The next part of my series on the priest shortage is still coming, but today was the launch of a new website, of the National Association of Deacons, and so it seems appropriate to mention this worthwhile initiative!
I haven't looked at the material on the site very closely as yet (it only went live today) but at first glance it looks pretty good, with articles on the relevant provisions of canon law, a rebuttal of the notion that deacons have purely charitable or social justice functions, and much more.
Not a substitute for priests
Now I know some traditionalists have reservations about the idea of permanent deacons, but I'm not sure that they should (think of the possibility of more solemn masses; for that reason alone every traditional community should be encouraging such vocations!), subject to their proper utilisation (which of course is a matter for their bishop).
Permanent deacons should not and cannot, of course, be regarded as a substitute for priests (or for that matter, for lay activity). And I'm extremely opposed to the idea that their function should be to run Sunday services in the absence of a priest (notwithstanding the laws permitting this).
Still, they can certainly aid in the workload of a diocese at a time when this is much needed.
The advantage of clerics
And as clerics, with all of the relevant obligations that go with this (including as far as I can gather from the website, perfect continence in line with the opinion of canonist Ed Peters, or lifelong celibacy if unmarried), it is surely much better for deacons to undertake tasks such as taking Holy Eucharist to the homebound, than for the laity to be undertaking this and similar functions!
Moreover, becoming a permanent deacon may be a possibility, for example, for an older man who still has some family or other responsibilities (for example towards older children or grandchildren) where becoming a priest is not a serious option.
So please do go and take a look at the site, and if you are an older man (yes, the law on permanent deacons is based around the idea that this will typically be a late vocation), maybe you should be talking to your bishop about this option...
3rd Sunday of Advent 15 Dec 2013 Sermon
8 hours ago