February 22, 2000
volume 11, no. 37
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Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos Ordains 18 in Vatican Basilica

    VATICAN CITY, FEB 20 (ZENIT).- Sunday morning John Paul II bid farewell to over 2,000 Permanent Deacons, who came to Rome this past weekend to participate in their special Jubilee, and reminded them of the words they heard on the day of their ordination: "Believe in what you read, teach what you believe, live what you teach."

    In addition, addressing the 25,000 Permanent Deacons throughout the world (married and celibate), the Pontiff summarized their mission: "to embrace the Gospel, to go deeper in faith into the message, to love it and give witness to it in words and works."

    In this way, these men become decisive protagonists, according to the Holy Father, of the "new evangelization," thanks to their contribution "made with coherence and dedication, courage and generosity, in the daily service of the liturgy, the word, and charity." Prior to this final meeting of the Deacons' Jubilee with the Pope, there was a Mass presided by Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, in which he ordained 18 new Deacons in St. Peter's Basilica.

    Servants of the Word, the Eucharist and their Brothers "Mature men, called to the service of the Word, the Eucharist, and charity," were the words chosen by Cardinal Castrillon to paint the profile that characterizes a Deacon.

    Above all, the Deacon is a servant of the Word who explains the meaning of life to individuals and society, as "the dominant cultures cannot be erected as criteria for reading and understanding." This belongs to the message of God. "It is truth that judges events, and not vice-versa, as so often tragically happens," the Cardinal said during his homily.

    In the second place, the Deacon is a servant of the Eucharist, with which he enters a new dimension, different from the "rest of the ways of living and of human friendships," explained Cardinal Castrillón.

    And, finally, the Deacon is a servant of the needy, becoming a "live and operative expression of the Church's charity, which is, simultaneously, bread for the hungry, light and cooperation for social development and progress, word and action of justice,... privileged vehicle of the social doctrine of the Church." But, as the prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy explained, the deacon will not be able to live any of these dimensions without prayer, thanks to which he can "see the world with God's eyes" and "love his brothers with God's heart."

"Martyrdom of Incomprehension"

    The decisive moment of the Deacons' Jubilee took place 24 hours earlier when John Paul II received the permanent deacons and their families. This was an affectionate meeting in which the Pontiff spoke to the point: "In our times, there is no lack of persons to whom God calls to cruel martyrdom; but much more numerous are the believers who are subjected to the 'martyrdom' of incomprehension. May your heart not be troubled by the difficulties and contrasts but, rather, on the contrary, may it grow in confidence in Jesus who has redeemed us through the martyrdom of the Cross."

Apostles of the Culture of Life

    Following the audience with the Pope, the deacons continued to reflect on their role and mission thanks to proposals made to them by Archbishop Roberto Octavio Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Archbishop emphasized that in times like ours, in which a culture of death is predominant, deacons can be of unique assistance to Bishops. Specifically, he encouraged those who are married (84% of Permanent Deacons) to make their family a "domestic Church."

    At that same moment, the married deacons' families were meeting with Cardinal James Francis Stafford, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, who analyzed the challenges to a family in which the father is also a servant of the Church through the sacrament of service.

    Eventually all the deacons and their families met in St. Peter's Square to cross the threshold of the Vatican Basilica's Holy Door -- an intense penitential moment that culminated with the renewal of commitments made when ordained to the diaconate.

    John Paul II summarized these commitments this Sunday when he addressed his final words to the participants of this special Jubilee. "You deacons, called in celibacy to a life totally dedicated to God and his Kingdom, live your mission joyfully and faithfully! Married deacons, whom Christ calls to be models of real love in the heart of family life, live your mission! The Lord has chosen you and the others as his collaborators in the work of salvation." ZE00022005


February 22, 2000
volume 11, no. 37

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