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Posted September 12, 2007

Book: 101 Questions and Answers on Deacons
Author: William T. Ditewig
Paulist Press. New York. 2007. Pp. 118

Excerpt from the Jacket:

This book answers, in the popular 101 Q & A format, such commonly asked questions as:

Just who and what is a deacon?

Can a deacon be a pastor?

What sort of training and formation do deacons receive?

How does a deacon balance family, job, and ordained ministry?

May a woman be ordained a deacon?

An Excerpt from the Book:

Can deacons help with the shortage of priests?

While there are many things that deacons may do that can assist in the pastoral care of the Church, they are not substitutes for priests, nor are they some sort of restricted order of priests. Furthermore, the diaconate was not renewed by the Second Vatican Council because of a shortage of priests. It has been said that the Council did not restore the diaconate because of a shortage of priests, but because of a shortage of deacons. While deacons have a responsibility for some of the same things that priests do, deacons have a different set of responsibilities that are unique to them, and to try to use deacons as substitute priests would be a disservice to both.

We face many challenges when experiencing a shortage of priests. The temptation is to focus on the functions of the priests to see who else might carry some of them out until we have enough priests again. Since certain diaconal functions are similar to those of the priest, it is appropriate that deacons fully exercise these ministries, whether there is a shortage of priests or not. In a similar way, lay persons are called to certain facets of official ministry that is theirs by virtue of their sacramental initiation. As with the deacon, lay persons should be exercising their rightful ministries, whether there is a shortage of priests or not. If the Church experiences a shortage of priest, then she must find ways of encouraging, nurturing, and enabling vocations to the priesthood, thereby respecting the integrity and identity of all the sacraments involved. Deacons as well as the laity have authentic, legitimate, and necessary ministries in their own right that are not, dependent on a lack of priests for their exercise.

Table of Contents Contains 101 questions