Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/

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Location: 3103 Arlington Avenue,, Bronx, NY 10463, United States

March 14, 2007


Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel and his staff developed a pastoral plan for his diocese of San Christobal de la Casas in Mexico's Chiapas state. The plan, developed with input from lay men and women, noted that many of the Catholic people of the diocese had expressed a desire that married permanent deacons be ordained priests. Access to the Mass and the sacraments in an area where priests were scarce was their underlying reason.

The Vatican's Cardinal Francis Arinze last September ordered that this item be deleted from the plan. Bishop Arizmendi responded that "the faithful have a right to be heard from their pastors", a right enumerated in Canon 212. Cardinal Arinze has not as yet made known the rationale underlying his order.

Arizmendi's' diocese has an interesting history. An early bishop was Bartolome de las Casas, the famous defender of the indigenous Indian people. Arizmendi's predecessor was Don Samuel Ruiz, known for the priority he accorded to the interests and just treatment of the poor. A powerful presence, he frequently acted as a mediator between the government and the popular people's party in Chiapas. He had developed the personal diaconate program into enormouis numbers. In 2002 the Vatican suspended the permanent diaconate program in the diocese. The story, as it eked out, was that, over the years, permanent deacons died. Many of their widows, having been caught up in the spirit of bringing the gospel and Holy Communion to the people, continued their husbands' ministry. But with no further ordination of permanent deacons, eventually the ministry of the widows will come to an end.

What rationale underlies the Vatican's orders to click the "delete" button on reporting what the people think and on the permanent diaconate progam and the widows' followup, so successful in evangelization? Is there some reluctance to speak the truth?


Blogger Carol said...

Uncle Harry -

I like Bishop Arizmendi and the fact that he's looking, hoping for some kind of logical response to the use of the delete button when it comes to bringing issues to the powers that be in the Catholic Church. How sad that the diaconate program was stopped, after such a wonderful history. I can tell you this: the Deacons in our church here in Fairfax County, VA, are terrific! Could be due in large part to the fact that they live life as we (their parishioners)do, and speak realistically of the issues we're all dealing with, day in and day out. Their sermons are heartfelt and easy to relate to.

March 15, 2007 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger Wizard said...

I love your writing style, Harry. Clear and concise.
What was the reason given by the Vatican for suspending the permanent diaconate program in 2002? It seemed like that program was something the people wanted and benefited from- their wives carried it on!

March 15, 2007 at 12:46 PM  

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