St Lawrence Painting by Giotto DI Bondone





June 18, 1967


Therefore, in the first place, all that is decreed in the Code of Canon Law about the rights and obligations of deacons, whether these rights and obligations be common to all clerics, or proper to deacons–all these, unless some other disposition has been made– we confirm and declare to be in force also for those who will remain permanently in the diaconate. In regard to these we moreover decree the following.

 Tiếp theo phần 1


1. It is the task of the legitimate assemblies of bishops of episcopal conferences to discuss, with the consent of the Supreme Pontiff whether and where—in view of the good of the faithful—the diaconate is to be instituted as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy.

2. When asking the Apostolic See for approval, the reasons must be explained which favor the introduction of this new practice in a region as well as the circumstances which give well-founded hope of success. Likewise, the manner will have to be indicated in which the new discipline will be implemented, that is to say, whether it is a matter of conferring the diaconate on “suitable young men for whom the law of celibacy must remain intact, or on men of more mature age, even upon those living in the married state,” or on both kinds of candidates.

3. Once the approval of the Holy See has been obtained, it is within the powers of each Ordinary, within the sphere of his own jurisdiction, to approve and ordain the candidates, unless special cases are concerned which exceed his faculties.

Let the Ordinaries, in drawing up the report on the state of their diocese, also mention this restored discipline.


4. By the law of the Church, confirmed by the Ecumenical Council itself, young men called to the diaconate are obliged to observe the law of celibacy.

5. The permanent diaconate may not be conferred before the completion of the 25th year. Nevertheless, an older age can be required by the episcopal conferences.

6. Let young men to be trained for the diaconal office be received in a special institute where they will be put to the test and will be educated to live a truly evangelical life and prepared to fulfill usefully their own specific functions.

7. For the foundation of this institute, let the bishops of the same country, or, if advantageous, of several countries according to the diversity of circumstances, join their efforts. Let them choose, for its guidance, particularly suitable superiors and let them establish most accurate norms regarding discipline and the ordering of studies, observing the following prescriptions.

8. Let only those young men be admitted to training for the diaconate who have shown a natural inclination of the spirit to service of the sacred hierarchy and of the Christian community and who have acquired a sufficiently good store of knowledge in keeping the custom of their people and country.

9. Specific training for the diaconate should be spread over a period of at least three years. The series of subjects, however, should be arranged in such a way that the candidates are orderly and gradually led to carrying out the various functions of the diaconate skillfully and beneficially. Moreover, the whole plan of studies can be so arranged that in the last year special training be given for the various functions which deacons especially will carry out.

10. To this moreover should be added practice and training in teaching the elements of the Christian religion to children and other faithful, in familiarizing the people with sacred chant and in directing it, in reading the sacred books of Scripture at gatherings of the faithful, in addressing and exhorting the people, in administering the sacraments which pertain to them, in visiting the sick, and in general in fulfilling the ministries which can be entrusted to them.


11. Older men, whether single or married, can be called to the diaconate. The latter, however, are not to be admitted unless there is certainty not only about the wife’s consent, but also about her blameless Christian life and those qualities which will neither impede nor bring dishonor on the husband’s ministry.

12. The older age in this case is reached at the completion of the thirty-fifth year. Nevertheless, the age requirement is to be understood in this sense, namely, that no one can be called to the diaconate unless he has gained the high regard of the clergy and the faithful by a long example of truly Christian life, by his unexceptionable conduct, and by his ready disposition to be of service.

13. In the case of married men care must be taken that only those are promoted to the diaconate who while living many years in matrimony have shown that they are ruling well their own household and who have a wife and children leading a truly Christian life and noted for their good reputation.(7)

14. It is to be desired that such deacons be possessed of no small learning about which we have spoken in numbers 8, 9, 10 above, or that they at least be endowed with that knowledge which in the judgment of the episcopal conference is necessary for them to carry out their specific functions. Consequently they are to be admitted for a time in a special school where they are to learn all that is necessary for worthily fulfilling the diaconal ministry.

15. Should this be impossible, let the candidate be entrusted for his education to an outstanding priest who will direct him, and instruct him and be able to testify to his prudence and maturity. Care must always and emphatically be taken that only suitable and skilled men may be admitted to the sacred order.

16. Once they have received the order of deacon, even those who have been promoted at a more mature age, can not contract marriage by virtue of the traditional discipline of the Church.

17. Let care be taken that the deacons do not exercise an art or a profession which in the judgment of the local Ordinary is unfitting or impedes the fruitful exercise of the sacred office.


18. Any deacon who is not a professed member of a religious family must be duly enrolled in a diocese.

19. The norms in force with regard to caring for the fitting sustenance of priests and guaranteeing their social security are to be observed also in favor of the permanent deacons, taking into consideration also the family of married deacons and keeping article 21 of this letter in mind.

20. It is the function of the episcopal conference to issue definite norms on the proper sustenance of the deacon and his family if he is married in keeping with the various circumstances of place and time.


21. According to the above-mentioned Constitution of the Second Vatican Council it pertains to the deacon, to the extent that he has been authorized by the local Ordinary, to attend such functions:

1) To assist the bishop and the priest during liturgical actions in all things which the rituals of the different orders assign to him;

2) To administer baptism solemnly and to supply the ceremonies which may have been omitted when conferring it on children or adults;

3) To reserve the Eucharist and to distribute it to himself and to others, to bring it as a Viaticum to the dying and to impart to the people benediction with the Blessed Sacrament with the sacred ciborium;

4) In the absence of a priest, to assist at and to bless marriages in the name of the Church by delegation from the bishop or pastor, observing the rest of the requirements which are in the Code of Canon Law(8), with Canon 1098 remaining firm and where what is said in regard to the priest is also to be understood in regard to the deacon;

5) To administer sacramentals and to officiate at funeral and burial services;

6) To read the sacred books of Scripture to the faithful and to instruct and exhort the people;

7) To preside at the worship and prayers of the people when a priest is not present;

8) To direct the liturgy of the word, particularly in the absence of a priest;

9) To carry out, in the name of the hierarchy, the duties of charity and of administration as well as works of social assistance;

10) To guide legitimately, in the name of the parish priest and of the bishop, remote Christian communities;

11) To promote and sustain the apostolic activities of laymen.

23. All these functions must be carried out in perfect communion with the bishop and with his presbytery, that is to say, under the authority of the bishop and of the priest who are in charge of the care of souls in that place.

24. Deacons, as much as possible, should have their part in pastoral councils.

(con tiep)

Source: UTL


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