae, verbi et caritatis': quod deinde magis specificatur per 'caritatis et administrationis officia'", AS 3/1, 260. The stress laid on the charitable dimension is also evident in the explanation given by the same Commission with regard to the formula "non ad sacerdotium, sed ad ministerium": "significant diaconos non ad corpus et sanguinem Domini offerentes, sed ad servitium caritatis in Ecclesia ordinari", AS 3/8, 101.

317 "Iuvat enim viros, qui ministerio vere diaconali fungantur, vel verbum divinum tamquam catechistae praedicantes, vel nomine parochi et episcopi dissitas communitates Christianas moderantes, vel caritatem exercentes in operibus socialibus seu caritativis, per impositionem manuum inde ab Apostolis traditam corroborari et altari arctius coniungi, ut ministerium suum per gratiam sacramentalem diaconatus efficacius expleant." AG 16f.

318 "Ubi sacerdos deest, Ecclesiae nomine matrimoniis celebrandis assistere et benedicere ex delegatione episcopi vel parochi ... funeris ac sepulturae ritibus praeesse … praesidere, ubi sacerdos non adest ... caritatis et administrationis officiis atque socialis subsidii operibus, Hierarchiae nomine, perfungi ... apostolica laicorum opera fovere et adiuvare", Sacrum diaconatus, 22, pp. 701f.

319 On the tasks appointed to them and the questions raised by can. 517, 2, cf. supra Chapter IV, notes 162-63.

320 When it speaks of deacons, it says quite simply: "Ad diaconos pertinet, inter alia, Episcopo et presbyteris in mysteriorum divinorum celebratione assistere, maxime Eucharistiae, eamque distribuere, Matrimonio assistere idque benedicere, Evangelium proclamare et praedicare, exsequiis praesidere atque se diversis caritatis consecrare servitiis", CCE 1570. When it makes an explicit reference to the permanent diaconate, citing AG 16, it reaffirms that it is appropriate and useful to give sacramental ordination to "viros qui in Ecclesia ministerium vere diaconale explent sive in vita liturgica et pastorali sive in operibus socialibus et caritativis", CCE 1571.

321 "Ad munus docendi ... quidem elucet ex libri Evangelii traditione, in ipso ordinationis ritu praescripta. Diaconi munus sanctificandi impletur ... quo pacto apparet quomodo ministerium diaconale ex Eucharistia procedat ad eandemque redeat, nee in mero servitio sociali exhauriri possit. Munus regendi denique exercetur per deditionem operibus caritatis ... peculiari habito ad caritatem, quae praeeminentem diaconalis ministerii notam constituit." Ratio, 9.

322 «Diaconi proprium officium est Evangelium proclamare et Verbum Dei praedicare ... quae facultas oritur e sacramento.... Ministerio Episcopi et, subordinate, ministerio presbyterorum, diaconus praestat auxilium sacramentale, ac proinde intrinsecum, organicum, a confusione alienum.... Opera caritatis, dioecesana vel paroecialia, quae sunt inter primaria officia Episcopi et presbyterorum, ab his transmittuntur, secundum testimonium Traditionis Ecclesiae, servis ministerii ecclesiastici, hoc est diaconis." Directorium, 24, 28, 37.

323 E.g.: "Itaque Diaconatus in Ecclesia mirabiliter effloruit simulque insigne praebuit testimonium amoris erga Christum ac fratres in caritatis operibus exsequendis, in ritibus sacris celebrandis atque in pastoralibus perfungendis muneribus." Paul VI, Ad pascendum, p. 535.

324 Cf. notes 249, 281, 282 supra.

325 Cf. note 283 supra.

326 LG 21b notes succinctly: "Episcoporum est per Sacramentum Ordinis novos electos in corpus episcopale assumere."

327 E.g.: "Minister ordinarius sacrae communionis est Episcopus, presbyter et diaconus. Extraordinarius sacrae communionis minister est acolythus necnon alius christifidelis ad normam can. 230, 3 deputatus." CIC, can. 910.

328"Confirmationis minister ordinarius est Episcopus; valide hoc sacramentum confert presbyter quoque hac facultate vi iuris communis aut peculiaris concessionis competentis auctoritatis instructus." CIC, can. 882.

329 LG 26c considers bishops to be "dispensatores sacrorum ordinum", while CIC can. 1012 states that "sacrae ordinationis minister est Episcopus consecratus"; cf. likewise DS 1326 and 1777. Nevertheless, the problem raised by some papal documents which seemed to grant a priest the faculty of conferring the diaconate (cf. DS 1435) and even the priesthood (cf. DS 1145, 1146, 1290) does not appear to have been settled doctrinally.

330 The Ratio fundamentalis itself (9) says this: "Ministerium diaconale distinctum est exercitio trium munerum, ministerio ordinato propriorum, in specifica luce diaconiae."

331Constitutio apostolica Sacramentum ordinis, art. 4-5 (DS 3857-3861). On the imposition of hands and the prayer of consecration, cf. also Gregory IX, Ep. Presbyter et diaconus ad episc. Olaf de Lund (DS 826; cf. 1326).

332 Ministeria quaedam, AAS 64 (1972): 531.

333 Sacrum diaconatus, p. 698.

334 The International Theological Commission has been notified that a revised version of this canon is in preparation, aiming to distinguish the priestly ("sacerdotal") ministries from the diaconal ministry.

335 Cf. Erdö, "Der ständige Diakon: Theologisch-systematische und rechtliche Erwägungen", AKathKR 166 (1997): 79-80.

336Ad Trail 3, 1; SCh 10(2), 96.