Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Obligation of celibacy and permanent deacons, 4 March 2011, Private.


A dubium was proposed to the Pontifical Council of Legislative Texts regarding the obligation of “perfect and perpetual continence” in accord with canon 277 for a married permanent deacon. An unofficial English translation follows the original response of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.




Pontificium Consilium De Legum Textibus

Città del Vaticano

4 marzo 2011

N. 12959/2011

Gentile Signore,

Abbiamo ricevuto via fax la Sua cortese lettera del 20 febbraio u.s. In essa ha posto un dubbio con questa motivazione: «However an issue has arisen where an aspirant to the Permanent Diaconate who is a married man has declared he will not practice ‘perfect and perpetual continence’ in accordance with Canon 277. He says that he has been told that men in the diocese have been given a general dispensation from this requirement».

In proposito mi pregio significarLe a titolo di chiarimento quanto segue.

a) L’obbligo del celibato riguarda tutti i chierici, ivi compresi i diaconi permanenti che prima dell’ordinazione non sono sposati (cfr. can. 1037).

b) I diaconi permanenti che prima dell’ordinazione sono sposati, non hanno l’obbligo del celibato (e quindi della continenza) finché dura il matrimonio. Hanno l’obbligo del celibato in caso di vedovanza (cfr. can. 1087).

Per questi motivi il can. 277 non è tra quelli elencati nel. can. 288.

Infine, la dispensa dell’impedimento di cui al can. 1087 non spetta al Vescovo diocesano. Egli può invece, dato il caso, trasmettere la domanda di dispensa alla Santa Sede. La dispensa può essere chiesta solo all Santa Sede, dal diacono permanente sposato che è già diventato vedovo, e verrà eventualmente concessa solo se si darà nel richiedente una delle tre cause ammesse: la grande e provata utilità del ministero del diacono per la diocesi di appartenenza; la presenza di figli in tenera età, bisognosi di cura materna; la presenze di genitori o suoceri anziani, bisognosi di assistenza (cfr. Congregazione per il Culto Divino e la Disciplina dei Sacramenti, Lettera circolare del 6 giugno 1997).

Profitto volentieri della circostanza per confermarmi con sensi di distinto ossequio

della Signoria Vosta

dev. mo. in Cristo

(Signed)

+Francesco Coccopalmerio

Presidente




Unofficial Translation

Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts

Dear Sir,

We have received a fax of your kind letter of February 20, 2011. In it you proposed a dubium with this reasoning: “However an issue has arisen where an aspirant to the Permanent Deaconate who is a married man has declared he will not practice ‘perfect and perpetual continence’ in accordance with Canon 277. He says he has been told that men in the diocese have been given a general dispensation from this requirement.”

In regard to this matter I am happy to offer the following clarifications:

The obligation of celibacy applies to all clerics, including permanent deacons who are not married prior to ordination (cf. c. 1037).

Permanent deacons who are married prior to ordination do not have the obligation of celibacy (and therefore of continence) during the marriage. They have the obligation of celibacy in case of widowhood (cf. c. 1087).

This is why canon 277 is not included in the list in canon 288.

Finally, the dispensation from the impediment of canon 1087 does not apply to the diocesan bishop. He can, instead, given the case in question, transmit the request for a dispensation to the Holy See. The dispensation can be requested only of the Holy See by a permanent married deacon who has been widowed and will be eventually granted only if the petitioner admits one of three reasons: the great and proven usefulness of the deacon’s ministry to the diocese to which he is attached; the presence of children of a tender age requiring maternal care; the presence of elderly parents or in-laws requiring assistance (cf. Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Circular Letter of June 6, 1997).

(Signed)

Francesco Coccopalmerio

President




Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Obligation of celibacy and permanent deacons, 4 March 2011, Private, CLSA, Roman Replies and Advisory Opinions, 2011, 18-20.