Let’s have a look at the permanent diaconate:
205. Some disciples and missionaries of the Lord are called to serve the Church as permanent deacons. Most of them are enhanced by the twofold sacramentality of Matrimony and Holy Orders. They are ordained to serve the Word, charity, and the liturgy, especially for the sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony; also to aid in the formation of new ecclesial communities, especially in geographical and cultural frontline areas, where the Church’s evangelizing activity ordinarily does not reach.
This paragraph and the three that follow address this renewed ministry in the Church. What do the Aparecida bishops tell us?
- They acknowledge most deacons stand with one foot in Holy Orders, the other in Matrimony. The bishops of CELAM consider this an “enhancement.”
- Deacons have a threefold mission of service: the Word of God, outreach to those in need, and the liturgy as a whole.
- Deacons assist in the founding of parishes and other communities where lay people have yet to take initiative and where bishops and priests have yet to reach.
Unpacking this a bit further, how do the bishops see the separation between Word and liturgy? Or, how could they envision each of these? Looking at the sacraments a bit more closely, no explicit mention of serving at Mass as preacher or cup server. Nothing on the possible frontiers of the Sacraments of Penance or Anointing. If one sees forgiveness and healing as vanguards of evangelization among the faithful, one might ask: why not let them hear confessions and anoint?
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.