Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pope Francis: The Deacon's Pope UPDATED

Already I'm hearing from some deacons who are all upset that our new Pope, Francis, has only made one reference to "deacons' since becoming pope.  I've seen all kinds of speculation about the diaconate in Argentina and how the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio just didn't have the chance to get to know his deacons, and on and on.  OK, I get it: in the short time he's been pope, he hasn't mentioned us much.

Big deal.

Far more important, in my opinion, is the fact that this man IS a deacon in everything he is modeling and teaching us.  Even as Archbishop, he consciously made the decision to change his stole before washing feet: he reconfigured his stole into the diaconal mode.  That's a conscious decision, telling me that he wanted to be sure that his actions would be seen as diaconal in form and in substance.  THAT's a big deal.  UPDATED: The latest news from the Vatican offers the photo from today's ceremony at the juvenile detention center, and it appears that the Holy Father is continuing his tradition of rearranging his stole to be worn as a deacon.  I'm adding that photo below.

Not unlike previous popes, Francis speaks from his own experience and that, frankly, is generally priestly.  But is it such a stretch to take his absolutely wonderful Chrism Mass homily -- focused intentionally on the priesthood -- and adapt it to deacons?  I think not.  Here's the full text: for the most part, you could simply replace "priest" with deacon, and "dalmatic" for chasuble, and you have a perfect exhortation to deacons.

From his appreciation of carrying the people on our shoulders and in our hearts, to his emphasis on "unction, not function," there is a strong diaconal message for all people, and certainly a model for those of us humbly honored to be a part of the Order of Deacons.

Like his namesake Francis of Assisi, our Francis "gets" the diaconate, thinks like a deacon, and acts like a deacon -- whether he "names" us or not.

Welcome aboard, Holy Deacon Francis!


  1. I posted on this earlier today. I certainly hope that my post didn't come across as being upset, but constructive. I offered the hope that as Pope Francis eases into being the Bishop of Rome, which has a relatively large number of permanent deacons, as opposed to his former diocese of Buenos Aires, which had 7, that he will soon realize what a resource he has in his deacons and those throughout the world in carrying out his vision of renewal in the Church and evangelization.

    I agree wholeheartedly that the fact he chose the name of a deacon as his papal name speaks volumes, as does the way he has carried his ministry thus far.

  2. On a side note, I hope this means you're back to blogging!

  3. No, sorry, I hadn't yet read your blog on this. I'm not sure where you heard there were only seven deacons in the archdiocese of BA, but we've had a lot more than that show up at international gatherings! In fact, one them was a long-time vice president of the International Diaconate Center.

    Also, according to some Franciscan sources, there is considerable internal debate whether Francis was actually ordained as deacon. So much so, that when Franciscan Kenan Osborne published his book on the diaconate some years ago, he rejected the proposed cover art because it depicted Francis as a deacon, and he didn't want to cause a problem! Not that any of this is a "Kingdom" issue, but thought you'd be interested.

    God bless,


  4. I always enjoy your insights. My source for BA deacons was Catholic Hierarchy. So, it may not be accurate.

    I know the history on Francis is fuzzy, but I'll claim him anyway. Glad you're back doing a little blogging, happier that all of your other endeavors are going well.

  5. Whether the original Francis was a deacon or not, we know that the current bishop of Rome is one. He's a joy, and it's also a joy to see Deacon Bill's blog up and running again--with comments enabled, no less.