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Association of Catholic Priests Statement on the Permanent Diaconate

Association of Catholic Priests Statement on the Permanent Diaconate
11 August 2017
The Leadership of the Association of Catholic Priests fully supports Fr Roy Donovan (Cashel & Emly) in his statement (see below)  on the decision by the Archbishop of Cashel & Emly to set up a group to investigate initiating the permanent diaconate in his diocese.
Roy’s objection is based on the fact that currently the Church confines the diaconate to men, even though Pope Francis has a commission working on the history of women deacons in the early church, with a view to possibly opening the diaconate to women also.
We would further call on every diocese in the country to hold off on the introduction of the permanent diaconate until such time as the Vatican Commission reports, and Pope Francis makes a decision based on that report.
We believe that proceeding with the introduction of a male permanent diaconate at this time, and thereby adding another male clerical layer to ministry, is insensitive, disrespectful of women, and counter-productive at this present critical time.

Statement by Fr. Roy Donovan

Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly has “asked a group of people, both lay and clerical, to be part of a group, to be chaired by Fr. Tom Fogarty, to examine all aspects of the Permanent Diaconate for the Archdiocese. This group will begin its work in the autumn”.
Permanent Diaconate excludes women. Introducing the Permanent Diaconate, without women, is extending Patriarchy in the Archdiocese. What are the implications of this when already there are so many women involved on the ground, in all kinds of ministries, without been given much status and power? Have they not also earned their place at the top table? It has been suggested by some that one of the reasons why men get involved in the Diaconate, is that it gives a certain amount of power and status.
Pope Francis set up a Commission in July 2016 to study the diaconate and the role of deaconesses in the early Church.
Is this group set up by the Archbishop going to pre-empt the Commission and introduce deaconesses?!
Allowing a male only diaconate further questions the nature of relationships priests have with their mothers, sisters and nieces. It also questions the nature of relationships priests have with women.
There are women in the Archdiocese who believe they are called by God to be priests ie. Marese Skeehan (Thurles), Nóirín Ní Riain (Murroe & native of Caherconlish) who was recently ordained as a minster in the One Spirit Inter Faith Seminary Foundation.
We have a long way to go to implement the originality of the Gospel of Jesus –a ministry of equals among equals. After all, Mary Magdalene, known as the Apostle to the Apostles, was the first minister of the good news – proclaiming that Jesus is alive!
Fr. Roy Donovan P.P., Caherconlish/Caherline
Link to interview with Roy Donovan on RTE1 Radio Interview starts at 01:35
Links to articles on Roy Donovan’s statement;
The Irish Times
The Nationalist
Tipperary Star

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  1. Mary Vallely says:

    Hear, hear! Delighted to read this statement. Unfortunately many dioceses including my own have already ordained permanent deacons and there will be five more ordained this September. I just wish this statement had been made sooner but better late than never and it is only right and just and a brave decision to make. God grant you all continuing courage and may that courage be contagious.
    P. S. I have the greatest respect for our permanent deacons both those already ordained and the soon-to-be ordained as I know the training has been rigorous and challenging and they are good and sincere men BUT it seems to be creating just another layer of clericalism. Thank God for the enlightened Fr Roy Donovan!

  2. Mattie Long says:

    An interesting comment from a bishop in Hungary as reported in praytellblog.com:
    Hungarian Bishop for Lifting Mandatory Celibacy
    Austrian public radio is reporting on an interview with Bishop Miklos Beer, 74, of the diocesan of Vac in Hungary which is drawing much attention. In it he says “I think it is time” to lift mandatory celibacy and allow suitable married men to become priests.
    Bishpo Beer indicates in the interview that he plans to take his concern to the Pope.
    There are ten pastor positions in his diocese which Bishop Beer is unable to fill because of the shortage of priests. “It is no longer possible to continue as now, that we await foreign priests from Poland or India,” he said. When he thinks of people to whom he could entrust leadership of Catholic congregations, he includes men “who lead a credibile, beautiful family life.”
    Bishop Beer does not favor placing permanent deacons in parishes as a sort of replacement for the priest. The permanent diaconate is “another mission” and should not be a transition to the priesthood, he said. “Let us not confuse this with the priest’s role!”

  3. Eileen Clear says:

    I fully support Fr. Roy Donovan’s statement. And I want to thank him for being so bravely prophetic. I cannot understand the thinking behind wanting to introduce a permanent, male-only diaconate at this time.(Actually, maybe I have an idea of the thinking behind it but I don’t want to become more hurt as a woman in the Church, by considering the implications). After what happened in Killaloe, one would have thought that lessons had been learned. Thank you, Fr. Roy for giving us some hope. May the hierarchy have listening hearts when God’s Word is spoken.

  4. Martin Murray says:

    Thanks to Fr Roy Donovan and the ACP for taking a stand and a position on this. Well done.

  5. Women's Ordination Worldwide says:

    WOW Supports Fr Roy Donovan, calls for more clergy to speak out for equality
    Women’s Ordination Worldwide offers our support to Limerick parish priest, Fr. Roy Donovan, for his recent public statements in support of women’s ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood and diaconate.
    We pray that more members of the clergy and hierarchy will speak out for women’s full inclusion in our Church, joining the majority of Catholics around the world who support greater roles, including ordination, for women in the Church.
    The Church hierarchy must rid itself of the sin of sexism and once and for all, model its own Gospel values by recognizing women as equal partners in faith.

  6. Mary Vallely says:

    I totally support Fr Roy’s statement and am fully in agreement with WOW and WAC in their endorsement. Just defending my own diocese of Armagh who will be ordaining five more permanent deacons this September. There are already four of five deacons working in the diocese. Their training would have started long before Pope Francis set up the Commission to look into ordaining women to the Diaconate. I suppose it would be unfair to suddenly suspend the training of these particular deacons until that Commission has delivered its report. ( Don’t know why Godot springs to mind.) I know some of these men personally and know how hard they have worked and how dedicated and sincere they are. Will not comment on what I think of the training however!

  7. Phil Greene says:

    Marvellous support for Fr. Roy,and truly deserved.
    Equally, such support should be shown for Tina Beattie in highlighting the urgent need for women’s voices to be heard when actually discussing how women as adults treat their bodies, rather than some men asserting publicly that they have all the right answers.
    When men can engage with a fellow priest , one who has different reproductive organs than themselves, about family planning in the same setting , e.g. a seminary, then think what positively enlightened discussions will ensue..
    Thank you Paddy for highlighting Ms. Beattie’s post in the Tablet.

  8. Wisdom is a word that is rarely seen written or heard today.
    So, it is a joy to see the wisdom of the ACP in calling on dioceses to hold off on the introduction of the Permanent Diaconate at this time.
    It would be well to refer to Scripture and Apostolic Tradition, remembering St.Paul’s writing to the Romans:- “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints and help her in whatever way she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well”.
    Note, the key words for today’s world:- ‘Phoebe a deacon, welcome and help her’.

  9. Martin Harran says:

    I am totally in favour of opening the Diaconate to women but I shudder when I read an unsupported and oblique statement like “It has been suggested by some that one of the reasons why men get involved in the Diaconate, is that it gives a certain amount of power and status.”
    If Fr. Donovan has something to support that claim and that it is a significant element among those entering the Diaconate, then he should give that evidence ; otherwise it just comes across as a begrudging attack on the many good, decent men who have entered into the Diaconate in a simple desire to serve Christ and their community.

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