To the Editor:
On Dec. 15, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI, in his “Motu Proprio, Omnium in Mentem,” clarified Canon 1008 and Canon 1009 defining the nature of the sacrament of holy orders.
The distinction which existed between the three grades of the sacrament of holy orders — episcopate, presbyterate and diaconate — is now treated in canon 1009 of the Code of Canon Law, with the addition of a third paragraph, in which it is clarified that the minister constituted in the order of the episcopate or the presbyterate receives the mission and capacity to act in the person of Christ the Head, whereas deacons are empowered to serve the people of God in the ministries of the liturgy, of the word and charity.
Through his many meetings with bishops from Europe and North America, the pope will hear, among the many concerns, implications of the decline in the number of ordinations. The pope must be aware of the continuing evolution of his Church and thus congratulated for publishing Motu Proprio Omnium in Mentem, a clarification of roles for those serving the Church, at this time.
When Bishop Martin Amos meets with Pope Benedict XVI during the ad limina visit (March 6-14), and speaks of the decline in the number of priests to serve the people of the Davenport Diocese, I invite him to explore with the Holy Father whether, in the Dec. 15, 2009, Motu Proprio Omnium in Mentem, the door was opened to discussion of the restoration of the female diaconate. The promotion of this ministry may be the “breath of fresh air” so needed by the people not served by a priest.
To the Editor: