February 18-20, 2000
volume 11, no. 35
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

Great Novelty in the Church Since Vatican Council II

    VATICAN CITY, FEB 17 (ZENIT).- Permanent deacons from all over the world will come to Rome to celebrate their Jubilee from February 18-20. These men have been a real phenomenon in the Church in the last three decades. In 1970 there were only 309 permanent deacons. Today their number has risen to 24,407.

    In its effort to update the life of the Church, Vatican Council II made allowance for the diaconate "to be restored to its own permanent position in the hierarchy" (Lumen Gentium, 29), also making it possible for married men to be conferred this sacrament. The Council established that the deacon assists the Bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, proclaims the Gospel and preaches, presides at funerals, and dedicates time to charity works.

    The institution of deacons has had stupendous results in the United States and Europe, where many laymen have felt the calling and requested the sacrament from the Bishop. In North America, there are 12,621 permanent deacons, and in Europe 7,536. In Central America there are 685, in the Caribbean 696, in South America 2,265, in the Middle East 39, in Southeast Asia 90, and in Oceania 167. 16% of permanent deacons are celibate.

    The deacons' Jubilee will begin tomorrow afternoon when Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, will welcome them in the Basilica of St. Mary Major. They will spend time in prayer and Eucharistic adoration.

    The climax is scheduled for Saturday, when the deacons will meet the Holy Father in the General Audience Hall. In the early afternoon a special event for the families of married deacons is planned, although the deacons' wives and children will be able to participate in all the events of this special Jubilee. At 6 p.m. all participants will meet in St. Peter's Square to join a penitential procession and prepare spiritually to cross the threshold of the Holy Door of St. Peter's.

    On Sunday, February 20. Cardinal Castrillon will ordain 18 new permanent deacons -- 17 Italians and a Spaniard from Seville. The celebrations will end with a noon Mass after which John Paul II will bid farewell to all participants. Initially it was thought 1,500 deacons would attend the Jubilee, but 3,000 have already registered. ZE00021704


February 18-20, 2000
volume 11, no. 35

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