John Patrick Bajalla
The CBCP's request to implement a permanent Dicastery is granted by the Vatican. Photo courtesy of the ABS-CBN News.
A letter from the Secretariat of State informed the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President and Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio about the Pope’s decision to have married deacons alongside the instruction to coordinate with the Dicastery for the Clergy for its implementation on September 17, 2023.
The Diaconate (deacons) is among the three Sacred Holy Orders of the Catholic Church, along with the episcopate (bishops) and the presbyterate (priest). There are two types of Diaconates, namely Transitional, those who are transitioning to become a priest and required to be unmarried, and Permanent, who may remain in the service of the church.
“I am pleased to inform you that the holy father granted your petition,” said the Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the pope's chief of staff or the “sostituto”.
The Vatican described the action which the CBCP have taken as “noble initiative for the good of holy people of god in the philippines”.
The Code of Canon Law states that both married and unmarried men can become a permanent deacon given that the married man is 35 years old and has consent from the spouse and the unmarried man is 25 years old.
Permanent deacons are more common in United States and Europe according to the report from the center of applied research in the Apostolate of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. estimate of 13,695 permanent deacons in active ministry in the U.S in 2022.