Friday, July 10, 2009

Not a Profession but a Mission

In an address to those taking part in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Clergy on November 30, 1995, Pope John Paul II said, "there are two degrees of ministerial participation in the priesthood of Christ; the Episcopacy and the Presbyterate. The Diaconate is intended to help them.... yet [the degree of priestly participation and the degree of service] are all conferred by a sacramental act called ordination.... In the sacrament of holy orders [Catechism, no. 1554].... the deacon receives a particular configuration to Christ.... who for love of the Father made himself the least and servant of all (Mk 10:43-45, Mt 20:28, 1 Pet 5:3).... Deacons are ordained to exercise a ministry of their own, which is not that of a priest.... The deacon is not a profession but a mission.... By virtue of ordination [the grace of the diaconate] is defined by the spirit of servide.... To fulfill his mission the deacon needs a deep interior life."

John Paul II, "Deacons Are Configured to Christ the Servant" (November 30, 1995), nos. 3,4; available at