Pope Francis approves permanent diaconate in the Philippines

September 14, 2023 - 8:43 AM
Pope Francis looks on as he holds the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, May 31, 2023. (Reuters/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo)

Pope Francis has approved the implementation of permanent diaconate in the Philippines.

The pope’s decision came more than a month after the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) petitioned the Vatican for the ordination of the permanent deacons in the country.

In its August 17 letter to the CBCP, the Vatican described the CBCP’s move as a “noble initiative for the good of the holy people of God in the Philippines”.

“Please be assured of the Holy Father’s prayers that it will bear much fruit for many years to come,” said Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, Substitute for General Affairs of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.

In the Catholic Church, the diaconate is the first of three ranks in ordained ministry— bishops, priests, and deacons.

Deacons preparing for the priesthood are known as transitional deacons. Permanent deacons, on the other hand, can be conferred upon a single or married man who does not intend to be ordained as a priest.

Discussions on the matter began during the bishops’ plenary assembly in January 2023. They finally approved the proposal during their plenary meeting in July this year.

The CBCP elevated their proposal to the pope in a letter on July 25, emphasizing that deacons “will be a good leaven for evangelization especially for those who live in the margins of society not only geographically but also socio-pastorally due to lack of priests.”

While the ministry of deacons has always been part of the life and teachings of the Church, the bishops pointed out that the specific charism of deacons is “hardly appreciated” among the Filipino Catholics “since it is only seen as a transitional stage to the priesthood.”

“The restoration of permanent diaconate in the Philippines will enliven even more the engagement of the lay faithful in society,” wrote Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, CBCP president.

Permanent deacons are more common in the US and Europe.

The CBCP is expected to come up with a formation program for permanent deacons such as who may be a candidate, what age, and the length of formation, among others.