My hope for this blog is that it can serve as a place to talk about the order of Deacons which, in the Catholic church, was renewed at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and by Pope Paul VI.
Deacons were mentioned in the New Testament and in the earliest writings of the Church. The proto-martyr of the New Testament, in fact, is often associated with the diaconate: St. Stephen (even though he is never referred to as a deacon in scripture). In the first centuries of the Christian Church, deacons are described as extending the ministry of Christ Himself, especially to those most in need.
Then, for a variety of reasons, the diaconate was absorbed into an increasingly rigidized clerical structure adapted from the late Roman empire, eventually becoming little more than a stage on the way to ordination as a presbyter. For more than a millennium this became the norm.
Vatican II changed all that, and for the first time in centuries, it was possible to ordain someone to a major order of ministry that was not destined for the priesthood. The history of that development is fascinating in its own right, involving developments in European Protestantism, post-Enlightenment philosophy and, later, the horrors of world war. In particular, a major impetus behind the renewal of the diaconate was at Dachau Concentration Camp. All of this, and more, means that trying to understand the diaconate in the contemporary church is a complex thing, involving moving beyond language that has developed to talk about the priesthood and which may or may not apply to diaconate, the relationships of laity and deacons, and so much more.
That's where I hope this blog can help. This can be a place for conversation, REASONED debate and discussion. Since ordained ministry only makes sense within a broader understanding of the Church herself, we will have occasion to discuss issues of ministers and ministry.
Ground rules: Passion about these topics is great, as long as it is respectful of the passion of others!
Deacon Bill Ditewig