This section of the website provides some commentary on aspects of canon law that are significant for deacons. This is a very basic commentary and one that assumes that the reader has no or little familiarity with Catholic canon law. The commentary concentrates on the Latin Catholic Church with only passing reference to the other twenty Catholic Churches which make up the communion of Churches that is the Catholic Church. We hope, in time, to provide a commentary on the law as it applies to Eastern Catholics.
This commentary is meant to stimulate some reflection on some canonical questions not to provide definitive answers to specific questions. If it makes you think about the theological principles which undergird some aspects of the law than this section has achieved its purpose.
Readers should not rely on the interpretations and commentaries placed here for assertion of a right or detailed knowledge of a particular obligation. Expert commentary is provided in a number of journals devoted to canon law as well as books and the proceedings of various canon law societies around the world. Expert advice may also be obtained directly from a canon lawyer.
Two main sources will be referred to in this section; the Code of Canons for the Latin Church (CIC) and the General Directory for the Ministry and Life of Deacons (Directory). But other sources will be referred to from time to time.
One important fact about the relationship between Canon Law and the Directory is that the Directory is a source of authoritative and juridically binding interpretation of canon law as noted in the introduction to the Norms and Directory:
The Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons, as in the case of the Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests, has, together with its hortative character, juridically binding force where its norms "recall disciplinary norms of the Code of Canon Law" or "determine with regard to the manner of applying universal laws of the Church, explicitate their doctrinal basis and inculcate or solicit their faithful observance". In these specific cases, it is to be regarded as a formal, general, executory Decree (cf. canon 32).
CIC defines a formal general executory decree as
Can. 32 General executory decrees oblige those who are bound by the laws whose methods of application the same decrees determine or whose observance they urge.
Preference for the Ordained (94 KB) - This artice considers some of the canonical and theological issues involved when a bishop is unable to appoint a priest as pastoral leader of a parish.
What are Norms and Directories' (174 KB) - This article reflects on the meaning and purpose of two central documents; the Norms for the Formation of Permament Deacons and the Directory for the Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons. Understanding the meaning and purpose of both is essentia